An Enjoyable Baseball September
When I celebrated July 9, 1969, this year I brought up the fact that until that day there had always been two kinds of baseball for Mets fans.
“Growing up in the early 60s left me following two types of baseball. There were the important games, between teams such as the Giants and Dodgers, the Tigers and Twins, the Cardinals for sure, and for a few of the foggier years, the Yankees. It was exciting to watch these games from time to time on the Game of the Week, and to read about them in the Daily News. The culmination of this baseball season, of course, was the annual World Series, where I watched great players such as Willie Mays, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Sandy Koufax, Willie McCovey, and well, I could go on for a while here. It was interesting to follow.
Then there were my Mets. I could watch them on WOR every day, and better yet, we went out to the park all the time. Sometimes, depending on whom the Mets were playing, you got to see some of the players above. But the Mets were not part of this pennant race world, they were so bad and so far removed from it you didn’t even consider it. You knew from Day One of the season it was all about just enjoying the game for its own sake, and that the day you watched might just be a good contest. Nothing else than that was within reach.”
What is old can always become new again, and sadly, ever since Jeff Wilpon reassured us that Bernie Madoff would have no effect on the Mets operations we have entered this world again. Pulse rising, pennant race baseball is not part of following the Mets any more.
So sure, the Mets have had a good September and other than the Nationals, the rest of the NL East has gone completely in the tank. Suddenly, second place seems in reach. The thing is, .500 still seems out of reach. In other words, coming in second place when there are three divisions is not much of an indicator. This Mets team never really entered a playoff race that was not difficult to enter. At some point we have to accept reality, that the Mets are not interested in being part of that world. If you need proof, just keep in mind that Terry Collins is returning as manager and Wilmer Flores is getting talked about as some sort of solution at shortstop.
But no matter the circumstances I enjoyed kicking the Braves around. In fact, doing so when they are down has proven quite fun this weekend. As a Mets fans, with the big moments off the table for the foreseeable future I embrace the small ones. I’ve also been enjoying September baseball overall. As I did in the 60’s, I am following the real contenders, and there are a lot of races going my way.
First of all the Los Angeles Dodgers are about to win the NL West. I became a Dodgers fan for the first time in my life the day the team was sold by Frank McCourt. Every successful season from L.A. is another reminder of how quickly a major market team can turn with committed owners. And repudiation for any nonsense from Bud Selig or any other Wilpon apologist about doing things “the right way.” The right way is whatever you can do within the rules, and L.A. is not going against the collective bargaining agreement. Go Dodgers, I hope you get all the way to the World Series.
My dream World Series would have L.A. playing Detroit. The Tigers also have no issues investing in the product, and they have not won since 1984. In fact I would root for Detroit in my dream match-up. This weekend was a good one for the Tigers, as they took two out of three from the Royals. With a soft schedule in the week ahead they are positioned nicely.
More good news for me has been going on in the AL West, where the large market Angels have sprinted past the A’s. Better yet, Oakland is completely collapsing and might not even get a Wild Card bid. A Billy Beane-less October sounds great to me. Even sweeter is that the team poised to take them out is the Seattle Mariners. Seattle, remember, spent hard and fast all winter, with a massive contract to Robinson Cano being the signature move of their offseason. Good for them.
Baltimore doesn’t do much for me, but there is a major bright side to their winning the AL East, as it ends the Derek Jeter circus. It’s also hard to get too hyped up for the Nationals, and another October of “the Cardinal Way” will be rough. Hopefully St. Louis exits fast. I’ve got no issue with the Giants, who are never afraid to invest or make a gutsy trade when needed. Rounding things out, Pittsburgh and Kansas City are hoping to sneak in for a one game playoff appearance each. Expanding the playoffs was the only way to get these teams back in, as they couldn’t do it for 20 years under the old format. Good for them, I guess, but neither team is going to even win 90 games. Mostly these two teams are proof of how it is not that hard to make the playoffs in this cheapened format.
Anyway, Cleveland could still get in, but it would take a lot, and Milwaukee is as good as dead. October is taking shape, and it will be another year without the participation of the New York Mets.
For them, The Lost Decade continues.