Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday's Starting Five

1. CC Sabathia. I didn't watch any of it. It being the Brewers/Cubs game that took place yesterday. I was aware of it. Hyper-aware. Like the Predator was of Arnold in the jungles of Guatemala. I didn't want it to matter. But it did. And, it ruined my Sunday. My week. My October. But, there is no taking away from the gargantuan performance that Brewers rent-an-Ace CC Sabathia put together yesterday. Pitching for the second straight outing on three days' rest (which is one less day than Big League pitchers are accustomed to), CC went the distance and carried his team, with some help, into the postseason for the first time since 1982. The Brewers won, thanks to the big guy. The Brewers are the National League Wild Card winners. Done and done.

2. Ryan Braun. He is the Hebrew Hammer. He may very well be the 2008 National League Most Valuable Player. And with everything on the line he came through for his team. Unlike some other gentiles that I know. Especially those named after particular houses of worship not frequented by Mr. Braun. Anyway, the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year stepped to the plate at a packed Miller Park in a 1-1 tie with two outs and one on in the eight inning. Cubs reliever Bob Howry* delivered a pitch to home plate and Braun unleashed a characteristically sweet swing, depositing the ball in the stands for the game-winning home run. Although he was scuffling a bit down the stretch he came through when it mattered most. Happy Roshanah.

3. The Florida Marlins. I can't think of a happier baseball team without a game scheduled for this week than the Florida Marlins. Florida defeated the Mets yesterday to end the season of their NL East rival. The Marlins hate the Mets. In the sort of honest and dynamic way that we want our teams to dislike their rivals. The Marlins hate the Mets like the Knicks and Heat used to hate each other. It is a bilious passion that inspires them to play better than there talent (or at least their regular-season record) warrants. And, for the second consecutive year the Marlins were at Shea Stadium to see the end of a Mets season. Luckily, for the Mets and their fans, the Marlins do not end the 2009 season at Citi Field.

4. Laveranues Coles. The 2008 NFL preseason was not kind to the Jets sort-of-star wide receiver. His best friend, Chad Pennington, was cut from his team. Coles was upset about it. He was mostly mocked for his upsetness. For his loyalty to a franchise stalwart who had been unceremoniously dumped by a newish regime looking to make their own mark on the club and/or save their own skins after a horrorshow 2007 effort. Coles was also held up in the early going by a few knick-knack injuries. The combination of these things all led the wider football watching world to believe that his younger teammate Jericho Cotchery had actually leapfrogged him on the depth chart and was the team's alpha reciever. So, to sum up: Coles was sad, considered a little bit too close to Chad (if you know what I'm saying), oldish, hurt and not really the leader of the team to which he had been named captain the year prior. All in all, it wasn't a great first few weeks to the 2008 campaign. Until yesterday, when Brett Favre and Coles hooked up for three touchdowns in a rollicking rout of the visiting Arizona Cardinals.

5. Johan Santana. (One of)The greatest shame(s) of the New York Metropolitans loss yesterday is that Saturday's should-be legendary game by Johan is now forever lost to history. Only the people who were at the game will ever remember it. Arguably the biggest must-win start in the franchise history will be forgotten. Because within 24 hours it was made meaningless. Johan deserved better than that. And, Mets fans deserved better than that. If the Mets had won yesterday then Johan's complete-game, three hit shutout becomes an all-time great performance that will go down in franchise history with Tom Seaver's near-perfecto in July 1969 and Al Leiter's two-hit, complete-game shutout in the one-game playoff for the 1999 Wild Card. Each of Santana's nine strikeouts would have been stanzas in the epic poem that was this outing. It was the sort of masterful performance encapsulates the sort of excellence Santana has. And, yet it means nothing. Nothing. Even though at the time it meant absolutely everything.

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