What a wonderful time, probably the most fun I've ever had watching a team through an entire season, allowed to be a fan.Not going to let the last week get in the way.
They were admirable, playing for Collins even when he had AAA players and castoffs in the middle of the lineup, guys like Campbell and Recker, plus Colon and Niese, who made the Mets decent enough, bought time, emboldened the management to spend on better players.
Who will forget Wright’s first swing in Philly, and the perceived panic move of calling up Conforto from AA ball, and the arrival of Johnson and Uribe, plus Wilmer Flores’ tears, and then Cespedes, out of nowhere, looking like Willie Mays for six weeks. ("Sold his soul to the devil so he could play guitar" -- Lucinda Williams.)
They crushed the Nationals. They stunned the Dodgers’ aces. They swept the Cubs. Now they have lost to a better team that plays the game right, guys who learned lessons last year, and carried them out this year. Great energy. Skills. Make contact. Take the base.
No recriminations. Harvey challenged the manager in the dugout, in front of teammates, in front of the world.
On Sunday evening, I felt: Let him pitch til he puts somebody on base. Two-run lead. Then bring in the big guy. Collins stayed with him one batter too long, not two, but unless I was in the dugout, with the decision to make, I won’t second-guess Collins. He’s had a great run.
Murphy also had a great run, clubbing Chicago into submission. The Mets were going to jettison him anyway, for reasons of salary and age and defensive liability, his inner klutz. Back to Plan A.
As for Cespedes, my National League-centric brain wondered why he had been on three AL teams in his short time in the majors. Looking back, why did it take NL pitchers six weeks to learn to go up, up, up on Cespedes?
He couldn’t adjust. He seemed to get more nonchalant in the outfield and the bases as the pressure mounted. He went golfing on the day of a game in Chicago. I don’t think he was ready in center field for the first pitch of the World Series. He’s 30, time to keep moving. He just saved the Wilpons a ton of money, but what an epic jolt he brought for those few short weeks.
I spent the whole season watching personal favorites like Granderson, deGrom, Familia. Who knows about next year? But wasn’t it a great time?
Welcome to World Cup 2022, the most absurd thing that the routinely absurd world of sports has ever produced.
Those extreme descriptions were what virtually the entire world, save for those who had walked off with bags of cash from Qatar, called the awarding of soccer’s greatest event to the incredibly tiny, incredibly wealthy country back in 2010.
Twelve years ago, many were convinced this event couldn’t possibly happen: staging the world’s biggest sporting event in a country the size of Connecticut, one with zero soccer culture and even less soccer infrastructure? The tournament couldn’t possibly take place in 120-degree heat, and FIFA, the governing body of soccer, most certainly wouldn’t upend football leagues around the world to change the traditional summer schedule, could it?
And, for God’s sake, what about the beer?
Those were just the logistical concerns. The moral concerns are far more distressing. FIFA, so busy paying lip service to equality, couldn’t possibly expect the world to embrace a country where you could go to prison for being gay, where women’s rights are severely curtailed and female victims of sexual assault could go to prison, charged with engaging in extramarital sex. And all those questions came before the global realization that the World Cup was being built on the backs of migrant labor: modern-day slaves held in Qatar with virtually no rights, low wages and no ability to leave. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s stated population of 3 million. The country’s native-born equal about 300,000, or roughly the size of Anaheim.
---Ann Killion, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.