I still remember like yesterday the day Darryl Strawberry left the Mets for the Dodgers. I was waiting to get a haircut in fifth grade when the news on the television at the barber shop told me Darryl had jumped ship. I melted out of my chair and sank to my knees.
Straw was my first sports love; it was as if my best friend had moved away. (That actually happened a couple years later, and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t recall it hitting me nearly as hard as losing Darryl.)
Going through that was rough when I was 11, but it was a necessary lesson about two years into being a sports fan: Nothing lasts forever. Players leave, teams change, eras come and go. I eventually came to grips with it Ã¢â‚¬â€œ years later, I even bought a Dodgers Strawberry jersey.
Now somewhat jaded at 32, with Dan Marino and Patrick Ewing and LeBron James the Cavalier in my rearview mirror, this sort of thing honestly doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t faze me anymore. Our teams are inextricable parts of our identities, but the players on them shuttle in and out like friends from various chapters in our lives.
As such, I always just have to shake my head at peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s knee-jerk reactions when a star player leaves for another team. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re 12, sure, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a crushing blow. But if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been watching sports for any legitimate portion of time, how canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you know by now this is the way it goes?
AmarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢e Stoudemire caused a minor stir recently when he tweeted that his shoe contact was apparently about to expire, and that he was considering jumping ship from Nike:
But AmarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢e leaving Nike never seemed realistic, at least not to me.
And sure enough, Stoudemire tweeted a video today that showed him re-signing a new contract with Nike, said to be a multiyear deal worth $5 million. (Video after the jump)
If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been coming here for a while, you already know that the only holiday I truly love is Halloween. But New YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always at the very least liked. I realize itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s technically just another day, but it represents to me a time to reflect and measure growth.
A clean start. A fresh slate. Another chance to turn it all around. (Word to Vanilla Sky)
Never have I seen a team as cursed as this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mets. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get me wrong, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve brought it on themselves in certain ways, and GM Omar MinayaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s press conference where he called out a reporter will go down as one of the most notorious moments in New York sports history.
But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s simply incredible to see a team completely decimated this way by injuries. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sad to see during the first season at a new stadium. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re resembling the early-90Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s version of this team in terms of the product they put on the field, but those teams werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t ravaged by injuries as much as what we see here.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s almost like the movie Final Destination, where some sort of bad karma is picking off the Mets one by one. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not quite sure what they did to deserve this Ã¢â‚¬â€œ MinayaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s conference came after the majority of these injuries Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but God help me if I ever do the same.
To recap the grim details, here are the various appendages that have malfunctioned:
Now IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not about to tell you brand new Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a great player. Of course he was. And I loved him growing up Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t? He was a swashbuckling stolen base machine who referred to himself in the third person.
That said, if anyone is a better testament to selfishness, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to meet him. Rickey made it an art form.
Now, before any fans of the 45 teams Rickey played for jump down my throat, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll point out that in terms of sheer talent, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s up there with anyone. I feel like his talent might be overlooked just because he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a prodigious slugger in an era where that was beginning to come into vogue. (Though his 297 home runs are nothing to sneeze at) Rickey had an outstanding eye at the plate. And you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t discount someone who had 130 steals in a season and 1,406 in his career.
Most impressively, as Joe Posnanski of SI correctly pointed out, Rickey not only was the all-time leader in runs scored Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the entire point of the sport Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but also in unintentional walks, demonstrating his remarkable ability to get on base and make something happen when he did.
But you also canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t discount that in his 130-steal season, Rickey was caught an astounding 42 times Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so his percentage in 172 attempts was 76%. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not terrible, but he still ran himself off the bases 42 times. Last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s MLB steals leader, the immortal Willy Taveras, stole 68 bases Ã¢â‚¬â€œ hardly 130 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but he was caught just 7 times (90%).
In that 1982 season, add up his hits, walks and HBP, take out his homers and triples (when he likely wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be stealing a base) and it comes to 247 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and he ran 172 times, 69% of the times he put himself on base. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll take out his two steals of home and the 19 times he stole multiple bases successively after getting on, and it still comes to 61%. (I admit, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an inexact science because it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t factor in getting on base via fielderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s choices, errors and things of that nature, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still telling)