Stuff it...said Rick Vaughn to Johnny the bitter Indians fan in Major League II (played marvelously and eerily auto-biographical by Randy Quaid), as he entered the game for the first time all season as his old self, causing Johnny to proclaim that the Mild Thing is dead, and the Wild Thing is back.
Now I'm sure that Billy Wagner didn't tell a fan to "stuff it" on his way from the bullpen down the right field line tonight...but Country Time's "stuff" did all the talking he needed on the mound. It wasn't 1-2-3. We've learned bitterly through the years that no Met closer ever is, or ever will be, 1-2-3 (I suspect the Mets have had closers that had trouble merely counting that high). But the Mild Thing that entered the game on Saturday, the one that couldn't find the plate and walked the dual immortals Melky Cabrera and Kelly Stinnett, is dead.
The Wild Thing is indeed...back.
And guess what, he isn't going to be perfect, and he may very well have one more meltdown or two left in him this season (let's hope for just one), but tonight proved that he's willing to come back the next day and not let the bad days bleed with the present days on the calendar. Billy Wagner's Saturday outing was being referred to in our tabloids as having the worst traits of John Franco, Armando Benitez, and Braden Looper combined (I would agree, and throw in the 1987 version of Jesse Orosco for good measure). If someone compared you to those three, how would you react? If it were me, sheesh...you mind as well talk about my mother. That's how offended I would be. How would you respond?
Tonight, we found out how Country Time responds...simply by saying "Stuff it!"
The cynic in me keeps waiting for the outing...the big, important outing...that Tom Glavine forgets how to pitch and remembers that he's not a Brave anymore.
Seven hits and four walks in six innings tonight could have spelled out that this would be that outing. Yet Tom Glavine was one makeable play away (and one wind-blown double) from keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard.
The Metstradamus curse is about to rear its ugly head again...but I think we're looking at your 2006 National League All-Star starting pitcher.
Back to Saturday for a brief second:
The loquacious Jaap Stijl suggested that I put together a list of the greatest sports writers of all time. As much as I think about it, it's such a tough list for me to put together because my minds change on these guys from day to day depending on what they write.
Take for example New York Post scribe Mike Vaccaro. I generally like his writing style, and even as he writes about the Yankees I don't want to perform peristolsis as I read him. But today, he annoys me.
"There are times when the Yankees simply like to remind you they are the Yankees, and that goes for everyone: Mets fans, cynics, small-market apologists, skeptics who see their doom lurking around every corner. There are times when they still make you shake your head, even when it seems all the walls are collapsing around them."I love that there are "small market apologists", but there's never any Yankee apologists. There are only The Yankees. Even the FOX Saturday pre-game show (the program Metstradamus loves to hate), showed Friday's highlights of the Mets victory without mentioning a single Met name. It was "Here's Randy Johnson getting shelled...here's Mariano getting hit...and the Yankees lose 7-6." I feel sorry for any blind person watching that show wondering who got the winning hit!
"The Yankees have been doing this for a long, long time. They knew what was at stake. They knew the ramifications of going down meekly in the ninth inning."Only a Yankee apologist can turn Billy Wagner not being able to find the strike zone into Yankee legends Melky Cabrera and Kelly Stinnett having done this for "a long, long time". Or into Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano...three Yankees who have never been on any of the championship teams...having done this for "a long, long time." Only Bernie Williams, of the batters Wagner faced on Saturday, has done this for a long long time...and I doubt his eons of championship experience helped him get hit in the middle of the thigh.
I realize it's not something I should get all worked up about...but then I turn the page and I find a full page article on how great Scott Kazmir is...also written by Vaccaro.
Scott Kazmir's pitching performances...including today's...is all that needs to be spoken. I don't need you, Mike Vaccaro, rubbing salt in my wound...thanks. (Vaccaro's new book: "Why Scott Kazmir Will Be a Yankee One Day" hits bookshelves in a nightmare near you.)
Somewhere, at a World Series in the not so distant future, is a blown save for the ages. As long as he's pitching against the Mets and not for the Mets...I'm not worried.