Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What Planet Is This?

Suppose for a moment that you were kidnapped by aliens after the 1992 season.

So the last thing you know, it's the fall of 1992. Both New York teams stunk this year, and neither seems to have much hope for recovery. In the Daily News, Bob Klapisch just called the Mets "the Worst Team Money Could Buy." And the Yankees have Don Mattingly, Roberto Kelly, Danny Tartabull, a bunch of guys named Pat Kelly, and a bunch of pitchers named Scott Kamieniecki. Oh yeah, and a promising young outfielder, a skinny kid named Bernie Williams. And that's it.

And that's the last you know of New York baseball, until the aliens returned you to Earth today.

With the relativity effect, it's been only about a year for you, but 16 years for everybody else. At the moment, you know nothing about what's happened on Earth.

You've never heard of Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Jason Giambi, Jose Reyes or David Wright. You might have heard of Derek Jeter, since the Yankees made him the top pick in the last draft you saw. Mike Piazza is a rookie who played in 21 games for the Dodgers and hit .232. Pedro Martinez is also a Dodger rookie, with a grand total of 2 appearances to his name -- Ramon is the Martinez brother that people know, last you saw.

And the idea that the Yankees will one day get Red Sox stars Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens; or Met stars Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and David Cone -- or even Paul O'Neill and Jimmy Key -- is ridiculous to you.

But as the starship approaches Earth, you get a radio signal, and you tune in to WFAN. And Mike Francesa tells you what's been happening lately.

Remember, you don't know about 1996, 1998, 2000, or even 2004. You don't know that World Series have been won by the Red Sox, White Sox, Braves, Angels, even the expansion Marlins, and a team you've never heard of, the Diamondbacks. (And, yes, the Yankees.) You don't know that Pennants have been won by the Phillies, Indians, Padres, Giants, Astros, Tigers, even the expansion Rockies. (And, yes, the Mets.) A team you've never heard of, the Rays, made the Playoffs this season. So did the Brewers. And both Chicago teams reached the postseason in the same year, which hasn't happened since 1906. You don't know any of that.

Francesa tells you that, in the last 8 years, the Yankees have made the Playoffs 7 times, but won just 2 Pennants, and no World Series. This includes postseason losses to the expansion Diamondbacks and Marlins, who you've never seen. It includes postseason losses to the Angels, whom you've never seen win a postseason series. It includes a postseason loss to the Red Sox after being up 3 games to none with 3 outs to go for the Pennant, against the choke team of all time, and they blew it, and the Sox went on to win that World Series and another. It includes a postseason loss to the Tigers, who haven't won a postseason series since 1984. And it includes a postseason loss to the Indians, who, as far as you know, haven't won a postseason series since 1948. And then Francesa tells you the Yankees didn't make the Playoffs this year, and that old Yankee Stadium is closing, and will be torn down, replaced by a new Yankee Stadium.

Then he tells you that, in the last 8 years, the Mets have made the Playoffs just once. In the last 3 seasons, the Mets have blown a Pennant to an 83-win team because of a Game 7, top-9th homer by a weak-hitting catcher and a last-out bat-on-the-shoulder strikeout, with the tying and Pennant-winning runs on base, by a very expensive slugger who should have at least swung; blown a 7-game Division lead with 17 to go and missed the Playoffs completely; and now, in the last season of Shea ball, blown a 3 1/2-game Division lead with 17 to go and missed the Playoffs completely.

Then he tells you that the general managers of both teams have gotten contract extensions.

And you hear this, and you turn to the captain of the alien ship, and you ask him a question.

"Are you sure you took me to the right planet?"

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