There’s too much going on right now. Pennant races forming, preseason football — last night I was faced with the dilemma of whether to watch the Mets roll over in Game 2 of their historic double-header with the Phillies, or the Jets-Redskins preseason game down in D.C. I know, I know…a sad statement about how I spend my Thursday nights, but that’s not the point. Even with two duds to pick from, I came away with so many thoughts! Too many, actually, so rather than try to organize them into coherent form for a post with a point or plot, we’ll just go with the–
Sports Stream of Consciousness
*As a Jets fan, I have to root for Sam Darnold to win the starting QB job, and to excel from the first snap of the regular season. Have to. And the kid appears to be the real deal, despite a subpar outing last night in his first foray with the first-team offense in live action (maybe more importantly, against a first-team defense). But despite all that, is there anyone in the NFL, or who pays attention to the NFL, that isn’t rooting for Teddy Bridgewater? I mean, his knee was wrecked two years ago! Could have lost the leg, for gosh sakes! And here he is lowering a shoulder into a rookie linebacker last night going for extra yardage in the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game! Go get ’em, Teddy. I hope he is starting somewhere by the time camps break, but barring injury (oh no, did I just jinx Sam The Man simply by typing that word??), I don’t see it happening as a Jet. Just don’t let Teddy land in Miami, please! Let me root on his comeback from a safe distance, and enjoy seeing him relish playing the game that was almost taken from him for good. What a story.
*Another Monday Night Football thought — I know this is also the preseason for the new ESPN announcers, and that they will find their rhythm over time, but hey, Jason Whiten, where did you find that sports coat? I don’t know if he has any teenage sons, but it sure had the look of being borrowed from a much smaller man after panicking and realizing his actual coat was still in the backseat of the rental car he returned two days ago.
*Speaking of announcers, the other day SportsDaughter had to rush into my den to find out what in the world I was laughing out loud about. I was watching the Mets game (of course), but my laughter (for once) was not generated by another boneheaded miscue by one of the defensively-challenged Metropolitans (hello Wilmer Flores). This time I had Keith Hernandez to thank. His on air comment that he was okay with Jose Urena’s beaning of Ronald Acuna to lead off the game in Miami the other day brought me to the edge of the sofa, making sure I hadn’t misunderstood. When I was certain I had heard him correctly, I had my outburst of laughter, because I knew Keith would be in the soup once again (nothing new there) on his beloved social media. But the reality of it is that I found Keith’s honesty so darn refreshing. To hear someone actually opine in old-school fashion about a politically incorrect topic was like a drink of water in the desert of participation trophies and tie games meaning everyone wins. Pitch inside, guys. It’s part of the game, and if a guy is too comfortable at the plate, he needs to be moved off of it. I’m with you, Keith.
*On the topic of injuries being a part of the game, why is there such hand-wringing in Philly over Nick Foles straining his shoulder last night? Is he even their starter? I thought part of the whole feel-good story of the Foles/Iggles magical ride to Super Bowl glory was that we all knew he’d be back on the bench holding the clipboard for Carson Wentz by this September? And as an additional “oh by the way” — it doesn’t really matter, since the Eagles are my biggest “short” heading into the 2018 NFL season. I see a struggle coming for the champs to even get to 9-7, with the banquet circuit, self-satisfaction and a first-place schedule all equally to blame. Pencil in the Giants as NFC East champs with the Eagles and Cowboys battling it out for the last Wild Card.
*I still am unsure who emerges out of the NL East. All along I’ve been waiting for the Expos to snap out of it, but I may have to write them off after that gut-wrenching loss on National TV courtesy of some no-name Cubbie and his walk-off grand slam. Ouch, hard to recover from that one. So if we can truly put a fork in the Montreal Nationals, then which upstart do we pick to come out on top and avoid the treacherous Wild Card game? I’m thinking Phillies, simply because they have 14 games left (counting today, which is looking like a win) against the Mets and Marlins. The Braves have by far the tougher schedule, so combine that with 14 patsies for the Phils, and I think Philly is the choice. Stay tuned, though, because they face each other seven times in the season’s last two weeks. Pennant race, indeed! (And thanks to Rich the Bravos fan in Portland, OR for pointing out these schedule nuances — about time you finally took a look at the SportsAttic!)
*Pennant races on the brain make me wonder if there’s ever been a season where more teams could consider themselves “in it” on August 17th (75% of the season completed) than what we are witnessing in the Senior Circuit this year. As of this morning, 11 of the National League’s 15 teams can fool themselves into thinking they have a chance. Only the Mets, Marlins, Reds and Padres are truly in the “no chance” category. And the treading water at .500 Giants, Pirates and Expos all are only 6 1/2 out of that one-game, winner take all, Wild Card game. And due to the overall lackluster play of the “big boys” (hello Dodgers, didn’t you trade for Manny Machado for crying out loud?), any team able to hang around and somehow enter into the postseason tournament could make a case for running the table. And their reward for being last club standing in the National League? Yup, a demoralizing World Series beatdown from whichever true “big kid” survives the A.L.
*Speaking of the A.L. We’ve known pretty much since the 1st of May that the Red Sox, Yanks, Indians and Astros would be playing meaningful postseason baseball. The identity of the final team has been the mystery, and the Mariners almost put that mystery to bed with their surprisingly strong play through the All Star break. And now something funny is happening out in the A.L. West, after most of you east coast fans have gone to bed. The A’s are only two out and hosting the reeling Astros for three at the Coliseum beginning tonight. Maybe we’ll see the Astros get off the canvas and send a strong message to the upstart A’s in these three tilts, but what if? Dare we think about a sweep for the home team? Monday morning there could be a new A.L. West leader in town, and Seattle is hanging around still, too. Could the champion Astros actually sit out the postseason this year (maybe keeping the Dodgers company, taking it all in on the tube)? Stranger things have happened folks, and I’m enjoying this one as long as I possibly can. Go A’s!
*The Mets started someone named Jack Reinheimer in left field today. Really? Nothing against Mr. Reinheimer, but c’mon guys. There’s a pennant race going on. And that’s not all. Apparently Reinheimer has never started a game in left field. On any level. So of course he immediately has a laser hit at him in the bottom of the first and can’t make the play. Syndegaard (who’s hitting ahead of Reinheimer in today’s lineup) must be wondering what he did to Mickey Callaway to deserve this. So to recap — Jack Reinheimer is starting out of position in left field today. But apparently that’s okay, because we just have to find a way to get his potent bat in the lineup — in the 9-hole. Hitting behind the pitcher. Oy vey…
*Apparently the critical Reinheimer call up to the roster got the Mets bats cooking though! Yup, we scored 46 runs in the three games prior to this afternoon’s contest (only went 2-1 during that time, but these are the Mets, right?). So back to the standings for a second. If the Mets win out from here, they finish 94-68 and likely win the division. “So you’re saying there’s a chance…”
*And did you hear? Carmelo’s a Rocket. Thank you, NBA-Gods, thank you.
Enjoy the weekend everybody.