NEW YORK, NY – It’s been raining for days here in the Northeast, so excuse me if I seem even more dour than usual. To paraphrase Joe Mantegna from the very underrated and under-seen comedy Queens Logic, this weather’s enough to make Will Rogers punch a nun. It also doesn’t help that my favorite baseball team has picked the last two weeks of the season to go on an extended losing streak against the teams they are chasing, and that my football team still hasn’t broken from the starting gate, while its jockey tries to figure out whether or not it’s safe. Yessir, when it comes to my sports teams, I’m reminded of the sign Dante encountered as he began his journey into the circles of hell: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. It’s as fresh today as it was in the 1300s. Well done, Dante. Anyway, let’s get this trip started.
First Circle – Limbo. Basketball and Hockey seasons haven’t started yet, nor have I given either much thought. But it’s too bad that these two sports take a backseat to football and baseball with me, because there’s definitely more hope in rooting for the Golden State Warriors (to be fair, after decades of failure and despair) and probably even the Minnesota Wild (because hockey teams can get hot out of nowhere) than the other sports and teams I’m about to mention. Basketball and hockey will provide a decent distraction in November and December, but they don’t have enough juice to get me through the slog that is February.
Fourth Circle – Greed. Ah, the Mets. Like so many before them, Steve Cohen & Co. thought they could buy a championship by throwing fistfuls of money at it. And, quite predictably, it hasn’t worked out. It’s also gone the same lousy way for other big spenders like the Padres and Yankees, but the Mets are truly 2023’s tarnished standard. Don’t know what lies ahead for 2024, but some of the players that got jettisoned seemed to think it will be a rebuilding year. But don’t discount the idea of Cohen going after Shohei Ohtani. If he does happen to land the biggest free agent out there, you can almost bet he’ll need neck replacement surgery three months into the season.
Sixth Circle – Mariners. If you love baseball and rollercoasters, have I got the team for you. These young upstarts started the first half of the season in sluggish fashion but started to get their footing around the All-Star break. Guided by manager Scott Servais (he’s good!) and one of the best young players in the game, Julio Rodriguez, the M’s went on a tear and were tied for first place in the AL West in late August. But, like the leaves in autumn, Seattle has changed and started to fall. They got swept back-to-back by the Dodgers and AL West-leading Rangers, and just lost the first game of their homestand to Justin Verlander and the Astros. It may be time to break out the rake and yard waste bags in the Pacific Northwest.
Seventh Circle – Kirk Cousins. Captain Garbage Time is in this circle all by his lonesome. It is my sincere hope that he escapes to the Fifth Circle – The Inept, where the New York Jets reside.
Eighth Circle – Vikings Fans. Hey, we made it to my circle. Wheeee! And look who’s here? My pal JG Clancy, along with thousands of other tortured souls. I’ve been a Vikings fan since the days of Fran Tarkenton and the Purple People Eaters. Bud Grant, God rest his soul, took Minnesota to four Super Bowls. Sure they didn’t win any of those four, but no other coach has taken them back since. The last time I watched them play in the Super Bowl was January of 1977. Do the math. We’re coming up on 50 years! They have the wonderful distinction of playing in the most conference championships of teams that failed to ever win a SB. They are also one of only three teams (Rams and Steelers the others) to play in a conference championship in every decade since the 1970s. To keep this brief, next time you’re bellyaching about your team, think about Vikings fans and then quickly shut your yap.
I’m going to stop short of the Ninth Circle, which involves writing for this site on the weekends. Come back tomorrow for Mr. Buddy Diaz, who is going straight to heaven for his tireless volunteer work here.