Tuesday, September 19, 2006

From Cleon to Cliff, this feels good!

I bring my laptop to Grand Rapids Board of Education meetings so I can take write stories as things transpire, then take advantage of the administration building’s kick-butt wifi to ship things back to the newsroom.

The laptop was out Monday night, but I confess it had a higher purpose — tracking the clinching game in progress through Yahoo.

There are hazards to doing this. While district staffers were discussing enrollment trends, an audible then quickly muffled cheer went up from a the fourth row in the audience. We’re supposed to be neutral observers. Technically, I was, though the board didn’t know it. I was cheering Jose Valentin’s home run.

Such are the difficulties of being a Mets fan living away from the Homeland.

I’m torn between being thrilled that we did it ahead of the Yanks, and not caring at all about the Yanks because I’m tired of them intruding into our moments.

Indeed, some of the Yankee hacks out there couldn’t resist. AP had this: "When the Yankees celebrate division titles, they resemble corporate executives closing a deal with handshakes. When the Mets win anything, it’s time to let loose."

Of course, when you spend $200 million on payroll and don’t win the division, you should be mocked. It’s like entering a bicycle race and pulling up in Jeff Gordon’s rig.

So the heck with the Yanks and their apologists. I’m celebrating today for Carlos Delgado, who at 1,703 games in the leader among active players without a postseason appearances, and Paul Lo Duca, who can’t be too far behind. Heck you know he’s excited after that little F-bomb incident on SNY.

I’m celebrating for Jose Reyes, who was a sliced finger away from showing the world his skills the spotlight of the All-Star Game, and for David Wright, who took that spotlight in July and could become a household name by the end of October.

I’m excited for Tom Glavine, who now might be able to stop being asked if he regrets leaving the Braves, and for Billy Wagner who proved that yes, a country guy can be successful playing in New York.

I’m geeked for Valentin and Darren Oliver. The idea that either of these guys could be on our roster sent the posters on my Mets listserv foaming at the mouth during spring training. I guess Omar knows what he’s doing.

I was pretty hard on Mike Vaccaro earlier this year, but I have to tip my cap for his column in today’s Post.

"The ball was heading precisely where it should have been headed on such a festive night, in such a stardust-frosted year. Deep left field at Shea Stadium is sacred ground anyway, the place where one improbable October afternoon in 1969 a long fly ball went to die in Cleon Jones' glove, where the greatest baseball story ever told reached its fitting, final climax."

"Now, just a few steps away from where Jones dropped to one knee, Cliff Floyd stood statue-still, listening to his heart pound, a sound he could hear even above the 46,729 voices trying to suffocate the sky with their glee. That was equally appropriate. It was deep in the lost baseball summer of 2003, Floyd's first season with the Mets, with his body hurting and his spirit sagging, that Floyd held court in front of a locker at Yankee Stadium.

"I want to be here when this gets turned around," Floyd said that day, at a time when the Mets were less relevant than the Brooklyn Cyclones, when it was fair to wonder if that would ever change. ‘I’ve seen from a distance what it looks like to be a winner in New York. I want to know what that’s like from the inside."

Absolutely beautiful.

And this, from Wright, about the fans: "It’s a great night for us, and a better night for them."

This guy is good. We’re talking Costco good.

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