Thursday, August 05, 2004

Game 106 - Mets
What Made Milwaukee Famous . . . Wasn't Their Baseball Team

Mets 6, Brewers 5
Record: 51-55

This clinches it. No, not the division, or the wild card, or a .500 record, or my bet with Rob, or even the plateau of the not-awful-season. No, this clinches that I will be trading in my NFL Sunday Ticket next year in exchange for the Extra Innings package. It's too agonizing to struggle to keep abreast of updates while sitting through Orioles-Mariners (a.k.a. the dull teen comedy), A's-Yankees (the predictable horror flick), and Red Sox-Devil Rays (the slow-developing but ultimately uproarious dark comedy). Flipping between three or more games with expert dexterity is fun . . . for everyone except a wife, but I should be watching the Mets, that's all. And I will be -- next year in their glorious title run.

Not that promises made in this space are necessarily worth the paper they're not really written on. Consider this entry from a certain writer we'll simply refer to as "rob":

May 31, 2003
Whitney will be pleased to know that I'm days away from pulling
the trigger on DirecTV, a move that was finally catalyzed by my digital cable
cutting out during the Sox' scintillating comeback against the Yankees on
Wednesday. My wife doesn't know it yet, but we're getting the Extra Innings
package. I'm gonna feed this addiction, baby.
Isn't it funny how typos can change the entire meaning? Leaving out "1,000" before "days away" resulted in a misleading message. Poor "rob" with his priorities all out of whack, putting things like kids' education before Red Sox viewing.

Anyway, the Mets staved off what would have been a bad loss after coming back from a 3-1 hole in the 7th. Thanks to some Mettish defense by the Brew Crew in that inning, the Mets posted their third 5-run inning in two games and took a 6-3 lead, one that neither Mike Stanton nor Braden Looper could ruin with gopher balls in the 8th and 9th, respectively. Always exciting, nothing routine, and that's what makes the case so strong for getting to watch games rather than follow them online or via the ticker. Yes, blood pressure will rise and stomach ulcers may appear. All part of the scar tissue any club worth its salt leaves on its fans.

Mike Cameron hit another home run last night. Another solo home run, to be specific, as of his 23 swats, something like 18 or 19 have been without men on base. If I'm an opposing pitcher, I'm considering going into the stretch against Cameron with the bases empty. If I'm Art Howe, I'm considering moving him up in the lineup (despite his .236 average) to try to generate some RBI's for this cat. If I'm Whitney Lester, I am rather enjoying this recent power display despite the uncanny dearth of runners being knocked in by it.

Mike Piazza has been playing a lot more games behind home plate, enabling (a) Todd Zeile to extend his 2-for-21 slump a bit at 1B and (b) the Brewers to pad their baserunning stats (3 SB's last night). After all of the clamor surrounding Piazza's 90-foot relocation, it seems the Mets have the same sort of memory lapses that plague me after the word "another" meets the phrase "Jameson on the rocks." Piazza's still not a good defensive catcher, Vance Wilson and Jason Phillips still are (though Phillips, who I claimed couldn't hit his way out of a paper bag this year, has in fact hit his way out of the lineup), there is still no solid first baseman Piazza would displace, and he'd still have to miss games regularly if he's catching. Art, what you're doing with Mike Piazza . . . I'm not seeing it.

[Dammit, if Hoosiers can invade my television with the ubiquitous infestation of termites -- pleasant, likeable termites -- then I can rerun a joke here. Without exaggeration, this fine film has aired within the last three months on each of the following stations: ESPN, ESPN Classic, AMC, FMC, TCM, Bravo, Spike, TBS, TNT, USA, probably a network or two, and last night on CMT (Country Music Television; Hoosiers is not known for its country music, for those who have no television). The film is one of the best sports movies ever, make no mistake, but overexposure destroys even the best things, sometimes beyond recovery. (It took me over a decade to re-appreciate Born in the U.S.A. for the brilliant album it is.) The Sports Guy broke the film down online (very cleverly), ESPN named it the best sports movie of the last 25 years, and they've issued several collector's/director's cut/etc. editions of the flick on DVD already (including one with the alternate ending where Hickory loses by 42 and Coach Dale is fired for sexual harassment after telling the players he loves them). Speaking of that moment -- that's what the real problem is for me; I can't help but tune in even if just for those special scenes that fire and/or choke you up. The "I love you guys" quote, heard twice bookending the final game, is worth tuning in 1,000 times. Rocky has been aired to death, but "Ain't gonna be no rematch/Don't want one" is a moment where your thumb locks up and you cannot flip away before it's uttered. The Natural is being shown more often than the news, but you are morally obligated to wait for "Pick me out a winner, Bobby" and the ensuing light show if you come across it. The same rules apply to "You wanna have a catch?/I'd like that," "You didn't get me down, Ray," and "I love Brian Piccolo, and I'd like all of you to love him, too; tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him." The lighter side even warrants hanging around until "Just a bit outside," "Old time hockey," and especially "Hey Yankees, you can take your apology and your trophy and shove it straight up your ass!" Along with any line from Bull Durham. The promise of these scenes to come sucks you in like a tractor beam, and as such, they should be treasured like the jewels they are instead of thrown around on cable channels willy-nilly. Hoosiers on CMT can only lead to Eight Men Out on Court TV, Field of Dreams on Sci-Fi, Bull Durham on the Travel Channel, and Brian's Song on MTV. Please keep our cinematic masterpieces sacred, people.

Speaking of Bull Durham, apparently after it topped several online sports movie lists, it's received a bit of backlash from half-wits in every corner of the Internet. The fire was lit by Ye Olde Sports Guy, who called it something of a travesty of a mockery of a sham that it was #1, if only because of Tim Robbins' pitching delivery was implausible. Anybody who could be that bothered by Robbins' intentionally loopy throwing style needs only to see one Kevin Appier start to clear out this mental blockage. Appier's form makes Nuke LaLoosh look like Tom Seaver. Anyway, it's a brilliant work, and it certainly doesn't need me to defend it, but peanut gallery numbnuts who ride in the wake of a (clearly misguided) columnist's wave hurling baseless insults at such a worthwhile film are about as artful as a Yankee Stadium catcall. Anyway, Will Rogers once said, "Sports film lists are a good deal like elections and marriages, there's no accounting for anyone's taste. Every time we see a bridegroom we wonder why she ever picked him, and it's the same with Public Officials and lists about sports movies." He was ahead of his time, that Will Rogers. Now back to the show.]

Today Victor Zambrano makes his Mets debut against Victor Santos and the Brewers. It's the first time two Victors have squared off on opposing mounds since . . . ever? At least since the 40's, it seems. Well, let's hope Zambrano's premiere fares better than one Kristin (real name, making Whitney look macho . . . never mind, not possible) Benson. Let's hope he's the victor. Let's hope he makes Santos the Victoria. Let's . . . not continue this unfunny circuit any more. Go Mets, sweep them Brewers.

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