I still don't quite know what to make of that top of the second inning, except to say that it was a frame worthy of the lunacy of Jose Lima. With a runner on second base, Lima gets called for a "non-stop" balk, which hasn't been called since the 1987 World Series, on a pitch which would have been a 6-4-3 double play. Then, on a swinging bunt by John Smoltz, Brian McCann, the runner on third, took off for the plate on the pitch. Smoltz, who wasn't squeezing, hit a ball right in front of the plate as if it was a bunt. Lo Duca bare handed it and reached up to tag McCann, but Angel Hernandez, who was too busy looking down to make sure he got out of the way, called McCann safe. Now it was a tough play to see with the naked eye, and I'm not going to pretend I would have gotten it right if I had seen it...but at least I would have seen it and not had been looking down at my own two feet! So it was no wonder why Paulie flipped out and pulled a "Conehead" and spiked the ball while play was still live.
So Paulie gets ejected by Hernandez (why are all these umpires blind yet none of them are deaf?) and then Bobby Cox, who gets ejected three times a week all of a sudden started feeling left out...so when the umps called time to prevent Smoltz from advancing to second base, Cox gets ejected. Same play, and one employee from both teams get ejected. And you thought Lima's "Carlos Valderrama" hair would be the wackiest thing you saw all day.
But in the end, the score was 13-3 so can you really say the umps gave this one away? I want to...but I can't. Because Friday's long game meant that instead of a heaping dose of Jorge Sosa, we got John Smoltz. So the Mets drop the final game to the Braves, and now it's on to Philly for three games against a team that's actually closer to first place than Atlanta. And make no mistake, with all the issues with starting pitching...even with Petey and Tommy going...the Mets limp in.
"You guys ask for so much. You ask for velocity. You ask for performance. You ask for so many things. Some of us handle it better than the others. Some of us can't handle it like this. Sometimes nobody gives him a chance, which is totally unfair." -Pedro MartinezIt was bound to end this way. After all, it started this way. Zambrano arrived injured, and he leaves injured. When you trade a pitcher away and tell people that you're scared he might develop an injury, of course you get a guy back who is pre-injured. The baseball gods prefer it that way...they seem to have a sense of humor about such things.
"We all have the right to say, 'I can't help you today.' ... I just wish [Zambrano] would've said something." -Cliff Floyd
"They put so much pressure on me." -Victor Zambrano
Do you want to blame Victor for not telling anyone besides Darren Oliver and Petey about his injury? Go ahead. He used judgment as poor as Jim Duquette did in trading for him. But what exactly would telling anyone have accomplished? It only would have stretched out the injury for the entire season. If it wouldn't have been torn on Saturday, it would have been torn in June or July...with perhaps two or three more useless starts in between. The guy was damaged goods when he arrived...two weeks of rest now wouldn't have done any good to anybody.
You want to go and blame someone else? You can do that too. But we've been down that road many times...and quite frankly, the scenery bores me. Jim Duquette? He was a puppet. Al Leiter? Funny how he "unintentionally" sabotages Kazmir's Met career by dropping some convenient hints about his cockiness, then soon after dons a Yankee uniform and takes a job with YES. Almost as if he ripped off his mask to show his true stripes (pinstripes that is). John Franco? Probably nothing more than Leiter's muscle. But the common thread in all of this is that none of them are here anymore. They're gone. To continue to blame them at this point would be like wielding a knife at a ghost. It's not going to do you any good.
Blame the Wilpons? They're still here. And they're not going anywhere, so it's not like their jobs are at stake. Besides, they were smart enough to hand Omar Minaya the spatula and let him cook the soup and choose the ingredients, so I consider them even...until I remember how much they raised concession prices.
Frankly, it's a relief to me that it's over. No more reminders every fifth day of a trade gone horribly wrong...and who knows, maybe one day...one day after Bartolome Fortunato is long since retired, and Scott Kazmir's number 26 is immortalized in Monument Park, the reminders will be long gone and we can get on with our lives. But give me Jose Lima every fifth day anytime. Maybe our blonde Looney Toon isn't going to be easy on the boxscore, but he'll be easier on the psyche than Zambrano ever was.