Thursday, October 22, 2015

Well, This is Something Else - Mets Clinch 2015 National League Pennant (Part One)

I just scrolled (and scrolled and scrolled and scrolled) through pages of solid gold work from KS and Raven Mack to see the last time that I've contributed to Baseball Feelings, and I'm not proud to have to say that it was back in July of 2013 when I last wrote some Baseball Feelings about the All Star Game being held at Citi Field.  A shameful absence to be sure, but not nearly as shameful as the timing of the return, even I can admit.  

I hope you'll forgive my 'bandwagoning' of this post.  Rest assured, since July 2013, I have had floods of Baseball Feelings, but not enough to warrant an entire post...usually a Tweet or a text to a friend would sate my craving but this, well, this is something else.  

At that time of my last post, the Mets had put up their customary "better than expected" first half, and all fans were expecting a traditional second-half decline, but there was reason for optimism back then in 2013, in the person of Matt Harvey, who did this to the best hitter in baseball during the aforementioned All-Star Game.  

The future looked bright...for about a month.  In August, word got out that Matt Harvey would need Tommy John surgery and miss all of 2014, and all of the optimism was gone. 2014 had always been targeted as a realistic contention date, with the emergence of all the young pitching in the Mets' pipeline, but after Harvey's injury, it seemed that meaningful games would take a backseat to lining up the young staff again.  

2014 was seen as a placeholder year, walking in place waiting for all the pieces to come together, but then storming out of nowhere came this man: 

Jacob deGrom throws gem for Mets in MLB debut

Jacob DeGrom's debut didn't even register as a blip on the radar for Mets fans, who had just seen Harvey's two years ago, Zack Wheeler's in 2013, and were anxiously awaiting Noah Syndergaard's, and as debuts go, it was pretty good, but oh so very Mets.  7 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER and the loss in a 1-0 decision to the Yankees.  Start by start, people got more excited for DeGrom, until he was winning Rookie of the Year, Syndergaard was being portrayed as immature and not ready for the bigs, and Mets fans were dreaming big of a rotation of Harvey, DeGrom and Wheeler until, well....

I had joked, when Harvey was shut down for his Tommy John surgery in 2013 that it might not be a bad idea for Wheeler to get his.  If 2014 was going to be a lost season anyway, may as well get it out of the way.  Early in spring training this year, word came out that Wheeler would need the procedure and the dreams of a rotation where Wheeler, once seen as the jewel prospect of the San Francisco Giants - who know a thing or two about pitching prospects - was the third or forth best pitcher had to be put on hold just before the grand plan was set to be put in motion.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Blue Jays 6, Rangers 3: Righteous Conquest, Like Henry V Riding into The Battle of The Hornburg Atop, Like, Rainbow Dash

José's got a really big team, and they need some really big rings, etc ps think about how Drake must feel 
Like so many of us (arguably most?), I listened to several innings of Game 5 sitting in a car parked in the lot of a church of which I am not now nor have ever been a congregant; around the time José Bautista ripped a double down the line to drive in Ben Revere, I went for chicken. This kept my streak of doing all kinds of other things while these games have been going on very much intact: Thanksgiving weekend, and so pumpkin pies to make (they came out tremendously, and kind of tasted like ginger snaps, thank you for your interest), and many feastings to partake of, and so just lots of checking in, you know? If you follow it on your phone it feels a lot like Baseball Mogul, except you don't have Carlos Delgado and Tony Fernandez both signed to deals that are literally killing you and you have literally died from them in your game. 

I legit felt like the Blue Jays were probably finished after Price pitched not-so-hotly in Game 1, and said as much in this very place of Feelings, and didn't feel a whole lot better about things as Game 2 unfolded over the course of pretty much forever, but actually during what I think all would agree was an impressively unobtrusive and considerate portion of a Thanksgiving dinner conversation, a brother-in-law and I managed to convince each other that the way the pitching lined up, there was every reason for guarded optimism that the Blue Jays could get it back to Toronto for Game 5, and then, coin flip, right? At its heart this line of reasoning was probably at least fairly dumb, a subtle variation of my self-deluding (but handy!) Game Six At Home theory of playoff hockey, which is when the team you like is getting creamed, but you convince yourself that all they need to do is get it to Game Six At Home, win that one, and then anything can happen in a seventh game, right? And usually does, haha! (Note that this never works.) I also have a micro version of this macro argument, which is when the other team scores first (any sport, doesn't matter), you are just like, well, we knew we were going to have to score one, so this is of hardly any import at all, old fruit. (This never works either, and my old friend Matty denounces all of it as "loser talk," which it self-evidently is, yes.) And yet! We had ourselves/each other pretty much sold on it.

There was much discussion, and rightly so, about whether or not John Gibbons was being prudent or in fact a dink when he brought David Price out of the bullpen with a big lead and shut R. A. Dickey down early in Game 4, but given the way Price pitched in Game 1, I wasn't overly eager to see him in Game 5, and felt much better with the idea of Stroman getting the start, so I am without complaint (everyone is without complaint now, of course, but I started that way, and so have felt a greater measure of peace). I was pleased to see on Twitter that Stoeten shared this view; I was displeased to see he got sick and couldn't go to Game 5 and chose to give up his ticket, which is brutal, but I will remind you here that I went to games with food poisoning and scored several innings from the bathroom in the 500s listening on my slim radio with nothing other than my 2003 perfect attendance record on the line, which also meant an autographed Vernon Wells baseball and an on-field presentation on the line, and so kind of everything on the line, actually, and so I now renounce the way this sentence began, and just want us to think about poor Stoeten here (Drunk Jays Fans forever, obviously). 

IN SHORT we were just getting home when E5 hit the home run that tied it in the sixth and Mike Wilner on the radio just started hollering indistinctly. I have watched the clips of everything now, and I think they confirm that, maybe weirdly, the crowd reaction to the E5 home run to tie it was even bigger than José's to go ahead? I know this sounds strange, especially given all that, like, transpired, but go check and see. Perhaps emotional exhaustion and terror are factors here?

About all the stuff that happened: Russell Martin winging it off (Big League) Choo, while insane, should totally have been a live ball, obviously, and Dale Scott blew it when he waved it dead, which made everybody stop, not that they would have had a play anyway, so really who cares,and Dale Scott has since admitted he messed it up, so what do you want? The mere anarchy that was unloosed upon the world, mostly in the 500s, actually made me really anxious as it unfolded, because it can get really bad up there even without blown calls in decisive playoff games. In truth, any time there were like 35k+ people in the SkyDome I disliked the feel up there pretty severely: the angle of the seating is so severe that the one-row-up advantage in blows being visited upon on those below is pronounced, and people get wrecked, and all it takes to get it started is one person to throw something, another person to say hey don't throw things, and then everything becomes terrible for everybody. All of this was uncomfortable. 

The bottom of the seventh is not a thing I am probably even really able to fully dig at present, and who can say when, if ever, I will be able to openly and honestly and truly dig it, but let me just say for now that we should all probably feel as terrible for Elvis Andrus as we do exultant and swept away in José Bautista's apex glory. That reliever, Dyson, just seems like a dick, so who cares that much, except that we have probably all been dicks and so should probably be more charitable than I have just been, but poor Elvis Andrus: that's as bad as that could have gone for him, and given the reviews and stuff, it unfolded over the course of a while, and was just punishing.   

The Bautista home run itself seemed then, and seems now, and will probably continue well into the future to seem to be, Just The Thing To Do. José was asked right after the game about Joe Carter's home run, and you can see why, but right away he was like no, that was the World Series, and it was a walk-off, and that's just a completely and totally other sort of thing, and he's right about that for sure, but given the insane emotional pitch at which that hour-long yeah it was pretty much an hour long seventh inning was played, in a game where the Blue Jays could be eliminated (not so in 1993 Game Six, you will recall), this was more cathartic, although not in the fullest original sense of "cleansing" or "purifying" because it didn't make me feel less gross about people having to physically shield their tiny children from shit hurled down from the 500s (however even before this particular episode I would have strongly advised against bringing tiny kids to games when the place is going to be full: a Junior Jays Saturday where kids line up behind section 129 to run the bases is one thing; this is quite another).

Hey one thing I will say on the subject of the bat flip, which is a thing people are talking about like it was An Issue for Takes (and obviously this is not a forum for Takes but for Feelings, which are radically and crucially different), is that I am super glad I am not part of any conversation where one's position on bat flips stands as a proxy for their politix, particularly in the context of Amerikkka, because that is the most tedious possible thing a person could want to talk about after that home run and yet such talk is rampant. I guess I can understand reporters asking players dumb questions to get dumb answers to write their dumb stories (the only daily beat team sports reporter I ever kind of half-knew was of the view that every reporter hates standing there asking idiotic questions and every player just holds them in complete and unfailingly contempt, and I believe every part of this very strongly), but it is not undumb because it is their job; maybe their job is dumb (many are; I have had some). If that is a thing you do for fun, I don't get it, but that's OK too probably. Anyway, please know that your efforts to corrupt and attaint this by making it emblematic of Whatever Your Shit Is will ultimately fail and all that will remain is the sikkest dinger of the age.      

To conclude, Jerry Howarth was really happy on the radio, and I am pretty sure Joe Siddall (Jerry Howarth's non-Mike-Wilner little buddy) was crying on air after Osuna got the last out. And hey George Bell threw out the first pitch! Remember when he came back to Toronto for the 1991 All-Star Game as a Cub and everybody hated him? I didn't understand why!

OK, Blue Jays,


Friday, October 9, 2015

Rangers 5, Blue Jays 3: R.I.P. 2015 Toronto Blue Jays, Probably

let's remember the good times
So, since we last Felt, the Blue Jays traded for essentially All of The Guys, won pretty much All of The Games, and now return to the postseason for the first time since, like, yore-days, and it has been unusually great. But how much has really changed in those many intervening years? I don't mean broadly, nor do I mean in any particular except my own, when I say: not that much, I guess? As was very much the case in 1992/93, I am reading a lot of Tolkien and playing a lot of metal these days, you know? Of course, all that I do and am now, or whatever, is pretty heavily inflected by an unmistakable DadWave ethos, so that's different, but really on the whole it is not that there is all kinds of new stuff, so much as a lot of the same kinds of things, just DadWaved up significantly. And that carries over into this baseball watching, too, in that I remember very clearly the dads of several of these players. What makes that part of things more striking still is that I don't just remember Prince Fielder's dad as a fat old guy (I mean no disrespect), but I remember Delino DeShields' dad as a young man, like a young man, and here is his son now.  

Glancing through old scorekeeping books,as one does at reflective times such as these, I see that while I have attended something like 215 Blue Jays games, the dome was as full as it was yesterday for only maybe like a half-dozen of them. I really never liked it when it was that full, and indeed I read on Twitter about a fight that broke out in a bathroom yesterday (after one guy kept daring another guy to touch his dick), which is exactly the kind of unlikable thing I unliked about the dome when it was super full, but I bet that on the whole it was pretty killer to be there yesterday, excepting all of the baseball things that happened, like David Price's dreary start, Bautista leaving the game with a hamstring issue of some kind, or Josh Donaldson felled by a(n inadvertent, surely) boma ye knee. This is not, nor it cannot come to good, right? Bautista and Donaldson are both back in the lineup today (unlike poor old Adrian Beltre, who looks to have a million things wrong with him), and Marcus Stroman is on the hill today, so how bad can it be, except what if it's really bad and then the Blue Jays are down two games in a five-game series after their first two postseason games at home in twenty two years? It's Cole Hamels for the Rangers, who, as I recall, can be really good. 

But even if this is pretty much it, and the Blue Jays don't even get out of this round (maybe not this weekend, even), I did see people on their break at Sobey's playing catch outside on the grass yesterday, and just totally firing it in there, so this excellent half-summer of everybody (really, it seems like everybody) enjoying baseball here, at least a little, has been really nice, and I look forward to it being really nice again when it happens when I am 58. None of our current cats will be around then, so let's enjoy their company as much as we are able, and also, to a lesser extent, some baseball games.