Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Crest of Emotion

I can't be sure, but I'm guessing that it had to be Marlon Anderson who made the inspirational pregame speech exhorting his teammates to win one for pride. Win one for the home crowd. But most of all, win one for the recently retired Ricky Ledee.

This one had all the twists and turns of a well written movie like Arlington Road...or Fight Club...or American couldn't tell what the story was. First it was the sign that the Mets could beat up on top pitchers like Chris Young when healthy. And it was the continuing hot streak of Carlos Beltran.

Then, it was John Maine running out of gas...and the inability, once again, of the Mets bullpen to hold his lead, even though Aaron Heilman wasn't one of the culprits.

(But then the world got normal when Heilman came in and had one of the worst outings ever had by a pitcher who gave up no runs.)

That's when things got weird.

I felt on Sunday that things were turning around for the Mets, and the eighth inning proved it. Because the Mets of June and July would have let their former bullpen mate Heath Bell come in, walk all over them, and when the game was over throw beer cans at them like the one you see here. And then I would have had to put Bell on the hate list for learning a new slider after he leaves the Mets...I kept wondering where that slider was when he was firing fastball after fastball after fastball to Derrek Lee at Wrigley in 2005. But he saves it for Carlos Beltran.

Alas, this isn't June or July for Carlos Beltran either, and Beltran slapped one into left to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth, and turned Heath Bell into just another ex-Met victim.

You knew that there would be some drama left as Billy Wagner blew the tie in the ninth, leaving Met fans muttering to themselves wondering if there is anybody in the bullpen that can just come in and have a 1-2-3 inning. I mean, is that too much to ask?

But yet again, the Mets of June and July would have gone down meekly against a closer on the level of Trevor Hoffman. Not this time. Not this team. Not this team at this time. Not the time, the team, the Mets...oh no. Not winning players like Lastings Milledge, Mike DiFelice, Marlon Anderson, or Jose Reyes. And certainly not Luis Castillo...who's arrival has brought a 12-6 record in an August that will sadly be more known for four horrific losses than for a .667 winning percentage.

(And by the way, the Braves? The wonderful, heroic, world beating, cancer curing Braves according to Steve Phillips, are 10-9 in August...even with Mark Teixeira's bat...after losing tonight to the Reds. And that's the Jeff Conine-less Reds, mind you.)

So that's one big pitcher down, the other one coming on Wednesday in the form of Jake Peavy. With the wave of emotion coming over the Mets squarely at its crest, it really doesn't matter who's pitching, who's hitting, or who's giving the pre-game speech. With Ricky Ledee in their hearts, there's no speech necessary.

(Editor's note: One year minus one day ago, the Mets faced the same kind of problems regarding that killer instinct. Then Carlos Beltran hit a walk-off HR against Jason Isringhausen and a sleeping dog got its swagger back. Fifty-two weeks later, another relatively flat team that had been slowly climbing the ladder of crispness showed its fangs, its killer instinct, and its rock and roll against another top closer. Hopefully, unlike 52 weeks prior, that top closer will not get hurt, paving the way for some no-name starter to join the major league club and throw a wicked curveball past Beltran for strike three in the 2007 NLCS. If I have to send Trevor Hoffman some herbal tea and some aromatherapy to keep him fit, I'll do it. So stay well, Trevor.)


Mike said...

Great win.

But someone needs to remind Willie of a concept called the pitch count. I realize the bullpen's been shaky, but letting Maine & Perez throw 110+ pitches game-after-game will lead to no good.

John Maine's ERA since Willie left him in to throw 121 pitches against the 'Stros the day before the All-star Break?


And Ollie loses velocity day-after-day.

Unser said...

Enjoyed that game, but . . .

I have no confidence in anyone in our bullpen not named Wagner. Why is Mota still on the team? I'd rather see Burgos or Smith up here.

Toasty Joe said...

Metstra, once again I see many parallels between our posts. Crazy how often that happens.

Metstradamus said...

Toasty, especially the Heilman part. I'm glad it's not just me.