Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 23, 2015 · Page D8
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page D8

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Friday, October 23, 2015
Page D8
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Page8D Friday,October23,2015 DemocratandChronicle. com MUCHAS GRACIAS, DANK JULLIE WEL, THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT.” Dutch soccer great Johan Cruyff ,68, in a tweet showing his appreciation, in Spanish, Dutch and English, for messages of support he received after his spokeswoman announced he is battling lung cancer. Besides his national team, Cruyff played for Ajax, Bar celona, the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats. QUOTE OF THE D AY KOEN VAN WEEL,AFP/GETTY IMAGES USA SNAPSHOTS © Trojans rule pros Source SCOTT GLEESON AND VERONICA BRAVO, USA TODAY Southern California Trojans who have played in the NFL, including 55 players this season. 483 SPORTSLINE David Wright, his eyes blinking away tears, ran across the infield, found second baseman Daniel Murphy and wrapped his arms around him, hugging him with all his might. “ The World Series!” Wright s aid. “The World Series! Are you k idding me? “ I can’t stop saying it. The World Series!” The New York Mets, mocked d uring spring training and nothing more than a mediocre club through the final days of July, are in the World Series. The Mets swept the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Seriesin the four- game seriesto set up their World Series matchup against the American League champions, either the Kansas City Royals or Toronto Blue Jays. “People kind of giggled at us and laughed at us when we proclaimed we were going to be a playo team,” said Wright, the Mets captain and longest-tenured player. “To be able to prove everybody wrong feels really good. “Look at us now. The ’69 Miracle Mets. The ’86 Mets. The 2000 Mets. To be mentioned in the same breath, we’re going to go down in history as one of the greatest Mets teams assembled.I c an’t be more proud of that.” W rightsymbolizes the Mets’ rise to greatness. He is the heart a nd soul of the team, signed and d eveloped by the organization. In h is second season with the Mets, 2006, he was in the hole in the n inth inning of Game 7 of the N LCS when Carlos Beltran struck out with the bases loaded and the Mets down by two runs. The St. Louis Cardinals went to the World Series. The heartbreak still is vivid — “Adam Wainwright threw three of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen,” he said — but at the time he believed in his heart the Mets w ould be back the following year. He figured he’d be just like the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter, playing in October every year. Instead, the Mets blew September leads of seven games in 2007 and 3 1 ⁄ 2 in 2008, followed by six consecutive losing seasons. This October, the Mets returned to the postseason. “Those were tough times,” Wright said. “So many people in my life have seen me come home year in and year out down in the dumps because we missed the p layo s again.” W right, who signed an eight- year, $138 million contract in 2 012 after being convinced by g eneral manager Sandy Alderson t hat the future would turn, still couldn’t help but wonder if he w ould again be in the playo s. C onsidering he went down with a strained hamstring in April and was diagnosed in May with spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spinal column — he wondered if he’d even play again. He endured four months of grueling rehab, four months of loneliness away from the team, four months of not knowing if the t eam would even be in the pennant race if he returned. “There were times when you didn’t know what to expect, but this is worth the wait. It makes it all worth it,” he said. “The champagne tasted a lot sweeter having gone through everything this organization has been through. “We’ve been through some bad times. We’ve been through September just playing out the schedule. And now to completely reverse that, and do a 180, and go to the World Series … “ I wish I could bottle up this f eeling right now, I really do.” The Mets were muddling along w ith a 49-48 record on July 24, b ut along came Yoenis Cespedes i n a trade. Rookie outfielder Michael Conforto had only recently a rrived. Murphy started getting h ot. And Wright came back. They won 41 of their last 65 games, ran away with the NL East, took down the Los Angeles Dodgers in a five-game NL Division Series and dominated the Cubs, becoming only the sixth team in postseason history to never trail in an inning behind starting pitchers Matt Harvey, N oah Syndergaard, Jacob De- Grom and Steven Matz. “That was as good a pitching (performance) as you’re ever going to see for four consecutive games,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They smothered us early, and they kind of dictated the action based on that.” Said Wright, “In my mind, we have the best and the deepest starting sta in all of baseball.” And, of course, the best and hottest hitter in the universe, too. Murphy, one of Wright’s close st friends, turned the NLCS into h is free agent showcase and became the fi rst player to homer in s ix postseason games in a row. W rightmade his commitment t hree years ago, locking himself up with the Mets through 2020. “ It was a combination of belief a nd faith,” he said. “Faith what Sandy was going to do. Faith what this organization was going to do. ... I really believed this organization was going to turn it around, and I wanted to be a part of it. To be able to do this here, in New York, means the world to me.” Nightengale reported from Chicago. WRIGHT SAVORS SERIES Mets captain endured injury, losing seasons CAYLOR ARNOLD, USA TODAY SPORTS David Wright and Daniel Murphy celebrate Murphy’s two-run homer Wednesday in Game4 of the NL Championship Series, which the Mets won 8-3 to complete their sweep. Bob Nightengale USA TODAY Sports The Chevrolet Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to drive in Sunday’s 500 Sprint Cup race at Talladega Su- perspeedway is a dependable piece. Earnhardt took the Chevy to victory lane in a Daytona 500 qualifying race in February, won with it at Talladega in May and then rode the same chassis to a victory at Daytona International Speedway in July. No mystery, then, that the s ame version of the No. 88 will carry Earnhardt’s hopes of staying in championship contention into Sunday’s critical race. At 41, he is running low on chances to score his first Cup title. “We’re taking the same car we won with earlier this year, so it’s got great speed and we feel con dent,” Earnhardt said. “It really helps when you have a great car. We’ve had a fast car at the last couple of plate tracks — we’ve won at Talladega and Daytona, so it really helps when your car is that dominant. “It makes it a lot easier on the driver to do his job and fend o challenges and get the car to the front in the first place.” Eleventh in points, Earnhardt needs a win Sunday in the second-round finale to stay in the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the third-round races at Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. Although other Chase drivers, notably Matt Kenseth and Kyle B usch, also are in deep holes entering Sunday’s race, Earnhardt w ill be fi rmly in the spotlight. The T alladega grandstand crowd typically is weighed heavily toward him, and he is among the circuit’s best drivers at its biggest track. E arnhardt is 31 points behind eighth place in the standings. He hasn’t won three Cup points races at restrictor-plate tracks in one season, though he owns six wins at Talladega and four at Daytona International Speedway. He is tied with Je Gordon for most wins at Talladega among active drivers. A win Sunday would make Earnhardt the first driver to win three plate races in a season since his father in 1990. Earnhardt led the final 55 laps in winning the July race at Daytona. After disappointing finishes at Charlotte Motor Speedway (28th) and Kansas Speedway (21st) in this Chase round, Earnhardt exp ressed confidence Talladega could provide his rescue. “I wouldn’t rather be going anywhere else than Talladega for the next race if we need a win,” he said Sunday after the Kansas race. “That is a good opportunity for us. Even over Daytona, I think we can go to Talladega and do the job.” Car, track record give Junior hope Driver thinks he h as good shot to win, advance JASEN VINLOVE,USA TODAY SPORTS “I wouldn’t rather be going anywhere else than Talladega for the next race if we need a win,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. says. Mike Hembree @mikehembree Special for USA TODAY Sports FIRST WORD IWILL NOTRESIGN AND LETYOU DOWN. ... I DO NOTFIGHTTHESE ACCUSATIONS BYOTHERS, BUTRATHER TURN THE OTHER CHEEK. COULDN’TDO ITAT33, BUTAT63, IT’S THE WISE THING TO DO.” Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino , on his personal website regarding the scandal caused by a tell-all book written by an escort who alleges players and prospects were treated to sex. TWEET OF THE D AY @ithrow88 T hank you baseball. I played this beautiful game for 3 0 years. I took my jersey off for the last time tonight. It was an honor. #ithrew88 Veter an Cubs pitcher and three-time All-Star Dan Haren, 35, announcing his retirement. Notice the change in tense from his Twitter handle to his departing hashtag. NAMES TO KNO W R uss, Que, Uga X, DeMarcus Cousins, Tristan Thompson MAGIC NUMBER 14 y ears, 12 days Years between playoff victories for Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon, who got the win in Wednesday’s Game 4 of the NL Championship Series. Ac cor ding to ST A TS, that brok e the record set by Milt Wilcox of exactly 14 years (1970-84). LAST W ORD “ YOU PREPARE THE SAME WAYYOU PREPARE FOR KIRK C OUSINS.” Jets safety Marcus Gilchrist, when ask ed Thursday about facing the Patriots ’ Tom Brady on Sunday . The Jets inter c epted Cousins two times in last weekend’s 34-20win against the Redskins. Jets say the darnedest things. Edited by Thomas O’Toole DAVID KOHL, USA TODAY SPORTS GILCHRIST BY BRAD PENNER, USA TODAY SPORTS

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