Philly’s doubleheader sweep of the Braves
delayed the inevitable for at least another day, but let’s savor the meaty goodness that was the Mets’ 2nd come from behind win over the Fish in as many evenings.  Lastings Milledge is running down balls like a man dying to make the postseason roster.  Guillermo Mota looks like he’s making the most of a career-saving opportunity (and he might even get to face Metal Mike in the playoffs).  Aaron Heilman is peaking at the right time.  Carlos Delgado (above) had another crucial hit. And if Captain Red Ass can perform so way during a season in which 19 year old girls keep coming out of the woodwork, imagine what his numbers would be like with a liberal dose of depo-provera?

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff
prepares us for the forthcoming NL East Championship celebration…by recalling some of the club’s lowest moments since their last pennant in 1988.

From 1989 through this year, they have registered nine winning seasons in 18 tries, not very impressive when you consider their financial advantage. And before they became perennial bridesmaids to the Braves, they fell short to Don Zimmer’s Cubs in 1989, Jim Leyland’s Pirates the next three seasons and the partying 1993 Phillies.

Spread the blame every which way. Frank Cashen, the general manager who molded the 1986 champions, quickly broke up the group and received little of value in return for the individual parts. Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry became the poster children for wasted talent.

Al Harazin, Cashen’s successor, executed a seemingly endless series of brutal transactions. Neither Bud Harrelson nor Jeff Torborg nor Dallas Green proved very helpful.

And when Valentine lost the clubhouse, things fell apart quickly once more. Starting with the utter failures of Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaughn, and concluding, on a humorous note, with Fred Wilpon’s assertion that Art Howe “lit up the room” in an interview and was the right man to follow Valentine.

If you think Davidoff is pissing on the parade, please note he didn’t mention Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla or Anthony Young.

According to Sports Illustrated’s unique formula, a trip to Shea Stadium is a worse deal than a night out at Tropicana Field.

The New York Sun’s Tim Marchman
joins the lonely chorus of voices who’d rather not join in a 7th inning rendition of “God Bless America”.

I happen to think it a gratuitous and maudlin intrusion on the game, something that reduces history to the level of middle-aged men pretending to be the Village People, but you don’t have to find it actively offensive to find it unbelievably ridiculous. The tinny voice of Kate Smith singing over a marching tempo that sounds as anachronistic as the dancing in an early newsreel is kitsch, and not the good kind. “Irish tenor Ronan Tynan” became a running joke among my friends as early as 2002; the doughy singer is a human version of one of those bald eagles teams set soaring over stadiums on patriotic holidays.

While you’re not going to find many people with much good to say about “God Bless America” at the ballgame, you sure will find a lot for whom “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (which is just as kitschy in its own way to be sure, just in the good way) is associated with all sorts of good cheer ” memories of sunny afternoons at the ballpark with your parents, of eating peanuts and Cracker Jack even if you didn’t like them because that’s what you do when you go to the game, maybe memories of Wrigley Field, with Harry Caray or some ridiculous Chicago pseudo-celebrity drunkenly slurring the half-remembered words from the broadcast booth high above home plate. Isn’t that what baseball is really about ” those happy moments and silly rituals, like licking that stubby little pencil you get with a scorecard, or giving Mr. Met a high-five in the aisle, or chanting Derek Jeter’s name from the bleachers?