Thursday, August 7, 2008

J-E-T-S Why? Why? Why?

I’m going to channel Tim McCarver for a minute here and state the obvious: there is no baseball in the winter. When there’s no baseball, there’s no Yankees. When there’s no Yankees, there’s a big gaping hole in my life the size of the one in the Mets bullpen. So it was for measured, practical reasons that I decided to take up football. Someone—someone who loves me—saw me going into the darkness late one October and said, “You don’t have to do this anymore. That’s why there’s football.” That someone happened to be a Jets fan. Therefore, so was I. And because I think bandwagon fans are deplorable, I stayed one despite the discovery that the Giants are actually a whole lot better. This is why I need the Jets. It’s true, they suck. But I need them regardless. I don’t need them to win because, if I needed that, I’d be in trouble. I just need them to be reasonably likable.

The fact of it is that Brett Fav-ruh is trying to ruin my life. No, seriously. At first I thought that no one was reading this blog, but obviously the stuff that I’ve been saying has gotten back to him, and the guy is mad. He’s mad, and he’s going right for the jugular. Think I’m paranoid? OK. Then, I challenge you to offer another explanation as to how, after all this talk about going to the Vikings or taking $20 million over ten years to do nothing, he’s suddenly been traded to the Jets. The J-E-T-S Jets, JETS, Jets. I’m sorry. I’m still processing.

Look, you’re going to read a whole lot of stuff about how Fav-ruh would have preferred to have been traded to the Buccaneers, another team that was bidding for him, but let’s get real. He’s not just going to come right out and send a text message to ESPN saying, “I have found a way to play for the Jets in order to ruin Melanie Greenberg’s life. By the way, I’m crying right now. Also, I’m thinking about retiring at the end of this season. Will keep you posted.” He wouldn’t show his hand like that. He’s tricky. Quite frankly, he’s starting to scare me. I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up tomorrow morning to discover that he’s left a deflated football in my bed.

So here’s my dilemma. I’ve thought about it and thought about it and thought about it, and I just don’t know if I can find it in myself to cheer for him. It really pains me because I have come to love the Jets. But I just can't. Not after he’s gone out of his way to do this to me. So, normally, my go-to here would be the Giants. You see, unlike a lot of New Yorkers, I don’t consider my teams to be at odds with the other New York teams. After all, isn’t the real enemy always supposed to be Boston? And, much as I am fond of the Jets, they aren't the Yankees, who could never be replaced by anyone. However, with the Giants having just won the Super Bowl, it would be basically impossible to start liking them now. Maybe if they stunk or were even only moderately good. But to suddenly flip over to the Giants camp immediately after they had earned the championship? No one would ever believe it was because Fav-ruh had it in for me. They’d say I was a bandwagon fan. And I simply can’t have that. Bandwagon fans are embarrassing. They have no character. And I have character. I have it in spades.

So what are my other options? Take up hockey? An American? At age thirty? What am I, a hoser? Pay attention to the Knicks again and hope that they end up with a higher record than .300 this year? Considering it. Become a Packers fan to show my support for the fact that they refused to negotiate with a terrorist? One who can’t match the spelling and pronunciation of his own name, for that matter? Possibly, cuz good for them. Or maybe I’ll just hope that poor Chad Pennington finds a team that’s willing to take him at this point and, if he does, I’ll cheer for them.

No matter what I do, since you’re obviously reading, thanks, Brett Fav-ruh, for ruining my life. Enjoy training camp. Send me a text, and let me know how it’s going.

Onto someone that matters. When Thurman Munson died in 1979, Bobby Murcer delivered his eulogy. Billy Martin, concerned that Murcer would be too emotional to play, suggested he sit that night’s game out. Murcer, however, insisted on playing. Something inside him just told him that he should. As it happened, the Yanks won that night’s game in a 5-4 victory, with Murcer driving in all five of the runs. He hit a three-run shot into the upper deck and a two-run single to win the game. Murcer knew that sometimes the best way to show your respect is on the field rather than on the bench. So it’s fitting that after a three-game losing streak, the Yanks would have chosen yesterday, the day of Bobby Murcer’s memorial, to finally turn things around with a “W.”

Few of the players in Yankees history have been as beloved as Bobby Murcer. Despite a few brief years with the Giants and Cubs midway through his career, he is what you would call a tried and true Yankee. A five-time All-Star outfielder, Murcer played through the Mantle era and returned to see the years following the 1978 “Bronx Zoo” Billy Martin-Reggie Jackson bedlam. He spent the twenty-four years following his retirement as a broadcaster, and he came to be a regular fixture at the stadium. There is no greater evidence of the love we all felt for Bobby than the outpouring of affection the fans displayed when he returned to the broadcasting booth in May, while still being treated for brain cancer. At the start of the game, the video screen cut, first to Bobby in the booth, and then to a montage of video clips highlighting his career. The crowd responded with an overwhelming display of heartfelt and thunderous applause. Murcer, moved by the unexpected ovation, commented in response, "I wish I had a word to describe it, to tell you the truth. I really wish I had a way to describe it.”

That Bobby is missed, there can be no doubt. YES announcer Michael Kay summed up the respect that many of us felt for Murcer when he said, "Bobby was one of the finest human beings I've ever met. He handled his battle with a grace and class that was hard to fathom. For me personally, it's an incredible loss. He was my idol growing up. I was lucky to work with him as a broadcaster, and it showed me that I had great taste as a kid.” But, perhaps nobody said it better than Yogi and Carmen Berra in the poem they wrote for the inside cover of yesterday’s memorial booklets: “We loved you in pinstripes, we loved you in the booth. We’ll love you forever and that is the truth.”

And in honor of that love, as I mentioned, the Yanks finally decided to pull it together and win one. Many thanks. Though, this one was no less weird than the previous two against the Rangers. I think the highlight of the 5-3 game, for me, was when Andy Fletcher, the second base ump, made that bad call on Robinson Cano, claiming he’d caught a ball on a bounce rather than in the air, and Robbie got so distracted that he plum forgot he was still in the middle of trying to make a play. With runners still circling the bases, he started arguing with Fletcher, ball in hand, until he finally noticed Jeter screaming at him to throw it over so that, at the very least, they could get the out at second. Robbie took half a second to register what Jeter said and, while barely looking, made a casual toss to the captain to secure the out. Meanwhile, he never stopped arguing with Fletcher. It was sort of brilliant. To Cano him is, indeed, to love him. Persuaded by Girardi, who had come out of the dugout to argue, Fletcher reversed the call, which saved the Yanks from another run for the Rangers.

Pudge Rodriguez and David Murphy collided at home in the second, in a play that rattled both players enough to force them both out of the game eventually. Not-so-Pudge, immediately. Murphy, an inning later. Pudge, to his credit, wasn’t letting that run score for nobody. Remind me never to try to slide home on his watch. And to put him on my “could take Mike Lowell in a dark alley” list. Murphy ended up on the DL. Rodriguez is day-to-day, and sitting tonight's game out. But it looks like he will be ready to battle sooner rather than later. He knows how to take a pudge.

Betemit is becoming a betta’ man by the day. He got us a run-scoring double in the third. Well done. Maybe it’s time to think about finding a betta' song. Why not trade with A-Rod, who has been boring us with Mims's “This is Why I’m Hot” for a good two seasons now? If your definition of “hot” includes hitting into a double play two nights in a row, then, oh, OK, that makes sense. Meanwhile, with Joba on the DL for fifteen days, Sidney Ponson couldn’t have picked a betta' time to end up being awesome. All that being said, the Chowdas and the Devils both won theirs yesterday, so all we’ve done is avoid falling farther into the chasm. We have not yet started to dig ourselves out.

As for the Amazin's, Pedro is apparently feeling happy with yesterday's outing, despite the two solo home runs. Should I tell him that the Mets actually didn't win that one? Too mean? In Pedro's defense, the Mets really owe the loss to the bungling of David Wright, who allowed a two-out error on a ground ball, which scored the two runs that won the game for San Diego. Still, a pitcher should never be happy with an "L." They're supposed to be subhuman freaks who hold themselves to different standards of perfection. They're, well, eccentrics.

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