I guess the Mets really do read this blog.
I walked into the hot, sweaty Baptist church, down in Atlanta. There's a lot of spirit down there. Just as the Mets have Merengue night to celebrate a prominent minority in the community, the Braves recently had Faith Night, where John Smoltz proselytized about finding Jesus, to celebrate the community's majority.
The reverend started to speak.
"Today, we eulogize and mourn the loss of a great friend to some and a feisty adversary for others. She was splendid, never failing to show up during the regular season.
Sure, the playoffs were tough, but she won one, right? Let's not forget 1995.
Every year since 1991, 'cept 1994, but that was a fluke anyway. No damn Canucks should be playing baseball anyway. The division was hers, like clockwork. Sometimes even before the season started.
But even if she had already clinched the division and had her fill, the little dynasty never failed to show up the Mets late in the season. Armando, meet Brian Jordan.
Her arms were always open to new players and only one guy had been there all those years. Smoltzie, she died in spite of you, not because of you.
And there were other figures: Mad Dog, Glavine, Andruw, Javy, and Larry, who always seemed to be there, even if they missed a little bit of time.
And there were other guys who endeared themselves to her, if only for a fleeting moment in time, like David Justice, Fred McGriff, Terry Pendleton, Steve Avery, Jeff Blauser, Ryan Klesko, Mark Lemke, Rafael Belliard, Rafael Furcal, Marcus Giles, Kevin Millwood, Andres Galarraga and Julio Franco.
There were those closers too. My, my, those closers. There was Juan Berenguer. Not much to say about him.
Alejandro Pena. He came around for a little bit. He was nice to her.
Mike Stanton closed for a year or two. What a guy. He always wanted the ball.
Greg McMichael closed for a year or two there.
There was Mark Wohlers, who threw hard but couldn't come up big.
There was Kerry Ligtenberg for one year. He had some crazy sideburns.
And then came Rocker. Oh, Johnny Rock, you had me at "queer with AIDS." But she traded him away and got back the cream of the cream.
Smoltzie, you always were her favorite.
But in 2005, you spurned her for the rotation, and so came in Danny Kolb and Chris Reitsma and Farnsworth for the end, but they all wound up exiting somehow.
And now what? Nothing. Reitsma, Ray, Sosa, Villarreal, Remlinger, McBride, Devine and now Wickman. What a shame.
But she was venerable, you know? It seemed like nothing could ever best her, no matter what happened.
Then, however, Omar Minaya happened. Shee didn't like this Minaya guy. He seemed to be committed to nothing more than making the Mets better, unlike his predecessors who acquired overseas overpaid starstruck shortstops just to appease the owner's son and a prematurely white-haired skirt chaser who traded for Jeromy Burnitz, Roberto Alomar and a morbidly obese first baseman owed sixteen million dollars per year who hadn't played a game in two years.
Minaya brought in Willie Randolph, a manager much tougher and no-nonsense than the bumbling fool he replaced. He brought in Pedro Martinez on the same day she traded for Tim Hudson. He brought in Carlos Beltran, who delivered the final blow to the fair dynasty's throat.
He turned the team around, then made some more moves, bringing in murderous accomplices like Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca and Billy Wagner. And I'll be damned if Wagner didn't shoot her twice when she was down.
He didn't trade away young talent like Jose Reyes and David Wright, and he even made smaller moves to bring into the fray roleplayers (and co-conspirators) Endy Chavez, Julio Franco, Chad Bradford, Pedro Feliciano and Duaner Sanchez.
Minaya orchestrated her death. No doubt about it. He wanted her gone.
"Let us pray for eternal sanctity for this beautiful lady who lit up marquees along the Eastern seabord for fifteen years. May God bless the Braves Dynasty. She will live on in our hearts," the preacher continued.
"Not mine," I thought.
The summer heat could have driven a man mad in that churchyard, especially with a bunch of athletic-looking men in heavy, black suits. One dropped the coffin in the procession. The other wouldn't stop talking about kissing his sister. One strained an oblique muscle.
"Here she will lie, in rest, forever," said the Reverend.
And I, speaking louder than most, said "Amen" to that.
My favorite Mets idols were there, digging a grave incredibly deep for that casket to lie in. Inexplicably, they were digging with brooms.
After that, there was a small ceremony with finger-foods and a sign next to the casket. It read,
IN LIEU OF FLOWERS, PLEASE SEND PITCHING
There rested the old lady, her skin creased and crinkled, her face battered with Louisville Slugger logos.
And the dead was finally laid to rest.
In other news:
The Yankees pulled off a great deal for a slugger and a dependable starter.
Chase Utley is more than halfway.
Be back tomorrow for some deadline surprises. Now it's Entourage time.
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