Sometimes, The Game Doesn’t Matter At All

by Eddie Mayrose

A while back, after some aging stars negotiated a special clause in their contracts, the National Baseball Hall of Fame took matters into its own hands by announcing that the final decision on which team’s cap would be worn on the plaque of an inductee would be the Hall’s alone. This made a non-issue of the deals swung by Wade Boggs and Jose Canseco with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that, upon their possible induction, they’d go in as Rays, even though the bulk of their careers had been spent elsewhere. The Hall still allows the player to choose, but will step in if that choice is a silly one.

I remember having a discussion with another Mets fan about which hat should be worn by Mike Piazza upon his enshrinement. An argument can be made for both the Mets and Dodgers and the choice between the two will fall to, in this case, the player. I have no idea which way the former catcher is leaning, but my hope is it will be the Mets. Not because they’re my favorite team, but, rather, because he was wearing that uniform for one of the most memorable and uplifting sports moments I’ve ever witnessed.

We’ve all seen it. It’s a part of New York sports lore by now – the eighth-inning home run Piazza hit to vault the Mets over the Braves in the first sporting event held in New York after the Sept. 11 attacks. That game has been replayed numerous times on SNY over the years, yet, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, I cry.

The smiles on the faces of the FDNY and NYPD personnel who were in attendance, after the horror of the previous two weeks, seemed to light up the night, if only for a little while. Afterward, Piazza said that if he’s remembered “more for that one home run than any other big home run I’ve hit, then that’s perfectly fine with me.”

Even Chipper Jones, a longtime Mets nemesis, said that, perhaps, it was best that the Mets had won. I was reminded of those emotions the other night as I watched Mets/Phillies on ESPN. As word of bin Laden’s death began to circulate through the stands, fans of both teams stood in unison and chanted “U-S-A!” In a town in which Santa Claus was once booed, rivals rose and cheered a common victory, that of good over evil. It’s been a long decade since that horrible Tuesday morning and it’ll be longer still before this war against terror is won. But, for a few minutes on Sunday night, it was great to be part of something bigger than a ballgame.

‘Down in Front!’

Imagine the surprise of Knicks fans everywhere as they watched Zach Randolph lead the Grizzlies past the Spurs in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Randolph, clearly his team’s go-to guy, was anything but when he wore the blue and orange. Discarded as just another of Isiah Thomas’ bad acquisitions, Randolph seems to have landed in the perfect situation for him to be successful. Makes you wonder which is more valuable — a coach with a proven system that works with certain types of players, or one diverse enough to adjust his system to the talent on hand. If the last three years have proven anything, it’s that Knicks offensive coordinator Mike D’Antoni is certainly not the latter and is still unproven as the former … We’re a month into the baseball season and, despite all of the struggles surrounding him in the Mets’ bullpen, Xaverian High School’s Pedro Beato has yet to allow a run.  Could he be the closer in waiting should the Mets’ look to deal K-Rod?

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