Saturday, April 16, 2005

Weekend Sports Report

The reason sports is the best thing on television is that it's unpredictable, unlike 99 percent of sitcoms, cop-lawyer-or-doctor dramas, or even (saddest of all) the network news. Case in point: my New York Mets. How weird is it that, after losing their first five games of the season, for their worst start since before the Beatles came to America, the Mets have now won six in a row to go above .500 and (very sweet) attain a better record for the young season than The Hated Yankees?

What's more, last night, the much-reviled Aaron Heilman (sporting a lifetime major league record of 3-11) not only outpitched Marlins' ace Josh Beckett (former World Series MVP) but tossed a complete-game one-hit shutout. (I love the fact that, prior to the game, Mike and the Mad Dog on WFAN had held forth about what a "mismatch" it was--a gaffe that I imagine will vanish down the memory hole prior to their Monday afternoon show.) Like I said, unpredictable.

Totally predictable, however, were the calls from irate Yankee fans to sports talk shows defending Gary Sheffield over the Thursday incident involving a contretemps with a fan at Fenway Park. Never mind that, in the replayed highlight, it didn't even appear that the fan was looking in Sheffield's direction as he swiped his arm toward the field, and that Sheffield's barely-restrained confrontation of the fan was an obvious over-reaction by a man with a history of impulse-control problems. To hear the Yankee fans talk, Sheffield was a Boy Scout merely defending his safety against a violent assault by a drunken lout intent on mayhem. Callers used phrases like "these Boston animals" and "New England vermin" to describe not merely the denizens of Fenway's right field stands but Red Sox fans in general and maybe anyone who happens to live north or east of Greenwich, Connecticut.

Until now, most Yankee fans have managed to hold back their bitterness over last year's October collapse at the hands of the Red Sox and behave with at least a modicum of class. With this year's Yankees stumbling out of the gate, the strain of the effort is beginning to show. I shudder to think how the fans might react if the Yankees fail again to win the World Championship this year--the World Championship that is of course no more than their due and right. The Congressional Republicans baying for "the nuclear option" against the Democrats will appear pacifistic by comparison.
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