Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Crux Of What Grinds My Gears


Because sometimes it takes days of reflection, lots of miniature hot dogs wrapped in blankets, and an inability to let go of the past that takes me to the very Gamma and Alpha of what really makes me upset about this whole Paul Lo Duca thing.

Dan Marino.

Oh, I guess I have to explain that (I keep forgetting that nobody has brainwaves as warped as mine.)

I'll never forget being speechless that day in 1994 when the New York Jets blew a 24-6 lead in the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins...a game that culminated in the two words that still sends shivers down my spine: fake spike.

Two weeks later, the Jets played the Lions in a game that seemed like a funeral procession. It was one of those typical Barry Sanders games where every time he carried the ball the Jets would stop him in the backfield...except of course for those one or two carries Sanders would go for gains of anywhere between 70-90 yards. The Jets couldn't get a damn thing going on offense and lost 18-6. It was the first day that I ever remember hearing the term "back up the truck", as in "BACK UP THE TRUCK, GET RID OF ALL OF 'EM! THIS TEAM IS GARBAGE!!!"

Yes, that team was garbage, as they went from 6-5 to 6-10 before you can say "Pete Carroll".

Back then, 1994 at the Meadowlands counted as a collapse of epic proportions, and "back up the truck" never seemed so apropos of something. The thing that Jets team needed mentally was for the losing attitude to be washed out. The roster was good, but it was old. Some players needed to go if for no other reason than the fact that the last thing the team needed was for too many players hanging around who were still shell shocked from losing the last five games of the season. If that meant that some babies had to go with the bathwater, so be it.

And that's what the Jets tried to do going into 1995, as they got rid of their head coach (Carroll), and solid core players like their leading receiver (Rob Moore), a Hall of Fame safety (Ronnie Lott), a Hall of Fame wideout (or at least Art Monk should be in the Hall, the one bright spot in that Lions game was seeing Monk break the all-time record for consecutive games with a catch), and a Pro-Bowl calibre cornerback (James Hasty, who's in the above photo as a spectator to disaster).

(Of course, they replaced Carroll with Rich Kotite and won four games over the next two seasons, but that's neither here nor there. The idea of roster turnover was a sound one back then, and maybe they didn't get rid of enough players.)

Fast forward to November of 2007, soon after the Mets made five straight losses in 1994 seem less like a collapse and more like a mere life lesson. If there's ever a need for some roster turnover where some babies go out with the bathwater, it's the current New York Mets. Instead it looks more and more like the Mets, whether it be out of the lack of options that are out there, or the thinking that the '07 Mets are less shell shocked and more determined and motivated by their collapse, have decided to go into '08 with basically the same team that fell apart in '07, keeping guys like Moises Alou and Damion Easley...and at least making an effort to re-sign Luis Castillo before their recurring, inexplicable fascination with converting shortstops into second basemen has taken hold yet again.

(Will this franchise ever learn? I mean really, David Eckstein's the best they can do? But that's another entry for another time, my friends.)

Of course the one guy who unequivocally, according to Mets brass at least, cannot come back under any circumstances, is Paul Lo Duca. If you believe what Jon Heyman said on Friday, the Mets blame Lo Duca for calling the wrong pitches in 2006 (I guess that includes the one that Guillermo Mota shook off before Scott Spiezio sent it to the top of the wall in Game 2 of the Cardinals series, right?) And the fact that they ignored Lo Duca this winter as if he had a communicable disease (you can make your own joke about the Long Island bar scene if you wish, I'll refrain) tells me that the Mets blame Lo Duca for Scott Spiezio, for the entire 2006 playoffs, for the collapse this past September, for Jose Reyes' slump, for the Scott Kazmir trade, for Jimmy Rollins' proclamation, for Rickey Henderson, for the lines at Shea Stadium's bathrooms, for traffic on I-80, for Michigan losing to Appalachian State, and for Bobby Thomson's home run in 1951.

I have to say, in all of the dissecting and re-dissecting
I've seen and made on September's collapse, well down on the list...if it's even on the list...is Paul Lo Duca's pitch calling. But that is the scapegoat that the Mets are selling us. I ask you, with all of the other deficiencies facing the Mets, is that fair? Because so far, that's what the Mets are telling us...they're telling us that everyone else on the Mets wants to win next season except Paul Lo Duca.

Perhaps I'm overreacting. I admit I'm not the most level headed guy in the room even when I'm in a room by myself. And I'm fully aware that there could be some major changes for the better between now and the winter caravan, although Omar Minaya is going to have to be a special kind of creative to do it now that Yorvit Torrealba is apparently going to try to bat higher than the Manhattan area code somewhere else. But I can't help thinking that because we're not seeing the wholesale cleansing as we did with the Jets in 1994, one man is taking the blame for three weeks of bad baseball...and worse off, it's the wrong man.

24 comments:

katherine said...

What is going on? Help - we're being tortured!
The only logical explanation -it's a psychological experiment.

Metstradamus - look into your crystal ball, or your ouija board, or whatever, and tell us - is there even the tiniest chance Paul might still be signed?

choo choo said...

Hold onto your shorts. The Torrealba deal is off. Although that doesn't mean Paulie's coming back.

katherine said...

Of course I know that.
Metstradamus said it was so....

That is why I feel I'm being toyed with in a cruel and unusual way...

What more could happen?

kyle in newport news said...

Another colossal mistake of decency, another few thousand fans lost...

Demitri said...

God - this one's gonna be ugly. Who else can see Lo Duca catching for the Marlins next year (or dare I say, Philadelphia).

OK - what is plan C?

upstate met fan said...

omar.. you shoulda signed paulie right away.. now you have crap on your face and even if he comes back now, things will not be all that is heavenly good in the clubhouse.. nice, very nice, omar.

kjs said...

Mets have to accept they're a mediocre squad that developed few prospects in 2007. They're more than a few players away from realistic contention on the level of a team like Boston. 2008 will be my 38th season following the team. I can wait---I'll still be there at Shea in 2008, and maybe Corporate Elitist Pseudo-Dodgers Field in 2009. But goshdarn, dear Omar!---you can't keep promising great things from mediocre players, under-performing playing, ancient players, passionless players, and damaged players. Develop a team and maybe we'll have some trade bait for 2009. (And maybe the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers...oops! Mets...will actually expend some of my $$$ for a Santana for 2009....) Adios Torrealba---nice not to know ya!

Charity said...

You know I have my panties in such a bunch about this whole Lo Duca thing. I see nothing wrong with what he did last season, matter of fact I think he had nothing to do with the collapse. Its stupid to blame him and its getting even more stupid with this toying with him. You're going to piss him off and then we'll have no one and Paulie playing against us. Thats not particularly what I want!

Matt B. said...

metstra - great post, though i disagree with you about eckstein. you're talking about the need for roster turnover, and eckstein throughout his career has been exactly the type of player the punchless Mets needed this year; i think you'd agree.

on another note, my blog has been linked to your site as bleeding blue and orange, at bleedingblueandorange.blogspot.com, since June or thereabouts. i recently changed both the name and the address - it's now Warning Track Power, at trackpower.blogspot.com, and I'd really appreciate it if you change the link up. I'm a loyal reader and love checking up on your sagely mets-related insights.

Fredstradamus said...

You know ... I thought of the Mets front office today when I was at Lowe's. I bought a Toro leaf blower vac. It sucks AND blows.

Hmm ... what made me think of the Mets, praytell?

Anonymous said...

"Back Up The Truck", classic

frederick said...

Demitri - option "C" is to sign Todd Zeile and have him catch next year.

Keyser said...

I'm sorry, but I don't want Paul Loduca back.

I think he did a great job in his two years with the Mets.

I do not blame him one iota for the Mets losing the LCS in 2006 or their collapse in 2007.

However, Paul Loduca will be 36 in April. His arm is shot. He has no power. He has no speed. And I doubt he wants to be signed to a one year contract, which is all I would give him.

I'd rather go to war with Castro. He is 28. He has shown that he has pop in his bat. His arm isn't shot.

Ideally, I'd like the Mets to find one or two other young, quasi-prospect catchers and let them battle it out with Castro and see if one of them emerges. Im happy with Mike Defelice (sp?) as a veteran backup.

Metstradamus said...

Keyser,

Castro may be 28, but his medical history is 60. A 36 year old catcher is risky, but a 28 year old catcher with a 36 year old back is pointless. If he ever starts over 100 games I'll eat my hat.

Matt B. said...

still, i'd rather turn to mike difelice after ramon gets injured than take on 2008 with jason kendall, or michael barrett, or gerald laird, lacking the all-important trading chip it would take to get him.

thanks for fixing my link.

Demitri said...

any chance the mets had of signing Lo Duca for 1 year ended with them going after Torrealba. Now that they've ruined any possible goodwill they might have had, they either go back to Paul with hat in hand and give him anything he wants or its on to plan c, d and e. I'd say a platoon of Casto and DeFelice has got to be plan F in my opinion.

katherine said...

well - until they actually sign someone else I will hold out hope they may still sign Paul. And there is some other happy news out there:

1. A Rod is going back where he belongs. - My mother, who is in her 70's, and has been a Mets fan since 1968, called me and left the following message the day it was announced he was returning to the Yanks:

"Its good to hate someone AND the team he plays for. That way all my hatred goes in one big arrow straight to Yankee Stadium"

Castillo has been signed - I don't have to lie awake worrying we'll sign Eckstein.

Barry Bonds was indicted. Now, no matter how it all turns out, at least it'll all be out in the open.

Demitri said...

Here's a thought - going with Katherine's glass-half-full attitude:

How about Donovan McNabb quits the Eagles and signs with the Phillies. Then the Phils would have 2 players Philadelphia fans hate (Pat Burrell being the other, who I thought for sure would have been run out of town just like how they did it to Scott Rolen a few years back.)

Well I can dream... good night!

Jaap said...

hey, isn't Mike Piazza looking for a job?
heeheeheehohohohahaha.

I seem to recall during flashbacks of this pitiable season, games against the Nats who have two premium catchers in Brian Schneider and Jesus Flores.

Demitri said...

Metsfans!
Ding Dong! Guillermo's gone. Which Guillermo? Guillermo Mota!
Ding Dong! Guillermo Mota is gone.
Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Guillermo Mota is gone. He's gone where the goblins go, (Milwaukee)
Below - below - below. Yo-ho, let's open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
Guillermo Mota is gone!

Charity said...

See ya later Paulie. I loved ya while I could.

And trust me, those homers in Cincinnati, they were all cause of me baby.

fxpbdmrd

katherine said...

demitri made me laugh despite my intentions to leave a depressed "I can't believe we're losing Paul" comment

Demitri said...

And, we got an actual Major League player for him.

I would have taken the Orange Julius or Grand Slam at Denny's.

Anonymous said...

WOO BYE BYE MOTA!!!