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March Metness: Two More for the Tom Filer Four

Saturday yielded one regional championship that clicked true to form — 1-seed Let’s Go Mets dominating the Miracle bracket — and another in which Cinderella raced around the bases when 7-seed Jose! Jose! Jose! Jose! stole the Magic bracket. We know they will meet in six days to decide who will play in the March Metness [1] Metropolitan Championship game.

And there to meet that winner? That’s what we learned earlier Sunday.

BELIEVE REGION FINAL
The Happy Recap (1) vs The Franchise (3)
Bob Murphy never tried to pitch, but Tom Seaver did attempt to broadcast. Let’s just say The Franchise’s forte wasn’t found away from the mound. But Seaver, whatever his disagreements with management in retirement and forced estrangements from the team during his playing career, represented the Mets like no player before, no player since, no player ever. Tom Seaver earned a place in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, won his 300th game in a Chicago White Sox uniform and threw his final strike for the Boston Red Sox, but he was never The Franchise for any of them. Bob Murphy announced games for the Orioles and Red Sox, yet no fan of those teams could possibly connect the words Happy and Recap the way we can. Seaver and Murphy were two professionals at the tops of their respective professions when Tom wore the blue and orange and Bob voiced fables, foibles and fierceness that shaded those colors. The Franchise provided the direct foundation for 198 Happy Recaps in 11 different regular seasons, all but nine of those coming before the dreaded Wednesday Night Massacre of 1977. Seaver was out. The recaps grew less frequently happy in his absence. But those that occurred felt every bit as special as any that Murph summed up in 1969 or 1973. Bob Murphy was sunshine when darkness descended on Shea, not just between Seaver’s two Met tenures but long afterwards. He is remembered for 1986, yes, but also for 1993, clear through to 2003. Bad years, good years, all years. Murph made each recap and every pitch that preceded them happy affairs just by communicating them. The Franchise comes away with a no-decision from this intense battle of Met quintessence. The Happy Recap gets the win.

AMAZIN’ REGION FINAL
Mr. Met (1) vs Buckner (2)
It’s easy to make jokes about the size of Mr. Met’s head because, let’s face it, it’s hard not to notice it. But Mr. Met has heart. Miles and miles of heart, extending all the way back to his first appearance as a logo in the Polo Grounds. A man named Dan Reilly put on a papier-mâché noggin and made Mr. Met come to life at Shea in the mid-’60s. We didn’t see much of the personification of MM immediately thereafter, but he never left the Metscape completely. Got a Shea raincheck from the ’70s handy? Look whose picture is there, holding an umbrella and seeming distressed that there will be No Game Today. Mr. Met lives for the game, so of course he’s sad it’s raining. On the other hand, he was delighted when the Mets brought him out of storage and made him three-dimensional in 1994. At the time he may have been the Mets’ best player (him or Rico Brogna), certainly its most popular personality. Mr. Met’s stature has only grown over the past 13 years. He went to ESPN, he went to Japan, he even went into the army reserves (well, one of the guys who wore the head did). Mr. Met is all over New York, all over Shea. He himself is impossible to ignore and why would you want to? The same could be said for the legacy of the moment we need refer to only as Buckner. This isn’t about the first basemen who amassed 2,715 base hits, a batting title and loads of admiration for the way he played. Bill Buckner, too, had miles and miles of heart. His existence, however, remains of interest to Mets fans because of one silly little baseball that changed the course of human events. It wasn’t just Buckner that defined the Tenth Inning. There were three base hits and a wild pitch (passed ball if we’re scoring with our eyes open). There was a tie in place when Mookie Wilson connected. There was a prospective eleventh inning if Buckner didn’t happen. But it did. It’s the most famous play in the history of the Mets, the best moment in the history of the Mets, the signature event in the history of the Mets. Mr. Met is an icon, but Buckner is as iconic as it gets. Twenty-one years after an honorable career went askew, Mr. Met becomes one silly big baseball Bill can handle.

Believe champion The Happy Recap and Amazin’ winner Buckner will face off in the Tom Filer Four on Saturday, March 31, approximately 40 minutes after the conclusion of the Let’s Go Mets-Jose! Jose! Jose! Jose! matchup.