Friday, July 13, 2007

Addition By Fire

It wasn't so long ago where Lastings Milledge was the brash rookie on the cusp of blowing up at the media for their unfair portrayal of him, and it was the wily veteran pulling him aside and keeping him from the harsh spotlight, while explaining to him how things worked, giving the young man lessons in humility and selflessness.

Not even a year later, it's the same young man pushing the wily vet, now painted in some circles as the selfish one, out the door.

The many moves of Omar Minaya and company over the last 24 hours all had purpose...just maybe not the ones you might think. Julio Franco could always balance out his diminishing skills with his positive clubhouse influence and with a sprinkled in hit every now and again...that is, until the hits stopped coming, and the positive clubhouse influence came into question. Was he selfish? Did he think more about his playing time than about where he fit into the team's overall plans...or even his place in the universe?

Silly me for thinking that Franco had a little existentialist in him. In fact, Franco acted like the jilted lover who tried to paint it as if he was going to dump the Mets before the Mets dumped him. A 48-year-old with the same thought patterns as a 16-year-old...if not necessarily the same bat speed.

But if Franco was surprised that it was the Mets who cut the cord and not Franco, then think of how surprised the rest of us were. By the time 2006 ended, Franco had already started showing signs of being the waste of an out that he is at this point. But the Mets had understood that the only reason Franco chose the Mets was because of the second season that they gave him...so the Mets became Warren Beatty in "Heaven Can Wait" in that boardroom when he talked about going to the Super Bowl, and when we get there, let's already have won. It was a rant about doing things the right way, and not being ruthless. The problem was that the Mets weren't going to any Super Bowl or World Series by doing the right thing. The Mets had done their part and more by Julio. But it was time to cut the cord. Omar isn't running a retirement home here. And I hate to say this, but doing the sentimental thing for an aging ballplayer is for the fourth and fifth place teams that have no other reason for the paying customer to come see them (see: Todd Zeile putting the tools of ignorance on for one last game in 2004).

And as for Rick Down? Hey, the Mets had become complacent. It used to be the Mets who would have slower than dirt players steal bases against sleeping teams, or just simply making the smart play. Over the last month or so, it was the opponents who would turn that around on the Mets. Teams like that need a shakeup...and benching Jose Reyes for an inning in a game that you're losing by four runs isn't quite enough. Once you eliminate all of the coaches that would make no sense to fire, all you had left was Down. No matter what you feel about the job he did, and he probably wasn't as bad as 2005 and 2007 made him look and certainly not as good as 2006 made him seem, you have to admit that it made the most sense to let him go as your shakeup scapegoat.

Of course, firing Rick Down didn't buy the Mets a run with a runners on second and third and nobody out in the eighth inning, but you have Milledge scoring the winning run on a single to center field...from first base. Try that with Julio Franco.

You have Jose Reyes turning a single to center into a double by hustling...a far away concept just a week ago...and you have Orlando Hernandez stealing a base...just like old times (emphasis on "old").

You also have Reyes and Ruben Gotay with a Mets first: back to back jacks to start the game. Making history is a good thing. Being in the lineup to make history because Jose Valentin was sporting a team colored gauze pad because he tried to break up a bar fight? That's just like old times too...like Cooter's in 1986 old. (Reports that Rick Aguilera was somehow involved are not, I repeat, not confirmed.)

And you have Reyes cleverly throwing to third base to nail a runner in the ninth inning, as he didn't do when the Mets were in their funk.

Now add it all together, and then add Rickey Henderson. Imagine the comedic possibilities, and enjoy the second half.

5 comments:

Krup said...

how do you constantly come up with this brilliance, each and every day? no matter what happens this season, we will always have your words.

btw: do you think SNY showed the milledge play at home plate enough? it was amazin' but jeez...

marlon munoz said...

my back feels a little better now that milledge, the forgetten one, is up and contributing.

I not sure I agree with the downs firing ...but thank God someone pulled the trigger on Franco.

Now, if the mets can do something crazy like.. retiring Keith's number, we'll be in good shape.

Kevin said...

Hey bro, great blog. I been reading a bit over a month now and I am way hooked. Keep up the good work. BTW, I think you need to scrap your Julio Franco poll.

debmc said...

This place is reeeeeeeaaaaaallly addicting..... and I agree with krup; how DO you do it, day in and day out, PLUS write for FU? You're name should be Superman, not Metstradamus..... *giggle*, lol!

Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed Franco's attitude, along with his hitting, kind of went south... for the summer. LOL Good job, cutting him loose.

As for the Down firing, it had to be done. There's simply no way they could not have done it with the way the offense is going - NOT. That's the way it is in baseball, the hitting coach ALWAYS goes.

I'm not sure about Rickey Henderson yet. I'll get back to you on it.... lol!

Anonymous said...

YOU CAN FIRE THE HITTING COACH.
YOU CAN GET A NEW FIRST BASE COACH.
YOU CAN BRING IN THE ENTIRE ROSTER FROM NEW ORLEANS.

BUT WHEN DOES THE BUCK STOP WITH WILLIE?
This is a developement that stenches of the classic "finger pointing". Wasn't me....it was him.
How many excuses can we create until we collectively decide that Willie Randolph might not be that great? Buck Showalter anyone?
What is the timetable Damus?
--Frank D.