Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yogi Was Right: It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over!

It is appropriate that the Mets have a minor-league affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, named for a rollercoaster. The Mets put their fans on a rollercoaster all the time. Sometimes these fans end up saying, "Wheeee! What a ride!" Sometimes they end up throwing up all that Blue Smoke and Shake Shack stuff they ingested.

We have now had Interleague play long enough to know what a typical Yankees-Mets game is like. Last night's game, the 1st between the teams not at the original Yankee Stadium or at Shea Stadium, was typical.

1-0 Yankees. 2-1 Mets. 3-2 Yankees -- and I knew then that this game was not going to end benignly. Something was going to happen to make those who watched it, in the seats at YSII or on TV, talk about it for the next 50 years. 4-3 Mets. 6-3 Mets.

Has any broadcaster ever driven his own team's fans crazy as much as John Sterling? John, please, if you're not completely sure it's going to go out, don't get us going. No more, "Theeeeeeee pitch, it's swung on! And it's driven to deep right!" unless you know it's going to be A, over the fence, and B, a fair ball. Three times last night, he did that, leading me to think the Yankees had just hit a home run, but it turned out otherwise. On top of the times they actually did.

But then, as Hideki Matsui came up, on his 35th birthday no less, Sterling left no doubt: "It's swung on! And there it goes! Deep to right field! That ball is high! It is far! It is gone! It's a thrilla from Godzilla!"

7-6 Yankees. Still, I knew it wasn't over. Yogi Berra managed both the Yankees and the Mets, and was managing the Mets in the whacked-out NL East race of 1973, when he said, "It ain't over 'til it's over." And at 7-6 Yankees, I knew this game was far from over.

Sure enough, Phil Coke wasn't it -- again. And Joe Girardi used Joe Torre's panic move, bringing Mariano Rivera in for the 8th inning. Like most panic moves, it didn't work, and it was 8-7 Mets.

Now it was over. I was sure. Well, I've only been watching these 2 teams play for 33 seasons, so what the hell do I know?

Bottom of the 9th, 2 out, the Yankees down to their last chance, but with the tying and winning runs on, and who's up? Alex Rodriguez. Oh, well, game over. A-Rod will strike out or pop up. He can't be trusted in a situation like this. And, sure enough, Francisco Rodriguez, who hasn't blown a save since he became a Met, got him to pop up! I knew it! Game over!

Met 2nd baseman Luis Castillo settled under it, can o' corn, easy play. I could have caught this. Game over.

Except... HOLY COW! He dropped the ball! Castillo dropped the ball! Tying run scores! Winning run scores! Yankees 9, Mets 8! Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win! HOW ABOUT THAT!

This was less a "classic Yankee win" than a "classic Met loss." Once I got over the shock and stopped laughing, I felt awful for Met fans.

This was in the bag. K-Rod pitching against the Yankees (which he sure knew how to do for the Angels)? Needing only to get A-Rod for the last out? This was as close to a sure thing as exists in baseball.

And K-Rod didn't blow it. He got A-Rod do to what A-Rod does so well, screw up in a clutch situation. A-Rod knew it, slamming his bat down in disgust. (Well, at least he does one thing as well as Mickey Mantle. Or Paul O'Neill.)

Met fans were ready to party like it's 1969. Or 1986. Then Luis Castillo turned it into 1962. Or 1979. Or 1993. Or 2002. And Yankee Fans partied like it's 1999. Or, more accurately, October 2000.

Did Met fans deserve this? Well, some of them. But this was a game practically already in the standings. The Daily News headline writers were already coming up with something -- maybe along the lines of "WHOSE HOUSE? Mets win first Subway Series game in new Stadium." Bill Gallo was already drawing his "goat-horns" cartoon. And then... It's going to ring in Met fans' (pardon me) minds for generations: "Castillo dropped the ball!"

I know, I know, it's only June 12. Not September. A regular-season game, just 1 of 162.

Still... And the Mets couldn't take advantage of the Phillies losing to the Red Sox, either. (Though they did spare the Yankees dropping another game behind The Scum.)

Greg Prince, author of the blog Faith and Fear In Flushing (and the terrific book of the same title), says he has a friend who calls rooting for the Mets "Metsochism." How true, how true.

This would have been bad enough for Met fans against any team. But against the Yankees? Not the Braves, not even the Phillies, but the team they truly hate the most, the Yankees?

I suspect that, somewhere, there is a Met fan now writing what I was writing after various losses to Boston: "This is unacceptable... My team has no heart... Clean house! If you can't win, then at least don't lose with the same guys!"

Do I have sympathy for this hypothetical fan? Do I have sympathy for all the Met fans who feel like this? Yeah, I do. Damn, maturity sucks sometimes.

Two more games in this series. And you just know at least one of them is going to be another epic.

Meet the Mets, meet the Mets.
Step right up and BEAT the Mets!
Bring your kiddies, and bring your wife.
They'll beat the Mets to within an inch of their life!
Because the Mets are really dropping the ball!
They've got their backs up against the wall!
East Side, West Side, they're all watching the Mets go down!
Yeah, they're the M-E-T-S, Mets, the New... York... Clowns!

An oldie, but a goodie.

You know, with all that money he makes, the least A-Rod can do is buy Luis Castillo dinner. Or introduce him to Kate Hudson, or whatever chick he's dating this week.

Which reminds me, there was an awkward moment at the game. Sarah Palin came back, and she gave David Wright a gift certificate for a free week's stay at an Alaska hotel. And he dropped it.

She laughed. She wasn't laughing when she got back to her seats, next to Rudy and Judi Giuliani, and found out that Rudy was in the process of divorcing Judi, and marrying and then divorcing Bristol!


As you can see by that New York Post headline, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Detroit Red Wings last night, clinching the Stanley Cup and reversing the result of last year's Finals.

Sidney Crosby has his 1st Cup. I hope it's his last. He shouldn't even have had this one. Fuck Gary Bettman and his little pet project.

UPDATE: It wasn't Crosby's last.

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