Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Make It Stop...Arsenal stutter to the end, Mets stutter all season long

"Sports do not build character, they reveal it." - John Wooden

"Losers quit when they're tired. Winners quit when they've won." ~Author Unknown

"Losing streaks are funny. If you lose at the beginning, you get off to a bad start. If you lose in the middle of the season, you're in a slump. If you lose at the end, you're choking."  ~Gene Mauch

"We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time." ~ Vince Lombardi

"I would have thought that the knowledge that you are going to be leapt upon by half-a-dozen congratulatory, but sweaty team-mates would be inducement not to score a goal." ~ Arthur Marshall

Goodbye to Hu
Lately I've been asking myself why do I watch sports and why am I so connected to the two teams that I love, Arsenal and the New York Mets.  While I knew the Mets were going to be mediocre, some of the luck they have had has been beyond bad (Ike Davis and now David Wright landing on the disabled list) and some of the play and managerial decisions have been beyond pathetic (pinch hitting with pitcher Jon Niese* with 2 outs in the bottom of the 11th and down by one run and letting Chin-lung Hu anywhere near a Major League roster).

In typical Mets fashion, even good news becomes bad news.  Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are finally performing like the players we all knew they were.  Unfortunately the team is in transition and it's looking pretty likely that they will be used as trade bait to bring in young prospects.  Figures.  Since the Mets were one game away from the 2006 World Series Reyes and Beltran have either been hurt or underperforming.  Now that the Mets have no chance of going to the playoffs they're hot.

Regardless of the heartache that the Mets constantly provide for myself and other fans who are forever in the shadow of the cross town Yankees and their arrogant supporters, I could always rely on Arsenal to play at the highest level and restore my pride.  While not as dire as the Mets, Arsenal have for the first time since I've been a fan, totally imploded.  No recap is necessary.  Suffice it to say that up until February 27th Arsenal fans were dreaming of four trophy's.  Since then, however, the dream has turned out to be a nightmare.  What makes it even more frustrating is that it's mostly mental.  How does a team beat Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea all in one season then go out and get humilitaed by the likes of Stoke, Bolton, Sunderland, etc?

See you later Squillaci
Also sad is the fact that the legendary Arsene Wenger has painted a very despondent picture throughout the season.  The once dignified "professor" has looked like my 10th grade chemistry teacher used to look any time I got near a bunsen burner.  The poor guy has been let down by so many of his players.  In Arsene we trust, is still a mantra I believe in, but his reluctance to bring in defensive reinforcements was a major mistake.  Usually a great judge of talent, he has made several bad signings.  At the top of the list is S├ębastien Squillaci. He is the Chin-lung Hu of Arsenal and should never be allowed anywhere near a football/soccer pitch again.  He did score one game winner off of a set piece but he also contributed to many defensive screw ups.  (He actually got rated a ZERO by the Sun for his most recent "performance".  NO ONE GETS A ZERO).

I am a fan though and as a fan I stick with my teams through the good and the bad.  (Mets more bad, Arsenal more good).  So, as the most optomistic pessimist out there, the Mets will rebuild and hopefully compete at the highest level some time soon.  The new GM is already showing that bad play will get you jettisoned out of town (Ollie, Castillo, Boyer, Emaus, Carrasco and Hu) and I am confident that Arsenal will tweak the squad this summer and come back to compete for trophy's next season.  As disappointing as the Arsenal season turned out, top 4 and the opportunity of European football is not too bad.  The Mets are the West Ham of baseball.  Their only saving grace is that they can't be relegated.

Hopefully Arsenal will close out with a win at Fulham and as Tug McGraw once said as a member of the New York Mets, "Ya gotta believe". 

*Niese made the manager look good by getting a triple, but in typical Mets fashion, this amazing feat led to nothing as the Mets couldn't drive him in from 3rd and lost in 11 innings.

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