Thursday, June 29, 2006

Fever Pitch? Only For The Hypocrisy

Let's face it, Met brethren...your team will never get any credit for anything they do, ever. Get used to it.

In fact, we should give up right now because even if the Mets win the World Series this year, the built-in excuses are in place. We should stop blogging, stop rooting, stop showing up. It doesn't matter if the Mets win every game from here to the World Series, and beyond. Because now that the Mets have been swept by the Red Sox, one of the best baseball teams going right now, we apparently don't deserve to play baseball. "The National League is watered down" they say...never mind that the Omar Minaya did a great job signing everybody else's great players to water them down themselves, their accolades are tempered because they're beating everybody whom they've been assigned...until this week.

Obliterated the National League? Ran away and hid from the rest of the division? Won most of the games that you were supposed to win? It all has apparently unraveled in the span of three days because ooh...we lost to the big bad American League. Let's pack up and go home.

These are the points that certain Yankee fans have made before the third and final game of this set, a 4-2 loss which has been as painful as any this season (aided by a hellacious catch by Coco Crisp which prevented the game from being tied in the eighth.) First, you had Mike Francesa...who on Tuesday, before the series began, made it a point to remind Met fans that even though his highness and the court jester made the trip to Fenway to broadcast their show, that Mets/Red Sox is not Yankees/Red Sox. Then went on to prove that point by spending most of the first part of the show interviewing Steve Nash and Brett Favre (topical). Yet today, from the friendly confines of Astoria, the tone from King Diet Coke was, "well, Mets/Red Sox isn't as big as Yankees/Red Sox...but it's still big." Sure, after the Mets lost two games does the proclamation get the qualifier: "but it's still big". If the Mets had won the two games, do we get that qualifier?

But the hypocrisy was in full force when King Yankee fan mentioned that he was rooting for the Red Sox to win tonight.

Wait a minute now, this from the fan base that accuses Met fans of hating the Yankees more than they love their own team. Now we know that's a bunch of Bravo Sierra (that's code, folks). Because it's easy to be high and mighty when your cross town rivals are irrelevant, but now when they're in the conversation again, you have Yankee fans rooting for the Red Sox, which is practically rooting against themselves. Gee, I thought The Greatest Fans In The History Of Fans were above that!

Francesa should be ashamed of himself. The A.L. East is still a tight race which is starting to slip away a wee bit. But the Hero of The Greatest Fans In The History Of Fans is willing to give away a half a game to hate a team more than he loves his own. I hope that the standings at the end of the year look something like this:

Red Sox 94 68 ---
Yankees 93 69 1

It would serve him, and the people that worship him, right.

And don't resign yourself to the fact that "oh, it's just Francesa tweaking Met fans to make good radio." Because this guy is nowhere near the radio (thank goodness), yet is showing leanings towards feeling the same way.
"But despite the discomfort and agita this Sox Barnstroming (spelling) tour has given me, I'm willing to endure for three reasons. 1) I have no choice 2)We don't have to face them again until August and a lot of things can happen between now and then...and 3)Seeing these Mets fan in A)complete denial about what this series means 2)the ones who were strutting around like Horny Roosters when they were beating on the D-Backs and the Phillies....who now realize that their team isn't nearly as good as they think."
Am I being lectured by a man whose team is out of a playoff spot?

After I stopped and asked for directions to B after driving past A and only seeing another 2, and having to go through a detour through some latin phrases, (those he gets right) and finally getting to the end, I realized that I just stopped off at a Yankee blog and got a dissertation on the Mets. Who's obsessed now?
"The Mets coronation as the NL's best team is complete. Outside of the Yankees this weekend, what other series will the Mets have this season that will compare to these two? The NL East is in shambles. I doubt the Braves, Phils or Marlins will put up much of a fight this summer. Only the Cardinals have a chance to challenge the Mets. But I doubt that they have enough pitching."
So we're going to the World Series, is that what he's trying to say? But then...

"This weekend series is the first time the roles are reversed. The Mets will come in as the team with the most to lose. If they lose this series after the Red Sox series, they take a huge blow to their credilbility (spelling) as a World Series contender. Pennant contenders? They're still the class of the league. But noone's going to take them serious as the ones who can win it all. In the menatime (spelling), what happens to the Yankees? Lose, they're in the race and noone thinks they're done. If they win? Cue the Imperial March."
So wait...the Mets lose their credibility as a World Series contender if we lose the series to the Yankees (and it's conveniently forgotten how the Mets beat the Yanks at Shea earlier in the season...I guess that, like all the wins over National League teams, doesn't matter either). But the Yankees use it as a springboard to dominance? By beating a team that lost their credibility? By beating a team that's not as good as we think?

Yet another Yankee fan who wants it both ways. Gloat when they win, then tell other teams they have no right to complain because of the ten minutes in their history when they had Mel Hall that they've had it soooooooo haaaaaaard.

So the fact it took 78 games for the first three game losing streak of the season...the fact that this happened to a team that won a million games in a row and who's in first place...the fact that the Mets are still eleven games ahead of their division, the division they've been all doesn't matter if you listen to the hypocrites. We should just go home, and put away our laptops. Because all our team is going to do is get slaughtered by the entire American League in the World Series. It's all been decided.

Spare me.

"My favorite line of the day? The Red Sox fan who told Mike Francesa after Tuesday night's loss to 'bring on the team from New York who can actually play.' Priceless."
Bring them on indeed.

My Two Dads

"I guess you can call the Red Sox my daddy." -Pedro Martinez, a quote we wish was true for sheer entertainment purposes, after tonight's game.
If you're going to be beaten senseless, why not be beaten senseless by those you love?

The "glass half full" in me says that at least Petey got this nonsense out of the way in advance of a potential Red Sox/Mets 1986 rematch in October...and that the Mets still gained ground in the National League east at the end of the day..

The "glass half empty" in me says that the rest of the water spilled and the damn glass is empty.

So let's lay out the groundwork for a worst case scenario here: Schilling pitches a gem, Glavine gets crushed and the Mets get swept. The measuring stick of the Boston Red Sox becomes way too high for the Mets to come close to reaching the top. What happens? Does Omar Minaya become more inclined to wheel and deal for a starter in preparations for a World Series matchup with, well...anyone? As bad as the National League East has become, is there any reason for Minaya not to think about the long haul of October and a potential World Series matchup? Or do the Mets keep the chemistry the way it is and hope for the best if (when?) the Mets get to the last round? Before this series, the answer would have been chemistry...easily. But what is the answer now?

But here's a more important question...what does it say about my lack of intestinal fortitude that two whoopins at the hands of the Red Sox have me scouring You Tube for home videos of Mets wins, video of game 6 of the 1986 Series, and even the RBI baseball recreation of the bottom of the tenth to make me feel better?

By the way, I hear that there is soon going to be a RBI baseball recreation of Lastings Milledge's two butchered fly balls in the outfield this series. The Metstradamus crack staff has obtained a screenshot:

Now since this recreation would no doubt induce a fair amount of vomit, would it be known as a "Virus Video"?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Look Out Lastings!

Summer June night, the present. An everyday fly ball hit by a not so everyday man known for greatness, and goofiness at the same time. Enter a young rookie, Mr. Lastings Milledge. He is a man once thought to be exchanged for the very man who hit the spherical paradox that would change this young rookie's life. And now, in this battle of division leaders a link between young and old is bonded forever by an everyday fly ball that would transfer said goofiness from old to young. But before it would make its harrowing descent, it would reach an apex that scraped the atmosphere of...the twilight zone.

Apparently Lastings Milledge is auditioning for the role of Bernard Gilkey in the "Men In Black" remake.

As long as we're reminiscing about the 1986 World Series, let me give the thumbs up of the day to Baseball Tonight, who played 86 degrees of separation tonight...tying everything back to 1986, the Mets and the Red Sox. But the thumbs down of the day was to whoever made the decision to wear the black uniforms today, ruining any chance of me being able to squint and pretend that Alay Soler was actually Ron Darling. Let's hope this is rectified for Petey's start.

One of the things I remember from the Fenway trifecta of games from 20 years ago was the video montage played on NBC sometime during game three, showing Mookie Wilson practicing fielding fly balls off the wall before game three to get used to that green monster. Mookie, who was in the SNY studio tonight and will be all series, made that practice pay off as he played a flawless series in Fenway's own twilight zone.

I thought back to that as I saw Milledge struggled with the mere existence of the wall without it actually coming into play. All Manny's fly ball really amounted to was a fly ball. Catchable, yet elusive. An easy third out which turned into two runs. Unfortunately, the education of Lastings Milledge occurs on an in-game basis.

So too, does the education of Soler, who learned dipping and darting out of the strike zone might work for some teams, but not on these Red Sox oh no. Soler's struggles in the first inning set the tone for his entire night. Both teams seemed to work high counts on respective rookies Soler (107 pitches in 4 and 1/3) and Jon Lester (116 pitches in five innings). The difference being that the Sox lineup put the bat on the ball when it counted, and the Mets did not. Because when pitch number 116 from Lester struck out David Wright with the bases loaded in the fifth, and Lester pumped the same left fist that pumped the life out of the Flushing nine, the game was over and out.


As for Petey's start, you can tell that it's going to be one of those moments that needs to be put in a time capsule and saved forever. Sometimes, it takes leaving a place to be appreciated fully by the people in that place. Sure, Pedro was revered in Boston when he wore red...but there were always the stories that were magnified to the umpteenth degree from the lateness to the nutso dugout antics to the diva tag to the midget (who still may not have forgiven Pedro for leaving). But now that he's gone, the relationship between Petey and Boston has only grown fonder. Couldn't you tell from the two minute ovation he got in the visitors uniform? And it didn't hurt that unlike Johnny Damon, Martinez didn't return in a Yankee uniform. So the relationship between Red Sox fans and Pedro can now blossom into mythical status.

On Wednesday, the man who as a boy sat under a mango tree without 50 cents for the bus now gets to revel as the center of attention again, a place that Pedro loves. And for a man who has a definite sense for the moment, I expect nothing but the effort of a lifetime from Pedro Martinez...a thanks to Boston, and a gift to New York at the same time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Gauntlet

As you all know, there is a huge three game measuring stick coming up against Big Papi and the Boston Red Sox. Pedro vs. Beckett. Glavine vs. Schilling. Fenway Park. Enough to make the good kind of chills go up your spine.

But as always, thoughts are forced to turn towards the Yankees.

You see, I've been challenged to a friendly wager by none other than my favorite Yankee fan/co-worker, Darth Marc. And it kinda, sorta of involves all of you. The bet challenged to me is this: If the Yankees win the upcoming weekend series with the Mets, Darth Marc subjects you to one guest blog on "The Musings and Prophecies of Metstradamus".

Mets win the series?

I make a one time invasion of his Evil Empire write whatever I want (insert evil laugh).

There has been talk about expanding the bet in case of a sweep. But I subscribe to the KISS theory...Keep It Simple, Stupid. Two out of three ain't bad, and it's good enough to win.

And there has also been talk about making it a week's worth of blogs. But I look at it this way, if you can write whatever you want, what's the point of blogging seven times? Say what you have to say in one shot, and get out.

So I propose to you this, the series, you get one blog. AND...the loser must create a permanent link on his site to the guest blog. Because here's the bottom line: I cannot resist the opportunity to invade enemy turf and spread a new world order of baseball gospel.

The only issue is this: This guest blog will have to happen in the area of the all star break, because I will be away for sun and sand from July 2nd until July 11th, and will be halfway to Florida by the time that Sunday night game is over. The day after the all-star break would be perfect anyway, since it will be a good way to occupy an off day.

So Darthy, I'm in. Are you?


The ESPY nominees are out. I normally avoid any and all awards shows like the plague, and I will most likely avoid this one as well. But I voted...and your very own David Wright is nominated for "Best Play of the Year" for his barehanded catch against San Diego last season. So surf your way over there and show your support gosh darn it!

Here are some other suggestions on how to vote on select categories:

Best Team:
  1. Maryland Lady Terrapins
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. University of Texas
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Miami Heat

The easy pick here is to go with the White Sox because they vanquished arch-enemy Roger Clemens. But for heaven's sake how hard did the White Sox really have it? They swept a team that couldn't score! Ooooooooh!

The Steelers are eliminated, because any franchise who's fan base tailgates at the hospital where their quarterback crashed his non-licensed non-helmet wearing carcass into an oncoming car does not deserve your vote. The Heat? The NBA refs deserve your vote as team of the year just as much.

The Longhorns beat one of the most talented teams of the century on the strength of one freakin' player. One player!!! By all means, give Vince Young the ESPY for Best Championship Performance...but does the whole team deserve to win an ESPY? I think not. My pick: The Maryland Lady Terrapins. I know nothing about them, but I they don't piss me off as the other teams do...t0 various degrees.

Best Game:

  1. Agassi vs. Blake/U.S. Open
  2. Astros/Braves Game 4 NLDS
  3. USC/Texas National Championship

First off, the U.S. Open is probably the only event where you have to go through hundreds and hundreds of people to find a real tennis fan...and you have to put a down payment on a cheeseburger. So that disqualifies Agassi/Blake, which wasn't even a final...same as Astros/Braves. Great game, but I can't vote for a game where my rooting interests lied more in mass food poisoning than in an actual winner and loser. Hence my pick: USC/Texas. It really was a hell of a game.

Best Breakthrough Athlete:

  1. Kimmie Meisner
  2. Shaun White
  3. Chris Paul
  4. Alexander Ovechkin

If you vote for a figure skater or a snowboarder, you should have your internet taken away. And as good as Chris Paul is, has Chris Paul ever had the expectation of saving a whole sports league? And more important, can he do this? My pick, easily: Alexander Ovechkin.

Other than that? We'll I'm not going to take your entire test for I?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Stupid Hot

A question, if I may be so bold.

I seem to remember a bunch of people, including myself, taking shots at hitting coach Rick Down for his performance last year.

So how come now, with the Mets tearing the cover off the ball, Down isn't getting the credit that he may rightly deserve and be entitled to?

Probably because with his ten o'clock shadow he's reminiscent of Shooter from the movie "Hoosiers", coming to the ballpark straight from a drinking binge at Jake's Saloon.

But it could also be that perhaps we've all realized that there's not much Shooter could have done with Miguel Cairo as his two hole hitter. What could a hitting coach really do when he has the 2005 Mets lineup, otherwise known as Misdemeanors Row?

Now if this season's lineup was equally inept to last season's lineup, then yes, Down would have deserved to be ridden out on the proverbial rail. But with Delgado and Lo Duca on board, the lineup is better, and Rick Down doesn't look so bad. But is coaching overrated? Do we, as a many times scorned fan base, put too much blame on a coaching staff yet not enough credit? And what impact do coaches on the major league level really have when major leaguers, for the most part, already know how to play baseball (we hope)?

Take the case of one Jose Reyes, otherwise dubbed by David Wright as "Stupid Hot". On June 11, after the only game in June where he was hitless, Reyes was hitting .246...and now he's batting .302 with an on base percentage in the .360's. Reyes has had an unfathomable month, and in truth has been a different hitter all season long...not just for June. Sure Reyes has walked more, but not that much more than last season. Truth is, there is a fundamental difference in Reyes' approach...most notably, he has resisted the urge to be a farmer.

In other words, he's stopped swinging at fertilizer in the dirt.

So what, if anything, has Shooter done to transform Reyes into what he has been this season? Because Reyes is still Reyes. He is an aggressive hitter who doesn't look for the free pass first like Rickey Henderson, Reyes' stolen base mentor in the spring, did. But he is significantly more selective, which not only plays into the type of hitter he is which is "see it, hit it", but it plays into the philosophy of Down which is...well, "see it, hit it".

Sometimes, it's just a reminder, a back to basics approach that works. Sometimes, it's nothing more than soothing, calming words of encouragement. Sometimes it takes reading your subject to sleep with a classic children's story. Who knows what Shooter is doing to help Reyes in particular, and the Mets lineup in general. Even if as some suspect he's doing absolutely nothing, he at least deserves some credit for staying out of the way.


So I'm watching Fluff Castro score on a wild pitch during today's 7-4 Mets victory over Toronto. And as he's lumbering home with the dexterity of a water buffalo, I'm this the Molina brother that was put up for adoption?

The 4th Molina?

The Lost Molina?


So I guess nothing truly significant happened during this Toronto series...which is good because Filthy Sanchez missing the rest of the season would have been the closest thing. And I'm glad that did not happen.

But the Mets taking two of three from Toronto is significant enough. It's a good measuring stick for how the Mets can stack up against the best the A.L. has to offer, Casey Janssen and Josh Towers aside. In the Red Sox, it only gets better in terms of seeing where you are truly at. And Jon Lester, the familiar Josh Beckett, and the resurgent Curt Schilling are as good as they get in their respective roles. Two wins out of three against those guys? In Fenway? I will no doubt cease to fear anyone in October.


Oh, and a quick Metstradamus Famous Prediction: With all the talk of Ozzie Guillen eventually being fired, I figure that I will weigh in on it...Ozzie Guillen will not be fired by Ken Williams.

He'll quit before that happens...end of the year. You heard it here first.

Wil E. Randolph...Super Genius

You can't tell me that Willie Randolph doesn't know the rule book inside and out after Saturday's 7-4 loss to Doc Halladay and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Second inning: You have a pitcher in Orlando Hernandez getting torched...six runs and two hit batsmen in one and 2/3 innings...and already with one mound visit on his ledger. So he throws near Troy Glaus (and give Glaus an Oscar for his poignant portrayal of a batter who had any chance of getting hit with a pitch...reminded me of Manny throwing a fit at Clemens for throwing an inch inside during the playoffs and trying to get Clemens thrown out) and there are warnings flying around and Hernandez is starting to get agitated.

So Randolph, in his infinite genius, leaves the dugout to "talk to the umpires", and in the process shrewdly says a couple of words to his Christmas tree lit pitcher...knowing that it could very well get Hernandez eliminated from the game after five outs (as it constituted a second mound visit) without having to actually take him out. And it worked! Hernandez was not only forced to be removed from the game, but he totally was mad at the umpires for making a "bad ruling". Randolph makes the token argument (an acting job worthy of, well, Troy Glaus) while secretly breathing a sigh of relief that Orlando was no longer in the game. What better way to get your veteran pitcher getting his brains beat in out of the game without absorbing the blame yourself?

It's pure genius! It's like playing a practical joke on your teammate while making it look like it was someone else. Who says Willie can't manage? And who says Willie can't act? Super Genius!

I have to stop watching Oliver Stone movies.


Truth is, with Doc on the mound for the Jays I had this game pegged as a loss anyway. But the Mets reached Doc for ten hits in seven and a third, and had the tying run on base in the eighth inning with the immortal former Met Justin Speier in the game. But X reached out at another low slider (a regular occurrence lately) and that was that. I think I would have felt better of Halladay was Halladay and dominated. But once the Mets got to a bullpen member not named B.J. Ryan, this game could have been had. Slightly disappointing.

Speaking of B.J. Ryan, I can't remember the last time I saw a pitcher...closer or otherwise, completely dismantle the Mets as Ryan did in the ninth. Ryan seemed like a Bugs Bunny cartoon out there:




Whoa! Nasty.

I'm not going to play the "I wish we had gotten B.J. instead of Wagner card", because they were both excellent options. I will always be surprised however that Ryan didn't get at least a closer look by Omar in favor of Wagner. The man is plain nasty.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hold The Ice (Down On Your Arm)

They say that cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Where does that put filthiness?

After tonight, filthiness may be on the shelf next to Victor Zambrano.

If you didn't see the game, and you're squeamish about hearing bad news, you might not want to read any further. You might want to go here and just dive into some good old bliss.

All right, you've stayed with me...don't say I didn't warn you.

Duaner "Filthy" Sanchez suffered a freak injury after throwing his second pitch of the game about five feet wide and to the backstop in the eighth inning...and he wasn't able to lift his arm over his head.

If you heard Paul Lo Duca talk afterwards, well aren't you lucky because he's quickly becoming the best post-game interview in the major leagues (if not quite the best baserunner, as he tried to hit an inside the park home run while completely skipping the entire third base had to see it to truly appreciate it). But seriously, he didn't sound too concerned after seeing Filthy in the lockerroom after the injury. Maybe it looked worse than it was. In fact, it's "officially" being called a "shock" to his neck which ran down his arm to his fingers.

Tell me something boys and girls: when you heard the cute little story in spring training that Sanchez never...and I mean never...ices his arm, you knew this was going to happen right? You knew that some sort of freak injury was going to occur to the genius that doesn't ice his arm.

Sanchez is due for an MRI back here at home on Saturday, just to make sure that it's just a shock, and not say: structural damage, a rotator cuff injury, and fifty seven little tears. My suggestion to you, if you subscribe to this sort of thing, is to throw down a couple of "Hail Mary's" and about 15 "Our Fathers" for filthiness...which right now is nowhere near Godliness. But that doesn't mean that He can't take a field trip and help out on this one.

(P.S. When I predicted something significant would happen in Toronto, that was not what I had in mind.)

As for the rest of the game, a 6-1 victory by the beloved, what was there not to love? There were Blue Jay fans embracing the return of Carlos Delgado with a nice ovation. There was another David Wright laser beam off the facing of the second deck. There was Tom Glavine bouncing back with a seven inning one run effort off of a team that was hitting in the .290's coming in. There was Lastings Milledge's deep dinger to center field (along with the silent treatment in the dugout, to which Milledge responded to by high fiving his imaginary friends instead) and his two acts of highway robbery in the field. And most importantly, there was the Mets lineup crushing a pitcher that absolutely should be crushed. Let's face it, this game had three Met singles written all over it. But they did the job...albeit with the help of the last remaining patch of astroturf in the majors turning 4-3 putouts into triples...but they did the job.


Has anyone else noticed Jose Reyes taking a subtle peek towards the first base line before every pitch tonight?


Can Bengie Molina tuck in his shirt please? He looks like he belongs in the Pepsi Party Patrol with that look. You're a professional dammit!


You know how confusing interleague play is? I saw St. Louis 3 Detroit 3, and my first fleeting thought was: "Who scored for the Red Wings?"

Friday, June 23, 2006

History Afoot?

All right. I'm going to say it and I'm going to stick by it:

Something amazing is going to happen with the Mets this weekend in Toronto.

Now I know what you're going to say: "Metstradamus, amazing things happen every day with this team. It's a semi-regular occurrence." And you're right.

But this is different. This isn't the general last inning comeback feeling I'm getting, or the sweep of the Blue Jays feeling I'm getting. This is different. I think that something of enormous proportions is brewing.

It's easy to say no-hitter...and Tom Glavine goes tonight in the first game against a Blue Jay team that will be heading into Toronto late tonight. It could be a no-hitter. But it could also be something else. It could be Carlos Delgado hitting a two out two strike salami in the ninth off of his former team. Heck, it could be Carlos Delgado going deep three or four times in a single game. It could be a ten RBI performance by somebody. It could be Julio Franco becoming the oldest ever player to...start a bench clearing brawl? It could be anything. But it's going to be significant.

But why this weekend? Why in Toronto?

Simple, because I'm not going to be there.

It's not like I've been at any other game this season, but if things had broken right (a lot of things), this was the series I would have traveled to see. I haven't been to Toronto since 1998, and absolutely loved the city when I was there and have been looking for an excuse to go back ever since. (I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: the hot dogs sold by the street vendors in Toronto are the absolute best hot dogs that I have ever eaten...and if any of you are going up there, do yourself a favor and chow one down). One thing I didn't do back in 1998 was see a baseball game at SkyDome, but I had a legitimate reason: it was November. And this time out would have been perfect. The Mets are in town, and there's even a promotion between the Saturday and Sunday game where fans can sleep in SkyDome, and have the Blue Jays serve you breakfast. Sweet!

If I could have, I would have. But I can't. And that means that I'm going to miss something significant. I can feel it.


Once again, Michael Oliver echoes my thoughts.


It hit me a little bit watching the game today...and seeing the construction happening beyond the outfield wall, getting ready for the ceremonial groundbreaking for "Shea II, Brute". I'm not prepared to know how to feel about this.

I will say this, just because there's construction, doesn't necessarily mean a stadium is going up. But seeing the cranes and the pile of dirt and the towers is a severe dose of reality...concrete sights added to abstract thoughts and drawings.


Who the hell are LaShelle Tarver and Mike Stenhouse? I don't remember them in 1986, do you?

Does Bill Simmons even know who these guys are?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Eyes On The Prize

So here's the luxury of playing in a division that stinks:

You can have a 3-4 homestand against the bad Orioles and the we're not sure about them yet Reds, and not get hammered for it because a 3-4 homestand actually gains ground in this division.

Here's what I have to say impresses me about the Mets that I saw today: It's getaway day. It's hot and muggy. It's the Reds. It's a day game after a horrible loss. It's a lineup dominated by the bench. The best of the American League East is upcoming. There was every reason for the Mets to play like complete boneheads and sleepwalk through this game, win or lose.

Instead, you have Jose Reyes going from first to third on a 5-3 putout with nobody covering third base. You have Julio Franco stealing third (that's what, his 50th steal of the year?) on a napping Juan Castro.

Before I go any further, I don't want to minimize the efforts of David Wright and this two dingers today. As Gary Cohen said today, the M-V-P chants are getting louder with each game. And each game that Albert Pujols misses with injury, Wright catches up a little bit more, and a little bit more. I believe that the presence of Carlos Delgado in the middle of that lineup has helped David Wright, along with the rest of the Mets lineup, immensely. But consider this small sample when you judge Wright: There have been five games so far this season...including today...where Wright played without the protection of Carlos Delgado in the lineup. Wright's numbers in those five games? How about three home runs, thirteen runs driven in, and sixteen hits out of twenty at bats. That's a batting average of eight hundred, ladies and gentlemen. That is absolutely insane.

But back to the main point: Get on Willie Randolph for whatever you want to get on him for. Get on him for his in game management. Get on him for his "prickliness" with the media. Get on him for the horrible Subway commercials (please get on him for that). But Willie Randolph keeps this team ready to play. Constantly, they're stealing bases on those who aren't paying attention. They're aggressive on the basepaths. And at the very real risk of sounding like cliche-master Joe Morgan (which I hope never to do again), they're doing those little things that it takes to win.

Willie Randolph has his team focused on the here and now. I've never played the game, but I imagine that 162 games is a long season to go through without daydreaming here and there, and taking a look at the scoreboard...or at October...or of the blonde in the front row behind the dugout. There will always be those days where a team isn't mentally focused on what they're doing at that very moment. But the 2006 Mets have not only kept that nonsense at a minimum, they're taking advantage of teams that aren't focused. And whether you like it or not, that's Willie Randolph's doing. That's the doing of the entire coaching staff (even Rick Peterson and his mullet). So for that, I give them credit might want to or not.


Only Mike and the Mad Dog can kill the Mets constantly directly after a Met victory because of the bad loss the night before.

At this very moment, they're killing Wright for not letting the Rich Aurilia tapper go foul. Chris Russo has been screaming that it's a horrible play, and the two of them are absolutely sure that the ball would have gone foul...22 hours later and with the advantage of video tape.

I saw the same video tape that they saw and I'll say this: If the ball was going foul...and truthfully I thought it was going to stay fair...with the horrible umpiring going on this year on obvious calls (see Pedro Martinez's blooper that Austin Kearns trapped but called an out even though everybody could see with the naked eye that the ball was trapped), do you really want to trust an umpire to get that dribbler right? And I certainly didn't see anybody backing up Wright, making the possibility of Kearns scoring from second on the play very real.

And I love how, in their zest to kill Billy Wagner for last night, Chris Russo keeps bringing up that the Mets are paying Wagner $40 million, as if they were supposed to get him for next to nothing like the Wilpons tried to do with Vladimir Guerrero and looked like morons. Then Russo says that the Mets have a budget of $101 million, and they're paying Wagner 40...conveniently making it sound like Wagner is making $40 million of the $101 million this season. Why let facts get in the way of Met bashing, right boys?

I'm so mad I could go and threaten bodily harm to Jay Mariotti.


A Mr. Blackwell special: Nice to see that Pedro Martinez's high socks gave his ankles the aerodynamics to kick a comebacker to Jose Reyes for the 1-6-3 out. But the high socks also saw five walks today. Will they be back for the next start?

Spin Cycle

Don't you freak out when you're doing laundry, and you realize that the brand new bright red thermal one piece you bought is in with the tighty whities, and everything is tinged with a pinkish hue?

Well all that clean laundry that was in tonight's wash was ruined by the bright red garment of bad location. David Wright's two strike hit to keep the seventh inning alive for Jose Valentin? Ruined. Valentin's extraordinary home run off of lefty Chris Hammond as a lefty hitter? Wiped out. Jose Reyes hitting for the spin cycle? Never to be worn again.

Tom Glavine goes on television and tells us to discover Queens. If I could have gotten on television, I would have told Billy Wagner to discover the strike zone in the ninth inning as he was walking Austin Kearns and David Ross with two outs. Unfortunately, he discovered the strike zone a little too much against Brandon Phillips as his two strike fastball on a tee was served into center field for the death knell to Reyes' cycle and all the other good memories cultivated at Shea Stadium tonight.

And somewhere, Jon Stewart stopped preparing for his "Daily Show" taping to proclaim that "this is unacceptabllllllllllle!"

This was unacceptable...if for no other reason than this post should have been dedicated to Jose Valentin choosing to bat lefthanded against a lefthanded pitcher and driving the first pitch he saw to the chop shops in center field. This post should have been dedicated to the final decline of Joe Mays (Xavier Nady did him a favor by striking out against him with the sacks full in the fifth...and those movie offers have been rescinded) and Chris Hammond. This post should have been dedicated to the many ways that Jose Reyes can beat you, much in the same way manner that another shortstop beat teams single handedly (all right, he beat one team single handedly, but what other excuse am I going to have to mention Mike Phillips?) This post should have been dedicated to the first smile out of Aaron Heilman in months after pitching a scoreless eighth.

Instead we talk about Country Time ruining the laundry by sticking with his fastball because his slider was too loopy (his words not mine). Discover Queens? Discover your slider.

And get it out of my laundry.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

You've Been X'd

All right, so it's not exactly the mark of Zorro, but X is a pretty cool letter to make your point with. It's cooler to X someone than to, say, Steve someone. And if you've been Steve'd, would you really know what happened to you? Would you care?

"Hey, I've been Steve'd."

"Well have you seen a doctor?"
No, it's more marketable to X someone like Xavier Nady did to poor David Weathers (and Todd Coffey) with two HR's, than to Steve someone with six good innings...especially when you're X-ing someone without an appendi-X. Not only is it more marketable, but at this point it's more important to X someone than to Steve someone, when X-ing provides a much needed jump to the bottom of the lineup, which has been a tad flat lately, and lead said lineup to a 9-2 victory.

But let's not forget that Steve Trachsel also provided jump to the bottom or the lineup with a dinger of his own. Trachsel admitted in his in-game interview that this was the first home run of his three career home runs where he was able to watch it go. Unfortunately, Steve Kline called and said that some of the Giants were unhappy with Trachsel's actions, and will in fact throw at him in their next meeting. Trachsel was also efficient on the mound, and he was the starting pitcher in a game that lasted 2 hours and 34 minutes. I guess if you really want to "Steve" someone, you make them sit in oppressive heat for four plus hours. It did not come to that tonight.

Then there is to "Pedro" someone, which apparently means to hit his teammates with a red toy bat. I didn't think Martinez could look more uncomfortable with a toy bat than with a real one, but by golly he's done it. I'm guessing that this red bat is a lucky charm...any toy that is by your side two games in a row has to be a lucky charm. If that's the case, is it really a good idea to use a supposed lucky charm to mock the batting stance of Carlos Delgado (who hit a home run of his own tonight)? I can understand using your good luck charm to try and crush walnuts, or a walnut like substance (which Pedro also tried to accomplish), but mocking your teammate? He's lucky he's Pedro Martinez.

Hey, that gives me a fun rookie hazing idea for Lastings Milledge: Give him Pedro's toy bat. Make him mock Delgado's stance in the dugout while he's at bat. Make sure SNY director Bill Webb knows about it so he can catch Milledge in the act and put it on television. Then the next day, count how many articles are written in the newspaper calling Milledge a "problem", or a "cancer", or a "punk". Count how many sports discussion shows mention it. Count how many interviews Milledge conducts explaining himself. Then you can put an over/under on the total number, say...fifteen...and bet on it in the clubhouse. If that's not a team building exercise, I don't know what is.

Lotsa Hate

Every high school had one.

By day, he plays varsity baseball. Striking out everybody he faces. Hitting home runs by the truck load. Leading the team to the state title.

By night, as if he needs to do anything else to attract attention, he whips out his guitar and plays the first few bars of "Stairway to Heaven", and every girl in high school is swooning.

Bronson Arroyo has become that guy.

He pitches. He hits. He plays guitar. He laughs at guys like Alex Rodriguez when they try to slap baseballs out of his glove. He breaks curses. Chicks dig him. Guys hate him. He's named after the guy from "Death Wish" for crying out loud. He's got everything going for him. What's not to hate?

Not only did Bronson play a happy tune, but he proceeded to beat the Mets over the head with his guitar of death as he went all the way in a 4-2 Mets loss. No doubt, the women flocked to him after the game. Perhaps, we'll hear about those exploits at some point.

Meanwhile, can we officially say that the Mets are in a funk? That's three of four losses to Baltimore and Cincinnati. Perhaps it's the breaks evening out a little bit. Perhaps it's just a matter of running into some buzzsaws pitching-wise. But now isn't the time to start giving teams life. The Reds had just lost eight of nine, and was absolutely destroyed (which starts with "D" and that rhymes with "G" and that stands for Griffey who went deep off of Orlando Hernandez, reminding me why I hate Ken Griffey too) by the White Sox at the Great American House that Pete Rose Built (and then borrowed against to place a can't miss wager on Colin Montgomerie to par the 18th at Winged Foot and win the U.S. Open).

Granted, the Reds have been wild-card worthy this season, and the Mets could possibly face them in a first round playoff match-up. But this is a team the Mets need to get healthy against these final three games in advance of another killer road trip against Toronto, Boston, and The Bronx. Elizardo Ramirez (who?), Joe Mays (ERA over 8.00 this year), and Eric Milton (The Human Launching Pad) need to be summarily dissected and have their hearts shown to them the rest of this week.

Or else Bronson Arroyo gets the girl...again!


Did Brandon Phillips actually try the "Look! The Hindenburg!" trick in the second inning against Orlando Hernandez?

Speaking of, he deserved a better fate tonight.


I can't figure out which fans are cooler: Benny Agbayani's supporters in Japan? Or O' Canada from the Oilers fans?

And speaking of which, for those who were watching NBC's coverage of the Stanley Cup and were furious as the network couldn't wait to get off the air before showing the team picture with The Cup, fear once again, the Metstradamus crack staff has obtained an exclusive still photo.

I saw two Whalers games in Hartford right before they left to become the Hurricanes of Carolina. The first game after the move was announced was against the Rangers in "The Mall" (also known as the Hartford Civic Center. The mall actually turned out to be two clothing stores and a Wendy's...a tad disappointing if you ask me). Whalers fans had a life size Peter Karmanos (Whalers/Hurricanes owner) hung in effigy, nice suit and all, over the atrium. We had a couple of extra tickets and tried to bring the dummy in with us (always trying to get on television), but it was too heavy. After the Whalers beat the Rangers, bitter Whale fans were making fun of us...and our response was "Wait until we come back next year and...oh wait, you aren't going to be here next year!"

We're going to hell, but it was worth the good times.

And out of the ashes of that emotional day, comes a Stanley Cup victory for Karmanos and the Carolina Hurricanes on Tobacco Road...while Whaler fans in Connecticut hang themselves in effigy at this very hour.

Remember that little slice of perspective as we sit here and complain about losing three out of four games.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Lotsa Love

How great are Met fans? In a week where the Mets were primarily on the road, their fans still found a way to stuff those ballot boxes. The internet is a wonderful thing.
  1. David Wright, Mets 1,018,804
  2. Scott Rolen, Cardinals 819,390

Wright was behind Rolen by a fairly large amount last we checked.

  1. Jose Reyes, Mets 769,919
  2. David Eckstein, Cardinals 689,054

Jose came out of nowhere!

  1. Paul Lo Duca, Mets 960,111
  2. Mike Piazza, Padres 680,773

What was once close is not anymore. This just looks weird.

  1. Carlos Beltran, Mets 1,129,865

The real story with the outfield is that Xavier Nady went from 15th to 13th without even playing. But X makes his grand return tonight against the Cincinnati Reds.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Child Shall Lead Them

On a team with more veteran presence than old timers day, it was the young one, David Wright, challenging his teammates to pick it up on Saturday after a two game losing streak to the Orioles.
"We'll see what we're made of here."
So was the speech more Patton or Bluto? Perhaps it was more Barack Obama? Fire? Brimstone? Beer can crushed on his head? In any event, there's nothing like putting forth a challenge and being front and center in answering that challenge, eh David? (Reminds me of someone.)

We know what David Wright is made of. In the fifth, Wright blasted a groovy kind of fastball off of a tiring Adam Loewen (who had just plunked two batters before hand) into the bullpen for a 4-1 lead at a time when the Mets were wondering if they would ever beat this sub .500 team again. Then there was Wright's mad dash to home plate in the seventh. Wright was called out, but then called safe by another doubt because Wright had the smarts to flail his arm to alert the umpiring crew that he was interfered with by Miguel Tejada while rounding third. It's the kind of smart play the Mets have been known for lately, between that and all of these stolen bases lately that have been truly stolen...while infielders were caught napping on the job.

It's players like David Wright that have made sure that the Mets haven't lost more than two in a row all season. Mets fans, who showered him with some brief "M-V-P" chants today after his seventh inning mad dash, know this. Even at this young stage, the precocious one is leading the way.


You learn something new every day. I've learned that Carlos Delgado's nickname is "Diesel".

Diesel Delgado. Rolls off the tongue doesn't it?

I also learned that Jon Stewart roots for his Mets in a slightly maniacal fashion much like yours truly during his Chris Cotter interview in the stands during the sixth inning. If you didn't hear this interview, then I hope you DVR'd the happened at about 2:50 ET. Treat yourself to the stylings of one of the funniest men alive, who is also a huge Met fan...he proved it during this interview with the Joe Foy reference. And nowadays, with all of these celebrities soon to want to jump on the Mets bandwagon come September and October, they should be made to take a Mets quiz at the door...with questions given by Jon Stewart and myself. I'll have to get to work on that.

Don't Come A-Knockin'

If there's a van still sitting in the parking lot at Shea Stadium, and it's rocking...that's most assuredly Kris Benson hitting his second home run of the night.

Talk about an event that shakes you to your very core...Kris Benson, who left New York as a result of a "baseball trade" (yeah, and Vince Coleman is merely "misunderstood") comes back to Shea, spins eight great innings, and hits a game tying home Pedro no less to help get Baltimore their second straight victory, 4-2.

Somewhere, Paul Blair is laughing his head off.

So let's see...two nights back at home, two former Mets sticking it to their former teams. One former Met also decided to rub it in by thanking the Mets for trading him. The other one let wifey do the rubbing for him (as usual).

Thankfully, game three between these two will not feature the only other former Met on the Orioles active roster, Bruce Chen. Adam Loewen starts for the O's on Sunday afternoon against Tom Glavine, who could really use a nice strong outing to bounce back before he proves another soothsayer correct and heads for a fall.

And can we get these Mets some hotel food please? Home cookin' is doing them no favors.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Damn You Mike Bordick!

It was a cool crisp afternoon on July 29th, 2000 when Mike Bordick deposited the first pitch he saw in a Met uniform into the left field bullpen off of Andy Benes, and all was right with the world.

Six years later, the man that Bordick was traded for enters his prime, and enters Shea Stadium with the express purpose of stopping the bullet train that was his employer, the New York Mets. Meanwhile Bordick is at home doing the same thing he did during his Mets career post July 29th.


And as such, the Mets past comes back to haunt them yet again as their eight game winning streak was snapped tonight by the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3. Thankfully, Mora resides in a division far, far away...minimizing the havoc that he would obviously wreak on the Mets if he was in, say, Philadelphia.

But let's not lay blame totally on the past, because Aaron Heilman resides in the present. And presently, Aaron Heilman has given up 16 runs in his last 11 and 2/3's innings, which stretch back to May 23rd. Luckily, in the seven games he's given up runs, the Mets are 5-2. But you can say that Heilman was directly responsible for those two losses. (Here's something for the conspiracy theorists out there: Of the last seven games that Heilman has given up runs, four of those games were in Steve Trachsel starts, while two of them were in Tom Glavine starts. Hmmmmmmm...) As for tonight, you can't walk the first two guys you face and then lament that they scored on a botched grounder and a bloop hit. But that's exactly what happened in the seventh, before Mora's blast.

So is Aaron Heilman's mind right? Is the reality that Aaron Heilman will probably never start regularly, or irregularly as a member of the Mets sinking in, and subconsciously causing Heilman to throw meatballs?

But the fun doesn't stop, as Kris Benson gets his turn to whack the pinata that traded him away on Saturday night against Petey.

Too bad Sigmund isn't alive to see this...he'd have a field day with Kris' wife.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tips For Your Upcoming Visit To The Ballgame

You should know that after today's 5-4 victory, the Mets have announced some changes for the upcoming Mets home trip, in response to their recently completed 9-1 roadstand:

  • The Mets will wear their road grays for the duration of the home trip.
  • The Orioles and Reds will be awarded last licks.
  • Boog's BBQ will be available by the center field apple for the duration of the home trip. Dodger Dogs will also be available.
  • For those attending games on this home trip, please be aware of the maintenance work being done in and around the stadium. To make your experience feel more like a road game, the escalators and sound system will actually work.
  • Please do not wait outside players' homes for autographs...they will not be there. Mets players will be staying in a remote hotel somewhere on the Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel.
  • Please take some time to visit the new swimming pool just beyond the right field bullpen.
  • Saturday is Anna Benson Figurine night at the stadium.
  • Fans are encouraged to arrive at the stadium in time for the bottom of the third inning. And be sure to leave early to beat traffic. The New York Mets appreciate your patronage and support.

Undertaking, Turning Tables, And Picking A Fight

"We’re playing well, but this is a series we need to go into and just bury them. I mean, if we can come in here and win two of three, or even sweep them, we can move nine, ten games up in the loss column and that's huge…we can put them in the freezer and hopefully bury them by the end of the series." -Paul Lo Duca, before this series began.
Paul Lo Duca...undertaker.

Not only are he and his team making good on their freezing and burying service by taking the first two from their closest competitor, but they're doing it in a way that this franchise isn't accustomed to historically...they're doing it with their bats, as they've done all road trip. Tonight's 9-3 victory is only one of a long line of beatdowns that the Mets have wrought against the National League. And that brings me to my useless point of the night.

See, I knew the needle was coming. It was only a matter of time after my Yankee-free week came to an end as this guy returned from his vacation. And it was certainly just a matter of time after three newspapers proclaimed the Mets as new owners of New York City:

"You know, if the Mets played in the American League..." -Darth Marc
He didn't even have to finish. I knew where he was going. American League...superior league...blah blah blah. Been there, heard that, bought the DVD.

But here's what makes the Mets so mind boggling: They're basically an American League team. And it a reversing of the tables if you will...because in 1996, a certain American League team started winning their string of World Series (two of which tainted by HGH using Jason Grimsley, he he) by playing...(gasp)...National League baseball, beating our league at our own game. Now, the Mets are beating teams by acquiring the horses to play their game.

But to be an American League team nowadays means to spend your entire salary base on your starters and very little on bench players which are hardly used anyway because of the designated hitter rule. National League teams, meanwhile, actually have to think about their bench because all nine fielders come up to know, real baseball. It's funny to me that fans of the American League love to yell about how much better they are because they won all these all-star games, yet never acknowledging that it's because they play by a different set of rules and strategies to do it.

Look at the Mets of 2005 as a perfect example. Spectacular bench? Absolutely. But Miguel Cairo was their number two hitter. And no offense, but there was no offense.

But now look at the Mets of 2006. Look at the Mets of tonight: Reyes, Lo Duca, Beltran, Delgado, Wright, Valentin, Chavez, and Milledge. Is there an easy out 1-8 in that lineup? Can't be, because everyone of those players got himself at least one knock tonight. The lightest hitter is Endy Chavez, and he's hitting .296. Can you call Lastings Milledge an easy out?

And two outfielders are hurt! Reyes, Lo Duca, Beltran, Delgado, Wright, Cliff Floyd, Xavier Nady, an American League lineup. And it might be the best overall lineup in Mets history...just on the obvious fact that there are no Bud Harrlesons or Al Weises or Rafael Santanas around for opposing pitchers to take deep breaths. Obviously the pitcher is the pitcher, there's nothing that can be done about that short of adapting the DH rule in the National League (and say, isn't Tom Glavine hitting .273?). And the Mets have the added advantage of still having a strong bench, with Julio Franco, Chris Woodward, Chavez, Milledge, and Eli Marrero's versatility as well.

If the Mets make the World Series this year (as more and more of "Around The Horn" nation is starting to believe), there will be no Adam Everetts, Chris Burkes, and Brad Ausmuses to give A.L. team X a breather as they gave to the White Sox last season, nor will Mike Matheny and Ray Lankford be kicking around as the Red Sox kicked around in 2004. The Mets are built to play A.L. ball, with a little small ball at the top of the order just for fun.


And while I've got Darthy Cakes' blood boiling, I have to make this observation from the minute-thirty highlight clip of the Yankees game tonight:

Is it me, or does Jorge Posada make it a point to whine and cry about everything? I mean every time there's a beanball exchange with the pinstripers, whether it involves him or not, there's Jorge Posada either whining at the opposing pitcher from the batters box, from the dugout, or from the interview room after the game. Can you shut up already? Nobody cares about you, nobody cares about hitting you, nobody cares about your steroid laced ears. Shut up.

And do you find it funny that, as Randy Johnson picked the batter to get revenge on (actually, forced to pick a better to get revenge on by Posada's public display of "how dare you hit me, I'm a Yankee dammit!"), he skipped cleanup hitter Victor Martinez to hit Eddie Perez...who went deep twice against the Big Onion in the same game last season. My my, how very Clemens of you.

I'll stop now, I'm just picking a fight at this point.


P.S. What exactly is in Darren Oliver's Cheerios this year?

P.P.S. Aren't you glad that Lastings Milledge learned his lesson about keeping his head down and running his ass off on a fly ball with two outs during a 9-3 victory, and not during Game one of the World some people we aren't going to mention here?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Knowing What's Good

Don't ask me to cite the exact television show...but there was once a comic who was trying to land a gig...and the executive who the comic is trying to impress isn't laughing one bit. Not once. But after the set, the executive tells the comic how funny he was. The comic then asks: "Well why didn't you laugh?" The executive then explains that he's heard so many stand-up acts in his life, that there's nothing left that can physically make him laugh.

But he knows what's funny.

I'm kind of the same way in the respect that, I've seen so much baseball, I know a good play when I see one. There's no need to emote. I can get it to the point...especially when I'm at home and I don't want to tick off any of the neighbors or wake up my wife...where all I need is a fist pump. That's it.

Then I saw David Wright's double play in the ninth.

If you were anywhere in the vicinity of the outer boroughs at about 10:40, that "Oh My Lord!" you heard was your good friend Metstradamus. I guess I have to work on keeping my emotions in check for the good of the neighborhood.

Don't get me wrong; there's plenty to be worried about after this game between Tom Glavine's second yucko start in a row, to Aaron Heilman's continued struggling with a five run lead, to some missed chances by the lineup to turn a comfortable lead into a ridiculous lead, to the new summer hit which debuted during the ninth inning: "Honey I Shrunk Billy Wagner's Velocity". But David Wright's spectacular, Brooks Robinson like double play (off the bat of Pat Burrell, it should be noted...loudly) made sure that even with all of that, the Mets lead over the Phillies grew to seven and a half games. It may be only June, but this is a lead that's quickly becoming safe enough for even Charlie Dressen to hold on to.

How good was that double play? If not for that play, I'm making Billy Wagner jokes. Or at the very least, I'm talking about Jose Reyes' mad dash for home plate from second base on a ball that scooted ten feet out of Sal Fasano's way (an amazing play in it's own right, but now in the shadow of David Wright).

And I will only say one thing: If the Mets indeed own this city now, as all three area tabloids claimed on Tuesday morning, then all three area tabloids had better see fit to dominate their back pages with the new owners of the city on Wednesday morning. There had better not be one picture of Chien-Ming Junipero Wang or Robinson Cano that's larger than one square inch in the Post or the News when I wake up. (I'm not worried about the paper known in some circles as Metsday.)

Or you'll hear from me again.


Cursed Tiki Idol update: The Mets might have ended Russ Ortiz's career by scoring a million runs off of him on Sunday.

(And before you get any grand ideas, you can't fix him Rick...not in ten minutes...not in ten days...not in ten light years...not ever. Don't even think about it. There's pitching depth, and then there's the depths of hell. Recognize the difference.)


And speaking of careers careening out of control, this is the funniest thing I've read in months...I'm still laughing! I wish I was as funny as Armando Benitez. He should take that act on the road.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Number One In Da Hood? Gee!

So I wake up this morning to the news that the Mets have acquired ownership of New York City.

You know what that means folks...a higher tax bracket.

It's scary how much of a dearth of imagination exists in New York's newspapers. You have an off day for both New York baseball teams, and the Post, News, and Newsday all have the same back cover story. (And if you're wondering how somebody who didn't write anything for yesterday's off day can call out New York's tabloids for a lack of imagination, well you're just going to figure that one out for yourselves.) Isn't there anything else to talk about? Which crappy bullpen in the American League is clamoring for Heath Bell's help? Steve Trachsel bobblehead night? Endy Chavez's breakfast habits?

I have to agree with Matt on this one. Can you stop jinxing the Mets, please? I mean, one article is fine...especially when it tweaks Yankee fans because it's written by Mike Lupica. It freaks them out whenever Lupica writes something complimentary about the Mets because he has a relationship with the Wilpons...although that's the very thing that should make Met fans tread carefully about whatever he writes. I have to admit thought that the thought of Yankee fans becoming more and more irrational and grumpy makes me smile.

Two articles might be a bit much, but at least Mike Vaccaro takes a slightly more even-handed approach.

Three articles? Now I'm scared.

All this one day after Carlos Beltran wins "player of the week" honors, David Wright overtakes Scott Rolen in the all-star balloting, the Mets are ranked second in all of baseball in John Donovan's power rankings, and I get randomly asked how it feels to root for the best team in the National League? How exactly am I supposed to answer that? It blows? NO! It feels damn good...and I'm going to enjoy it.

To a point.

Let's all remember one very important thing: It's June. There's still plenty of time for a catastrophic turn of events. There's time for Cuban authorities to produce a valid birth certificate for Orlando Hernandez. There's time for Jason Grimsley to out Carlos Beltran as an HGH user. And there's time for David Wright to take up motorcycle riding with Ben Roethlisberger.

So let's keep this "ownership of the city" talk to a bare minimum. For as good as the Mets have been, the Yankees are still very close to first place in their own division, and you know their fans are hoping for a Phillies sweep starting tonight so they can serve a Hungry Man portion of crow. And if you think that three unimaginative back pages are reason enough to start tweaking your slightly more obnoxious brothers in the Bronx, then I can't defend you when it's time to pay the piper. (Trust me, you don't want to start playing the extended version of "Let's Go Mets Go" in your office in the middle of June...I tell you this from experience.)

The Mets haven't won anything yet...besides some hearts and minds here and there which is a good start. Let's continue to lease the city with an option to buy in October.

Or at least on Friday if the Mets sweep the Phillies.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


There's a legend about the ball that Dusty Baker handed back to Russ Ortiz, who was pulled with five outs left to go in the 2002 World Series when the score was 5-0 San Francisco and all was seemingly well...Except that the ball had thusly been tainted with the curse of hubris; given as a symbol of Ortiz's good work and of a World Series clinching victory.

Of course, it was all downhill for the Giants after that ill fated handoff.

And we now have proof that the ball still haunts Ortiz to this fact it's probably sitting on his mantle right now, dooming all who dare to lay eyes on it. The ball, along with Ortiz's career, is taboo. And after today's Met bombardment...let's just say that if I were Russ Ortiz, I wouldn't go surfing with Bobby Brady anytime soon.

If you are a degenerate gambler (and I'm not talking about the kind that drops $20 a week on an office pool...I'm talking about the guy would would sell his daughter into slavery because he got a hot tip that Joe Nieuwendyk was going to come back early from an ankle injury and that he should bet the over on that night's Panthers/Capitals game) and you didn't bet the house on the Mets to defeat winless Russ Ortiz today, then you're never going to break even in your life. This was the surest bet since Reagan over Mondale, and you didn't take advantage of it?

The Mets are rolling out of bed these days with a 3-0 lead. And then they don't stop. They haven't stopped this whole road trip as the bats exploded again today for a 15-2 victory. Carlos Beltran had four more RBI's and didn't even play the whole game. Newcomer Eli Marrero took over for him in center, and he drove in two runs...already making his season as a Met more productive than Kaz Matsui's. Chris Woodward gets his first at bats in three light years and goes two for five. Lastings Milledge gets two RBI's for not only the Mets, but for the "Neon Stick Figures" (my fantasy team). Carlos Delgado seems to be coming out of his slump with three runs driven in.

What scares me is that this road trip has been so sweet for the Mets, we all might come down with diabetes. Can it continue to be this good? I mean, it can't...can it? It would be nice if it would...the six and a half games back Phillies (and fast disappearing in the rear view mirror) are next. But we've seen what can happen when souvenirs are given out for jobs well done before the job is actually done, so cut down on your sweets, don't pick up any necklaces on the shores of Hawaii, and if Dusty Baker tries to hand you a baseball, run!


When does a defensive play stand out in a 15-2 game?

When Endy Chavez and Fluff Castro team up to stop a potential D'Backs run in the first inning, that's when. It probably would have been the same type of massacre if Craig Counsell had scored on Chad Tracy's fly ball...but when Counsell was cut down by Chavez's throw and Fluff's blocking of the plate while snaring an in-between hop and tagging Counsell all at the same time, the game was pretty much over at that point. It will go down as one of the plays of the season.

(Caution, severe detour ahead):

But was it me, or did Fluff look a little too dolled up today? Perhaps shame on me for noticing, but when Castro was at bat, I noticed that his eyebrows and goatee were a little too neat, and I also noticed eyelashes. I should never notice eyelashes on a ballplayer...and on a catcher no less. But the fact that I did tells me that Castro went and got himself made over for the cross country flight back east. Maybe he's going to end up on one of those TLC shows like "Catcher Makeover" or something.

But as long as he keeps making plays like he made in the first inning, he could wear an avocado and honey mask to the plate as far as I'm concerned.

Pigeons, Horses, And Brandon Webb

We all love die-hard Met fan Julia Stiles. But when it comes to omens, she's got nothing on the baseball team she roots for.

Not only have Met fans "flocked" to Arizona to watch the bludgeoning of the Diamondbacks season, but in the true style of Michael Sergio, New York's official bird made an appearance, dropping in behind Alay Soler before the seventh inning.

A New York City pigeon! In the desert! It even had a busted wing like Victor Zambrano!

Bring me more omens! Like Brandon Webb losing his first game of the season to the Mets, with the help of a Chad Tracy error in the first which led to three runs. Brandon Webb was 8-0. Webb wears 17, which adds up to eight when you add the digits. All this on the same day Jazil won the Belmont Stakes wearing number 8...the same number 8 that Barbaro wore during the Kentucky Derby, and the same number 8 that Bernardini wore during the Preakness.

Horses, pigeons, and Brandon Webb. How's that for a pool party!

Speaking of pool parties, with Alay Soler going all the way for a 5-0 shutout, the once overworked Mets bullpen is suddenly able to have barbecues and cannonball contests in the right field pool area...Duaner Sanchez brought potato salad, and Chad Bradford won the sack race. In fact, the 'pen is hoping that Pedro goes all the way on Sunday so that they can go out and finally catch that Da Vinci Code movie they've heard so many good things about.

But in actuality, the members of the Mets bullpen will be busy on Sunday. They'll be busy sneaking out the kiddie chair that Soler sat in during Saturday's game so that he can keep his good karma going. After tonight, I gather he'll be in that chair for every start, every non-start, interviews, family gatherings, Thanksgiving dinner, you name it.

As for the pigeon, the Mets hope he'll be cleared to resume baseball related activities so he can be optioned to Hagerstown. Dion James was not available for comment.

Tomorrow, it's Russ Ortiz on the mound for Arizona. Let the pigeons loose.


Mike Oliver has ordered me to speculate on what the Kaz Matsui trade means to Xavier Nady...NOW!!!

When Mike Oliver tells me to jump, I need only ask how high.

The way that I see it, when Nady comes back, the same problem that existed with Kaz Matsui, exist with Eli Marrero. Someone has to go. But who?

Heath Bell is a possibility. So is Marrero. So is Lastings Milledge. Chris Woodward is also a possibility. Heck, Nady could go as well via trade.

Without Bell, the Mets would carry eleven pitchers...seemingly a small number in today's baseball world, and seemingly smaller than the number Willie Randolph would like. But with the emergence of Alay Soler and his newly discovered talent for eating innings, perhaps Randolph's choice has been made for him. Jose Valentin leaving the bench for the starting lineup leaves Woodward as the only bench player capable of playing the middle infield, so he's safe. Eli Marrero's versatility keeps him around. Lastings Milledge has proven that he belongs in the majors, and the Mets don't want to send him down and then have Cliff Floyd be more seriously hurt than he is. Conversely, the next to last thing the Mets want to do is trade Nady, and either have Floyd injured or Milledge remember that he's a rookie and stop hitting all together.

So Heath "The Movement" Bell will finally be free. Free to go to the minors, or more likely, to another organization in exchange for a minor leaguer.


Robin Ventura has embarked on his new career, calling the Cal State Fullerton game in the NCAA Super Regionals for ESPN on Saturday night.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Metstradamus: The Architect

Now I know what I want from the new Mets ballpark, due to open for business in 2009. Here is the Metstradamus design of "The New Shea":

And I want all the bells and whistles that come with it...I want the retractable roof. I want the swimming pool in the outfield. I want the path from the mound to home. I want the cicada sound effects before every pitch.

I'll say it: Who needs to bulid a new park? I want the one that the D'Backs play in. I want that park put on a large flatbed and driven from Arizona to Flushing. And you know what else I want? I want Brandon Webb to be in the park when it arrives. (My therapist says I should stick to attainable you know why.)

Last season, there were thirty two Mets runs in two games at Bank One Ballpark. This season, the D'Backs tried to throw off their opponents by changing it's Chase Field. It kind of worked, as the Mets only scored seventeen runs in the last two games this trip out (and letting the roof open didn't work tonight for Arizona either). But you can name it after any bank you want. When the Mets are there, it's nothing but Banco Popular, baby!

And they haven't even faced Russ Ortiz yet!

The Mets owed Miguel Batista one...or two or twenty, after his performance last month. And they took care of business with four in the first, helping to knock him out before the fifth inning was over. And it's a good thing, because Steve Trachsel provided us with one of his fun filled three and a half hour starts...chock full of walks to the eighth place hitter, home runs given up to the eighth place hitter, and the requisite long breaks between pitches. But more than that, there were an obscene amount of pitches that were hit back through Trachsel.

Seemed to me that Trax needed some extra equiptment:

But five home runs from the middle of the Mets order (two from each Carlos, and one from the Golden Boy) got Trachsel the victory, and Billy Wagner was able to concentrate even though he came in to the game with a four run lead in the ninth. It must be easy to concentrate while playing in such a beautiful and bountiful ballpark...full of runs.

If the Wilpons offered the U.S. Open tennis compound, the chop shop, and a Vietnamese restaurant to be named later, you think that would be enough to get Chase Field to New York?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Head For The Mountains...And Don't Darken Our Doorstep Ever Again

Now that Omar Minaya has corrected yet another misstep in the era of Jim Duquette, I only wish that along with Kaz Matsui, that all of those scouts that gave glowing reviews to Matsui while in Japan could also be shipped to the Colorado Sky Sox.

"Kazuo is the Alex Rodriguez of the Japanese game." -Robert Whiting, author of You Gotta Have Wa, the definitive English-language book on Japanese baseball. From December 8, 2003
"Extremely strong arm. Outstanding range, comparable to Omar Vizquel's. Fast as a bullet train. I think he's going to be very, very successful in the U.S." -Ted Heid, director of Pacific Rim operations for the Seattle Mariners. From December 8, 2003
"American grass looks really high." -Kaz Matsui from December 8, 2003
So the man who came with such fanfare, such defiance about changing positions, a no trade clause which excluded such large market teams as the Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels, and a news conference where he wore a 1986 championship ring, leaves to go play for the Colorado Sky Sox while still getting paid by the Mets.

Matsui hopes to become the first player ever profiled in Time Magazine to homer in his first minor league at bat.

Howie Rose: The Unwilling Soothsayer

Orlando Hernandez gave up three hits on Thursday for his first complete game since 2000. But let’s go inside those numbers a bit…

The first hit Hernandez gave up was a Luis Gonzalez single in the second inning. Mets announcer Howie Rose joked that Hernandez had a perfect game going immediately before the hit. The third hit Hernandez gave up was a Craig Counsell double in the ninth, immediately after Rose noted that Orlando was going after his first ever two-hitter.

So basically, without Howie Rose, the only hit given up tonight would have been a double by the opposing pitcher…proof that sometimes, people don’t have a complete handle on the power of their words.

You know what else Howie said?

“It’s a long way from Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez isn't it?”
And that's proof that sometimes, words can be powerful.

Because look what we have here all of a sudden…

  • Steve Trachsel: One run in seven innings.
  • Alay Soler: One run in seven innings.
  • Orlando Hernandez: One run in nine innings.
Remember when the back end of the rotation was a weakness?

All right all right, so that was like, two weeks ago. But it is a long way from Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez, isn't it? And for Orlando, it’s a long way from the desert. His reaction after the last out, ripping off his helmet and letting loose with a primal scream (most likely in Spanish), was priceless. Maybe he was upset that the Diamondbacks didn’t provide him with a Hummer or a La-Z-Boy or even a tribute video to honor his return to the place where he provided stellar memories for so many weeks. But wouldn't you be happy if you faced a lineup specially designed to end your career...and you wound up with strike one on everyone and gave up only three hits?
By the way, Steve Kline says that some of the Giants didn't appreciate Orlando's reaction after the game. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Well, Hernandez is happy. Metstradamus is happy. And most importantly, Howie Rose is happy.


When the season opened, I had devised a formula to keep track of how much of Carlos Beltran's $12,000,000 contract was being earned this season. Admittedly, it was a device I came up with to tweak Beltran as much as it was to make Beltran look good if he bounced back. But after the boos that Beltran endured on Opening Day, my formula would have seemed pettier and snarkier than it actually I shelved the idea.

But now that Beltran is one home run away from tying last season's total, and after his stellar game tonight, I think it's time I share with all of you my “Beltran-Meter”.

All right, so his contract is worth twelve million this season. So what I did is come up with a hypothetical yet reasonable season for Beltran, and came up with a dollar amount to reach for each category, splitting up each statistic into a dollar amount per.

  • 25 HR’s at $80,000 each.
  • 100 RBI’s at $20,000 each.
  • 180 hits at $11,111.11 each.
  • 30 steals at $66,666.66 each.
  • 110 runs scored at $18,181.81 each.
  • 300 total bases at $6,666.66 each.
Reaching all of those milestones exactly on the button would add up to $12 million.

I was also going to add cash for extras such as walk off hits (of which he has one), clutch rbi's (of which he has five), and outfield assists (of which he had three). But without those extras, Beltran is currently at:

(drum roll)


Seems right on target to me.


Every position player in the Mets lineup had at least one hit on Thursday. Take note that this was a lineup that included Jose Valentin, Endy Chavez, and rookie Lastings Milledge.

With three more games against an Arizona team that is obviously mentally worn out, is the any need for Cliff Floyd to return before the Phillies series?

Hey, just asking. Rest up Cliffy!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Who Ya Got?

The pitcher who's going on short rest?

Or the pitcher who's pitched a grand total of 8 and 2/3 innings in a month?

So who ya got?

If you were smart, you had the over.

It was pinball...a wild, wild game. How wild? The ESPN website ran a poll very recently...the question went something like this: "When someone has a big game, do you immediately suspect steroids?" I voted no.

But then Rafael Furcal went deep twice off Tom Glavine and I had to change my vote. Does it make me a bad person?

No's what I thought: With all of the steroid nonsense happening, I wonder if guys have resorted back to bat corking. I wonder if hitters think that with the bigger fish that baseball is trying to fry, nobody is going to kill me about corking or souping up my bat with super balls. When I saw Furcal's first home run...the one where he reached out and hit a 385 foot one handed bomb...yes, I briefly suspected cork.

But it's probably that Brave envy that got to me again. Did it get to Tom Glavine as well? Must have...Furcal went deep on Glavine twice, and Glavine gave up six runs in 5 and 1/3 tonight. But we all know that Tom Glavine prefers normal rest...and any change in Tom Glavine's routine throws him off, and going on short rest certainly didn't help. Unfortunately, four days rest from this start lands on an off-day. Great.

Luckily for the Mets on a night when Tom Glavine was off his game, Odalis Perez was the opposing pitcher tonight...the same Odalis Perez that Ned Colletti has been peddling around the league, including to the Mets. This leads me to another thing that I wonder: If Omar Minaya was still in Washington or Montreal or somewhere other than Flushing, would Lastings Milledge would be a Dodger? Would Odalis Perez have been pitching tonight for the Mets? Would I have jumped off the back end of the upper deck...forcing construction of the new stadium to be built around my chalk outline?

Thank goodness we'll never know.

Because not only was Odalis awful, but Lastings Milledge was unreal tonight. You'll see the winning home run on the highlight'll also see the cannon that chucked Nomar Garciaparra trying to stretch a single into a double in the eighth. But it was the first inning triple that impressed me the most as he waited on an outside pitch and drove it to the right-center field gap instead of trying to hit it 500 feet as he usually did.

You know how the saying goes: "The best trades are the ones that you don't make because Jeff Wilpon is hogtied, gagged, and locked in the broom closet."

So stop one on this road trip is a successful one...and now on to Phoenix, where the Mets will catch a Diamondback team shaken up over the loss of bullpen stalwart and resident juice man Jason Grimsley (and by the way, if you want to speculate on who those "blacked out" names that Grimsley mentioned, check out the teams he played with post 1998, and come to your own conclusions). And the best part about going to Phoenix is that the Diamondbacks don't have a former manager that can visit the booth and tweak Ron Darling about beating him in a playoff series...because the Diamondbacks have never beaten the Mets in the playoff series...and certainly not a painful series in 1988. But at least Tommy Lasorda supports a good cause.