The late Joe Garagiola was right. Baseball is a funny game.
Last season, the Chicago Cubs swept all seven regular season meetings with the Mets, only to see New York collect a major receipt with a 4-game sweep in the NLCS in October. The two teams met again this past weekend at Citi Field, and it was the Cubs, leaders in the NL Central, and owners of the best record in the league, seeking payback.
Instead, the Mets picked up with the Cubs right where they left off last fall, sweeping all 4 games by an aggregate score of 32-11, including a 14-3 bludgeoning on Sunday. Ouch!!
The Mets abused Chicago starter Jon Lester, knocking him out in the 2nd, en route to a record-tying 22 hits, including 5 home runs for the 2nd time in the series. All nine starters, including winning pitcher Noah Syndergaard, had at least 1 hit. Third baseman Wilmer Flores tied a team record by going 6-for-6, the first Met since Edgardo Alfonzo (now the 3rd base coach for Brooklyn) 17 years ago, including 2 home runs.
Up next for the Mets is division rival Miami, which is coming off beating Atlanta, 5-2, on Sunday night. More on that later, but this is a Mets team that tends to fall into lengthy let-downs at the wrong time. Stay tuned.
Not quite a week ago, the sports world mourned the passing of two premier coaches.
Buddy Ryan was the architect of the Chicago Bears' vaunted "46" defense, so named for linebacker Doug Plank, that carried the reborn Monsters of the Midway to the Super Bowl and a thrashing of New England after the 1985 season. Ryan had won a Super Bowl ring 17 years earlier as an assistant under Weeb Ewbank with the Jets. Count on this. The Buffalo Bills, coached by Buddy's twin sons, Rex & Rob, and the Bears will dedicate their 2016 campaigns to Buddy. The only question is whether or not they can go all the way to the big dance.
Meanwhile, former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt lost her battle with Alzheimer's Disease at 64. Overall, Summitt is among the top 5 coaches in college basketball history, in very distinct company with the likes of Hall of Famers John Wooden and Dean Smith. Summitt helped put women's college basketball in the mainstream, and it's never looked back.
Back at home, the Tri-City Valleycats are trying to 1) get over .500 and 2) move out of the Stedler Division cellar after the first 2 weeks plus of the season. Tri-City sits at 8-9 after thumping Hudson Valley, 10-0, on Sunday night. I shan't be surprised if their best hitters, outfielder Stephen Wrenn and 1B/DH Carmen Benedetti, are promoted within the Astros' chain in due course. Wrenn leads the New York-Penn League with 7 homers after Sunday's action. Lamarr Rogers is in just his 2nd season with the Astros' organization, and won a league title last year, so adversity might not be a problem.
Sunday's ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game between Atlanta and Miami originated from Fort Bragg in North Carolina. They were christening the new ballpark there, and the tickets were limited to military personnel and their families. There was at least one Braves fan who had never seen the team play in person, and the Braves arranged for his ticket as a gesture of goodwill.
Unfortunately, some jackass decided to crash the party to extend his 15 minutes of fame.
Zack Hample collects home run balls and foul balls, and scored the home run that was Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th hit last year. There is some question as to how he managed to finagle a ticket for this game, but he claims he has a friend in the military. There was a story on social media that said he was offering $1,000 for a ticket. The 82nd Airborne Division wasn't thrilled with Hample, who comes across as crass and greedy, though he claimed that any balls he found would be donated to charity.
Sorry, Zack, but in this writer's opinion, you're just piggy-backing on a once-in-a-lifetime event just to feather your own nest. That doesn't fly, not with the 82nd Airborne, not with a lot of other baseball fans who chose to stay at home and watch the game to support their teams or just for the sake of watching the game. For your act of shameless selfishness, you get the Weasel of the Week award. Enjoy the Weasel ears, bubbelah, because you certainly deserve them.