One Pedro Martinez.
Thursday night, Petey seemed to have put last Friday's meltdown behind him for four innings, not allowing a hit in the process before getting singled to death in the fifth. But Pedro wasn't really pumping the fastball much higher than the mid 80's, and as dutifully noted by Orel Hershiser, he struggled from the stretch. If his missteps tonight bother you remember this: this is spring training for Petey...a second spring if you will. In spring training, you're not going to let loose and give opponents more things to spot in game film. So with the Mets having clinched, and in the enviable position of being able to set up their rotation for the playoffs two weeks in advance, why would Pedro bring out the full arsenal? Why wouldn't he put the cutter on the shelf as he did tonight?
If you have learned nothing else from Pedro over the years, you should have learned that by now you can call him Petey Possum. He played Jose Guillen like a flute earlier in the season. You saw it with the "call the Yankees my daddy" comment. Did you really believe that?
Pedro will be there mentally when it counts. For that, I'm not worried. The only question becomes whether he'll be there physically. And the way I see it...he has no choice.
For all of you Norfolk Tides fans, it's official. The Tides are no longer the AAA farm club for the Mets, ending a relationship that stretched back to 1969. Next season, get ready for the Mets to send down players to New Orleans...as the Zephyrs, who have recently been the AAA affiliate of the Nationals and the Astros, become the new farm club for the Mets.
Certainly, it will be a weird feeling not to have the Tides one step below the Mets, whether they be Norfolk, or for us who are a little bit older, Tidewater. For those in the Virginia area (you know who you are), it will probably be strangest of all. With much of New Orleans' residence gone in the wake of last year's hurricane, it will definitely be hard for the Zephyrs to create the widespread culture of Met fans in New Orleans as they did in Norfolk (David Wright, Virginia resident, grew up a Mets/Tides fan).
Speaking as someone who has never been to Harbor Park, but has actually been to a Zephyrs game recently, here are a few things to look for:
- First off, the strangest thing will be a Mets farm club playing in the Pacific Coast League, with a lot of southern and western teams with high humidity and high altitudes. Hitters numbers will be a bit more inflated.
- Also, players will travel more...which in this era of coddling and protecting the best prospects will probably mean that the trend towards filling the AAA team with retreads and veterans hanging on hoping for one last shot at the big leagues will continue and probably grow, with the best prospects making Binghamton their last stop before Shea.
- Ron Swoboda is a native of New Orleans, and is the Zephyrs color analyst. Swoboda participated in the bat race during my 2005 visit there. If you're lucky, you can catch a glimpse as well.
- Zephyr Field is a quaint field outside of New Orleans in Metairie (that's a good omen to play in Met-airie, no?) which is a 20 minute cab ride from the french quarter. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Zephyr Field was used as a makeshift military hospital. The field suffered minimal damage in the wake of the hurricane.
- If you go to a game and need a cab back to the quarter, the Zephyr front office will gladly call you a cab as they did for me. Check out their trophies in the waiting area.
- Former Zephyrs who were also former Mets include Melvin Mora, Ryan Thompson, Derek Bell, Dave Mlicki, C.J. Nitkowski, Mike Fitzgerald, Richard Hidalgo, Donne Wall, Mike Venafro, and Sid Fernandez.
And remember, New Orleans is only a Jet Blue direct flight from JFK away.