Monday, June 20, 2011

Remembering Sorcha, my best friend and fellow Mets and Arsenal supporter

Sorcha the Arsenal and Mets loving Boston Terrier

I love Arsenal and I love the New York Mets and both have given me plenty of joy and heartache over the years.  A recent event, however, has made me realize that the relationship I have with the teams that I follow is completely one sided.  While I might profess to "love" my teams, Arsenal and the Mets are not reaching back to me with gifts and tokens of affection.  While I root for Carlos Beltran to hit home runs and raise his batting average, he isn't worrying about the fact that the recession has affected my employment situation.  Likewise, my admiration for Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas runs deep and my hope is that he will stay on as the team's captain and lead the team to trophies.  However, Fabregas is totally unaware of my everyday life and the problems that I am faced with.  So while I support my teams and stick with them through thick and thin, I realize that love is a bit of a misguided word to express my connection to them.  I am a fan, they offer me a diversion and enjoyment and perhaps a sense of belonging.

Sorcha checks out Arsenal from bed
The reason these thoughts about the bond that I have with the Mets and Arsenal came up this week is because I lost my true best friend and greatest companion.  Sorcha was my beloved Boston Terrier and she gave me the greatest gift anyone can ever receive, unconditional love.  No matter what the day would bring or if I came home feeling as if the world had beaten me up, there was Sorcha rushing to greet me, kiss me and jumping around with crazy excitement at my arrival.  Sorcha was the first dog I ever owned and the love and companionship that I got from her were the greatest gifts I have ever received.  Her sudden and unexpected passing has left me devastated, lost and completely broken hearted.

Sorcha celebrates her Irish roots
Sorcha arrived to stay with me for two weeks in the summer of 2005 as her Irish owners were leaving New York City to return to Ireland during the boom of the Celtic Tiger.  Due to quarantine rules, Sorcha was unable to enter Ireland for another 4 months.  Myself and another family agreed to foster her during this period.  After the initial 2 weeks, I told the other family that I would be happy to watch her for the entire time.  As the months rolled along, Sorcha stole my heart and became a part of my world.  She also became a regular fixture and favorite in my building and throughout the neighborhood.  I dreaded the thought that she would eventually leave to join her family in Ireland.

Sorcha the goalie
As the time got closer, I exchanged e-mails with Sorcha's owner in Ireland and asked if I could keep her.  He said no, they missed her, their family wasn't complete without her, etc. and he would begin making plans.  I was crushed.  Then a funny thing happened...NOTHING.  I never heard from him again.  While some folks took this as Sorcha being abandoned, I think what happened is the owner's wife (with three small children and a new home) told her husband leave the dog in New York as Sorcha was with someone who would love her and they had their hands full in Ireland. I don't know for sure, but I know that Patrick, Sorcha's original owner, loved her.  Either way, Sorcha and I were now "family".

Sorcha was obsessed with her tennis ball and would chase it non stop.  A number of the workers in the building where I live in are of Spanish descent and gave her the Spanish nickname Sorchita (little Sorcha) and would practice their soccer/football skills with her using one of her tennis balls.  In time, Sorcha became a pretty good goalie and could stop many a shot.

Sorcha loves Arsenal
While I'm not sure if she was as in to the games as I was, (I'd like to believe that she was a hardcore Arsenal and NY Mets supporter) Sorcha watched many, many Arsenal matches and sat through tons of New York Mets games.  Being the cute dog that she was, I subjected her to many humiliating photos of her in Arsenal gear and posing with Mets paraphernalia and a Mr. Met stuffed toy.  When Arsenal would score and I would go nuts, she would look at me with that puzzled look as if to say, "You are insane".  On the other hand, when the Mets would blow a game and I'd be cursing at the TV, Sorcha would just came over with her tennis ball and demand to play.  She was a definite calming influence and always brought me back down to reality.

Sorcha passed away in her sleep last weekend and the shock has yet to subside.  My fandom is so ridiculous that I took the fact that the Mets came back to win on the day of her passing as a sign that she was at peace and was content.  I am not a religious person and I am having difficulty coming to grips with my loss. However, the memories that I have of the time that I spent with Sorcha and the unconditional love that she gave to me are comforting me at this time of sorrow. 

I will always remember you and love you Sorcha, and I know that you are in doggy heaven cheering on Arsenal and the New York Mets. 

Sorcha checks up on the Arsenal and NY Mets results

Sorcha leads the cheers for Arsenal

Sorcha shows her Arsenal allegiance

Sorcha asks for divine intervention for Arsenal & the Mets

Sorcha loves Arsenal

Sorcha's Arsenal cap

Sorcha forced to model a Leeds cap
Sorcha's favorite Italian squad in Calcio

Sorcha ready to kill for being forced to pose with a Hull jersey

One of Sorcha's many Arsenal scarfs
Sorcha schedules her viewing plans for Arsenal & the NY Mets

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Arsenal Meets The Mets: Cesc and Van Persie Pay a Visit to Citi Field

Arsenal ended their up and down season with a less than convincing draw away to Fulham.  The defense was once again at fault on both Fulham goals and if not for the finishing of Van Persie in the first half and Walcott in the second, the Gunners would have been looking at another dropped three points.  The team's end of season swoon, enabled Manchester City to jump Arsenal for the third automatic Champions League spot and will now require Arsenal to face a play in opponent in order to qualify.
Show some loyalty Samir

While 4th place is certainly not the end of the world, the criticism and negativity currently surrounding the club from both the fans and the media paint the picture of a disastrous season.  Many have called for Arsene Wenger to step aside and for wholesale changes at the club.  While Wenger has admitted that there is a need for new signings and that changes will be made, the end of the season leads to the insanity of the summer transfer rumours.  Everyone and their mother is being linked to Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester City and all the other big spenders while Arsenal fans are being subjected to rumours that captain Cesc Fabregas will be off and that Samir Nasri is holding the team hostage for money before committing his future to the club.  (Nasri is one of my favorite players and it makes me sick to see him getting caught up in his own hype and disrespecting the team and manager that made him a star).

Holy crap Cesc & RVP at a Mets game

What Arsenal and its fans need more than anything else is some good news and a hearty dose of optimism.  The reality is, there are 16 other teams in the EPL that wish they were in Arsenal's position.

While European fans despise the summer months when football goes on break, it gives me the opportunity to turn my attention to baseball and the Mets.  To my surprise Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and co-captain Robin Van Persie paid a visit to Flushing to take in a Mets game at Citi Field.  While I'd like to believe that they went out of their way to see the Mets, it's probably more likely that they went there only because the Yankees were out of town.  Regardless, the validation that I got knowing members of Arsenal were at a Mets game cannot be described.  Van Persie's Twitter feed about the visit to Citi Field was even picked up by the British press.

Evra and Vidic owned by Messi

The final football match of the season featured Barcelona versus Manchester United at Wembley Stadium for the Champions League final.  Despite a goal from Shrek, Barcelona owned Manchester United.  The final score was 3-1 but Barcelona had 70% of the possession and 20 shots on goal to Man U's 3.  Most Arsenal fans took pleasure in seeing ManU lose, knowing that Arsenal will forever remain the only team to have beaten Barcelona in this year's Champions League field.

Meanwhile, the Mets continue to bumble their way through the MLB season with half their "stars" on the disabled list and more members of the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons starting games than actual New York Mets players.  Adding to the ineptitude was good old Fred Wilpon who despite his ongoing Bernie Madoff adventures found the time to humiliate himself and his team first in the New Yorker and then in Sports Illustrated.  By publicly dissing Josey Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran and then announcing that the team was bleeding money, Wilpon proved he's definitely not the brightest guy.  

Justin Turner

Don't Trade Reyes
On the field, the team continues to be unable to hit homeruns and the bullpen has continued to cough up late leads.  In fact, the Mets set another dubious record last week, losing their sixth straight home game after leading heading in to the 7th.  Despite the negativity surrounding the team, there have been some major surprises; pitcher Dillon Gee, infielder Justin Turner, Jon Niese and Ruben Tejada.  Additionally, RA Dickey continues to be a reliable pitcher, Carlos Beltran is healthy and playing well and Jose Reyes is on fire.  Of course with the rumour mill continuing to dangle Reyes as trade bait, Mets fans have begun to publicly campaign for the team not to trade Jose.  Hopefully Wilpon will swallow his pride and pay the man the money he deserves.  If not, the half empty stadium of this season could be completely empty next year.

Yes that's Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas in a NY Mets jersey
A couple of football stories that were circulating in the British press last week that were just too funny include:

Shrek getting a hair transplant

Ryan Giggs threatening to sue Twitter over his "alleged" affair only to become a trending topic on Twitter, and if that wasn't enough:

Ryan Giggs' eight year affair with his brother's wife is revealed

ManU may be EPL champions but they sure know how to make headlines for off the pitch activities.  You can't make this stuff up.