FRONT-RUNNERS

1. It’s Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

2. Nate Silver’s terrific fivethirtyeight.com site has a take today on whether Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign is finished. Or “toast,” as Silver says in a tweet. The conclusion is no, but he should be worried.

I’ll say he should be. The latest gaffe, dismissing the horrific shootings at an Oregon community college by saying “stuff happens” will haunt him as long as he’s in the race.

If, by some chance, he’s the nominee, next year the whole “stuff happens” flap will get replayed on the anniversary. So far, he’s not done well in the debates, has a tendency to say dopey stuff and he still hasn’t dealt well with the whole issue of his brother.

What Jeb Bush has going for him is that, like a Triple Crown race, there are horses setting the pace that seem unlikely to stay there. Donny Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson are dear to the hearts of the crazies in the GOP. But they can’t win the election. And eventually, the party regulars will prevail and nominate someone they think can.

Right now, that someone seems to be Marco Rubio. He really hasn’t stumbled yet. But he hasn’t faced any really big tests, and isn’t likely to until he moves up in the pack. If Bush can stay around until that point, then there’s a chance to be the nominee.

3.   The Yankees have been eliminated from baseball’s postseason. I know some Yankee fans well — one of them, in fact, is my mother. They are devoted fans, and have been so for a long time. They appreciate and understand baseball. So for those people, I feel bad.

But last night, the people who give Yankee fans a bad name showed up in force at Yankee Stadium to watch the Wild Card Game with the Houston Astros.

I didn’t turn on the game until the bottom of the sixth, when a Yankee threat to the Astros was extinguished. But then I watched and heard the lousy Yankee fans boo as Brett Gardner – a guy Yankee opponents’ fans fear because of how hard he plays – hit a ground out against a tough left-handed pitcher. They had given Alex Rodriguez (the only player I’ll ever boo at a game) a rousing ovation when he was introduced for his remarkable comeback season, but booed him when he struck out in the ninth against Houston’s crafty closer.

If you’re a fan of a team, you don’t boo your own team. You should be required a pledge like that before anyone lets you buy a shirt or hat with a team logo. Why the hell are you rooting for a team if it causes you to heckle them? Perhaps in an extreme circumstance, when there are egregious personal or collective offenses to society. But even the controversies surrounding Matt Harvey do not in any way warrant the turning of Mets fans backs.

And surely, grounding out to first or striking out on three pitches while wearing the uniform of the team we love deserves empathy and support rather than invective.

These guys don’t screw up to screw us. They’re trying.

If there’s a next time, and often there is, I want the Met players taking the field or coming to the plate knowing that we have their backs, just like their teammates.

I fear that won’t happen. The people who booed at Yankee Stadium last night are the sunshine fans, the ones who cheer a team when it’s up. They turn fast when there’s a setback. Those types of fans are likely headed to Citi Field now that the Mets are winning. I wish they’d stay away.

I’m hoping for the best for the Mets this postseason, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m proud of what they’ve done this year. And, for that, they deserve my cheers.

I’m sorry the Yankee players, who accomplished more than most experts expected, couldn’t get the same consideration from everyone in Yankee Stadium last night.

4.     There are lots of women who love and understand baseball. One of them’s my mother, who taught me how to keep score 55 years ago. Another is my daughter, who played softball when she was young (she turned a triple play once!) and loves to go to Mets games with the rabid 7 Line Army group.

So anyone who has an issue with Jessica Mendoza as an analyst in the ESPN Wild Card Game is just a publicity seeker. She had some really good insights into the hitters, seemingly more with the Astros than the Yankees. And I’ll bet there’ll come a point in the next few weeks when, listening to two or three guys in a booth on Fox or TBS, people will miss having someone as intelligent as Mendoza on the air.

It’s good to see and hear women sharing their passion and expertise for the greatest sport in the world.

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