Friday, August 22, 2008

Wheel of Fortune

Game 128 - Mets

Mets 5, Braves 4

Record: 71-57

Yeah, I'm not going to make that service . . . because I'm not buying it. No offense to you, Nick, as I myself have fallen into the habit of prematurely lamenting the demise of my club (see all posts from May 2008). And your club has given you zero reasons for optimism of late, it's true. You have had a pretty firm grasp on the Phils' shortcomings since the gate opened this year. It's just that I've still got a clear recollection of the strengths that propelled them to their current total of 68 wins.

"What goes up must come down
Spinnin' wheel got to go 'round
Talkin' 'bout your troubles, it's a cryin' sin
Ride a painted pony, let the spinnin' wheel spin"

Give B, S, & T credit for putting the centuries-old concept of fortune's wheel into a four-minute, brass-bejeweled pop gem. Give them immense credit for some fairly sick cowbell in the opening seconds. But what the deuce does "ride a painted pony" mean?? And the flute-laden extravaganza that is the last minute of the song? Ah, the 1960's. I'm guessing the composers of this tune remember that decade about as well as I do.

And thus does Fortune's wheel turn treacherously
And out of happiness bring men to sorrow.
~ Geoffrey Chaucer, The Monk's Tale

Fortune, good night, smile once more; turn thy wheel!
~ William Shakespeare, King Lear

Spin, spin, spin, wheel, spin!
~ Ed Grimley, future "Wheel of Fortune" contestant

As you can see, some of the wisest minds in history have embraced the notion of the "Rota Fortunae," and that includes mine own. You'd have to hunt fairly exhaustively to find any posts with my by-line this year, but if you did, you'd eventually land on text in which I sadly acknowledge my squad's obvious flaws and simply shake my head in their direction as they scuffled along. Now, two months later, Nick follows suit.

What worries me? It's not just that the mighty wheel has time to take another turn before the season's up. Look, what I conceded then, Nick must also now: a paltry 2.5 games separate the surging, exciting, clicking-on-all-cylinders, everything's-looking-up New York Mets and the slumping, falling apart, down-on-their-luck Philadelphia Phillies. Two and a half flimsy games. With forty-some left to play. Both of these teams are in it and the slightest of upticks or downturns can mean the difference. Stay tuned.

Everybody loves to see their team maximizing potential; nobody likes to see their team squandering opportunities. Trends bode well or ill, sure. But this game is whimsical and fickle toward its followers, and neither one of us should be booking plane or train tickets for mid-October contests just yet. I said back then (to Nick's chagrin) that the Phils weren't good enough to run away with it without a fight from the Mets' high-dollar, talented roster. Nick, I'm sure it crosses your mind that any team with Fernando Tatis getting meaningful minutes and its star closer watching from afar can and perhaps should be overtaken. I sure hope that old, toothless, matching-belt-and-shoes condo commando (to quote Jimmy Buffett before he hocked his soul) does pilot the Phillie Buick into the
municipal street sweeper, but I'm keeping an eye out for some annoyingly Lazarene return.

Yeah. Last September still stings.


rob said...

technically, 30+ games remaining, but we won't quibble. seems the mets only need 17 or so to blow a lead.

yeah, sorry.

Whitney said...

Yeah, math was never my strong suit. I'm not sure what is my strong suit, but it's certainly not math.

And I don't think the Mets will be sporting that kind of lead with 17 games remaining this year, either. I expect (and kind of hope) that it goes down to the wire.

Nick said...

Two things.

1 - It dawned on me that Whitney is the type of artist who likes to stockpile his creative energies so as to allow them to fulminate into one great masterpiece. Bravo sir.

2 - Painted pony? Have you never ridden a carousel?

I guess I lied because I have one more thing to add.

3 - To quote a John Cougar Mellencamp album with regard to the "race" in the NL Least, "Nothing Matters and What If It Did?"

Whitney said...

Thanks, Nick. For the kudos and the carousel enlightenment. It's been a while since I've been on one. (Pretending I didn't ride on one with my daughters last year.)