Month: October 2011

Missing Marc

Ryan Callahan is the heart of the Rangers organization, or so some people think. I wouldn’t entirely disagree with them.  Yet, I think the Captain “C” on his jersey is for being a leader and one of the most respected guys on the team.  There’s no shame in that.

Then there’s the Sean Avery-Connecticut Whale situation.  I make no secret that I am an Avery fan.  Yet, if you go on Twitter or follow the Blue Seat Hooligan Brigade (hey, I’m a part of it too when I go to games), you’d think Avery was the rug that tied the room together.  I’m not saying he wouldn’t help but…to think that losing a game on a shootout like they did on Saturday and Avery would have somehow avoided that is missing the larger picture.  For one, and I didn’t see the game, but I do notice that as great at King Henrik is, he tends to get complacent with a big lead.  Again, I don’t know how flukey the goals were that scored but I do know that I’ve seen it up close and personal (at the playoffs last year, where I sat through horrific overtime and witnessed a fist fight between TWO Ranger fans who were like 50 years old), so I wouldn’t just absolve Henrik of his responsibility.  Even though, he had been doing his best to carry the team on his back.

John Tortorella might be the bane of existence for certain fans, but not this one.  When I miss Tom Renney, that’s totally my problem (and something that I don’t think any human should admit), but for the most part, I don’t think that firing the coach is going to do much, plus it’s kind of cutting off one’s nose to spite their face.

Sean Avery was placed on re-entry waivers today, but that doesn’t mean he will be picked up. He’s got a lot of heart and soul, and I love his gutsy play, but he’s far from the best player on the team, or someone who is a difference-maker.

You know who has been missing?  Marc Staal.

Staal has been out of commission since after a hit sustained by his brother in a game from February last year.  I’ve detailed that here at this site, how strongly I feel about concussive disorders, especially in sports.  No matter what, they seemed to be handled all wrong.  But with good reason.  I mean, we’re talking about a BRAIN INJURY folks.  They can’t be handled too lightly, in my opinion.

What concerns me though, is how quickly he’s recovering.  Eric Lindros is a perfect example of someone who had a brain of mush figuratively when it came to hits on the ice.  It took him an incredible amount of time to recover.  Same with Pat LaFontaine who had to retire after sustaining too many concussions.  I totally agreed with how the Rangers handled his symptoms by not having him go with the team to Europe, which was essentially the beginning of a long road trip and spending a lot of time in the air.  But I have to ask the question: is he coming back this year?  I know concussions are really tricky, but it suggests to me that perhaps he rushed back last season, or maybe was handled differently.

I know in baseball, players don’t want to be DL’d and some guys would want to play with limbs hanging from their bodies, but at what expense? To hurt the team overall when they play hurt because they are not 100%?  Is that what happened in Staal’s case?  Or did he feel fine, then didn’t after returning? It just boggles me.

Perhaps it’s his durability, since he’s rarely missed a game in these last few seasons, that is missed.  Perhaps it’s that he’s a 6’4″ 208 lb muscle man who can protect his goalie to the extent that Henrik doesn’t have to do it all on his own.  Perhaps it’s the lack of set-up passes to the centers and wingers who can shoot the puck.  Perhaps it’s his leadership, the je ne sais quoi that maybe Cally doesn’t have?  Nothing to knock my boy Ryan, but I’m just grasping here.  Staal is 24 years old, and it would be very tragic if his career had to end suddenly because of a fluke hit by his own brother nine months ago.

At the end of the day, one of the reasons why Rangers fans were so excited about the prospect of having Brad Richards on the team was that perhaps he could pick up Marian Gaborik, who had a noticeable drop off in goal scoring in 2010-11, over a 30 goal differential.  The Rangers no doubt need that goal scoring potential; then again, they didn’t make the playoffs when Gabby was shooting-and-scoring, and they did when he did not.

Perhaps it is Marc Staal who is the missing link, who needs to be back to tie the room together much like the rug in the Big Lebowski.  All I know is whatever it is the Rangers are missing, Sean Avery nor firing the coach nor benching Henke will help.  Staal has been the missing link this entire season.  Yet I have to wonder if he’s going to return this season.

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Bye-Week Blues

The baseball season officially ended Friday night.  Congrats to the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans for one helluva ride. What Met fan couldn’t identify with Nelson Cruz and the way the Game Six just kept going and going?  It reminded me of our Game Six, but it was like a 1986 Game Six-lite, since it was so sloppily played beforehand.  I was rooting for Texas, because I’d visited there over the summer, and I thought the area was really great.  The best “heckle” if you can even call it that was “Boo YOU!” when I wore my Reyes 7 jersey to the game.  I even met their version of Cow-Bell Man in “El Rangerdoro.”  Sorry for Texas, I guess everything isn’t as big as they claim it to be.

Moving right along, what is it with the OTHER Rangers, you know, the one I actually root for?  They give up late leads and have to go to shoot-outs and it’s just not cool.  For those who want Sean Avery back, well, I like Avery as much as the next person but that ship has sailed.  He’s not who he used to be.  Christensen isn’t the guy either, but hasn’t it occurred to others that maybe it’s the loss of Marc Staal?  Say what you want about Captain Cally, Staal is the pulse of the team.  Without him, expect this team to fall short many many times.

As for my Jets, they had a bye-week.  It was different for me, because there were games I had a vested interest in like Pittsburgh/New England, and even the Giants game, but my own team wasn’t playing.  So I did what any self-respecting fan did…and slept till 1 pm, and didn’t have “breakfast” till 3 pm.  Don’t worry, I got all caught up with the games later on.  Unfortunately, my husband’s team plays in Seattle (the Seahawks, natch), but their game didn’t make it on at all.  We know places where there’s streaming, but I had custody of the laptop during the games.

Then I started thinking.  Baseball is over.  My hockey team had the night off.   They play even more sparingly than baseball teams.  My team has a bye-week.

What the Hell am I gonna do?

I’m gonna watch my Sex & the City DVDs, catch up on DVR and bitch about not having sports to watch on my blog.

Sounds like a fine Sunday evening to me.

When Did I Become the “Elder?”

Today is the 25th anniversary of the last championship the Mets won.  Today, the Mets blogosphere is saturated with stories of Game Seven, summaries, “What-Was-I-Doing-When…” stories, among others.

As Mets fans, we appreciate the history of this team, albeit quirky and riddled with more ennui than excitement.  While I think we tend to romanticize the “down years” a little too much, this date reminds us of how we can all look back with fondness and glee, remembering where you were exactly when the Mets last won a World Series.

Unless, of course, you weren’t born by then or were alive, but do not have vivid memories of their last bombastic year.

When the Mets won in 1986, I was 10 years old.  I was one of the youngest people at the game that night (although I do remember a little boy sitting next to me, who had to have been six).  Now, I’m one of the elders.

How the Hell did that happen?

A lot can happen in 25 years.  A person who was born in 1986 could be a pitcher for the Mets now (as Jonathon Niese is, as well as Pedro Beato), someone who was born after could be married and have children (like Josh Thole)…at the very least, has a license and a Joe Schmoe job like the rest of us if he was not lucky enough to have a talent for baseball and couldn’t get drafted by the Mets.  Yet, in 25 years, I have become a sage, a wise fan who can share the old war stories about 1986.

Again, I ask, how did that happen?

When I was 10, I looked to people like my dad and his friends who all went to games together to tell me about the past, what it was like to see a game at the Polo Grounds (my dad and his best friend were usually taken to the games by their respective older brothers), to tell me about 1969 (my dad skipped school so he could watch it that day), when Tom Seaver was traded (I was in my crib, my dad crying at the television during the evening news), the Hendu Can-Do Walk-Off (which reminds us that even in darkness, there is a light at the end), and then when Keith Hernandez was traded to the Mets (I decided that if my dad liked those guys, then I would like them too).

Over the years, I’ve made lots of my own memories, mostly good, even in the down years.  One of my favorite Mets teams in my older years was in 1999, which defied all logic to go on to the National League Championship Series by sheer determination.  Sometimes, I appreciate that team more than 1986 because we all knew they would win in 1986; 1999 was a lovely surprise.  On the other end of the spectrum, 2006 raised our expectations so high, that we still have not recovered from the disappointing end to that season.

In some ways, 1986 is all we have for our bragging rights, the team that didn’t give a damn about anyone and made New York proud.

So for Mike, and Matt, and the rest of you whipper snappers over at the Stache, I know I have to regale you with stories from Game Seven in ’86.  My dad was in attendance at Game Six, and met some folks who drove from Rhode Island to see what could have potentially been the clinching game for their Red Sox.  Of course, we all know what happened Game Six.  Turns out, these folks had four tickets to a deciding Game Seven, which they could no longer attend (bear in mind, Game Six was on a Saturday, and Game Seven was supposed to be on Sunday…the original “Game Seven” was rained out and scheduled for Monday).  My dad offered to buy the tickets, and went home $400 lighter, but richer in four field level box seats.

I still to this day wonder how my dad pulled that one off.  But if Karma does indeed exist, perhaps we’ve been paying for that ticket in more ways than one today.

I remember the night was one of those humid nights, where there’s a chill in the air but it had rained all day the previous day, so there was haze.  I remember having my palms sweaty, and even crying at one point because the Mets weren’t doing anything (Hey, I was 10…leave me alone).

I remember a nice lady sitting behind me, telling me that they would turn it on the sixth inning. I had to believe her, because I knew, even at 10, that the Mets were not going to lose that game, even when they were losing.  Sid Fernandez saved the day, then Keith Hernandez drove in two runs in the sixth inning.  She was right, and the Mets were on their way.

I remember not sitting THE ENTIRE GAME.  AT. ALL.  No schmoes were yelling at us to sit “down in front” or anything like that.  I don’t remember any Red Sox fans in the area, but I’m sure there had to be some there.  I do remember, however, walking around the concourse in the old field level at Shea, where I saw effigies of burned red socks laying around the corridor (get it??).  I remember the couple next to us singing vulgar songs about how “Boston Sucks.”  I remember trying to look for Bo Fields, the “rolling arms lady” who was featured behind home plate rolling her arms around like a mad woman (I also met her a few years later, I want to say in 1989 or 1990).  I remember a little kid sitting next to me (the six year old boy I referenced earlier) with a WatchMan, and I remember us looking at each other when Darryl Strawberry tried to catch what I believe to became a Dwight Evans home run.  This is where my 25-year old memory as a 10-year old might have tricked me.

I remember not being quiet for the last three innings of the game.  I remember that I didn’t see that lady who warned me about the sixth inning till the end of the game, which may have made her some kind of oracle, a vision who was reassuring me that the Mets would be all right.

The same night that Pedro Beato and Jonathon Niese were born, I was chanting “We’re Number One! We’re Number One!” after the game had ended, when Rick Aguilera, Bobby Ojeda, Tim Teufel (I think…) and Lenny Dykstra were drinking booze on the mound.  Also, keep in mind that three of those four guys were arrested in Houston for a bar room brawl earlier in the season.

These guys didn’t care about what ANYONE thought of them.  Bobby O even said in Jeff Pearlman’s The Bad Guys Won that these guys would have died in battle with the other, and that’s what made the team so special.  This is the team that has held my heart for so many years, yet has set the standard for disappointment or fallen just short since then.

What is the difference between that team and today’s teams, plural?  This team had the luxury of waiting a few years, getting good draft picks, using picks to get established talent to build up the team and they went on for success, though they only won ONE World Championship.  In some ways, that team also fell short, but there were also outside demons we later found out about, especially with the hopes of the future Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry addictions.  Good luck getting anyone to wait or exercise patience for that.  We certainly see that in today’s “I-Want-It-NOW” fans, no matter the fan base.

Many people knew I was in attendance at Game Seven at Shea Stadium in 1986.  This is one of the first times I’ve shared my stories and memories with a blog in the time I’ve been writing about the team.  I’ve made allusions to it, but I never discussed that night.  There are some nights that I still wish Shea existed, that I could walk around the corridors again, much like that night in October 1986, to get that same feeling washed over me again and I could bask in the glory one more time.

Until we make new memories at CitiField, this will be all we have till then.  So celebrate it and acknowledge it, but I’m looking forward to the day where some kid who was born in 1986 or afterwards can say 25 years after the fact, “Hey, remember when we won in X-year?”  It will be their turn to pass on the memories to the next generation.  I just hope that is sooner rather than later.

#BlameBuckner /sarcasm

Today is the 25th anniversary of a gigantic moment in Mets history, and that’s the celebration of Game Six.

Whether you were alive, a child, a baby, an adult, not even born yet, chances are an elder has sat you down and either played the last inning of the game or has told them the story verbatim.  I like to say that Mets fans are into the history of the team like no other fan base…we celebrate it and love to analyze it more than any other I am aware of (Yankees don’t count since mostly it’s about them winning…we appreciate the losing years a little TOO much at times I feel).  I call Mets history “Mets porn.”  This game is just probably the biggest money shot of them all, with all the ghosts of miracles past coming into play and as one of my dad’s friend put it that night, “God put his hand over Shea Stadium tonight.”

I was at home, watching the game with my mom.  She fell asleep around the time Dave Henderson hit the go-ahead home run in the top of the 10th inning.  I was 10 years old.  My dad, as I alluded above, was at the game.  I know it sounds cliche to say this 25 years after the fact, but at 10 years old, sitting on my mom’s bed watching the game, I wasn’t aware that the Mets *could* lose, that they were allowed to.  I often say that in Dwight Gooden’s rookie year, he lost nine games, and I swear I witnessed four of them live.  I knew the Mets could lose or had the capacity to, but I also didn’t think they would lose THIS game.

This isn’t going to be a retrospective of “What did I do during Game 6,” though Mark Simon from ESPN Mets Blog does that for me today.  It’s how history has rewritten Game Six as a Red Sox loss rather than a Mets win.  Sure, today we have a bunch of warm fuzzies discussing the event in most Mets forums today (after all, it’s much better to look at the past today than the present or at least the very near future), but for the most part if you look at how Game Six is in the lexicon of baseball fans, it’s how the Red Sox, Cursed Team of the North, were one strike away on several different occasions from tying up the win AND the series, but did not.  It’s never been about how the Mets were going on sheet guts and guile to win the game in a dramatic come-from-behind victory.

I’ve also felt bad for Bill Buckner for several years.  Just like how history rewrote the game as a Red Sox loss and not a Mets win, Buckner has gotten his share of the blame for the last play of the game.  Even the documentary Catching Hell discussed how the Red Sox media and fans treated Buckner afterwards.  Certainly, I can understand the power of the scapegoat…I am a Mets fan who has had to deal with the nuclear fallout of Carlos Beltran taking strike three in 2006.

Yet, being an amateur Mets historian as I like to think of myself, it amazes me just how many people think that the Mets actually WON the World Series in that game.  If it was…why was the loss and subsequent comeback so dramatic?  They still have Game 7 to play.  The Red Sox STILL blew a 3-run lead that game.

Buckner misplayed the “little roller along first,” but in order for the Mets to win, they had to have tied it at that point, right?  Furthermore, the dynamic changer of that inning was not the bunch of singles that got the Mets’ juices flowing, but it was Bob Stanley’s wild pitch. I’ve often said that no one was happier about Buckner letting the ball go through his legs than Stanley, who had allowed a run to score from third on the play.

Yes, even the good times in Mets lore have been marred by backhanded compliments, and ways to discredit their victory.  The biggest discredit of them all is blaming Buckner.  I’d like to hope that people don’t blame him or look at the bigger picture.  I know that five years after the fact, people still blame Beltran for all the Mets woes to this day (I, personally, blame Duaner Sanchez for getting hungry on July 30, 2006, in Miami).  Did you know, as a “for instance,” that then-Red Sox manager John McNamara usually replaced Buckner defensively in later innings but opted to keep him in the game so he could “celebrate?”  Where’s the ire towards him for putting the proverbial cart before the horse?

Today is a significant day in Mets culture.  There is no question about it.  However, I hope it doesn’t take another 25 years before people see the bigger picture of what really happened here…and that the Mets earned this victory by sheer determination, hard work and grit: something really lacking in today’s game.

Jets Charge with Their Best Foot Forward

The Jets enter Week 8, coinciding with their “bye” week, with a bang, a victory over the San Diego Chargers of 27-21, and a winning record to boot (4-3).

That “WHEW” you just heard came from the collective Jets fan base. Notice that you didn’t hear anything about Brian Schottenheimer or the defense or Mark Sanchez either.  I guess it’s easy to forget all that stuff that Monday Morning Quarterbacks like to discuss, especially when they win.

If you had listened to the media prior to the game, after Rex Ryan had off-the-cuff said something to the effect of, he had interviewed for Norv Turner’s job in 2007, but also made a little dig about their lack of championships in that time period.

Well, I think I would have had a couple rings. I’m telling you, those teams were loaded.

Sigh.  I mean, Rex couldn’t have possibly said something that was taken out of context, nor something that would potentially make him look bad.  He hasn’t exactly won anything with the Jets, but then his team has made it to the Conference Championship two years in a row, mostly on guts and the back of a young quarterback.  Not too shabby, but of course the media ran all over it.

The Jets didn’t have much of a chance against the real-deal-holy-feel Chargers, who got off to a 4-1 start this season, while the Jets infamously lost three in a row on the road.  The Jets are now undefeated at home.  Of course, in the first drive of the game, it seemed like it was practically right after kickoff, Chargers returned a “fumble” for a TD.

I had a bad migraine at that point, and I told my husband, “I’m going out for coffee.  If this team expects me to watch this crap, I need to have caffeine.”  When I returned, things didn’t sound much better.  Nick Mangold had a penalty that nullified what should have been a clean TD. This would be the theme of the day, lots of flags that made the game almost painful to watch at times.

William Perlman, The Star Ledger

It seemed like the Jets were predestined to lose, especially with all the experts coming out against them.  After all, with Rex doing a lot of talking, the only game they’ve won in four weeks being against the Dolphins, and a bunch of pissed off Charger players who thought they were being dissed, it looked so.  Of course, it was then I remembered this was the Jets, and they never make anything easy (kind of like my other two teams), and our ace in the hole was Plaxico Burress.  I happen to like Burress a lot.  I’m happy he’s in the Jets’ end zone when it matters (but mostly yesterday).

The Jets won a game against a “legit” team, though, and it seems people still don’t want to give them any credit.  I am a fan, they frustrate me to no end.  They may be a little rough around the edges in some places, but it should not surprise any of us to see that they had a bit of a slow start.

There was no cap-tipping or rather helmet-tipping to the Jets by the Chargers, who had a bunch of BMW (bitchin’-moanin’-whinin’) going on after the game.  For one, I was just as annoyed with all the flags (even those in the Jets’ favor), but it’s nothing but sour grapes when San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer says that the refs gave the Jets the game.  This is a team most others want to beat, and you couldn’t.  I get it, Jammer.

That’s not to say that bad calls went both ways against both teams.  I thought they were all getting a little ridiculous.  Yet, each Jets win is discounted by some “factor.”  A game is a game, and a win is a win.  People were ready to discount the win against the Dolphins on Monday simply because they hadn’t won a game this season.  Now, it’s because of the calling.  Even though they won, they can’t win.  Rex Ryan probably had the last laugh here.

You Stay Classy, San Diego.

By the way, what the hell was Philip Rivers doing at the end of the game there?  I swear, he wasn’t even trying.  It looked like at points, Norv Turner was going to have a conniption, but mostly, it worked out to our favor.  I was surprised that even though it looked unlikely, he didn’t even try to really keep the team in the game at the end, even throwing it out of bounds.  I think that was the last play of the game, if I’m not mistaken.  Ryan alluded that he expected to see the Chargers again in the postseason, and it’s quite a possible scenario.  Maybe the Chargers were saving their energy for that game, if it comes to that?  I suppose time will tell.

Which Way Do We Go, George?

People who know me as a Mets fan know that I live, breathe and eat (sleep too, since they can show up in my dreams) all things Mets.  So when they ask me “what would YOU do this off-season in regards to…fill-in-the-blank?” (Mostly concerning Jose Reyes, but also how to improve the team)…I really have no clue how to respond.

The past season wasn’t just one thing that stood out to me.  The Mets ranked number six in the National League in runs scored, so scoring runs wasn’t a problem…yet, they didn’t have a 100+ RBI guy at all (and the guy who led the entire team in 2011 was no longer on the team as of the end of July).  Plus, even with the scoring run potential, that didn’t mean much since it wasn’t enough to win.  This suggests to me that what needs the most revamping is the pitching, from top to bottom.  There just needs to be a douching of the entire staff.

First things first, I want to address the “Jose Reyes Factor.”  I love Jose Reyes, I’d like nothing more than for him to be a Met for life.  If you had asked me at the beginning of last season what I thought should be job one, I would not have blinked when I said, “We need to keep Jose Reyes.”  Being a big market team is one thing: being a shithead with your payroll and tying it to one player is another.  Not to mention, other ownership outliers, which Mike Silva from NY Baseball Digest addresses.

This post isn’t about Jose Reyes though.  It goes into where the crux of the Mets problems has been for the past five years essentially.  Pitching hasn’t been horrible, but hasn’t been fantastic or show-stopping either.  I love R.A. Dickey, but when he’s your ace, this is a problem.  Please, spare me the whole “Well, when Johan Santana comes back…”  That is Omar Minaya-esque rationalization, and we have no idea what he’ll be like when he returns from several injury-ridden seasons, and one season where he was out for its entirety.

It’s time to see where Sandy Alderson views as pros, cons, strengths and weaknesses of this team.  I had a conversation with Metstradamus a few days ago about how he could have bettered the team going into 2011, like trading Angel Pagan and/or Mike Pelfrey when they were at their highest value.  Now they have about as much value as dog poop under a shoe.  The point is, in 2011, Alderson was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t…do anything, that is.  If he traded Pelfrey, we would have screamed as he had a better in St. Louis or someplace like that.  People would have “never rooted for the team again” if Angel Pagan their darling who clearly peaked in 2010, was gone.  Of course, I am exaggerating but this was something that clearly could have been something positive for the Mets if Alderson had gone the proactive root.

Don’t misunderstand me: I am happy Alderson is on our side.  Yet, with Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran officially off the books, this is now HIS team to run with and improve.  If Silva is correct and the money thing is more of a deterrent than we know (I happen to believe Wilpons are holding onto the team for selfish reasons, but don’t believe it will preclude from them spending money this offseason if need be…Selig, warts and all, would never let a large market team go under on his watch), we may not have Reyes, but there are other places I think that need improvement that probably don’t need millions of dollars to revamp or just for the sake of spending.

My philosophy now is with the official release of the dimensions changing, this is the time to address a big gaping hole in the Mets organization in the last few years and that’s pitching.  Getting good starters is one thing, but if you look at the playoff teams this year, they ALL have deep and very strong bullpens.  Where have the Mets lost a lot of games these past few years?  In back innings.  There were two games against the Milwaukee Brewers in the summer where they have late inning leads, just to see them blown by an inconsistent jumpy bullpen.  Since we’re on the topic too, why the Hell wasn’t Dan Warthen let go in the coaching shake up this year??  That’s mind blowing.  You see the Cardinals, you see Rangers, they have Dave Duncan and Mike Maddux, respectively, as their pitching coaches.  We have Warthen.  We suck in the pitching department.  Bring back Peterson or get better pitchers, goddammit.

So which way do we go?  Barring any catastrophe with Reyes, I will not jump ship, but if pitching is not seriously addressed to go with the new dimensions of the stadium and for a stronger ‘pen, I will go ape.

Is It Necessary?

I just want to state up front that I am not a fan of instant replay expanding to baseball.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I don’t mind it in certain circumstances.  Like arguing strikes/balls or swinging/holding, I think is dumb, a waste of time and takes away from the game.  The home run “instant replay” is good for now.  Maybe extend to fair and foul balls.

During the Cards and Rangers World Series game, on a nationally televised game, the first base umpire clearly let one get away, as he called a runner at first safe, after he had been tagged.   Unfortunately, the entire postseason has been marred with botched calls at one point or another.  That’s not to say it hasn’t been around baseball for-freaking-ever.  The Cardinals were on the bad end of a bad call in 1985, which directly related to the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series. How hard is it, though, for a first base umpire to make a call when he is standing RIGHT THERE as the play unfolds?  Perhaps at that point, it’s less of an instant replay thing, and a “better umpire” thing.  (Thanks to Senor Solly for posting that on the Gal For All Seasons page).

I’m all for improving the quality of the game, but I even said on a podcast for Living with Sportz that I didn’t like instant replay that “I’m a purist.”  Yet, I know there have been some give-and-take with that definition.  I mean, my dad has lived through generations that started with the starting pitching encouraged to not only finish nine innings, but go the distance in extra innings and now has specialty pitching.  I grew up with only two teams from each league making the postseason, and now four teams do, and there are two rounds before the World Series.  I mean, the game changes, for better or worse.  I think instant replay is a waste of time in certain circumstances.  There are some things that just beg for getting better umpires, and not nickel and dime everything in instant replay.  Look at football.  They have instant replay and they STILL sometimes fuck up calls!

I’m curious to think of what the readers here think about it.   Feel free to comment away.  In the meantime, I will state that I will be very upset if the Rangers lose to the Cardinals tonight because of a blown call (though they did mount a realistic comeback).  Whether instant replay would have come into play is inconsequential.  Where are the rulers coming down on the umpires for screwing up an easy call to begin with?  Not to mention, Matt Harrison COULD have pitched better and gotten his stuff together.

It’s never just one thing, just the visible one.  I’m sure Steve Bartman can tell us about that.

That’s a Hell of a Hat Henrik’s Wearing

The Broadway Hat

The Rangers finally won their first game Tuesday night, on their grand ol’ road trip across Canada.  Wish I was there, following them around.  They opened their trip on the west coast against Vancouver, and for most of the game it looked as though they were going to repeat their short history this year, and either go into overtime or tie or whatever. My old man texted me that the Rangers are 1-1-1-1 and have 9 goals against and scored 9 goals.  I think that’s telling for the short season so far.  Hopefully, it only goes up.

Henrik Lundqvist held his title as “King” and really did his part to keep it 0-0 for the first two periods.  Thank goodness those boys had their Wheaties or did push ups in the locker room.  I hadn’t turned the TV on all day in my house, and wanted to keep it that way.  My Twitter friends told me not to bother.  When they started scoring, I didn’t want to jinx things.

The big news though was after the game, Henke was seen wearing a pretty fabulous hat.  When asked, it turns out Brad Richards bought it in Europe, and they agreed to wear it after each win (hat tip to Blueshirts United for that story).

Love that the guys are keeping it fun, even if they did get off to a slow start.  I’m also thrilled they won a game already.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Who Gives A Shit?

When I first started to understand sports, I would ask my dad if he was watching a game and I missed it, “Who’s winning?”  If my team was losing he’d normally say the “other” team’s name.  When the Mets or whoever was on, and they were winning, he’d say, “We’re up.”  Then whatever the score is.

Look, Jets fans! "WE" Won!

I remember another time a few years ago, I was down in Tampa, right across the street from Tropicana Field where the Yankees of all teams were visiting (I was down there for unrelated reasons).  I asked one of the bartenders, “Hey, who won tonight?”  He answered, “We did!”  I said, “Uh….yeah, could you be more specific?  That could be either team!”  He laughed, told me it was Tampa who won.  I guess you could understand my confusion since Tampa does house many Yankee fans (even Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox fans, but that’s neither here nor there).

Yet, whenever a fan of the same denomination and you talk, we pepper our conversations like, “You know what we need?  We need pitching.”  Or “I’d love for us to have THAT guy on our team.”  Or “We’re winning, 3-nothing.”  Or “We’re going to the World Series!!!” (We Mets fans haven’t said that for awhile)

Anyway, I came across an article on Grantland (Hat tip to Blondie’s Jake for linking out to it initially) on the usage of “We” in the context of talking about our favorite sports teams.  I guess it must be a slow-news week for sports or something, because quite frankly of all the self-righteous and soapboxy type things I’ve read (and trust me, I’ve read a lot, even wrote a few of them myself), this is by far one of the biggest penis-sizing contests I’ve ever read.

Seriously, does anyone give a shit about talking about our favorite teams in the context of “we” or “us?”  I know the author referred to Green Bay Packers fans as having somewhat of a right to say it since they are equity partners there, but it’s a phrase that kind of has no meaning.  Like a cliche, I guess.  Doesn’t mean this author is right or wrong has a point.  It’s just a dumb point to bring up.

One of the great things about sports is a sense of camaraderie you have with other fans who are like-minded and root for the same team you do and hope and believe just like you do.  Not to mention, many of the fans who use “we” in the context of talking about their team are die hards, they live and breathe with each move of the team, whether it’s baseball, football, basketball, hockey, hell even arena football. So why begrudge them saying “We” when they talk to other fans or friends about the state of the team?  It’s self-righteousness to the Nth degree here.

When the Mets won the World Series in 1986, I was 10 years old, and I happened to be in the stands for Game Seven.  It’s something that at 10 years old, I probably didn’t have a better appreciation of till I was much older…especially when the Mets were absolutely terrible in the 1990s, till the late ’90s, when it became fun again.  The reason I stuck around all those years when friends and family were defecting to the Yankees or leaving baseball entirely was because of that moment in the stands.  I wasn’t so young that I didn’t realize the moment was much bigger than me.  I still never forgot that.  Talking about that night with other fans who happened to be there, or even my dad who was there for both Games Six AND Seven, it’s something you just don’t forget.  Try stopping someone who talked about being there for Game Six in 1986 when they say, “When WE won that game…”  I triple dog dare you.  Being a part of something larger than yourself is a part of sports,

So Chris Jones at Grantland doesn’t think it’s “cool” that we use that term.  To that I ask, who the hell is that hipster douchecanoe to judge?  Is he a “true” sports fan? (And don’t get me started on other people judging other people’s sports fandom…I’m using it for emphasis here, I really could care less about it).

So I interject “We” or “Us” into my conversations about the Mets, the Rangers or the Jets.  Sue me for speaking “out of context.”  I’m far from the only one to do it, and we’re not going anywhere.

Deal with it.

Dog and Pony Show

I know that I am flogging a dead horse, but may I ask what the hell does the All-Star Game in July have to do with the World Series?

Apparently, a lot, since home field advantage for the World Series, is decided by a game that has nothing to do with the outcome of the season or who goes to the game or what.  I’ve been on my soapbox on that quite a bit, so I won’t go into my “Bud Selig is a fucking moron” rant.

Yet as I am watching the opening game of a potential seven game series between a Wild Card winner and the AL West divisional champ…well I guess if you want to wax poetic about it, the fact that a Wild Card team is in the World Series is a testament to the Wild Card age.  I get that.

But am I crazy to think that there’s no way in hell that a Wild Card team should have home field advantage in the World Series UNLESS they have a better record than the other team?

If you think about it, Prince Fielder (first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, whose team was beat by the National League Champion, St. Louis Cardinals) gave the NL home field advantage by hitting a rocket of a home run off CJ Wilson, the starting pitcher for the AL champion Texas Rangers tonight…and ultimately for what?  So that the team who beat Fielder’s team that didn’t have a better record in the regular season can have home field advantage.

I just want to state that I have no problem with how the teams got there…in fact, the Cardinals have had a pretty improbable run, a longshot for the Wild Card, and “backing in” on Game 162 day by the Atlanta Braves to the Philadelphia Phillies: the team the Cards beat to get to the NLCS.  Baseball is an amazing sport, one of great stories and dramatic themes.  The Cardinals are no exception to that.

Yet, when I think back to “great stories” or “dramatic themes,” I don’t go back to the All-Star Game and say, wow, wasn’t it great the NL won home field advantage for the World Series then?  No, I mean, even though Prince Fielder’s team had a chance to go to the big show and directly profit off that win, if Carlos Beltran had hit the home run to get the NL the win, it would make even LESS sense.

The All-Star Game is a dog and pony show, and I don’t even really care to watch it each year (I mostly do so because my husband likes it still…whatevs).  It’s hard to say that there wasn’t an “earning” of home field advantage because that would diminish the Cardinals’ run to the big show, that’s not what I’m saying.

But I can’t be the only person who thinks it’s ridick that a team with a worse record gets home field because of a game that means absolutely nothing three months earlier over a team that has a better record and may be used to their “advantage.”

You may return to your regularly scheduled programming.