Friday, April 29, 2005

Nats go deep...Seo deep!

When you consider that Jae Seo was perilously close to being out of the organization not so long ago, it really is amazing that he's giving the New York Mets good innings in 2005. But tonight, Seo was victimized by the longball and didn't get any support from the bats as the Mets dropped under .500 in a 5-1 loss at RFK Stadium tonight to the Washington Nationals (12-11).

Seo went 5 innings, only giving up 3 hits and one walk. Unfortunately the 3 hits were solo home runs, and one of them was against the opposing pitcher, Livan Hernandez. As unforgivable as that sin is, the starting lineup, and once again the bullpen, failed to provide any support. The Mets (11-12) actually mustered 10 hits but couldn't get the big one when it counted against Hernandez, which was much the same story when Livan faced the Mets last Sunday. That day at Shea, the first four batters reached base as Mike Piazza drove in three runs with a double, but couldn't knock him out. Same story tonight as Hernandez pitched like a bulldog.

Seo also gave up dingers to Jose Guillen (his 6th) in the 4th, and catcher Brian Schneider's second in the 5th before giving up Hernandez's first jack of the year. Reliever Heath Bell didn't take long to make sure the Mets were out of range, giving up two runs in the 6th in just eleven pitches. Bell got the first two outs before hitting Guillen (good thing this wasn't a Red Sox/Devil Rays game or else there may have been a rumble after that), walking Termel Sledge, then giving up a two run double to Vinny "If I played my whole career in Coors Field I'd be a Hall of Famer" Castilla giving the Nats a 5-1 lead.

The Mets tried a patented ninth inning comeback off of Luis Ayala, putting runners on first and third with one out via a Cristian Guzman throwing error putting Jose Reyes on base and a Kaz Matsui single. This is a good sign. See, during the Mets heydey in the 80's and early 90's, win or lose, Mets teams more often than not made some noise in the 9th with a hit or two. Under Art "We Battled" Howe, the Mets frequently went down 1-2-3 in the last frame. This alone is a sign that the team is under much better leadership now than in recent seasons. But the big boys couldn't get that elusive big hit, as Chad Cordero relieved Ayala and struck out Carlos Beltran. Then Mike Piazza meekly grounded to short for the final out.

The bats have to pick up tomorrow night against Nats starter Zach Day. With Victor "are my ten minutes up yet" Zambrano headed to the hill, things could get mighty ugly. This game will be on free TV for Time Warner cable customers, but Zambrano might make fans wish the game was blacked out.

Diamond Ring: Lefty Royce Ring, who joined the Mets organization via the Robby "Definition of Bust" Alomar trade, made his Mets debut tonight in the 8th, inducing a fly out by Sledge for the final out in the inning.

Off Day Quick Hits...

Mike Cameron had another double on Thursday night for the St. Lucie Mets as he continues rehabbing his wrist. St. Lucie lost to the Jupiter Hammerheads (maybe the greatest team name ever) 4-2.

Armando Benitez is our for FOUR MONTHS with a torn hamstring. That means he should be back in time to blow some saves in September.

The Yankees clinched a losing April after a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Angels, er, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. What a dumb name...Yankees! Kevin Brown took the loss tonight...just another one of life's barriers he can punch through. The way he's pitching, the Yankees are encouraging Brown to punch away.

Epilogue to the John Rocker story: Rocker made his first appearance for the New York based Long Island Ducks in the bottom of the ninth of a 3-3 tie against the Bridgeport Bluefish at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard. Rocker walked the bases loaded, then walked Will Pennyfeather to give the Bluefish the "walk"-off victory. No word on whether Bluefish fans had better aim with their batteries.

Jae Seo goes against the Nationals and Livan Hernandez on Friday night at RFK. Brad Wilkerson has been the Nats' hottest hitter so far...his .348 avg is good enough for 8th in the N.L.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Does the 7 Train go to Central Islip?

"I would retire first [before playing in New York]. It's the most hectic,
nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark,
looking like you're [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair
next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail
for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's
-John Rocker

The Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks begin their title defense tonight against the Bridgeport Bluefish. The Ducks are an independent league team with no affiliation to a major league franchise, so it's as far away from the show as you can get. The shortstop for the 1969 Miracle Mets, Buddy Harrelson, is now overseeing a lot of players looking for their own miracle...a chance to make a return to the major leagues.

If you go tonight, look around at all the stars that have fallen. You'll see former Red Sox junkballer Paxton Crawford, who is the embodiment of all the Red Sox who fell short before 2004. You'll see 34 year old former Cardinal lefty Donovan Osborne, who is on what is seemingly his 57th comeback from arm injury. You'll see former Mets shortstop Kevin Baez, and former Padres pitcher Todd Erdos. You'll see Chris Latham, who went from being a Yankee in 2003 to being out of baseball in 2004. Heck you'll even see the son of the most prominent pariah in baseball history, Pete Rose Jr., who has probably given up hope of living up to his father's legacy and would settle for one day playing in his 12th major league game.

Then take a look at long hair wearing number 49. You may recognize him. It's John Rocker.

"In the locker room at Shea following Game 4 of the National League
Championship Series, as Rocker ranted and raved, fumed and fussed, Mike
Remlinger, a 33-year-old lefthanded reliever with six years of major league
experience, was asked whether Rocker had gone too far. Remlinger -- quiet,
thoughtful -- paused. "The thing is," he said, "baseball is a game of humility.
You can be on top one minute, as low as possible the next. When you're young,
you don't realize it. But sooner or later you learn -- we all do. Be
-Sports Illustrated, 1999

Rocker, now 30, was on top for more than a minute in 1999. He was the closer for the Atlanta Braves, had a wicked fastball, an unhittable change of pace, and that one of a kind personality (for better or worse) that you thought could handle being the ultimate villain. But since that NLCS, and since that infamous SI article, Rocker has certainly had enough opportunity to learn humility. He was traded away from the Braves in 2001 as his presence in the clubhouse was overshadowing his performance on the field. He lost his control in Cleveland, and couldn't stick with the Texas Rangers. Rocker then landed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003. He pitched a grand total of 1 inning for them before rotator cuff surgery ended his season. Now, after a year and a half of who knows what, John Rocker is playing for a New York baseball franchise in 2005...the Long Island Ducks.

" low as possible..."

Could Rocker return to the majors one day? At Shea Stadium??!??? He's said that whoever would be willing to sign his paycheck would be a team he would play with. That includes the New York Mets.

I will say this, Rocker as a Met would be an interesting psychological much for New Yorkers as for Rocker himself. Would Met fans be willing to bury the hatchet as Rocker has said he would? Would they bury hatchet in Rocker's back? Would they be quicker to embrace Rocker after one or two scoreless innings in a Met uniform?

Rocker as a Met would also be a great opportunity for the ultimate acknowledgement of maturity. Think of John Rocker riding the 7 train...collecting donations for the homeless...PSA's for AIDS know, truly acknowledging his faults and turning his life around and becoming one of us. Think of how many athletes have thrived after getting a second chance, especially in New York City.

Metstradamus prophecy: Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever happen. I have no idea if Rocker truly gets it or not. I do know that rotator cuff surgery and not being able to hit the plate with a beach ball are far greater obstacles than overcoming an angry fan base. And when push comes to shove, I think Rocker really would choose retirement rather than deal with the media scrutiny of pitching for the team he insulted at every turn just six seasons ago.

For now though, I'll settle for the sweet irony of John Rocker making his summer residence in Central Islip, NY.

Be humble.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Chicks Dig the Long Ball!

Flash back ten years if you will, to 1995. It was a time when grunge music was in, cameras and telephones were two seperate items, and the only time America was talking about high testosterone levels was in reference to President Clinton.

Young Tommy Glavine had a short curly mullet, and the world on a string. He was one of the best pitchers of his day, and ended the strike shortened 1995 season with 8 innings of shutout baseball against the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series, and prevent the Atlanta Braves from being the Buffalo Bills of baseball.

Now we flash back forward to April 27th, 2005. Glavine's hair is shorter. His uniform now says "New York". He has two less teeth, and thousands more excuses as to why he can't win a game of any sort of importance anymore. In the 1995 Series he shut down the likes of Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Carlos Baerga before his career went down the toilet in Shea as a Met. (Sense a theme?) Now, he gives up long bombs to back-up catchers...oh yeah, and the immortal Wilson Betemit.

You wonder what the excuse will be today after an 8-4 loss and 7 earned runs in 4 and 1/3 innings pitched by Glavine. We've heard them all. "It was too cold to grip the ball...Questec isn't fair...It was too hot to pitch today...the mound was too low...the mound was too high...the balls were wound too tight." What will it be today? Was the weather too mediocre today?

The Mets signed Tom Glavine for times like this. They signed Tom Glavine to be a stopper. The only thing he stops these days is progress. They signed Tom Glavine under the assumption that a finesse pitcher like himself can stay effective into his late 30's and early 40's, and be the Tom Glavine who helped the Braves (although today he proved he can help the Braves just as much as ever!) With Kaz Ishii, Steve Trachsel, and Kris Benson hurt, the realization that Pedro Martinez can't go 25-0 this season (he lost to the Braves last night), and a bullpen that throws gasoline on fires, Tom Glavine needs to be Tom Glavine, not Tom Hausman.

So a 2-4 record so far against the Braves so far doesn't really advance the notion that these are "new" Mets. While there are very bright glimmers of hope abounding...Mientkiewicz, Cliff Floyd, Reyes and far these Mets remain very "same old, same old". The only old thing they need is the Tom Glavine of old...not an old Tom Glavine.

Former Met hurting...

When I think of Armando Benitez and "injury", I'm usually thinking of all of the cracked ribs he surely remember all those heimlich maneuvers performed on him after choking away big games, don't you? Instead, Benitez tweaked his hamstring while covering first base during the final out of San Francisco's 6-5 victory over San Diego on Tuesday night. Benitez recorded the win after, get this, blowing a two run lead in the 8th inning after a two run HR by Phil Nevin. Benitez is obviously in mid-season form.

Here are some fun facts about Benitez:
  • Was 143 for 143 in save opportunites against the Mets in 2003 for Florida.
  • Was 143 for 143 in save opportunites for the Mets in months April-August against teams at least 45 games under .500.
  • Was 3 for 87 in save opportunites in the month of September for the Mets.
  • Was 0 for 293 in save opportunites against teams who's name starts with the letter B and ends in "raves".
  • Players under 4' tall are hitting .390 against Benitez.

Here's a Metstradamus prophecy: on a cold September night against Atlanta, Armando Benitez will once again be haunted by the ghosts of Chippers past, and blow yet another save against the Braves thereby flushing the pennant down the toilet. He will walk off the mound with his head down past his knees while "The Lonely Man" from the Incredible Hulk TV series serenades him to the dugout.

Get well soon Armando.

What the hell am I doing?

I tend to annoy my family and my closest friends.

You may say "Oh no, not YOU Metstradamus", but I do. When the baseball team I've rooted for since the age of six does something stupid like, oh I don't know, trade their best pitching prospect with his 96 mph fastball to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano, I tend to send mass e-mails out to voice my displeasure.

And while that in itself may not be so bad, my degenerate friends like to hit that good old "reply all" button hundreds of times to tell me what a moron I am (that's the persecution that I mentioned). Then I get the dreaded "please unsubscribe me from this list" e-mail which is the information super-highway version of the "Dear John" letter (it's not you, it's me...and my bandwith).

So that has brought me here. For better or worse, my musings and prophecies (commonly referred to as "load of crap") on the subject of baseball in general, the Mets in particular, can be found here from this day forward. (Whoever invented "the blog" is probably turning over in his grave right about now, and if he's not dead yet he'll read this and jump off the nearest highrise.)

On my journey you may look forward to the following:

  • Constant shots at the Wilpon family...I will never...EVER forgive the Kazmir trade.
  • An unhealthy dose of Yankee hating.
  • Lots of reminders that Jeff Kent is a whiny, wanna be Texan with a porn star mustache.
  • At least one essay on why FOX's Jeanne Zelasko should be dipped in motor oil and lit on fire.
  • Still more Yankee hating.
  • Jokes at Jason Phillips' expense.
  • Attacks aimed at my enemies.
  • Attacks aimed at my friends.
  • Self help sessions aimed at easing the pain of not getting an autograph from Bruce Boisclair as a young boy.
  • And lots, LOTS more!

Let the persecution begin!