- Cold and neutral:
I rarely get into any Mets fan related complaining aside from ineptitude-fueled anger at some of the "things" that the Mets do. For the most part, I try to maintain some semblance of aboveboard objectivity. That, of course, doesn't eliminate the "woe is me" aspect of Mets fans, reporters and, I would assume, employees.
Some wallow in it as a badge of honor, expecting and accepting suffering; even getting ancillary benefits of not expecting anything positive, plus relentless (and inappropriate) jokes. Some use it as a form of pain-management; others gallows humor.
With the Mets faint playoff hopes having been extinguished in August, the only thing left was the hope that the Phillies and/or Yankees would lose to save tortured Mets fans from having to endure another winter of Phillies and Yankees hyperbole.
I'm not among the number who sits in dread at the prospect of a Yankees-Phillies World Series; of the irritating smugness that accompanies such an event; truthfully, I don't care.
It's this cold detachment that is allowing me to watch the Division Series games with little interest aside from analysis and hoping that I got my predictions right. Accompanying this is the realization that the phrase "only the Mets" is not quite as applicable as it was once perceived to be.
In the first two games of all series there have been instances that previously would've and could've only happened to the Mets. It's a misplaced paranoia and self-loathing that is baggage from having such a pockmarked past of highs and lows. I'm sure every fan base experiences a similar revelation at some point.
The Red Sox, Cubs, Indians, Pirates, Orioles----all have had their issues positively and negatively----and all have laid claim to the idea that "this could only happen to us".
But it's not true.
In every series, you can find instances that heretofore would "only" have happened to the beaten down fan bases of the aforementioned clubs.
The Rays had a horrendous call against the on a check swing by Michael Young and watched as Young blasted the next pitch out of the park.
The Twins came out swaggering; finally "ready" to push back against the bane of their playoff existence in 2003, 2004 and 2009, the Yankees. Staggering into the playoffs with a short starting rotation; a shaky bullpen; and slumping lineup, the Yankees were ripe to be taken. The Twins had the lineup to potentially match the Yankees and they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in game one; they held it for five innings; were ready to take charge in the series then....BANG!!!!! The Yankees scored 4 times in the top of the sixth; the Twins tied it in the bottom of the inning; and watched as Mark Teixeira homered to give the Yankees another lead and the win.
Game 2 was similarly painful and frustrating of the Twins.
The Reds got no-hit by Roy Halladay in the first game of their series against the Phillies; then took charge in game 2 only to see fate and the Phillies' relentlessness do them in again. How many Mets fans saw what was happening----the errors and, especially, Jay Bruce losing Jimmy Rollins's fly ball in the lights----and thought, "this stuff only happens to us"?
Extending to the Phillies and Yankees, good things tend to happen to these clubs; many times it's through luck; but the game-changing plays are most memorable, so it's more glaring when they're the factor in a win. These teams do the small things correctly which leads to big things going "right".
Finally, in game 2 of their series, the Giants took a 4-0 lead over the Braves; the Braves scored a run in the sixth inning to cut it to 4-1. Then the Braves rallied for three to tie in the bottom of the eighth inning.*
*A note about that game, if Brian Wilson was going to come in if Sergio Romo got into trouble, why not simply have Wilson start the inning? The Giants are off today; Wilson's a horse and would gladly have pitched two innings. Why put him in the middle of the fire when he could've started the inning?
In the bottom of the tenth, with Billy Wagner exiting with an injury to his side, Kyle Farnsworth entered the game with one out and a runner on second, promptly loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch and a walk, then somehow got Buster Posey to ground into a double play. Rick Ankiel homered in the top of the eleventh; Farnsworth pitched a clean bottom of the inning to get the win and even the series.
I watch these games with an iciness that allows me to separate the emotional scars that accompany being a Mets fan with reality; and the reality is that it happens all the time to every team; the difference is that we're too emotionally invested to see it.
- The quick thumb:
On another note regarding the early Division Series games----three managerial ejections?
It used to be that the umpires would allow managers much more rope in the post-season than they would in the regular season; in fact, I can only remember two high-profile ejections in the post-season; one I read about as Earl Weaver got tossed from a game in the 1969 World Series; and the other I saw as Whitey Herzog went bonkers on umpire Don Denkinger in game 7 of the 1985 World Series.
Both had more to do with circumstances other than the plays themselves. Weaver saw the writing on the wall, that his Orioles were about to be upset by the Mets and got tossed from game 4. Herzog and the Cardinals blamed Denkinger for their game 6 loss after he blew a call at first base; and as they were getting hammered by the Royals in game 7, Herzog and pitcher Joaquin Andujar both got thrown out of the game for arguing with Denkinger, who was behind the plate.
There was a graphic after Bobby Cox got kicked out of last night's game that he'd been ejected from other post-season games, but it was a rarity before this year. Ron Gardenhire and Joe Maddon have both been kicked out of games this year as well.
Are the umpires more sensitive to the scrutiny they're under after the high-profile missed calls last year and this year and more likely to have a fast thumb? Or are they treating these games as if it's the regular season?
In reality, it doesn't make that much of a difference as to the running of the game because the ejected manager is deciding things from his office or the runway, but that's not the point. One would think that the umpires would be more cognizant of the high-intensity of playoff games and they'd give more leeway for the managers to state their case and, unless they really go over the edge, wouldn't give them the heave-ho.
Then again, it's possible that the pressure is affecting the umpires as well. They're human too.
- Viewer Mail 10.9.2010:
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Rays:
You're right about the Rays not hitting; with their lowly batting averages it's been a testament to their pitching and baserunning that they've had such an amazing record in the AL East. But in the postseason, without timely hitting you won't advance.
I hate to sit here and say, "well, I didn't think they were that good before the season anyway"; but, well, I didn't think they were that good before the season, anyway.
The Rays benefited from an absurdly good year in clutch hitting; functioned with a deep bullpen; workmanlike starting rotation; and a lineup laden with giant black holes. These flaws are coming to light now and they're on the verge of getting ousted because of it.
Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Rangers:
I understand not hitting off Cliff Lee, but when CJ Wilson is out there, ya better make some contact.
Stunningly to me, Wilson's been really good as a starter this year. The Rays look like the blown calls are getting into their heads and in addition to that, they're not hitting at all.
Wouldn't it be funny if Jeff Francoeur won a ring this year with the Rangers this year? Texas looks awfully good right now. Is that because they ARE that good, or is it because, in Tommy Lasorda's words, they couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat? If I were a Yankee fan, I'd be very afraid right now...
I like Frenchy and hope he figures it all out someday, but we're in the first round; the Rangers are playing a team that, as you said, cannot hit right now. The remaining teams----even the Twins----are going to have something to say about a championship for the Rangers. I doubt the Yankees are worried about much right now.
Gabriel (Capo) writes RE C.J. Wilson:
I think C.J. Wilson had a great start. He reminded me of the start he had at the start of the season against the Blue Jays. He lost it on the seventh inning, but he had the Rays under control.
I remember when it was announced that Wilson was moving into the starting rotation and I scoffed at the notion. He'd been a good reliever; the Rangers needed him in the bullpen (I thought); and he'd been shaky as a starter in the high minors.
Sometimes, as much as I hate to admit it, apparently, there are people in the world who know more than I do; once in a while.
MacW writes RE Billy Wagner and me:
Prince, I just watched Wagner leave the game with an oblique injury, and I immediately thought of you. It's not exactly a choke, but it's not helpful to the Braves. You have strong opinions and you express them without any qualifying or hedging, and when you're right you look good. Wagner's career is probably over (note the qualifying word). This may (qualifying again) have been his last chance at redemption, poor guy. (You can see why I'll never be a decent blogger or pundit, I'm way too cautious. I just don't make many definitive statements, and that's what people want to hear.)
I appreciate the compliments.
I can't take credit for Wagner leaving with an injury as me being "right". I've predicted injuries before and been right in the cases of Ben Sheets, Nick Johnson and Scott Rolen; and been wrong (at the time I predicted them anyway) with Jake Peavy; but with Wagner, I've lived through it with him when he was closing for the Mets in the regular and post-season.
I don't like being right about injuries, but it's that coldness again that comes to the forefront; it is what it is.
There's no need to be cautious when you believe in what you're saying----even if it's genesis is stat related----it's all about confidence that you know what you're saying and trust your instincts. Sometimes, I do throw a bomb (based on a "feeling" and what I know); similar to Al Davis's belief in the deep strike----sometimes they hit and look terrific; sometimes not.
It's not based on any attempt to be controversial. The thing I'll quibble with slightly is that I don't think people want to hear definitive statements. They want to have their own fears assuaged by supposed "experts"; or they want their desires justified. An example of the latter is the Yankees attempt to get Cliff Lee and how it appeared----for a few hours----on that fateful day in July that they were about to do that very thing. I preached caution, knowing how deals that are said to be "done" aren't quite done until the player is standing in front of the logo holding up his jersey. I turned out to be right.
This is what I've created. I'll take my medicine one way or the other without fear or regret.
I am the entertainer.
I come to do my show.