Monday, November 17, 2008

Am I the only one tired about hearing how good the Eagles are? Maybe its because their not!

The best division in football all season long has been the east. However it is now time to shift that talk from the NFC East to the AFC East. The AFC East has 4 teams that all have a shot at the top right now, whether all 4 are great teams, or it’s a division of mediocrity is a topic for another time. The Giants have taken control of the NFC East and look to run away with it, but the real reason we have to stop talking about the dominant NFC East is because we have to finally accept what I’ve have been saying all year long (on Free Ballin’ with JB and Pauly, Thursday nights from 6-7 on; the Eagles are not only not that good, but their not a top team at all. The Eagles were predicted to do very well this year in the east because of the return of Donovan Mcnabb, that’s it!

The whole concept of pre-season predictions has gone too far, all our talk is based off them when in reality we don’t know anything about the upcoming season. The Giants and Redskins were predicted to finish 3rd and 4th in the NFC East respectively. In week 6 with a record of 3-3 the Eagles were being called the best 3-3 team in the league…why???? Because in the pre-season they were predicted to do well. More importantly this past team just tied the previously 1-9 Cincinnati Bengals! The Eagles went into Cincinnati and couldn’t beat an atrocious Bengals team, and it was the Eagles fault. The Bengals didn’t go in there and play unbelievably, they played like the Bengals! They made mistakes, turned the ball over and were completely ineffective on offence, and even missing a game winning field goal with 7 seconds left in overtime. The Eagles offense, more to the point Donovan Mcnabb lost them this game. The Eagles defense showed up, sacking Ryan Fitzpatrick 8 times, (the second time they’ve gotten that many in one game), which puts them back into the league lead in sacks as their tied with the Steelers with 36. The defense did their part not allowing the Bengals to get anything done, but Mcnabb and company didn’t show up to this one at all. Mcnabb threw 3 interceptions, and lost a fumble, that’s something that should earn him consideration as a top quarterback in this league? To top it all off Mcnabb showed his ridiculous football IQ after the game by telling the world he had no idea the NFL had ties. Do you really not know that Donovan? Have you ever looked at the standings in the newspaper and seen that there is a T column, for ties? Yes that column is usually filled with 0’s but its there for a reason? At the rate this game was going this game could have gone into 5 overtimes before someone scored which would have meant that the two teams would have played over 2 games in one day; which if the Eagles had any shot of anything would effectively end that. The best was yet to come when Mcnabb said I just wonder what would happen in the Super Bowl or playoffs. Really Donovan, you don’t think the NFL would keep playing and end the tie, you know just like the 2003 playoffs when the Panthers beat the Rams in DOUBLE OVERTIME? Just for good measure Donovan, those Panthers won that game and went on to beat your team in the NFC championship game the following week. Does Donovan Mcnabb watch any sports at all, look at every other sport that has ties, especially soccer in which many games end in ties, and its premier tournament the World Cup final is viewed by more people then the Super Bowl; hey Donovan has that game ever ended in a tie? Of course not, because like any logical event, any playoff game in any sport keeps going until there’s a winner.

The Eagles are not a good team by any means, they’re good on reputation, and that reputation is that they had a solid team which took advantage of a weak NFC and went to 4 strait NFC championship games. The problem being they lost 3 of them! Deshaun Jackson has a lot of talent, but I don’t know if we can call him a star in this league yet, other then that could you name one star this team has added since they played in the Super Bowl? They had a powerful defense where they have since lost star players and Steve Spagnuolo who has proven to have overtaken his former mentor as a defensive coordinator. There’s talk that this is Mcnabb’s most talented receiver group ever; but he has never had a great receiver group to begin with. This season the eagles have 8 players with over 200 yards receiving, but of those 8 only two of them have over 250 yards recieving, doesn’t sound like there’s any real receiving threat in Philly, just whoever has the hot hand. Most importantly like we’ve said all year Donovan Mcnabb is not the guy to get it done in Philly, I’ve said it all year (on Free Ballin’ with JB and Pauly, Thursday nights from 6-7 on and its time that the Eagles realize that so they can move in the right direction, and its time that the media realized this so they can stop the propaganda that the Eagles are a good team and actually can do something this season.

Despite the fact that Giants have the most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL it is looking more and more likely that they will run away with this division. Not just because they're better then every other team they still have to play, but their division is actually surprisingly week. The Cowboys are looking lost, even though they just got back Tony Romo, but at the same time they're also only being talked about because of pre-season rankings. The team that most people thought could hold up with the Giants, the Redskins seem to have lost their magic. They’ve lost their last two games knocking them off the pace for the division, but the big problem here is their past two games were lost at home and at night. The Steelers are a top team in the AFC, an important statement game for the Redskins and the Cowboys; their top rival is always an important game to win. The Redskins dropped both games in front of their home fans. Being at the University of Maryland I’m around a lot of Redskins fans, and they are good fans who get very fired up and are very passionate about their Redskins. As fired up as they get for a Sunday afternoon game they are about 10 times more fired up for a night game, and they have that stadium rocking. If the Redskins couldn’t feed off their fans tremendous energy for night games this team is in trouble especially since this team has to play 4 of its last 6 on the road. The silver lining to that is that 3 of the Redskins 4 losses have come at home, so maybe it’s a good thing to be playing more road games.

Meanwhile in the AFC East, the Jets have jumped to the top with a big win over the hated Patriots; the Dolphins are shocking the world with their 6-4 record, the Patriots are still the Patriots and can’t be overlooked, and Buffalo, at 5-4 has cooled a bit but still has a winning record. Though the Jets are in first place the Pats are still a force in that division. I said when Matt Cassel took over for Brady he would be successful because the Patriots run such a simple offense. The fact that it took Cassel this long to break out is because the coaches had him playing an ultra-conservative offense when he first stepped in. The fact that the coaches had him playing that ultra conservative offense, only furthers my belief that the reason Tom Brady become Tom Brady is because the Pats didn’t put him into this conservative offense because they knew the opposing teams defensive signals and knew what defense they would be facing, therefore they knew where Brady could and couldn’t throw the ball. But Cassel has now stepped into this offense and is proving he could throw the ball in the NFL, which keeps the Patriots as a top force in the AFC East. The Jets have seemed to have found their stride led by not Brett Favre but their defense, even beating the Patriots for just the second time in god only knows how many games, I lost count several years ago. I don’t know if the Dolphins are a playoff team, but they sure are making a statement, and they have a weak remaining schedule so they could crash that party. Buffalo’s hot start seems to have cooled down and its looking like they’ll finish out the season in the cellar of the division, but their not a team that could be overlooked, and with matchups against each team in the division still remaining Buffalo could still jump over each one of these teams. Hell this entire division is so close that it could finish in a whole variety of ways. That’s what makes a competitive division, and the fact that these teams beat teams outside their division, makes it the best division in football.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"You didn't do anything at all. Ya gotta do more then that." (just barely)

Is Paul Rudd (Chuck, “Cunu”) teaching Jason Segel (Peter) how to surf or be an NFL head coach in this great scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall? When Peter turns to “Cunu” for surfing lessons, Cunu tells Peter that when trying to stand up on the board you should do the least possible movement. When Peter simply gets up, Cunu tells him “your doing to much, do less.” He constantly tells him to do less until Peter simply doesn’t get up at all to which Cunu replies, “nah there you didn’t do anything at all, you gotta do more then that.” Cunu then says ah screw it you’ll just learn when we get out there. Was that a lesson in surfing or how to be a head coach in the NFL where it seems that in order to be a successful head coach it needs to appear to the average fan that you’re not doing anything?

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is a great example. What exactly does he do? We all know him as the disciplinarian who is always angry and yelling. He lays down the law and gives out the suspensions to Plaxico Burress. But to the average fan he doesn’t do much more then that; and that could be the best key to success. The Giants defense is always attributed to Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnolo. When Eli Manning takes strides in his playing, who gets the credit? That goes to Giants Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Gilbride. In fact when Burress was recently benched for the beginning of the Steelers game he was asked if he was fighting with Coughlin, to which Burress responded that during the week he spends his time with the Offensive Coordinator Gilbride and the Giants Wide Receivers coach and that he rarely even sees’s Coughlin during the week. If Coughlin isn’t the genius behind the Giants offense or defense then what exactly is his job with this team? Coughlin is simply the manager so to speak of the team. He lays down the law, makes sure everyone is staying in check and gets very angry on the sideline which seems to make for good TV. So the Giants coach isn’t required to be heading a high powered offense or a crazy good defense, and guess what, they won a super bowl last year and Coughlin is in his 5th season with the team and it looks like he’ll be here for at least another 2, which is pretty good job stability in this days NFL.

The current trend in the NFL is to hire big time coordinators to become head coaches and solve all your issues. The only problem is that a defensive coordinators job is to handle the defense, he game plans the defense, draws up coverages and blitzes, that’s all he does. When a coordinator becomes a head coach in the NFL, he’s now in charge of everything, not just the defense but the offense, special teams, drafting, scouting, and every other function of the team. A head coach simply doesn’t have time to concentrate only on his specialty. Brian Billick was labeled an “offensive genius,” the mastermind behind the 1998 Vikings offense that set a record for point in a season. When he became head coach of the Ravens he was already joining a team with a great defense, his job was to get that offense up to par. Yes he won a super bowl there, but he did that behind one of the greatest defenses of all time, and he had Marvin Lewis leading that defense. His offense simply had a game manager (Trent Dilfer) at quarterback and rode the defense to the Super Bowl. The credit for that great defense went to defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, who turned that into a head coaching job in Cincinnati. Lewis was able to squeeze one 13-3 season out of that Bengals team, but only after Carson Palmer started playing and Rudi Johnson established himself. Where did Lewis great defense go? Defiantly not to Cincinnati as the Bengals haven’t had good defenses since he got there. Billick’s offensive mind never created a respectable offense whatsoever in Baltimore as the team has always been identified by their defense, this would finally lead to Billick being fired after last season.

An NFL head coach is really nothing without his coordinators. Bill Belichick the “football mastermind.” He has been called one of the best coaches ever in football. But why don’t you look back at what he did in Cleveland, his record there was not good at all. He found success with New England while flanked by Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. Both of whom have moved on to take head coaching jobs, Weis at Notre Dame which is now currently experiencing some of the lowest time in Notre Dame football including last years loss to Navy ending a 41 game winning Streak. While Crennel has become the head coach of the Browns and is always mentioned in the worst coaches in the NFL discussion. Meanwhile back in New England the Patriots, who won three Super Bowls with those three men in power, have won zero since Weis and Crennel left. This also asks the question, if Belichick and his coaching staff turned unheard of 6th round draft pick Tom Brady into a superstar, why isn’t Matt Cassel experiencing the same success. Not only does Cassel get the same coaching but he also gets mentored by one of the best quarterbacks ever in Tom Brady. When Brady first came into the league he wasn’t surrounded by the talent that Cassel has today, but Brady played the same way his whole career, while right now the Patriots have Cassel in a very conservative offense. Could it be that Belichick is not some “super coach” but rather Brady was able to throw the ball downfield because it was relatively low risk because the Patriots had filmed everyone’s defensive signals and knew what defense they were playing against? If you know the defense then playing aggressive becomes less of a risk, allowing Brady to be aggressive and therefore become a better quarterback, however now the Patriots are not stealing signs and don’t know the defense that’s coming against them, forcing Cassel to play in a very low risk offense. Maybe Belichick really is that same guy who had an awful tenure with the Browns and is just winning now because of the talent his team already has.

The end of the scene brings us to another awful trend in the NFL. When Cunu tells Peter to screw it, you’ll learn when you get out there. There is a huge rise in coaches with no head coaching experience. Time and time again teams are turning to coordinators who have specialized in either offense or defense exclusively and are now in charge of the entire team. These coaches usually end up either failing or not getting enough time to succeed. Even more mind boggling is even with the absolute incompetency of coaching in the NFL nowadays, Marty Schottenheimer is still available. Schottenheimer available because he was ridiculously fired after a 14-2 season! Schottenheimer had the games best player on his team and simply did the smart thing and gave that man the ball. When the playoffs rolled around he decided to change that style and put the ball into his quarterback’s hands. After the loss he was fired, and since then he’s been overlooked for every NFL job.

The competence of an NFL head coach can almost be measured by how much credit your head coach doesn’t receive and how much your coordinators do. When Eric Mangini took over the Jets in 2006 he took the team to the playoffs. Mangini was given a lot of credit for that, but this team also played a very interesting offense, they didn’t have a premier running back so they ran a lot of different unique plays to try to make up for that and gain back those yards. The credit for this all went to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Since 2006 though Schottenheimer has received no credit for anything, he’s still with the team, but when you hear anything about the Jets all that is ever spoken about is Eric Mangini. However the Jets also have one of the best special teams units in the league, its not just because of Leon Washington that its this good, it was good before he got there. The reason that the special teams are so good is because of Special Teams Coordinator Mike Westhoff. Mangini is never given credit for special teams, but whenever you talk about either the offense or defense all the talk focuses on Mangini. Compare that and the struggling Jets with the other New York team, as the Giants keep winning, Coughlin keeps everything under control, and the offensive and defensive coordinators are the ones getting credit for on field performance.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Helping or Hurting Turk? Helping or Hurting?"

I’ve gotten into several hockey arguments lately around my floor and most end the same way. Someone will say the Red Wings are the best team in the league and they will win it all. I simply say they won’t win. I’m usually then put on the spot with the simple question of “who will win?” My answer; I don’t know who will win the cup this year; I just say I would put a lot of money that the team holding the cup in June will not be the Red Wings. The real answer is I have no idea who will win; I just know the two teams that won’t win the Red Wings and the Rangers. The Rangers simply because they are my team and god forbid my team would ever win a championship. However the question I’m usually asked when I say the Red Wings won’t win is “well why not?” In truth I never really had an answer other then, well they won last year and teams rarely repeat. Until one day after one of these arguments I decided to continue to stall from doing my work by watching Scrubs when this quote which has made several appearances in the series came up, “Helping or hurting Turk? Helping or hurting?”

My roommate is a big Red Wings fan, and likes to end every argument before it even starts by just saying the Red Wings are the best, they got Marion Hossa and didn’t give up anything. In fact if even if were talking about how great the GM of a team of a completely different sports, such as the job Jerry Reese has done with the Giants, he’ll pipe in and with a “you want to talk about a great GM, the Detroit Red Wings, we won the cup and then got Marion Hossa without giving up anything.” (We just won’t mention that Detroit is heading for some serious salary cap issues next summer.) This is why after watching scrubs and seeing this great quote it all made sense to me. Is adding Marion Hossa helping or hurting the Wings? There is nothing more important to a team then chemistry, and no team with bad chemistry will ever win a championship. The Red Wings clearly had great chemistry being able to win the Stanley Cup last season, they will have salary cap issues, so instead of saving the extra cap space and using it to reward the players that won them the cup, they go out and bring in a high profile goal scorer. What kind of message does this send to the rest of the team? The Red Wings are not old; yes they do have Chris Chelios who is somewhere around my fathers age. But with his workout he could still keep up with the young stars of the NHL. Not to mention the core of this team is not old by any means. So when management brings in a noted goal scorer it’s almost as if their saying we don’t think you guys are the best even if you just won.

Ice time in Hockey is not even, and it’s not that you just throw out your best players on your first line and then your next best guys and so on. A hockey team is made up of two scoring lines an energy/defensive line, and a big grit mostly defensive 4th line that doesn’t see much of the ice. Detroit prided themselves on having guys on their second and third line that could start on other teams. Those third line guys are not going to score you goals, their job is to stop the other team from scoring, a job that wins championships. Championships are not won by superstars, their won by the role players. Now yes you do need a superstar to get you there, but it usually comes down to which team has the better role players. Role players need to accept their job and love it in order to do it well. Now if you’re on Detroit’s first line, and along comes Mr. Hossa and you’re the one getting bumped off after you just helped this team win a Cup are you going to be happy? Now if you’re the guy on the second line who now gets dropped down to accommodate the guy who was dropped from the first line. Now you’re dropped from a scoring line to a line used for defense. And what if defense isn’t exactly your strength, then you get dropped all the way to the 4th line, where you will only see the ice for about 6 minutes a game, if you see the ice at all. Dropping players that were integral in winning you a championship is not the way to have a happy locker room.

Now you need to make room for Marion Hossa but hockey is a game built on chemistry. Hossa might clearly be better then the player he replaces on the top line, but does Hossa have the chemistry to play with the other two guys. Individually Hossa might be better then the other guy, but as a unit, that line might be better off without him. Often times when a superstar is placed onto a new line, there is pressure to feed him the puck and make him happy, this could throw off the chemistry of a line altogether since the other two guys on the line might now feel added pressure to feed the puck to Hossa, whether the situation calls for it or not. Last season the Rangers went out and signed the two top free agent centers on the market, Scot Gomez and Chris Drury. Leading up to the season all the talk was about the combination of one of those two guys with superstar Jaromir Jagr. But in the end neither one of those guys panned out. Neither was able to play the style that Jagr liked playing, his style best fit the center that the team let go Michael Nylander, and Jagr’s production dropped without him. In fact it was third line rookie Brandon Dubinsky who was bumped all the way up to the top line to play with Jagr.

There is a whole other side to this story as well, the personal side of Marion Hossa. Yes Hossa took a pay cut to play for the Wings but what makes it worse was the team he left. Hossa left the Penguins to join the Wings, the same Penguins who he had just helped reach the finals, the second best team in the NHL! But Hossa not even 30 years of age yet wasn’t willing to wait for Penguins to mature enough to oust the Wings in the finals, he wanted to win now. More importantly he wanted to be “the guy” on the team without actually being “the guy.” He’s going to a big name player, but he won’t be the franchise player. Haven’t we seen this plenty of times before? After the Yankees won the 2000 World Series, the ace of the Baltimore Orioles Mike Mussina signed with the Yankees so he could be “the guy” without having to be their #1, therefore the pressure of being “the guy” wouldn’t be put on him. He figured he could just ride it out and win. The Next man on the list was Jason Giambi, he also singed with the Yanks to be “the guy” without the pressure of being “the guy,” because after all this was the Yankees and their Derek Jeter’s team. Then came Arod who signed a mega deal with the Rangers to be “the guy” on their team, only they had no money for anyone else and Arod couldn’t take that so he cried his way into a trade with the Yankees where he could also be “the guy” without having to be “the guy.” The same story happened with Randy Moss who cried his way out of Oakland into the superstar Patriots. The most similar story however was that of Karl Malone. The man who came so close so many times to leading the Utah Jazz to a title but could never get it done, so he took his act to Los Angeles. The only problem was LA had just won three strait titles without him, they clearly didn’t need him and he was now taking away playing time from the role players that helped the Lakers win. The underlying theme between all these athletes is that at this moment NONE OF THEM HAVE CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS! Malone’s Lakers lost to the Pistons in the finals, was it because Malone took time from other role players? We can’t answer that question for sure, but we could defiantly say that Malone tampered with the chemistry of the Lakers locker room.

So what kind of message does it send when a team go’s out and wins the Stanley Cup, doesn’t lose any players, and then management brings in a big time goal scorer, pretty much saying you guys aren’t the best. That player is making more money then everyone else on the team with the exception of Captain Nick Listrom, he needs to play, and therefore he needs to take someone’s spot. People now need to be shifted around; the three line combo’s that the team had got messed up. Therefore that’s the answer to the why won’t the Wings repeat question, you can’t mess with chemistry. The situation makes that whole question about adding Marion Hossa all the more relevant. Helping or Hurting, Helping or Hurting?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another September swoon? This one could have been seen coming

The whole world knows what happened to the Mets in September last season. 7 game lead with 17 games to play only to finish the season 1 game out of the playoffs. So with 17 games left to play the spotlight is once again on the Mets, and they have not started out well, losing 2 out of the first games. They started with a 3 and half game lead and its now down to 1. Mets fans are again shocked and scared, but the real question is, should they be? These September struggles should have been seen coming. Over the last few years the Mets have been one of the worst September teams in baseball. Obviously we know they won 9 of their first 12 games in September last year only to go 5-12 down the stretch. But what many people forget is what happened the years before.

Yes the 2006 Mets won their division went to the playoffs and came 1 game away from the World Series. But what is forgotten is September was this team’s worst month of the Season. The team entered September with around a 15 game lead in the division; they then proceeded to go 14-15 for the rest of the month. Now they did win their division with 12 games to play so many of their late month losses came with reserves on the field including a game with Julio Franco at third base. But before they won the division, when they were 1 game away from winning the division the team lost 3 strait to the last place Pirates and they had lost 2 of 3 to the dodgers who they would later beat in the playoffs. 2005 was manager Willie Randolph’s first year. The season was not much about playoff talk but more about how many games over .500 the team went and how many games under .500 they were. That changed however in August, when the Mets led by their new call up of AA first basemen Mike Jacobs won 10 of their last 15 games in August to put them a game out of the Wild Card. But them September came and the Mets responded by losing 12 of their first 14 games in September, killing any chance they had of making the playoffs. Their 2004 season (though they were already far out of the playoffs and playing with mostly September call ups, or in other words a minor league team), saw the team go 10-20 through month of September and two games in October.

The Mets have a history of doing awful in September, something that is getting overlooked by virtually everyone in wake of last season. But if you were to look back, last season should have been expected, as well as not winning games this September. All there is to do is hope the Mets could reverse this trend and win enough games to hold off the Phillies and sneak into October.

The Mets best big game pitcher...Santana? pffft Its Perez

The Mets just had a three game series with the Braves, in which they lost 2 of 3 which is about as shocking news as me telling you the sun rose in the east today. The problem here was they had their two best big game pitchers on the mound, and those were the two games they lost. These guys pitched the way they were supposed to, it was the bullpen that lost it for them. Johan Santana went to the mound as the Mets big game pitcher as he had proved the week before against Philadelphia, though he’s lost to the Braves earlier this year he shut them out through 7 innings only to see the bullpen blow it. For the next game the Mets through out John Niese making his second start, he promptly pitched 8 shutout innings for the win. Sunday’s game was absolutely huge, and the Mets put a man who is arguably and in my opinion their BEST big game pitcher, Oliver Perez. I know that one might have raised a few eyebrows, but look back at it, since game 7 of the 2006 NLCS he’s had the confidence, especially in big games. He was labeled the worst game 7 starter in the history of baseball. He took that label to the mound and pitched an unbelievable 6 innings giving up just 1 run (obviously he was saved by the most unbelievable double play made by Endy Chavez). But when you look back at his career with the Mets, the Mets who for as long as I can remember can never ever beat the Braves, therefore, especially during a pennant race, every game with the Braves is a so called “big game”. Before the playoffs Perez had made somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 starts for the team, he was on the roster because he was thrown into a trade and was just there as an extra pitcher during the September call up season. Well he got a start against the Braves and pitched a complete game shutout. Everyone always talks about Ollie Perez being Ollie Perez, and having his control issues, but these games usually come against the likes of the Nationals and Giants. Look back at his stats and whenever he has stepped onto the mound against the Mets two longtime rivals the Braves and the Yankees (the Phillies are more recent) Perez dominates his starts and usually comes out a winner.
So it’s not shocking to me that Perez pitched very well again yesterday, the problem as always is the Mets bullpen. The Mets got three unbelievable starts from their pitchers over the weekend and they lost two games. This bullpen was awful at the end of August and it looked like the competition of September call ups would save them. The problem now is Jerry Maunuel is going back to the same guys again and again causing them to get tired. But the biggest problem now is Jerry’s starting to over manage, he won’t let his bullpen pitch to hitters opposite them, lefties to lefties, righties to righties. This causes guys to come in and pitch to one batter, give up a hit and then leave the game, which leaves fewer guys in the pen. The problem is Pedro Feliciano can’t get anyone out these days. The Mets other lefty Scott Schoeneweis is in an “up” year, all year he’s been getting both lefties and righties out, and he’s had the stamina to go multiple innings. So why now is Jerry only letting him pitch to one lefty? If this bullpen manages to hold up, and that’s a big IF, how will they hold up in the playoffs? Fans could be excited all they want, the starters are there, Santana has been great in big games, Pelfrey with the exception of his last start has been dominant, and Oliver Perez is the teams best big game pitcher, but even if they go 8 innings that 9th inning is still the problem. If Jerry keeps over managing his bullpen, a pen that clearly CAN’T pitch in big games (though they could pitch in the games Oliver Perez can’t pitch in) making the playoffs won’t be the biggest thing as the team won’t be able to hold onto a single lead they have and will make an early exit.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Evaluating the Willie firing

I must admit, I loved Willie Randolph, loved him. Thought he was a great manager and was being unfairly blamed. It wasn’t until this year that I began to have issues with him. Many people blamed him for last years collapse. But really was that collapse his fault? At the time I would defiantly say no, now…well I’ll get to that in a second. Its September 5th now and though I don’t want to jinx anything I think it’s a fair time to start evaluating the Willie firing as to whether it’s a good move or a bad move.
I spent my last 11 years at summer camp, so most years it’s been I follow the Mets from April till June then go to camp lose track of them and when I get home their terrible and I just concentrate on football. Lately they’ve been good when I get home and that changes things. But this year I was able to follow them much closer thanks to some LEGEND… wait for it…DARY nights. It wasn’t as close as at home but I was still able to follow the team. It’s not as much as I would like, for example when the Mets pull off a 9 game winning streak I may not notice till they’ve hit 7 in a row. Nonetheless I’ve followed them enough and I’ve been home long enough to evaluate this team that I can finally give my opinion on the new manager.
I always liked Willie as a manager, thought it wasn’t his fault that the players weren’t playing but one thing became evident this year, he didn’t let his pitchers pitch. Willie was constantly pulling his pitchers after the 6th inning cuz they put a runner on base and had thrown 96 pitches and if he left them in they’d throw over 100 pitches. Well that causes the bullpen to be tired. We blew a 7 game lead with 17 left to play last year because our bullpen was taxed. That’s what happens when your bullpen has to pitch 3.2 innings every night. Since Jerry Manuel has taken over he’s let his guys pitch, and yes the bullpen is awful right now, but part of that is because they pitched so often during the first half of the year. With the September call ups upon us there are more people to split the work in the bullpen, none of the guys called up are better then the guys already on the team, but the fact that they provide competition and rest for the bullpen is HUGE. Another big issue has been the offense of Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes, as well as the whole offense. This season the offense really struggled, we all knew they had it in them to do better but they weren’t. Since Jerry Manuel has taken over Delgado and Reyes have been on fire, they’ve had it in them they just needed someone to get it out of them. It has become obvious that Willie was unable to get that fire out of these players and Manuel has been able to. As I wrote in my last post about Rick Peterson, maybe it was time for him to go; I wrote that it might not be his fault that Oliver Perez is Oliver Perez. Well the thing is lately Oliver Perez has been dominant again, and yes; Peterson turned John Maine into a great pitcher and he saved Tom Glavine’s career. So no, Maine hasn’t gotten better this year, but someone who never did well under Peterson has been Mike Pelfrey, who has been our #2 pitcher the second half of the year especially since Peterson left.
Since the firing of Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson, someone has been able to wake up Reyes and Delgado, Perez has pitched well again, and Mike Pelfrey has become dominant. I know nothings been won yet but I think now is a fair time to say that the firing of Willie has been the best thing to ever happen to the Mets this season.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It was just time for the guru to move on

I was alerted of the news that the Mets fired their manager Willie Randolph when my phone vibrated at 6 am that morning. A friend of mine who will remain nameless (since I still hold that he has no life for texting me at 6 am) texted me to tell me that the Mets fired Willie Randolph Rick Peterson and Tom Nieto. Naturally the first thing that popped into my head was “who the fuck is Tom Nieto?” My next question was why my friend couldn’t wait till 9 or even 10:00 to share the news rather then wake me up at 6. But anyway I’m not here to sit and right a whole long post blasting the Mets for firing Willie Randolph. I’m not really going to write a long thing with my opinion on the matter. I will just say this, I think Willie got fired for the wrong reasons and was having blame unfairly put on him. He did his job the past week and the bullpen blew it for him. However I do think that Willie has clearly lost the ability to inspire this team, and that shows with the team’s abysmal record since June of last season.

I’ve had an argument with a certain bezzy monster who wrote out his long opinion on this move which can be read here
So the focus of this is to just write out my side of the argument, the argument had nothing to do with Willie Randolph (I happen to agree with everything he said about Willie as well as first base coach Tom Nieto) but rather had to do with pitching coach Rick Peterson. While my friend Mr. Bezerman believes it’s a travesty for Rick Peterson to be let go is it possible he lost his touch? I will not argue that he is a good pitching coach, the Mets have had the 4th best era while he’s been here and that’s been great but isn’t it possible he’s lost his touch. He came over with a very nice pedigree having worked with the “Big 3” in Oakland (Zito, Mulder, and Hudson). But early on in his Mets career he was the backbone to what would become the worst trade in Mets history, ultimately costing the GM his job and making the Mets the butt of all Scott Kazmir jokes for quite some time. Peterson took a look at Devil Rays pitcher Victor Zambrano and said “I could fix him in 10 minutes,” causing the Mets to trade #1 prospect Scott Kazmir to Tampa for Zambrano. Well Zambrano looked like he was making a good improvement in his last two starts with the Mets before getting injured (including his last start with a great line of 1.1 IP 4k’s, then walking off the field) but those last two starts came after a year and a half of constant walks and inconsistency. Meanwhile Kazmir has been growing into a top pitcher in Tampa; in fact writing on the subject is getting me mad that I’m just going to stop. He also was able to work with Tom Glavine and completely change the way Glavine pitched, enabling Glavine to add on about 3 years to his career and it enabled him to win 300 games. However this also enabled Glavine to become our “ace” which led to him being on the mound for that final game against Florida last year…again another sore spot that I’ll just stop. During his tenure with the Mets he has worked wonders with some pitchers, namely Oliver Perez and John Maine, there’s no argument as to what he did with them in the past, but there is one to say that he just doesn’t have it anymore.

Again my argument here is simple, its not that Peterson wasn’t great, but rather it was time for him to go. He worked very closely with John Maine during the 2006 season and worked very closely with Perez once the Mets traded for him. He worked with them well enough that they were trusted with the ball in games 6 and 7 respectively of the NLCS that season, and both pitchers turned in masterful performances. Perez has had a nasty slider his whole career but has been plagued with inconsistency; however Peterson worked very close with Perez last season on keeping his mechanics the same way and Perez responded by winning 15 games, no doubt from Peterson’s help. But here’s the question, what has happened this year? All of a sudden Perez’s inconsistency is back and he randomly decides to improvise on his own, often leading him into trouble. As Mets announcers talk about how that’s something Rick Peterson does NOT want to see I must ask why is Ollie doing this and why can’t Rick get him to stop? Perez’s mechanics and arm angles have been all over the place this year, shouldn’t Peterson have taken him right from spring training and picked up right where they left off last year. When watching Perez pitches this year it’s as if his tremendous year last year never happened.
Maine this season hasn’t regressed as badly this season, as Perez has, but he hasn’t been the John Maine of 2007. Is that Peterson’s fault, I don’t know but he clearly hasn’t been able to help him as much this year. Another alarming stat is newcomer Johan Santana has arrived to the Mets and began his first year with Peterson. The Johan of 2008 however has served up an alarming rate of Home Runs to opposing hitters, again can’t blame it on Peterson, but a pitching coach is supposed to help figure these problems out and get rid of them and that hasn’t seemed to happen. People also like to bring up that he did a great job with reliever Aaron Heilman while with the Mets. I have no evidence that he did anything great with Heilman, all I could say is let’s just look at how the guy who is supposed to be our 7th or 8th inning guy is walking around with a 5.45 era and whenever he comes into a game I could confidently shut the game off knowing he’ll blow the lead. Now yes the Mets starting pitching has had a tremendous era, especially recently where they have been very good, even Mike Pelfrey who might have actually found his game has been lights out. But a pitching coach is not only in charge of the starters but also the relievers, and the Mets bullpen lately has been DREADFUL. It looks almost as if Peterson has never paid any attention to them. The bottom line is, when you get gems out of Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana on back to back days, Pelfrey pitching into the 9th and then handing the ball off to his closer who blows the save, and then blows another one the next day. The Mets got the ball to their closer with a lead in the 9th inning two days in a row and he didn’t come through. Before that, the bullpen had been horrendous in San Diego and have continued to struggle in Anaheim (or Los Angeles as the Angels like to be called), but getting the ball to the closer in the 9th inning is what a manager is supposed to do. If the bullpen not coming through cost the manager his job, then the pitching coach deserves to be fired also. I’m not saying Peterson isn’t a good coach and I’m not saying that I don’t think the Mets will miss him, but this year it just strikes me as that something just wasn’t there, and it was time for him to move on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kobe Bryant just needs to shut up...and lay low for a while, no rapes

When does it become appropriate to join a team for a championship? As a fan I almost find it hypocritical that at times I’m rooting for the players that left their teams and went to contenders, and at times I strongly hate the players that leave their teams. I thought about this as I was watching the Boston Celtics thrash the Lakers to win their 17th NBA title. As I was rooting for the Celtics to beat Kobe I began wondering, Kevin Garnett left the team that took him out of high school, he was the star of the team, the face of the franchise did he just quit and give up on the wolves and say I can’t do it.
There are plenty of instances where a player is hated for quitting on his team. We’ve blasted A-Rod for signing a record breaking deal with last place Texas, only to say, “I can’t do it all by myself” and forcing a trade to the Red Sox, and when that fell through a trade to the Yankees. The same can be said about a certain Randy Moss who signed a large contract with the Raiders only to say “I can’t do this” and move to the Patriots. The icing on the cake here is to say that to date neither of the two have won championships. In fact both of them were involved in some pretty nice choke jobs. A-Rod and his Yankees blowing a 3-0 lead against the Red Sox, including his famous slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s hand in game 6. Moss went to join Tom Brady with the patriots and went on a record setting season, only the numbers he’ll see the most next season are 18-1… as the patriots choked and couldn’t win the Super Bowl.
I’m no fan of NBA, I’d much prefer the college game, but the NBA does manage to provide some good examples. This year Jason Kidd provided himself as a distraction to the Nets even skipping a practice because of a “migraine.” I followed the Nets when they would make their deep playoff runs earlier this decade and when I would attend games I enjoyed watching Kidd play. So much to say when Kidd came out and said it was time for him and the Nets to move on the Nets followed through and traded him to Dallas. When a player is the center piece of his team and carries them to a championship or close to it, he earns a place in every fans heart. The best example I could think of is Mets catcher Mike Piazza. We were bad when he came and he was beginning of the turnaround, he brought us to the 2000 world series where we lost to our cross-town rival Yankees (you could read about their training regime in full detail in the Mitchell Report). Even though we didn’t win he was the face of the franchise for 8 years, we loved him, he left because he was old and we simply needed to go in a new direction. However he never left our hearts, when he returned to Shea the game was delayed for a minute and half before his first at-bat as he was given a standing ovation. He was given another one late in the game after a base hit. He was given a third the next day when he hit a home run, against us. In the 70’s when the Rangers traded away fan favorite goaltender Eddy Giacomin his first game with the Red Wings was at the Garden against the Rangers. That game saw the entire Garden rooting for Eddy and the Wings, even booing when the Rangers scored. So yes, Kidd was the face of the franchise for the Nets, he took them to the finals twice, but he left on bad terms, and blasted the team in the process. This woke me, the most casual NBA fan that there is to wake up and immediately hope Kidd would go to Dallas and they would miss the playoffs.
So I think to myself when is it alright to be rooting for the player who left his team. You root against Kidd and hope he doesn’t win after screwing over the Nets, but everyone in Boston, (rather every NHL fan other then stupid and low-life Devils fans) rooted for Ray Bourque to win the cup with Colorado, not the Bruins. So, what made these Celtics different that I could accept that I was rooting for Pierce Garnett and Allen to win the title? Pierce and Allen are easily explained as Pierce is a lifelong Celtic and lived through some bad years and clearly deserved it. Allen was traded to the Celtics, but also had played for a few different teams and didn’t have a signature team. What put everything into perspective was with about a minute left in the game Mike Breen said it simply, Boston’s “Big 3” had put their personal stats aside for the benefit of the team.
I said before I’m not a fan of the NBA, rather the college game is what I will watch. The answer is simple; college basketball is real basketball, 5 on 5, a team playing against another team playing as a team. The NBA is built around superstars who are all for their own stats and play for themselves. They take the most money which doesn’t allow their team to go out and find other good players. But it’s very boring to watch, how often do you want to watch LeBron take 5 steps through the lane with no travel call. The “Big 3” gave up their personal stats to play as a team, and in game 6, they played very exciting team basketball. On the losing side is the exact problem with the NBA, Kobe Bryant. Kobe won three titles with the Lakers with Shaq on his team before arguing that he couldn’t play with Shaq because his stats were suffering. As Kobe is finding out now it is defiantly easier to win with a dominant center. And Shaq has proved he could win without Kobe, but Kobe is starting to find out, he might have the best stats in the NBA, he might be the MVP, he might even be one of the best players ever to play the game, but he can’t win a title on his own.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Season After Season - Heartbreak: Yet I Can't Wait For More! Part II

If you were to ask anyone who was on Camp Monroe’s Stanley cup hockey team while I was the captain they will all agree on one thing. In fact almost anyone who has ever met me will agree on this. I seem to have an issue of running my mouth to much. Once I get rolling on a subject, it never ends and the words just keep coming right out of my mouth. After looking at the length of my first post as well as the length of part II it is apparent that I have that problem with writing as well.
I spent my first post wondering why I love sports so much when based off the teams that I support every year is filled with heartbreak. Of course I wrote it after the Mets had beaten the Dodgers 6-1 and had won 5 of there last 6 seemingly getting manager Willie Randolph off of the hotseat. Of course the Mets came back the following night and put Oliver Perez on the mound who gave us an astonishing outing, giving up 6 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in a glorious 1/3 of an inning. This killing of optomism in just the first inning just re-enforces the question of what makes it all worth it? However whats most ironic is that this event that makes one question what makes it all worth was occuring simultaniously as another event that provides the perfect answer to the question. While Oliver Perez was busy giving up hit after hit, run after run to the lowly Giants the Detroit Red Wings were involved in a game 5 battle with the Penguins for the Stanley Cup. What makes it worth it? Trailing the series 3-1 the penguins needed a win to send the series back to to Pittsburgh, after getting off to a 2-0 lead Detroit stormed back to take a 3-2 lead. The final few minutes of the third period coincided with the bottom of the first in the Mets game. While Oliver Perez was losing all the optomism in Mets camp, Pittsburgh was staging a thrilling battle throwing everything they had at the Red Wings and scoring with 35 seconds left to send the game into overtime. Two and half overtimes and one Petr Sykora called shot later Pittsburgh was celebrating on Detroits us as they took game 5 to force a game 6 in Pittsburgh extending their season just that much. When Oliver Perez was making us question why, the Penguins and Red Wings showed us just one example of what its really all about, what keeps us going.

Its about the anticipation, the excitement. Its about not paying attention in class to follow all the action on opening day. Its about walking into the garden before a game. Its about how the Garden shakes and the baloons fly during the national anthem before a playoff game. Its about singing the goal song after every goal, its about POTVIN SUCKS! Its about playoff hockey in general, its about 5 overtime games that don't end till 3 in the morning. Its about how Gus Johnson is at a loss for words after a big 3 in the NCAA tournement, about how Davidson sent their entire student body to the sweet 16 and elite 8 to support their team. Its about how a Latin American country ordered someone to write words for their national anthem so that their athletes would have something to sing along to just like athletes from all the other countries.

Its about how Sports has the power to gather a whole nation together.
After 9/11 seeing football players running onto the field with American flags, but of course nothing better then Mike Piazza’s 2 run homer to beat the rival Braves in the first sporting event to be held in New York after the attacks, this homer not only won the game for the Mets, but it let New Yorkers know that things would be ok. I love the optimism that comes with every pre-season, when on opening day everyone is in first place. After all sports gives us the chance to analyze and over analyze the game over and over again. As many people could attest to, one of my greatest joys in life is over analyzing, whether it is sports or TV, or movies. Sports memories will always remain in our minds more then almost anything else. I will always remember Marek Malik rising from anonymity and coming up with a through the legs shot in the 15th round of a shootout to beat the capitals. I will always remember Endy Chavez’s 6th inning catch of what should have been a Scot Rolen home run in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. I will always remember attending a remarkable pitchers duel between Pedro Martinez and Brandon Webb, a brilliant 1-0 13 inning win for the Mets, and along with the game I will remember Lastings Milledge’s lazer throw from right field to throw out a runner trying to go from first to third. I will always remember being ready to fall down beaten when John Terry stepped up to the penalty spot in the Champions League final, only to miss and give Manchester United new life, and eventually the win.

I love the power that a great game has over us. When I was studying for a final one night i came across the Jets-Dolphins monday night miracle game. I immediatly dropped the studying so i could watch the Jets play so poorly for 3 quarters only to rally and come back from a 30-7 4th quarter deficit. The rally of course being capped off by a 4th down touchdown catch from offensive lineman Jumbo Elliot.

I loathe how the 1998-2004 New York Rangers provided the blueprint on how to create fan excitement in the pre-season and never win anything by signing aging overrated veterans. But with that, I love how the 2001+ New York Yankees have decided to copy that strategy and forgo winning the World Series year after year.

Though I mentioned before my favorite teams and how they never fail to constantly let me down I purposely left one out for the reason that one of my favorite teams is not a perennial loser but rather the opposite.. I happen to be a huge fan of English Football and though my friend from across the pond will always accuse me of being a front runner for my “choice” of supporting Manchester United. I will just quickly clear up how this was not a choice, I followed the local MLS team, the MetroStars for half a season and at the end of the season their goalie Tim Howard went to United and I followed him over there and was quickly won over by a certain boy Ronaldo and a boy wonder Wayne Rooney. To this day I have not forgotten about Howard as I still follow him at Everton, (because of Howard and my close ties with a certain Andy McLindon). The drama of football provides some of the best sports environments you can have. I will always love waking up at 8:30 on a Sunday morning to watch United play, or skipping out on my bitch of a math teacher Mrs. Staum’s Tuesday math class to go home and watch United in the Champions League.

When rumors broke out that superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was contemplating a summer move to Real Madrid the feeling that football could now join the list of teams that give me heartbreaking endings. This thought became even more real when during the penalty shootout of the Champions League final Ronaldo stepped up to the spot where he had been so consistent all season, and missed. It was in the moments after the Ronaldo penalty miss when I was truly reminded why I love sports so much. Nicholas Anelka of Chelsea would have his shot saved by United goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar. The euphoric celebration began as all the player on Manchester United ran to their goalkeeper and fans to celeberate. All but one player that is, Cristiano Ronaldo never left the midfield circle as he fell and cried, so happy that his teammates had bailed him out. It was what happened next that was truly great. Manchester United captain Gary Neville who had missed all but 20 minutes of the season with a knee injury ran out to midfield and with the new owner of United’s career appearance record, fellow teammate Ryan Giggs together they lifted Ronaldo up from the ground and brought him to his celebrating teammates. To some thats what its about, crying because one is so happy that their not the goat, when everyone expects you to be the one to come through and you don't, that you let your teamates down. But that these same teamates are able to lift you up first by overcoming your mistake to win, and then literally pick you up off the ground to let you know its ok that you missed, we won, lets go celebrate. It was then that I remembered the brotherhood that is shared by teammates and the bonds they form with their fans. The act of picking Ronaldo up of the ground squashed the rumors of him leaving the club to go to Real Madrid. It’s the sense of hope that our teams give us, and the sense of promise that if were there for the lows, our teams will repay us and give us highs.

I love sports for its ways of picking everyone up and uniting them around the world. For the Ivory Coast who in the midst of a civil war could call for a truce so the whole country could be united in supporting their country in the world cup. For giving us reasons to yell and scream and taunt other people. But most importantly, for the bonds that form over friend supporting the same team, the hourly discussions about your team when you should be doing work, and of course the chance that at any moment it will give you another memory that you will never forget.

Season After Season - Heartbreak: Yet I Can't Wait For More! Part I

I have always thought about starting a blog but never really got around to doing it. Partially because I would not be able to think of a catchy title and partially because despite the fact that I think I’m funny all of my friends could attest to the fact that truly I am not a funny person, and who wants to read a blog that is not funny? But after some tough persuation from a certain bezzy monster I was convinced to finally start one. But what could I write about? Mr. Bezerman said to just have one and when something pops into your head to just write about it, or write about important things in your life. Well one of the central parts of my life has been sports. Sports offers some of the most amazing times and amazing memories, but along with all the good, it also has crushing losses and heartbreaks, which begs the question, why do I love sports so much?
As a fan of the New York Mets, New York Rangers and New York Jets, coming up short has almost become a routine in life. At the end of almost every season I find myself reading Page 2 columnists Jeff Pearlman’s Loving sports, from Greg Butler to Sweet Lou to Niko Noga, an article written about why he loves sports.
The question remains, why do I love Sports? As a fan of the aforementioned teams I have lived through only one championship in my lifetime, the 1994 Rangers Stanley cup win, but even this was when I was too young to even care about sports. With those teams ruling my life I have become very accustomed to failure. The first season I remember of Jets football finished with a dismal 1-15 record. When I became old enough to start caring about sports and actually following teams, I saw the Rangers beat the Devils in 5 games only to lose to the Flyers in 5 games, and then fail to make the playoffs for another 8 years and not winning another playoff game until 9 years later.
However no team has managed to let me down more then the beloved New York Mets. When the Mets finally made the playoffs as a wild card in 1999 they faced the Braves in the NLCS. Though I was too young to stay up and watch every game that year, they threw me a bone by having a late Sunday afternoon game. 14 innings later Robin Ventura came up with the bases loaded and hit his famous “Grand Slam Single” getting all Mets fans excited for what could happen. What happened next? In game 6 the Braves had bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning and Kenny Rodgers threw ball four to walk in the winning run just as Bobby Bonilla was putting down the 9 of diamonds in his card game with Rickey Henderson in the Mets clubhouse. That was it, seasons over, ending on a bases loaded walk. The following season the Mets rolled over the Cardinals in the NLCS to get everyone excited for Subway Series, one controversial game 1 call later, and the Mets were never even in the series losing in 5.
The Mets weren’t heard from again until 2006, when the team strolled through the regular season, leading their division on all but one day of the season, the second game when Jorge Julio blew a late lead. The team looked like a lock to head to the World Series and probably to win it. After sweeping the Dodgers in the first round, they faced the Cardinals who had the worst record out of all the teams in the playoffs. It looked as if the Mets were to take a 2-0 series lead until right fielder Shawn Green misplayed a fly ball in the 8th inning changing the entire series. The Mets fell down 3-2 and needed to beat former Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter in game 6. After a masterful performance by rookie John Maine the Mets were forced to send Oliver Perez to the mound in game 7. Perez who had been labeled “the worst game 7 starter in history” delivered a masterful performance for 5 and third innings. When Willie Randolph came out to talk to him he decided to leave him in the game to face Scot Rolen. On the next pitch Rolen hit a bomb to left field and every Met fan immediately wished Perez had come out of the game. We then witnessed what could be the greatest postseason catch in playoff history when Endy Chavez leaped and got his elbow over the wall to bring the ball back into the park and throw to first for the double play. This was the highest of highs, there was no way we could lose now, until an inning later Yadier Molina was able to hit one just about 15 feet further for the homerun. We were able to get some hope back when the Mets loaded the bases for Carlos Beltran in the 9th. When Beltran fell behind 0-2 the entire world knew that curveball was coming, that is except for Beltran who would go down looking. And that was it, our season ending when our highest played player failed to swing his bat. As the Mets fans filed out of Shea Stadium the line “wait till next year” made famous by the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950’s became the common phrase.
When next year came around the Mets got off to a hot start and looked like they were going to take their second division title in a row. After a bad run at the end of August including a four game sweep by the Phillies the Mets responded by winning 7 out of 9. What happened next was the worst collapse in baseball history. The Mets blew a 7 game lead with 17 games left in the season. When the phillies took a 1 game lead with two games left hope restored when John Maine carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning to get the Mets back into first place. The entire season came down to one game, I spent hours trying to find tickets to get to this game, this is what it was all about. Two hours before the game I got a call from a friend telling me to just get to Shea Stadium and there would be tickets waiting for me. I arrived at the game 7 minutes late, and when I got to my seat and saw the Marlins had the bases loaded and already scored 3 runs. That was it 7 runs given up in 1/3 of an inning by our “ace” Tom Glavine. The Mets of course love giving us fans false hope and that came in the bottom of the first inning when having already scored one run, backup catcher Ramon Castro came to the plate. Castro was having a career year and seemed to hit a home run every eight at bats. Unfortunately he had homered during his last at bat the day before. Castro hit a bomb with the bases loaded and for a moment the entire stadium had thought it was a grand slam and the Mets would be back in the game. The ball died on the warning track and with the Mets season.
I had spent hours just trying to figure out how to get tickets for this game. 15 minutes later I was crushed, walking out of Shea Stadium wondering why I invest so much time into this team when all they do is let me down. Why I invest so much time into sports when every season just ends in heartbrake? That seems to be the best question, what is it about sports that make sports fans keep coming back year after year?

Part II coming