Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Oh Sorry, It's An Environmental Storage Cooler

It still doesn't work.

The Mets are immune to the glorified keg cooler.

Before Dave Williams even took the mound tonight, the Mets were flipping the bird to the humidor for the second straight night...featuring the return of David Wright to the realm of the round trippers with a grannie to make it a 4-0 lead. Jose Valentin added a solo HR, first of two on the night, to make it 5-0. And once again, short of John Elway coming out of the dugout to pinch hit, this was another game the Rockies weren't going to win.

Starting in that bottom of the first, we learned a lot about starting pitcher Dave Williams. We learned that Dave Williams thinks that baserunners can get away with the neighborhood play (no Dave, that's just middle see, pitchers not only have to bat in the National League, they have to touch all of the bases as well.) We learned that Dave Williams was born in Alaska. We learned that Dave Williams' favorite team growing up was the Seibu Lions.

We know more about Dave Williams than perhaps any normal human being really should know.

We also learned that Dave Williams is yet another in a long line of Omar Minaya pick ups that can contribute some important innings for the Mets. So let the pundits all hammer home the company line about the Mets not having enough starting pitching to get themselves through the playoffs. Because you know the Reds could use a guy like Dave Williams right about now. (Instead, he'll be in Norfolk until Tuesday)

But let's not forget the man lovingly called Sugar Pants...not only for the grand slam, but for his opposite field R.B.I. single to drive in a run which told the world "Hey! I'm going Dave Kingman on yo' ass tonight!" Let's not forget Wright's brilliant defensive play down the line in the bottom of the fifth which was part Brooks Robinson and part Brandon Inge (you don't see those two in the same sentence every day). Lest we forget that David Wright is our matinee idol, which is the perfect tie-in to what you've all been waiting for: the magic number!

P.S. Kudos for Gary Cohen for not playing the role of appeaser to all of the rich folk who pay eighteen dollars for a hamburger (with no bun please, I'm watching my caaaaaarbs) at the U.S. Open by basically telling the world that nobody cares about tennis anymore...which exposed his disdain for the sport as presently constituted. And though we like and respect the work of USA announcer and former Met voice Ted Robinson (at least Gary, Keith, and myself do...I will not speak for you), I take this opportunity to applaud Gary for telling it like it is. Tennis is a fine sport, but the U.S. Open with its sushi and its vegetable friendly menu and its pretentious opening ceremonies and its prime time finals and its players that wear evening gowns while playing (attractive though they may be) has gotten way out of control. And answer me this, Billie Jean (since you're a baseball expert now), why is it that Met fans have to constantly hear this garbage about "Oh, take the's going to be crowded because of the U.S. Open." Hey tennis fans, allow me to present to you a collective "screw you!" We are here six months out of the year, you're here two weeks.


Renewed Rage

My day wasn't ruined by my lack of mouse functionality.

My day wasn't even ruined by today's constant rain.

My day...was Chris Russo.

I admit that I was kind of looking for something to be upset about...and with the Mets at 80 wins and counting near the end of August, finding that something is difficult. But when I saw the back page of the Post today I salivated. Not because another human being was hurt...but because surely, the same man who absolutely blasted Filthy Sanchez for getting in a taxi cab at 2am and becoming the innocent victim of a drunk driver, would no doubt murder Carl Pavano for not only cracking two ribs hydroplaning his Porsche into a truck, but for keeping it from his employer.

Instead, I got two hours of talk about Andre Agassi, Vince Spadea, and why Jimmy Connors was mean to Russo in 1984 at a charity event in Florida.

Two hours of tennis...Barely a mention of Pavano.

So let me get this straight, in the Gospel according to Mad Dog:

  • Getting into a cab at 2am for Dominican food? Not okay. Yet...
  • Doing a Travis Pastrana impression into a truck, cracking your ribs, and not mentioning it to the team paying you forty million dollars is perfectly fine.

To think I've had my values reversed all along.

You know what else bothers me? When Russo talked about the issue about what to name the new Shea Stadium (in between compelling analysis of Marcos Baghdatis' backhand...of course), I wanted so bad for him to be stupid...but I agree with him! Russo doesn't agree with George Vescey, who thinks that the Mets should name their new stadium after Jackie Robinson who, while an American hero, never played for the Mets.

While I can see both sides of this argument, I am more inclined to disagree with Vescey after his appearance with Russo on the strength of Vescey's response to Russo's assertion that Mets fans would rather see the stadium named after a Met than after Robinson:

Why does it have to be a Mets player?
And people wonder why I don't read the Times (besides the big words).

Yes, the Wilpons have been smart enough to fully turn over the reigns to Omar Minaya, and the Wilpons deserve a ton of credit for that. But when it comes time for them to make a decision on naming the ballpark, and the attractions in and around the ballpark, I gotta confide in you that I don't trust them. Not a bit.

We know that Fred Wilpon has a chubby for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He grew up with Sandy Koufax. We get that. And I don't have a problem with giving the stadium a touch of the past with a photo wall commemorating the Dodgers' time here (but if you do that, you have to have one for the Giants as well), or perhaps a kids playground dedicated to Robinson. The perfect compromise between tipping your hat to the past and acknowledging your own history (not to mention renewing hall of fame talk) would be to name the stadium in some capacity after Gil Hodges.

But after seeing Citizens Bank Park for the first time, I see way too many opportunities for the Wilpons to acknowledge Brooklyn Dodger history instead of his own. There should be statues of Seaver, Hodges, and the moment where Gary Carter leaps into Jesse Orosco's arms after the 1986 World Series. I fear we'll have Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe, and Johnny Podres instead.

Rusty Staub should be serving ribs in the center field walkway named "Mookie's Way". Instead, we'll get Duke Snider cooking bratwursts in some alley named after Andy Pafko.

There should be a high end bar named after Keith Hernandez...not Ralph Branca's Meatball Eatery.

(Hernandez, by the way, admitted during the ninth inning of tonight's broadcast that he "may drink heavy"...and also that he would "never have a website", which is good because that's competition I can't handle...after all, he's Keith Hernandez.)

But for a team that has been noted to avoid their own history to name their ballpark after an old Dodger would be another move that would be a small P.R. disaster amongst their fan base. And to name your park after Jackie Robinson because Billie Jean King thinks it's a good idea is asinine. I'm all for honoring Jackie Robinson, but as a friend of mine noted today: It's not like Jackie Robinson hasn't been's not like he's flown under the radar since his retirement like, say, Larry Doby has. His uniform number will never be worn again! That's a pretty gosh darn significant note of his significance.

While Jackie Robinson may be deserving of the honor of having a ballpark named after him...but he doesn't need it.

Gil Hodges, however, deserves it...and needs it.

And Met fans deserve to have their history acknowledged.

(Although I will say this, and I meant to include this caveat: If the Wilpons decide to sell the naming rights to a big corporation...however cheesy and greedy it may seem to be...if naming rights help pass along the savings to the regular joe season ticket holder and keep him from shelling out a "personal seat license" fee, then I would be all for it.)

So then I go from five hours of tennis talk (there really wasn't anything on television today) to Kaz Matsui looking like Lou Brock tonight with two hits and two stolen bases by the fourth that he's in a Rockie uniform. Of course, that didn't cheer me up any. But upon hearing that not only did Kaz admit that his Flushing experience was "all his fault", but that the reason that the Rockies didn't call Kaz Matsui up a week earlier was because they didn't want him to be booed at Shea Stadium...well let me admit to you: that just filled my heart with unbridled glee! Because someone who has been exposed as being afraid of New York, is no longer in New York.

Yes's all your fault.

Well, maybe not all your fault. (Damn Japanese league scouts!)

And speaking of unbridled glee:

What if the Rockies get behind by a lot of runs in a game? Say they break out the non-humidor balls, you know what I'm saying? -Jeff Cirillo
Carlos Beltran hit his career high 39th home run tonight.

Jose Reyes hit an opposite field home run...left handed...tonight.

Does this mean that Byung Hyun Kim is the "Humidor Antidote"?

I spit on you and your humidor.

But don't tread on our current magic number...shared by a famous ballplayer/announcer, and a popular teenage magazine.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Computer, And Brain, Under Construction

I'm starting to think I've pissed off the baseball gods or something.

They have zapped my trusty laptop of its ability to "left click".

If it was the republicans that robbed me of my "left click", I could understand. But whatever could I have said to piss off the baseball gods?

Are they Rick White fans or something? I don't get it.

So here's where I'm at: at this moment, and after two plus hours of searching the nooks and crannies of my control panel, I have found a way to work around my issue...somewhat. However because I am of such fragile mind, I have let the issues with my computer completely frustrate me and sap me of what little ability I have...therefore, I have nothing useful to add about Monday's win that other bloggers haven't already said.

Except to say that the Mets are at 80 victories and counting...which means that since we are only in late August, we freakin' rule. How's that for analysis?

The boys at Faith and Fear have talked about the way it was in '86, where headlines like "ho-hum, another Mets win" were common. I, along with Greg and Jason, wondered when it would get to that point. Perhaps, today was the day.

Other than that, I have nothing for you. I'm completely disappointed in myself, and the people that know me are throwing rocks at me at this very moment. A little adversity is thrown in my lap, and I fold. Good lord, I'm the Armando Benitez of blogging.

So allow me to at least make your mouse click worth while for somebody. A good friend of mine by the name of Stefano Fasulo is planning a 122 mile bicycle ride (!) to help raise money for the Cancer Center for Kids at Winthrop University Hospital sometime in the next month. One hundred and twenty two miles is basically the length of Carlos Delgado's combined home runs this season so that's a pretty long way. All I know is that I couldn't ride one mile without collapsing on the grass in pain so I'm in some awe here.

For more information about the bicycle ride, or if you would like to make a donation, please contact Steph at (516) 375-1049, and tell him Metstradamus sent he can laugh at you and call you names.

And now, with apologies to Jon Stewart, here's your moment of Zen.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Pair Of Carloses Beats King High Howard

I realize it's a big literary risk to compare tonight's Mets game to the greatest scandal that the sport of baseball has ever seen...but I will anyway. I've already butchered the blogosphere beyond recognition, why not one more stain?

For the first four innings, didn't Oliver Perez remind you of the scene in "Eight Men Out", when Dickie Kerr is throwing that one-hitter against the Reds in Game 3 of the '19 series, where all he's doing is smiling and jumping around throwing that one hitter with that funky delivery while Kid Gleason's in the dugout with a look on his face as if to say "hey, this kid is actually kind of talented"?

Then of course, Ryan Howard comes up with the sacks full in the fifth and smacks a little reality into Oliver's life with a grannie. Life isn't so much like the movies now, is it?

Luckily, the Mets have a few players who can do special things like Ryan Howard can.

They have Carlos Beltran, who not only got the Mets going with a two run jack in the first, but whose acting may have been so good that he didn't need Gil Hodges to come out with the spare baseball pre-scuffed with shoe polish to get the hit by pitch call in the fateful seventh inning.

They have Carlos Delgado, who not only hit a bomb in the sixth to bring the Mets to within one run, but tied the game with a long enough sacrifice fly to move up not one...not two...but three runners, which started the vicious Philly cycle of walk the righty to get beat by the lefty.

They have Jose Reyes, who started the seventh inning rally off of former Met and current human white flag Rick White, and scored that tying run via the bat of Delgado. There has been some MVP talk surrounding Reyes over the past few weeks. But I'll give you another phrase that you would have to start using as it applies to Jose, Jose Jose Joseeeee. And that would be "leader". Watch Reyes score on the sac fly a little more closely. Notice that the wide eyed "happy to be there" look is now completely gone. See Jose clap with purpose. Watch as he points to guys to encourage them with a whole new sense of picking up other guys. Folks, you've witnessed the complete maturation of Reyes. For the first time, Reyes has 0% doubt that he's not only a major leaguer, but a damn good one too. We know Reyes can make others better with his play on the we see Reyes devoid of the worry about whether he has the goods to play in this league taking on the responsibility of encouraging teammates to be better during his own down time.

They have Paul Lo Duca. Boy, when there's a game changing rally, Lo Duca has a hand in it, doesn't he?

They now have Shawn Green, who's habit of losing his cap every time he reaches second gear in the outfield has made him this generation's John Pacella. The Mets can only hope that Green will be responsible for more hits in Shea Stadium than Pacella was from the mound. Yeah, Green pressed swinging at two pieces of Aaron Fultz slop in his rush to impress his new organization and his new fans. That's OK. At least there is a rush to impress his new organization, and his new fans. The Mets are a better team for it.

And when Green's liner barely eluded Pat Burrell's hands of stone, the Mets had the lead again. The Phillies have now only begun to understand the method of Omar Minaya's madness. Sure, he was forced into trading Xavier Nady, but Minaya puts no fear, plenty of conviction, and perhaps an ounce of passion into every move he makes. A lesser GM would have feared that acquiring Shawn Green would be akin to admitting a mistake by trading Nady, thus giving up his whole freakin' farm system. Omar doesn't worry about that. He worries about improving the Mets in any way possible, but not at all cost. He gets it.

They have Endy Chavez. I know a phrase like this has been used before...probably in reference to some random hall of famer, but I'm going to use it anyway. Endy Chavez, right now, can roll out of bed and get three hits.

They have David Wright. Just wait until he starts hitting.

And because the Mets have all that and more (like a bullpen that keeps putting up bagels) at their disposal, the Mets now also have a magic number.

High Level Of Difficulty

Think about the stunt Brian Bannister tried to pull Friday night.

When last we saw Bannister, it was one day short of four months ago as he was chugging for home on a double by Kaz Matsui...just to show you how long four months ago was. Instead of scoring with ease, he limped home with a hamstring that went from "he'll only miss a start", to "see you in August."

During those four months minus one day, the Mets train moved along at top speeds of a 9-1 road trip, and an 11 game home winning streak...and now, with Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, and Orlando Hernandez in the snack car recouping, back comes Bannister. But the train isn't stopping. No, Bannister has to jump on this juggernaut while it's still moving.

Oh yeah, and he has to face Ryan Howard in the process.

"I just got beat by one of the best hitters in the league this year...I was just debating whether I should throw him a strike...and he got three RBIs off me." -Brian Bannister
Well, Evil Knievel failed once or twice when he tried to jump over 100 barrels or something equally stupid such as that. At least Bannister can tell his grandkids one day that major league hitting couldn't tag him with a loss for the first five months of his career. He could probably leave out the part about that hamstring injury except for the fact that his injury took place in an UltiMet Classic (when really, that particular game could probably be called an UltiMasochistic Classic).

Unfortunately, who knows when Bannister's next chance will be, as even though he settled down and his control was decent for a guy who hasn't pitched against major league hitting in four months, he was sent back to Norfolk following the game to back room for the next stuntman: Ollie Perez. Perez's stunt will be just as difficult. Not only will he get to attempt the same jump on to the moving train which is the Met juggernaut, but he'll also do it while attempting to even out the Xavier Nady trade. That's like two and a half twists with a pike. But Ollie was stellar in his last start at Norfolk so he might pull off the stunt. He'll certainly help against monster lefties Howard and Chase Utley. Remember, high difficulty produces high least that's what they tell you during the Olympics.

In case you were wondering (and of course I know you were), these Phillies are really starting to bother me with their dumb luck...and that's what it is, dumb luck...but not only their dumb luck, but their insistance that their dumb luck was the residue of design. The Jimmy Rollins quote, which was rehashed (or maybe just hashed) by Gary and Ronnie tonight, about how Abreu was a good hitter in his box but the Phillies needed somebody who could play out of the box...well, forgive me if I go off while the game is going on to look for a barf bucket. Stop it. Stop revising history. We already have to revise our science books now that poor Pluto has been put on irrevocable waivers...we don't have money in the education budget to print all new history books as well.

The Phillies bullpen, which was stellar tonight in relief of the newest Met killer Randy Wolf, has a 2.38 ERA over the last nine games. If that stretch had come while Bobby Abreu was still a Phillie, guess what? He'd still be a Phillie! And Jimmy Rollins would not only love him, but hang a poster of him in his locker.

Then again, that bullpen stretch came without Flash "Pride of the Phillies" Gordon, so maybe the Phillies should just trade everybody and win the wild card with the Reading Phils...there's an idea.

But who's griping? The magic number is still slender at 22, Shawn Green is hitting balls hard, and Keith Hernandez gets a well deserved weekend off to cut his lawn. I'll sleep well.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Planet Green

We begin with the news that with the arrival of Shawn Green, the Mets had a couple of roster moves to make. To make room, not only has Omar Minaya designated the planet Pluto for assignment, but outfielder Ricky Ledee has been designated as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union. Officials reason that Ledee was not the dominant object in his area of the locker room...and thus planet number nine, and the outfielder who wore number nine both leave us.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes for Planet Green, whose final month and a half of the season will be linked to that of tonight's opponent and former candidate to be our ninth planet, Preston Wilson. Wilson got off to a strong start with his new Cardinal team, with a dinger, a double, and a leaping catch into the stands mixed in. So he's started out tonight with a bit of a head start.

Well, Green's value is going to be measured more for what he does for the rest of the lineup as a ripple effect than what he does himself. In that case, mission accomplished as David Wright drove a fat fastball from Jason Marquis for a single in his first at bat with Green as his protection, while Green himself followed his standing ovation with a screamer that went right at Ronnie Belliard for a 4-3 double play, then got another ovation for hitting the ball hard.

Look, up in the's a's a's the bar being raised.

So the second time around was the true test. Taking advantage of a wild Jason Marquis, Wright drilled a sac fly to right field...followed by Green's line drive ribbie to left with the backdrop of Chris Cotter explaining how he's more a line drive hitter than a home run hitter. You can reason that Wright's long fly ball, and his single were the best swings he's taken in a long time thanks to the added protection of Green. So now we know Green's role in the lineup: enabler.

And it's worth noting that the bottom of the third also included young Preston botching a fly ball which was generously scored a triple for Paul Lo Duca...who probably became the first catcher in a bozillion years to have a triple and an infield hit in the same game.

So the inevitable comparisons between the actual acquisition and the "almost" acquisition becomes more favorable for New York's newest friend.

Some may say Shawn Green is a luxury. But with David Wright and Carlos Delgado slumping for the better part of a month before Delgado's breakout week which started in Philly, luxury became necessity. Thus, Planet Green makes his arrival, and a successful one at that. With Delgado already heated up, and David Wright taking better swings, the Mets solar system is now in alignment.


What, exactly, is so funny?

Does thirteen wins not lead the league?

Do the Mets not lead the standings by a mile and a half?

Is there not a relatively weak field this season in the National League?

So what's the problem?

Oh yeah...that small detail regarding the man whom the award was named for rolling over in his grave if Steve Trachsel were to win his award.

Steve Trachsel's propensity for turning blowouts into games of interest, and attempting to use every inch of his run support like a drunken frat boy at Pamplona might make him the only pitcher to lead his league in victories to be discussed in terms of not getting a postseason start. Now don't get me wrong, an 11-1 stretch will earn Trachsel (or on nights like tonight, Whacked-sel) at least one postseason start...but there's only so many times you can run from those bulls before they gore you.

And that's why, in this season of no N.L. pitcher grabbing the bull by the horns (not to be confused with the dead horse I'm beating with the bull references), the Cy Young award should be split amongst the members of the Mets mighty bull pen (OK, I couldn't avoid that one). After all, who is most responsible for Steve Trachsel gaining a share of the win lead in the N.L. other than the 'pen?

No sooner do those words come out of my keyboard than I look at Rob Neyer's Cy Young predictor...and look who's number one!

You still may not completely trust Billy Wagner, ladies and gentlemen. But every so often, we need a reminder to take a breath, smell the flowers, taste the coffee, and consider the alternatives...because we know them well:
"We've been defending Benitez about all the one-run leads (he has blown). But if I have to take him out with a four-run lead, I should be worried there." -Felipe Alou, Giants manager
Whoa dude!
"Asked what he needed to see from Benitez, who has blown eight of 23 save chances, Alou answered bluntly: 'I don't know. Get people out.'"
Ask an obvious question, get an obvious answer, yes?

But let's not let our hatred of Armando Benitez blur the smaller picture, kids:

Life's still good.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What Up, Dawg!

August 22nd, 2006.

Mark it down as the day this dog got his swagger back.

Even with the Mets having won four in a row with an enormous lead in the N.L. east, everyone seemed to get their shovels out to bury the Mets when Tom Glavine was on his way to season ending blood clot surgery. But not only will Tommy be back sooner rather than later, and not only did Omar make the right play (what other play is there for Omar, really) in acquiring Shawn Green, but the Mets interrupted their methodical, quiet assault on the National League to return to the rollicking, historical, mind blowing way they won games earlier in the season.

Because there are some out there that needed a reminder of how this team butters its bread: a stingy bullpen, mixed with a lineup that isn't going to quit when down by say...six runs, with just a hint of late inning pixie dust.

Sure, Bangor Maine was off his game tonight. But he gave up seven runs to a decent team that did its homework on him after the first time through the lineup. He didn't walk the park home, and the main culprit was a guy named Pujols. Show me the shame.

But look who was there to bail him out, just as they've been all season long: the bullpen. Some of the names may was none other than Guillermo Mota, who used to be Public Enemy No. 1 at Shea depending on the wind shift at the time, who was the first to stop the bleeding...but the results are more or less the same. Whether it's Mota, Blueback, or Aaron Heilman, these guys more often than not get it done.

And then, the bats. Carlos Delgado must have had a heart to heart with Keith Hernandez on that train home from Philadelphia. Starting that day, he's been on fire with the bat and with the glove...scooping out various tweener hops from various infielders on various double plays. But that's not why Carlos was heisted from Florida. His power resume, which now stands at 400 home runs, is the reason. Four hundred was the ninth grannie of the year for the Mets and besides being an important retort to the Pujols grannie in the top of the fifth, it's interesting that it happened tonight...because SNY showed one of their montage commercials at the start of the telecast where they showed all eight grannies by the Mets this season, and ended the spot with the words: "When will number 9 come?" Thankfully, the New York City school system thought it important to teach us the concept of foreshadowing, or else I would never have put the two together.

And then, there's the other Carlos. Or should I say for Mets purposes: "Carlos: Original Recipe".

People are bound to ask if Beltran won the MVP award tonight. Of course, and I have to be honest here, such talk is foolish because...
  • It's August, and...
  • Albert Pujols, while not all by himself in his efforts, has little help in his lineup on most nights.
  • Meanwhile, the part of Beltran's resurgence that doesn't have to do with being healthy has plenty to do with Carlos Delgado hitting behind him...and that's not a knock on Carlos: Original Recipe, but a tip of the cap to Carlos: Extra Crispy.

But while a moment like this...a moment where Beltran brings the Mets from a run down to a run up with one swing of the bat...seemed impossible last season, its more than possible this season. It's moments like this, and not necessarily the gaudy statistics from post-season '04, that the Mets paid an exorbitant amount for.

Moments like that are valuable enough for me. And days like today are just as valuable.

Because the Mets will have Tommy back.

Carlos Delgado has his best friend back.

And our dog has its swagger back.

Woof, baby. Woof.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Oh By The Way...

Shawn Green is a Met.

Pending approval, that is.

Looks like he'll need a new uniform number though. I hear 35 is very slimming.

According to sources, Green hasn't smiled in years. Hopefully being reunited with his friend Mr. Delgado can change that.

P.S. Please let not the prospect be named Humber, Gomez, Martinez, Bannister, me if need be. But don't trade someone useful...aaaaah, what am I worried about? This is Omar we're talking about.

Let's rock.

Runnin' With Baby Aspirin

The Mets season has been saved by the wonder drug known as baby aspirin. I hope for Tom Glavine's sake, the Mets at least prescribe the cherry flavor for him.

In an unrelated story, Pedro Martinez was recently seen in the trainers room rubbing Robitussin on his ailing calf to help him come back sooner.


Mike's Mets has been nailing it on the head on the Glavine story...first noting that many of the New York scribes had used Glavine's condition as an excuse to bury the Mets, while taking more unnecessary pot shots at Paul Lo Duca in the process. Today, Mike (with dog in tow) explains that everyone has been tearing ACL's jumping off the Mets bandwagon in favor of Braves West...otherwise known as the Greg Maddux and Rafael Furcal fortified Dodgers. It will be fun to watch all of these writers hit the brakes, turn a doughnut in their Volvos, and race back down to the other end of their Met bashing highway.

(Key Orel Hershiser stat from the annals of Baseball least I think that's where I heard it: The Dodgers have more infield hits than home runs...and the last four teams to make the playoffs with more infield hits than home runs have been knocked out in the first round. So until Kirk Gibson is activated, I'm not worried.)

Of course, many of these scribes are the same ones that are now revising history and telling us that because Derek Jeter tied one of the Red Sox games last weekend, that he should have won past MVP Chris Carlin had noted during one of his solliloquies on WFAN the other morning. To paraphrase:
"You know, up until now, there hasn't really been an outcry that Derek Jeter was cheated out of an MVP award. Well, after this Red Sox series, maybe it's time for that outcry."
How about we just give it to him this year and call it a freakin' day? Or is there a new rule that every single thing written and spoken about Derek Jeter must be reverential?

Bite me.

And while I'm at it, the Yankees and Red Sox should never be allowed to play baseball against each other again. These overhyped "Deer Hunter" six hour games have gotta stop before I start playing Russian Roulette with six bullets in the chamber. Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu are making KGB from Rounders crazy..."all day long with your take! Take! Take!"

Right now, the only thing worth watching regarding the Red Sox is Dennis Leary.

But what the Yankees sweep of the Red Sox did prove is that the only thing that matters with this whole American League dominance nonsense is how each team enters the World Series. If the Mets played the Red Sox now, for instance, I doubt the result would have been a Red Sox sweep as it was in late June. However, that's just a hypothetical...the schedule was what it was, just like league alignment is what it is.

However true American League dominance is (and when you look at the interleague records this season, it is very true indeed), it's hard for me to take any talk about it seriously because it seems a convenient excuse for the Yankee biased media to poo-poo the Mets record this season. The clear fact is that none of that matters until we get to October. Outside of stealing Billy Wagner from the Phillies, it isn't the Mets fault that the rest of the National League stinks! Did Omar Minaya, for example, let Leo Mazzone go to Baltimore? Did Omar Minaya trade Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle for two flat beers and a three pack of VHS tapes? Did Omar Minaya respond to Mark Mulder's injury by signing Jeff Weaver? Can we blame Omar Minaya for Kerry Wood and Mark Prior tearing every muscle in their bodies?


But that is the tone of what a lot of the media tells you.

So don't believe the hype, boys and girls. Please know that when you feel that there isn't a writer or an insider or even a headline writer in all of New York City that will stop rubbing Derek Jeter's feet long enough to pay the Mets a compliment or two when it's deserved, remember that you have options. Mike and his dog (not to be confused with Mike and the Mad Dog) are there to guide you, as are our other Mets friends in the blogosphere. And remember: no matter who wins or loses, the only thing that matters is who wins and loses in October. Nothing else.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Whatcha Got?

So Mr. Hernandez...

You're starting today against Colorado.

Petey's on the shelf...

and now Tom Glavine's season may or may not be over.

Whatcha got?

Six innings of shutout ball? Very nice. What else can I give 'em?

A stolen base?


What's with you old geezers and steals lately?

Well that's pretty amazing. Tell me something...can you heal blood clots?

No? Oh well. You've done what you can. Thanks O.

Hey by the way, you wouldn't happen to have Jaerock Lee's number by any chance, would you? We're willing to try anything with Tommy. We were told that putting his cold fingers in Anna Benson's mouth would work, but trading Raynaud's disease for whatever Anna might have seems too big a risk...unless his doctor was Monty Hall or something.


If there is a higher power, I hope He will see it fit to give somebody...

anybody on the Mets...

the strength to put on a #31 model jersey...

bang his bat on the locker of our new acquisition and yell "BOO"!

(Nice of Omar Minaya to wait until after the Padres series to pull that one off.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

You Didn't Have To Be There

It started out like another Met attempt at honoring their past gone horribly awry.

I could understand Buddy Harrelson wearing number 3 when his placard and the scoreboard clearly reflected the "23" he wore during the year that was being honored tonight. After all, Harrelson did have some experience with the single digit.

But Kevin Elster modeling the post 1986 number 21?

And Randy Niemann wearing 48? Did Niemann ever wear 48 as a player with the Mets? I mean, how awkward was it when Howie Rose so obviously had to shift course on a dime like Barry Sanders in his own backfield when he announced "He wore number 40...he's, uh, wearing number 48 now, Randy Niemann!" (And speaking of awkward, how awkward was the post ceremony video where you saw all of the great moments and great footage of that '86 crew that was the soundtrack and sighttrack of twenty years ago...and then stuck in the middle was two seconds of Niemann on the mound pounding his glove because he did nothing else on camera that year except pour more champagne in Houston than everyone else?)

Was Ron Darling going to come out wearing 15?

But if everything went right in the 1986 World Series, maybe they wouldn't be special enough to warrant a celebration quite this special, right? So you can say that those missteps with the uniforms were merely a reminder that sometimes, the other team comes into Shea and wins the first two games of the Series.

Because like the rest of the '86 Series, the rest of tonight's ceremony was really something to behold. Mets emerging from the stands, walking through the crowd like the "men of the people" they were. Tim Teufel eschewing the umbrella like real men should. Mookie and Lenny...competitors for one job turned outfield mates co-existing (and sometimes co-lliding)...sharing the hug heard 'round the world tonight. Keith Hernandez passing the emcee duties to Mookie, one of the few '86ers (with Jesse Orosco) who went through the dark years of the early 80's (in a moment which prompted my friend the jinx to call me and ask "is Keith drunk?")

Wally Backman, right after the World Series, said that he couldn't wait until this team got its twenty year reunion party. Amazing how it seemed so far away at the time, but here we are and that day has come and gone. I guess the one thing that got me was the love shown towards this group of players by a fan base booming more and more each day by people who weren't old enough to remember how the Mets dominated back then. They didn't experience it quite like I did, but loved the same guys that I loved with seemingly as much fervor and delight.

The crowd there tonight must have been filled with younger generationers who cheered more for the "idea" of '86 than the actual players. You know how I know that?

Even Doug Sisk was cheered.

It may have been the twenty year anniversary we were celebrating, but it was probably the first time in at least twenty-two years that Sisk heard a nice ovation. But I guess when you're part of a team that has been immortalized, you're overdue for some love.

Not having been alive for 1969, I know how these younger folks feel. I was certainly in awe of guys like Tug McGraw, who's general quirkiness and coined phrases combined with his fiery mound demeanor and emotions worn on his sleeve held him a special place in my heart. And Tom Seaver, who fortunately I didn't have to wait until a reunion special to cheer having been at Seaver's return in the 1983 opener. And Ed Kranepool, who's longevity made him as close to a living legend as I knew at the age of nine. And Tommie Agee, whose catches in the World Series were imitated by myself plenty of times with no regard for my physical well being.

I never saw them in their prime and was always a touch saddened by that, and I'm sure you younger folk can relate if you never saw Keith and Gary and Darryl et al in their prime. The Mets having been an important fabric in my life for so long made the fact that there were Mets before my existence tough to deal with...especially the fact that there were winning Mets before me. The fact that the Mets won an incredible, inconceivable World Series before my time while having to endure the Richie Hebners, the Willie Montanezes and the Bruce Boisclairs of the world hit me with the stark reality that the Mets might not win again until the year after my death. Instead, the closest I would get would be the elder generation sitting me down on their knee and gently whispering: "son, you missed a hell of a team, those guys in '69. You had to be there."

Luckily, Frank Cashen traded for Keith Hernandez and before you knew it, Jesse Orosco was throwing his glove up in the air.

For those of you that were there tonight to celebrate that moment...specifically to you fans who were loud and proud tonight even though 1986 was before your consciousness: when you cheered for them, I felt it. When you chanted, I heard it. The louder you got, the better it felt. You cheered for my time. You cheered for my youth. And I probably felt it almost as much as the players did. You made me proud.

And by the way, you missed a hell of a team, those guys from '86. But judging by your volume and your emotion, you probably understood that.

I guess you didn't have to be there after all.


As for the game tonight, the one thing that I fear the younger fans and myself will generally disagree on are those throwbacks. I love what Gary Cohen calls the "racing stripes".

When the Mets added the piping to their entire wardrobe in 1983, there was a newspaper columnist who wrote that the piping was similar to that of the Montreal Expos and that hopefully, the Mets can match the success of those early 80's 'Spos. Well not only did the Mets do that, they exceeded it.

When the Mets ditched the piping in 1993, it was also done after the Expos had done the same thing the year before. Well not only did the Mets match the Expos relative mediocrity, nobody surpassed the awfulness of a franchise that never made the postseason (outside of a split season) as the Mets did in that horrible season of '93.

Which is why I will always love the piping.

And if you watched the game, and if you used that piping to see Matt Holliday drop a very catchable fly ball in left field, and instead saw Dave Parker drop the final out of what became a classic Mets/Reds brawl back in '86, you could be forgiven.

If you saw Yorvit Torrealba's passed ball and thought of Rich Gedman...if you saw Kevin Mitchell score instead of Carlos Beltran, you could be forgiven.

If you saw Keith Hernandez diving to catch an infield flare in the sixth, singling to the opposite field in the bottom of the frame, and scooping up a double play relay in the seventh inning instead of seeing Carlos Delgado doing the same, you could be forgiven.

If you heard Lenny Dykstra in the booth tonight railing about how David Eckstein was a pretty good player, but "he didn't...I hit home runs when they mattered and that's what counts. These guys today that hit 30 HR's and punch out 160's a joke", and you were glad that the final out came when it did for Lenny's sake, then you realize that there are old guys out there a lot more bitter than myself.

And if you see that someday, twenty years from now, someone will ask Tom Glavine what made the '06 team so special and he will reply that "Lastings Milledge was our fifth outfielder", just as Ron Darling would reply that "Kevin Mitchell was our utility player" about '86...

Then you should agree that we should bring the piping back a little more often. Remember to line it up right.

My Favorite Endy

"He's my favorite player."-Willie Randolph, on Endy Chavez

Tonight, Endy Chavez is everyone's favorite player, after his tying home run propelled the Mets to a 6-3 victory.

But will Endy be everyone's favorite Mets right fielder come October?

In the shadows of Shawn Green rumors, Endy Chavez has done a great job producing for the New York Mets, whether it be now or all season. And don't get me wrong, I love Endy too. But right now, he's the second best healthy outfielder on the Mets and that is a problem. Don't let the fact that the Mets scored six runs in a game started by Byung-Hyun Kim fool you. Long term, a lineup featuring Michael Tucker and Chris Woodward is going to be a wee bit of a problem. If Endy Chavez has a regular outfield spot in the playoffs and beyond, it would comfort me to know that the reason for that would be the failing physical ability of one Clifford Cornelius Floyd...and not because the Mets couldn't pull off a trade for another outfielder such as Green or Geoff Jenkins. (Preston Wilson, as you know, is now a Cardinal, and off to a good start already...ending all hope of a tearful reunion tomorrow night with Uncle Mookie during 1986 reunion night.)

But can a trade happen? At this point, with Shawn Green back in the Diamondbacks lineup after two "days off", chances dwindle. Besides, not even the Mets are sure they need another outfielder, which troubles me. Because it tells me that either,

  • They feel that a guy who hasn't been healthy all season (Floyd) will be perfectly healthy in October...which might be an indication that Floyd is almost 100%, but it also could be wishful thinking. Or...
  • They feel that a guy who has been in the minors all season in his mid-30's (Michael Tucker) is a playoff calibre outfielder. The fact that he is always making the highlights for something or other (one game winning dinger, one diving catch) belies the fact that he hasn't been the most productive player in Mets history...kind of like when people say the Packers had the number 7 defense in the NFL and number one against the pass, but nobody passed on the Pack because Green Bay was most likely losing and teams only had to run on them. That's Michael Tucker's Met career so far.

In the early part of this season, the Mets lineup was something special. Not to say that it was smoke and mirrors that made it go, but the lineup had been based as much on presence as it has been on actual ability. The Mets have plenty of actual ability to go around, but Carlos Delgado's mere presence has helped Carlos Beltran and David Wright two fold. A healthy Cliff Floyd and Xavier Nady were above averages presences in the bottom of the lineup. Add in a productive Jose Valentin, and you get a special lineup. Now, you have a lineup that are like most good lineups in the National heavy, but a 6-9 that you could go right after.

To that end, guys like Green or Geoff Jenkins don't necessarily have to come to New York and light the world on fire a la Richard Hidalgo for three weeks in 2004, but they put just enough doubt into an opposing pitcher's head to make the bottom of the order more dangerous than the sum of its parts.

If the Mets are worried about the money that a Green or Jenkins would cost, shame on them...because this team is on the cusp of doing something special. And if they're not in fact "one player away", they're damn close to that state (Hopefully, they're one hitter away instead of one pitcher away). The seven million that Jenkins would cost or even the 13-14 million after negotiations that Shawn Green would cost would pay for itself if it were to bring a championship of some sort to Flushing. Heck with a new ballpark and a new television network, they would probably pay for themselves anyway.

I'm not the C.O.O. (because my father isn't the owner), but if there was ever a time to add payroll, now is it.

If the Mets were worried about the type of prospects it would take to get a deal done, consider that Eric Hinske was wheeled to Boston from Toronto...a division rival...for a player to be named. Can you really see the Brewers, who are in the wild card race like Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt really had a chance which is not really, asking for an arm and a leg for a player who is not only firmly planted on their bench, but was announced to the world as being firmly planted on their bench?

The way it is in baseball now is that the more you pick up in salary, the better the prospects you get to keep. When you put it that way, you're spending millions of dollars to for the difference between a double-A prospect and a low single-A prospect which makes it seem like you're spending millions of dollars on a prospect. But it's the best way to make a move for now while preserving your future. We know the Mets can use all the future they can get.

But the Mets can also use all the present they can get at this point.


Tomorrow, the Mets will also celebrate their past by bringing in members of the World Series winner from twenty years ago...and yes that now includes Darryl Strawberry (but it does not include Ed Lynch...and somewhere in a bar in Chicago, a tear is shed).

Meanwhile, in a play that seemed innocuous at the time, Cory Sullivan slid hard into Jose Reyes on Friday night to try to break up what was pretty much an easy double play (also a double play where Reyes didn't come close to touching second base but that's another discussion). The announcers noted that Reyes seemed a little upset about the hard slide...and it brought back memories of when Rockies catcher J.D. Closser broke Joe McEwing's leg with a dirty slide a couple of years back and Braden Looper retaliated in what is his highest point as a Met.

So here's what I'm thinking folks: What better way to honor the 1986 World Champions than to start an all out bean brawl while wearing the throwback '86 uniforms?

Not only would they be honoring their fightin' brethren, not only would they send a message to Mr. Sullivan (however deserved or not it may be) but they would seriously shake up the doldrums during a month and a half stretch that really isn't going to mean anything. Seriously! Who's going to get ejected...Dave Williams? Ha!

Suspensions? I call them "summer vacations" at this point.

So let's harken back to the good ol' days when Ray Knight beat the living crap out of Tom Niedenfuer and Eric Davis and anyone else in his path. Let's bring back more than the uniforms...let's bring back the memories, and let's kick some ass, shall we?


And finally, can we call it a coincidence that David Wright breaks out of his slump as we start to see a hint of a goatee during the post game interview? Hope you ladies find goats sexy...because it may be here to stay.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It Takes A Soothsayer

I blame Dave Murray.

When I was a wee one depending on Murph and WWOR for my Mets coverage, games at the old Vet seemed could just as well have been 3,000 miles away as far as I was concerned...even with all of the Mets fans seemingly in attendance. In sixth or seventh grade, Philadelphia was a school trip...which only proved to me how far away it was. Of course, sixth or seventh grade for me was around the time when school trips were actually designed to learn something. Somewhere in my vast piles of what some would call junk but what I would call memorabilia is a 76ers key chain, and an engraved coin from the Franklin mint (some learning experience I had, right?)

The next time I returned to Philadelphia was 1994...this time to actually see some baseball. It was May 29th, and not only did we almost see a combined Phillies no-hitter which would have included David West (!), but we almost saw a woman die as she fainted in the concourse from the 95 degree heat in the 700 section and hit her head on the concrete. Luckily, she made it through. We also saw Mitch Williams return to Philly as an Astro and get booed out of his mind. Fun.

I had been to Philly a few more times for hockey games, but hadn't set foot in the place in 10 years (only passed it by). Now for a guy who was hardly motivated to get out of bed for a Thursday afternoon game at Shea this season (a half hour trip door to gate), it had to be something outrageous to put a seed in me to actually get out of bed at an unworldly hour (which for me is 9AM) and take the world shrinking train known as Amtrak to Philly for an afternoon game.

That "something outrageous" was Dave Murray writing about cheesesteaks.

Yes, the way to my heart is through my stomach. Thanks, Dave.

But losing the past three games in the Bank put a little extra oomph in this trip, because now I put myself on a mission to restore some order in the universe. Yeah, there was still a 12 game lead so it wasn't an emergency. However, with the Mets at their flattest point in the season, it was time for me to put my undefeated road record on the line in the teeth of the beast: Philadelphia.

And if it didn't work, at least I'll have some cheesesteaks.

So off I went...on what started out as a day trip to see the Mets in Philly for the very first time.

It ended as perhaps one of my most insane days spent as a Met fan.

Let me start off by saying that Amtrak absolutely screwed me today. You would figure that a 10:35AM train (scheduled for a 11:55AM Philadelphia arrival) would be more than sufficient for a 1:05 start. One problem: the train was moving so slow that I could swear I saw Greg Luzinski outrun it. The train left fifteen minutes late. By 11:15 it was still in Elizabeth. By 12:15 it was still in Trenton. And by 12:30 I had officially lost all hope of seeing the top of the first inning (considering I didn't yet have a ticket).

Twelve forty five p.m. is when my train finally rolls (ambles) into Philadelphia. I'm now officially screwed...and nowhere was it more evident was when I got to the ticket window and asked what they had for one seat, figuring between cancellations and what have you, I might get a good seat.
"So how does it feel to be swept by the Phillies?" -Phillies fan towards Metstradamus while on the ticket line.

"When your team becomes an object in my rear view mirror, I'll answer your question." -my reply

Instead, standing room only was all that was left.

All of a sudden, I felt like Caesar from the movie "Heaven Help Us" when he's at the prom...and I think it was Rooney that told him that a girl wanted to dance with him, and Caesar's classic reply was: "Caesar doesn't dance." I felt like telling the ticket vendor that "Metstradamus doesn't stand".

Now after three losses you would think that my presence in Philly would mean that there would be some hell to pay for the Phillie faithful. Now I'm told I have to stand? Forget about it folks, at that point, the Phillies have already lost.

So you guessed it, I missed the top of the first and also the first Met run. At this typing, I still have no flippin' clue how the Mets got that first run. Oh, and I'm standing. But we did get a giveaway! Fans received a matted painting of Tom Gordon with the title "Pride of the Phillies".

Tom Gordon is the Pride of the Phillies? Have our standards sunk so low that it only takes four and a half months to become the pride of an entire franchise? Is he the luckiest man left on the face of the earth now?

The tide turned in that second inning...two sac bunts, two run scoring singles. When Mike DiFelice knocked one home, was there any hope left for the Phillies? I mean, they've renamed the Mendoza Line after DiFelice...and he knocked one home? This was a guy the Phillies didn't even have a picture for to show on the scoreboard and he's knocking Scott Mathieson around. Good times.

So in the third inning, it's time to head off to Ashburn Alley to finally get me some cheesesteak. Now Dave mentioned Pat's and Geno's as the two most famous places for cheesesteaks...but I had some inside info. My mole from Philly (a Temple student who incidentally has the same full name as a prominent Cardinals pitcher from the 1980's) told me that not only was Tony Luke's his favorite, but there was a Tony Luke's at the ballpark which actually was not a cheap imitation. I was sold.

And so were a lot of cheesesteaks, as you can clearly see by the long line in the picture above. At $7.50 a pop, they were obviously jacked up from what I was told they usually cost in a regular Tony Luke's ($4.00), but well worth it. I brought a few home for the family and let me say that they keep well.

The Mets kept well today too, as Carlos Delgado broke out of his slump large today, with two home runs and a triple (yes, a triple...although one Phillies fan tried to blame it on the fact that David Dellucci is more of a left fielder than a right fielder). Keep Carlos' big day in mind. It's a key part of my adventure.

  • 2:18 PM: Carlos Delgado's second home run makes it 6-2 Mets.
  • 2:20 PM: The first remnants of an "E-A-G-L-E-S-EAGLES!" chant emanates from the Phillie Phaithphul.

Not that I saw a lot of the game mind you...between long lines for cheesesteaks and constantly peering over fans heads while doing about three laps around the lower rung of the stadium looking for an unreserved place to stand I barely caught much of the action. But the one thing I'll take away from this game, and it will keep my heart warm during those cold winter months, is that Pat Burrell might well be more hated in his own city as he is at Shea Stadium. If you didn't hear the massive boos Burrell received during the game today, consider this exchange after Burrell popped out to third with runners on first and third and one out in the sixth:

Phillie fan number one: Come on Pretty Boy Dellucci, get a hit!

Phillie fan number two: That's not the pretty boy, the pretty boy just popped out.

Phillie fan number three: Burrell's not a pretty boy...he's a piece of s**t!!!
Is there a Phillie blog with a hate list? Please Lord, let it be so.

There was also a humorous moment around the sixth inning, as a woman seemingly tried to look over my head at something, so I ducked to get out of her way. Then she ducked, so being the good sport I am I leaned away. She leaned towards me. I changed direction. She leaned towards me again. It took me a couple of minutes of trying to be a gentleman and get out of her way only to have her move in a position to where I was blocking her to realize:

She's trying to look at my hat.

I claim to be a soothsayer. I never claimed to be very bright. (P.S. My hat was a Mr. Met model.)

So the game is over and the Mets have emerged victorious, just as I have planned, and my road record remains unblemished at a whopping 3-0. As I'm trying to figure out just how much the outcome made up for my horrid commute to the Bank, while watching a thousand little Phillie fan children run the bases in a cute recreation of the first two games of this series, little did I realize that the fun was just beginning.

The Phillies website claims that guest services will call you a taxi if needed. That is a lie. Guest services merely sent me out to the third base gate where I was given the impression that there would be taxis as bountiful as marshmallows in a perfect box of Lucky Charms...yet in fact there were none. So here I go on a Quixote like chase around the Bank for a taxi stand.

I didn't see a taxi, but I did see lots of vendors hawking knock off "Dallas Sucks, T.O. is a Jerk" shirts. And what else, or should I say, who else did I see passing by me in my so far fruitless attempt to find a taxi?

Why it's former Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez!

Before you ask, I resisted the urge to say "nice game, pretty boy." Keith was gracious to all that recognized him outside of the park...which was like, one person. But Keith was gracious.

Finally, finally, I find a taxi that takes me back to 30th street station to catch the Amtrak back home. I get there about an hour before my scheduled trip back (taking into account extra innings and such), so I go on the ticket line to try to exchange my ticket for an earlier ride. I notice a couple of other Met older man and his son, I think...staring at me in my David Wright all star jersey (which is the same color as the vendor shirts at Citizens Bank, just in case you were curious) and here I am in my arrogance thinking they want to start a conversation with me about the game. I would have been more than obligatory, except they were staring more through me than at me. And for the life of me couldn't figure out why as the line filled significantly with people.

About ten minutes later, I notice the son, who is ahead of me in the line that was wrapping around, take out a magazine and hand it to someone behind me in said ticket line at Philly's version of Penn Station. Before I knew it, the magazine was being signed. I have a celebrity behind me?


It was my second encounter with a Met first baseman, and I figure this time I'm have to say something. I'm a blogger, right? Words flow from my pallet like the River Thames. Surely I can come up with the quintessential statement to not only crystallize my thoughts but dazzle the intellect of the man who had two homers and a triple today, right?

"Hey Carlos, great game today."

"Thank you."
Five hundred some odd blogs of experience to draw on, and that's the best I could do folks.

The father of the duo in front of me actually asked a legitimate question.

"Two home runs today and you can't even go back with the team?"
Like I said, a legitimate question.

The answer didn't matter...partly because I didn't hear it clearly, but mostly because here's Carlos Delgado, hero to the masses, traveling with the masses.

Man of the people.

So let's review, Keith Hernandez and Carlos Delgado...within five feet of Metstradamus, in the span of an hour. These things happen in threes, right? So which Met first baseman was I going to encounter on the way home? Would it be Rico Brogna in Penn Station? Mike Jorgensen on the 7 train? Dave Kingman in my apartment discussing women's lib with my wife? My life had become a game of "Clue" (I have Mo Vaughn, in the kitchen, with a rolling pin.)

Bizarre...truly bizarre. And all because I was in the mood for a cheesesteak!

Thanks Dave.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Have You Seen Us?

If found, please call 718-507-TIXX.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Stampede Continues

Oh yeah, Philly? Let's see the Eagles score this much!

If 2006 was more like say, 2004, then the following statistical oddity would be a microcosm of the franchise. But against the backdrop of a season of domination, it's just weird:

Jose Reyes has performed two of the rarest tasks in baseball in one season. He's hit for the cycle, and now he's hit three home runs in a game. I can't imagine anybody having done both in one season.

The Mets have lost both games. Figures, eh?

(P.S. The only other player since 1900 to hit for the cycle and hit three home runs in a game in one season...and do both in his team's losses: Jim King for the 1964 Senators. Now go win some bar bets with that and have a beer on me!)

You want microcosms? How about the fact that Orlando Hernandez is the first Met pitcher to give up eleven runs in a game. The first! Ladies and gentlemen, this is a franchise that fans used to call around to ask how they did...and after being told the Mets scored 19 runs, the fans would ask "oh that's nice, did they win?"

This franchise had Roger Craig. This franchise had Anthony Young. This franchise employed Frank Tanana when he was so old, doctors would cut off the tip of his finger to count the rings. Glendon Rusch. Pete Schourek. Charlie Puleo.

Victor Zambrano!

And yet, Mr. Battle Tested Clutch Yankee is at the top of the Met record book mountain for none other than giving up eleven runs. Great job.

Speaking of the Yankees, how about this for a microcosm: SNY showed the Mets stats after the game...with a Yankee logo on the left side of the screen!

"Hey, why did you get fired from the Mets network?"

"I put a Yankee logo where the Mets logo should have been."
Except that this Mets owned network is so Yankee conscious, that guy would probably get promoted for his A-Rodian slip. I'm not going to continue on my usual rant, but I fully expect Aaron Boone's home run against the Red Sox to be spliced at the end of the next Met classic...right over Buckner's error, perhaps!

Back to the game...wait, do we have to go back?

Tonight was another spankin' courtesy of everyone's favorite salary dumpers, the Philadelphia Phillies. This time, it was Hernandez who couldn't get out of the first inning unscathed...although there are no reported problems with Orlando's calf (he's just old). Speaking of calves, does it worry you that there was an MRI on Pedro's tight calf, yet there will be no news until tomorrow? Straun Coleman, the club physician, has seen the results. Yet there is a need to study them overnight. That, my friends, is not good. What exactly is there to study? A strain? A tear?


And if Pedro is injured, does he go back to the Browns with Lee Suggs? (Then again, maybe their MRI's got switched and that's the root of the confusion.)

The Dodgers played cloak and dagger with Kirk Gibson's injuries all throughout the 1988 World Series...will he play? Won't he play? The Mets taking an extra day to study Pedro Martinez's calf reeks of that cloak and dagger, and it tells me the news isn't going to be very good at all. Call me pessimistic if you wish (and I know you will), but something tells me that this is not a drill.

Someone ought to tell Lastings Milledge that this isn't a drill either. Oh and while you're at it, please tell him that the white thing flying at him does not, I repeat: does not have sharp metal spikes sticking out of them, has not been infected with bird flu, and will not give him cooties. There's no need to be afraid.

Petey's Cheese Creamed In Philly

These are the times that try men's souls.-Thomas Paine
That was a quote from a man who's remains may or may not be scattered across America and England.

There's no telling what will happen to Pedro Martinez's remains, but various limbs and muscles may be scattered all over America by the time this season is over...well before the ultimate demise of Martinez.

In fact, PETA is already protesting the rumor that Pedro's suddenly tight calf is going to be turned into veal and sold on eBay.

It's not enough that the Mets are looking to plug the hole in the outfield (I don't know if Lastings Milledge is too green, but he is obviously seeing green monsters floating around in his sleep and following him to right field in Philadelphia) and now all of a sudden they have to deal with this. A tight calf in itself doesn't sound like much (especially with a gazillion game lead), but for someone like me who has trouble dealing with prosperity (who says I'm an enigma?), and I'm sure there's a bunch more in my boat (don't tip the boat over), these are indeed the times that try Met souls.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bench Marks The Spot

For a while there today, it looked like the highlight of today's Mets game was going to be the in-game entertainment, as during the Nationals brand new "Presidents Race" (a D.C. style sausage race) featuring George Washington and Big Stick Roosevelt in between innings, Mr. Met crashed the race and would have won had it not been for the interference of the Nationals mascot, Screech. (Would that make Mr. Met Al Gore while Screech played the part of the Florida ballot boxes?)

Well Mr. Met couldn't pass Abe Lincoln, but the Mets wound up passing the closest thing they'll have to a playoff test the rest of the year as they beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 at RFK today. And no, I'm not insinuating for a nanosecond that the Washington Nationals are a playoff calibre team...what with Brian Schneider attempting to throw out David Wright stealing with a throw that went to Halifax, the concurrent grounder that rolled up Marlon Anderson's arm, and Austin Kearns' throw from right field that ended up in Towson, that much should be obvious.

But with the game tied at 1-1, and Blueback Bradford facing Alfonso Soriano with the bases loaded and two outs, I'd say that constituted a pretty good idea of what to expect when October baseball rolls around. Bradford got Soriano on a high chopper to end the inning (yeah, Soriano probably would have been safe had he ran hard from the box but I guess that's another reason why Soriano's Nats aren't going to sniff the playoffs this year...and also let me add that second base is allegedly Jose Valentin's worst position, yet his play on the Soriano chopper looked like he has been playing the position for ten years), and the test was passed.

The Mets' reward for a passed exam? Michael Tucker (who looks eerily like Lou Myers from "A Different World") comes up with his first home run in a Mets uniform to give them the lead for good. And think of how ironic it is that Michael Tucker comes off the Mets bench to give them the victory, and it was a part of the Mets' spectacular 2005 bench that helped turn the momentum away from his Nationals and towards his former employer.

Give some credit to Steve Trachsel...not so much for only giving up one run in 6 and 2/3's, but for the relative expeditiousness included in Trachsel's repertoire (two long words in one mouthful wins me today's Scrabble award!) I thought I was safe being in transit during the start of today's game. How much could I miss's Steve Trachsel for crying out loud. I'll miss a half an inning at most.

Imagine my surprise as the Mets were in the bottom of the third inning at 1:40 PM. I thought the game started at noon or something.

And along with Bradford, let's also thank Cousin Oliver for bringing some versatility to the table...from mop-up man, to long man, to seventh inning guy, to eighth inning guy all in the span of a few months. And all this from a guy nobody in the baseball watching community expected squat from this season...certainly not me.

And to end things, let me tell you that as a former softball first baseman, catching pop-ups from sun to shade is harder than it looks. Good job, Mr. Delgado.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I'll take geography for $150, Jack.

True or false: Maine is a northern state.

The answer is of course, true. But tonight, the Bangor Maine scoreless streak is south of the Donna Dixon line.

No matter, because between two third inning triples, a key seventh inning rally, and most importantly some strong relief from Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner, the Mets defeated the Nationals 6-4 tonight at what sounded like Shea south tonight.

The win makes Mets a very respectable 7-4 since trading Xavier Nady, so there seems to be no need for another outfielder. But there are options out there. And for those scared that one Mr. Lastings Milledge isn't ready, and terrified that Michael Tucker and Ricky Ledee are going to wind up playing meaningful innings in October, I give you this: Not only has Geoff Jenkins been benched by the Brewers for the rest of the season, but a certain World Series hero's son has been designated for assignment.

Not that I necessarily endorse bringing in either of these high strikeout guys, but Jenkins is probably one of the streakiest hitters out there. And if the Mets can catch one of those good streaks, Jenkins might be a cheap way to make the Mets' lineup super scary again (and if it does work out this season, you could always trade him again in the offseason, right? Buy low, sell high? Greed is good?)

And Preston Wilson? I'm a sucker for anyone related to Mookie.

Hey, I'm just putting it out there.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Throwbacks For Everyone (Special Padding Not Included)

So you may think it was Negro League night in Washington, as the Mets wore New York Cubans uniforms tonight. But the Metstradamus crack staff has been working overtime this week...they've unearthed an archival picture that proves that tonight was actually the Nationals' tribute to Julio Franco, as these were not only throwback uniforms, but they were uniforms that Franco actually wore! (check the player on the bottom row, all the way to the right):

And Willie Randolph was nice enough to give Franco the start tonight, although that probably has more to do with the presence on the mound of part time Oakland Raider fan, full time lefthander Billy Traber. Of course Traber, along with one time prospect and full time patient Alex Escobar, were on the field for the Nats/Grays tonight...throwing us all back to the trade for one time hall of fame prospect and full time dog Robby Alomar.

It might have been the first trade in the history of trades that helped out nobody...except that tonight, it helped out a team that not only wasn't even involved in the original trade, but wasn't even in existence at the time of the original trade. Figures with the collection of misfits involved in that curs-ed deal that it could only help a third party...but Traber did indeed help out the Nats by pitching seven strong innings while only giving up one run. And even Escobar stole a base without his knee exploding...good for him. Of course that bit of news coincides with news that not only is the current Mets center fielder is playing with a sore knee, but the current "best prospect in the system" Mike Pelfrey was put on the DL as a precaution. There's some news that'll throw you back, eh? Symmetry stinks.

So with the score 2-1 in the ninth and Chad Cordero on the mound, the Mets needed someone to stop this throwback madness. Please, throw us back to the present day before we're thrown back into the dark days of 2003...or 1993...or 1983...or 1963 for heaven's sake.

Carlos Beltran and his sore knee were on first after being hit with a pitch (no doubt suffering a new nagging, and with the Mets needing a hero, David Wright popped up to first base for the first out.

A Mike Cubbage throwback.

Then, Carlos Delgado pinch hit for the original New York Cuban, to hopefully take advantage of Chad Cordero's propensity for the longball.

Fly out to center. A Doug Mientkiewicz throwback.

After Jose Valentin walked, could it be? Could Michael Tucker deliver a base hit to tie the game...or better?

Nope. Instead, Michael Tucker throws us back to...well, himself.

Throwbacks are fun once in a while. But I kind of like the present myself. Reminders of years past are not only emotionally painful, but being thrown back too abruptly can cause pulled muscles if done without the proper perspective. Consult your doctor before starting a new throwback regimen.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Clearance Rack Items...And The People Who Love Them

Here's a story I held back from you from last night.

I abhor crowded trains. And with a crowd of 49,000 plus last night, the seven train was bound to be crowded, tepid, and odorous. Not for me. Some people leave early to beat the crowd...screw that, I let the crowd beat me.

So I took a jaunt to the clubhouse shop to do what I usually do...look around the shop for items that other people would like, and wind up buying something for myself. And now that I've invested ten minutes wandering around the concourse finding the entrance to this shop...relatively new at Shea, plus five minutes waiting to get into the place to prevent throngs of people in the same place, I had to get something.

So where did I look? The clearance rack, of's where I bought my Edgardo Alfonzo jersey. Can lightning strike again? I saw some Xavier Nady t-shirts for the low low price of $8.40 and thought "well I didn't really like this trade so...score!" As I was looking for other things to buy I kind of felt like a dope walking around with this "NADY 22" shirt when a young couple saw my future purchase...and their eyes lit up.

"Hey! Where'd you get the Nady shirt?"

"Clearance rack (punctuated with a point to my right)."

"Yes! WHOO-HOO!"
And as they darted to the clearance rack, hands above their heads with extended index fingers and pinkies like they were at Ozzfest '06, I felt a little better...and a little more scared at the same time.

You know who else likes Xavier Nady tee shirts on the clearance rack? Endy Chavez.

He's had a great season, but with Nady gone and Cliff Floyd back on the disabled list, Endy is receiving a ton more playing time. While that may be scary, but Endy has done well so far...heck, after last night's game he was announced over the P.A. system as the player of the game.

Player of the game? Who knew?

Well, nobody knew. That game is going down in history as the Piazza return (with two home runs, maybe even more so than the night before). Not only did he hit home runs, but he threw out Chavez stealing second. How embarrassing.

But let the record show that Endy Chavez was the player of the game.

Chavez, no doubt razzed by teammates and perhaps fined in kangaroo court (does kangaroo court even exist anymore in clubhouses? If not, it should, but that's another blog) he attempted and succeeded in stealing two bags off of the not-so-throwing-arm-challenged Josh Bard. He also got two hits while playing center field in an outfield which he was flanked by, speaking of clearance items, Ricky Ledee and Michael Tucker.

Benny Agbayani, Jay Payton, and Bubba Trammell laugh at these guys.

But Chavez, so far, isn't wilting at the pressure of an expanded role. As long as that happens, then his shirts will remain at full price.

You could, however, probably get a spiffy Nats model at clearance rack prices in D.C., where Chavez will no doubt get a tribute video and fifteen standing ovations this coming weekend just as Piazza did at Shea. I also expect a tear or two from the Nationals faithful as Chavez enters the batters box against the team he spent nine memorable at-bats with in 2005.

Conditional Love

Sorry, Mike.

You're family and all. But you were pushing it.

And really, you should be proud of yourself. After all, you avoided a chorus of boos longer than anyone thought you would.

See, even though it was day two of your return, there were still many of us who didn't get to say thanks last night who were present included. So there we were, greeted by your merchandise being front and center at the train stop (I myself dusted off my old PIAZZA 31 with the still unitentified mustard type stains for tonight's very special occasion). And we cheered for you.

You went deep off Pedro to close your deficit to 4-1. We cheered...wildly. And despite how we feel about Pedro (you know how we feel about Pedro), we gave you a curtain call even though you wear sand. That's no small feat for a visitor to get a curtain call, but you're not really a visitor.

Then you went deep again. Now I know you heard some cat calls after that one...the one that made it 4-2...but they were scattered and good natured. I for one, barely heard them. At least where I was, we cheered again. Chanted your name, even. You could have taken a second curtain call and nobody would have been worse off for it.

But you were pushing it.

You were pushing it to the point that when it got to the eighth inning, and you were in the position to really hurt us with two men on and a two run deficit, you put us in the position to have to make a decision. We wanted to keep our shove in check, but your two home runs brought push to it. So in the eighth inning, we shoved.

"Now batting...the catcher...Mike Piazza."

(awkward pause...)

Our love has conditions.

It's nice when family comes back to visit. But you got too comfortable. You wanted it to be like home again...hitting two homers and coming about five feet from a third home run. But you don't live here anymore. We didn't want to have to remind you, but you left us no choice.

One day, you'll be able to come back and be as comfortable as you wish...and we can all look back and laugh about this. But right now, we can't just stand by and watch you go all 2000 on us. (And as it turned out, you went 2000 on us hit one that everyone thought was out but fell into the center fielder's glove. That sure as hell reminded me of 2000. Thanks for the memories.) So we had to boo.

But we did take great care to cheer for you again after the out (unlike 2000).

Hope you understand.


Tonight was DHL lanyard night. It was a yellow lanyard, generally worn around one's neck, with the MLB logo all over it attached to a plastic sleeve that is usually used to hold a media or employee credential.

I have to say it's the lamest giveaway I've ever been a part of. And here's why: Every time I saw someone wearing a bright yellow laniard with a plastic sleeve attached (because what pocket is that thing going to fit almost have to wear it), I think he or she is a Shea Stadium employee.

What if I had to ask someone where guest relations was?

I would have ran around asking 49,000 people how to get to guest relations before I found a real employee!

If this had been a real emergency, there would have been mass chaos! I don't think you would want that on your conscience. Can I get an amen from the bobbleheads on that?


Speaking of the fan experience, a fan got a $60 gift certificate to a steakhouse because he was able to come up with the movie where the following quote came from:

"May the force be with you."
And it was a multiple choice question!

Can he at least earn it, please?

(If it was me, I probably would have gotten "Name That Shakespeare Sonnet" or something similarly difficult and useless for the chance to win a pocket schedule.)

You couldn't have offered up a bigger meatball if Shingo Takatsu came in to pitch.


And the Kiss Cam must die.

A man and woman got booed...mightily...for giving each other a cheek to cheek kiss after they were caught on "kiss cam". For those of you who booed, let me as you a simple question:

What if they were actually brother and sister?

Would you have wanted to see incest on the Diamond Vision?


Oh you're all sick!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rant du Jour

I know, I shouldn't acknowledge the trash journalism that has prevailed regarding Paul Lo Duca, but I have to get some things off of my chest for the last time regarding this. (I was going to write this last night but thought it unfair to put this in the same blog entry as Mike Piazza's return to Shea.)

Do you remember back a ways when the Mets were ordained the Kings of New York by our friends in the media?

Well, that's now exposed for the big con job it was. On day two of what promises to be a long stretch of New York Post exploitation of the Lo Duca affair which is engineered to take use the image of a beautiful woman and use it to sell newspapers (because let's face it...if Sonia Lo Duca looked like an average everyday housewife, would her divorce be a story? See: Brinkley, Christie), the very same newspaper thought this Mets related "story" worthy of their front page, did not believe that Mike Piazza returning to Shea Stadium, a real Mets related story, worthy of the most prominent part of their back page.

There truly is a sucker born every minute...and when Pedro Martinez wore a crown on his head as the Mets "took over the city", the sucker born that minute must have been me...Because I should have known something like this would creep up, and that when push came to shove an ordinary Yankee game would upstage Piazza's return to New York.

Here's the tragedy of all this: The people that worked on breaking this story that's really nobody's business are, for the most part not the same people that are on the Mets beat day in and day out writing the stories that real baseball fans read...yet in the short term, and maybe the long term, it's those beat reporters and those stories that suffer because players will shun anybody remotely associated with that newspaper, fairly or not. In turn, it's the real baseball fans that suffer...But since when did news departments care about their sports departments and their audience anyway?

But the other tabloid in New York is no better. In Tuesday's Daily News, Mike Lupica wrote one of his "win me a Pulitzer" columns with his flowery language and his dogged determination to get to the facts, even when the facts he was hoping to uncover weren't what everyone had hoped for. After needlessly shifting the focus from Lo Duca's divorce to his legal horse racing gambling habits as if he was the only one, Lupica writes this:

"We are cynical and with good reason. Twenty years ago, the last time the Mets had a team this good, we didn't know that two of the bright young stars of the sport, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, were already on a slippery slope because of drugs. Two weeks ago, Floyd Landis is the heartwarming winner of the Tour de France and now he is a drug cheat on a pathetic PR campaign. For all we think we know, there is so much we don't know."
Good reason?

A ballplayer gets a divorce...a divorce...and we're cynical? We're comparing something that befalls half of American couples to drugs and cheating? What? This is why we're searching for skeletons in this poor guy's closet?

You want to know why Mike Lupica is cynical?

Because their paper got scooped on the story.

That's it.

The only thing more pathetic than exploiting a story to sell newspapers, is exploiting someone else's story to catch up.



I'm not sure that the presence of Ricky Ledee on the Mets...the same Ricky Ledee that was overrated as a Yankee to the point where he (along with minor leaguer Jake Westbrook) brought back David Justice in a deal that helped the Yankees win their third straight title in 2000 in front of a packed house at Shea which included me (but I'm not bitter) good karma. But tonight, we usher in the Ricky Ledee era nonetheless (proof I'm not consulted on anything).

And Ruben Sierra? Is there an excess of Geritol at the post game spread?