Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Game 75 - Mets

Mets 7, Reds 5
Record: 37-38

You know what's really stupid? I've noticed over the course of the past year and a half that a certain percentage, call it anywhere between 5 and 20% percent, of my overall mood on a given day is based on the results of my sports team's latest performance. This is tough to justify, particularly if I were to snap at my children overly harshly on the heels of a sweep to the Pirates. But that doesn't make it any less actual.

During football season, Monday mornings (or the occasional Tuesday, though my team hasn't been nominated for too many MNF outings of late) feature an upbeat or downtrodden demeanor 50-75% of which is easily gauged by checking the very top of the front page of that day's Washington Post. The rest of the week is either hill or valley shaped, as mid-week even-keel reverts to Monday-morning form by the eve of the next game, in either a "we can't lose" euphoria or "here comes another beating" dread. Sunday finds me on edge, and it's back to square one on Monday. It's a cycle more regular than a gymnast's.

Then there's baseball season. There are ten times as many games, and therefore ten times as many highs and lows. Somewhere on a bulletin board inside my brain is the calming phrase "See the Big Picture," intended to diminish the roller coaster of the MLB season. Of course, right under that is witless graffiti such as "I took a big picture of your mom last night," since hokey, pseudo-inspirational mantras like that which find themselves on the coffee mug in your boss's hand and 8 x 12's in airplane magazines aren't worth the cheap crap they're printed on. (Uh, I think I just referred to my brain as cheap crap, but if the Dollar-Store Cerebrum fits . . .) Assuring myself that the season is a long one, so one-game emotions should be tempered by this wisdom just ain't enough Ritalin for this spaz. (Sorry . . . attention-challenged; looks like my PC just crashed). When the jokers from Queens put it together for nine long innings and add another entry in the cavernous W column, adrenaline flows a little, though it may be more of a sigh of relief than true elation. And when they lose, it's deflation. Not all wins or losses are the same (the Montessori approach to reading the standings), so there are varying degrees of weight placed on or lifted from my frame afterwards. But there's more of this weight added and dropped over the course of a season than on a high school wrestling team. And so the mood swing chart of a baseball season looks as erratic and spiky as my cardiogram when I ate half-priced burgers at The Cowboy Cafe fifty Tuesdays in one year. (Did You Know?: There's actually more metaphor than statement in this paragraph. Feeling a bit flowery today, Whitney?) (Did You Know? II: There are also more parentheses in here than in an Emoticon Dictionary.) (Which, by the way, might be the dorkiest thing in a dorky industry.)

Whew. Anyway, back to the Mets. I guess my point here is yes, the season is incredibly long, making games like last night's win over the Reds less than monumental. Especially considering Sean Casey's calf strain and Junior Griffey's cramps (sorry, one cycle gag per column) neutralized the pep in Cincy's order. But do you think I won't take this win and run with it? Come on, now. Little moments in a game often determine the outcome, and little games make up a season. Take the Orioles' loss to KC last night: two umpires' failure to correctly call a two-out, two-strike check-swing that didn't check led to two runs, which ultimately X-ed the O's. And between bad luck like that, lumped in with poor fielding, a rotation with more holes than a wiffle ball, and a closer who closes as well as a car door with Jorge Julio's head stuck in it, have added up to double-digits' worth of winnable losss for Baltimore, making the difference between a successful first half and a disappointing one. The Yankees, already holding the pink slip for their playoff berth, can afford to drop those little cheapies along the way, though, to their credit, they aren't doing so. The Mets, however, need to be miserly with such offerings, and when the meat of an opponent's lineup is sliced from the batting card, they must capitalize. They did, thanks in large part to Cliff Floyd, and so I appreciate yet another little positive in this marathon of a season.

As an aside, when I called my brother-in-law Patrick last night and asked him what he was doing, he replied, "Watching the Mets win." It was 7-1 in the seventh. Two innings later, at 7-5, I hollered towards Manhattan, demanding to know if he'd bothered to read yesterday's drivel about superstition. Please, people, don't do that crap to me.

Man, today's post has more fluff than a Tony Kornheiser column eating smores on a featherbed. My apologies. I guess I'm just on Cloud 9 after a win. Talk to me tomorrow after Cory "American" Lidle silences the Mets hitters and I'm in a funk. And by the way, for those of you buying into Rob "Sick Temper Tyrannis" Russell's cool nonchalance on the other side of the blogtracks, caveat emptor. I'm reasonably certain he hasn't weighed in today on last night's bludgeoning because he smashed his computer.

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