What Kinda Old School is This? #Mets

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I get it. The Dodgers have not sniffed the World Series since 1988. In 2008 and 2009 they were embarrassed by the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS and in 2013 & 2014 bounced from the playoffs by the St. Louis Cardinals.  I can talk about 1995, 1996, 2004. and 2006, which were all NL Division Series losses. Despite all of the failures, they have had really good teams and have been very fortunate to see years of playoff runs since 1988 (unlike the Mets). This year was set to be different. They have amassed the largest payroll in 2015 and wanted to set a tone for this year’s playoffs. That is why they signed Chase Utley.

They have two of the best pitchers in the game and yet they have so much difficulty getting these post season wins that is it so frustrating to their fan base and to ownership. Of course, Mets fans can understand this. 2006 was set to the year they came back into the lime light. They had the tools and they had the talent and yet we are still waiting for Carlos Beltran to swing at that pitch. Back to back collapses in 2007 & 2008 drained all hope that the Mets would ever be a contender again. Then the Wilpons get caught in the Bernie Madoff scam and money becomes so tight that the Mets have to spend years rebuilding through their farm system.

Two teams on two different paths meet up in the 2015 NL Divisions Series. It is a dream season for the New York Mets and it’s back to business for the Los Angeles Dodgers who are determined to get back to the World Series.

Chase Utley is a guy that you love or hate. I get this whole thing people say about him being hard nosed, hard working, and an old school type of player. That is the way he was brought up and that is the way the game should be played. Interesting. You know who else gets described like this? Cal Ripken Jr. comes to mind. I would also say Ken Griffey Jr. as well. I would even go so far as saying Derek Jeter. These three (just as an example, I can name more) were truly the last of a dying breed of baseball players that have always played the game right while maintaining that old school grittiness in a era of baseball filled with primadonnas. I would never put Chase Utley in the same breathe with them.

The slide was late. The slide was dirty. The slide is nothing new to Chase Utley. He has done this before. You can Google a video from a few weeks ago against the San Diego Padres or you can Google 2010 when (as a member of the Phillies) he took out Tejada in a similar fashion. Old school right? Are we talking Pete Rose via Bud Harrelson 1973 old school? Or are we talking Hal McRae via Willie Randolph 1977 old school? Are we also calling the Brett Lawrie slide into Alcides Escobar injuring his knee earlier this year a hard nosed play too? I think people need to take a real cold hard look at how they categorize players and their style of play.

I can easily say that Ruben Tejada is a hard working, hard nosed player that busted his ass to win his spot at short stop back from Wilmer Flores. That kid has had to live in the shadow of Jose Reyes and battled back to be a player that can take pitches when needed and give you some offense when least expected. He is one the best middle infielders in the system and never complained. He showed up everyday to play. Fractured Fibula.

I know, It’s just baseball right? There are other world issues more pressing so I commend you for staying with me this far but I laugh when I see people saying that Mets fans are being juvenile in their reaction or that perhaps Major League Baseball over reacted by suspending Utley for a play they deemed legal on the field. But let me just make this point, had this been Troy Tulowitzki, a superstar player, that makes millions instead of a guy is making just over the league minimum, I think there would be different reaction.

Don’t believe me? Ask every catcher after the Buster Posey injury.

But, hey, the tackle slide was legal right? Major League Baseball thought so (at the time). Yet, just about every middle infielder who has commented on this has said the slide was illegal. So by saying people are being juvenile about this is absurd. But hey, a win is win right? Enjoy Dodger fans, while it lasts.

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I Don’t Trust Them Very Much. #Mets

IMG_9542 I’m skeptical, that’s best way to put it. I’ve been a Mets fan all my life and in my lifetime I have been through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately most of it has been bad and ugly so when they open the season red hot, I tend to not fall over myself because I’ve seen this before. Sure, I love the Mets but I don’t trust them very much.

This lack of trust has always been there but it is been deeply rooted since the second consecutive collapse of 2008. Once the restructuring began, I knew that it may be a very long time until this team would be in the conversation again. So now it is 2015 and they are 11-3 with a 9 game winning streak; undefeated at home. Time to get hype? No.

I know the numbers. Mets always have a decent April. But when they get into the grind of the season, they begin remember that they are the other team from New York. While people will point to stats that say this is the best start since 1986 and 2006, I will remind them that it is April and I refuse to buy into anything for the moment. There is still a ton of baseball left.

Before you come to the conclusion that I’m not a real Mets fan (to which I will laugh my ass off) understand that my feelings are that of caution. The real issue is that I hate to lose. Getting involved year after year with a team who’s owners don’t care is exhausting. Talking about this to people who think Mets fans have gotten use to losing is exhausting. There is not one person in the city of New York that is accustomed to losing. Ask any true Knicks fans how infuriating this is. The truth of the matter is that I want two basic things: the Mets to be in the playoffs every year and the MTA to stop raising its fairs. We all can’t get what we want can we?

So the absurdity to think that losing is something I’ve become accustomed to is crazy. But all this hype is too soon for me. I need to see this team during the tough times to really see what they are made of. I dont like the phrase, “This is our year” because it has been used too often by this organization. I just need them to just play and play as well as they’re playing right now.

I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that I will not buy into this yet. This teams is going make me care for them the same way I cared in 2006 and if my heart gets broken again, then it will be a long winter for me. So yes, I love the New York Mets. I love then they are battling to be relevant again. I love that, at the moment, they are a part of the conversation.

But, I just don’t trust them very much.

Gods

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Human beings in a mob. What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a God? What’s a God to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything? Will he make it out alive? Alright, alright, no church in the wild.

– No Church in the Wild, Kaye West/Jay Z (feat. Frank Ocean)

When we think about athletes, we think about people who live above us. People, whose talents are so great that they are practically divine. For some, that divinity comes out in the door they have smashed open for the rest of us to walk through. Which is why it is so fitting that Mariano Rivera is the last man ever to wear the number 42 in Major League Baseball.

Its only fitting that it’s a (Afro) Latino to shut close out the rich history that an Black man started so many years ago. The repercussions of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947 has forever changed the game. When the flood gates opened in the subsequent years that followed, diversity in the game became the norm and African American paved the way for Latinos. One can say that is a microcosm of what our society has been.

However, Major League Baseball celebrates its diversity better than most organizations. It fosters the spirit of competition (outside of numerous drug suspensions) while maintaing a sense of integrity (outside of numerous drug suspensions). What makes players like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, and Mariano Rivera so great is because they like Gods amongst men in how the played the game.

But how can we worship these beings that put their pants on just like everyone else? Ponder that question when you think about another competition in Delaware that involves a seven year old girl being stripped of a crown that should be rightfully hers. Jakiyah McKoy’s only crime is of being accused of being too black to be Latino. She is entered into the Little Miss Hispanic Delaware where she wins the crown legitimately but the sponsoring organization, Nuestras Raices Delaware, has blocked her win after an outcry from people claiming that, because she is Black, she is ‘not the best representative of Latin beauty.’ Despite the fact that they cannot confirm her Latinoness, one would just assume that if there is a rule that contestants must have 25% Hispanic blood then that would be something that should have been checked registration.

Alas we are live in a world where Gods are worshipped while stupidity and ignorance create the rules. What happened to Jakiyah isn’t a surprise because Afro Latino live in a space between black and brown. A fluid Identity that allows other people question or origins, our purpose, and our lives. Too black to be a representative of a Latin Beauty? How can we really support such an argument but I forget we live in a world where people think that a show like Modern Family is funny because of a top heavy minstrel act of Sofia Vagara.

That is why we look to people like Mariano Rivera, a dark skinned Latino, that makes all us  believe that perfection is all about hard work and perseverance. A God in his own right that knows how to be humble yet deadly. It will be days like this that Jakiyah Mckoy will learn the difference between being ignorant and being a Goddess.