- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

I’ve Got Pieces of April

If you’re a sports fan, the best Aprils are the most stressful Aprils. In competitive context, such Aprils are the least cruellest of months, but they can play on your nerves.

The two teams I root for in winter, the Nets and the Islanders, have made it to spring’s playoffs. It beats their having to go home with the Philadelphia hoi polloi — which is often on their respective agendas this time of year — but their graduation to postseason doesn’t come without a cost. Every inbounds pass, every puck not cleared, every turn of momentum is a potential killer. One too many wrong moves and their Aprils are suddenly over. For that matter, any given right move is tricky to emotionally handle. When the Islanders grab a one-goal lead or the Nets improbably slice a lead to a single bucket, I just assume everything’s going to be French fries and gravy from here on out. They’ll win this game, they’ll win this series, I wonder how much I should put aside for commemorative t-shirts. I simply can’t envision anything going awry, so when the slightest thing inevitably does go off course, I am practically shattered inside [1].

And that’s just hockey and basketball, which are mere diversions from my true fan calling.

The Mets on a nine-game winning streak in April is approximately nine kajillion times better than the Mets on a nine-game losing streak in April. That’s probably understating the difference given the time of the season we’re in currently. You get this hot this early then you’re atop the heap from practically the get-go (for proof, please examine this morning’s edition of the 2015 National League East standings [2]). On the other hand, a nine-game winning streak that plops itself down toward the tail end of a campaign that’s already been spayed or neutered serves mostly to stick its tongue out at you. Where, I can remember asking myself as the Mets went on hollow win binges in the latter stages of 1992 and 2002, was this when we needed it?

To approach the kind of finish for which the Nets (unlikely) and the Islanders (who knows?) are angling, you need to have a massive rollout. The proportions of the Met start to date are positively and historically ginormous. Everything’s coming up Howie Roses, you may have noticed.

At Citi Field against the second-place Braves Tuesday night, the night when the first-place Mets won their ninth game in a row [3], 7-1, and extended their record to a nearly unprecedented 11-3 — a standard happily shared with 1986 — they were their typical unstoppable selves. Jon Niese [4] (6.1 IP, 1 ER) was smooth enough to pass for silk. Curtis Granderson [5] remembered to retrieve his bat from cold storage and drove in four runs, thus increasing his season total to exactly four. Kevin Plawecki [6]…well, what can you say about a major league debut that includes two hits, a bullet of a throw to second and the handling of five pitchers who gave up five hits among them?

We already had a fairly state-of-the-art catcher, yet you know how it is when they release the sleeker, shinier model, especially when the not so old one gets a little dinged around the edges and needs to be reset; it’s just hard to resist such an enticing upgrade. Right now you can’t blame us for being mesmerized by the Plawecki demo. Might we still come across some bugs that will impede its apps? Ah, ring it up and we’ll figure that out once we get it home.

Transfer the rate at which the Mets are going to a participant in the NBA or NHL playoffs and you’d have a team legitimately on the verge of a championship. But April in baseball is only the beginning, and that beginning, no matter how it sizzles, leads to a whole lot of middle that isn’t nearly as neat to forecast. I can’t imagine the Mets will maintain their 9-0 or even their lesser 11-3 pace forever, but the thing is, when they’re going this well, I can’t imagine they won’t.

That’s a scary way to think. Fun, but scary.