As the 2023 Mets’ season spirals into irrelevance, I’m trying to lose myself in vicarious feelings for other passionate fans’ teams, and somehow my memories turned to my college days where my fellow campus newspaper sportswriters inexplicably supported Mets teams that were in the midst of back to back season where they lost a combined total of nearly 200 games, which at the rate this June has been going would be an improvement.
In later life, Joe and Dave learned to embrace other teams, in some odd yet understandable ways. Joe joined his older brother in developing a passion for the Baltimore Orioles, not to mention joining him in coming out during their World Series run in 1979, where he openly cheered for their scrappy catcher Rick Dempsey, unabashedly getting all the more interested when he squatted behind the plate. I can still hear him salivate when the ABC cameras showed the batter’s box view and he’d exclaim “Rick Dempsey has a great ass!”.
Dave later relocated to South Florida on a full-time basis and fulfilled his dreams of becoming a paid sportswriter, taking full advantage of the South Florida expansion team wave and becoming the Sun-Sentinel’s lead reporter during the Marlins’ improbable run to the earliest World’s Championship run in sports history at the time, winning it all in their fifth year of existence, eclipsing even the seven-year gap from inception to title that the 1969 Miracle Mets achieved. But as was the case with most South Florida baseball fans, his joy was short-lived as its financially tortured owner, Blockbuster Video magnate Wayne Huizenga, dismantled the team the next season. Dave authored a controversial behind-the-scenes book about that in hindsight aberrative season, despised enough by Marlins’ management to result in his dismissal from the beat. Still, when I last spoke to him decades ago, he remained upbeat about the Marlins, believing that the team with proper leadership could develop into a winner and, as we know, winners get all the spoils in the 305.
I truly wonder how happy they both may be today since their alternative passions to the Mets are both doing remarkably well. The Orioles reinforced their status as a force to be reckoned with last night by cooling off one of baseball’s hottest teams, the Cincinnati Reds, in a “rematch” of the 1970 World Series that featured the debut of yet another Baby Bird that is leading them of late, as the BALTIMORE SUN’s Jacob Calvin Meyer reported:
Brandon Hyde said he doesn’t have words of wisdom for young players making their major league debuts. Instead, the Orioles manager wants to be “relaxed,” hoping that energy rubs off on the player achieving a lifelong goal.Either that strategy worked Monday, or Jordan Westburg, who brings a consistent and even-keeled reputation to Baltimore along with his talent as a top 100 prospect, didn’t need to be calmed down, as the 24-year-old looked plenty relaxed in his debut Monday. Westburg did a little bit of everything to help lead the Orioles to a 10-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in a game twice delayed because of rain.
The win over the National League Central-leading and Elly De La Cruz-powered Reds (41-38) is the Orioles’ third straight. With a 48-29 record, Baltimore is 19 games over .500 for the first time since 2014. The Orioles own the second-best record in the American League and are four games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
Meanwhile, the Marlins were en route to Boston, where they could help out the O’s with success against the yo-yoing Sawx in a series that begins tonight. Were the season to end today, these Marlins would actually make the playoffs for realsies, something that hasn’t happened in a full season since they won their second title in their first 11 seasons in 2003. Yes, that’s right. Whenever the Marlins have made the post-season in a regular season that extended beyond 60 games, they’ve won the title. At 45-34, and in a competitive second place situation akin to the Orioles where they trail only their league’s top team, that’s 79 and counting so far.
And tonight, as the MIAMI HERALD’s Jordan McPherson reported, they have the happy dilemna of adding back a talent who literally graces the cover of MLB video games:
Center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr., after nearly a month and a half on the injured list due to turf toe, is back. The Marlins activated him from the injured list Monday following a week of rehab assignment games with Triple A Jacksonville.
The news is welcomed.
Chisholm, a left-handed hitter who can be a table setter and hit for power in addition to being a menace on the basepaths, adds yet another dynamic to the Marlins’ lineup with the team off to one of the best starts in franchise history at 45-34 entering the Red Sox series.
Despite only playing in 39 games this season, he still leads the team with 14 stolen bases to go along with seven home runs, 16 RBI and 16 runs scored.
That’s in addition to him looking steady in center field, too. Chisholm has been credited with three outs above average in center field.
His replacement at his former second base position, Luis Arraez, enters tonight’s game, one game removed from the season’s halfway point, just one-one thousandth of a point remove from a .400 batting average,. Which is currently leading his closest competitor, the Braves’ Ronald Acuna, Jr., by a mere 71 points.
Think these Marlins are strong up the middle? Imagine if Rick Dempsey in his prime were their catcher.
I imagine wherever Joe and Dave are today, they’re distracted and happier than this frustrated Mets fan is. My go-to alternatives, the Dodgers and Mariners, are struggling, In the hunt, to be sure, but nowhere near as hot as the Fish or the Birds.
And I bet they can’t help loving those men of theirs.
So I’m gonna try and get on their bandwagons, if only in my mind. Man, do I miss them.