Monday, September 29, 2008

Mets End an Era, Define Another

The last game at the William A. Shea Municipal Stadium: Florida Marlins 4, New York Mets 2. The Mets choke again. My Entire Team Sucks.

An era-defining game. It defines the 2005-08 Mets as losers, chokers and flops:

2006: Blowing the National League Pennant in Game 7 of the League Championship Series against an 83-win team.

2007: Blowng a 7-game lead with 17 to play and missing the Playoffs completely -- in a year when 5 teams, not 4, made the NL Playoffs.

2008: Blowing a 3 1/2-game lead with 17 to play and missing the Playoffs completely -- in a year when, had the Mets won, it would have been 5 teams making it.

Maybe they should keep the stadium and demolish the roster.

Can't blame Carlos Beltran for yesterday's loss, but what has he done for them? Can't blame Oliver Perez either, since he had only 3 days rest and was hit on the hand and gave them 4 very good innings along with the 2 shaky ones. Can't blame Carlos Delgado for this season, since he practically carried the Mets in the second half, but where was he last year, when the same kind of season would probably (considering who did make the NL Playoffs) have put the Mets in the World Series.

David Wright? The Invisible Man. Jose Reyes? A vanishing act -- so that's what they mean by "Mets Magic." Billy Wagner? Can't fault him this time, injuries happen, but the previous 2 years, oh yeah. Pedro Martinez? No, can't fault him, either, again due to injuries, but the organization should've known this was an injury-prone pitcher, to say nothing of his other faults.

Of course, the kind of Met fans who gave me hell in the 1980s, the kind of fans I long ago branded "the Flushing Heathen," will find a way to exonerate the players and blame Willie Randolph. "Witless Willie the Yankee."

Yikes, these guys (a few of them, anyway) actually booed Yogi Berra and Al Leiter at the postgame ceremony due to their Yankee contributions (as if Al's amounted to much). Well, in that case, perhaps you should give back those 1973 and 2000 Pennants, cutting your total in half.

In all seriousness, the booing of Yogi and Leiter was minimal, but noticable. And inexcusable. As was seeing, on SNY, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fans leaving early. Hey, come on, just because you were betrayed by the 2006-08 Mets doesn't mean you should turn your back on the boys of 1969, 1973, 1986 and 2000! How dare you! Typical Heathen.

No, for this 3rd straight horrific ending to a season that had such promise, blame the players, who choked -- some of them for the 2nd straight season, some of them for the 3rd. And blame Omar Minaya, who put them together.

One person we should not blame is Jerry Manuel. He came into Flushing in mid-season, took what is really a .500 team, and managed them to an 89-win season. He deserves another chance.

As for the closing ceremony, it must've brought a few tears to see the great Dave Kingman again. But where was Frank Taveras? Okay, seriously, where was Steve Henderson? Skip Lockwood? Oh, you want winners? Where was Ken Boswell? Al Weis? Gary Gentry? Rick Aguilera?

Ray Knight was broadcasting for the Washington Nationals. He'd rather broadcast the last of 102 losses for baseball's worst team than "Shea Goodbye"? Wow, that speaks volumes.

Roger McDowell is the pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves, which not only explains why he wasn't at Shea, but maybe also why the Graves haven't made the Playoffs since 2005.

McDowell wasn't there? Oh, spit! Speaking of spit, where was Roberto Alomar?

And where was 1969 World Champion Nolan Ryan? And where was 1986 World Champion Kevin Mitchell? (Probably not a pair of names you want to remind Met fans of.)

And 92-year-old Julia Ruth Stevens had a better last pitch than 64-year-old Tom Seaver. And, unlike Tom Terrific, the Babe's daughter couldn't even blame it on having a hideous defensive catcher!

The closing -- literally a closing -- should have been Seaver flanked by Carter and Piazza. The defining players of the Mets' 3 great eras -- or should I say "great" eras.

If Citi Field lasts the same amount of time, 45 seasons, in 2053 Jose Reyes and David Wright will be 70, Carlos Beltran 78, Billy Wagner 82, and Johan Santana 74. Assuming any or all of them are still alive, I wonder how they'll be received?

Oh, well. At least the Mets finished with a better record than the Yankees, right?

Right? Anybody? Bueller?

*

Congratulations to the Milwaukee Brewers for reaching the Playoffs for the first time since the first Moonwalk. Michael Jackson's, that is, not Neil Armstrong's, but long enough. First time since 1982. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was in the 700s -- about 10,000 points less than it is now, even after today, when the stock market did a pretty good impression of the Mets!

Tomorrow, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins will have a Playoff for the AL Central title. Imagine that: The White Sox, Cubs and Brewers all making the Playoffs in the same year. In fact, no 2 of those 3 have ever done it in the same year. Almost as amazing as the Twins, who let Johan Santana go, making it, and the Mets, who signed him, not.

So it will be the Anaheim Angels vs. the Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays vs. the ChiSox-Twins winner, the Chicago Cubs vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the Milwaukee Brewers.

This looks like the LCS will be as follows: Angels vs. ChiSox, and Cubs vs. Phils. Four teams known for long title droughts, although the Angels and ChiSox recently busted theirs, and the Phils' "bust" is so long ago they've started another drought.

The World Series: I'd like to see the Phils, Cubs, or ChiSox do it. But I'm thinking Angels over Cubs in 7. A revenge for the World Series shown in the film "Taking Care of Business" with Jim Belushi and Charles Grodin.

*

The Yankees ended the season with the exact same record as the Mets, 89-73, yet the ending was so much better. Mainly because they didn't put their fans through hell in September. The purgatory of July and August was bad enough, though.

Mike Mussina got win Number 20 of the season and Number 270 of his career. But we may have seen the last in Pinstripes of Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Melky Cabrera, and possibly also Robinson Cano. And, of course, the last of the original Yankee Stadium.

(UPDATE: It was, indeed, the last game as a Yankee for Giambi, Abreu, and even Mussina. But Cabrera and Cano returned for 2009 -- and a good thing, too.)

The Yankees ended the season like a lame-duck President.

The Mets ended the season like the dictator of a banana republic, who saw the revolution coming, threw everything he had at it, saw that it wasn't enough, and finally saw the people turn on him.

As the Brooklyn Dodgers' fans used to say, "Wait 'til next year."

*

My father and I saw Rutgers play Morgan State on Saturday in a game-long misting rain. Fortunately, I was in the last row of the lower level, just barely under the upper-deck overhang. RU jumped out to a 38-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 38-0 victory. Yes, it was just like it sounds.

Morgan State, based in Baltimore, is a "historically black school" in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, a Division I-AA school. So is Norfolk State, of Virginia, who we throttled last year (which Dad and I also saw live). So is Howard, of Washington, D.C., who we clobbered the year before (I didn't see that one live, but my father did). They don't have football teams capable of hanging with Division I-A schools, but their bands are incredible. Morgan State's is called The Magnificent Marching Machine, and I won't dispute the name.

Morgan State came up to this area a few times to play Louisiana's Grambling State University in the Whitney M. Young Jr. Urban League Classic. Young ran the Urban League and was a titan of the civil rights movement. The game was played at Yankee Stadium from 1971 to 1987, except for 1974 and '75 when it was held at Shea due to Yankee Stadium's renovation, and has been held at Giants Stadium ever since. Presumably, they'll keep it going at the new Meadowlands Stadium starting in 2010.

*

My Premiership picks were good, but the one that mattered the most to me was way off.

Arsenal 1-2 Hull City. Loss. Hull is for real, and Arsenal needs work, and has a Champions League match coming up.

Everton 0-2 Liverpool. Win, "on the road." Not surprised, as there's a reason Everton's color is blue. In the city of Liverpool, they're forever Number 2.

Aston Villa 2-1 Sunderland. Win. I figured this would be a good one, and it was.

Fulham 1-2 West Ham. Win, on the road. I don't know how Fulham beat Arsenal earlier in the year, because they've been dreadful ever since. Maybe they used up their miracles on that one.

Manchester United 2-0 Bolton. Win, though I would have preferred Bolton to emerge victorious. Like I suggested, Alex Ferguson wasn't going to put up with continued mediocrity from his bums. (That's "bums" in the U.S. sense, meaning "no good," not in the U.K. sense, meaning "rear ends," although considering Wayne Rooney, that may also apply.)

Middlesbrough 0-1 West Bromwich Albion. Loss, and a road win for West Brom. I goofed that one.

Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea. Win. No surprise there.

Wigan 2-1 Manchester City. Loss. Maybe Man City is not for real, as was previously suggested.

Newcastle 1-2 Blackburn. Win on the road. Newcastle is horrible. But at least they're not as bad as Spurs.

Portsmouth 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur. Win. Spurs now have 2 of a possible 18 points.

For the week: 7-3, my best so far.

The leaders: Liverpool and Chelsea with 14 points, Aston Villa with 13, Arsenal and West Ham with 12, Hull with 11, Blackburn with a surprising 10, Man City and Portsmouth each with 9, and Wigan and Man U with 8 (though Man U has a game in hand).

Champions League tomorrow: Arsenal vs. FC Porto of Portugal, Man U vs. AaB of Denmark, Celtic vs. Villareal (which is now surprisingly leading La Liga in Spain).

Wednesday: Liverpool vs. PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, Chelsea vs. CFR Cluj of Romania (which shocked AS Roma on their home field).

*

Days until East Brunswick plays again: 4.

Days until Rutgers plays again: 5.

Days until the Devils drop the puck: 11.

Days until the new baseball season begins: 191.

Days until the new Yankee Stadium opens: 199.

Days until I figure out the game of baseball: Never gonna happen. And if the Uncle can't figure it out, what hope do you people have?

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