Of Coming Tests, NY’s Mets And Canadian Basketball

Random Musings of a Cluttered Mind

By Tim Sullivan Hoya Staff Writer

Ah, the end of the semester – a time when the papers and exams that we all thought would never actually come are due within the next week. For me, the bulk of my work was a 20-25 page paper on papal infallibility, due yesterday, which ate up the lion’s share of my free time this week. Suffice it to say, it was not a fun time to run the option this week.

With that in mind, forgive me for failing to come up with one coherent idea about which to write this week. Instead, in the grand tradition of people who don’t know what to talk about, I’m going to throw a whole bunch of random thoughts at you and hope it’s enough to fill my space. I know, its shameless and lazy, but it would be so much worse if I went with my next best idea, another column about how good the Mets are.

Which brings me to my first random thought: how good the Mets are. The orange and blue warriors are coming off of their longest winning streak since 1998, and they have been doing it in ways that no one expected them to. Derek Bell? I guess that Hampton trade might work out in the end anyhow. Even Hampton, the biggest disappointment of the early portion of the season, is showing signs of getting his act together, though his ERA is still a sickening 5.72.

All that said, even with all pistons firing, the Mets are in for a battle with the rejuvenated Atlanta Braves, who, I have to admit, appear to be a head above the Mets once again this year.

Random thought No. 2: I am baffled by all of the talk that has been circulating for the last couple of years, particularly this year, about the proliferation of home runs in the major leagues. People suggest that because Kevin Elster smacks a few home runs, ajor League Baseball has conspired to create more offense and the ball is being juiced. Yeah, and Colonel Sanders puts a secret ingredient in the chicken which makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass.

And what does juiced mean anyway? Did the absent-minded professor put flubber on the ball to make it fly further off the bats?

The answer is a simple no. The ball isn’t juiced and there is no conspiracy to increase offense to increase ratings. If you want to know why there has been such an increase in the number of home runs, you have to look no further than three reasons.

First, and this is the one that has had the most impact of any of the three, is the expansion that the league has had over the last 10 years. With the addition of four new teams, and thus four new pitching staffs, there are somewhere between 40 and 50 pitchers in the major leagues right now that wouldn’t have made the big leagues nine or 10 years ago. Is it any wonder people are teeing off on AAA pitchers? Do you really think Chad Ogea and Pat Mahomes would have been big league starters if the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays weren’t added to the league?

Second, the stadiums that are being built are ridiculously small and are begging hitters to swing for the fences. Just look at Enron Field and Safeco Field. The left-field and right-field fences are so short even Mets’ shortstop Rey Ordoñez could become a power hitter if he hit the weight room.

And while I’m on the subject of Enron Field, is this place sponsored by All Sport? You remember the commercials from like four years ago that said All Sport would change sports so much they would have to make baskets 25 feet high and fences 500 feet away. That’s the only justification I can see for putting a hill in centerfield. I guess they’re trying to create that playground field of obstacles in the outfield.

Or they are trying to injure every centerfielder in the game.

Third, players are simply bigger and stronger than ever before, and they put more time into keeping themselves that way. Compare ark McGwire and Willie Mays. The physical advantage today’s players have is remarkable, and is the reason why so many home runs are getting hit.

Random thought No. 3: Butch Carter is a baby. Marcus Camby called him a liar, which apparently he is, so he files suit against his former player as his team is set to face Camby’s Knicks in an opening round playoff series. And it was all a publicity stunt to get his name in the papers following the publication of his book which accuses Indiana men’s basketball Head Coach Bobby Knight of a slew of charges.

The distraction won’t be enough to keep the Knicks from slaughtering the Raptors, however, mostly because they have their playoff swagger back from last year. The intensity in Madison Square Garden Sunday and Wednesday was the stuff usually reserved for games against Michael Jordan’s Bulls. And when the Knicks have the crowd at their backs, watch out, because with that kind of confidence the Knicks, with arguably the best first six in the east, are going to be a dangerous team in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Vince Carter or not, the Raptors aren’t going to be winning their first playoff series this year, thank you very much.

How did Canada get a basketball team anyway?

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