Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mets: The Good & The Bad, Arsenal: Who's In & Who's Out?

Who's got it?
The Mets surprised everyone during the first two and a half months of the season and turned a lot of naysayers (including myself) in to believers. While the aura has not yet officially worn off, it's getting close to that time. In the past couple of weeks, the Mets have played like what was predicted for the 2012 New York Mets...they have been both pretty good and then pretty lousy.

Duda watches strike three sail past
The Mets were involved in 4 series sweeps this month. The good: a crushing three game sweep of the Rays in Tampa and three in a row over Baltimore in Queens. The bad: The Yankees beat up the Mets over three games in the Bronx and the Mets kicked off a homestsand losing three in a row to the Reds.

Then, after losing 2 of the 3 remaining "Subway Series" games to the Yankees, the Mets went on the road to begin a series with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs currently have the worst record in baseball and it looked as if things would begin to get easier for the Mets with the end of inter league play and a visit to the home of the woeful Cubs.
Jon Rauch gets the loss but this time it wasn't  his fault

Instead, after the first two games in Chicago, it's the Mets that are looking like the worst team in baseball.  The Mets have produced enough material for a full length blooper reel.  Errors, passed balls, bad throws, terrible base running and a lack of clutch hitting have made the Mets look a mess. In one inning, the Mets made three errors including two simple pop ups that resulted in three bases each.

Hopefully the rot will stop soon and the surprising Mets will return to the form that made this lovable bunch of underdogs exciting and inspiring.

One final baseball was sad to see Kevin Youkilis traded from the Red Sox after all he had given to the franchise. However, it seems that the trade has made some residents of Chicago very happy.  All the Jewish grandmothers in Chicago are ready to invite "that nice boy Youk" over for some matzoh ball soup. Plus one former resident currently living in the White House seems pretty happy as well.

As for Arsenal, the silly season is here and the gossip concerns who's in...who's out and will he or won't he? Until there's concrete information on whether captain Robin van Persie is staying or moving on, it's just speculation from sports journalists based on "sources" that have no real information.

In, Lukas Podolski

In, Oliver Giroud

Will he or won't he

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The No Name Mets are Making It Happen, While Arsenal Wait For News From A Big Name

It took 51 years, but it really did happen
With the EPL season over and the EURO 2012 Tournament yet to start, it's been pretty quite on the football front. That is however, unless you follow all the summer transfer gossip. For Arsenal fans there are two main topics of interest; will Robin van Persie sign a contract extension to remain with the club and which players will Arsene Wenger bring in to convince RVP to stay? I have pretty much stopped following the speculation as I've come to realize that it's just that. I recently read three different UK based papers that each had a different story on the RVP situation.

He's Gunner stay! Arsenal confident Van Persie will ink new long-term deal

Manchester City Nears $40 Million Deal for Van Persie: Roundup

Robin van Persie awaits suitors as he delays signing new Arsenal deal

The bottom one in the media has a clue and "sources" allow journalists to write "stories", which then sell papers. Hopefully things will work out and RVP will remain club captain.

Good times in Flushing
Kirk Neuwenhuis making folks remember how to spell his name
Meanwhile, the Mets have been unbelievably impressive so far this season. As I recently wrote for Bleacher Report, I owe this club a major apology. After the fall out from the Wilpons' involvement with Bernie Madoff and the slashing of the team's payroll everyone was predicting a pathetic and miserable season. I was right there with them. Reyes walked away and outside of David Wright, Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey the 2012 Mets looked to be a collection of misfits, under achievers and Minor Leaguers. The funny part is...that's exactly what they are. Despite being 80% made up of a bunch of nobodies these guys have come together as a true team and are playing some good ball. Despite the occasional blunder and somewhat regular bullpen meltdown, the Mets entered play tonight 7 games over .500. Only 4 teams in all of baseball have a better winning percentage than the Mets.

Johan finishes his no hitter
This weekend proved that no matter what happens the rest of the way for the 2012 Mets, this season has already been successful. The bright play, the maturing of young players and the team unity have made watching this team a lot of fun. Then Johan Santana took the mound on Friday versus the best hitting team in the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals, and he did what everyone in baseball thought would never happen. Santana threw a no hitter. The Mets and the San Diego Padres were the only two franchises in all of baseball to have never had a no-hitter pitched by a member of their staff. Santana's brilliant performance took that negative away for good and gave long suffering Mets fans the chance to cheer.

As I wrote in Bleacher Report, Santana's no-hitter was a double feel good story as it gave the franchise something to be proud of and, it was Santana that did it. The guy is a class act, a positive leader and a real warrior. Having missed all of 2011 due to shoulder surgery, Santana pushed through not having his best stuff and still completed what had previously been impossible.

The next day, R.A. Dickey came out and followed up Santana's performance with a complete game shut out of his own.
Not quite a no no but a complete game shutout is not too shabby
We'll see what happens the rest of the way. I don't really think this team is playoff material but they've really made Mets fans enjoy supporting their team. The ONLY downside to the Mets playing so well, is that it almost lets the Wilpons off the hook for letting their personal financial situation affect the club and its fans.

Nickeas with the grand slam
Mike Baxter saves the no hitter