Saturday, September 30, 2006
What started out as a night of much consternation, with Steve Trachsel flying back home to San Diego to tend to personal issues (which we hope of course are resolved in a happy manner) and Carlos Delgado taking the night off with "overall body soreness" (which sounds like the NHL is giving lessons in how to announce injuries). But Julio Franco stepped in to drive in five runs, including a long bomb to the deepest of deep center fields, and allay my fears a bit regarding whether Franco (as fine a clubhouse influence as he is) is a waste of a roster spot at 117 years old.
David Wright also went deep which made the young girls squeal in ecstasy. Combine them with bombs by Shawn Green, Endy Chavez, and Fluff Castro, and throw in a sparkling six inning gem by Tom Glavine and the Mets have served all of the naysayers a heaping pile of "get off our backs."
And with the Phillies out of the picture, the news just keeps getting better and better. The Padres and the Dodgers now fight for the right to avoid the Mets in the first round. Remember, California friends, Julio has his eye on you.
Now, off to enjoy a few days off. Overall mental soreness.
Pedro Martinez will have rotator cuff surgery, and will be out of action until at least June of next season.
Maybe the doctors shouldn't be so thorough. Who knows what they'll find next. Maybe an impacted tooth that will keep him out until 2009?
Maybe they'll find that his knee is made out of silly putty.
Perhaps a brain scan will find bottle caps.
(I hope that plaque in the picture isn't a retirement gift!)
Make it stop? Please???
(Gee, ya think Lastings Jefferies isn't going to get dangled for a pitcher now? Especially considering the fact that his team hates him?)
"KNOW YOUR PLACE, ROOK!"The post it heard 'round Washington.
Those who read this story of the Mets latest attempt to put Lastings Milledge's attitude on the path of the straight and narrow will certainly harken back to the days of Timo Perez, who was so hated by his teammates they let Rockies pitchers throw at his head twice (and Jay Payton once) after Perez "showboated" on a home run (which was more of a "thank goodness we finally have a chance to break this 200 game losing streak" kind of celebration.
But you'll also think back a little further to one Gregg Jefferies. If you think Lastings got hype...well you don't know hype unless you've been through the Gregg Jefferies Experience. Jefferies was a phenom of unmatched proportions when he came up through the Mets system in the mid-80's. His father (whom I suspect help create the stereotype of the "little league father") was more Jefferies' coach than father...putting him through all sorts of drills which included 1,000 swings a day from each side of the plate in a swimming pool (at least it wasn't a shallow gene pool). His rise through the minors were so documented, that when he finally came up in the last part of 1987, all Gregg Jefferies baseball cards had skyrocketed in value. New York may be a designated "baseball town" nowadays, but you couldn't combine the hype that surrounded David Wright, Jose Reyes, Mike Pelfrey with Milledge's hype, and come up with the promise that surrounded Gregg Jefferies.
And when Jefferies tore up the league in September of '88 and basically took over Howard Johnson's job in the playoffs? Jefferies was a baseball messiah! In fact, he was so much the baseball lord that the Mets were ready to trade Howard Johnson to Seattle for Mark Langston (instead, Langston was wheeled to Montreal for Randy Johnson later in the '89 season, satisfying Seattle's need for a Johnson). But instead, Jefferies went to second base to spell the end of Wally Backman's time as a Met.
Whatever ill feelings about the popular Backman being pushed out the door combined with the fact that Jefferies couldn't catch the ball (I guess you really can't do defensive drills in a swimming pool), and Jefferies ultra-competitive, ultra-sensitive attitude created problems in the room. It led to, among other things, a note scrawled next to Jefferies name on the lineup card which read "Are We Trying"?
The Mets' commitment to Jefferies worked kind of like the butterfly effect on the franchise. Mets management was so much in Gregg's corner that anybody in the clubhouse who was against him was gone. The man who allegedly scribbled the query next to his name was traded for John Franco. Another man who would later get into a large brawl with Jefferies during a Phillies/Mets game at Shea was traded for Juan Samuel. Was that a coincidence? Maybe, but remember that you're talking to the conspiracy theorist here. What wasn't a coincidence was that one of those trades set the franchise back valuable years. And putting the needs of one over the needs of many, as the Mets did with Jefferies, set the franchise back even further.
What we know now about Mets management tells us that they will not make that same mistake with Milledge...at least we hope so. Certainly, they have documented history to learn from.
In this group of games, which is equivalent to an extended spring training in Port St. Lucie, it's good to see at least a little something meaningful out of John Maine tonight, along with more solid work by the bullpen...you know, the group of guys everyone is ignoring to further their case that a .500 team is going to destroy the Mets in the first round because they don't have a rotation...those guys?
If you will allow me to rant to you, I realize that national baseball media talk just to talk sometimes...and their job is to create drama, necessary or unnecessary (see: Owens, Terrell). But I have to admit to you that it gets tiresome when the national media takes any sign of trouble from Camp Metropolitan and turns it into impending disaster. John Kruk was on Baseball Tonight last night and listed his top teams in the National League, and the Mets were fifth. Can you imagine that? Fifth.
Four teams make the playoffs in the N.L., the Mets clinched the division a week and a half ago, yet the Mets are worse than at least one of the teams that aren't even going to the playoffs. And with the Astros...oh, excuse me: "America's Astros" and the Everyone's Favorite Salary Dumpers...the Philadelphia Phillies inching ever closer to being dumped, that's two teams that are supposedly much, MUCH better than the Mets that aren't going to make the playoffs.
Does anybody remember back in 2003 when Roger Clemens was all over FOX's promos for the All Star Game, and Barry Zito was chosen to go to the game, but then he was booted out so that Roger can grace FOX Sports with his presence to get him back on the promos? I bring that up because I get the feeling that if the media could pick and choose teams for the playoffs, like they obviously picked and chose Roger Clemens for the All-Star game (even though that's the job of the American League manager), then the Astros and Phillies would already be setting up their rotations.
Sure, the Mets would be there as well...the media would play that Subway Series angle as long as they possibly could. But one could gather that they would be there to provide the fodder for the "Rudy" type upset for the little engine that could, like America's team, those pesky Astros, led by Braveheart himself, Roger Clemens. All the while setting up Clemens to make the World Series against his former Yankees teammates. Who would the network set up to win that battle? Their heads would explode.
The above rant should teach all of you prospective bloggers out there that you shouldn't try to blog about your favorite team while watching "Quiz Show", a movie about a rigged game show, at the same time. It gets the "conspiracy theory" juices flowing. But let's just say that after listening to all of the supposed "pundits" out there, I'm glad that baseball (at least outside of the All Star game) is still predicated on actual competition, and not ratings....and certainly not on the wishes of the people who are paying to put competition on television.
You know it's time to scoreboard watch when the Cardinals organist starts playing the Tomahawk Chop!
A programming note for you faithful fans of the Musings: There will be one more post from me tomorrow night. It will be slightly out of the ordinary, but I hope that you will enjoy it as I've been working on it for a while. And then, it's off for a very brief getaway to recharge some batteries. I will return Tuesday night for what will either be a Game 1 recap, or a playoff preview...with the Dodgers come from behind victory tonight (helped by a blown save by Mike Stanton...HA!), it looks like it will be a playoff preview for a Dodgers/Mets series which starts on Wednesday.
That is, of course, unless FOX finds a way to give the Phillies and Astros a bye into the playoffs and expand it to six teams in the National League to maximize storylines and ratings.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
There will be no Game 1 for Pedro.
There will be no Game 3 for Pedro.
There will be no NLCS for Pedro.
There will be no more 2006 for Pedro.
Pedro Martinez was signed by the Mets to help get them to the playoffs. Now, everyone else has to get the Mets through the playoffs, as Pedro's left calf (after all the worrying about the right calf) has a torn muscle. So five months after the Mets were looking for a special shoe for Pedro, now they'll need a dolly instead.
Make no mistake, this blows.
But it's important to remember some facts. Not the kind of facts that are designed to make you feel better, but irrefutable facts:
- This is not a one man team. Omar Minaya made plenty of other acquisitions in addition to Pedro Martinez that are designed to play some winning baseball. These aren't the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, where the loss of one of their two big starting pitchers would have been disastrous.
- The Mets, throughout 2006, have always depended a little bit more on their lineup and their bullpen than their starting rotation. Martinez being out will mean another reliever makes the roster. And in my estimation, bullpens win and lose championships.
Unfortunately, the reliever replacing Pedro will most likely be Roberto Hernandez, who I trust about as much as I trust the baseball media not to gush over the Yankees. Allow me to be the first to advocate Dave Williams for the post-season roster over Hernandez, who is the first pitcher I've ever seen warm up in the bullpen after he's pitched in a regular season game. Why does trying to stretch out a 41-year-old into a long man scare me?
So does this mean the Mets are done in the postseason? Absolutely not. Does it bring them back to the pack? A little bit on paper...a little bit more mentally. But the Mets responded like a team that has plenty of new go-to guys ready to step up to the challenge, such as Orlando Hernandez, who pitched as if the calendar read "October"...or Carlos Delgado, who hit tonight like he can't wait for the calendar to read "October", for the first time for him...or Carlos Beltran, who can shake hands with Todd Hundley after tying his record for dingers in a season.
Tomorrow starts the last series of the season in Washington...that is, if they don't have to wait around for the Nats to play the Phillies since the teams are still waiting to play through some raindrops...after a rain delay of over four hours! (Can ESPN pick up this game if it starts at 2AM?) Over this weekend, let's see what our Mets are mentally made of.
Then again, with the hijinks that go on in that room, do we really want to know?
You just cannot, as a fan, let a few days of lethargy ruin what has been a banner season by turning on them.
So you know what I did? I went to work.
And I put the crack staff to work to find other teams that have gone into slides after clinching their division, only to go on to great things. I was so giddy after finding examples, I went ahead and gave the Royals the '80 World Series.
I didn't have to do it, you know. I'm tired...I'm malnourished...I'm having hallucinations of Vince Coleman doing PSA's for firecracker safety. I could have bagged it last night. Truth be told, I needed a break. But nooooooo! I come to the Mets' defense with historical facts at the risk of being calm and positive. And what do I get for my flawed but intense efforts?
A big fat rotten egg, that's what I get.
Have you been watching, Willie? Have you been watching, Omar? Is it now all right to worry?
Because now, I'm worried.
Met fans across the city are worried.
And I have it on good authority that Tim Robbins is worried.
Because getting shut out by John Smoltz is one thing. Getting virtually shut out by Tim "I've been pitching so much batting practice that maybe the trade that brought me to Atlanta isn't so lopsided after all" Hudson, is quite another.
Making Oliver Perez and Heath Bell your personal hitting machines is one thing. Taking the mighty Pedro Martinez out back and playing "Deliverance: The Home Version" with him is something else entirely.
By the way, here's another question for the hierarchy in Queens: Is it now safe to tell us that Pedro's hurt?
Or is Arthur Andersen in the bullpen shredding medical records?
Really, though. Can we stop with the cloak and dagger routine with Petey? He's obviously not well. The pitches are up. The pitches are up because Pedro isn't driving right off of his calf. He's trying...the mind, however it may be wired, is willing. But the calf is just too lame. It's obvious. So in addition to some straight answers, can we get a doctor on the premises please? (And not the one who completely missed Mike DeJean's broken ankle.)
Hey, look who's sitting in the Mets lockerroom boys and girls...it's Doubt. Doubt is sitting at its locker taking every single question from reporters and responding with a shrug of the shoulders.
Meanwhile, Doubt's longtime friend Benefit is getting plastered and losing his shirt playing craps in Vegas. And the only way Benefit is coming back is when the Mets bring him back by playing some freakin' baseball...not the cheap imitation they've been bringing us lately.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Look, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that there's no reason to be concerned. The Mets have been outscored 24-4 in their last three games. The lineup, consisting of pretty much the "A" squad minus Shawn Green, did nothing tonight. Far be it from me to play Jimmy "Half-Full" (you know how I hate that). But let me remind you guys and girls of a few things:
- The zero runs scored by the Mets tonight were off of one John Smoltz. John Smoltz is many things...a stinkin' Brave is high on that list. But one thing John Smoltz is not is chopped liver.
- The twelve runs scored tonight by the Braves were off pitchers who will be nowhere near Shea come October.
We all know about what the Yankees did in 2000, going 3-15 down the stretch after having a nine game lead over the Red Sox, yet still going on to win a forgettable World Series. But the Yanks didn't actually clinch until close to the last weekend of the season. So when it comes to teams and their post clinch records, the crack staff (along with the fine folks at Baseball Race and Retrosheet) has dug up a few examples:
- The 1980 KC Royals went 2-8 immediately after clinching their division, then went 5-1 to finish off the season and then go on to play in the World Series (but lose to Philadelphia.
- The 1996 Cleveland Indians went the opposite way, going 8-1 immediately after clinching their division for a total post-clinch record of 9-3. The Indians were bounced by the Orioles in the first round.
- The 2001 Mariners went 0-4 immediately following their clinch, but then went on a 10-2 tear to finish the regular season. The Mariners were eliminated in the ALCS.
- Meanwhile, the 1975 Reds went 3-6 immediately after clinching the N.L. West. They then went on a 10-1 run to end the season and then win the World Series.
- The 1998 Yankees went 2-5 after a very early clinch of the A.L. East, and then went 10-2 to end the season.
- The 1983 White Sox had no post-clinch hangover...going 7-1 after clinching en route to an 11-3 post-clinch record. Yet, they were bounced in the ALCS by Baltimore.
So 2-6 since the clinch doesn't worry me. If the Mets go to the World Series, then everyone will forget their problems after clinching. By the same token, if the Mets are bounced in the first round, it will have had nothing to do with their 2-6 record, and everything to do with Pedro Martinez not being Pedro Martinez.
You say you want more perspective?
The Cardinals are 1-7 in their last eight games.
Let them do the worrying.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I had my crack staff check this out, and they came up with the following conclusions:
- One hundred victories does not ensure a home game for Game 7 of the World Series.
- One hundred victories will not change anybody's mind about whether the Mets will actually win the World Series. In other words, the "haters" will fail to be impressed.
- One hundred victories will not, I repeat, will not raise the odds of you or me winning the random drawing for NLCS tickets.
That last item is really the only thing I care about right now, so you'll forgive me for being selfish.
On to the mailbag:
Metstradamus, does tonight's outing by Tom Glavine concern you? And do I have a chance of being on the Mets postseason roster? -M.GlavineNo. And no.
Metstradamus, I feel your defense of Steve Trachsel is misguided and that you have no idea what you're talking about. There are plenty of pitchers on the Mets staff more qualified to start in the postseason than Trachsel. -J.MaineLike who?
'Damus, how meaningful are the next six games? -W.RandolphMr. Randolph, they are meaningful enough to play the starting lineup, and to manage as if the calendar reads "October". I hope you...I mean, Willie Randolph heeds my advice.
Metstradamus,Somebody's watching "Empire Strikes Back" deleted scenes again.
Your team stinks, your blog stinks, and Luke Skywalker is a little wuss. -D. Marc
Soothsayer,Health, about five more mph on his heater, and perhaps a good luck charm.
What do you feel that Pedro most needs to make it through the postseason? -N. de la Rosa
Metstradamus, how will Willie Randolph decide who takes the last bench spot for October? J.Franco, FlushingTucker...Milledge...Steel cage. (To be held on the Monday after the season if there's a tie.)
Metstra,What concerns me more is who will be responsible for keeping the shoelaces and the sharp objects away from you during the month of October.
Doesn't the Mets recent lack of success against lefthanders concern you? -X.Nady, Pittsburgh
Metstradamus,That is a widely held misconception held by the American public at this time.
Don't you have some sort of connections to get playoff tickets? -concerned reader
You mean to tell me that the so called "Great Metstradamus" can't get his sorry ass into Shea Stadium in October? You're pathetic! -same concerned readerConcerned reader, to paraphrase the great Keyshawn Johnson: if you hate Metstradamus, you hate yourself.
Well if you get them, can I come too? -same concerned readerNice try.
Monday, September 25, 2006
"Tryouts are for spring training. If 15 wins is not enough, then I don't know." -Steve TrachselI see kitty has claws.
Poor Steve Trachsel. He really is the Rodney Dangerfield of major league baseball.
Think about this for a second...okay, a half a second. If the above quote looked like this:
"Tryouts are for spring training. If 15 wins is not enough, then I don't know." -Pedro MartinezWe would be singing his praises, calling him "Braveheart", and pumping the volume up on the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", wouldn't we?
But it's poor Steve Trachsel...and I don't have to read my special tea leaves to know that this will be met with more scorn about Trachsel being bitter and about the fact that he's maddingly infuriating to watch, as he was at points on Sunday. And yes, watching Steve Trachsel is like watching a Friday the 13th movie where all you're doing is screaming at the screen yelling "Don't go in there! DON'T GO IN THERE! DOOOOON'T GOOOOO IIIIIN THEEEEEERRRRREE!!!!!" But sure enough, the cheerleader always goes down into the basement and before you know it, cheerleader soufflet. But I ask you this: when October comes, what pitcher do the Mets have that isn't going to be infuriating to watch, for whatever reason? Pedro with his calf? Tommy and Hernandez with their age? John Maine and his lack of age? Billy Wagner...for the pure fact that he's a closer and that we remember vividly what happened the last time a closer took the mound for the Mets in the playoffs and World Series?
Call me a basket case, and I'm sure I've gone on both sides of the left field fence on this issue, but Trachsel's acid tongue is starting to sway the odds in his favor with me. Trachsel has played on some bad teams in his career, so we really don't have a large sample of games where the chips were on the line. But when Trachsel came back after a back injury with the Mets only four games back of first, Trachsel threw a gem against the Giants (the Mets were never that close again). When the Mets had a packed house and a playoff atmosphere for their clincher, Trachsel threw another gem. And let's not forget Trachsel's 6 and 1/3 scoreless during the Cubs' one game playoff against San Francisco in 1998.
No, it's not a long and storied resume like the one Petey or Glavine or Orlando have to work with. But how much of a resume can you really develop playing with the Cubs of the mid nineties, the Devil Rays, the Blue Jays, and the Mets from '01 to Art Howe?
I'm not guaranteeing a thing with Trachsel. He makes me nervous. He's high on the TUMS meter. But there's bulldog in him. I know there is. His biting quotes show me such. He's pitched long enough in this league, and well enough in the limited big spots he's encountered to warrant a post-season start. Besides, anyone who survived as many Met heartaches as he has (he's the last one left from 2001 kiddies) not to mention the complete housecleaning done by Omar Minaya, and some serious burying by Willie Randolph (in the rotation and in the media)...forget a playoff start, Steve Trachsel deserves a baseball equivalent of the purple heart.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
"Sooner or later, David Wright has to get himself a big hit."Not only did Wright get himself the big hit of the game (a three run jack in the fifth to give the Mets the lead for good), but he got it off a lefty!
"Sooner or later, Shawn Green has to get himself a hit of any size."Wright's homer was made possible by a grant from Green in the form of a long double to lead off that fifth inning...again, it bears repeating, off a lefthanded pitcher! (It bears noting that Greenie got himself two knocks in that fifth inning alone.)
"And sooner or later, Jose Reyes has to stop swinging for the fences."You could forgive Jose for his uppercut in the days immediately following the clincher. After all, he's just thinking of the paying customers...trying to give them a thrill that they'll never forget. But what scares the bejesus out of Met fans is that his "home run derby" swing will seep too far into his mechanics and revert Jose back to the days where a certain internet columnist was foolishly calling him the worst position player in the major leagues. Today, with two singles and a double with the bases loaded (and two walks to boot), Reyes has returned to the dynamic weapon he was born to be.
Oh yeah, and he did most of his damage off of a lefty!
So let's review: twelve runs (first time over four runs in over a week), six runs off a lefty (most runs off of a lefty in over a decade...or so it seems), and the three people called out by me in this blog responding exactly as advertised (Tom Verducci has left messages on my machine, but let me just say that I never intended my words to be so negative).
Look Mr. Minaya, I may not be the best third base coach out there. I'd probably be scared out of my mind to send anybody home, but I obviously motivate people. See, I'm a people person. People like me, and as you witnessed today people respond to me. So I hope you'll consider me for a spot on Mr. Randolph's coaching staff in 2007.
Friday, September 22, 2006
All of a sudden, the Mets can't seem to score, as tonight was their 8th straight game scoring four runs or less, a 3-2 loss to Pedro Astacio and the Nationals. But let's keep things in a small bit of perspective. Since the Mets have clinched, Willie Randolph has treated the paying customers to the likes of Julio Franco at third base, Michael Tucker at first, Kelly Stinnett, Mike DiFelice (will someone tell the folks at the Mets-owned television station how to spell "DiFelice"...here's a hint: not "DeFelice"), and Ricky Ledee. So you'll forgive me if I'm not going to go postal on this lineup. However:
Sooner or later, David Wright has to get himself a big hit.
Sooner or later, Shawn Green has to get himself a hit of any size.
And sooner or later, Jose Reyes has to stop swinging for the fences. He did it with the bases loaded and two outs on Wednesday night, and he did it in the eighth inning tonight. Now I would never tell Jose Reyes to cut down on his home runs, because you want him never to lose his natural swing. But I would also tell him to stop getting so homer happy. Nineteen HR's is great...but it's gravy, and no matter how great the gravy is, you can't have it without meat. Hit the ball hard Jose, that's your meat.
All right, I'm done.
Ricky Ledee pinch hit tonight against Pedro Astacio having hit Astacio hard in his career (8 for 13 with 4 HR's). Upon hitting number 5...a moon shot over the right field bullpen...Gary Cohen said that Ledee "has resumed ownership of Pedro Astacio". This brings about a very important point:
I thought slavery was illegal.
All right, all right, now to discuss something that the booth brought up tonight in a serious manner. Keith Hernandez was talking about...of all things...the 1984 NLCS between the Cubs and the Padres, and how Keith thought it was a mistake to pitch Dennis Eckersley with a two game lead in game three (1984 was the last season where NLCS's went best-of-five). Hernandez would have saved the gamer Eckersley for a game four scenario, and pitched Scott Sanderson, who had more stuff but struggled to put it together sometimes, in game three.
Now in the long run, it didn't matter since the Cubs lost both those games and one more...but it brings up an interesting point (no cheeseball punch line here) on the heels of another solid performance by Orlando Hernandez tonight. If the Mets are up two games to none going to the road in game three, do you waste your ace in a game that isn't a "must win"? Or do you go with John Maine in game three and get him some valuable postseason experience while saving Hernandez for a potential 2-1 game, or better yet hope Maine pitches the Mets to victory and you save Hernandez for an early NLCS game? Or do you go with Steve Trachsel, who is infuriating but bore down in the clinching game?
What do you do? I'll tell you what I'd do. In a 2-0 scenario? I'm savin' Hernandez for game four.
Just to let you know, I've officially stopped worrying about the St. Louis Cardinals in October.
So it looks like Joe Girardi is packing his bags after this season.
On the surface, it looks like Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria is letting his ego get in the way regarding Girardi. Considering the way the Marlins have continuously pilfered the souls of the dwindling Marlins fan base, it almost seems like Rachel Phelps owns this team, continually trying to find the worst players so that the attendance will fall far enough so that she can move the Cleveland Indians to Florida. But the Marlins are already in Florida, there just desperately trying to get out.
It's not the best idea to tell your boss to "shut the f**k up", but the boss has to know enough about baseball to know that owners who yell at umpires about calls don't help their team, they only hurt them. If Loria doesn't realize that, then he's a goober. And considering the fact that if you, as an owner, have no choice but to hamstring your team with young players, then maybe firing the manager that brought this group of players to the brink of the playoffs isn't the best idea, and that it would be wise to swallow your pride for the overall good of the team and of your fan base, whom have been abused enough.
But as I hear more about the complaints that management has with Girardi...that he's not a people person and that he's a "control freak", then maybe there's no other choice but to cut bait. The Larry Beinfest/Joe Girardi dynamic is eerily reminiscent of the Neil Smith/Mike Keenan relationship with the New York Rangers. It was no secret that Keenan wanted to acquire his own players and didn't get along with Smith one bit. The feeling was mutual, as I gather that the feeling from Beinfest to Girardi and back is as well. Smith and Keenan were only together for one year before they mutually hatched a plan for a bonus payment due Keenan to arrive one day late so that Keenan can claim breach of contract and bolt to the St. Louis Blues. And don't forget that the year that Smith and Keenan were together produced a Stanley Cup...so no result that comes out of the Joe Girardi situation should surprise anyone.
Bear in mind this too: While the Marlins may be worse off without Girardi, Girardi might be worse off without the Marlins. All guesses have Girardi replacing Dusty Baker in Chicago next season. But would Chicago, with a more veteran roster (and a more fragile roster with Kerry Wood and Mark Prior alone) be as good a fit for Girardi's hard nosed managing style than Florida is or was? Dallas Green, for example, was great at making a bad team respectable...but could never take that same respectable team to the next step, and that's why his only World Championship was with a team that was ready made for him. Can Girardi adjust his style for an older team? That remains to be seen, but I gather it will be difficult.
A quick question to end this Girardi riff: Knowing what we now know about Girardi, knowing that there is a couple of dents in his armor, is he still a slam dunk for the manager of the year award? Or do some votes now go Willie Randolph's way? Enough votes to change an outcome that at one point seemed inevitable?
This is the best thing I've read so far this season. Some may say it's debatable, I say it's gospel.
One Pedro Martinez.
Thursday night, Petey seemed to have put last Friday's meltdown behind him for four innings, not allowing a hit in the process before getting singled to death in the fifth. But Pedro wasn't really pumping the fastball much higher than the mid 80's, and as dutifully noted by Orel Hershiser, he struggled from the stretch. If his missteps tonight bother you remember this: this is spring training for Petey...a second spring if you will. In spring training, you're not going to let loose and give opponents more things to spot in game film. So with the Mets having clinched, and in the enviable position of being able to set up their rotation for the playoffs two weeks in advance, why would Pedro bring out the full arsenal? Why wouldn't he put the cutter on the shelf as he did tonight?
If you have learned nothing else from Pedro over the years, you should have learned that by now you can call him Petey Possum. He played Jose Guillen like a flute earlier in the season. You saw it with the "call the Yankees my daddy" comment. Did you really believe that?
Pedro will be there mentally when it counts. For that, I'm not worried. The only question becomes whether he'll be there physically. And the way I see it...he has no choice.
For all of you Norfolk Tides fans, it's official. The Tides are no longer the AAA farm club for the Mets, ending a relationship that stretched back to 1969. Next season, get ready for the Mets to send down players to New Orleans...as the Zephyrs, who have recently been the AAA affiliate of the Nationals and the Astros, become the new farm club for the Mets.
Certainly, it will be a weird feeling not to have the Tides one step below the Mets, whether they be Norfolk, or for us who are a little bit older, Tidewater. For those in the Virginia area (you know who you are), it will probably be strangest of all. With much of New Orleans' residence gone in the wake of last year's hurricane, it will definitely be hard for the Zephyrs to create the widespread culture of Met fans in New Orleans as they did in Norfolk (David Wright, Virginia resident, grew up a Mets/Tides fan).
Speaking as someone who has never been to Harbor Park, but has actually been to a Zephyrs game recently, here are a few things to look for:
- First off, the strangest thing will be a Mets farm club playing in the Pacific Coast League, with a lot of southern and western teams with high humidity and high altitudes. Hitters numbers will be a bit more inflated.
- Also, players will travel more...which in this era of coddling and protecting the best prospects will probably mean that the trend towards filling the AAA team with retreads and veterans hanging on hoping for one last shot at the big leagues will continue and probably grow, with the best prospects making Binghamton their last stop before Shea.
- Ron Swoboda is a native of New Orleans, and is the Zephyrs color analyst. Swoboda participated in the bat race during my 2005 visit there. If you're lucky, you can catch a glimpse as well.
- Zephyr Field is a quaint field outside of New Orleans in Metairie (that's a good omen to play in Met-airie, no?) which is a 20 minute cab ride from the french quarter. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Zephyr Field was used as a makeshift military hospital. The field suffered minimal damage in the wake of the hurricane.
- If you go to a game and need a cab back to the quarter, the Zephyr front office will gladly call you a cab as they did for me. Check out their trophies in the waiting area.
- Former Zephyrs who were also former Mets include Melvin Mora, Ryan Thompson, Derek Bell, Dave Mlicki, C.J. Nitkowski, Mike Fitzgerald, Richard Hidalgo, Donne Wall, Mike Venafro, and Sid Fernandez.
And remember, New Orleans is only a Jet Blue direct flight from JFK away.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Dontrelle's first home run was the first tally off of Oliver Perez, who pitched well up until that point. Perez's other blemish came when Matt Treanor (also known as Mr. Misty May) lashed one to left with the hobbled Mike Jacobs at first base, where it would have taken a misplay of little leaguish proportions to score the slowed Jacobs. But there was Lastings Milledge to provide it...perhaps thinking the wall had large spikes coming out of it, he lept a little too early and also seemed to strain a muscle in his side doing it. Neat trick.
(Seriously, does it seem to you that Lastings is significantly more comfortable in right field than in left?)
Dontrelle's second tally was off of Roberto Hernandez, making that two home runs tonight of Met pitchers who might not make the postseason roster. All together this season, Willis had three home runs...all against the Mets, all at Shea, and all off of guys who will probably be nowhere near Shea in October (I'd say definitely but you never know with Hernandez...I think he's out due to the fact that he might be the victim of a numbers game, but do we really have to wonder about Ollie Perez and freakin' Jose Lima?)
Willis is also 11-2 in his career against the Mets, making "Dontrelle" the new "Chipper".
Or maybe the new "Burrell".
Or maybe the new...uh, "Vance Law".
After the game, an obviously thirsty for blood Larry Beinfest offered Willis to the Mets for David Wright, Jose Reyes, Mike Pelfrey, Lastings Milledge, Phil Humber, Carlos Gomez, Fernando Martinez, Joe Smith, Matt Lindstrom, five players to be named later, and three as of now unborn fetus' of Willie Randolph to be conceived later.
After Omar declined, Beinfest offered Willis and Miguel Cabrera to the Yankees for three bags of infield dirt. Even though it is past the deadline, Bud Selig is expected to invoke the "Best Interests of Tom Verducci" clause to get this deal done...before of course announcing that he would never let a deal like this go through unless the money raised from extra Sports Illustrated sales would be able to cover the difference and provide the Yankees with an extra revenue stream to cover the costs of the extra contracts.
2006 is the season we've all been waiting for. It's also the season where Miguel Cabrera has officially gotten on my nerves. First it was his lackadaisical attempt at an all-star game ground ball which could have gotten the Mets home field advantage. Then, his bitching and moaning about Heath Bell pumping his fist. Now, it's his "we're going to win tonight" boast towards Willie Randolph before Wednesday's game.
Way to go out on a limb there Miggy, predicting a victory in a game that Dontrelle Willis is pitching...then getting scratched from the game with a sore shoulder. Good job, clutch.
Unfortunately, the can was hit into the bullpen for a three run dinger.
In actuality, Heath never really threw the can, just the beer in the can...probably causing someone who's been on the wagon for weeks or months to come home smelling of beer, then having to explain to his wife "honey, you're going to have a good laugh when you hear this one!"
- SS Anderson Hernandez
- CF Stan Jefferson
- 3B Tom O'Malley
- 1B Jorge Toca
- LF Gary Rajsich
- C Butch Benton
- RF Rodney McCray
- 2B Bob Heise
- P Rick Anderson
OK. Actually, they got shut down by the lefty and beat the two righties in the pen, but a win is a win...especially when it's Tom Glavine's 289th career win which contained some quality innings, letting us all breathe a little bit easier about the state of the starting pitching.
(I was going to get ex-Met Garry Templeton to ghost-write this blog entry to give me a night off after the clinching, but I was informed via fax that if Garry ain't startin', Garry ain't writin'.)
So that makes the magic num...oh, wait.
A couple of more notes on Monday night: For the sharp eyed who pay attention to the sidebar here, one of the classic quotes ever on this site was by fellow blogger Michael Oliver, who came up with this ditty:
"For a good time, call Mr. Met. 718-577-TIXX"Well it's nice to know that people pay attention, because during the seventh inning of the clincher, two enterprising gentlemen (one of them not being Michael, it has been confirmed) used the slogan to create a pretty sweet looking banner, which Gary Cohen and Ron Darling absolutely loved.
The fact that stuff originating (well actually, not really originating...as I have been informed that the slogan actually made it's way on to a banner during Banner Day during the early 80's, but let's call it: showing up) on this site is making its way into the consciousness of mainstream America (all right, maybe mainstream Queens) is really starting to freak me out.
And do you want irony? Do you want a scrumptious parallel? All right, you've got it. During the very moments the Mets were pouring champagne all over each other, a new closer was pitching for the Cardinals who will be without former Met Jason Isringhausen for the rest of the season. This new closer, pitching the ninth inning, promptly lost the game. This new closer could very well be attempting to save games for the Cards in the NLCS against say, the New York Mets for example.
Oh yeah, his name is Braden Looper.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
My streak of being present for clinchings ended at two. Mother nature gave me a not so subtle sign that I shouldn't make the trek to Pittsburgh by giving me a cold right before the series, preventing me (among other things) from taking what would have been an ill advised trek to the Steel City.
Tonight was a different matter all together...you see, The Who was playing in town tonight. So I'm covering a Monday night shift so that a fellow Met fan, who has had these concert tickets for weeks, could go see them. I wonder if he's regretting that decision at this moment...at least I hope it was a rocking show. (And I hope Roger Daltrey announced the score.)
But you know if somehow they blew it tonight, I was there on Tuesday.
There are things on this earth that I'll never be able to explain. Gravity...luncheon meat...the fascination with singing "Sweet Caroline" at sporting events...and Steve Trachsel not only pitching effectively, but swiftly, when the odds and a three game losing streak to keep the magic number at one staring him square in the eye. But that's what makes baseball a funny game...and that's what makes Steve Trachsel the '06 version of Dave Magadan...because that too, came out of nowhere.
If Steve Trachsel was Steve Trachsel, and the Phillies had somehow overcome the Cubbies, I would have been there on Tuesday. But am I disappointed? Not on your life.
And that's the truth ladies and gentlemen.
Because processing it on television without being there was amazing in and of itself and it was definitely a different experience. For those that were there, there's no place you would rather be. But for me, seeing Petey dance down the tunnel, showing his N.L. East shirt to the assembled media...the same assembled media who he admitted he didn't want to talk to last Friday...and letting loose a yelp of victory? That's a feast for the eyes.
Seeing Country Time get blindsided by a full dousing by Pedro Feliciano...seeing C.T. then pay it forward to the general manager of all people...seeing SNY's Julie Donaldson get wet in the designated "dry area"...it's amazing for me to process it all. It's especially amazing for me because of what I did earlier in the day, which was go through old tape of the last lockerroom celebration after the 1988 clinching...a tape which I had never seen before. It was great to see a team forever etched in my mind as being doomed in moments of glee. I saw Kevin McReynolds with a smile on his face. I saw Tim Teufel looking a lot like he did at the 20 year anniversary celebration. I saw David Cone use the word "superlatively".
Those poor bastards never saw it coming. Neither did the poor bastard you're reading now.
It was much better to see the same kinds of sights eighteen years later in current context, without the stigma of "too bad they couldn't go any further". Fun to see Jose Valentin, who last year at this time was recovering from a bad knee, using that knee to springboard into Carlos Delgado's arms after using his arms to pump out two home runs. And it was fun to see Paul Lo Duca spray you unsuspecting fans with an industrial strength hose.
That's tape you'll look on and say "damn, us poor bastards never saw that coming."
They're the sights and sounds we'll always remember. And we'll see them again in rain delays to come...all set to the soundtrack of messrs Bachman, Turner, and Overdrive. Yes, they took care of business tonight. Finally.
So sure, I wasn't there tonight. I wasn't in the upper deck, unless you count the upper deck of the stratosphere of elation that hovered around the ballpark, because I was there in spirit. And being there in spirit is all I needed tonight...it was more than enough.
Besides, there's a slew of games in October for me to weasel my way into.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Maybe someone is trying to tell Willie Randolph that smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease.
Every time our manager has been waiting to smoke a cigar, whether it be his first win, or his first postseason appearance, it sits there and gets stale waiting for him. See Willie? Smoking is bad for you. What else is it going to take for you to see that.
How come Willie can't wait for a nice cube of delicious Entenmann's Marshmallow Devil's Food Cake? What can that cause besides another inch on the hips? C'mon Willie, set a good example for the kids!
It's all about the kids, Willie.
It's all about those fans who took probably the last day of vacation they have this year to vacation in beautiful downtown Pittsburgh hoping to see their team clinch. And now, they're screwed out of a vacation day they'll never have back...all because the Mets can't hit people who are dominant in the right side of their brain.
So now, it's all about the 56,000 fans that are going to flock Shea Monday night after the Mets' latest lefty lemon against Zach Duke. And that's great news for Monday's starter Steve Trachsel, who will no doubt feel wrath like he's never felt before if he comes up with another one of his typical outings where he goes through his night like he just came out of a root canal, and there's 1,000 things he'd rather be doing.
Speaking of which, you know how I feel about Keith Hernandez. The man is a legend among legends in Met-dom...he brought the Mets a championship, and he's one of the most entertaining people you'll ever listen to when he's in that booth. But why is it obvious that when he's in that booth, it's the last place he wants to be?
Gary Cohen: "Ronnie will be back with us tomorrow night..."
Keith: (cutting Gary off) "I won't."
Not for nothing but every time there's an extra inning game he whines like a school girl in detention. And every time he's got a night off coming up he sounds like he's five minutes away from a parole hearing. You know, I hear enough whining and bitching from people just trying to get through their everyday jobs (okay, I'm the one doing most of the whining and bitching) that I don't need to hear someone whining about being at a baseball game. My heart bleeds for you.
And Monday is setting up to be the most historical night of the regular season, and you have the day off? Get your ass to work and give us your unique perspective dammit. Your wine will still be there when you get back.
See folks, nobody escapes my wrath during a three game losing streak...not even Keith Hernandez.
I will say this: I'm kind of glad the Mets didn't clinch while I was at the Meadowlands watching my other team fall apart...at least for two and a half quarters. If you want to hear more, then from the good folks who brought you Brooklyn Met Fan, now there's Brooklyn Jet Fan. And there seems to be someone there who posts under the pseudonym: Jetstradamus.
Let's just say that's more than mere coincidence.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
In a desperate attempt to keep the Mets from celebrating on their field, Jim Tracy resorts to the old "lefty by committee" mind trick, going with the immortals Tom Gorzellany for four innings, Shane Youman for three, and Damaso Marte for one and a third. Of course, the Mets were so confused and battered for 25 outs that it was actually the right hander who won the game.
You win this round, sleuth.
One thing that always rocked me to sleep lately is the thought that even though the Mets have a winning record vs. every possible playoff opponent in the National League...setting up another 1988 Dodgers scenario where the Mets ripped them in the regular season yet lost in seven to L.A. when it counted, no current team has a pitcher who holds anywhere close to the amount of talent that Orel Hershiser had in '88. The Dodgers used him as the Mets' kryptonite in games 1, 3, 4 in relief for a save, and the clincher in 7. If Orel's bullpen hadn't let him down, the Dodgers might have won that series in five games...that's how good Orel was.
I fear that if the Mets do indeed go down in the NLDS or the NLCS, it will be because managers Little, Bochy, and LaRussa are currently scouring sandlots, stickball tournaments and little league fields for anyone or anything that throws left handed. Pat Maholm? Tom Gorzellany? Floyd Youmans...I mean, Shane Youman?
(Floyd Youmans left such a legacy that the name became singular through time...apparently.)
And tomorrow it's Zach Duke who's not just a lefty, he's a halfway decent lefty at that.
So the end of this road trip, which is looking more and more like the Philly/St. Louis debacle of '86, here's the main question for you, dear reader.
Do you want the Mets to clinch on Sunday?
Are you now hoping that they wait and wrap it up at Shea on Monday?
If you chose the latter, do you by any chance hold a ticket to Monday's game?
Having had a ticket to September 17th, 1986 (and to this day have the chunk of grass painted with the right field foul line in a Seal-A-Meal packet to prove it) I admit towards the end of that Cardinal series that I was kind of hoping for some continued stumbling so there would be a party at Shea Stadium (although Pete Flynn might have felt differently, I assume.)
So which way are you leaning? And can you lean that way with a clear conscience?
More importantly, Hamels buoys the chances of my fantasy baseball team in their semi-final matchup against an owner that I don't think I've beaten in any playoff game in any sport, ever.
Orlando Hernandez takes the hill tonight against Tom Gorzellany, and guess what? Gorzellany is left handed!
Oh joy, oh rapture.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Pedro Martinez, with a chance to pitch the Mets into their first division title in 18 years, pitched three innings of very spring training like baseball in his first game back from his calf injury as the Mets failed to clinch on the field Friday night. But forgive me if that's a little further from my mind tonight.
After the bottom of the third, Pedro appeared to be on the verge of tears in the dugout, and had to be consoled by manager Willie Randolph. Now Pedro is only proving himself to be a sensitive man of the new millennium. Unfortunately, his meltdown after his meltdown left everybody wondering if he was hurt again. Willie Randolph said he was fine. All of the Mets hierarchy said he was fine. Rick Peterson said he was fine. Then Petey said he was fine, that he was just "about to snap".
So why am I scared?
Could it be that many of the same Mets front office types insisted that Orlando Hernandez was fine too before a late August start was pushed back due to injury? Could it be that Petey doesn't have the luxury of a second spring training to get ready for October 3rd or 4th? Could it be that if Martinez can't go, Steve Trachsel would have a guaranteed spot in the postseason rotation? Could it be that I haven't had anything to be scared about in the last four months and the baseball gods are playing catch up with my emotions?
Could it be all of the above?
After the game, Martinez advised the Mets fan base against "throwing in the white towel", so that's what I'll do. But if Willie Randolph has a soul, he'll be ready to come to my house at a moment's notice to console me in my hour of need. Because we need Petey. And Petey apparently just needed a moment. Good thing it was just a moment, because I don't think any of us wanted to see him snap...because who knows how much damage he could have done with that red whiffle bat. Remember, it's all fun and games until you take an eye out (then it's just fun.)
And while you're at it coach, please console Paul Lo Duca, because unlike Pedro, Undertaker actually did snap on home plate ump Jeff Kellogg after Paulie was punched out (not literally) in the fifth. Paulie, I gather, would go straight for the wooden bats if he ever decided to snap for higher stakes. And the results wouldn't be very pretty at all.
Speaking of not pretty, Pat Burrell hit a grand slam off of Roger Clemens in a matchup that for Met fans is a vortex of suckdom. It was all the Phillies needed as they beat the Astros 4-3, to keep the magic number at one. With the Phils playing a day game and the Mets going at night, this brings about a situation where the Mets could clinch the N.L. East while in their hotel room. So if you're walking the streets of New York tomorrow, and a total stranger pours champagne or some other form of cheap alcohol on your head tomorrow, you'll understand. Please find it in your heart not to have me arrested.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Oh how it's going to stink to be Xavier Nady this weekend.
Sure, Xavier is a Pittsburgh Pirate...he has Pittsburgh Pirate friends and will be allowed to play in all of their Pittsburgh Pirate games. But if the Mets do indeed clinch on Friday night, he'll feel all alone.
Met fan or not, you wouldn't be human if you didn't feel bad for the man, who had nothing to do with Filthy Sanchez's shoulder being dislocated by a drunk driver, yet his life (along with Filthy's, of course) was forever changed.
It might not be the worst thing in the world if the Mets lost say, 2-1 to the Bucs (with Pedro pitching strong of course), then clinch in the lockerroom. Sure, Xavier would have to hear the whoopin' and hollering from down the hallway, but he'd at least have a fighting chance to shower and exit before that would happen. It would be a better scenario than Nady having to watch a celebration from the dugout or worse...making the last out.
That being said, a Friday night coronation isn't a sure thing. Pat Maholm goes for Pittsburgh, and we have that lefty problem that's crept in. And I have a feeling that one Mr. Nady is going to be super locked in against Petey as they try to delay the Mets party for three nights.
But hopefully it isn't going to be all bad for Xavier in the long run, since I can't imagine that he wouldn't get voted a playoff share and get a World Series ring out of it. Then, Metstradamus can buy that ring on eBay if Nady gets all bitter and decides he wants no part of it. Everybody wins.
Well, everyone except Philadelphia. And you know what that means...that's right. It's party time with paper mache numbers.
Oh no. This is something the Mets have to do themselves.
On the strength of tonight's victory (and the weakness of two Phillies victories), the Mets have brought the magic number down to two and have eliminated the pesky Marlins from division title contention, leaving only the Phillies to wipe out. Unfortunately, our heroes will probably have to clinch the National League Eastern Division in Pittsburgh, where you know the Pirates are going to do everything they can to stop the Mets from celebrating on the field in front of their teammate, and former Met Xavier Nady, which some members of the Mets would feel somewhat creepy about.
But the Mets took care of things on their end with a dramatic ninth inning comeback punctuated by Carlos Delgado's cue shot off of the outstretched glove of a diving Miggy Cabrera (sure, now you dive) to tie the game. Delgado probably had some luck rubbed into his jersey by Pedro Martinez, who for some reason was wearing Carlos' jersey at the start of the game while prancing around the dugout (it looked like he was also playing with Carlos' car keys). There's no good way to explain it except to say that Petey is just plain nuts. (You did know that already, right? Was threatening to drill the Babe in the butt not enough proof for you?)
At the start, you could almost hear the chant from that portion of the public waiting for the Mets to fail hauntingly chanting "leeeeeeef-tiiiiiiies! leeeeeeef-tiiiiiiies!" as Scott Olsen (last seen moonlighting for the "Daily Planet") was completely shutting down the Mets while Josh Willingham (last seen becoming the next Pat Burrell) was busy being Josh Willingham. But the Mets have continued to show that there's no letdown in them even with a big lead. If you're going to beat the Mets, you had better do what the Marlins did on Monday (or the Dodgers on Sunday for that matter): pile on and don't look back. Because if the Mets are anywhere close going into their last licks, your closer is going to have to truly earn his save.
Sure, the eleventh inning wasn't such a thing of beauty, with the Marlins kicking the ball around and getting crossed up and not having their feet set to take in throws (I'm talking to you again, Miggy). But you've got to make your own breaks in this game. Meekly going down 1-2-3 doesn't give your team any chance to take advantage of those breaks. David Wright, Cliff Floyd and Delgado made it happen in the ninth, and Jose Valentin's hustle related double made it happen in the eleventh.
But let's not forget that amazing Mets bullpen (yeah, it gets boring to write that every few days but it's never boring to watch them work their magic). Note to Chris Russo: when someone brings up how good the Mets bullpen is, it's not an excuse for you to compare Billy Wagner to Mariano Rivera and completely ignore everyone else. The Mets pen gave up two hits in five innings of work to enable their team to come back and win this game. Let's put tonight's 'pen performance under the 'scope:
- Roberto Hernandez is amazing because he's freakin' old and he still gets people out.
- Guillermo Mota is amazing because his relationship with Mets fans is quickly becoming representative of the relationship between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in "Moonlighting", where they hated each other the first couple of seasons before finally hatching a relationship...which wound up killing the ratings, and killing the show. I fear that if I love Guillermo Mota, people will stop reading this blog and Michael Eisner will cancel me. So screw you Guillermo Mota! (As Metstradamus mouths the words "call me" while noone is looking.)
- Aaron Heilman is amazing because he was supposed to have been traded by now, wasn't he? He was supposed to have been shipped off for a starter, no? He was supposed to have continued to sulk to the point of oblivion, right? No. Heilman seems to have finally gotten it together enough to gear up for some tough situations and more or less embrace his relief role (it's the "Moonlighting" theory all over again, isn't it?) Heilman pitch two stellar innings in relief tonight.
- Billy Wagner is amazing because for all the times he's been killed, he might win the Cy Young award this season! Think about it...the Mets set all kinds of offensive club records, and they have a better chance at having a Cy Young award winner than a Most Valuable Player. Wagner is still number one in Rob Neyer's Cy Predictor...but when you put together a formula to predict the Cy Young winner, and Joe Borowski is eighth as of Wednesday, how can I take your list seriously?
So now it's on to Pittsburgh, but not before the Mets can watch their magic number drip down to one as the Phillies meet the Braves on Thursday night...and luckily it will be on TBS, avoiding having to "watch" the game on the laptop. It will be fun to listen to Skip Caray sound all somber about the Braves division streak coming to an end...because I want to know if I can tell the difference between that and say, Skip Caray normally.
Meanwhile, the Mets will spend their last scheduled off day of the regular season in a hotel in Pittsburgh, probably crowning their new ping-pong champion, or watching Petey try on more of Carlos Delgado's clothes, or perhaps trying to figure out a way to spike Keith Hernandez's Just For Men with a V8 Peach Mango Fusion Splash.
Peace out, South Bee-ach!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
His ankle has been as twisted as a Quentin Tarantino storyline.
And as Cliff Floyd reminded us last night, his kidneys are functioning at fifty percent.
"You know Cliff Floyd's never playing again, right? -said to me before the Florida seriesWith everything that Floyd has gone through physically not only this season, but in his four seasons as a Met, nobody would have been surprised if he had packed it in. Don't forget: This is the guy who played on a bum knee for practically the whole 2003 season before shutting it down when the Mets were eliminated from playoff contention (which contrary to popular thinking, did not happen on April 23rd.)
But I have to think that Floyd realizes the role he plays in the lineup and in the clubhouse. He also must realize that if this is the season that we...indeed...have all been waiting for, and if this is his swan song as a Met with one Mr. Milledge waiting in the wings, I have a feeling he'd drag himself out there with one leg as if it was a Monty Python skit just to be a part of the action, just as he did in '03.
I often think...and I know I shouldn't...about who would be the perfect guy to get that last, clinching (or perhaps walk-off) hit in a playoff or World Series. Well first and foremost, as phenomenal as 1986 was, I would prefer if the quintessential 2006 hit was actually a hit this time. But if I had to choose someone to get that hit? I'd have to choose Cliff Floyd.
Ding Dong, the King is Dead.
"The Yankees are willing to go out and spend $200 million on payroll year in and year out. So they might be able to keep the talent in-house for that long a period of time. But for the rest of the normal organizations across professional sports, no way." -Larry JonesIn a related development, it looks like Larry has gone home to put his Yankee gear on.
Yes it is, it's a magic number.
Somewhere in Joe Robbie's vicinity
You get three as a magic number.
The past and the present and the future.
Maine and Wright and Valentin,
The arms and the sticks and the "D"
Give you three as a magic number.
It takes strikes to make and out
Or three outs to grab some bench
It takes Jose's wheels to make a ve-hicle
Called a triple.
Every triangle has three corners,
Every diamond has three bases (and one plate),
No more, no less.
You don't have to guess.
When it's three you can see
It's a magic number.
The Mets they won in '69 and '86
Yes, they did.
They want three in the family,
And that's a magic number.
Chill your champagne boys and girls. We're getting mighty close.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
What did Cody Ross' five fingers, say to the Mets' face?
Wow. I guess King Kong ain't got s**t on Cody Ross.
I mean, what else is there to say except that it was an ugly loss experienced by the Mets tonight in Miami...the ugliest loss in Miami since Filthy Sanchez had a late night craving.
Or should I say that it was an "Uggla" loss?
The only drama left by the sixth inning was whether Miguel Cabrera would go postal on Heath Bell for having the audacity to pump his fist towards nobody in particular after striking him out. This from someone who performs a routine with Alfredo Amezaga straight out of "Dancing With The F***ing Stars" in the dugout after some meaningless run batted in or something. I guess it's asking too much to be motivated to dive during an All-Star game watched by millions...but heaven forbid you pump a fist down by six runs with 74 people in the stands.
I hope that Miggy's bitching in the field towards Met third base coach Manny Acta was met with a gentle reminder to think before he says something stupid.
Cabrera's tantrum aside, I must give the Marlins full marks for joining the Mets in wearing the hats of the various New York City service organizations to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedies of September 11th. That, my friends, is a class act.
Two years ago, the Mets played a game that where each team had nine runs and eleven hits after nine innings (a game which ended with the final score of 11-9). Monday night, Dave Williams was knocked out after giving up nine runs, and eleven hits.
Makes you wonder sometimes.
I'm not good at the serious and the somber. Most of you who come here are likely looking for light-hearted blogging snacks rather than full course manifestos. I'm happy to provide such snacks.
However, I will say this: We say a lot that life puts sports in perspective. There's no denying that. But I also believe, and I'm not the first to have written this, that sometimes sports puts life in perspective. Because real life, on most days, is a bitch. And what is life without our diversions, like sports?
It's a bitch, that's what it is.
And as we remember and reflect on a life post 9/11 with tributes and moments of silence and reminders and reflections, what I remember is that there are people giving their lives...in death and in hard work...so that people like me can go on enjoying their diversions like sports...and not have to constantly worry about what a bitch life can be sometimes. At this point, five years later, it still doesn't take an anniversary to remember that. I hope I'll never need the arrival of a day on a calendar to jar that remembrance.
With hats and flags, the sports world remembers, and appreciates, those efforts.
So do I.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Steve: Hello...guys...what are you all doing here? Who are you?
MD: Mr. Trachsel, my name is Metstradamus. I'm here because your friends, who are all here today, want to tell you something.
Steve: But...er, I don't understand.
MD: Mr. Trachsel, don't make this harder than it needs to be. Carlos, why don't you start.
CD: (reads from prepared copy) Steve, you know that we love you and would do anything for you...but we've been supporting your habit for too long now. We're getting mentally exhausted going to the ends of the field to supply you with a "fix" for your habit.
Steve: What habit, Carlos? I don't have a habit. What is going on here?
MD: Steve, denial is not just a river in Egypt. Jose, you're next.
JV: Steve, we've noticed a change in you over the last three weeks. All we've done is give you runs upon runs upon runs, and what have you done? You go out and spend them all...and for what? A cheap thrill? A good time? A suntan?
Steve: A suntan, what the hell are you talking about?
MD: David? You?
DW: We used to have such good times together...the nine of us. All we've done is score and score and score for you but we just can't do it all the time! Steve, this is tougher on all of us than it is for you. But if you're going to keep taking our runs and wasting them on bad teams...(sniff), well this may be considered tough love but we're going to have to send you to the bullpen come October.
Steve: No! I can't...I mean...you guys! I can't believe you would come to my house with this cut rate shrink and give me this nonsense!
SG: Steve, you have to hit bottom before you seek help.
Steve: Shawn what the hell do you know about hitting bottom? You weren't here when I hit bottom...none of you were! I went down to the minors...the minors! I went to hell and back and I'm telling you I don't have an addiction? Where were all of you? You were either getting your diapers changed or living somewhere else in the lap of luxury, but I was in Norfolk dammit! Norfolk! I'm not going back there and I'm not going to that decrepit, rotten tomato smelling bullpen! I'll never make it out there!
CD: Look Steve, you have an addiction. You're addicted to throwing meatballs! And for months now we've supported that habit...we've even stopped making errors in the field for you, but we can't do it anymore. You have to quit your addiction or so help us we're going to have to quit you.
Steve: For the last time, I don't have an addiction! I can quit anytime I want to.
JV: Steve, you're putting us in a corner.
Steve: You think I like throwing meatballs? You think I want to do this? You think I went through those days in the minors in 2001 for nothing?
DW: Well what do you expect us to think?
Steve: How am I supposed to care what you think! Dammit things are so good! Our magic number is four for crying out loud...four! Or have we all forgotten that?
SG: Nobody is forgetting anything Steve but we're worried about you. There's going to come a time where we just can't be there for you, and you're going to be exposed for the world to see and we don't want to see that happen to you. But the only way you can avoid that is to get yourself some help! We care about you more than you'll ever know.
Steve: Then why are you here embarrassing me in front of strangers??!?
(Our hero breaks down)
Steve: I need help.
MD: We're going to send you somewhere. Rick specializes in meatball throwing problems such as yours. You're gonna be all right.
Steve: I can't go through this again.
CD: You won't go through this alone. We're here for you.
JV: Yeah Steve, we're all here. Just not for nine runs a game anymore.
Steve: I understand. Hey, who's up for Italian?
DS: Or maybe some Dominican food at about 2AM.
DS: I'm kidding, I'm kidding!
And since I don't want to waste the half-ast photoshop I've created for the five slot in our very special magic number countdown, allow me to rip off...er, pay homage to the boys at Faith And Fear In Flushing by creating five ways to celebrate the number five:
- 5.01 Davey And Kong: Davey Johnson wore five...and during spring training 1981, so did Davey Kingman. But that's not why those two are inexplicably linked in my mind. Johnson was named manager of the Mets soon after the 1983 season ended, and one of the first quotes I remember from him was that he would emphasize the "RBI" swing rather than the home run stroke. When I heard that, I had this image of a crusty Kingman watching Johnson demonstrate a level swing at the batting cage, then snicker as he walks away while resuming a home run derby contest with George Foster. That awkward situation never materialized however, as Kong was released in January of 1984. Too bad these two never got to work together...let's just say the phrase "clubhouse melee" comes to mind.
- 5.02 Sweet Music: Frank Viola was traded for five players in 1989 and went 5-5 the rest of that season. Viola actually pitched better than that, and was three pitches and a Kevin Mitchell home run away from being 8-2. The Mets, of course, finished six games back so it hardly mattered (if they had finished five games back it would have made for a better finish to this vignette, but that's probably why I should leave this to Greg and Jason).
- 5.03 Hate is a virtue: I have five slots for my hate list. With the Mets playing as well as they are, it becomes harder and harder to fill those slots. But people still call me grumpy. Why? Why is this? Is it because I complain about everything? I suppose that I should work on that.
- 5.04 Tools: We thought Alex Ochoa had five tools. And we were right! The strikeout tool, the throw to the wrong base tool, the lose the fly ball in the sun tool...well I don't know the others, but the Mets traded Bobby Bonilla to acquire Ochoa. And Bonilla is the ultimate tool.
- 5.05 So money and you don't even know it: If I'm going to win my fantasy baseball playoff game this week, I'm going to do it on the back of number 5 in your scorecard (and number one in your hearts), David Wright...who went 3 for 3 with two rbi's during today's win...and as you know, three hits plus two runs batted in make five. Wright, you see, is straight cash money.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In reality, imitation is the sincerest form of "I've run out of original ideas". But the photoshop looks nice, doesn't it?
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I wish Hong-Chih Kuo was as much of a lie as I am, but he was the real deal in his first career start on Friday night (could you tell by the way he pitched from the stretch practically the whole game?) On the surface, Kuo's efforts had S.U.C.K.M.E. written all over it. But the way his pitches were moving and darting all night, I doubt few teams could have touched him. As I saw through the ESPN's "K Zone", he was around the plate all night with good high heat that moved and kept the Mets lineup off balance. Even the most cynical of Met fans had to tip their hat to Hong-Chih Kuo (still haven't typed that for real), he was that good.
Perhaps without David Wright's two out throwing error in the first inning which let in two runs, it's a different game. I saw this game through the eyes of the ESPN coverage, and Rick Sutcliffe indirectly tried to lay blame on Carlos Delgado by talking about how a first baseman like Keith Hernandez might have gotten that ball. Now I know that Sutcliffe should have never been put on the air by those producers in San Diego to begin with on that fateful night...but Rick, have you been drinking again? Wright threw that ball in the next area code!
The other aspect of Friday's game I want to touch on has to do with Heath Bell. Not so much his pitching (he went two scoreless on Friday) but about his recent comments about the minor leagues:
"I almost feel like if I give up a run, my behind’s going back to the minors...I keep going up and down. It’s like, do they want me to be part of the team or not? What’s the deal?"I kind of liken these quotes to John Maine's situation. Maine didn't pitch horribly on Friday although he was bitten by the home run bug. But I feel that just as Bell feels that he has to pitch perfectly to stay with the big club, I wonder if John Maine feels that he can't have a down outing if he wants to be the third or fourth starter come playoff time. He's certainly had outings that are worthy of being a starter in the postseason, but between Steve Trachsel's inability to warm up correctly to be a long reliever, and the aura of Orlando Hernandez's October history, Bangor is up against it. And it would take near perfection to sneak Maine into that postseason starting rotation.
Mentions of Bell and Sutcliffe move us seamlessly to Saturday's ball game, which marked a return to the SNY "home team" coverage for me, and thank goodness for that.
Right off the bat, we get a very revealing "mic'd up" type segment with "The Movement", talking about how he's going to face Endy Chavez after Bell has moved on to another franchise. We now know that Bell will never be a closer, because the ending to his fictional story had Chavez getting a hit. That certainly shows a lot of confidence, and it's no wonder he's on the Norfolk shuttle.
My favorite part is how Bell is talking about how he's going to be a soccer coach, and that he roots for England, the U.S., and Mexico...because it's so close to the States that he actually calls Los Angeles "Northern Mexico". (Upon hearing this news, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has announced that to take advantage of an expanded market, he has changed the name of the team to the "Los Angeles Dodgers of Northern Mexico".)
Today's 3-2 victory is the case study for why Omar Minaya made the Shawn Green trade. Sixth inning, down 2-1, Tim Hamulack just got Carlos Delgado on a sac fly to center field moving Jose Valentin to third and Carlos Beltran to second base (an most valuable play by Beltran, as you'll find out later). Now if someone like Chavez, or perhaps Michael Tucker is batting behind David Wright, then the easy play would be to walk Wright and get to Chavez/Tucker. But with Shawn Green in the mix, there is at least a question in Grady Little's mind as to whether to pull Hamulack to let a righty (in today's case, Brett Tomko) face David Wright. And we know what happens to Grady Little when faced with a question over when to pull a pitcher.
Maybe Grady should have still let the former Met face Green, but you can't tell me that Green's presence in the lineup didn't have something to do with the move to let Tomko face Sugar Pants, who promptly (if not deservedly, as Tomko's 2-2 pitch was a strike and should have ended the inning) served a two run single to center field scoring Valentin and Beltran (remember the most valuable play to move to second on the sac fly?) to provide the difference in the game. Once again, Omar Minaya reaps the reward (in this case, a compliment from yours truly) of making this essential acquisition.
The Magic Number drops to six after Saturday's victory which resulted in a sweep of today's double header.
Yes, you read right...it was a double header sweep for the Mets today.
You probably missed the first game as admission was not granted for the first game of the DH...which was shortened to four innings due to the fact that it wasn't actually on the schedule.
But trust me...the Mets won that game as well.
"He looked good...Breaking ball very good. Changeup, fastball, good." -Anderson Hernandez, who got the only hit in Pedro Martinez's four innings of simulated work today.Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic over the fine work done by Petey today...but it underscores the fact that the Mets are an organization so snake bit, they can't even throw a no-hitter in a four inning simulated game.