Sunday Paper (Year 4, Volume XX)
Monday night a few ghosts were chased away.
You know, if you believe in that sort of thing.
Both the New York Rangers and the New York Mets got the better of an opponent who had gotten the better of them for far too long.
It wasn't the end of a journey - but it helped set up greater things later in the week.
And it all happened at almost the exact same time.
For the Rangers, they were staring a 3-2 series deficit in the face as the clock ticked down on Game 5.
The Mets had 2 on, 2 out in a 2-2 game in the 9th.
The Rangers were facing the Capitals, who eliminated them from the playoffs in each of their past two post-season appearances.
The Mets faced the division rival Philadelphia Phillies, who have caused the Mets nothing but trouble since 2007.
A year ago the Rangers lose that game Monday night to the Capitals. Another tight, one goal loss where they can't catch a break.
A year ago the Mets lose that game Monday night against the Phillies...and many more thereafter.
But Monday night erased a lot of bad memories. I can't tell you exactly what time it was, because everything happened so fast.
It's impossible to give up on these Rangers, so I had the Rangers on NBC Sports Network until the final seconds ticked away, hoping against hope that they would find a way to score as the clock moved inside of a minute, then thirty seconds, then ten seconds. And then the puck was in the net and the period ended, and in a daze I decided to check out the Mets on ESPN during intermission.
5-2. I had no idea it had just been 2-2 until my brain got over the Rangers buzz and focused in on the announcers. Jordany Valdespin...clutch Mike Nickeas hit...Jonathan Papelbon....home run....I rewound the DVR (since the Mets had been the last channel and that was still stored on the TV), and saw Jordany Valdespin's three-run pinch hit homer to give the Mets the lead. A quicker channel changer might have caught Valdespin's homer live right after the 3rd period ended. Eerily close to when the puck crossed the goal line in the Rangers game.
The Rangers winning their game in overtime was almost anticlimactic.
Though the Rangers would lose Game 6, Saturday night they won Game 7. Another one-goal win, breaking the Capitals' hearts just like Washington did to Rangers fans a year ago. Last year the Rangers lost two overtime games to Washington - one in double overtime - this year they won two overtime games against Washington - one in triple overtime.
The Mets went on to sweep the Phillies...and though they blew a save Friday night against Miami, they continue to play better ball than anyone expected, and have shown signs that they are trending in a better direction than Philadelphia right now. There may not be a championship looming in October...but it's easier to imagine one in the near future because of the way the Mets are putting their past behind them. Exorcising their demons, you might say.
And the Rangers? Now they just have to get the Devils out one more time to have a chance at the Stanley Cup.
*David Wright is hitting .402. You might think you have an idea how much I'm enjoying the season he's having so far. Triple that thought. That's how I feel.
*Meanwhile, Carlos Beltran has hit 12 home runs in 32 games for St. Louis. I'm. A. Little. Angry. About. That.
*Back to hockey: The thing I'm most encouraged about with the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals is that Henrik Lundqvist has absolutely owned the Devils. It reminds me of how Martin Brodeur used to dominate the Rangers. Brodeur is still between the pipes for New Jersey...and even though I feel like no one can be better than Braden Holtby was in Round 2...he's still Martin Brodeur. I can't take another 7-game series. But I wouldn't be surprised if that's what we get.
*Incidentally - how important is it that the Rangers finished with the best record in the East? Two home Game 7s in two rounds of the playoffs. They've never lost a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
*Two weeks until my first trip to Citi Field.
*I'm kind of addicted to the new Keane album, 'Strangeland', which came out Tuesday. Especially addicting songs: 'Sovereign Light Cafe' and 'Neon River'. I love that band. I highly recommend them, if you think my music opinion is worth anything.
*Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there - especially the ones who have been most supportive of me: My wife, who makes our three daughters the luckiest three girls in the world; my mom, who's my number one fan; and my sister, who's raising the next great Mets fan.