I was supposed to fly back to New York for Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS but unfortunately a pushed back midterm prevented me from doing so. And now? Now I feel like a family member died and I never had a chance to say goodbye. “At least I’ll be there for Game 3 of the World Series,” I told myself. But much like putting a hospital visit off til tomorrow only to find out that your family member has already died, there is no tomorrow. The season is over, the dream is dead.
The truth is the Mets fell prey to a mistake that a lot of teams make. Playoff baseball is a lot different than regular season baseball. While everyone worried about the pitching, it was really the hitting which led to their demise. The Mets relied heavily on the long ball all season long, while postseason baseball is about fundamentals. Hitting the ball to the right side of the infield to move the runner over, bunting, driving in men in scoring position, patient at bats; that’s how you win in October. Its the reason why the Yankees have not won a World Series since 2000. Guys like Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius and Paul O’Neill win you World Series, not Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi. The Mets’ style of play worked fine in April through September but it just didn’t work in October, nor does it ever.
Aside from my family, baseball is my first love in life. It’s more than love, it’s an obsession. I played baseball at a high level until my sophmore year of college and I continue to coach baseball at a high level to this day. And now, at least until Pitchers and Catchers report in mid-February, my love has gone into hibernation. I don’t know if I can watch the World Series. Watching it would be like seeing a girlfriend sleep with another man, only with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver doing commentary to make it worse.
Last night I had to endure some of the tougher phone calls of my life. Hearing my mother and sister crying hysterically hurt but nothing hurt more than the conversation my father and I had. Both of us wanted to cry but we just couldn’t. We spoke for about 10 minutes and it was the most lifeless conversation we have ever had. I consider my father to be my best friend and in all honesty, baseball and wrestling have helped to establish such a close bond. For better or for worse, my father passed onto me the gift (and the curse) of being a die-hard, obsessed fan of the New York Mets.
Consider me fortunate, but I have never been truly depressed. I grew up poor but we got through it and today I live a great, luxurious life. I’ve had girlfriends but was never truly in love and never had my heart broken. I’ve lost a ton of relatives but was too young to truly understand the magnitude. But last night I felt helpess and did not know what to do so I started writing. I can honestly say that I have never written due to emotion in my life. So below, followed by my picks for the week, is what I came up with last night. Its not prize-winning mind you but it was therapeutic.
“I want to cry but I can’t. I’m in a state of disbelief, a state of shock, a state of dejection, yet I wouldn’t say I’m sad. How I can not be sad didn’t really register until I realized, how can I be sad? How can I be upset or angry when the 2006 New York Mets took me along for the greatest ride of my life? I was only 2 years old and 4 years old respectively in 1986 and 1988 so those seasons really don’t have much meaning to me. In 1999 and 2000 it was more of a “I’m just happy to be here” scenario and anything we did was just icing on the cake. But 2006? How can I be sad when for the first time in my life, the Mets had their own stage in the month of October?
The truth is I don’t feel bad for myself as much as I feel bad for Shea Stadium. You can call Shea Stadium old, ugly and outdated – but you know what, it’s my home. It’s where I interned for 8 months, it’s where I grew up and it’s where I’ve had some of the greatest moments of my life. So don’t feel bad for me tonight, feel bad for Shea Stadium. It only has 2 years left before the new stadium is complete so tonight may have very well been the last playoff game ever there. The day Shea Stadium dies, a piece of me will die as well.
I love you both, 2006 New York Mets and Shea Stadium. At least we’ll always have “Sweet Caroline.”
Week 8 Picks (Spreads courtesy of wsex.com)
(Season Record vs. The Spread: 32-30-1, Last Week: 2-3)
#19 Rutgers (+6.5) at Pittsburgh
Rutgers 31 – Pittsburgh 27
#5 Texas at #17 Nebraska (+4.5)
Nebraska 34 – Texas 31
Alabama at #7 Tennessee (-11)
Tennessee 41 – Alabama 17
#13 Georgia Tech at #12 Clemson (-7.5)
Clemson 28 – Georgia Tech 20
Indiana (+30.5) at #1 Ohio State
Ohio State 42 – Indiana 20
Iowa at #2 Michigan (-12.5)
Michigan 31 – Iowa 17
Sorry for waxing poeting on everyone, enjoy the weekend.