Monday, July 31, 2006

Dissin' Sister

From: Marcus Giles []
Date: Sunday July 30, 2006 6:27 pm
Subject: I'm sorry

Dear sis,

I want to apologize for taking such a cavalier attitude towards kissing you. Of course I would like nothing more than to feel your lips against mine. I promise to do whatever it takes to win your heart back and get you to kiss me.

Please consider.


And the verdict?

Date: Monday July 31, 2006 12:59 am
Subject: RE: I'm sorry

Dear Marcus,

I see.

So now that the hot girl is finally rebuffing your advances after 15 years to move to the big city, you come crawling to me?

Forget it.

I've moved to Cincinnati and I'm not coming back.

Go kiss your cousin, Martha Mediocrity.



Sunday, July 30, 2006

Moving Heaven And Earth

When last there was a sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the deep south, Keith Hernandez was hitting for the cycle, and a pitcher who's not supposed to be hitting home runs, hit a home run.

Twenty one years later, Keith Hernandez is present once again...this time dancing in the broadcast booth (on the Braves grave?), and a center fielder who never drops fly balls, dropped a fly ball in the first inning.

That's the game.

That's the series.

That's the season.

Drive home safely.

Andruw Jones drops a fly ball, and I'm not supposed to believe that this is a special season?

Not that I endorse laughing at other people's foibles...wait a second, I do endorse laughing at other people's foibles when they where a tomahawk on their jerseys, whether they be white, gray, or blood red. But somewhere on this planet, someone looked up during a private conversation with his higher power and asked "please, give me a sign".

And moments after, Andruw Jones dropped a fly ball.

Someone in Wichita is going to propose to his longtime girlfriend because Andruw Jones dropped a fly ball.

Someone on the upper east side is going to buy that duplex in the village because Andruw Jones dropped a fly ball.

Someone in San Francisco is going to give up his job at the winery, move to Zaire and join the Peace Corps because Andruw Jones dropped a freakin' fly ball.

And this is how one simple, formerly unspeakable act can move mountains.


Here's a philosophical question for you, and it involves Carlos Beltran. He has 32 home runs and 94 runs batted in after his latest assault on the Mets record book. If you were one of the people that booed him on opening day...and you could go back and relive the moment(s) in question knowing what kind of numbers Beltran would put up, would you still boo Beltran?

Your knee-jerk response would probably be "no".

But is there a small chance that Carlos Beltran is putting up these kind of numbers due in part to the motivation (anger) created to those boos?

I bet you have probably have changed your mind and said "yes", correct?

Well on the flip side of that, taking into account the fact that most of his numbers have been accumulated on the road, might Beltran's numbers have been better without the boos?

Have I confused you yet?

Good, because I've confused myself.

Here's what I do know: Carlos Beltran is a guy who I thought played scared when he returned to Houston to play a four game series. Yet Beltran's numbers have been accumulated in front of mostly hostile crowds on the road...not that Atlanta's crowd counts as particularly hostile, but hey, they're still road games, and it's still Turner Field where the Mets would have slain baby seals in the past to have a guy do the kind of damage in Atlanta as Beltran has done this season.(Disclaimer: neither Metstradamus or anyone affiliated with Metstradamus endorses the slaying of all seals, whether they be babies or full grown adults).

Not bad, not bad at all.


It wouldn't be a true Metstradamus column unless I had one true rant.

I received a "hate list" related request in regards to today's Bobby Abreu/Corey Lidle trade. The request was to put the Yankees and Abreu on the list, pronto.

Not to worry, there will be plenty of time for that.

Tonight, my repugnancy is headed straight for the office of Pat Gillick...supposed super genius.

Now keep in mind that while I had no interest in Abreu on the Mets, any trade that would have brought Abreu to Queens apparently had to include Lastings Milledge.

So obviously Mr. Gillick, who was looking to get some legitimate talent, was going to get Yankee prospect Phil Hughes, right?


All right, he at least got the suddenly wildly overrated Scott Proctor for Abreu, right?


What exactly did you get for Bobby Abreu, Mr. Gillick?

What's that you say...Brian Cashman promised to buy you a grand slam meal at Denny's? And you gave him Cory Lidle too?

Man, no wonder the American League is the better league...because numbnuts like Pat Gillick are too busy bailing out the Yankees and solving Brian Cashman's problems for him, so they can get out of the weight of their own stupid contracts. What's next, Pat Gillick sells his house and property to Mr. Potter for 25 cents on the dollar?

It's a wonderful life...but not for a Yankee-hater.

Thanks genius...thanks for basically ensuring that we'll have to deal with Yankee fans for another October. One title in 122 years, and they rode the back of a Met legend to do it. Now I see why. Have fun waiting until 2080 for your next title.

Burn in hell, Pat Gillick.

Avoiding The Noids

They say it was leprechauns that inhabited the old Boston Garden helping the Celtics...who rarely needed any major help from outside forces to win ways that may not have been noticeable with the naked eye. A dead spot here, a broken air conditioner there...those pesky leprechauns were always available when the Celtics needed them most.

But a funny thing happened. The leprechauns were evicted from their homes as the Gah-den was emptied in 1995 and finally demolished in 1997. It would have been easy to surmise that they just moved to the new Fleet Center in the fall of '95. But when you look at the fortunes that have befallen the Celtics (and for that matter the Bruins) since they stopped playing games there, you have to wonder if leprechauns would be caught dead in a place sponsored by a bank...where pots of gold are regularly converted into money market CD's and t-bills.

I've always suspected an outside force at work helping the Braves master the Mets at Turner Field over the last ten years. Hey, could have been the leprechauns. Why not? They leave the Boston Garden in the summer of '95, then see the Braves win a championship and decide that this is a place they can get behind...then move into the new digs in 1997.

But nah, can't be the leprechauns. They oversaw sixteen world championships for the Celtics. You wouldn't think they would go to Atlanta just to torture one team, would you? These leprechauns are professionals, they wouldn't waste their time with that sort of nonsense.

No, the damage done to the Mets at Jane Fonda Field was no doubt the work of amateurs. Dick and Muttley perhaps. Harry and Marv from "Home Alone". The guys from "Celtic Pride". The Noid. Successful enough to be called villains, evil enough to torture one particular set of dumbstruck villains, but never pulling off the big score. Unfortunately, the Mets played the role of dumbstruck victims to these bumbling criminals all these years...until now.

Today's victory brought the Mets to 4-1 at Fonda Field this season, and pushed the Braves...they of the 78 straight division the brink of the abyss for 2006, and there's no banner for that. And to think that all it took was a halfway decent roster, a manager without a penchant for screwing things up or making dopey moves like playing the infield in while down by seven runs, and a general manager with autonomy (not to mention half a brain) to take down this rogues gallery of criminals.

All it took was Carlos Beltran to chase down the Noid and beat him senseless over the head once or twice or thirty seven times until he's bloody (or is that tomato sauce)...Endy Chavez to knock Harry and Marv with his paint cans...Orlando Hernandez to let the pigeon loose with only three unearned runs given up and his first two major league RBI's at the age of 67 (seriously, is this the oldest a player ever got his first RBI?) How about The Undertaker: Paul Lo Duca swatting away villains with his mighty bat...continuing to disprove the theory that he's a second half disaster with four more hits today?

Oh the Noid got in his shot today as a Tim Hudson pitch caught Carlos Delgado just wrong...and how desperate these so-called "Ghosts of Turner Field" must be to resort to sending a player off due to injury to make its point. But look what followed: a stolen base by pinch runner Julio Franco (pinch runner Julio Franco) which sent a message that any noids or cartoon villains have to try a little harder to get their co-tenants back into the wild card race against 2006's version of the Superfriends.

All that's left to do now is to get their first Fonda Field sweep, and their first sweep in Atlanta (of three or more games) since 1985...and yes, that sweep contained the Rick Camp game on July 4th. Perhaps a Tom Glavine home run is in the offing on Sunday to complete the circle of life and drive away noids forever and ever. But who needs a gimmick like a home run hitting pitcher for that? All that's really needed is a pretty good team.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Did You Really Have To Scare Us Like That, Petey?

Remember the episode of "The Odd Couple" where Oscar loses a poker bet to Billy Bob Babcock, and to pay off the $500, he promises that his country band would play at Billy Bob's party?

Well when Felix finds out that his band was enlisted to pay off a poker bet he refuses to sing with the band. Oscar, panicking, decides to try to sing a doe-see-doe with Felix's cowpokes and it's a complete disaster.

That was Pedro Martinez's first inning back from injury.

Felix, then feeling sorry for Oscar, decides to re-take the helm, and announces "That was the comedy portion of our show." The rest of the show goes smooth as silk and Billy Bob refrains from twisting Oscar's rigoletto.

That was innings 2-6 of Pedro's comeback.

And in one fell swoop, the Mets have suddenly stabilized while the arch nemesis Braves went scrambling, finally wheeling Wilson Betemit but not for the relievers we all thought. And maybe the timing is all wrong for the Braves as our friend Larry Jones was seen wincing with a recurrence of an injury to his side (maybe it split too wide laughing at Marcus Giles' "kiss your sister" comment). Sure, they have Danys Baez for the 'pen, but he lost his closer job in Los Angeles. And now they get to depend on Willy Aybar and Pete Orr to give them some offense at third base. Are they sorry they made that trade now?

The Braves can stuff their sorries in a sack, mister.

Meanwhile, Petey was all-purpose tonight...not only chucking five scoreless after his implosion in the first inning, but starting the all-important tying rally in the second by doubling down the line off of Horacio Ramirez and his slop du jour. It's just another example of the brilliance of Pedro Martinez. Here we are thinking that his red whiffle bat was just a gimmick...little did we know he was just sizing everyone up for the exact...right...moment.

Met fans may now feel free to exhale.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rekindling The Hate

Are we playing the Braves this weekend?

This is certainly a different type of series from what Met fans are used to, isn't it? Usually, it's the Mets who are looking to prove something, looking to make a statement at Turner Field. (More often than not, the statement becomes "We're the baseball equivalent of impotence.") The Braves, meanwhile, are the ones with the comfortable lead...the ones with the division sewn up...and the ones who hold all comers by their outstretched arms as they flail wildly thinking they'll land a shot.

I hate cliches, but the tables are indeed turned. The Mets are well out in front, the Braves are the ones swinging wildly with their heads firmly pressed against the extended palm of the New York Mets. Tonight, we find out if that outstretched palm belongs to one Pedro Martinez, making his return to active baseball duty tonight.

Forgive me if it's taken me a while to rev up the hate machine for the Atlanta Braves this time out. It's now that I'm reminded of the constant question I get from Yankee fans "Why do you hate us more than the Braves?"

The same reason that you have better relations with your parents after you move don't have to see them every day (and vice versa).

But it's time to hate them again...and not because of this notion that they still have a chance to catch the Mets, no matter what Bobby Cox said before his team lost two of three to the Marlins at home, and no matter what Marcus Giles says now. But rather because the Braves still have a chance at the wild card, and anything the Mets can do to derail those chances would benefit them greatly.

You see, the only reason the Braves have a chance at being the wild card is because there is no real dominant force in the N.L. that has run away from everyone else for that spot. And that's unfortunate because the Braves pitching staff in no way shape or form belongs anywhere near a race. But that isn't going to matter if the Braves take two or...gasp...sweep the Mets at Turner Field. If that happens, then all of a sudden the Braves strut through the rest of the season with their chests puffed out (or for Bob Wickman, his belly), and confidence can go a long way towards overcoming the hurdle of incompetence.

Now for the Mets, losing two or three at their personal house of horrors isn't going to kill them, but it is going to put that seed of doubt in their collective heads...all right, in their fans' collective heads anyway...and all of a sudden, there are questions as to whether this team can handle a potential seven game NLCS with these pests after all, fair or not. So for that reason, it's time to take all of the advantages that the Mets enjoy on paper and end the Braves once and for all...give them the seed of doubt that they have so rightfully earned with the pitching staff they have.

It's time to bury them...right Paulie?

Who Loves Ya' Baby!

I'm happier than normal tonight.

And it centers around the return of Jaap Stijl to his keyboard to resume his blog known as "Archie Bunker's Army"...banging away at his keys to bring us his unique perspective on Mets baseball from across the pond. He's one of the many, many talented bloggers who write stuff that I only wish I could come up with. So as he makes his return, make your return along with him, and march with Archie Bunker's Army once again.

Speaking of other bloggers:

You ever see that commercial where the three suits are waiting for the elevator and run into Joe Buck? After one of the greatest suck up lines in commercial history ("that voice is like velvet with peanut butter") they get all flustered and suck up to him to the point that they're all touching Buck's throat while he utters Dave Kingman's most referred to phrase "swing and a miss".

Well, in 1986, Bob Sikes was an assistant trainer with the World Champion New York Mets, while I was in the stands for many of those regular season games buying 10 dollar t-shirts with every single name and number of every '86 Met I could find...basically worshipping this team that was doing things I never thought possible in Mets baseball.

Twenty years later, we're both bloggers. It's weird because this is a guy with a World Series ring for crying out loud...and I couldn't even get a ticket to a postseason game that season. Yet we're both bloggers now which means to the naked eye, we're on some sort of equal footing. Trust me, I know better. For example, he's a teacher now, which means he's serving America's youth. The closest I get to serving America's youth is when I tell our interns that they should find a line of work which pays more.

Equal footing my meniscus. I'm in awe.

He shows his versatility by writing on a wide variety of sports subjects, and his perspective on current stories that involve people close to him are particularly enlightening. When John Gibbons had to deal with the whole Shea Hillenbrand situation, the first thing I thought was that Bob was a cinch to come up with some perspective, having been with John in 1985 and 1986. And sure enough...

Maybe one day, like the guys in the elevator, I'll get to put my hand on Bob's rotator cuff while he says "Tommy John surgery".

But until then, the best I can do is help out when I'm asked. And Bob has asked for a verification on a potential lookalike situation. Mr. Sikes, I'm here to help.

As you can see from this picture, there certainly is a very strong resemblance between Mets general manager Omar Minaya, and Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. Minaya, however, looks a little grayer and a little more pale, which tells me that being an employee of the Mets has probably caused much stress, and has kept him from spending relaxing days at the beach. Lewis, having only spent a couple of seasons with the Bengals, hasn't experienced that stress yet. However, with half of the Bengals getting arrested during this past off season, I think that Lewis will look even more like Minaya by December.

Come to think of it: Don't these two dearly departed share some physical attributes? Can't you see Bob Murphy coming home telling Edith about the beautiful cumulus clouds that hovered overhead...going on about the talents of young Kenny Boswell, who wants to be out there each and every day? Murph would ask Edith politely for a beer (Schaefer beer, of course).

Then there's noted Met fan Archie:

"Ah jeez will you look at this Skip Lockwood here, he comes in there, blowing the lead for Seaver! He's a bigger meathead than you, meathead!"
My kingdom for Archie Bunker's take on Jaerock Lee.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I'm Listening

FC: Roz, who's our first caller?

RD: Frasier, we have Metstradamus on line one.

FC: Go ahead caller.

MD: Dr. Crane, I have a problem.

FC: Metstradamus, I'm listening.

MD: I'm calling because I have a fear of commitment.

FC: Well Metstradamus, a fear of commitment is very common. You may have a concern about the idea of "forever".

MD: That sounds right.

FC: And you might be afraid of a bad marriage or a short one.

MD: Yes, that's very astute Dr. Crane.

FC: You fear a bad mistake in the person chosen.

MD: Dr. Crane, you're a genius.

FC: So how long have you dated this girl?

MD: What girl?

FC: The girl that you fear a commitment with.

MD: Oh I've been married for three years.

FC: You've been...wait a second...I don't understand.

MD: You see Dr. Crane, I have this little blog where Met fans of all persuasions come and depend on me for guidance since I'm a soothsayer and all. And the trade deadline is coming up and there is a marquee name out there that some Met fans can't decide whether they want to give up their top prospect for him or not.

FC: So what's the problem.

MD: Well like I said, people are going to want an opinion from me to help guide them in their lives...kind of like what you do...and I can't commit to an opinion one way or the other.

FC: That is your fear of commitment?

MD: Frasier, I don't think you understand the enormity of the situation. The single most important question Met fans will have over the next five days...the question that decides the direction of the whole "should we trade Lastings Milledge for Barry Zito"...and I, er, I can't answer it! I'm afraid that we'll be without Lastings Milledge "forever". And I'm afraid of a bad Met "marriage" with Barry Zito, and definitely a "short" one. But we're talking about the World Series here. The World Series!!! I know this is a foreign entity to've never seen one in Seattle. Barry Zito could get us to one...but then we'd lose Lastings Milledge forever!

FC: I see.

MD: I could really use your assistance on this one Dr. Crane.

FC: Well I had a good friend who used to play with the Red Sox, and he also had a fear of commitment. So I think I can help you here. Now Metstradamus, I find that the best way to come to a conclusion in these matters is to weigh the pros and cons of your situation. Now tell me, what are the pros to this Ziti character?

MD: Zit-O!

FC: Yes, right.

MD: Well, he is a former Cy Young award winner. And the Mets employ his former pitching coach...he's kind of a guru of sorts. Eccentric sort, always wears a jacket. Anyway, I think that would make Zito happy. And he has a freakish curveball. Trading for him would be the gutsy thing to do.

FC: I see. Now what is the downside concerning Zito?

MD: Well, he won that Cy Young award a long time ago...and since then he's basically been a .500 pitcher. And if the Mets trade for him, there's every chance that he'll leave after two months for somewhere else, meaning we'd give up our top prospect for basically nothing. It's not the practical thing to do.

FC: Metstradamus, it sounds like an easy decision to me.

MD: But it wouldn't be all bad if Zito left. The Mets would get two first round draft choices if Zito did leave, which would mean Milledge would be traded for two future stars.

FC: Interesting.

MD: Now keep in mind that these two draft picks could turn out to be part of the future. Or they could be as useful as rusty hinges. Lastings Milledge is close to the real deal already. And Zito could be here next season anyway.

FC: So you're saying if Zito comes now, he'll leave. And if Zito doesn't come, then he'll come next season.

MD: Maybe, on all counts.

FC: Isn't there a chance that Zito could come here for somebody other than this Lastings character? Haven't you, as a Met fan, ever had your cake and ate it too?

MD: Yes, but only after the cake dropped to the floor and stuck to some random hair, floor wax, and cracker crumbs. That piece always went to me.

FC: Well I find that trades usually work out even when all is said and done so you can't go wrong either way.

MD: You've never heard of Victor Zambrano, have you?

FC: No, but I once pantsed Wade Boggs.

MD: Let it never be said that the psychiatric community possesses no scruples.

FC: Metstradamus, we need to get to the root of the problem. Let's play a little word association. I'll say a word and you say the first thing that comes to your mind.

MD: This is your big plan?

FC: Let's begin: Bat

MD: Maple

FC: Maple?

MD: More and more baseball bats are made of maple.

FC: I see this is going to be tougher than I thought. Okay: salt

MD: pepper

FC: doctor

MD: Pepper

FC: night

MD: Ray

FC: right

MD: David

FC: left

MD: Tug McGraw

FC: twin

MD: Soriano

FC: Abreu

MD: Tigers

FC: Yankees

MD: suck?

FC: All right, your situation isn't dire. Ready: Zito


FC: Come on Metstradamus, Zito. ZITO!

MD: I can't come up with anything!


MD: Dammit my mind is a blank!!!

FC: Metstradamus, you must take some time to talk this out for yourself, for your own sake, and for the sake of your readers.

MD: I just can't make up my mind on this, Frasier. I mean, making this trade would send an uplifting message to the team. It would be the same as telling them: "Boys, I believe in you. You've played well enough, and you've earned the opportunity to receive some help and here you are: Barry Zito."

FC: Well I think it's healthy that you have the feelings of other people in mind.

MD: But it could go the other way. Giving the team some help might also tell them that their boss has no confidence in what the current group can do in the playoffs and World Series. I mean, there's a lot of veterans on the team and their egos shouldn't be that fragile. But there's always exceptions to the rule. I shudder at what a trade like this would do to Steve Trachsel and Aaron Heilman.

FC: Who?

MD: I mean, those two go nuts at the mere mention of being demoted in the starting rotation, or being kept off it all together.

FC: So why not trade them too?

MD: More trades? I have enough trouble deciding on this one. You're throwing me more trades? What the hell do they pay you for?!?

FC: ...

MD: I need help.

FC: Tell me about your mother.

MD: Old Dodger fan.

FC: Brooklyn?

MD: Los Angeles too.

FC: Really? Your mother never disavowed the Dodgers after they left Brooklyn?

MD: Well, after 1981 when they beat the Yankees, she took pity on my sad sack Mets team and started supporting it, along with my interest in it. But she's an old Dodger fan at heart.

FC: Interesting. Who was your mother's favorite Dodger player?

MD: Ron Cey.

FC: And was there anything special about Ron Cey that is deep in the recess of your mind?

MD: Well they called him "The Penguin".

FC: Penguin...Did she have a favorite Met?

MD: Yes, his name was Len Dykstra.

FC: And was he a penguin too?

MD: No, but he ran into walls a lot. Mom was upset when he was traded to Philadelphia.

FC: Upset...traded...very interesting. Tell me...this Penguin, was he traded to Philadelphia too?

MD: No...he was traded to the Cubs.

FC: Yes...yes...and what was gained by these two trades?

MD: Well between Vance Lovelace and Juan Samuel, I'd say absolutely nothing, Frasier.

FC: I think I know your problem. You see, your mother was traumatized not once...but twice by trades. And not just any trades...her favorite players ONE...from each franchise, gone in an instant. You want so much to embrace change but you can't. You can't because it was indeed trades that took away those you your mother held close. And although change may be good you are hesitant because of the ugly memories of past trades that traumatized your mother. You need to let go, move on, and not be afraid to make a decision that you think would bring back these ugly memories.

MD: Hmmm.

FC: It's okay to be speechless after an epiphany like this.

MD: Frasier, I've made my decision.

FC: Well I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that. What is your decision?

MD: Frasier, you're a twisted individual. And in the interests of making sure I never listen to your show again, I'm throwing my radio against the wall. Then I'm going to throw my head against the wall. And when I wake up, I just may throw my mother against the wall. And if I'm not in jail, I'm going to fly across the country to throw Ron Cey against the wall.

FC: Do you think that's particularly healthy?

MD: Probably not...but at least I've made a decision. And for now, that's a start. Thanks, Dr. Crane.

FC: Metstradamus, although I don't think it will do much good, I wish you good mental health. Roz, who's our next caller?

RD: Frasier, we have Omar from Flushing on line two.

FC: Omar, I'm listening...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Last Laugh

That Kris Benson trade isn't looking too bad now is it?

It's impressive to pitch a complete game shutout when you're stoked to a four run lead in the second inning while going up against the immortal Taylor Buchholz. But it's quite a different animal to stare down Mark Prior (albeit a wild Mark Prior on a pitch count) and match zeroes with him as he's no hitting your team for 5 and 2/3's.

Make no mistake, the jury is still out on John Maine. Keep in mind that all but one inning of Bangor's body of work has taken place at Shea Stadium. And that body of work is still relatively Chicken McNugget like in size. But sixteen straight scoreless is sixteen straight scoreless. And the last seven of those sixteen was sorely needed today as the Mets avoided a sweep at the hands of Murphy's Cubs today.

Think about this from Omar Minaya's perspective. If Bangor Maine looks more like a major league pitcher than a hair spray consultant (for example), then Minaya is pretty much undefeated in his Mets career in terms of trades.

Mike Cameron for Xavier Nady? Cameron may have better numbers, but not by much. And Cameron was a square peg in a round hole while he was here so if the numbers are a wash, it's a win for the Mets merely because of the salary differential.

Mike Jacobs and Yusmiero Petit for Carlos Delgado? This may be a "time will tell" deal but the Mets got value for their young chips which is all you can ask if you're trading young players.

Jae Seo for Duaner Sanchez? Jae Seo is in Tampa Bay now wearing number ninety eight. Ninety Eight? Does he play for the Rays or the Bucs? Omar dealt Jae Seo at the height of his value and for a core reliever, and now Seo is on the Devil Rays wearing a dumb number. You tell me who won that trade.

Nobody's perfect. We're all still getting over the Shingo Takatsu era. And Kaz Ishii once walked every hot dog vendor at Citizens Bank Park during a two inning stint, but he only cost the Mets Jason Phillips who's so slow he'd be even money to beat Butch Huskey in a race (and have you seen Butch Huskey lately? When he played in the latest Met fantasy camp they should have re-named it "reality camp"...he's huuuuuuge!) You have to go back to the Grady Sizemore/Cliff Lee for two weeks of Bartolo Colon trade for the last true Omar Minaya disaster. Trading the Bensons for Jorge Julio almost classified as that next disaster...except for the fact that John Maine came Omar's way as well.

Neifi To The Rescue?

Today's bad omen came when I found out that a Cubs blogger gave yours truly a shout out.

As I scrolled through the Cub musings of Thunder Matt, I found an analysis of how bad a defensive player Neifi Perez was. Thirty-four major league second basemen have a better fielding percentage than Neifi. An amazing feat considering there are only thirty major league teams.

I should have known that it would be Neifi Perez to the freakin' rescue sliding and fielding the mid-hop grounder by Egg Whites that could have driven in two runs but instead brought home one and brought the Cubs one out closer to victory as the Mets were closing in on what would have been the most inspiring comeback of the season. Instead, it was just another infuriating loss to the suddenly ferocious Baby Bears.

Tom Glavine, who pitched as though the ghost of Greg Maddux was haunting him from the opposite dugout (Maddux is still alive, it's just his career that's slowly dying on the ivy), looks like he could use the extra rest that a six-man rotation will provide. Too bad that with all the old, injured, scared of rain pitchers on the Mets staff, they can probably use about a fifteen-man rotation until Omar can pull off that big humongous cataclysmic trade that some, if not all, are waiting for.

Can Jose Lima III be far behind?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

One Giant Step (Backward) For Met-Kind

Just in case you forgot (and I tried my best to forget), there is an ugly side to Steve Trachsel. And you faithful viewers saw it Monday night.

Yes, it is the latest chapter in the newest mini-series entitled: "To Trade Or Not To Trade". There were many twists and turns in tonight's episode...most of them coming during the wind trajectory of the ball that Aramis Ramirez hit. Reportedly, the Mets are already planning on marking the seat that Aramis hit with a depiction of Trachsel's gas face.

It's part of the yo-yo that is the lives of Mets fans. One day, John Maine and Orlando Hernandez are pitching well, the back end of the rotation looks outstanding, and there's no need to trade for anyone. All of a sudden: Mike Pelfrey hits a snag, Steve Trachsel is giving up three home runs to the second worst home run hitting team in the National League (a team that not only is without Derrek Lee, but plays in Wrigley Field for Pete Schourek's sake), and Omar Minaya is currently driving up to Saranac Lake negotiating for the rights to exhume Christy Mathewson's remains.

Don't worry Omar, Barry Zito didn't look so hot Monday either. So his price isn't exactly going to rise at the rate of gasoline.


He may be slightly controversial, but Keith Hernandez reminded us all why we still love him. When looking at the list of active leaders in victories, Hernandez asked the philosophical question about one Roger Clemens that we all must ponder:
    "Is Clemens considered active when he doesn't make a road trip?"
    Another game winning RBI for Mex.


    Speaking of philosophical questions, is it a coincidence that the New York Lottery has dusted off the commercial where the manager is at a news conference being asked about his error prone, .027 hitting third baseman who bought the team...just at the time where the sport of A-Rod Bashing has reached a fever pitch?


    I had a conversation a couple of days ago with a buddy of mine...he's a huge Mike Piazza fan, but he said to me that the team is better off with Paul Lo Duca. I agreed, noting that Piazza would have given the Mets too many middle to bottom of the order hitters, and not enough top of the lineup guys. I also had said to him in the past that Lo Duca is more of a fiery leader than Piazza was.

    I mention this because the guys at Faith and Fear have each delivered an inspired analysis of why we'll always love Mike Piazza, but The Undertaker is the right man at the right time.

    As always, gentlemen, could not have said it better.

    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    Aaron's Fable

    Once upon a time there was a pitcher who succeeded at everything he tried...until he got to the Mets where he was told that his value was as a relief pitcher. So he moped and tried to prove his worth by beating Chris Burke in a race to the first base bag. But being the lazy mope he was, he stopped at a Starbucks during the race even though he had a head start. Burke hustled, and won the race.

    The Astros scored, Heilman was embarrassed, and Burke refused to share his popcorn.

    The End.


    That was obviously the Cliff Notes version of the story, but the actual end may be written when Aesop Heilman is lollygagging to the airport to join his new team next week.

    The fact that Heilman's bonehead (Cone-head?) play did not ultimately cost the Mets the game is irrelevant. The Mets were 13 games up going in, so losing a game here and there isn't going to kill them. But that's not the challenge for Willie Randolph. The challenge is to keep his players interested, and focused on the present moment throughout a long couple of months where they will most likely have nothing to play for except home field in the NLCS. For the most part, Willie has kept his guys alert and happy.

    But when a player makes a gaffe like Heilman's...and when that player is a guy who has been talked about as not having his entire heart in his job because of his role...there's a problem. And when that player is on the cusp of trade rumors where it's entirely possible that Mets brass is going back and forth on what to do with him, well let's just say that if I was Freddy Garcia I wouldn't look at any real estate in Illinois or Wisconsin. Because just as winning is contagious, so is laziness. That frame of mind needs to be quarantined before it spreads to the rest of the team by the time the playoffs roll around...whether by conversation, by role change, or by trade.

    In a related story, during a recent airing of "Baseball Tonight" Tim Kurkjian forced to guess that Marlins reliever Joe Borowski would be a Met by the time the trade deadline comes and goes. I'm not sure how much sense that makes, and even Kurkjian didn't sound convinced...but if the Mets give up on Heilman, then Borowski makes a lot more sense.

    So if Aesop Heilman is smart, he quickly learns that relieving is his friend...or he will be relieved of his uniform and shipped off to the woods to race turtles in Chicago.


    In case you haven't noticed, Carlos Delgado is out of his slump.

    Why has Carlos Delgado been able to emerge from this deep deep slump?

    Because he's not Alex Rodriguez.

    For all of my ranting and raving about how the national media excessively kisses the cheeks of the New York Yankees (and it is excessive), even I have to admit that with that comes a price. With that comes the possibility that a picture of you at Central Park in a metrosexual pose will hit the front page of the tabloids. With that comes the mental pressure of everybody, including the people that spread Yankee propaganda, hopping on your back and discussing you endlessly when you're going sour. With that comes George Steinbrenner.

    Carlos Delgado goes into a batting slump and nobody's breaking down his at bats, his fielding mechanics, and his suntan lotion brand of choice. Nobody makes him takes extra infield practice only to pencil him in at DH.

    A-Rod currently has Carlos Delgado's slump and Aaron Heilman's mental block combined. All because the excessive good press that goes around can turn unnecessarily bad in a heartbeat...because that's the way it works with the Yankees.

    Meanwhile, Delgado has the luxury of working through his problems in relative peace.

    So as much as I will continue to rant and rave about the severe inequity of the amount of coverage the Yankees get in comparison to the Mets, I have to say that in this case...they can have it.


    Staying with the theme of the media having nothing better to talk about, I was given a theory that I must share with you:

    Mike Pelfrey is undefeated with the tongue.

    He's 0-1 with the blue gum/mouthpiece.

    Has the media made Pelfrey so self conscious regarding his tongue that he was willing to try the blue gum?

    I'm not sure I buy that. But I would like to see Pelfrey stick with what makes him comfy.

    Messing With Mother

    Mother Nature: God! GOD!!!

    God: What's the matter?

    MN: Did you read this in today's paper? Willie Randolph pulled Orlando Hernandez back from the rain and the replacement won!

    God: What's the big deal?

    MN: Doesn't Willie Randolph realize you can't fool with me?

    God: So how do you want to play it?

    MN: Well this Hernandez character is going to go today because Randolph thinks today will be a better day than yesterday. This Willie Randolph needs to be taught a lesson. RAIN EVERY FIVE MINUTES!!!

    God: Don't you think that's a little harsh?

    MN: Well I'm pissed dammit!

    God: Why does everybody want Me to damn things? I'm a busy deity...I have no time to run around going "damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn" all the time!

    MN: Well some people need a little reminder that I cannot be avoided!

    God: How about just a rain delay at the top to remind Willie that you're around? No use punishing the poor Mets fans with constant rain delays, right?

    MN: You're right. They've suffered enough. One hour should be enough to foil this Orlando character.
    And it almost was, as Hernandez continued his aversion to rain delays by giving up a home run to Lance Berkman in the first inning that is currently rolling along the Saw Mill Parkway. When a Preston Wilson home run followed, it looked like Chicago all over again. Mother Nature let out a chortle.

    But Orlando Hernandez did mess with Ms. Nature, as he threw six scoreless frames after the Berkman bomb. The lineup, meanwhile, did just enough between Carlos Delgado's sac fly and Xavier Nady's three run jack to give the Mets their third straight win.

    If you've woken up today to find that you're snowed in, you'll know why.

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    The Sweet Smell Of Salami By Way Of The Great State Of Maine

    I can now confirm it...

    Orlando Hernandez is a witch.

    It's obvious isn't it? Why else would Willie Randolph push him back to tomorrow? Orlando heard that thunder at 9:30 AM...then again at 2:30PM, then on a constant stream from 4-5. He's probably still under the trainers table shaking to death...scared to set foot in the outside world.

    "Skip, I can't go out there."

    "Why not, Orlando?"

    "If I don't throw the first pitch at precisely at 7:08, I'll age fifteen years immediately."

    "Are you serious? You're not Joe Hardy."

    "Who's Joe Hardy?"

    "If you don't go, I'll age fifteen years. C'mon O, what's the real reason?"

    "I can't pitch in the rain...I'll melt."
    Who steps up to the rescue? The precocious John "Bangor" Maine, with a 7-0 complete game shutout against the Astros tonight.

    If I had a better memory, I would list off all of the instances that pitchers have had big starts or goalies that have had shutouts where they didn't know they were playing until anywhere from 2 hours to 15 minutes before game time. I can't. But trust me, this kind of thing happens all the time...where pitchers take a leisurely drive to the park thinking they have the day off and usually exit the park pitching the game of their lives because they had no time to overthink themselves to death. So by that token, this surprise outing by John Maine doesn't surprise me.

    But it surprises me by all other tokens. It is, after all, John Maine.

    Let's put it this way: John Maine was so good tonight, various fans have spotted Anna Benson outside the press gate waiting for him while hiking up her skirt.

    You know who's the happiest man in the park tonight? None other than Omar Minaya. You know why? Because it's freakin' merengue night! The Mets are now 8-2 on merengue night! Woo-hoo!

    All right, not merengue night. Omar is a John Maine guy...probably because he so desperately wants the Kris Benson for Orlando Hernandez (by way of Jorge Julio) and Maine to look better than it has been. But Minaya has loved John Maine ever since he joined the organization, impressed by his heater and changeup. Tonight, Omar's faith was rewarded.

    There was a feeling like this after one Alay Soler pitched a shutout in Arizona. Since then, that didn't turn out so well. Bangor might very well be headed down that same path. But considering the contrast in styles between Soler and Maine, maybe not. The way Omar feels about Maine, he most assuredly is less inclined to make a deal for a starter now than he was this afternoon. Is that wise? Omar would want me to trust him...and I do.

    Just keep Anna away from the press gate.


    On most nights, it would have been Jose Valentin talked about first. It took a Herculean John Maine effort to knock Valentin down a few paragraphs. But when Jose strode to the plate in a scoreless tie with the sacks full, and when I saw the stat that Valentin had 117 RBI's in 116 career at bats with the bases loaded, my mind started racing like Beavis on a sugar high. I was giddy at the fact that this was pretty much a guaranteed run batted in. And yes, I started smelling a little salami.

    Then I thought about Pat Tabler.

    Why would I do a dumb thing like that?

    Because Pat Tabler, who was a Met for about a month in 1990, was a lifetime 43 for 88 with the bases hit short of .500 with the maximum amount of runners on base. In his short time with the Mets, he was 2 for 2 with 5 RBI's.

    Once I concluded that I need some serious therapy for thinking about Pat Tabler, I thought of my fantasy team, the highly mediocre "Neon Stick Figures". Jose Valentin just started his second tour of duty for them, as I was desperately in need of an outfielder due to the fact that the last two guys I tried were sent down to the minors. So I needed him. John Maine needed him. The Mets needed him. And yes, somewhere in Toronto, I'm sure in some small way Pat Tabler needed him without knowing quite why.

    And with one swing, the Astros were fried...the way I like my salami.


    What's with the Sanford and Son theme for Cliff Floyd as he strides to the plate?

    Is Cliff Floyd a big dummy?

    Are his knees turning into a junkyard?

    Or maybe since he robbed Chris Burke of a home run tonight, he's more like Rollo.


    I looked at the Brooklyn Cyclones schedule during the season...hoping that there would be an afternoon game during the week that I could attend. Through the four months of the schedule I could only find one game. However, with the train signal malfunction in Queens (it takes me 90 minutes to get to Keyspan Park on a good day), and due to the fact that the Mets also had a day game, I decided against it.

    This is what I would have been in for.

    The Oneonta Tigers defeated Brooklyn in twenty-six innings this past Thursday afternoon. Let me repeat that in case it hasn't sunk in: twenty-six innings! And Brooklyn lost! I hope this isn't what we have to look forward to in the coming years from our farm system...although it was actually an outfielder that gave up the five runs in the 26th (I can't even type "26th" with a straight face) after already having pitched a scoreless inning.

    Think about this: the game was a noon start. Imagine if this game started at 7PM. Is there a curfew in the New York Penn League?

    Dustin Martin scored the only run for the Cyclones. He was also 0 for 11 on the afternoon/early evening. He was a .278 hitter when the game started. He is now at .241. Steve Phillips has already offered to trade him for Jose Cruz Jr.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006


    There was no room in the Mets collective luggage for their pitching and their defense as they fly home today. So they just brought it with them to the park today as they took back to back series for the first time in a while by a score of 4-2.

    Omar Minaya has to be smiling today, while Wayne Krivsky is pulling his hair out. Minaya's off season acquisitions shone today...between Chad Bradford's latest Houdini act to get out of the seventh with bases loaded and one out and Endy Chavez's clutch two out hit in the tenth to score another Minaya coup: Xavier Nady. Meanwhile newest Cincinnati pariah Gary Majewski, who was part of a trade which cost the Reds Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez, took the loss in the tenth.

    But the difference today was the Mets ability to get out of trouble. In the sixth, there were runners on second and third after an Edwin Encarnacion double to left center with nobody out. Rich Aurilia might have scored on the play, except that a Reds fan reached over the left field fence to interfere with it (notice that the Mets fans retreated). First it's the wave that hurts them, then it's a Reds fan killing them by interfering with a ball in play. Another nice job.

    Aurilia then attempts to score on a grounder to second, but he was caught flat footed by Jose Valentin...playing medium to deep...with a good throw to the plate. This could have been another questionable decision like Reyes' throw to third last night on a tag play (which I had no problem with), but Aurilia's late break killed him. The inning ended with a scary Bronson Arroyo tapper in front of the plate with the bases loaded and two outs...but Glavine smartly threw to Castro, who tagged the runner for the third out. You would think that Fluff Castro's expanded cranium would give him more room to remember that with the bases loaded, you don't have to tag the runner coming's a force play. Hey, thankfully it worked out all right is all I'm saying.

    The seventh inning was Blueback Bradford picking up for Glavine, and featured Blueback's nasty changeup to strike out Scott Hatteberg with the sacks full and one out.

    The eighth inning featured Aaron Heilman, who left a runner at third with two groundouts to David Wright.

    The ninth inning featured Pedro Feliciano and Valentin again. Feliciano walked Nellie Fox...oh I mean Chris Denorfia (Keith Hernandez has been a bit heavy handed with the Nellie Fox batting grip references over the last couple of days). And when he tried to steal second with two outs, there was Jose Valentin bringing the ball back from the third base side and employing the no look tag (oh by the way, Denorfia was safe) to basically end another threat even though the half inning lasted about two hours...Feliciano threw about 243 pitches to get out of that inning, but he was unscathed.

    Then came the top of the tenth, where the Reds revamped bullpen had a chance to respond to some adversity themselves (Eddie Guardado worked around a David Wright double in the ninth, but the Mets basically provided no threat from the fifth to the eighth), and Krivsky's acquisition Majewski couldn't do it. The Reds GM probably will get some more grief from his friend (and ours) Steve Phillips,


    It looks like this season's Manny Ramirez will be Bobby Abreu. The Philly Daily News reports a potential Abreu for Rodrigo Lopez deal, but ESPN's insider service is rumbling about Abreu coming to Queens...for Lastings Milledge. Funny how when anyone discussed a potential Abreu to the Yankees swap, it was always followed by "well, the Phillies aren't going to ask for too much from the Yanks since they just want to get rid of Abreu's contract." But when it comes to the Mets, who need an outfielder less than the Yankees do, it's Lastings Milledge. I see that Bud Selig is going to have to prepare another one of those "well, I'm not supposed to let this kind of deal go, but in the best interests of the game, of the Yankees, and of FOX's ratings..."


    The Braves now have themselves a closer, trading for Bob Wickman.

    Apparently, the Braves grew wistful for a Terry Forster like presence in the clubhouse, and thought that Wickman kind of looked like Dan Kolb in ten years, so they took a chance.

    Now if the rest of the putrid Braves bullpen can get the lead to Wickman, I would be worried.

    If the Braves follow this by getting, say, Roberto Hernandez, I would be worried.

    Until then, wake me up when they get a safe distance on the right side of .500, please.


    So does the amphetamines rule in MLB count for broadcasters too? You've gotta love all of Keith Hernandez's "Kineresque" malapropos that were no doubt caused by the day game after the night game...but especially when thrown against the canvas of today's constant Gary And Keith theme: How the new "greenies" rule would affect a game like this:

    "Has Glavine thrown a change up today, Keith?"

    "I have to pay more attention."
    From a man paid good money to pay attention (money provided in part by our cable bills I might add).

    And after that came Hernandez's observation that Bronson Arroyo was going to throw some dipsy-doo curve balls to try to get Fluff Castro to hit into a double play with runners on first and third and two outs.

    Not surprising to also learn during the game that Keith had never heard of Red Bull. Silly gold glover, Red Bull gives you clarity!

    Gary Cohen obviously had his Red Bull...he's probably the first broadcaster in history to use the word "laborious" during a day game after a night game. Can Elias look something like that up?


    Great scorecard line for Jose Reyes today: 9 9 9 9 K

    Great if you're playing five card stud, that is.


    Late add: get ready to laugh your ass off with "the voice of the people"!!! (Careful: If foul language offends your boss, better wear headphones!)

    Too Close To Home

    I feel for Steve Trachsel.

    Forget for a moment the irony in The Human Rain Delay having his effectiveness drained by The Actual Rain Delay. Seeing Trachsel look so good before the two and one-half hour rain delay and so ordinary afterwards made me wistful for a time where the path of my life was altered forever.

    The year was 1987...and I was taking what would be the final shot at my dream of being a major leaguer by trying out for the Newtown High School baseball team as a senior walk-on. It was a Friday afternoon and there was a fair mist in the air which probably drove a good number of prospects away. But there I was, ready to give it a try. Before the baseball coach arrived (he was late), I got to throw to a guy who was a catcher for a college team. I broke out what I would have made my bread and butter: the split fingered fastball...threw about three or four that were reminiscent of the best features of Mike Scott and Jack Morris. The catcher then came to me, and this was roughly the conversation:

    "What are you throwing?"


    "You throw that during the tryout, you're on the team, dude!"
    Think of it...a college catcher telling me I had a wicked pitch! Where's the damn coach already so I can start my ascent to the majors?

    Finally, the coach shows up and makes the announcement that since it was raining and more people didn't show up, the tryouts were postponed until the following Monday. A two and a half day rain delay.

    Now far be it from me to challenge the wisdom of the decision to wait for a bunch of kids who were so dedicated to playing baseball that they passed on the actual tryout day because of a little rain. But my stuff was electric. Would I have it on Monday?

    So Monday comes...there's about three times the hopefuls at Newtown Field...and as a result, everyone got three pitches to show the head coach that they belonged on the team. Again, far be it from me to question the wisdom of the coach, but even Isiah Thomas is getting a whole year! Three pitches? And where was that catcher to throw me a good word? Oh, and did I mention we were required to pitch from the stretch?

    The catcher had to jump to haul in my first offering.

    The rest of the month was a blur.

    I think about it every so often. What if it hadn't rained? What if the coach stuck to the original plan and had the tryouts on Friday? I could have made the team. I could have gotten a college scholarship to Wichita State, played with such luminaries as Pat Meares and Casey Blake, and had Doug Mirabelli as my battery mate. I could have gotten drafted, ridden around the country in uncomfortable buses, traded three or four times, and made the majors as a rule V pickup.

    I could have had Tommy John surgery!

    I could have been traded for Scott Kazmir!

    I could have gotten booed in Shea Stadium!

    No, I didn't get to experience all of that, because what happened to Steve Trachsel tonight happened to me 19 years ago. We lost our stuff to a weather pattern.

    P.S. The site of the failed audition, Newtown Field, has since been converted into a really nice soccer field, and has played host to a solid high school soccer program. I get weepy when I think that it could have been made into a nice baseball field with an exploding scoreboard on the facade of the Queens Center mall if I had made the majors and paid for all the renovations...of course after renaming the field after myself. But not all was lost, as a mere six months after my tryout, I realized my dream of being booed in Shea Stadium...twice in the same game! But it was as a fan, and not as a player. You take what you can get in this life.

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Great Tongues In History

    Brains...Beauty...Status...Song...Poetry...All right, maybe not quite poetry in the truest sense of the word...but compared to some of the starts that the back end of the rotation has seen lately, Mike Pelfrey looked like Lord Tennyson out there...especially with the blazing fastball that vanquished Paul Bunyan's twin with runners on base to end the fifth inning.

    Fear the tongue.

    But there was some troubling news out of the Great American Ballpark: In addition to the Reds holding raffles Tuesday night for Carlos Delgado autographed baseballs even though his uniform says "NEW YORK", apparently...according to my sources who were at the Mets/Reds game tonight sitting so high in the upper deck they were in Kentucky...there are still people out there that not only insist on performing the insufferable "wave", but perform it at the absolute worst time.

    Like when Carlos Beltran was up with the bases loaded and the Mets up by a run.

    Now I know that this wound up with a good result for the Mets...historic even. But it's troubling that we as baseball fans can't put an end to abolish this frequently misused disaster known as "the wave". I say...if you insist on waving during a key moment in the game with your team on the field, then you deserve what you get. So to the thirteen year old girl in the stands who threw her peanuts (with shells) at the Met fan taunting you with the Carlos Beltran jersey immediately after the grand slam: You need to sit down and look in the mirror with the reflection of your fellow Reds fans staring back at you for the reason that you're miserable. You see, the real issue is deep down in your dark soul...and you're giving all of us a bad name by performing the wave like lemmings just because other fans did it in 1984. If other baseball fans jumped off a bridge in 1984 would you do it too?

    Sit down and watch the damn game.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Hall Of Hate: The 2006 Results

    Apparently there's still a large misconception floating around major league circles. Allow me to clarify you GM's out there who happen to be reading this blog looking for ideas:

    Jim Duquette no longer works here.

    How else could one explain this phenomenon, the one which manifests itself into White Sox GM Kenny Williams requesting Filthy Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey for Freddy Garcia...a pitcher that is experiencing some "dead arm" issues.

    Williams obviously has been drinking the Chuck Lamar kool-aid while reading his new book "The Best Trades Are The Ones You Don't Make, Unless The Mets Are On The Other End Of The Phone".

    Well, the other end of the phone is now in Baltimore, and thus is the perfect bridge to the results that you've all been waiting for:

    What is most surprising to me about this year's Hall of Hate class is that it doesn't include a single player...which leads me to your vote leader, WFAN's Mike Francesa. Francesa led the way with a whopping 316 votes. Francesa is currently on vacation, but will return once again to the WFAN airwaves with the comfort of knowing that all of the hate that he has spewed on the airwaves towards the Mets, with the express purpose of firing up Met fans everywhere, is slowly working. He has turned his supreme and irrational hatred of the Mets, which has manifested in his support for his Yankee arch-rival Red Sox during a close pennant race in hopes the Mets would be swept, into induction into the very exclusive company of the Hall of Hate. For that, he deserves our congratulations.

    Also, by your vote, Jim Duquette is indeed a proud member of the 2006 Metstradamus Hall Of Hate class. Duquette received 270 votes, putting him second out of the fifteen nominees.

    Duquette is currently the Vice President of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles, and no doubt scheming to try to acquire Mike Pelfrey for Rodrigo Lopez to cement his reputation as the greatest enemy of the New York Mets franchise. Although Duquette has a long way to go to earn that title, he feels that if he works hard enough, it's more than an achievable goal.

    Induction into the Metstradamus Hall Of Hate via fan voting is a good start towards that goal. There's no better way to learn how to be a good general manager is to cut your teeth and oversee a colossal screw up, learn from that colossal blunder, then go somewhere else to put what you've learned to good use.

    This year's induction class will here to forth be known as the GM class, as Steve Phillips also made the top three via your vote receiving 221 votes over an 11 day period.

    If you are ultimately Steve Phillips was...for bringing David Wright and Jose Reyes into the organization, then you have to had done some extremely bizarre things to have so many Met fans hate you, as 221 of you do. You can point to the whole "24 and 1" debacle from the Alex Rodriguez free-agent negotiations. You can point to the trades from Mo Vaughn and Robby Alomar. You can point to the irrevocable relationship with Bobby Valentine which indirectly led to the Art Howe era.

    But most of you will point to the line that reads "all of the above".

    It's worth it to note that although the fourth place vote-getter missed out by a significant amount of votes, it is rather impressive that a man who has been dead for close to two decades received 145 votes.

    So congratulations to this year's inductees, and thank you to those who took time out to vote. Here are the complete results of the voting:

    Mike Francesa 316
    Jim Duquette 270
    Steve Phillips 221

    Dick Young 145
    Guillermo Mota 120
    Jeff Torborg 117
    Pete Rose 116
    Mel Rojas 111
    Joe Torre 108
    Richie Hebner 65
    Eddie Murray 30
    Tony Fernandez 27
    Anthony Young 23
    Alejandro Pena 17
    Gene Walter 8

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    A Rescue Most Grand

    If Gilligan had a rescue team like this, there would have been no show.

    Luckily for Orlando Hernandez and the Mets, there would be no sinking feeling Sunday night.

    On the positive side, it's good to have Cliff Floyd back in the fold. Actually, he's been contributing plenty since coming back from injury, hitting .324 since his return...that is, before tonight's game. But now the whole country has noticed the renaissance of Cliffy after his two dingers on Sunday...that is...the ones who could wade their way past the half hour montages of Cubs fans whining about '69 and Leon Durham and Steve Bartman. Was there another team out there?

    The country also noticed that smile...the smile Cliff had while crossing the plate after the grannie that turned a three run deficit into a Mets beating. In all likelihood, the smile never left. But it took until now for it to shine through to everyone. But your pal Cliff is also back. And you know damn well he isn't going to miss this party.

    But yes, there's negative too. In his previous two starts, Orlando Hernandez was Dr. Hekyll. Tonight, he was Mr. in Jive Turkey. Boy when he's bad he's awful. And when he's awful, he's forcing the Mets hand when it comes to possibly dealing from strength to shore up the weakness of the rotation. It's a tricky scenario as neither Aaron Heilman (2 runs given up in the seventh inning) or Freddy Garcia (six runs in his seven innings today) looked particularly stellar today...but at least Garcia managed to make it seven innings because he's actually younger than dirt, unlike the Mets starter tonight.

    It's a situation so tricky that the Mets might actually be looking back towards Kris Benson.

    (Black is up? East is white?)

    So now it all falls on young Mike Pelfrey. If Mike Pelfrey can turn his needle towards the end of the meter that says "Francisco Liriano" or "Fernando Valenzuela from 1981", then you can live with Orlando's yo-yo at the back end of the rotation as long as Pedro comes back from his funky chicken. If Pelfrey's needle is on the left side which says "David West", well then there's trouble. Then the Mets will have to think long and hard about either biting the bullet and getting a starter out of Chicago, or perhaps dangling Milledge out there and hope it lures Dontrelle Willis back.

    And on that subject, let me just say that while I am against trading young Lastings unless he does in fact turn into Dontrelle, let me take this opportunity to remind Omar Minaya that NOW, when you have a legitimate World Series contender, would be the time to consider trading young chips for proven stars. NOT when you're 6 and 1/2 back as if it were 2002 or 2004.

    Consider that advice free.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    McNugget Of Poison

    Doesn't Pedro Martinez's contract have one of those standard clauses that prohibits dangerous activities like hangliding, motocross racing, and in Pedro's case, eating chicken in the Dominican Republic?

    Silly us...afraid that Petey's shoulder wouldn't hold up for the duration of his four year contract. No...what we should have been afraid of was too much Mop & Glo on the clubhouse floor, and the cooks in the Dominican restaurants not washing their hands before handling the chicken.

    Speaking as somebody who has had a recent battle with suspected food poisoning, I can tell you while you don't exactly think you're going to die, you find yourself waiting for death to knock on your door, but death isn't coming. That's what Pedro is feeling right about now.

    And that's what Met fans must be feeling after sitting through a Cubs sixth inning rally on Saturday that was like Chinese water torture: drip, drip, drip. Sun-aided triple to right field. Baltimore chop up the middle. Baltimore chop over David Wright's head. Small portion single to left field. More of the same in the seventh inning against the soon to be minor-league bound Henry Owens (finally, I figure out who that chap wearing number 36 was, and they send him down. Wonderful.) And you're sitting back in your recliner, much like somebody experiencing food poisoning just hoping for that extended appointment with the porcelain god to make it stop, much like you're hoping for the long ball from Derrek Lee to convince you once and for all that it's over and you can go about your normal lives again. Wrong. You're bedridden with the IV attached to your vein going drip...drip...drip. And death won't come.

    Speaking of death not coming, I actually got asked last night what happened to old friend Edgardo Alfonzo and his now fledgling career. And whaddaya know, he's back...signing a minor league deal with Norfolk today.

    It would have to be so, of course, that on the week that a group of Mets took a playful pose on the cover of Sports Illustrated, that the team would bring back a player from the last time a group of playful Mets were the lead story of the grand old lady known as Sports Illustrated. And although I don't see it happening, I hope that Alfonzo finds his way into that Met uniform one more time, although it will have to be another model, due to 13 being off the rack.

    Edgardo loves New York, and didn't hesitate to let the city know that after leaving for San Francisco...he put advertisements on top of yellow cabs thanking the city for eight great seasons. That to me is someone who deserves one last crack at glory here...even if it has to be as a September call-up. Even if it has to be reminiscent of John Stearns, who came up in 1984 on his last legs and hit a pinch hit double to a wild Shea Stadium ovation. It was an ovation brought about because deep down we all knew that John Stearns had nothing left in his aching body, but it was nice to see him contribute somewhat to a winning Met team with the blue and orange piping down the sides of the uniform that looked strange on "Dude"...rather than those putrid 70's teams that wasted the talents that John Stearns could have brought to a pennant contender.

    Unlike Stearns, Alfonzo played on some winners and had considerably more talent than Stearns had...and it's such a shame that a 32 year old ball player has been reduced to grasping at one last ovation from the team that gave him so many a short time ago. Unfortunately, back issues has forced him to this point where he very well may have nothing left. But it was worth seeing John Stearns in that Met uniform that wasn't synonymous with losing. And it would be worth seeing Alfonzo perform one more time with the back drop of winner like himself.

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    Old Times

    "Steve Trachsel worked slowly and the Cubs lost. Must have seemed like old times for longtime faithful at Wrigley Field."
    For whoever wrote win, my friend. I can't think of a better way to kick off blogging for half number two.

    Because no statement truly crystallizes the good times the Mets are experiencing and the depths of despair that the Cubs are going through. Now I don't want to start a big riff on the Cubbies here, but you know how to tell how bad they are? Just look at the mild mannered Greg Maddux start barking at anyone who will listen about the botched double play in the 4th inning that Xavier Nady may or may not have been in the baseline for. Nady's take out slide forced Ronny Cedeno to throw an inning ending double play into the dugout and enabled two runs to score on the play. But telling is that instead of barking at the umpire, Maddux stayed near the mound and grumbled endlessly. Is this behavior consistent with the normally unflappable Greg Maddux...the Greg Maddux that spent many a season as an Atlanta Brave taking his surgical scalpel of a splitter and dissecting the Mets year in and year out? And a more important question is: Is this behavior consistent with someone who wants to continue drawing paychecks at his current place of business? Something tells me that Jim Hendry isn't going to have to twist Maddux's pitching arm too much to get him to accept a trade to a contender.

    You know how else to tell how bad the Cubs are? How about the little kid pointing to where Chris Woodward's triple hit...a placement which should have made it a home run? Is this kid being raised the right way? Is this kid being raised to play fair and be honest? Or is this kid being raised to be a true Cubs fan..."let the visitors get all the runs they want, if there's a bottom of the ninth, we can all drink more beer!"

    And then there's Steve Trachsel. He may drive you nuts...all right, he drives me nuts. But how ironic is it that the pitcher that was basically banished from the rotation after throwing a one-hitter last season...the pitcher who was labeled as starter number five behind a rookie and a disaster earlier this season...the pitcher that gets lost on everybody's radar behind two hall of famers is the one that's on the seven game win streak? Can you explain it? I sure as heck can't.

    It certainly hasn't been too pretty, but at this point even if the Mets acquire a frontline starter such as a Livan Hernandez or a Jason Schmidt, can you argue that Steve Trachsel doesn't deserve playoff starts? Before you answer that, remember that what Trachsel has brought to the Mets during this streak, 6 innings, 2 or 3 runs, 3 or 4 walks, is basically the best you can expect to get in the playoffs. And the opposition during this streak has included legitimate playoff contenders such as the Reds, Yankees, and Blue Jays. How can you tell him no?

    Just bring a bucket of Tums to the game...and share with your friends.


    Can somebody explain to me why, during SNY's top ten plays of the first half for the Mets, play number 2 (or group of plays) were Aaron Rowand's face plant and Coco Crisp's crusher against the Mets?


    And while we're at it, why are Matt Yallof and Ron Darling discussing Randy Johnson and tonight's Yankees/White Sox game during the first five minutes of the Mets pre-game show...the Mets pre-game show?

    I understand that SNY isn't the propaganda machine that other team-owned stations are, but I give up trying to explain how this station seems willing to pull a hamstring to try to show how neutral they are. Even when they pull a hamstring they take great care to pull Rickey Henderson's hamstring because he played with both the Mets and the Yankees.

    Really. I give up.


    Here's another television thing that creeps me out: Chip Caray and Skip Caray in the same booth during Braves telecasts. Why? Because of Chip Caray quotes such as this:

    "In 2003 Piazza threw out 28% of would be base stealers. This year Dad, throwing out 9% of base stealers.
    I'll never get used to a grown man calling his broadcast partner "Dad".

    That being said, I have to say that I am a touch disappointed that Braves games will no longer be on TBS nationally after this season...only because it's good to see a 10PM Braves/Padres game on a Friday night when there's nothing else on. It's the mortal enemy, but it's still a sporting event. And it's a good way to get out of watching programming on TLC or something equally domestic. Besides, how else am I going to notice Skip Caray ramping up the inflection and the volume of his announcing voice in hopes of remaining in the TBS broadcast booth for national games?

    This brings up another television related question: If ESPN loses out on the last portion of the new baseball contract, what happens to a show like "Baseball Tonight"? There have been some complaints about putting playoff baseball on TBS, because nobody watches TBS for other shows. I don't really buy that, because baseball fans will watch baseball if it's on...well...TLC. And TBS gets a decent amount of clearance in homes. But what it will probably mean is that not only can't TBS provide as many baseball games as ESPN's entire family of networks can, TBS isn't going to provide a show like "Baseball Tonight" or other alternative baseball programming.

    And that would be a shame. Because for as many times as I've voiced displeasure with something John Kruk says (and let's face it, when don't I voice displeasure...I'm cranky!) B.T. to me is unequivocally the best type of programming ESPN provides, and I hope that it isn't going to go away merely because the network loses it's rights. I can't imagine it would go away, and I'm not comparing baseball with hockey, but "NHL 2-Night", another great show with John Buccigross at the helm, went the way of the dinosaur when ESPN gave up its hockey package. The show was cut back well before that anyway. And I realize that hockey isn't nearly as big as baseball is here in the States, but it does make you think how much ESPN would cut back alternative programming like BT if it loses the rights to MLB games? Think about how much more often "NFL Live" has been on the air in the off-season after ESPN merely traded up its Sunday night package of games for the Monday night package.

    It scares me that instead of BT, we'll have "Family Supper Hour" with the Carays to watch instead. "Hey look who's coming for dinner! It's Pete Van Weiren!!! Why don't you grab yourself some gravy and tell us if the Mariners are going to trade for some pitching."

    Hey, I may disagree with John Kruk sometimes, but if it's a choice between getting my baseball from Kruk, and getting my baseball from Jeanne Zelasko, I will invite Kruk into my house any day of the week (I just have to hide my Labatt Blues.)

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Second Quarter Grades

    I received some flak over my quarter pole grades because I gave out too many A's. Apparently someone out there went to one of those really strict schools where if he got all 99's on his exams in the first quarter, he still got a C for the semester because there was so much more schooling to go.

    Well, get ready for more good grades, as the Mets are running away with the division and they deserve it. These grades are weighted towards performance from May 23rd on...the second semester. If you don't like good grades, then just stare at your own report card for a couple of hours.

    David Wright: Player of the month for June. MVP chants at Shea. Home run derby appearance. David Letterman guest spot. Shall I go on? Head of the class.

    Grade: A+

    Jose Reyes: Part of the reason that the Mets are in such good shape is that the two players of the future are starting to present themselves in the present. I have Reyes a B when he was hitting .246; he's hitting .300 now. Sorry folks, another good grade.

    Grade: A+

    Paul Lo Duca: Average has jumped from .279 to .302 so far in the month of July. And he may be the best post game interview Shea Stadium has seen in years.

    Grade: A

    Carlos Beltran: Maybe, just maybe, the most important component of Beltran's renaissance is the jump in his walk total and OBP from last year to this year. The presence of Carlos Delgado has helped that, but Beltran is smart enough to know he doesn't have to do it all this time.

    Grade: A

    Darren Oliver: No question, the unsung hero of the Mets. Impressive stats, but it's his willingness to eat innings in blowout losses or emergencies that has kept the bullpen fresh for the closer games.

    Grade: A

    Chad Bradford: Save for one disaster against Pittsburgh, Bradford hasn't given up a run since May 18th. His efforts have been so quiet that Shea Stadium security still checks his ID at the door...they're not entirely sure he's on the team.

    Grade: A

    Tom Glavine: Statistics have dipped a bit since the first round of grades, but Glavine is still undefeated since April 24th.

    Grade: A-

    Duaner Sanchez: Not quite the dominant force he was earlier, but still extremely Duanerlicious.

    Grade: A-

    Pedro Feliciano: Nothing but zeroes and zeroes and zeroes from Feliciano.

    Grade: A-

    Endy Chavez: He's Jermaine Allensworth with a purpose. (I don't know what that means either.)

    Grade: B+

    Jose Valentin: Is this going to keep up with Valentin? Who cares! Kaz Matsui is gone. And that's thanks to Jose.

    Grade: B+

    Steve Trachsel: Any starting pitcher, especially a Met starting pitcher, who wins six starts in a row by all rights and purposes should receive an A. But I'm not giving it to him because he's gotta give me heart attacks along the way. Safety net not included.

    Grade: B+

    Julio Franco: Hasn't broken up any fights or soothed any egos that we know of this quarter, but you know that Julio is working behind the scenes to make this 2006 Mets experience a safe and happy one for you. If Rusty Staub ate egg whites instead of ribs, might Rusty still be playing today?

    Grade: B

    Billy Wagner: I've gotta be somewhat nice to him and give him some credit for bouncing back after the Yankee debacle. Has done well in the limited amount of save situations he's been in, but still had a bad meltdown in him against Cincinnati...and I just can't quite embrace him quite yet. Closers, you see, get graded on a much harsher curve. He's getting there though.

    Grade: B

    Ramon Castro: If Ramon Castro had head-butted Marco Matterazzi, Matterazzi would have died an ugly death.

    Grade: B

    Carlos Delgado: A couple of short but nasty slumps has kept his average down, but the power numbers are still there. There's a good deal of room for improvement for Delgado.

    Grade: B-

    Orlando Hernandez: I still can't get over the sight of Orlando in orange, blue, and black. Giving him a grade his tough because he's gone back and forth between ridiculous and sublime. Yo-yo-ing like his 50 mph curve ball.

    Grade: B-

    Pedro Martinez: I'll cut Petey a little slack because he was injured...but then I gotta take that slack away because his injury was caused while putting on a t-shirt. That's not cool.

    Grade: C+

    Xavier Nady: Another guy I have to cut a little slack for because appendicitis and broken bones in your wrist don't tickle. But he needs to get find his power stroke and stop chasing low slop.

    Grade: C+

    Cliff Floyd: Yet another outfielder who needs to find his power stroke. He's actually hitting .249 which is amazing after the sludgy start he got off to. But this lineup needs Cliff Floyd to be vintage '05.

    Grade: C+

    Alay Soler: The strike zone is your friend. Go ahead, touch it. It's not going to bite you.

    Grade: C

    Lastings Milledge: It was short, but it certainly was eventful, wasn't it?

    Grade: C-

    Chris Woodward: Is he still here? I hope he still has one monster hit left in him this season.

    Grade: D+

    Aaron Heilman: Earth to Aaron, it should be apparent by now that you are never going to start for this team unless Pedro, Glavine, Orlando, Trachsel, Soler, Jose Lima, Oliver, Mike Pelfrey, Willie Collazo, Jeremi Gonzalez, Ron Darling, Al Jackson, Jason Scobie, Jeff Musselman, Julio Valera, and Victor Zambrano all come down with the H5N1 virus. So get over it and pick it up, or you're getting traded to the Tokyo Giants for Taka Tanaka.

    Grade: D+

    Trevor Hoffman: I don't want to hear about your own World Series aspirations. You pitched for the Mets on Tuesday. And you blew it.

    Grade: F

    I'm Still Standing...Yeah Yeah Yeah!

    Well, I created this mess...actually, Alay Soler and Heath Bell created this it's time to come and clean up. Kind of feels like the poor soul that had to clean up the airplane after the '86 Mets came back from Houston.

    As much as I despised losing this bet, and as much as it pains me to have exposed you all to the junk that you have been exposed to, I consider the residue of this failed bet an education for all of you. And I don't mean an education in terms of what their messages were (heavens no), but more of an education of what I put up with day in, and day out, and have put up with for a good long time. It's part of the constant persecution faced by me, your fellow Met fan, that spurred me on to spread gospel to all of you through this little blog. It would be easy to come to you all today to say forget what you've read...put it behind no attention to the ramblings of that madman. I'm not going to tell you that. Rather, I want you to remember the previous 24 hours. Because you sometimes have to taste the blood of evil, know the scent, and understand just how low the enemy will stoop to develop an appetite for conquest. Eyes on the prize, boys and girls...eyes on the prize.

    But seriously, didn't Darth Marc remind you of James Brown over these past few hours? "I can't go no more. I can't go no more." Only to come back with another unintelligible number. Six posts? Man, that's like two weeks worth of posts on his own blog. While hardly necessary, it's worth a bit of analysis.

    First it was some drivel about Anthony Young and "Who Let The Dogs Out", which I believe is still on the charts just below that song about the sodomy in men's exercise clubs that groundscrews dance to in the Bronx.

    Anthony Young?

    The Mets have employed various lunatics, felons, and psycophants, and Anthony Young is the best you can come up with?

    And about the whole "I'm gonna shoot myself if one more Met fan tells me the Met rivalry is better than the Red Sox rivalry", who the hell says this? I don't know which Met fans you talk to, but I know of nobody who actually thinks this way. I think somebody should emerge out of the bars once in a while (if you're Darthy's friend, chances are you're in the bars) and stop talking to creepy strangers while the F train is stuck in, oh my god!

    Then, Darth Marc has to enlist the help of another cartoon character to try to slay me with the same tired, old material I've heard from him for nine years. Dude, when it comes to the men who've carried the title of "Batman", Val Kilmer laughs at you.

    And before Darth gets all proud of himself for siccing "Batman" on me and thinking that he caught me off guard with that one, he (and you) should know this: If I had won this bet, then this Yankee fan known as "Batman" (who by the way completely sold Darth Marc out by letting me know his potential game plan) had verbally agreed to write a guest column for me as well, at the ready to blast his fellow Yankee fan Darthy for being an overall jinx to his team in various ways. So you see "Batman" is nothing more than a calculating mercenary who burns both ends of the candle, will blog for the highest bidder, and has no problem attacking his own.

    Superhero my ass.

    Then, the picture album. Awwwwwwwww, how cute...and mature too. I especially like the one that depicts their heroes in the moments after being asked about steroids.

    Just when you thought he was done ("I can't go no more!"), in true Darth form, he gets all Zinedine Zidane on us and gets rattled by the gallery. It's just more proof that together, we can fight Sports Blogging Deficiency.

    The next post might be my absolute favorite, as our favorite Yankee fan turns his lonely eyes to...Joe DiMaggio? No, Cole Hamels.

    Cole Hamels???

    What kind of time do we live in where a Yankee fan who has a week and a half to plan his assault has to depend on facts about a rookie pitcher from a town he despises...who has a 5.44 ERA to make his point? Come on Darthy Cakes, I expect more from you than that.

    Well...maybe I shouldn't. After all, this is a man who has consistently extolled the virtues of the strength of the American League this season...while of course masking the fact that his Yanks are a little more than a razor's edge out of a playoff spot (notice on his blog that there are a lot more posts about the Yankees after they win, and a lot more posts about the American League, Met bashing, and movie reviews after Yankee losses). Hey, say all you want about the National League East being a piss poor division...and about the NL getting their heads handed to them in interleague play...or about Trevor Hoffman (jackass). I for one would rather be in the position that the Mets are in right now than in the position the Yanks are in...any time, any day, any place. The Yankees certainly never had to apologize for winning division after division after division where past Boston there was no discernible talent to speak of. So why should the Mets?

    And for the argument that the AL has become dominant because of the Yankees raising their payroll. Great! Too bad that the Yankees raising their payroll hasn't helped the Yankees win any more championships, since your last World Series win (yes, which came at the Mets expense) was won the last time the Yankees had a somewhat reasonable payroll. Now, the payroll is double what it was just six seasons ago with nothing to show for it. Surely you understand that an organization with standards as lofty as yours must consider two World Series losses and three other playoff losses a complete failure with the salaries you've voluntarily taken on. (And please spare us the innocent bystander act just because it was other teams that signed the contracts...because you know that you're the only organization that can swoop in like vultures when those original contracts make for an unhappy marriage, and are more than happy to get guys like Alex Rodriguez at cut rate prices. And before you give me the fact that you gave up a legitimate talent like Alfonso Soriano depended on our boob of a commissioner to look the other way and give a "well, I'm really not supposed to do this but...OK, just this once, and just because it's the Yankees" speech while knowing full well that Soriano would eventually make his way back to the Yanks in a trade that will make the evenness of the original A-Rod trade a distant memory...and you know damn well that Soriano trade is coming.)

    Then finally, the piece de resistance:

    "I can be as lame as I want."
    Rock on Darthy. It's nice to have goals.

    But here is where I'm going to agree with you Darth...

    "There is nothing wrong with demanding excellence from the teams you root for."
    That sir, is yet another in the myriad of reasons why I started this blog (well that along with the lure of fame, fortune, and world domination). I started this to use a little smart alecky dreck to demand a little excellence from a team in the number one market in the world, along with exposing the injustices caused by the likes of you. And trust me...if the 2006 Mets reach the very pinnacle, I'll celebrate until April of 2007. And yes, I will enjoy this more because of the 20 years of Gene Walters and Bobby Bonillas and Paul Gibsons and David Wests and Vince Colemans, and the ten years working in an office next to yours. Victory is sweeter when it's after 20 defeats. I mean, wasn't 1996 the sweetest one of all for you?

    But if it happens, I'll want more. Because there's nothing wrong with demanding excellence from a team with a young manager, a young, talented left side of the infield, a centerfielder in his prime, a tough young bullpen, a farm system that's slowly building back up, a young stud pitcher who's sky is the limit, and a smart, tough general manager who entered a garbage dump and made an organization out of it. There's nothing wrong with that.

    But before we start dreaming about a dynasty, let's worry about the first one first. And when that first one comes just remember Darthy:

    Anything you've said here in the past 24 hours can be used against you in the court of karma. Especially the one about "I appreciate my good fortune whenever I go to Shea and watch you guys suffer", from a man who gets on the case of Met fans for hating their team more than loving their own. I guarantee you that more Yankee fans pay money to go to Shea during non-interleague games to openly root against the Mets than the other way included.

    "There but for the grace of Ruth go I..."
    The only place that the grace of Ruth goes these days is to that great speakeasy in the sky for more brandy and hot dogs.

    I have a slightly more poignant quote for you...I believe it's on the facade of your little faux cathedral: