Saturday, April 29, 2006
Oh when Larry drove his latest dagger into the New York National League franchise you were sweating weren't you? I'll tell you when I was sweating...I was sweating when John Smoltz danced around Cliff Floyd in the seventh and dared Xavier Nady to beat him with the bases loaded. All that Gary and Keith could talk about was how John Smoltz made walks work for him. And all I could think was "oh no, here we go again." And when X popped up to keep the score at 3-2, every pessimistic, glass half empty bone in your body thought that the worst was going to happen...again.
But Braden Looper is nowhere to be found.
Plain and simple, the Mets beat Atlanta tonight because Queens' best was at their best. Petey, save for the two run home run to everybody's favorite hateable third baseman, was brilliant for seven innings. Jose Reyes and David Wright, the young cornerstones of the franchise, produced. Reyes got on base 3 times and scored twice, while Wright hit two home runs. And Billy Wagner, Country Time, nailed down a big save in a big spot. Sure, it was dicey...the bases were loaded...and it wasn't September. But it was Atlanta...and it was the Braves. And that's big enough for me at this point.
Friday, April 28, 2006
I just wish he wasn't so popular.
My whole obsession against Derek Jeter, for example, stems from the fact that he became this pop-culture crossover star so soon into his career (like year one), at the expense of the rest of his teammates. What made the Yankees champions during the latter half of the nineties was that it was a true team effort. But the way that the New York media saw it, and as an extension the national media as well, it was always Jeter leading the charge..."Jeter and the Yankees", "Derek Jeter's Yankees", and so on and so on. Now regardless of my hate for Derek Jeter the icon, Derek Jeter the player is one hell of a player. But the fact of the matter is, "Captain Derek Jeter" has never led the Yankees to a championship. "Captain Derek Jeter" never reached won a Series without the likes of Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius, David Cone and the like who have been widely credited with being the leaders of that team. Hence Derek Jeter, as good a player as he has been, is almost a creation of the media...lifted to mythical status in part because he's a matinee idol. And for sure, revisionist historians will credit Jeter with much much more than he has actually been responsible for. "The Manchurian Shortstop", if you will.
Which brings me to Wright. He has been referred to as "our Derek Jeter". He's ranked nineteen slots ahead of Jeter in Nate Silver's ranking of the most valuable properties in baseball. Adam Rubin said on "Mets Weekly" that, if you can believe it, more people are going to love Wright than Jeter because David is more accessible and never has a bad word to say about anybody, in addition to not having an ego (which makes me curious about what Adam Rubin knows about Jeter that nobody else does.)
Now I'm not going to sit here and type to you that David Wright is not deserving of all that love. But when a list, no matter how based it is on youth and WARP and PECOTA and whatever other 90's baseball player you want to create an acronym out of, puts you in front of everybody except Albert Pujols, you're set up for a major fall...especially since Wright hasn't played in October yet. And not for nothing, I don't particularly want David Wright to be "our Derek Jeter". Why should every success the Mets have be automatically linked to the Bronx? Can't David Wright be our David Wright? And not for nothing, I'm not interested in sharing David Wright with the oncoming bandwagon.
Here's what worries me: remember that poll where Yankee fans outnumbered Mets fans solely on the strength of the female persuasion? Now I'm not going to say that a woman's place is in the kitchen, but...hey Keith, get off my computer! All right, seriously...I'm not going to generalize by saying that women...no matter who they root for...are automatically bandwagon fans. Far from it. But I use the poll merely as an example. Some of these women who took this poll, those particular women that checked the Yankee box because of the way Jeter and A-Rod fill out their uniforms...yet still ask when halftime is after going to Yankee stadium for ten years, are going to look to come to the other side when the Yankees decline begins and the Mets start playing in October. Make no mistake: the "David Wright is hot" contingent is starting to make it's way to Shea. That's fine, because if David Wright's goods lure you to Shea, and the experience of watching a Mets game at Shea hooks you into being a Met fan forever...a real honest to goodness Met fan, great. But God help you if you have ever worn or owned a Derek Jeter tee shirt and you try to gain admission to Shea Stadium for a Mets/Marlins game in August. Because someone will find out about you...and they will kill you. And I can't promise that it wouldn't be eventually classified as justifiable homicide.
(Note, if you're looking for goods, and goods only, there's a former Met who has recently retired to show all the goods. Yikes!)
If Kelly Calabrese happens to be reading this, trust me when I say that this is not a gender issue. Because they'll be plenty of guys that want to ride the Mets bandwagon as well come October, if the Mets are good enough to play in that month. And now we're talking about low life forms. Many of these guys would probably be able to name David Wright if a gun was to their head. But can you name anyone else? Can you tell me who played third base before David Wright? Because that's my question to those Yankee bandwagon jumpers who only know of Yankee baseball post-Jeter. Who played shortstop before Derek Jeter? Well at Shea Stadium in September and October, ticket takers should poll every fan over the age of thirteen as to who David Wright replaced at third base. Can't produce an answer? Get your pinstriped suit toting, new cap wearing ass to the refund line and get out!
In fact, screw you...no refund! You probably got your tickets from a corporate account and are writing them off as a business expense. So drink your mojitos and discuss your soy bean futures elsewhere.
It's an impossible dream, but I just want David Wright to be a star...our star. The ones that knew about David Wright when he played in the minors. The ones that went to see him in September of 2004 long after Art Howe's goose was cooked. Your star. My star. A star that will be recognized as one of many contributors on a World Series Champion. Our star. Not a star for the late arriving bandwagon...not for you. Not the ones who spend 3 innings looking for their seat, 5 innings on their blackberry, then leave and read about the final score in the Times the next morning. You cannot lay claim to David Wright. He's not yours.
I just don't want some disgruntled fan like me to start complaining that David Wright is overrated.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
I posted a hate list a few days back which warned of some interruptions in blogs and in blog quality over the next month or two. It only means that there are going to be some games I miss in parts or in their entirety due to a special assignment I've been put on. Today, was one of those days.
Oh I thought I saw what I needed to see when Brian Bannister, he of the two doubles and two RBI's today, ran home with the go-ahead run in the sixth on one leg as his hamstring exploded (yeah, they say strain, but goodness he had to be helped off the field like he was Nancy Kerrigan). I mean really, what more was there to see? So off I was to my special assignment.
After that, my next connection to the Mets game was an innocent looking score panel:
SF 7 F
Seems harmless enough, right?
While still on special assignment, and disconnected to the outside world, I got a cell phone message.
"Country Time is f***ing killing me...KILLING ME! He's ruining my freaking fantasy league. There is a reason why I do not ever, EVER have any Mets on my F***ING TEAM! There is a reason for it...and it was proven today. How the F**K do you give a home run to F***ING BONDS??!? $%@ &$*$#@!!!"The message obviously came immediately after the home run, and I'm flattered and humbled that he included me in his meltdown. Knowing the final score when I heard the message made that possibly the funniest cell phone message anywhere, ever. EVER!
So I made plans to stay up and watch the "Mets in 60" rebroadcast (it's actually called "Mets Fast Forward") that SNY is doing at one-thirty AM...speaking of which, why is it that on the supposed Mets network, they only rebroadcast that night's game at 5AM and 9AM? Does a 5AM rebroadcast really help anybody? And 9AM? Well that doesn't help me. So I was glad to see that a 1:30 AM broadcast was available tonight (I need DVR).
Julio Franco? Stolen base? What's next, Roger McDowell playing right field?
I don't know how to feel regarding Bonds' dinger off of Country Time, other than it was set up by another sailing throw by a running David Wright (you're a stud in the making, but plant your feet, will ya?) Did Wagner have any business giving up a game tying dinger to a watered down Barry Bonds? Maybe not. But here's what I think about Barry Bonds: To me, Bonds has become a softball player. He takes big swings, jogs around the bases whether he hits it out or not, and is fast becoming the size of your normal softball player. I half expect Major League Baseball to institute a softball type rule where after Bonds makes contact, there's a runner waiting at home plate to run for him. I also expect Bonds to catch fly balls in one hand with a beer in the other, like the third baseman on WKRP in Cincinnati during the big softball episode. But even though he's a softball player, softballers can still hit. So tip your hat.
But softballers can't run or field, and Bonds proved that as he turned Chris Woodward's go ahead single into a go-ahead double in the eleventh. Woodward called himself and Fluff Castro "secret weapons...no one knows we're here." Now Woodward, I understand. But how can you not know Fluff is in the building with his huge head?
And how many of you were fretting when Armando Junior was warming up in the bullpen in the top of the eleventh?
But no matter, as Darren Oliver finished up the game in the eleventh, and all (besides Bannister's hammy) is well. Bananas.
Should I take this as a hint that I should stop these special assignments...or go on them more often?
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The outcry from most Met fans when Steve Trachsel was relegated to fifth starter status was that Trax was fed a heaping tablespoonful of disrespect. I maintained then, as I do know, that Willie Randolph, in calling Trachsel the fifth starter, was merely trying to keep Victor Zambrano's trade value afloat by inflating his value in public.
But now that Zambrano's trade value and public perception can't be resuscitated by ER doctors, brain surgeons, or cartoon fairies, it's time for Willie Randolph to show Trachsel a heaping bowl full of love after his solid pitching performance led the Mets to a 4-1 victory tonight. Trachsel has been jerked around before, but back when the Mets had an embarrassment of riches in the starting rotation. But now, with only five starting pitchers for five starting slots...all right, four and a half...there's no excuse for Randolph to comment about Trachsel with double talk and non-commitals. If the plan is to play for this year, Steve Trachsel gives the Mets a better chance to win than Victor Zambrano...and now that the fact is obvious to all, it's time to acknowledge it.
The unsung hero of tonight's game is Paul Lo Duca. Not only did he drive in the first run of the game on a first inning single (and scoring that run by the way was Jose Reyes...proving that the Mets chances are much better when he's getting on base), he threw out speedy Randy Winn in the bottom of the sixth just ahead of X's dinger to give the Mets the lead for good.
Also, tonight's ballgame was an illustration of how different the game is when you have a bullpen you can trust. Jamey Wright led off the sixth by lining out in front of what became a harmless walk by Winn. Steve Trachsel, meanwhile, was pinch hit for in the top of the seventh after it became a 2-1 game. Granted, the score was different in each case...but in a 1-1 game in the sixth, is Felipe Alou more inclined to pinch hit for Wright after six innings if he had a bullpen he could count on? Randolph, unlike his counterpart, showed no hesitation in pinch hitting for Trachsel to go to Filthy Sanchez, who's been hotter than a Derek Bell crackpipe this season. I wonder what Alou would have done in the sixth if he had more filth in his bullpen.
Nice to see Cliff Floyd go splash in the eighth, even though it was a bad call on David Wright's infield single which made it happen. You aren't going to see me apologizing though, not after that Knoblauch call in 2000. Yeah, I'm still bitter...I apologize for nothing.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
- Pee on hands.
- Pee on Mets.
The flow was steady tonight at Balco Park as Alou's five RBI's sent the Mets reeling, 6-2. It's their fifth loss in seventh games. Irony of ironies, Alou's chances were set up in part by Mets pitchers intentionally walking a .222 hitter twice, the first coming with two outs and a runner on first to bring up Urine Man. And Alou's three run HR in the first off of Tommy Two Teeth (or more accurately tonight: Tommy Two Bad Frames) helped by the Bonds walk set the wheels in motion.
But it was the Mets falling just short of tying the game in the sixth, where Carlos Delgado's drive to left center fell into Randy Winn's glove after coming to within one run of possibly chasing Matt Cain was tonight's nail (yet another struggling pitcher finding the Mets lineup as just the tonic he needs to get himself right...speaking of which, does Moises Alou need to pee on Carlos Beltran's leg to help it heal?)
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Problem is, there are no other bullets ready for the holster.
But regardless, Victor Zambrano has to go.
I don't blame Victor for any of this. All he's ever wanted to do is go out and play baseball. He never asked to be traded for a top prospect. The sins of Jim Duquette have nothing to do with the Mets situation in '06, because regardless, the Mets are still in first place. They still managed to split a series on the road against a division champion. The future is still bright for the Mets this season...
But only if Mets ownership gets over this idea that doing something with Zambrano, whether vanquishing him to the bullpen, demoting him, or even releasing him, would be an admission that the Scott Kazmir trade is a disaster. We already know that, kids. The problem is that every time he pitches, we're reminded of it...kind of like a boil (not a Boyle). It's like there's PR attached to keeping him here. Believe me, there's nothing I want more than to move on from it. The only way to move on is for Victor to move on...in some way shape or form.
Give consideration to this:
After today's latest stellar outing (5 runs, 7 hits, three walks in four innings), Victor Zambrano's ERA now stands at 9.64.
It only raised .64 runs.
I have prepared for you a crude graph to illustrate the effects of Zambrano's pitching performance:
As you can plainly see, the effects are proportional.
After three starts last season, Kaz Ishii's ERA was 4.82.
Kaz Ishii for crying out loud.
Three starts this season for Victor? 9.64. Even Jose Lima's ERA is lower than that!
So Wilpons, regret your questionable trade no longer. Let the order of the serpentine wash away the shame. Bite the bullet.
You've gotta love Keith Hernandez's apology today during the second inning regarding a woman in the Padres dugout on Saturday. Hernandez said something along the lines of "I'm not going to say a woman's place is in the kitchen, but she doesn't belong in the dugout." Apparently, someone(s) became up in arms about it, so Keith had to perform one of those "I'm sorry if anyone was offended" apologies. But after the cursory "I'm sorry", you can tell he was growing more and more agitated that he was made to do this for such an innocuous comment, explaining himself by reading the rule book about the number of coaches allowed in the dugout...building to the crescendo of "that's it, not another word, it's over, play ball!!!"
It was kind of like the apology that Ralph Kramden made to Alice on one of those records where he started out apologizing, but as he spoke about Alice's mother in law, he became more and more crazy and started calling her a blabber mouth! And that was the apology recording that was mistakenly sent to Alice instead of take two. Hilarious. Obviously Keith was under some pressure to make this apology and was none too pleased about it. He probably should have clarified his remarks during the fact, this way he wouldn't have been seen as...well I don't know exactly what he was seen as, or who exactly got upset. So it's hard for me to know what was so un PC about it.
And we know how Keith gets when he's made to apologize against his will, as he had to in '02 when he said on the air that the Mets quit on Bobby Valentine (he was right). He was agitated enough to remark to the beat writers after the apology "there, does that make you happy?" So you could tell he was upset. Something tells me there's more to this than meets the eye.And now, there is some clarification that Keith actually said that "they" don't belong in the dugout. Well, now I understand why Bruce Bochy was upset. Keith is obviously still old school in a lot of ways, and something tells me that this isn't the last bit of controversy Keith will face in his broadcasting career.
And finally...I love Dontrelle Willis. I hope that one day soon, he's a New York Met.
But this ain't happenin'. Jeffrey Loria need take his desperate measures elsewhere.
Most Met fans will probably report this as an 9-0 win.
But I wonder if Padre fans will rue the day they signed Mike Piazza instead of trading for, say...Fluff Castro?
Castro and his mammoth sized head went three for five with a homer and a couple of RBI's. Combine that with X's homer and two RBI's and Carlos Delgado's wave of his mighty thunderstick for the third time in three games, and you have offense...finally.
Just as needed, Petey went 7 innings to help out a tired bullpen. Aces are required to pick up for their bullpen, and the Mets' ace did exactly that and then some, only giving up 2 hits and striking out 11.
By the way, you think I'm bad? Keith Hernandez was worried about the tying run getting on deck if Mike Piazza got a hit off of Jorge Julio (which he did). Here's the problem: it was 8-1! Hernandez forgot about the two runs scored in the top of the ninth. All it took was one half inning for Keith to forget. So see? Even the best of 'em blow it every once in a while.
Chasing Hershiser: Jorge Julio's consecutive scoreless innings streak is at 5 and 1/3 innings. Orel Hershiser's record is only 53 and 2/3 innings away.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Here is the Mets offense trying to figure out which wire to cut before the Mets run out of not time, but pitchers.
Think about it, 12 inning, 13 inning, 14 inning game...tick tick tick, as the Mets go from Oliver, to Filthy, to Heilman, to Country Time, to Feliciano, to Blueback...and you wonder how much Blueback has left in him before he gives way as he enters his third inning. But he's gotta keep going until his arm falls off. Because there's only one other guy left, and you know who I'm talking about.
Wait, is there a starter available? Can't use Pedro, he goes tomorrow. Glavine? I hear if he doesn't have exactly 96 hours of rest between starts he melts. Trachsel went yesterday, so he's out. So who else is in the rotation...
Anybody in the stands want to get in a uniform and pitch?
But the bomb goes off in the fourteenth inning, as Chad Bradford gives up the first bullpen run in 21 plus innings to lead the Padres to a 2-1 victory. But let's blame Jorge Julio anyway, since if anyone can trust him he would have been in the game in inning fourteen. It also shows just how good this Met bullpen can be. They hadn't given up a run in six games. and it took them just about nine innings to get touched up tonight. Impressive.
But in a large park like this, where you can't depend on the long ball all that frequently (Carlos Delgado aside), the Mets really needed Jose Reyes to create some havoc on the bases. Oh for six with two K's isn't going to get it done. Have we forgotten already about the valuable lessons Rickey Henderson taught you? (Carlos Beltran hasn't...he missed another start with a hamstring injury.)
So the Mets enter tomorrow (or later today) with a tired bullpen needing Petey to go nine.
But Jorge Julio is fresh! Silver linings people, silver linings.
Friday, April 21, 2006
And if they make you do things at age 47 that you never thought possible, then shouldn't you love them too?
I mean, if 14 to 15 egg whites a day would have allowed me to hit a home run in Petco Park at 27, let alone forty-seven, then I would have had mom cook me more egg whites and less meat loaf.
Julio Franco turned the tide on a game that was going quickly down the tubes by hitting a pinch homer in what became a six run eighth inning as the Mets stomped off to a 7-2 victory over the Pods.
This game was headed towards Sure Loss Rd. as for the second night in a row, a stud pitcher waited until the schedule said "New York" to pitch like a stud pitcher. Jake Peavy had the Mets on his leash at Petco, going seven innings and giving up one run (which I'll get to later). But the San Diego bullpen is not what it once was, and the Mets went off. Ironically, it was the former Padre known as "X" which started matters in the eighth with a double. After Kaz Matsui failed to get the runner over, it was up to Jack Bauer and his egg whites. Franco cluck clucked all the way to the jury box in right field to be come the oldest geezer to hit a dinger in major league history off of Scott Linebrink. When Franco tells the story to his great great grandchildren, he isn't going to mention the fact that it was hit to the inlet about 322 feet away. All he'll tell them is "home run...right field...Petco Park baby!"
Franco plans to tell his great great grandchildren this story tomorrow.
After the home run, the Mets continued their assault, and San Diego got Alan Embree up in the bullpen. At this point, I licked my chops. Now if I'm licking my chops, imagine what Carlos Delgado was thinking. Delgado proceeded to put it away with a screamer to right center.
And this is what the Mets lineup is capable of. A good pitcher, as evidenced by messrs Hudson and Peavy, can tame this lineup...especially without Carlos Beltran who left tonight's game midway through with another nagging injury. But you throw a subpar bullpen at this lineup? Oh man, that's when it gets dangerous.
The Mets bullpen however, is not subpar. It's very par. It might be birdie (stop the golf references Mr. Soothsayer!) But their bullpen absolutely got the Mets out of trouble tonight, as Pedro Feliciano was faced with bases loaded and nobody out after Steve Trachsel was chased after a hit and a walk, and Chad Bradford gave up a cheapie infield single. Feliciano, who Matt Cerrone warned us would be key, got Geoff Blum to foul out to first. Then came Filthy Sanchez facing Eric Young for our Metstradamus Play of The Game...
How do you define budding star? One definition is a player who comes back from an awful defensive game and, instead of getting down on himself, comes back in spectacular fashion. It wasn't quite his barehanded play from last season in San Diego, but it was more important. His diving play started a 5-4-3 double play (I still don't like the way Kaz Matsui turns two. A tip for the youngsters, if you're a young second baseman and you want to emulate your favorite athlete's signature move, Kobe Bryant's fall away jumper might not be the best option) and got Filthy the victory after the offensive explosion in the eighth.
(By the way, hate to say it boys and girls, but Young was safe.)
At the end of the season, this is the game that you want to look back on. Not so much for the comeback victory or for the strong outing by Steve Trachsel, but for the fact that three of the four largest targets for scorn and derision were actually...I can't believe I'm actually going to say this...productive! Kaz Matsui homered yet again on his first at bat of the season...this time of the inside the park variety. Jose Valentin got his first base hit of the season. And even Jorge Julio garnered the elusive 1-2-3 inning in mop-up duty in the ninth. If all three of these players are productive in the same game again this season, you might as well send the Mets straight to the playoffs.
By the way, who was that behind the plate for San Diego? He kind of looked familiar...like a guy I knew in New York. But it couldn't be him. His goatee wasn't finely manicured like the guy I knew. Didn't wear the same number as the guy I knew either, so I'm really not sure.
But boy he looks like him. The double play he hit into in the first...that looked really familiar. Well, not the guy I knew way back when...but the guy that was here last year.
Look at that, look at him trying to throw out a baserunner stealing in the eighth...yup, that's him. Has to be.
It wasn't? Well it sure looked like him.
It sure was weird to see Mike in another uniform. But the topper to third base had become all too familiar in the past few years. I know there's some that are sad that Piazza will not be around for what could be the best Met season in years, but seeing Piazza tonight has convinced me that it was the right time to turn the page. There was a feature in one of the Sunday papers last season, I think it was the Post, talking about where everyone's locker is. The feature mentioned that Piazza was the last one in, and the first one out last season. Piazza even told reporters before the game that he thought the time was right for the organization to cut ties and move on.
The class act...now that's familiar.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
- The Mets lost 2 out of 3 games to the Braves with an outfield which contained Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez, rather than Carlos Beltran and Cliff Floyd.
- The Mets have six more games against Atlanta before May 8th.
- Tom Glavine can hardly be faulted for this latest loss against Atlanta, giving up one earned run in eight innings.
Unfortunately, that's it.
Yeah, it's an April series, and there is plenty of baseball left...along with plenty of baseball against Atlanta left to go. But with all of the off season moves that Omar Minaya has made, with the fast start the Mets are off to along with the Braves slow start and their penchant for injury and their loss of Leo Mazzone, this was a chance to make a statement that the tide has turned...that the Braves are not what they used to be...that being better on paper makes all the difference.
Instead, the Braves are proven bulletproof.
So what that the Mets traded their 22 for a tek 9 and an uzi? The Braves keep coming like Freddy on Elm street. They rely on what little stars they have left, and they came through like champions. And now the Braves know they can withstand adversity and go after the new and improved (but same old?) Mets. This may turn out to be a blessing in disguise...a reminder that teams, even banged up teams like the Braves, are not eliminated in April...especially not teams that are on a fourteen division-title streak. But it sure is an undisguised blessing and confidence boost for Atlanta.
No Larry Jones this week? No problem for Atlanta, as Andruw decides that he's going to hit enough home runs for both Jones'. Another one today makes four for the series...with no protection from his Hooters lovin' friend.
Tim Hudson also decided to wait until the Mets series to become Tim Hudson, chucking a complete game three hitter...making it six hits in two days against the Braves. And this is what I'm going to cry about tonight. It's spilt milk, I realize. But we need some reminding.
You're more than welcome to argue with me that it's pointless to keep harping on the Scott Kazmir trade. It's an argument that I've made to other people. The regime that made this horrible mistake is gone, what's done is done, and it's time for the Minaya Era to lessen the effects of this mistake. We can do nothing but look forward.
But you can't sit there at your laptop and type to me that it doesn't bother you one little bit that the Braves went out and got a Tim Hudson for absolutely nothing, while the Mets go out and trade their number one prospect for Victor Zambrano, who after all this time still has not been fixed.
The difference here is this: The Braves play their prospects like the stock market...it's something the Mets have begun to do as well under Omar, but still have a ways to catch up. John Schuerholz knows when his prospects have the most value, then suckers some poor team like Oakland that needs to dump salary into taking a deal they think is going to work for them, without giving up equal value. The one thing Billy Beane needed to get back in the Hudson deal was an offensive second baseman. Yet Billy Beane somehow could not get Marcus Giles back in the deal. Instead, for a 92-39 pitcher, Oakland got the bullpen version of Zambrano (Juan Cruz), a fringe outfielder (Charles Thomas), and one decent prospect who might never pan out (Dan Meyer). The three were prospects at the zenith of their usefulness, and Schuerholz not only recognized that, but maximized their value.
We'll see if Omar did the same thing with prospects like Gaby Hernandez (traded for Paul Lo Duca), Mike Jacobs, and Yusmeiro Petit (both traded for Carlos Delgado). The kitty returned from those prospects are playing major roles with the Mets. Unfortunately, so is the lack of kitty returned for Scott Kazmir, who in reality, could have been traded for Hudson if Jim Duquette hadn't jumped the gun in July of '04.
And as the Mets continue to pay for the mistakes of days gone by, I still look at the puddle of milk on the middle of the floor and cry.
Will David Wright blog about his three errors today?
Not in his newest post, which came after the game today. But I will:
Wright's two errors that cost the Mets the second run today came against the back drop of many fine plays Wright made. But one quick observation: Wright's throwing errors seem to come when he charges the ball and throws on the run. His throws tend to sail high. I wonder if Rick Peterson can fix that in ten minutes.
Come to think of it, I'm not sure I want Peterson within 100 feet of David Wright.
But I do give David credit for blogging after a tough loss. When you read the latest entry, his head is obviously still level and he's not letting his tough fielding performance, or the fact that the Mets lost two of three to the Braves, get to him. He's certainly more even keel than me...but is that saying a lot?
The problem is that neither Victor is very good.
The first Victor walks about 6 or 7 in five innings. The second Victor will throw a lot of strikes, but get hammered as he did last night. Consider that last season, in starts where Zambrano walked two or less batters, he's 2-5. Some of those losses can be blamed on not enough run support, but not all of them. When Victor isn't walking home the park, he's getting hammered.
You would think with two Victors, his trade value would be doubled. But as you know, double of zero is still zero.
But double of Andruw Jones is disaster.
It's hard to say that this afternoon's tilt between Tom Glavine and Tim Hudson is a must have for the Mets. After all, there's six more Braves/Mets games coming up in the next two weeks. But Tuesday night's 7-1 loss, one not only in which the Braves overcame their injuries and the Mets did not, but a loss that saw the Mets revert to their "we can't hit virtual rookies to save our lives" mode, makes Wednesday's game the first big test of the psyche of this club. And as irony would have it, it's up to Glavine to do what he's never done before...beat his former employer.
Losing two of three to these depleted Braves puts Atlanta firmly in the Mets' heads the rest of the season.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
And that it has.
You see, we have a song now. It plays off the marketing slogan "Our Team, Our Time". And after a warning, I gave the song a try.
I gave it another try.
Then I played the MC Hammer song again.
Then I went back to our team, our song.
Subsequently, I poured rubbing alcohol into my ears to help stem the bleeding.
According to the press release: "TJS Marketing Group of Smithtown, N.Y. and Breakthru Productions of Orange, N.J. spontaneously created the new song for the Mets following the off-season excitement and interest in the team and the Mets' best start since 1985."
Spontaneously? I bet. It sounds like they wrote and recorded it in an hour!
Our team in this, our time, is 10-2. Best record in baseball in case you haven't noticed. People are slowly but surely coming back to Shea. Obviously our team, this time, is going to be around all season. A song isn't needed to get people back. But if a song is absolutely necessary, couldn't you wait until August to debut it so that, oh I don't know, there's enough time to but some thought and creativity into it, and not something my cat could have done a better job at? Thirteen years the Mets have waited to not be the laughingstocks of baseball. Now we're the lead story on Baseball Tonight. We're number one in CNNSI's power rating (even though they still hate Shea Stadium). Thirteen years it's taken to wipe away the stench of 1993, and gain a little respectability back.
Now it's all gone. Back to being laughingstocks. Thanks a lot, marketing geniuses.
I mean, aren't the Mets based in New York City? Don't you think an organization in the number one market in the world could get someone...anyone...to come up with something that wasn't on the level of a six year old banging on a xylophone?
Weird Al Yankovic?
Pat F**ing Boone??!?
Here's more good news from the press release: "The Mets will explore use of the song for in-stadium entertainment and potential commercial release based on fan feedback."
Is DJ Skribble releasing a twelve inch?
Perhaps Jay-Z and Beyonce will sing it at the MTV music awards!
Settled. I'm running a poll on the song so you get your feedback. But just so you get answer number one:
Jorge Julio singing the Pepto Bismol theme would pump me up more for this team, this time.
Yay, Pepto Bismol.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Main ingredient...Petey's 200th career victory. Maybe it didn't take a game tying homerun in the ninth to provide your Hojo moment. But what we got was another chapter in the ongoing love story between Pedro Martinez and the Shea faithful. Chapter Two, verse three: The Milestone. Six and two thirds innings of Petey pitching his guts out, making sure that there wouldn't be a new round of questions every five days about "When are you going to win 200?" and "Are you feeling any pressure to get this out of the way?" Nope...all gone. And now Pedro can return to being the rock of the rotation, and beating the Braves.
Speaking of beating the Braves, here is our next ingredient. As I was watching the first Met at-bat of the night, and I saw Jose Reyes looking at two pitches down the middle and striking out swinging on a low curve ball, I have to admit that those "here we go again" thoughts crept in my head. Here go the Mets losing to the uniforms again.
So I came home. And wouldn't you know it, I turn on the tube and it's 4-2. Oh, I'm just being a worry wort. I mean, these are the new Mets...these are the Mets that are leaps and bounds better than a Larry-less and Edgar-less (not to mention a Maddux-less, Glavine-less, Sheffield-less) Braves team. There will be no losing to the uniform tonight.
Then Andruw Jones hit one to Mars.
But these are a different brand of Mets. The days of Pedro entrusting his potential victories to the likes of Braden Looper, Dae Sung Koo, and Danny Graves are long gone.
And that brings me to the next ingredient: The individual performances. The players that Omar brought here this off-season...all shining tonight. X? Another dinger of course. The guys from Friar Faithful seemed to have nailed it with their Free Nady Movement, as he has shown what he can do with regular time.
Carlos Delgado? A two run homer with would have provided the game winning RBI if there was such as statistic anymore. Delgado Travel has escaped all of the wonder about whether he really wanted to be here after shunning the Mets in the first place, about whether he was going to desecrate the American Flag in the middle of the outfield, and whether he was going to murder Tony Bernazard and dump his body in Flushing Bay. He got off to the all important quick start, and he's also turning out to be the Carlos that carries the lineup...something the other Carlos was expected to do (fairly or unfairly).
Filthy Sanchez? In dirt we trust.
(And heaven help me for slighting Paulie, who went three for three. In reality, he seems to be doing that every game, or making some sort of play that sends Jose Reyes from home to first. Not to mention his defense and his pitch calling. Remember, the Mets were the last team to have a starting pitcher go less than six innings...and this is a rotation that was supposed to have taken a serious hit. Give Mike Piazza's successor credit for that.)
So what is the cherry on top of the Sundae? The Mets are 10-2. First time ever. The back page is most assuredly theirs tomorrow (unless the Daily News or the Post decide to run their expose regarding Derek Jeter putting his pants on one leg at a time.)
All anybody can hope for now is that Victor Zambrano doesn't put the whole dessert in his mouth tomorrow so nobody else can taste it. Knowing Victor, he'd wear more of it than he'd actually eat.
Brian Bannister is the number three starter.
Think of how amazing this is for a second.
We as fans and bloggers talked about Bannister as a valuable pitching prospect. But when stacked up against Mike Pelfrey, Phil Humber, Gaby Hernandez, and even Alay Soler in spots, Bannister was an afterthought.
And today, he's the number three starter.
The fact that Bannister has gone out there in spring training and earned the job, and the fact that he's done nothing but impress us during the season doesn't make the sentence any less amazing. Consider that this is an organization that in recent history has traded a lot of minor league chips for veteran players. And then remember that Willie Randolph waited half a season, half a season entirely too long according to most, to bat David Wright...the David Wright...higher than sixth in the order on a regular basis...because he was being protected.
But a guy thought of as a mid, mid-high prospect last season in double A, is only behind two future hall of famers in the Mets rotation.
Is it a testament to Bannister's make up and maturity? Probably.
Is it a signal of a change of organizational thinking? Probably not. But every game that Bannister succeeds in is a vote of confidence for the Mets' minor league organization and the way they handle pitchers. Heaven knows that the Mets could use some confidence in their minor league system after the debacle of Generation K. But the better Bannister gets, the more trust and the longer a look guys like Humber and Pelfrey will get as being guys that will be able to contribute in major ways, and not as chips for veteran help.
And there's still a long way to go for Bannister. He did walk five and give up six hits in 5 innings today. But the way he was able to get out of trouble showed a feel for the game that belies his years. It doesn't make his precocious position any less amazing.
Best start in history.
Say the words softly to yourself, and let the words drift you off to sleep. The Mets, at 9-2, are off to the best start in their history. Then wake up to this wet blanket:
It means nothing if the Mets do not beat the Braves' brains in this week.
If Pedro Martinez, Victor Zambrano, and Tom Glavine can't beat three pitchers whose earned run averages going in to Monday are 11.37, 8.38, and 9.20, then how is the best start in Mets history going to matter to anyone? How can you not turn around and say "same old Mets"? How could you not conclude that the Mets will never, ever, defeat the Braves in soon to be recorded history?
Luckily, this is the 20th anniversary of the greatest baseball team ever to wear spikes. And to celebrate that anniversary, the Mets have assembled a team that is ready to slay ghosts and assert their dominance...just like twenty years ago, when the Mets entered an April four game series in St. Louis against their arch-enemy, the Cardinals. The Cardinals, like this year's Braves, were defending N.L. East champions.
One Howard Johnson moonshot and four road victories later, Whitey Herzog was blubbering into his Budweiser, and the N.L. East race was over. And I have news for you: The 1986 Cardinals were better than this season's version of the Braves...by a significant margin. And for the first time in the Mets Quixote-like chase for the unreachable star, they have a significantly better team on paper than the windmill known as the Atlanta Braves. So this is the time to make a real statement in this division. The statement should start with a Hojo-esque moment, and should end with the word sweep.
In this, the 20th anniversary of 1986, and all it represented, anything is possible.
Since I am expected to provide prophecies, my pick for Hojo-esque moment is Carlos Delgado. Off Chris Reitsma, bottom of the ninth, down a run, over the bullpen.
Take this from someone who once thought Doug Mientkiewicz was a better swing for Shea Stadium than Delgado, the newest Carlos has been just what this lineup needed. Why has Carlos No. 1 (Beltran) started hot? Why has David Wright gotten some MVP talk?
Of course his fielding isn't close to Mientkiewicz type levels, as his 2 out error on a pick-off throw allowed Geoff Jenkins to blast another space shuttle over the center field wall. But Carlos blew the game open in the eighth with a three run homer to turn a 4-3 nail biter into a 7-3 romp, in what became a 9-3 victory.
Carlos No. 2 has transformed this offense from pop-gun to howitzer. He will continue tomorrow.
Why can't that prophecy come true? Why just one day after I wondered why Jorge Julio pitched in an important spot while Chad (0.00 ERA) Bradford pitched in mop-up duty, Willie got it correct today. Blueback finished off the sixth by getting Carlos Lee to ground out (which he should have done on Saturday), while Armando Junior resumed his rightful role as the bullpen janitor, mopping up a six run lead in the ninth. And in honor of Easter, Julio pitched a goose egg. It's an Easter miracle.
Saturday afternoon, 1:21 PM, same guy calls. Leaves a message on my cell phone while I'm on the train. It's the first inning of the Brewers/Mets game, and there's a play where a grounder kicks off Delgado and pops straight up in the air and back down into this glove, giving him enough time to throw to the pitcher covering for the out. This was his reaction on my cell phone:
"It's a magic season, you mark my words. S**t like this did not happen for the Mets last year, it hasn't happened in twenty years. It's starting to happen. It's like '86 all over again."Of course, the Mets went on to lose 8-2.
I get this message after the game, and I'm in Manhattan screaming...not to myself...screaming: "Why do you continue to do this to me???" Of course, a woman is standing outside a bar with bunny ears and a cotton tail looking at me like I'm nuts.
So for my jinx friend, an amendment to the fan rules:
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Leave the prophecizing to me.
- Don't call me during the game.
- If you do, don't tell me they're on their way to being the greatest team since sliced bread.
- If you do this, and they lose, you get the loss. Not Jorge Julio, not Victor Zambrano, not Anthony Young. YOU! (And right now, you're 0-1.) And you get called out on the blog.
- And finally, you did not tell me that David Wright was going to be a superstar. I told you this. I am Metstradamus, not you. You wanted Ty Wigginton to be the Mets third baseman for ten years. You're the history major...stop revising it. So get over it, stop lying to yourself, and find therapy if you can't bring yourself to accept this.
Don't like these rules? Get your own blog.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Because today's 8-2 loss to the Brewers was worthy of a General Hospital storyline. On today's episode, the older man tries to vie for his manager's love as he attempts to pitch his way into Willie's heart, while the younger, slightly off center competitor snickers in the background.
Steve Trachsel didn't do anything to win back Willie's love and change Willie's mind as to who should be the fifth starter on this club as Trachsel's problems with two outs doomed him today.
Take the second inning...please. Two outs and nobody on, and Trax hits Rickie Weeks with a pitch. Two singles later, it's 1-0 Brewers. Then take the fifth (no pun intended, I swear!) Two outs and nobody on again. Rickie Weeks at the plate...again. Weeks doubles, Prince "Earthquake slide" Fielder singles, and it's 4-1.
Of course, it was back in the fourth that made the difference, when Brewers pitcher Tomo Ohka hit a double over X's head on a fake bunt to drive in a run and set up another run with a sac fly. When Tomo Ohka gets more distance on his hit than Prince Fielder gets on his, you know you're in for a long day.
Then, our soap opera takes us to the middle relief saga. And as most people wonder what Willie has against Trachsel, I wonder what he has against Blueback Bradford. Randolph had two opportunities to bring Bradford in but didn't...and it burned him. The first instance was in the seventh inning. Now Darren Oliver's been decent for the Mets, but I have to question the decision by Willie to leave the lefty in against Carlos Lee to lead off the seventh after the Mets had gotten a run back in the sixth. You have Bradford, who last worked on the 7th of April (and has a 0.00 ERA, it should be noted), wouldn't he have been a better choice?
The second instance was the eighth inning. Instead of Blueback, who does Willie bring in? Why of course, Armando Junior. I remember thinking "wow, three runs down is not miles away...this is a fairly important situation, well at least for Julio. I wonder what Rick Peterson saw."
I ask again: What exactly did you see, Rick?
Because I'll tell you what I saw: I saw Armando Benitez. You think Armando is on the DL? Wrong. He's faking his injury so he can sneak himself into a Mets uniform and screw them all over again (that sounds like a typical "Days of our Lives" storyline). If I'm wrong, then that's one hell of an impression Jorge did...from the straight fastball, to the "woe was me" look exhibited by Junior right before he gave up the moon shot to Jenkins. Speaking of which, could Geoff Jenkins have been any more locked in to that fastball?
Blueback did pitch the ninth. The building had long since burned down so it was like hanging a picture on a charred stick, but Bradford didn't give up a run in the ninth so at least the painting looked pretty.
The day was doubly bleak for me as the Rangers continued their slide out of the Atlantic Division lead as they got crushed 4-1 by the Flyers. Days like this are where a swivel chair and two televisions come in handy...no reason to use the remote control today. Of course that meant that my day went something like this:
Help your goalie!
Watch the splitter.
Good save Weekes!
Damn that Weeks!
Watch the man in front!
Don't give him anything to hit!
That's a penalty!
He was safe!
What are you swinging at?
Where are you passing it to?
Run! Skate! Handzus dove! Dive Cliff dive! Brashear you wuss! Peterson you putz! Poti you stink! Julio...YOU stink too! Damn damn damn!!!!
Joe Queenan wrote a book a while back which is a must MUST read for all that stumble on to this blog. It's called "True Believers: the Tragic Inner Life Of Sports Fans", and if you can look past the fact that Queenan is a Phillies/Flyers fan, then you will certainly not regret reading this book. On days like today, where the Rangers are on one screen and the Mets are on another, I think back to the book, where Queenan talks about a friend of his that roots for the Rangers, Mets and Jets, and has sympathy for him because those three teams constitute, in his words "the hat trick from hell".
Today, I was in hell. But just think: Two weeks from today, the Mets could lose to the Braves on the heels of a seven game losing streak, the Rangers could lose a first round playoff game, and the Jets will no doubt use a first round pick on some punter with a beer belly named Daisy. You want to talk hell?
Of course you didn't. You're a Met fan. And your momma said there'd be days like this.
At least my momma did. She was a Dodger fan, so she should know.
Lucky for us, Tom Glavine is making like Sandy Koufax with his eleven strikeouts in six innings, and after some Maalox moments with the bullpen, the Mets are now 8-1 after a 4-3 victory.
Certainly took long enough after an hour and a half rain delay, but the rain and mist was probably a welcome addition to Glavine's dead fish pitches tonight. It certainly wasn't a welcome addition to Bill Hall's day, as his fifth inning error allowed the eventual winning run to stay on base and eventually score on Carlos Delgado's fielder's choice.
But Glavine was the story tonight. His willingness to pitch inside is key here. I can imagine why an old man like Glavine who makes his living on the outside corner and could no longer break a pane of glass with his fastball would be reluctant to pitch inside and risk having his mistakes travel with an orbit. But once he started doing that (which was around the time I had his career dead and buried, coincidentally after a Brewers game), it's been quite Koufax-ian. And the boos that Glavine once heard at Shea have long stopped.
Speaking of boos, it was quite hysterical to hear Aaron Heilman get booed by the Shea faithful after his abysmal performance tonight in the seventh inning. I'm sure it's been weird for Met fans to witness baseball so solid that it's rare that someone on this team deserves to get booed. So the first bad performance was sure to be met with a little more gusto...especially since we weren't going to see Jorge Julio in this close game. So poor Aaron Heilman received the boo bomb. Well, I shouldn't say poor Aaron Heilman. After all, his ERA was a healthy infinity tonight.
But lucky for us, there's Filthy Sanchez. And he picked up for Aaron, and gutted through the eighth inning to get the Mets to Country Time. And Country Time got the Mets 1-2-3, with a fastball that seems to be gaining steam...much like the team he plays for.
And speaking of karma, here's why there was good karma for the Mets tonight against Milwaukee: The class A affiliate of the very Brewers that were in Shea tonight, the West Virginia Power, welcomed former Met catcher Ed Hearn tonight as their special guest in conjunction with their "Power of Donation" night. Hearn is a proponent of organ and tissue donation and his story, which most of you know, is amazing.
The good karma reached up all the way to the bigs tonight.
One last note that's not Met related but it's hysterical so I'll mention it anyway. After a two and a half hour rain delay, the Giants and Dodgers are currently in the first inning. It is absolutely surreal to hear Dodger fans basically bombard Barry Bonds while in left field with "Barry Sucks" chants (helped along by the Dodger organist), and chants of "Steeeer-ooooids". And the Giants announcing team of Glen Kuiper and Mike Krukow aren't saying one word about it.
As you know, Barry Bonds is facing perjury charges for lying on his own ESPN show.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
- When you hit three first inning home runs in a park that Jose Vidro was complaining about as being too large before the game.
- When the opposing manager makes the right move in walking Fluff Castro with runners on first and third to get to a pitcher who has a career .228 average in his first 202 career at bats...and that pitcher gets a two run single.
- When Jorge Julio doesn't blow a ten run lead.
The Mets are now a mind-blowing 7-1 in 2006 as they have swept the owner-less Nationals by a score of 13-4. Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Cliff Floyd all went deep in the first inning off of Livan Hernandez, and they were all monsters. Beltran hit the upper deck facade again, Wright hit his in the power alley in left center, and Floyd's first of the season was halfway up the right center field wall. The rout was on. Carlos Delgado's home run later in the game was merely gravy.
And then there's Victor Zambrano. He was serviceable today for his first win...three runs, four walks and six hits in five innings...but boy a WHIP of 2 isn't going to get it done ladies and gentlemen. But Willie keeps beating the Zambrano drum...and there's been a lot of consternation about it. My advice to all, as well as to Steve Trachsel, is to relax. A Met type will never go public slamming a guy who they're probably going to try to include in a deal to upgrade the rotation. I don't think the strategy of pumping up Zambrano as more than what he is will work, but the Mets have to give themselves every opportunity not to slam their pitcher, a potential trade chip.
Besides why would they? Gary Cohen is perfectly willing to do that for them.
During SNY's airing of Randolph's post game scrum which was done via tape, the microphones for Cohen and broadcast partner Ron Darling bled through the broadcast. When Randolph said that "you can't expect (Zambrano) to be on top of his game", Cohen was heard in the background saying something to the effect of "that's because he never is".
Funny stuff, but there may be some serious repercussions coming out of this.
First off, the bleeding audio is a problem that has plagued this new network before. Early on, while an SNY commercial would be superseded by a local spot, one could see and hear the local spot, while also hearing the commercial that SNY was running underneath. So this doesn't surprise me. By the same token, Gary has to be extremely careful. There have been plenty of television types that have lost their jobs by thinking that their mic wasn't live. And while Gary Cohen isn't going to lose his job over this, it certainly could put a strain on the relationship between broadcaster and team. With all of the problems that SNY has been having in the early going, Cohen has to be extra careful to mind his p's and q's...and his z's as well.
Tell ya what though, even though it's spectacular that the Mets have beaten two teams that they're supposed to beat, it's going to be great for the Mets to cut their teeth against teams other than the Nationals and the Marlins. Next come the Brewers, and then you know who at Shea. We're going to find out a little more about what we have here. The Brewers are, as you know by everything you read, are much improved, and the Braves are still the Braves. But that's another blog for another time...probably Monday.
I know that SNY has an obligation to advertisers, and to making money. But for crying out loud do we have to see multiple Derek Jeter spots for Ford during the game? "The team...the town...and now a word from Derek Jeter." I mean...what?***
A thank you to reader JM for pointing out that former Met first baseman (and unlikely hero of the September 17th, 1986 division clincher), Dave Magadan is also a finalist for induction into the college baseball hall of fame. But by the same token, a "shame on you" to JM for even attempting to joke in the comment section about me being a "fair weather fan" who only "followed the team from 1999 until now". I didn't want it to come to this...but just as Tony Soprano made an example out of his roided up personal driver, I'm going to have to make an example out of you.
The picture has a little too much glare, but you can clearly tell that this is a custom made "Davey Magadan Jr." bobblehead doll, and you can clearly tell by all the dust and grime that has surrounded it that this was made well before the recent explosion of sports bobbleheads such as these:
No, Davey Magadan Jr. is a limited addition. One of one, and it's mine. Worth nothing to nobody in the Beckett collectibles guide, but worth a little more to me.
So a belated congratulations to Davey Magadan Sr. Now if you will excuse me, I need to spit up some blood in the restroom.
It must be tough to continue to be one step ahead of the baseball watching public. But Pedro Martinez continues to do it. We first started to see it with his elaborate ruse to use "the toe" to escape the World Baseball Tournament.
Tonight was the ultimate candid camera moment...because Pedro won Wednesday night's game last Thursday. You read the quotes from Guillen just like I did:
"Pitching inside, that's part of the game. But throwing at people, that's different. And that's what he was doing. He's trying to intimidate people. And sooner or later, he's going to get hurt. I can guarantee you that."
I remember years ago when Shaquille O'Neal and the Orlando Magic were the latest new world order to try to stop Michael Jordan's Bulls in the late 90's. O'Neal frequently, as he still does, uses his size to intimidate opponents. And he did just that early during that 1996 playoff series as he was the first player since the Pistons Bad Boys who dared knock Jordan off his feet during a game. After Shaquille took the body to Jordan, he helped Jordan back to his feet. Jordan responded to Shaq's sportsmanship by whispering to his one of his Bulls teammates: "I got him". Sure enough, the Bulls swept the Magic out of the eastern conference finals.
Pedro, in knocking the easily affectable Guillen off of his fragile mental state last Thursday, set the stage for Wednesday night...a night when the world at large expected Battle Royale. Instead, we got Guillen grounding into a double play with the bases loaded to get Pedro out of a jam. Dare I say, it was an at-bat set up by Martinez's aggressiveness on Thursday. Pedro Martinez plays chess while Jose Guillen plays checkers.
He got him.
And in the expectations of the baseball viewing public at large, we were all playing checkers. Six days later, it's checkmate.
Concidentally, I received an e-mail today with a link to an article written about perspective. It was written by Bloomberg columnist Scott Soshnick, and it basically covered the fickle nature of sports fans. The article talks about Florida's stud forward Joakim Noah, and how three weeks before his incredible Final Four, nobody knew who he was. It also discusses Vince Young, and how one minute his the next Joe Montana, and one Wonderlic test later he's a few sandwiches short of a picnic. The end of the article covers fans fickle nature regarding Carlos Beltran and the overloaded expectations regarding David Wright. It's a must read, boys and girls.
Could our blackberry, internet driven world be part of the reason that everyone expected the next World War to break out at RFK Stadium tonight? Shows like Around The Horn and Pardon The Interruption were hyping this matchup all week. A certain idiot blogger even depicted Jose Guillen as a boxer (although I do suspect some anger issues there).
What Soshnick is talking about is something I like to refer to as "The Gregg Jefferies Syndrome". To me, the whole thing started when Jefferies got so much hype that his rookie card had a list price of $100 while Gregg was still at Norfolk swinging bats in a swimming pool. Since then, the hype machine created by the explosion of media outlets has no boundaries, whether it's Brien Taylor (who bombed), LeBron James (who actually surpassed the ridiculous and disgraceful amount of media attention he received while still in high school), or even this season's San Jose Sharks, who in year's past would have had at least some opportunity to sneak up on some higher seeds in the first round of the playoffs. But with every prognosticators' zeal to find the next cinderella, everyone in the hockey world can't stop talking about the Sharks...so even as a 6 or 7 seed, there will be no sneaking up on anyone.
Hence, we got a lot of hype for which turned out to be a run of the mill Mets victory. And Pedro Martinez is laughing at all of us.
Oh my lord.
When you click on this link and watch this video, besides gagging at Sid Bream's lack of rhythm, you will laugh at MC Hammer's attempt to become relevant in the baseball world again as he abandons his hometown Oakland Athletics to shill for the Braves. "My team, my town, my Braves".
But if you think that Hammer-time as a Brave is the final bit of karma that breaks their division title streak once and for all, there's one more surprise for you.
This, my friends, is the last straw.
MC Hammer, and Jeff Torborg? I feel a circle of baseball life closing. A long, dark era coming to a fitting end.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Not exactly the "war" it was made out to be...now was it? (There's a Dick Cheney joke here somewhere but I've used my allotment in my last two blogs.)
Instead, it was Brian Bannister's show as his seven innings of three hit ball (and no walks) propelled the Mets to a 7-1 victory today in front of a not quite sellout in Washington. (Why exactly did the Expos leave?)
The fact that Bannister looked so good the second time facing the Nats in a week is encouraging. It tells me that the young man has a clue as to how to make adjustments from start to start. If this is the way he's going to make adjustments, then the next question we'll ask about the starting rotation will be: "Jae Who?"
(Meanwhile Seo, who was seen as a stalwart in the Mets rotation, had his first start tonight after one relief appearance. He got crushed by the Pirates.)
All right, so Jose Reyes probably isn't going to hit .357 all year.
But if he does, then nobody can complain about his lack of walks anymore.
And you know what, nobody should complain at this point. It has nothing to do with the .357 average. What impresses me still, after a week, is that Reyes is taking more pitches (actually, it only seems that way...statistically, he's taking less pitches than last season albeit slightly. But Reyes is performing a pretty good illusion that he's looking at more pitches, and that's good enough for me. Thank you to B.M.C. for the knowledge. Dare I put "Rickey Henderson" and "positive influence" in the same parenthetical citation?) He has transformed into...
No really, it's true. Jose Reyes is stealing all of Ichiro's hits (Ichiro is 0 for his last 17, by the way.)
Here's the question on my mind re:Billy Wagner and his shaky outing in the ninth today...does Country Time not trust his fastball? Is that middle finger that was bothering him late in spring training causing him to stay away from the fastball and go with the slider, as he's done on a lot of 3-2 counts lately?
And will Willie Randolph get him some extra, non-save situation work to get him up to speed more quickly? ("Paging Rick Peterson...Rick Peterson, white courtesy phone.")
When Carlos Beltran hit that 4,000 foot home run in the ninth today, which booing Met fan's head did he pretend the ball was? (Probably mine.)
Congratulations to former Mets Robin Ventura and John Olerud, (and also as it was brought to my attention, former Met Dave Magadan) who were named as nominees for the College Baseball hall of fame. (I knew there was a reason my hand was drawn to the Ventura tee shirt today).
Conversely, a PTI style "Happy Trails" to Mets minor league Waner Mateo, who was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a performance enhancer. Mateo will talk about his jealousy of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa on tonight's installment of "Waner on Waner".
Was it me, or did Keith Hernandez keep referring to Paul Lo Duca as "De Luca" on Sunday? Someone's been shopping too much.
Monday, April 10, 2006
"You play somebody that many times, you're bound to have something happen. I think you've seen more guys getting hit, more guys having trouble because of the fact you see somebody so many times. There's a reason probably why marriages fail so much, because you see each other so much."Round two begins Tuesday, just five days after round one. Joy.
As you know, Vice President Dick Cheney is going to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday's game, which is the Nationals home opener. As soon as the pitch hits Jose Guillen, the ceremonial first fight will begin.
On Wednesday, the Nats will send out Tom Niedenfuer to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. On Thursday, it will be Rick Rhoden.
In fact there is such anticipation for this series, Roger Clemens was seen trying to woo Nationals ownership (Bud Selig) into giving him $20 million to pitch for the Nationals for this series only. Which brings about an interesting scenario: Major League Baseball, which owns the Nats, is telling both teams to "just play ball" this week. Now if something happens, is MLB going to have to fine itself?
Guillen meanwhile, is hoping to parlay this series with the Mets into a title bout with Floyd Mayweather. And there is rumor going around that Target has offered Guillen an endorsement deal. Guillen would replace the dog.
Meanwhile, SNY is sponsoring the "Hometown Hit Batsman Inning". If a Mets pitcher starts a brawl in the home half of the sixth, one lucky fan will win a $25 gift certificate to Friendly's, and be automatically entered in a drawing for a trip to Cooperstown, along with a free ticket to the hall of fame's hottest new interactive game, "The Guillermo Mota Spring Training Experience". I for one, can't wait.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Tom Glavine was also solid today, only giving up two sixth inning runs in his six innings of work today, but it was the bullpen that gave the Mets enough time to pull ahead of Florida today. In fact, today was the day we might have seen the beginnings of Omar Minaya's master plan coming together. Imagine for a moment if this was some sort of bizarre time warp, and these were last season's Mets. Could anybody in last season's bullpen knifed through the Marlins in the seventh and eighth as Filthy Sanchez cut through them today? Would Braden Looper had gotten any of the young lefthanded Marlins out in the ninth (by the same token, would Joe Girardi have left in Dontrelle Willis to hit for himself in the ninth if it was Looper in the game)?
Sanchez's two scoreless innings and Wagner overcoming some shaky defense in the ninth by three fourths of the Met infield kept the Marlins off the board, setting up the Met ninth inning, where the heart of the lineup did what hearts of lineups are supposed to do, with singles by the Carlos twins set up David Wright's third RBI of the game, a sacrifice fly (he drove in the other two on an ill advised Jeremy Hermida diving attempt which turned into a two run triple). And give Country Time Wagner credit for picking up Jose Reyes after his two out error gave Hermida a chance to knock in the go-ahead run. Anderson Hernandez recovered from a bobble of his own to get Hermida and keep the game tied.
There's one thing I don't get about the Marlins this season...last year, when the Marlins were a viable major league franchise, Dontrelle Willis batted seventh. So how come on this Marlins squad, he bats ninth?
Also, did you notice that Bobby Meacham, who was tagged out along with Dale Berra at home plate on the same play, is ironically the third base coach for the Marlins? And don't think he's not gun shy...he held up Mike Jacobs in the fifth inning when he could have scored...and Miguel Cabrera scored easily after running through Meacham's stop sign in the sixth on Josh Willingham's two run double. Someone has issues.
With the Yankees opening road trip not going so well, they might want to watch out at the airport.
Vice President Dick Cheney will throw out the first pitch on Tuesday for the Nationals' home opener against the Mets. If I were Brian Schneider, I'd wear extra padding in my mitt for that occasion. I hear Cheney's got a gun for an arm.
But then Julio Franco called me. He reminded me that I shouldn't let rain get to me. Then he asked me a question:
"What would God do?"
And I thought about it. You know, it made perfect sense. If God were a blogger, He would post on a rainy day. And if He could post, then darn it so could I.
I haven't been the only one to wonder what God would do. And maybe Carlos is correct...God probably would have taken a curtain call. But if God batted third for the Mets, do you really think He would have been booed in the first place? Think about it...with all of the unholy things that have happened to the Mets in their history, you don't think God would have something really twisted up his sleeve if Met fans were stupid enough to boo Him?
Phillies fans? Yes.
But God would never play for the Phillies...not after they booed Mike Schmidt. God ain't stupid.
Friday, April 07, 2006
But even Armando Junior couldn't destroy what became a 9-3 Mets victory tonight...a major league pounding of a minor league team. Now I know you all believe that it's what the Mets do against the Braves that decide the division race. But consider this: The Mets finished 1986 with 108 wins. The Pirates finished with 64. The Mets record against the Pirates was 17-1. Seems like that would have been the case, no? But now consider the previous season when the Pirates were actually worse...they won 57 games. The Mets were only 10-8 against the Bucos. And where did the Mets finish? A lousy three games behind the Cardinals, who took care of business against Pittsburgh going 15-3. With Washington falling below the equator, and Florida falling off the baseball map completely, this is a great opportunity for the Mets to fatten up against baseball's have nots. Beat the teams that they're supposed to beat, and the rest takes care of itself. Tonight was a great start.
But the best part of tonight's game is David Wright's continued hot start...hitting his second home run of the year all the way out to College Point while getting two hits and three RBI's. Why is this important? My fantasy team...of course. I usually stay away from hometown guys because that strategy will kill you if you're not careful. The player who picked directly behind me during the odd rounds of this draft is just the opposite. He has littered his team with the likes of Tom Glavine, Aaron Heilman, Jae Seo, Steve Trachsel, with an inevitable free agent pickup of David Weathers not far behind. So when the first round came, I was pretty set on picking my usual fantasy stand-by, Jake Peavy. Peavy never disappoints me. But when the 13th pick of the draft came, David Wright still available, and the guy who drafts all Mets right behind me, it was either stay away from the home team, or completely screw the guy behind me knowing that Wright was going at 14.
Well all is fair in love and baseball...Wright was mine. And he's paying quick dividends.
And Peavy still almost fell in my lap, but the guy I screwed in round one screwed me right back in round two...taking Peavy with the pick before mine. And I knew it was a "screw you" pick because the guy he really wanted, Ichiro Suzuki, was still out there. So I had to "settle" for Ichiro in round two. Funny how things work out.
More on the Beltran Boos: Gary Cohen mentioned the fact that on the Met message boards on the internet, most fans were against booing Beltran so early in the season, to which broadcast partner Keith Hernandez agreed. The advent of the internet, Gary noted, has brought a quicker shift in the cheering/booing habits of the Met fan. And this brings up the most important query of the night:
Gary Cohen reads Met fan message boards?
I for one am pleasantly stunned...think of it, an announcer that keeps track of the pulse of the fan base. I love it! Now if we can get Gary to come visit this blog once in a while, then my world domination can commence.
I was asked to provide some soothsaying on the Mets new ballpark. And to be honest with you, it will be a highly emotional time for me when the wrecking ball finally hits the building where I spent the majority of my childhood...especially my time in high school and college. So I'm going to remain in denial until then. However I will acknowledge that a baseball town such as New York deserves a beautiful new park, especially when cities and states that care more about other sports, such as Detroit, Texas, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston, and soon to be Minnesota get these palaces while New York is behind the curve. So it will also be a happy time. I do have some suggestions for the new park:
- You have to have a landmark outside the building where everyone can meet. Yankee Stadium has the bat...how about The Mitt for us? Something like this can honor many players at the same time. For example, you can color The Mitt gold to honor Doug Flynn, and also put a hole in the webbing to acknowledge the time Kaz Matsui spent with us.
- If not that, how about an arch style gateway to the main concourse? But instead of a conventional arch, you can style the arch in the shape of Bill Buckner's legs...and everyone can go through them to get in the new park.
- You're going to have restaurants in the new stadium...how about calling one of them "Kiner's Korner"? A great tribute to the man who has been with the organization longer than anyone. But be careful...when you order the "Gary Carter", you'll sometimes wind up with the "Gary Cooper".
- There apparently will be a steel bridge motif...why not make it authentic and clog all the bridges with model cars to give tourists visiting the park the true New York traffic experience?
- "Pignatano Park"?
Update: In case you haven't seen it, look who's blogging now! None other than the man who's going to ride my fantasy team to victory, David Wright. His blog is called "Getting it Wright", and he's looking for suggestions for a new name. I actually kind of like the title as is, but if he really wants to change it, I can come up with some suggestions:
- "Carrying Cliff's Bags"
- "99 Problems But a Pitch Aint One"
- "We've Had How Many Third Basemen?"
- "Stop Booing Carlos!"
- "The Musings And Prophecies of Wrightstradamus"
Hey I kind of like how that last one sounds! Anyway, you can find David's link in the sidebar. Good luck David! And remember to wear some extra body armor against those Nationals!
Has either Bauer or Norris stopped two riots in the span of a hour?
I mean, the show is called "24", but hell Julio Franco needed just one hour to stop two potentially harmful situations. And Chuck Norris? Please. He lost to Bruce Lee, and Lee wasn't wielding a bat! So give me Mr. Egg Whites over both of them.
First came the Jose Guillen incident. Now keep in mind that Guillen was hit a few times last season, and multiple times by Mets...not to mention blasting his own teammates for not coming to his defense. Then comes tonight, and Guillen gets hit not once but twice. The ticking time bomb that is Jose Guillen was most certainly in play. But after the bomb comes after Pedro with bat in tow, and the benches clear, there's Julio playing bomb diffuser...red wire here, green wire here...talking Guillen off the ledge. Can Jack Bauer do that?
Then, the Beltran incident. Mr. Sensitive hits his first home run of the season in the seventh, and gets called out for a curtain call by some of the same fans that booed him on opening day. The petulant one, who's still hitting .100 by the way, was seen refusing to tip his hat to the fans...a reaction that wasn't totally unexpected. Who comes to the rescue but Mr. Egg Whites, convincing Beltran to do the right thing and saving yet another riot, this one between Beltran and Met fans, in the process. Was there ever an episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger" where Chuck Norris ever did that? Of course not...because Julio Franco was an actual Texas Ranger, whereas Norris just played one on T.V.
(An aside, Willie Randolph says during the post game show that sometimes a player doesn't want to show up his teammates by giving a curtain call. I don't buy it. Why else would Franco convince him to come out?)
For all we know, Franco probably used a little faith healing on home plate umpire Ted Barrett after he left the game due to getting hit with the pitch that started the whole mess in the first place, the ricochet off of Guillen. All this without even getting in the game, a 10-5 Mets win. Is there nothing Franco can't do?
You say that both Bauer and Norris could team up to take care of the old man? Then give me Paul Lo Duca to complete the tag team, and end Bauer and Norris' reign forever. It was Lo Duca calling the aggressive game that he did that started all this. And if you want to tell me that Pedro's control wasn't all there as he's still in "spring training mode", I'll believe you. But I'll say this: if Jose Guillen is a loose cannon who's easily bothered by pitchers getting in his kitchen, and the Nationals don't show an inclination to protect their hitters, then who's to say that Paulie didn't put it in the game plan to rattle Guillen's cage a little bit?
Felix Rodriguez plunking Paul Lo Duca in the eighth was an easy one to call. Rodriguez was pitching in his third straight game down by four runs with Lo Duca hitting second in the inning. With Jack McGee calling all of those inside pitches against National hitters, there was no way Rodriguez wasn't going to plunk Paulie and end his night early. Felix's mistake was being so obvious about it, throwing at him twice in a row...but again, pitching in his third straight day in a lost cause, Rodriguez wasn't going to care about that.
And to clarify, it's not automatic that a pitcher and manager get ejected after warnings are issued. Umpire warnings are issued for the purpose of warning managers that players could be ejected without warning, but it's still to the discretion of the umpire. This is why Filthy wasn't ejected for plunking Nick The Mustache in the seventh when it was just a one run lead. If it was a four run lead as it was when Felix hit Lo Duca, then Filthy is gone. Same premise, if he hits Guillen instead of The Mustache, Filthy is gone. This situation, where a player was plunked after both benches were warned but the pitcher not ejected, has precedent. I just wish I could remember what it was.
But the whole episode showed why SNY's Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez are going to bring enormous amounts of usefulness to their broadcasts. Hernandez explained why he thought that everyone's cranky old grandpa Frank Robinson had a beef (actually, I think he had a beef because the game lasted too long past his bedtime). Then Cohen brought up rightly that the Mets had been on the short end of the stick on these beaning situations over the past few seasons, which is absolutely right.
But now, that will no longer be the case with the combination of Pedro Martinez and Paul Lo Duca making sure that opposing batters will no longer be feared or comfortable. And that's something that's condoned by this blogger. Besides, with our own Jack Bauer standing watch, what can go wrong?