Friday, September 28, 2007

Amazin' and Phantastic

Desperate note to any fellow Mets fans in the Philadelphia area: Can somebody please lure Susie Madrak into a bar or restaurant where the game is on this weekend? Susie's convinced that the reason the Phils are on a tear is that she hasn't been watching any of their games.

Hey, it ain't over till it's over, but at this point I'm almost hoping the Mets don't make the playoffs even as the wild card. The baseball fan in me trumps the Mets fan. (Sorry, Tom.) I like every post-season series to go the limit, five games in the first round, seven after that, and the Mets, if they sleepwalk into the playoffs and don't wake up, will be done in three. And I like to see good and deserving teams in the post-season.

The Mets' collapse wouldn't be seen as the historic disaster it is if the Phillies weren't playing such terrific baseball. If you're a fan of the game, you want to see a team like the Phils, talented, bouncing back from injuries, recover and go all the way, and you want to see a team like the Mets, sloppy, unfocused, dazed, listless, and confused, get booted from contention.

And not to take too much away from the Phils, but this is the Mets' second collapse this season. They really went to work throwing away the season just after the All-Star break, just that time around it looked as though Atlanta was the team that was going to benefit.

Sour grapes, and of course if the Mets wake up tonight and remember they're in a pennant race, I'll be singing a different tune...maybe.

Funny thing is that I haven't been following the Mets closely all season. "You gotta believe!" declared the greatest Mets reliever ever (who, although he was a great reliever for the Phillies too, was not Billy Wagner), but I just haven't believed since they picked up Moises Alou last winter.

Alou is a very good ballplayer, the kind of very good ballplayer who will inspire some fun debates over the next forty years about whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame. (No. At least not until the sportswriters come to their senses and let Jim Rice in first. After that...still, no.) But a team with the best offense in the league already and a bunch of talented young outfielders and no reliable pitching does not need to go out and acquire a forty year old right fielder with a history of leg and ankle injuries.

When they signed Alou I said to anybody who would listen around here, which means I said to myself, "They're not serious."

But you know when I really gave up on them? The first series against the Phillies back in April. Not because of the games. The Mets swept. Because of the fans' and New York media's laughing reaction to Jimmy Rollin's prediction that his team would be the team to beat this season.

But Rollins was only making the not unreasonable observation that a team that has himself, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Aaron Rowand in its starting line-up has a pretty good chance of winning a ball game on any given day.

Mets fans scoffed and said Rollins was tempting the baseball gods to punish Philadelphia for his hubris.

But I thought it was more likely that the baseball gods would punish Mets fans for theirs.



Family loyalties: What I'm really rooting for is that both the Mets and the Phils make the play-offs, preferably with Philadelphia as the wild card. Then I'd like to see them take out the Cubs and Diamondbacks and face each other for the league championship, although that will make things a little tense around the Mannion house.

Going to be a little tense this weekend.

The blonde is a Phillies fan.

She's been trying to keep that to herself all season. Not for my sake. For the teenager's who's been having his heart broken just about every morning since school started when he's rushed out to fetch the newspaper to see how his Mets did last night and found out the answer's the same old story---the bullpen blew another one.

Good mother that she is, she's been trying to hide her delight around the teenager. She even pretends to be disappointed on his behalf and if the Mets do manage to stumble into the World Series, she'll be cheering right along with her son (unless the Red Sox stumble in too) but I'm afraid that if what the baseball gods have apparently been arranging to happen since April---Jimmy Rollins at the plate with the deciding game on the line---happens, her facade will collapse.

A mother is only a mother, but a Phillies fan is a Phanatic.

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