All You Need Is Love
Amidst the chaos that is the New York Mets, thereâ€™s always something about baseball to love.
Itâ€™s been a tumultuous week in New York baseball.Â While the Yankees have gone 10-2 since the All-Star break and currently rest atop the A.L. East, as an organization, the Mets hit rock bottom about a week ago.Â This week, they kept digging.
Early in the week, the Mets fired VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard, because he publicly and verbally berated a scout sitting in his seat at Citi Field during a game, nearly came to blows with All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez, and channeled his inner Macho Man Randy Savage when he tore off his shirt and challenged the entire Double-A Birmingham Mets to a fight.
During the press conference, General Manager Omar Minaya destroyed the organizationâ€™s credibility by alleging that Adam Rubin, the Daily News beat writer that had broken the story, wrote the reports as a way to angle for Bernazardâ€™s job.Â By the way, this turned out to be false.Â Ladies and gentlemen, Omar Minaya and the 2009 New York Mets!
Every time I tried to write a full column about the surreal events of the past week, I got angry.Â I couldnâ€™t rationally respond to the absurdity that has become the Mets.
So, instead, Iâ€™m rocking back and forth, chanting â€œSerenity now,â€ and reminding myself of a few more of the 3,756,842 reasons I love baseball.
Reason no. 402,245: The Little League World Series
Throughout the summer, thousands of children across the world compete for an opportunity to play in Williamsport, PA at the end of August.Â Every game features drama, defensive gems, timely hitting, strong pitching, and genuine enthusiasm.Â Forget about the tournament held before the 2009 MLB season, the Little League World Series is the real world baseball classic.
As an added bonus, where else is it socially acceptable for the twelve-year-old that grew into his body too early and currently shaves to take out all his awkwardness and alienation on the tiny middle-schoolers that have tormented him?
Reason no. 3,755,840: Menâ€™s softball
Reason no. 3,755,841: Backyard whiffle ball
I realized this weekend why I have felt so empty this summer.Â I havenâ€™t played one inning of softball or whiffle ball.Â Where else can a 42-year-smoking and boozing Artie Lange be believable as an athletic hero?
I blame my graduate studies for setting my soul adrift this summer.
Reason no. 991: The MLB trade deadline
For whatever reason, July 31st always seems to carry more weight than the trade deadlines in other American sports. Because contracts are not guaranteed and offensive and defensive schemes have become so intricate in the NFL, the mid-October date often passes without causing much of a ripple.Â In the NBA, trades that are designed to acquire an expiring contract to alleviate a teamâ€™s cap pressure often dilute the waters and take away from the meaningful exchanges, such as Chauncey Billups landing in Denver this past season.
In Major League Baseball, thereâ€™s no salary cap and the money in contracts is guaranteed, so baseball trades often involve burgeoning or established stars that small- and mid-market teams cannot afford to pay as free agents.Â As a result, these trades have immediate impact in pennant and playoff implications (see: Ramirez, Manny and the 2008 Los Angeles Dodgers).
Also, because the selling teams are so desperate to receive some kind of value before they lose their stars to free agency, you never know what to expect from the trade deadline.Â Baseball general managers attack the July 31st closing date with the same exuberance as Barney Stinson walking into a packed New York nightclub.Â Who knows what might happen?Â Mark Shapiro might trade Cliff Lee for a handful of minor leaguers to the best team in the National League, or Neal Huntington might trade his entire starting line-up.Â Wait, those things really happened?Â Oh.
Reason no. 3,756,842: Rickey Hendersonâ€™s suit at the 2009 Hall of Fame inductions
I have never been happier to have an HDTV.Â I happily basked in the Rickeyâ€™s suit in all its knee-length-jacket, fifty-two-button, silver-thread-embossed, three-piece glory.Â Rickey had it custom made almost ten years ago.Â Simply fantastic.
Reason no. 3: You never know when something truly amazing might happen:
Mark Buehrle demonstrated this perfectly.
The unassuming lefty, who possesses a 133-91 record and a 3.78 ERA for his career, now is the owner of a no-hitter, a World Series ring, and a perfect game.Â On July 28, 2009, Buehrle broke the record for most consecutive batters retired, ostensibly pitching one-and-a-half perfect games.
Baseball has such a rich history and relies so much on the momentum of the dayâ€™s starting pitching that anything can happen on any given day.Â What are the chances that the people that had tickets to a mid-July game in Tampa Bay expected to see something so rare that it has happened only 16 times since 1900?Â How about the odds that Minnesota fans in the Metrodome expected to give a standing ovation to an opposing pitcher after their team recorded its first hit of the game?
I still remember watching Anthony Young lose a record-breaking 27 straight games for the Mets in 1992 and 1993.Â By the end, everyone in New York was rooting for Young to lose and cement his place in baseball lore.
Whether itâ€™s a perfect game; a steal of home; an inside the park homerun; or a milestone win, hit, homer, strikeout, error, or what-have-you; baseball always provides a possibility that youâ€™ll see something truly memorable.
Congratulations, Mark Buerhle.