Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mets redux


What a difference a week makes.

I have repeated several times the past few weeks I thought the Mets not only had enough talent to make the playoffs, but do real damage when they got there. They had a two game lead over the Brewers in the beginning of last week and were right on the Phillies' heels for the division lead.

In the end, however, it was not meant to be -- again. Jose Reyes and David Wright didn't hit in the clutch, the bullpen didn't do the job and unless your name was Johan Santana, the starting pitching was less than stellar.

By the way, if Santana does not get SERIOUS consideration in the Cy Young voting, something is seriously wrong. I bring this up because earlier this summer I had been critical of Santana, saying he was pitching just good enough to lose. Boy, did he make me eat my words in the second half of the season.

So the Mets have many questions in the offseason. I think there will be major changes in Flushing when CitiField opens in the spring.

Speaking of CitiField, I watched the Shea Stadium closing ceremony. I thought it was well done, but I had one complaint. No way, should they have waited until after the game for the ceremony. The stadium seemed about 2/3 full with many fans getting out of dodge as quickly as they could following that heartbreaking loss that ended their season.

It's a shame because those fans missed a nice ceremony.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

When is a bomb not a bomb

So here's what this world has come to these days.

A funny and disturbing item I saw today about a bomb scare at the Philadelphia Phillies' home ballpark before Wednesday's game against the Atlanta Braves.

Apparently, hours before the game the team's green fuzzy mascot, the Philly Phanatic, was filmed shooting heavily-taped hot dogs for a commercial. A couple of those hot dogs, however, were accidentally left outside the ballpark and when someone spotted them wrapped in duct tape (I believe), the city's bomb squad was called in.

The bomb squad blew up the packages before knowing they were just hot dogs. So, no harm, no foul -- unless you really like hot dogs.

It's a funny image -- thinking about a bomb squad detonating hot dogs -- but in the world we live in today, it's equally disturbing that people have to be that careful -- or paranoid -- when it comes to things like this.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baseball thoughts

So, with the end of the regular season less than a week away the Mets are floundering and the Yankees are barely breathing.

It's an interesting time in New York baseball.

My guess is the Mets will still make the playoffs, while the Yankees run of 13 straight playoff berths will come to an end either tonight or tomorrow. I will admit it would actually be pretty cool if the Bombers can find a way to sweep the Blue Jays in Toronto, while the Indians sweep the Red Sox in Boston, so the final series of the year -- New York at Boston -- has some meaning.

But let's just say both the Yanks and Mets don't make the playoffs, my question is this:

Which team had a more disappointing season?

Just something for baseball fans to think about.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stadium farewell

Throughout the season, concluding Sunday, people have been sharing their Yankee Stadium memories.

For me, going to the Stadium frequently (at least a dozen times a year) in the late 80's, early 90's, I got to watch some pretty pathetic teams. Oh sure, they had Don Mattingly and Rickey Henderson (for a time), but not much else.

Remember Luis Polonia? Claudelle Washington? Tim Leary? Scott Sanderson? Eric Plunk? Steve Balboni? Kevin Maas?

I sure do.

I remember was how easy it was to get decent tickets. Back then, the Yankees were lucky to draw 20,000 to a game. My buddy Steve and I would decide -- usually at the last minute -- to go to a game. We'd get there about 30 minutes before first pitch and still get prime seats. Our favorites were usually left field first row, fair territory, for about $12 a ticket.

How's that for a deal?

We'd sometimes be able to chat with -- or heckle (we were teenagers then) -- the Yanks' left fielder or the opposing team's.

I remember how awful the Yanks were on most nights. I remember the empty seats and seeing a guy behind home plate jump from the upper deck onto the netting below. I even remember my buddy and I having a conversation with Matt Nokes (there's another name for you) as our cars were side-by-side stuck in traffic leaving the Stadium. I guess Nokes really wanted to get out of the Stadium quickly that night.

But what I remember most was just how much fun Steve and I had.

It's something I miss to this day.

Things will never be the same in the Bronx.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

All is not lost

Let the hang-wringing and nail-biting begin in earnest.

The Mets are giving the majority of their fans awful memories of last September's collapse. You know you're in trouble when you get shutout by the Nationals and Odalis Perez. In fact, it's never a good sign when you lose the first two games of a crucial series for the Mets against a team many recognize as the worst in all of baseball.

Alas, Mets' fans, take comfort.

First, unlike last year when the Mets' el foldo cost your team a spot in the playoffs, the way the rest of the NL playoff contenders are playing, even if the Phillies hang on (which I still don't think they have the pitching to do,) the wild card is more than likely.

And in looking at the division leaders -- the Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers -- do any of those teams REALLY scare you? I still believe the Mets -- on paper -- are the best team in the NL. I know their bullpen is a REAL question mark, but there's just too much talent on the whole for the Mets not to make noise in October.

Better days are ahead for you Mets fans. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jet to nowhere

So the Jets had quite the fall from grace on Sunday. It really wasn't all that unexpected.

Brett Favre is a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he's not a miracle worker. And it's easy to see he and the rest of the Jets' offense haven't yet jelled. The Patriots, minus Tom Brady, are still ... well, the Patriots.

Matt Cassel was effective in his first start and the defense did what fans and foes of the Patriots have seen for the better part of this decade.

The Jets have a LONG way to go before we might begin to consider them a legit playoff contender.

Sunday was a step in the wrong direction.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Anxious moments?

OK Mets fans, here's a question:

Are you starting to worry yet?

I know, a curious questions considering the way the Mets are playing these days. They have a three-game lead in the NL East with less than three weeks remaining in the season. The Phillies certainly don't look like they don't have the pitching to stay with them and the Mets' remaining schedule appears pretty favorable.

The division's in the bag, isn't it? Not if you ask any Mets fan who saw the Amazins begin to choke up a seven-game lead to these same Phillies about this time last year.

Logic says lightning can't strike twice and I tend to agree. I just can't see Philadelphia catching them again this year.

So why is it so many of my friends, who are Mets fans, are beginning to wring their hands more nervously than a Barack Obama supporter these days? It should be interesting.

By the way folks, that's about as close to talking about the presidential election as I will get.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Favre from over

On Sunday, Brett Favre plays like ... well, Brett Favre ... and the Jets beat the Dolphins.

One day later, the Patriots find out All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady will be lost for the season because of a knee injury and lifetime backup Matt Cassel must now try to lead a team many predicted to reach the Super Bowl before the season began to the playoffs.

Heading into Sunday's Pats-Jets game, the Patriots were a near double-digit favorite. Now the Jets are favored by a field goal in many polls.

What a difference one week makes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

On second thought

So, last night, Major League Baseball gets its first use of instant replay. The umpire's home run call on an Alex Rodriguez blast was upheld. It took a little over two minutes for the ruling.

So, what do you think?

When I saw it, I thought about that game a few months ago between the Mets and Yankees where Carlos Delgado's home run was called foul. I remember seeing then-Mets manager Willie Randolph standing there, arguing the call for several minutes. The foul call stood and replays showed it was indeed a home run.

I'm all for the preservation of the purity of the game. But what does this hurt?

Get the call right -- that should be the most important thing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Time to buckle that chinstrap

After spending several hours today putting the finishes touches on our annual high school football special section, I'm beginning to find myself in the mood for some football.

Mind you, I'm actually not a huge fan of the weather this time of year -- the recent chilly nights are a reminder of the cold that's around the corner -- but football -- whether its following our local high school team or the pros in the NFL -- just brings a different feel around here.

It's a feeling you don't get from the other major pro sports. And stands filled with rabid fans is something most other local sports can't produce either.

So, I guess it's time to get used to the coming cold weather outside and bone-crushing hits on the gridiron. It's football time again.

Are you ready?