Thursday, October 22, 2015

NFL Picks Week Seven: This is really happening, isn't it?

There is a certain element of drama that disappears from the game when the outcome is no longer in doubt. The last time the New York Mets won the National League pennant, a five-game romp over the Cardinals in 2000, I remember being on the phone with my father during the final outs as I watched on the couch in the den of my childhood home. As the Mets inched closer and closer to the World Series, leading 7-0 as Mike Hampton was in the midst of a masterful three-hit shutout, there was no angst, no worry, no concern. I just told my dad, "Let's end this thing already."

This was the only time I had seen the New York Mets win the pennant until last night. The Mets wrapped up their first ever four-game sweep in a best-of-seven postseason series with an 8-3 win in which they had put up a four-spot before the Chicago Cubs ever came to bat and ended a series in which they never trailed once. It is a delirious, euphoric moment, but in no tangible way does it really feel real. There are probably many reasons for that. For one, these things always feel bizarre in the moment, and not as if they're a part of history. For another, I'm not really used to seeing good things happen to the Mets. And lastly, it was just so damn easy. The Cubs were a Vegas and popular favorite heading into this series and the Mets toyed with them as if they were the Murderer's Row Yankees facing a group of high schoolers. The Mets' offense struck early in each game and the pitching locked the Cubs' considerable offensive power down with little trouble in a way that doesn't so much prove New York's championship bonafides as it does defy belief.

And at the heart of it, that's the issue. This, what the New York Mets are doing, defies belief. This doesn't seem real or possible for a team that was tip-toeing around .500 for the first half of the season while putting out lineups where people like John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell took turns batting cleanup. This team is now going to its first World Series since I was a sophomore in high school with a starting rotation that some are calling one of the best young groups ever assembled, a lineup that is mashing when it has to and a second baseman who hit a career high of 14 home runs this season, but now has apparently been anointed by the blood of Jesus.

It all makes no god damn sense.

But maybe the only reason it doesn't feel real is because it's something I haven't felt before. I've never been a cognizant, fully-grown adult and seen this team play with anything that fills you will confidence. I've never seen them play as if victory is inevitable. I've never watched the Mets crest at the right time and bulldoze through any postseason opponent in such dominant fashion. It all seems contrary to everything I know as a fan of this team.

Whether or not it feels real, though, is irrelevant. When I woke up this morning, the postgame coverage was still running on MLB Network, the world was still on its axis and the Mets were still the 2015 National League champions. Whether or not it feels real, it is. The Mets are really on an unexpected dream run. The Mets really won the pennant last night.

The Mets are really going to be playing in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series on Tuesday night.

Hopefully my brain can wrap itself around that notion by the time 8:07 p.m. on Oct. 27 rolls around, but I take some comfort in the fact that even if my brain can't, the Mets will still be there. Do I have concerns about how they'll fare? Sure. Do I worry about the implications of facing Toronto's loaded lineup or Kansas City's impressive bullpen? Naturally. Am I fearful the Mets' six-day layoff before they play again could cool their hot bats and leave a coating of rust on each starter's elbow? You better believe I am.

But why worry? The New York Mets are playing in the World Series. There is no point in coming up with extra reasons to be anxious even if my native neuroses say otherwise. Runs like this don't happen very often, and if you're a sports fan worth his or her salt, you have to try and filter out the angst and enjoy the ride. That's my plan for now. I'm just going to strap in and soak it up until the World Series (hopefully) ends with champagne showers in the Mets' locker room, a byproduct of their third championship in 54 years.

It would be nice, though, if by then, it felt like it was real.

Last week: 2-11-1
Season: 40-49-2

 Seattle (-6.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
Buffalo (-5.5) over JACKSONVILLE
DETROIT (+2.5) over Minnesota
Atlanta (-3.5) over TENNESSEE
INDIANAPOLIS (-4.5) over New Orleans
Pittsburgh (-2) over KANSAS CITY
ST. LOUIS (-5.5) over Cleveland
Houston (+4.5) over MIAMI
NY Jets (+9) over NEW ENGLAND
Tampa Bay (+3.5) over WASHINGTON
SAN DIEGO (-4) over Oakland
NY GIANTS (-3.5) over Dallas
cAROLINA (-3.5) over Philadelphia
ARIZONA (-7.5) over Baltimore

1 comment:

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