Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London is burning, Arsenal fans are asking questions and the Mets are surprising everyone

The footage out of London this week is truly horrifying and disturbing.  One of the greatest modern cities in the world is being terrorized by groups of opportunistic disenfranchised thugs with no regards for anyone but themselves.The images of businesses being looted and set aflame, regular citizens being mugged and terrorized and a police force unable to contain the madness are shocking.  Now it's spread to other cities in the country as lawlessness has become chic.

While I've been to London many times and know the city pretty well, I can't understand how something like this could be allowed to escalate to the point where businesses and offices are closing early, people are locking themselves in their houses and scheduled events are being cancelled.  While I am totally anti-gun, in this instance the British police force should be armed and taking control over this situation.

Obviously there are social issues that have ignited this violence, but the path chosen by these hooligans to express their outrage does not merit a dialogue.  It takes real geniuses to destroy their own neighborhoods and thus make the economic troubles they already face even worse. These idiots should be dealt with using force and heavy handed policing as they have lost their right to be treated with dignity.

Of course these morons are causing the start of the football season to be affected.  Several Carling Cup matches have been postponed as has England's friendly versus Holland at Wembley.  No decision has been made about the opening round of fixtures in the EPL this weekend, but the fact that this is taking away from what should be an exciting week for football fans is ridiculous.

But enough about these dopes.  Us Arsenal fans have other worries.  While I'll always support my team and remain optimistic, this off season has pretty much been a train wreck.  With three days to go before the start of the season (unless the rioters continue to wreak havoc), the Arsenal squad is looking thin and totally unsettled.

New signing Gervinho, proud to wear the Arsenal shirt
Arsene Wenger has not addressed a number of glaring problems with the squad; specifically the team's weak defense.  With Gael Clichy taking the money of the Man City oil barons and the less than stellar performances by Squillaci, Eboue and Djourou and relative newbies in Gibbs and Jenkinson there doesn't appear to be any improvement.  While the transfer window stays open until the end of the month, the season starts NOW.  If a defender does come in, it's going to take time for that player to gel with the team.  Why the long wait?

The no loyalty twins, Fabregas & Nasri
Then of course is the never ending Cesc and Nasri sagas.  My opinion...they are both major disappointments.  Fabregas is 24 and the captain of a major European team that made him a star. Poor baby wants to leave to go hang out with his buddies in Barcelona where he won't get to play every game and will just be another piece of the puzzle instead of the leading man.  Then there's Nasri.  I thought this guy was going to be another Robert Pires, instead he's another Adebayor.  Any respect I had for this player is gone and it's a real sad statement on the state of sport today.  To turn your back on the man and club that put you on the map and the fans that sang your name week in and week out, solely for more money than one person can spend is downright gross.  Plus, his assertion that he wants to win trophies so he needs to leave is hysterical as he was a part of the reason that Arsenal didn't win trophies.  Nasri it turns out is just another greedy mercenary.

So, with three days to go, both are still on the Arsenal roster as are Nicklas Bendtner and Manuel Almunia who should both be leaving.  It seems crazy to me to go in to a new season with a squad that is still not settled or complete.

The more pleasant surprise comes from the most unlikely of places...the New York Mets.  Going in to the season Mets fans had very low expectations and were prepared for a miserable and embarrassing season.  Since going to the NLCS in 2006 the franchise has been on a continual downward spiral.  Add to that, ace pitcher Johan Santana has been out all season, Reyes is on the DL for the second time, Ike Davis is out for the year, David Wright and Angel Pagan have both missed time with injuries and now this week Daniel Murphy goes down for the rest of the year.  Of course the trade of Carlos Beltran to San Francisco depleted the roster of another key player.

New manager Terry Collins deserves a ton of credit as he has had to use tons of minor league call ups and other assorted castoffs in order to field a team every night.  No one expected much from the "Replace-Mets" and if they had faded in to baseball oblivion no one would have been surprised.

The "Replace-Mets" pull out a comeback win
Instead, something else has happened.  This band of spare parts has been bringing fans back to the ballpark and showing fight and tenacity that better Mets teams never were able to produce.  Take Monday night's game for example; when Pelfrey and the bullpen were once again ineffective and gave away a 4-1 lead to the weak hitting Padres.  Unbelievably, this collection of misfits (like the land of misfit toys from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer) overcame an 8-4 deficit in their last two at bats with Lucas Duda providing the game winning walk off single for a 9-8 win.

Then tonight, the Mets were down 4-2 in the 8th inning and again found a way to come back and secure a 5-4 victory.  Mets teams of the past few years, with better players and higher expectations rarely came through in these situations.

The Mets have been hovering at the .500 mark for weeks now, but that in itself is amazing.  While trophies may be important in sports, sometimes just playing the game hard and giving your fans something to cheer for is enough.  Despite the low expectations of fans at the start of the season and all the injuries that have continually gripped this team, the 2011 New York Mets have been fun, exciting and most of all likeable.

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