Fantasy Breeds Strange Bedfellows

“It’s a sick sick world, so what do you do kid?” – “Sick Sick World,” Rancid

That chorus wafted through my mind last night as I saw Chris Carpenter shut down my beloved Mets last night, on the way to a 4-3 Cardinal victory at Busch. I have Carpenter in my 15 team league and at that moment, my team had collected one lone Win in about 80 some-odd innings of work. Oh it gets worse for a Mets fan. I have Cardinal’s rookie lefty, Jamie Garcia going today against Johan. Oh wait, what’s that? I’m not feeling dirty enough… how about Adam Wainwright on Sunday? Yeah got him too. I need wins from that trifecta. This weekend I’m singing, “beat the Mets, beat the Mets, head to the park and…” I feel like Harvey Keitel in “The Bad Lieutenant,” betting on The Dodgers in a fictional playoff series against his home team.

Some readers might not be old enough to remember that in the 1980’s the St. Louis Cardinals were The Mets most hated rival. At the age of 10, I was throwing garbage and hurling insults at Cards fans brave enough to visit Shea. I was a young, rabid Cardinal hater, frothing at the mouth at the very mention of the name Whitey Herzog. My father fueled the hatred, telling me a story about how he once asked Stan “The Man” Musial for an autograph before a Giants game at The Polo Grounds. Stan replied, “you look like one of the fat cows on my farm.”

Fuck you and your 3,630 hits Stan.

***CORRECTION***

My father called to correct me. Musial ignored him when he asked for an autograph. It was actually Cardinals infielder Solly Hemus who had insulted him.

Well fuck you and the horse you rode you rode in on too Solly

That rivalry had a good run. This was before the six division realignment, that now has The Cards playing in the NL Central. The Cards played in the NL East and year after year, they would go down to the wire with The Mets, usually getting the better of them. It was tougher than seeing The Phillies win these past few years. At least The Phils have a murderers row of hitters and a couple of big time arms. I don’t blame the Mets players for not being good enough, it’s managements fault for assembling such a flawed team and still pay out the 3rd highest payroll in baseball. With all the incompetence the various cabals in the Flushing front office has displayed, I can feel comfortable saying that The Mets aren’t going to win the NL east this year. If you’re the ’10 Mets, you look at the names and say, “lets try for the wild card guys.” Well in the ’80s there was no Wild Card. You beat the Cards or you go home in October, and I couldn’t understand how we didn’t finish ahead of those guys in ’85 or 87. Of course The Bulldog did us in 88 and after that it was down hill.

I’d always marvel at how those Cards managed to win. The Mets always looked like the better team, top to bottom. St. Louis had one home run hitter in Jack Clark for fucksake and a bunch of speedy guys! Pitching? Look at this starting five from ’87: An injured Tudor’s your ace??? Danny Cox? Matthews? Magrane? An over-the-hill Bob Forsch? Are you kidding me? They didn’t have phenoms like Doc or Darryl, or household name All-Stars like Mex or Kid. The Wiz is a Hall of Famer for his glove, not his bat. They had nothing that could compare to Pujols. The Cards just won a lot with solid D, fleet and aggressive feet and consistent pitching. You can say they were very similar to Scioscia’s Angels. Mets injuries and off the field shennanigans did them ultimately, but it was maddening to see this Cards team deliver clutch hits, make great plays and win tight ball games, over and over again. Pendleton’s homer off of McDowell in ’87 still haunts me. I brought that inbred hatred with me to Shea during the 2000 playoffs as I delighted in watching The Mets crush St. Louis on their way to The Series. I expected to see the same thing in ’06, watching from the stands as The Mets grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory in games 2 and 7 of the NLCS. Just swing the bat Beltran! Now Adam Wainwright’s the ace of my keeper staff.

The Mets had just won it all in ’86, running away with The East. This was the sort of team that’s supposed to win year after year, we felt. The Mets felt it too, but too many injuries and too many parties helped derail that dream. Aside from the feeling that “we should be killing those guys,” that Mets fans felt, there was a genuine animosity between the two teams. This wasn’t good natured ribbing like J-Roll and Beltran traded a few years ago. Just about every series between these teams provided each clubhouse with more bulletin board fodder. “I think they’re a little scared of us now,” Carter said. “The Mets are pond scum,” Whitey so famously said. These teams didn’t just want to win. They wanted to beat each others brains out in the process and we fans felt that intensity.

So here I am with three Cards starters going this weekend. I need Wins. I got one last night as The Mets bullpen spoiled a splendid start by ’06 hero Oli Perez. I think I’ll get two more before Wainwright’s game on Sunday is over. My pops always told me to bet with your head and not with your heart. This is a guy who had The Bills in Super Bowl 25. Grey Albright, the genius behind Razzball calls it “fucking your step-sister,” when you’ve got your fantasy guys going against your favorite team. This weekend, I’m running a train on my step-mom. To quote Lou Reed, “I feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive,” much like The Bad Lieutenant. If my Cards pitchers don’t perform, you might see something like this…

*WARNING NSFW*

For the record, Bad Lieutenant director, Abel Ferrara is a Yankee fan. Figures.

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