I think it’s a shame that Thanksgiving has become something of an afterthought for many people, lost in the crush of shopping and football.
I’ve always liked it. I’m thankful the Lord has blessed me in many, many ways and I don’t say “thank you” enough. I have my health, my family, a career I enjoy, a wonderful church, friends, blogger buddies and, of course, the Mets.
So let’s take a moment one again to reflect on all that was good this year – as well as the turkeys who get in the way.
I’m thankful: That we all got to enjoy a monumentally exciting 2006 baseball season with the Mets finishing in first place for only the fifth time. Wow, was that fun! And I think we’re the favorites to finish on top again in 2007.
Turkeys: Baseball writers who deemed Carlos Beltran only the fourth most-valuable player in the National League. I realize that writers are infatuated with homers for batters and wins for pitchers, and typically just look to the leader board in those categories to cast their votes. But fourth? Excellent blogger Greg Prince of Faith and Fear in Flushing posted on the Crane Pool Forum that he wonders if anyone has ever:
*Won a Gold Glove
*Won a Silver Slugger
*Started in the All-Star Game
*Tied his franchise's record for home runs in a season
*Broke his franchise's record for runs scored in a season
*Played on the team with the sport's best record
...and finished as low as fourth in the MVP voting. Alas, like the no-hitter, and MVP award continues to be elusive for Mets, even when they deserve it. And I’m also angry that Willie Randolph was denied the manager of the year award, too.
I’m thankful for: Costco. Or to be specific, the warehouse store’s liberal returns policy. As you might remember, my beloved 20-gig iPod went muerto last April, plunging me into depression and desperation and without the receipt demanded by Hewlett Packard to use the warranty. My clever Mom told me to go to Costco and see if they could produce the needed document. Once I arrived, the clerks said the just return the dead iPod to them and they would give me store credit to buy a new one. Needless to say, I’m the proud owner of a new 30-gig pod and sing the praises of Costco whenever appropriate – and sometimes when it’s not!
Turkey: Yankee hack Tom Verducci. Speaking of being plunged into depression, Verducci couldn’t believe that his beloved Yankees were unceremoniously dumped from the postseason by the Tigers. Verducci then wrote that “baseball is giving us an October with almost no drama, no moments for posterity and no storyline.” And worse, “If the 2006 baseball playoffs were a sitcom or talk show --- hate to break it to you, folks, but we're sitting through the Arsenio Hall of postseasons -- it would have been cancelled long ago." Apparently, if the Yankees are not involved, Tommy declares the postseason boring.
I’m thankful for: My pastor, the Rev. Paul Krupinski. Paul is a magnificent spiritual leader and has a knack for knowing when I’m down and knowing exactly what to do or say. But check this out – he’s a huge baseball fan! He’s a Cubs guy, which is OK since they’re not exactly a threat to anyone. But he formed a computer fantasy league what plays games based on stats from the previous year and a couple Hall-of-Famers we can add to the rosters. One Sunday before the service, Pastor Paul came over and said the next round of stats was available and on his desk. “I’ll get them after church,” I promised. “If you get them now, you can look at them during the service,” he responded. I’m never going to find a better pastor than that!
Turkey: Kenny “Bleeping” Rogers. We Mets fans know that Rogers can do spectacularly horrific things in the postseason. So it sure seemed suspicious when The Gambler started moving down Yankees and Athletics in the Division Series and ALCS like he was the second coming of Christy Mathewson. Then a Fox camera picked captured the image of a mysterious smudge on his palm during Game Two of the World Series, and ESPN produced photos from other games with similar smudges. Manager Jim Leyland didn’t want to send Rogers back out in front of the Busch Stadium fans – not exactly known for being bullies – and the Tigers didn’t win another game.
I’m thankful for: Speaking of the World Series, my folks presented me with an awesome early Christmas present, a ticket to Game One at Comerica Park. Sure, it would have been better to have the Mets there. But attending a World Series game – any World Series game – is a treat of a lifetime. I’ve been blessed to see Game Six in 1997, too.
Turkey: Guillermo Mota. It’s one thing when Yankees are accused of taking steroids. We expect such things. But it’s another when an active Met gets a 50-day unpaid vacation for testing positive. Now we lose the moral high ground as well as a decent pitcher for the first month and a half of the season
I’m thankful: That I had the opportunity to meet Buck O’Neil at the Negro Leagues Museum during a business trip to Kansas City in February. Buck, as everybody knows, passed away in October and was a beloved ambassador for baseball. O’Neil fell one vote shy of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, yet still made it to Cooperstown for the induction ceremony in August.
Turkey: Braden “Bleeping” Looper. Looper’s lucked into two World Series rings, and Mike Piazza has none. That’s fair. Loops lost his closer’s job to Ugeth Urbina when pitching for the Fish in 2003. This year, he was caught on camera mocking the Jose Reyes chant in the Cardinals’ post-game celebration after the birds got past the Mets in the NLCS. One might suggest to Looper that perhaps the Mets would have been in the postseason last year when Looper was on the team had he not blown eight saves.
I’m thankful for: Audio Adrenaline. My favorite Christian rock band is disbanding this year because singer Mark Stuart is having vocal problems. But I salute the band for helping me grow in my faith since I discovered its music in 2001. The song “Hands and Feet” has been an inspiration for me as I try to spread His word, and time and again I was able to use Audio A songs to illustrate lessons for the middle school youth group I lead.
I’m especially thankful for: You! And other readers who find this corner of the blogosphere. I’m humbled that people come to check out this space. I appreciate all the people who read and post comments. I hope to make it worth your while. I’m grateful to the other bloggers who include me in their links.
Have a wondeful, wonderful holiday!