Orlando Hernandez is a witch.
It's obvious isn't it? Why else would Willie Randolph push him back to tomorrow? Orlando heard that thunder at 9:30 AM...then again at 2:30PM, then on a constant stream from 4-5. He's probably still under the trainers table shaking to death...scared to set foot in the outside world.
"Skip, I can't go out there."Who steps up to the rescue? The precocious John "Bangor" Maine, with a 7-0 complete game shutout against the Astros tonight.
"Why not, Orlando?"
"If I don't throw the first pitch at precisely at 7:08, I'll age fifteen years immediately."
"Are you serious? You're not Joe Hardy."
"Who's Joe Hardy?"
"If you don't go, I'll age fifteen years. C'mon O, what's the real reason?"
"I can't pitch in the rain...I'll melt."
If I had a better memory, I would list off all of the instances that pitchers have had big starts or goalies that have had shutouts where they didn't know they were playing until anywhere from 2 hours to 15 minutes before game time. I can't. But trust me, this kind of thing happens all the time...where pitchers take a leisurely drive to the park thinking they have the day off and usually exit the park pitching the game of their lives because they had no time to overthink themselves to death. So by that token, this surprise outing by John Maine doesn't surprise me.
But it surprises me by all other tokens. It is, after all, John Maine.
Let's put it this way: John Maine was so good tonight, various fans have spotted Anna Benson outside the press gate waiting for him while hiking up her skirt.
You know who's the happiest man in the park tonight? None other than Omar Minaya. You know why? Because it's freakin' merengue night! The Mets are now 8-2 on merengue night! Woo-hoo!
All right, not merengue night. Omar is a John Maine guy...probably because he so desperately wants the Kris Benson for Orlando Hernandez (by way of Jorge Julio) and Maine to look better than it has been. But Minaya has loved John Maine ever since he joined the organization, impressed by his heater and changeup. Tonight, Omar's faith was rewarded.
There was a feeling like this after one Alay Soler pitched a shutout in Arizona. Since then, that didn't turn out so well. Bangor might very well be headed down that same path. But considering the contrast in styles between Soler and Maine, maybe not. The way Omar feels about Maine, he most assuredly is less inclined to make a deal for a starter now than he was this afternoon. Is that wise? Omar would want me to trust him...and I do.
Just keep Anna away from the press gate.
On most nights, it would have been Jose Valentin talked about first. It took a Herculean John Maine effort to knock Valentin down a few paragraphs. But when Jose strode to the plate in a scoreless tie with the sacks full, and when I saw the stat that Valentin had 117 RBI's in 116 career at bats with the bases loaded, my mind started racing like Beavis on a sugar high. I was giddy at the fact that this was pretty much a guaranteed run batted in. And yes, I started smelling a little salami.
Then I thought about Pat Tabler.
Why would I do a dumb thing like that?
Because Pat Tabler, who was a Met for about a month in 1990, was a lifetime 43 for 88 with the bases loaded...one hit short of .500 with the maximum amount of runners on base. In his short time with the Mets, he was 2 for 2 with 5 RBI's.
Once I concluded that I need some serious therapy for thinking about Pat Tabler, I thought of my fantasy team, the highly mediocre "Neon Stick Figures". Jose Valentin just started his second tour of duty for them, as I was desperately in need of an outfielder due to the fact that the last two guys I tried were sent down to the minors. So I needed him. John Maine needed him. The Mets needed him. And yes, somewhere in Toronto, I'm sure in some small way Pat Tabler needed him without knowing quite why.
And with one swing, the Astros were fried...the way I like my salami.
What's with the Sanford and Son theme for Cliff Floyd as he strides to the plate?
Is Cliff Floyd a big dummy?
Are his knees turning into a junkyard?
Or maybe since he robbed Chris Burke of a home run tonight, he's more like Rollo.
I looked at the Brooklyn Cyclones schedule during the season...hoping that there would be an afternoon game during the week that I could attend. Through the four months of the schedule I could only find one game. However, with the train signal malfunction in Queens (it takes me 90 minutes to get to Keyspan Park on a good day), and due to the fact that the Mets also had a day game, I decided against it.
This is what I would have been in for.
The Oneonta Tigers defeated Brooklyn in twenty-six innings this past Thursday afternoon. Let me repeat that in case it hasn't sunk in: twenty-six innings! And Brooklyn lost! I hope this isn't what we have to look forward to in the coming years from our farm system...although it was actually an outfielder that gave up the five runs in the 26th (I can't even type "26th" with a straight face) after already having pitched a scoreless inning.
Think about this: the game was a noon start. Imagine if this game started at 7PM. Is there a curfew in the New York Penn League?
Dustin Martin scored the only run for the Cyclones. He was also 0 for 11 on the afternoon/early evening. He was a .278 hitter when the game started. He is now at .241. Steve Phillips has already offered to trade him for Jose Cruz Jr.