Wednesday, July 6, 2011

They're Still Equivocating And I Can't Take It

There we were on Sunday afternoon, one strike away from having some clarity and relieved anxiety. The Mets were losing to the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth, 2-1, facing the greatest closer in the history of the game and potentially, their season was on the brink. A loss would have given the Mets a demoralizing sweep at the behest of their crosstown rivals, and a fourth-straight loss overall, dampening any of the positive feelings we had gotten from a recent and surprising offensive outburst against the Tigers.

Then it happened.

The Mets rallied off Mariano Rivera, won the game in extra innings, and have since responded with two impressive wins to open their west-coast road trip in Los Angeles, which brings them to a season-high two whole games over .500 (although they've actually lost some ground in the Wild Card, where they're 6.5 back). Either way, the Mets haven't rolled over and died just yet, which is surprising to many for a few reasons and is also making me wonder about a few things.

A) Is this team for real? Like, are they going to make us think they're in the race longer than just the All-Star Break?

B) Is this the real Jason Bay? The outfielder was a disappointment last year up until he spent the latter part of the season, and the first part of this one out with a concussion. But in the last 10 games, he's hitting .359 with 13 RBIs, 8 runs scored, 3 homeruns and 2 stolen bases. Oh and his six homers this season are equal to his total from last year. Maybe the last three years of that contract won't be quite the albatross we all feared it was.

C) Why am I so damned anxious about this team?

That last one is the real question. I'll chalk it up to my Jewish neuroticism, but it makes me uncomfortable to not know if this team is going to suddenly get my hopes up only to dash them again or if I can comfortably ignore what's happening on the field. That's a terrible perspective to take. What I should be saying is, "I expected nothing and I'm getting something. It's all gravy."

And really that's quite true. This is an unexpected joy to watch all things considered. The Mets are a scrappy bunch exceeding expectations that you want to actually root for, which is a pretty stark contrast from years past. And let it also not be forgotten that if the team falls apart in the midst of its three-game series against the Phillies after the All-Star Break, I won't have to witness it first hand because I'll be off in Europe for two and a half weeks.

Yes, on a side note, I'll be off in Europe in approximately four or five days depending on where you want to draw territorial lines. I'm going to be in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Belgium, and it should be a hell of a time and there will be lots of pictures, but the catch is that updates may be few and far between. I'm not sure if you can all manage without my writing a new blog post for roughly three weeks but you're going to have to manage and get your Mets-centric neuroticism elsewhere.

In the interim I should note that while I do plan to take a look at the Berlin Olympic Stadium, site of such events as Jesse Owens' performance at the 1936 Olympics and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, I will not be seeing any sporting events. A bizarre notion considering that I almost always see a sporting event while on vacation and that during my stretch in Europe I will just be missing the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, where one team has blamed a loss on lightning -- guess who, and the American Football Weltmeisterschaft in Austria. Oh, how I wish I could see a bunch of men from France and Austria compete on the gridiron so poorly that my high school team could have beaten them.

Well maybe we couldn't have, but at least saying so still isn't the dumbest thing anyone has said in a public forum this week.

At the very least those people are actually playing football, which, I suppose, is still theoretically up for debate in the U.S. this fall what with all that lockout business. Of course, I've never really believed the lockout would last long enough to cancel the season and I figured most of it was harmless sabre-rattling and if you need a curious sign as to why, here you go:

This is a pretty funny little parody here with high production values, but the intrigue lies in that several NFL players, members of the NFLPA, are in this video. So are Rich Eisen and Marshall Faulk, who are commentators for NFL Network. That is to say, they are employees of the NFL, which means that during this lockout, technically, they're not supposed to be associating with members of the NFLPA. But here we are. Why would the NFL approve letting these people associate with the enemy? I suppose in theory it could be because they don't want to take it too seriously or get any bad press for taking protectionism to an extreme, but maybe, just maybe, it's because they all know the lockout isn't really that serious and it's only a matter of a week or two before the big, bad millionaires decide how to appropriately split up their billions.

Either way, I suspect there will be football. Rant over. Back to vacation talk.

The only real sporting connection I can find to my trip beyond the Berlin Olympic Stadium is that the Women's World Cup Final will be Sunday night July 17th, when I will be in Berlin. The game, unfortunately, is in Frankfurt, but with Germany the host nation, favorite and two-time defending champion, I'm hopeful that there will be some fun outdoor square with a public viewing area for us to watch in and feel the crowd. If that's the case, I will write something long and poetic about watching sports in another country.

Kind of like everything else I write. If you take out the whole part of it being poetic.

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