|Is Mr. Met still working? What about Mrs. Met? Photo by slgckcg via Flickr
BASEBALL (Team I care about: Mets) -- Well the Mets are 3-3 now, which is both a .500 record and six more games than I thought would actually happen this year.
My feeling going into the season was that I was not going to get emotionally involved in the Mets' season. This is a unique year, obvs, and whatever expectations I might have had back during the whole Carlos Beltran fiasco are no longer applicable. (F-in Carlos Beltran. Just when I was psyched to be able to wear the authentic Beltran jersey I bought when he first signed in 2005 again with some sense of pride maybe, all the crap with the Astros came out. Away went Beltran and back into the closet went the jersey, perhaps never to be worn again. Which sucks because I paid $200-plus for that in 2005 money.)
But Opening Day comes, and what do you know, I am completely emotionally involved again - very excited by the first win, crushed by the first loss, etc., etc., just like it's any other baseball season.
This speaks to the irresistible, close to unseverable nature of the connection between Team and Fan. Many things in life change, but I cannot imagine a circumstance or picture an alternate universe where the Mets are not my team.
Anyway, pre-Covid I expected them to at least play interesting games in September, which is really as far as a Mets fan should let their optimism rise. Whether that happens this September remains a total question mark. Marcus Stroman's coming back and pitching well would be a huge lift, as would Cespedes staying healthy and Diaz doing a better job at the whole closing of the games thing he was supposed to be so good at. (I hope the lack of people in the stands helps Diaz, because if there were actual live fans at Citi Field, many of them would be yelling "DIAZ YOU SUUUUUUUCK" and suchlike at him the moment he steps out of the bullpen.) And let's hear it for the DH in the NL, a concept that I actually don't like, but I think will be good for the Mets this year.
Key to it all, for every team, is how well the players kept themselves in terms of baseball readiness since the lockdown.
FOOTBALL (Team I care about: Giants) -- I really don't have a read on whether they will be bad, good or mediocre. There's so much new - new coach, a lot of new players, second-year quarterback. Steps were taken in the draft and free agency to address the Giants' worst problem, the offensive line. (If they blocked at all for Eli these past couple years, Eli would still be playing, but we wish him well in his retirement. I had a dream that I was hanging out on Eli's back deck in Staatsburg, and he was complaining that Uma Thurman had gotten the best house in Staatsburg - the former Guccione estate - and he had to live in what looked to me like a regular raised ranch like the kind we used to live in at Golden Meadows.)
My overall theory of football holds that if you have a crap offensive line, you're screwed. Your offensive skill players will suffer for it, obvs - Eli must have some of that mutant Wolverine adamantine skeleton shit, the way's he's been sacked over the years without losing much time at all to injury. But also it means your defense is on the field more than it should be, thus tending to wear them down sooner. This was demonstrated by a bleep-ton of Giants games over the past few years. If they can reverse this trend - and they did draft blockers in the first and third rounds, as well as sign a guy off of Dallas' superb o-line - I think the Giants will make a decent run for the playoffs.
HOCKEY (Team I care about: Rangers) -- I was feeling pretty hopeful about the Rangers pre-Covid. It's a young, fast team with a very good rookie goalie (God save King Henrik but the day always comes when the crown must pass) and while I was not penciling them in for the Stanley Cup, I did think they would make the playoffs. So what's happening starting Saturday is a best-of-five series with that team formerly known as the Hartford Whalers, the Carolina Hurricanes. One might think that since the Rangers had a 4-0 record against Carolina this season, it's a lock, but then one might recall that the 1988 Dodgers went 1-10 against the Mets during the regular season. So we shall see.
BASKETBALL (Team I, in inexplicable defiance of all reason and experience, care about: the Knicks) -- Perhaps the strongest evidence that I am not fully right in the head is the fact that the Knicks are still my favorite basketball team. I have a tendency to disconnect from a particular sport if my team is hopeless, so I don't these days really pay much attention to the NBA until the playoffs. Today, July 30, 2020, the Knicks hired a new coach, ex-Bulls and Timberwolves HC Tom Thibodeau. He called it a dream come true to coach the Knicks. Oh man. Please send vibes.
Oh the lamentations of being a Knicks fan for literally the last 20 years. Failure upon failure upon even more wretched failure. Hopes cruelly - nay perversely! - dashed time and time again. But despite it all - the buffoon owner, Phil Jackson turning out to be a total dung-bucket, the snubs from most quality free agents, bad trades, unlucky draft lottery numbers - they are my team and I am their fan. Please send more vibes.
The Knicks, as part of the Delete 8, were not good enough to be invited to the Bubble for whatever the NBA is doing down there, so their season is mercifully concluded. That all starts tonight with Lakers-Clippers as the late game and the Jazz against the Pelicans in the opener.
There's a good chance the pandemic will shut down one or more of these leagues. Despite the weirdness of watching games with no one in the stands - Fox, just no on the CGI people - and the highly irregular ways champions will be made, I'm glad it's back and I hope it stays.