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March Metness: The Sammy-Finals

Does any event in sports match the pageantry of Tom Filer Four Weekend?

Whether you’re lucky enough to be there in person or just taking it on TV, it’s like being caught in a brilliant kaleidoscope of blue, orange and black. The way they bring back all the March Metness [1] competitors to take a bow is a great nod to sportsmanship and obviously very true to the Metsian ideal of fair play (so is the flinging of whiskey and water bottles at Pete Rose and John Rocker). The free peanuts and Cracker Jack are a nice touch as is the open seating. “Sit anywhere,” the ushers say. “And if you need anything, just give a holler. We’re here to help.”

The atmosphere and amenities are awesome, but Tom Filer Four Weekend is, of course, about the competition. The reason everybody queues up and tunes in is to see what will be crowned the Quintessential Mets Thing. Four entrants remain from the original field of 64. Two will remain to play Monday for the Metropolitan Championship. Who will those two be?

Saturday answered that question.

The Taylor-Comma-Sammy-Final
Let’s Go Mets (1) vs Jose! Jose! Jose! Jose! (7)

Jose! Jose! Jose! Jose! was surely the Ken Sanderella of this tournament, winning the Magic region by upsetting a 3-seed (Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?) and then a 1-seed (The 7 Train) to reach the Filer Four. J!4’s youth, enthusiasm and 2006 momentum coming into the tournament manifested itself in a memorable run. But when you reach the Sammys, youth, enthusiasm and 2006 momentum aren’t necessarily enough to counter experience, enthusiasm and eternal momentum, for Let’s Go Mets has never yielded an inch or an octave where extreme exhortation is concerned. Urging on a specific player is fine, but as representative of the contemporary Mets as Jose Reyes is, he is still just one Met. Let’s Go Mets lifts all. It asks no questions. It’s team all the way. The Jose Reyes bandwagon figures to continue to roll and to grow in the coming years — and the Mets will benefit from that journey — but the callowness of Jose! Jose! Jose! Jose!, while very appealing in its own special way, is simply no match for the time-tested excitement of Let’s Go Mets. LGM continues the dominance it displayed through the Miracle region and roars into the championship game. Sanderella, alas, exits the ball.

The Drake-Comma-Sammy-Final
The Happy Recap (1) vs Buckner (2)

This clash of the Met icons seems almost predestined, as Bob Murphy’s happiest recap arose from Bill Buckner’s unhappiest mishap. The two, winners in the Believe and the Amazin’ regions, respectively, are reunited here and linked forever through Mookie Wilson’s fair ball that got by Buckner and the aftermath that allowed the Mets to live another day. What aftermath was that? Rounding third Knight! The Mets win! They win! The call lives on every bit as much as the result. Bob Murphy, however, wasn’t just about those incandescent moments of victory any more than the 1986 world championship was constructed solely from one first baseman’s error. Here he was on the radio broadcasting the end of an equally incredible, equally emotional Game Six thirteen years later: The count is three and two. Now the pitch…he walked him! The season is over for the New York Mets. Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones forcing in the winning run from third base, Gerald Williams heads into score, and it’s celebration time for the Atlanta Braves. What a horrible loss for the New York Mets. Both Game Six events would have an intense feel to them regardless of who told you about them, but coming from Murph as opposed to Vin Scully or Bob Costas, it was coming from family. He was our great baseball uncle. He was blood. He cared because we cared. He cared because he cared, too. Announcing Mets games may have been a job for Bob Murphy, but did you ever detect the slightest ounce of clock-punching in his delivery? Every game was the biggest game Bob Murphy ever did. Considering that The Happy Recap was never guaranteed and more than half the time impossible, that’s an utterly magnificent feat. As few and far between as Game Sixes are, there is no plural version of Bob Murphy. There is only one. The Happy Recap…yes, it wins the damn thing.

The final is set. Monday night brings the showdown of a Met lifetime: Let’s Go Mets versus The Happy Recap for the Metropolitan Championship.