Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Where was it four hours earlier? It could have really helped bring some of those May flowers and rained out the disaster that took place this afternoon. Instead, the only rain at Shea today was the raining of hits by the Colorado Rockies on Mike Pelfrey for an 11-5 defeat which really wasn't that close (kind of like the play to end the game with Carlos Beltran's grounder in the hole really wasn't that close either...I mean, he was safe by three miles! I hope traffic delayed Rob Drake's ride to the airplane he was trying to catch by calling Beltran out to when everyone in the park could see he was safe. Even Keith Hernandez saw Beltran was safe and he wasn't even in the park. Yeah, the Mets probably didn't have nine more straight hits left in 'em, but we'll never know now, will we Rob Drake??? All right, I feel better...wait, no I don't.)
How mad were the Rockies about losing on a drag bunt the night before that they came out and basically took Pelfrey behind the woodshed with Willy Taveras (five hits) and Todd Helton (four hits and a goatee that is nesting small birds) taking turns with the belt (with cameo appearances by John Mabry, who got two hits and four RBI's proving that you don't necessarily need Mapquest to get from the interstate to the Mendoza Line)?
So is Mike Pelfrey in over his head? Maybe. But why send him back to the minors now? There's nothing for Pelfrey to be gained by going back to New Orleans and dominating AAA hitters and having people wonder if he's just a quadruple A pitcher. No, let him learn and take his lumps up in the majors. Besides, who else can come up? Chan Ho Park and his 7.00 ERA while facing minor league hitters? Hardly.
Pelfrey will be fine. I don't know when, but under the tutelage and possible butt kicking of Rick Peterson, he'll be fine. Until then, we may have to see Pelfrey play Charlie Brown for a little while until he learns how to spot his fast ball. Rick Peterson would probably say that Pelfrey is like a chicken that comes out of the oven all crispy on the outside so you think it's done, but then you slice it open and it's all pink and cold in the middle. Pelfrey would be better served to broil up in the majors instead of going down to the microwave oven known as AAA for a quick fix.
Just to warn you, my presence will be scarce during the Nationals series due to a short little weekend getaway. Those looking for your Metstradamus fix (and if you're addicted to this blog, I worry about you greatly) can find my latest Flushing University contribution this Friday. And also, if you've ever wanted to hear my docile tones (again, I worry about you...even more than the first time), the boys at Metsblog were kind enough to invite me to their radio show to discuss Mike Pelfrey, Aaron Heilman, and Rafael Santana (yes, that Rafael Santana) along with Zoe Rice for their Bloggers Roundtable, which takes place between the :30 minute mark and the :45 minute mark. You can find the show right here.
I thank Matt and Anthony for putting up with me, and for letting me prove once and for all that I talk entirely too much (and you thought I wrote a lot).
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Once again, the genius of Omar Minaya is proven. Every season he gets older veterans, and I say: "Omar, have you lost your mind?" And every one of these players come in and contribute in a major way, and I can't complain anymore. I've made a living out of complaining, and Omar Minaya has neutered me like I was a lost dog that turned up in Bob Barker's complex.
Damion Easley, come on down! You're the next contestant on "Metstradamus is Wrong!"
Yes, I once compared Damion Easley to a Twinkie. After tonight, I'm convinced that Damion Easley definitely has nutritional value...he's good for you!!! And he's good for us. A two out, two strike home run to tie the game off Brian Fuentes is good eatin', and the Mets remain in first place after a 2-1, 12-inning victory.
And the 2 was just as good as the 1, as the Mets won the game on a drag bunt by Endy Chavez with second and third and two outs. A drag bunt with two outs is the baseball equivalent of a hook and lateral with eighteen seconds left on a fourth and 18. But Endy was smart enough to realize how far back the second baseman was playing and knew he could pull it off. He still had to hit that slop that Ryan Speier threw, and he did it to perfection.
And speaking of Ryan Speier, nice freakin' balk! That shouldn't be lost on us because without it, Shawn Green doesn't go to third base, and Endy Chavez's bunt doesn't win the game but merely extends it, if he even decides to bunt at all. So good job tripping on your spikes, Ryan (which I assume would be different than "trippin'" on your spikes, which is illegal in 15 states).
Speaking of Rocky III (which I was a couple of days ago), you think Carlos Beltran saw Mike Cameron coming at him instead of Shawn Green when they were both going after Troy Tulowitzki's RBI triple off of Billy Wagner? Seemed like he pulled up just a hair on it...and who could blame him if that was the case.
But the real question is this: Is Shawn Green fast enough to get to the same spot that Carlos Beltran did? Or is Shawn Green too slow to catch a ball that was closer to him than Beltran? I'll choose "B" and that's my final answer.
My brother informed me that former Met and current Blue Jay Jason Phillips has two stolen bases this season.
He stole them, however, after everyone had gone home. Toronto police are hoping that he'll return them in a timely matter.
- Is John Maine officially the Mets' ace yet?
- Remember when Moises Alou was crushing the ball and it was going straight into leather? Guess what, he's getting a couple of well deserved cheapies here and there. That's what we call "evening out" (not an evening out drinking everclear.)
- Think the Rockies regret not walking Jose Valentin?
- Is there any clearer indication of the Mets improved drafting skills than Bobby Keppel? Keppel was a Mets top draft pick in 2000...and much like the Kirk Presleys of the world he muddled in the minors without making much of an impact. Compare that to the upside of some of the more recent draft picks...coincidence? I highly doubt it.
- When I was in third grade, I tried to get Doug Flynn to autograph a baseball between innings of a game. That's when the usher told me that players don't sign autographs after the game starts. Much like most nine year olds, I was crushed. And now, all these years later I see Carlos Delgado catch the final foul pop of the game, and then sign it for a fan in the stands. Although I am extremely impressed by Delgado's gesture, it is now proven what I always suspected: That damn usher lied to me!
Monday, April 23, 2007
This game reminded me of a heavyweight fight...except the fight in question was Lang/Balboa I from Rocky III, where Balboa came out strong in the beginning (Jose Reyes' bases loaded triple and Paul Lo Duca's RBI single in the sixth), but once Lang got going (Shawn Green's misplay of the Scott Thorman's fly ball in the seventh), Lang connected with roundhouses (like Edgar Renteria's home run to finish that inning), Balboa could barely land any counters (Jose Valentin's error in the eighth) and all that was left was for Rocky to take that long fall to the canvas (Kelly Johnson's second home run of the game).
Of course, Lang/Balboa I was early in the movie, and the Braves taking four out of the first six from the Mets is early in the 2007 season. And the Mets come out of this only one half games back of first place. And the advantage that the Mets have is that their trainers were still alive after the game, unlike poor Mickey who went to that great boxing ring in the sky.
But I will say that the Mets' bullpen, in parts, still has something to prove in big moments. I'm not anti-Heilman, but something always seems to be off with Aaron, whether it be his mood, or his slider, or the McReynolds like demeanor his seems to possess most of the time. And Scott Schoeneweis, while victimized by Shawn Green's unfortunate battle with the baseball (why does disaster always seem to follow a Shawn Green close call?) to me, still needs to find his rhythm as a Met. Seven walks and two strikeouts in close to seven innings of work so far doesn't exactly instill supreme confidence...yet. Like I said: still a ways to go. But for a bullpen that was widely thought to be the strength of the team, the foundation is starting to shake ever so slightly.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Consider this the "duh statement of the day" but...what a contrast from his last start, where he became the first pitcher in Mets history to walk or hit five straight hitters, to Saturday, where he threw twenty straight strikes. If Oliver Perez was on the PBA tour, that would be close to two perfect games in a row, which would approach Johnny Vander Meer's baseball record.
And while it's pointless to mention Johnny Vander Meer in the same breath as a franchise who has gone almost one-half century without a no-hitter, Ollie's 7-2 win today is on par with Vander Meer's record as far as he's concerned...especially after his last game ten days ago.
Even when Perez is struggling, as he did slightly in the sixth and seventh today, at least he struggles on the side of getting hit, and not walking the park home. Make 'em hit the damn ball. That's what Perez did all right.
But good for him. I'm glad that someone located Perez's lost strike zone (probably Rick Peterson, the Dog Whisperer). Hopefully, Ollie keeps that thing chained up in the yard (though there will be days where it'll get loose and wander around the town again. Not too often, we hope.)
After his four for five today, would it be safe to say that Carlos Beltran is hitting a loud .385, while David Wright is hitting a quiet .290? The hoopla has surrounded Wright and his hitting streak, but it has been Beltran that has done the most damage (especially lately now that he's bringing in that runner from third with less than two outs with more regularity). Wright was moved to second in the order today as an offshoot of Paul Lo Duca's rest day (along with Fluff Castro's third home run of the season...that's a damn good offshoot).
Wright went oh for four, quietly.
From Friday night:
A 40-year-old man was arrested at Shea Stadium on Friday night after he tried to distract an Atlanta Braves pitcher and shortstop with a high-powered flashlight. Frank Martinez was charged with interference with a professional sporting event and second-degree reckless endangerment...
Interference with a professional sporting event? That sounds like Roberto Alomar's entire Met career. Can we have Robby arrested, please?
Not when Larry Jones crushed that two run HR in the first inning off of Mike Pelfrey to kick off the series and kick the Mets in the pants en route to a 7-3 Mets loss.
No, it was actually well before that.
I got scared when Larry's face adorned my television screen on the Boomer Esiason Show talking about the upcoming series, and he said something to the effect of "you know, if these fans at Shea would just leave me alone, I probably wouldn't hit so well in their park...I feed off their energy, and believe me it's a long walk back to that dugout." Typical Larry Jones...turn it around and blame it on us. Instead of just taking the blame for all of our problems in life like he should, he's basically telling us that he only hits us so well because we bring it on ourselves.
Damn you and your reverse psychology and your high batting average and your constant big hits and your naming your son Shea and damn your USA teammate Alex Rodriguez and his 7,000 home runs, and your blaming us for our problems when they're clearly your fault...and...and you smell bad too!
Larry also said on the Boomer show that he hopes his son gets to play in Queens one day. Good! I hope he plays in Queens for the Mets in the 2026 World Series and you have to wear a Met hat in the stands to support your son like Mookie wore that Cardinal hat for Preston and I hope I'm in the stands to see you because I'll still boo you! And then I'll laugh at you for wearing a Mets hat and a Mets sweatshirt to keep warm in that cold October weather (unless of course the earth warms like everyone says it does and it's 80 degrees in October...then I hope you wear a Shea Jones t-shirt that says Mets on it so I can laugh at you...you smelly bastard!)
And while I'm at it, damn you Tim Hudson. You single handedly killed my fantasy team last season until I dropped you. And now you want to be Cy Young...you and your 0.62 ERA. Where do you get off, anyway?
And you too Jeff Francoeur...Ron Darling compared you to Brad Komminsk tonight. Because of you, I had to hear the name Brad Komminsk tonight. You don't realize how happy I was when I thought that I would never hear that name again. Instead, Ron Darling mentioned Brad Komminsk and my brain hurt so much that I threw up. The worst part? I don't know why!
Stupid Jeff Francoeur and your alter ego Brad Komminsk from 20 years ago. You even look somewhat alike and wear the same number! That's obnoxious.
Damn you both.
Friday, April 20, 2007
The Mets are hitting .303...not one player, not one spot in the batting order...the whole damn team.
And for once, the Mets aren't discriminatory as to who they wreck. One day it's star pitcher Dontrelle Willis. The next, it's rookie Rick Vanden Hurk. Usually, the rookies give the Mets problems. And Vanden Hurk would have been one of those guys who was the perfect example of someone that professional hitters like the Mets should slaughter, but would wind up shutting the Mets out on a hit or two.
But something tells me that if Walter Johnson, Cy Young, or even Kevin Costner were to come back from the dead and pitched against the Mets...with a high mound and a dead ball no less, that the Mets can create some offense.
Fluff Castro is hitting .357 (which coincidentally is his hat size), and Shawn Green is hitting .341. Moises Alou is hitting .361. Carlos Delgado is...well, he's not hitting his weight quite yet, but his loud two run double got the fun started in the third inning which gave the Mets six runs. These numbers, in addition to David Wright's 26 game hitting streak (with a winter of rest in the middle) are obscene.
Add that to Orlando Hernandez's ten strikeouts in seven innings and you have an 11-3 victory and a two game sweep of the sinking Marlins to go along with a rested bullpen. Just in time for Larry Jones and Co. to come into a rockin' Shea Stadium for a three game series to decide the fate of the world...er, the division lead.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Of course, we have to get teased with a no-hitter by John Maine, while in middle America, a guy that I once advocated trading for (and was rightly killed for) pitches yet another no-hitter for a franchise not named "New York Mets".
Of course the baseball gods are going to tweak me. It's the only thing they can do lately because the Mets are so damn good!
Forgive the sudden burst of fanboyishness, but how can you expect me not to be giddy about not only beating, but crushing Dontrelle Willis, the same Dontrelle Willis who was 12-1 lifetime in April, and about 324-1 lifetime against the Mets. Since the calendar still says "April", and the uniform still says "New York", those were pretty long odds the Mets were facing. But because of John Maine's gem, the bats finally figuring out D-Train, and the Mets' general damn goodness, those odds have been beaten.
But about that no-hitter being lost, I'm only going to say this:
Wouldn't you think that this, the season where the Mets starting pitching has been raked over the coals by every expert and so-called expert around, would be the perfect season for the Mets to have that elusive first no-hitter?
I'm just sayin'
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
They were Moises' first two home runs of the season, and good for him. You want to tell me that it's no coincidence that they came at Citizens' Bandbox Arena, fine. But if they were ballpark aided home runs, then it's merely payback for all the balls that Alou has hit hard all season only to have them fall harmlessly into fielders' mitts. It's just a shame that the Mets can't spend more time here at the Shoebox than the abbreviated one game series that they've played because of the rain...because Phillies pitching has been in a giving mood all season and now you can add Freddy Garcia and his 85 mph fastball to that group.
Speaking of the Phillies, just thought I'd remind you that they're in last place. Oh and guess what, they're mad. They're so mad that their manager is challenging a certain Philadelphia radio personality to a fight. Excellent! The team to beat has been as advertised, although Jimmy Rollins really should have called them "The team to beat to a bloody pulp."
And speaking of bloody pulps, Paul Lo Duca got his finger hurt on a foul tip despite his best efforts to hide his throwing hand while catching. Thankfully, X-rays are negative, and Lo Duca should be back soon to take his rightful place as "Captain Red Ass With a Finger to Match" (Hey that sounds slightly X-rated, don't you think?)
All Glavine's roads tonight lead to:
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
I thought the days of the Nationals knocking the Mets around the ballpark ended when players with uniform numbers in the 70's and 80's were sent to St. Lucie.
Well, obviously not.
Orlando Hernandez is going to have days where he is unhittable, and days where he's going to get rocked. That's going to happen as long as he threatens to throw the first pitch in major league history to be clocked at under 5 miles per hour.
Which makes it all the more curious that he was ejected for hitting Shawn Hill after the Chris "King of Spring" Snelling home run. I mean, getting hit by Orlando Hernandez is like getting bitten by a kitten. It's inconvenient, but let's face it...it's not going to leave a mark. Hill understood that, as he seemed to accept Hernandez's apology on the field.
However, Jose Guillen did try to charge the mound but couldn't catch a flight from Seattle in time. Guillen has vowed revenge.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
On Thursday, it was Tom Glavine with win number 292. Tonight, it's Julio Franco (who will be 49 when this season is over) getting the game winning pinch hit as the Mets defeated the suddenly spunky Nationals 3-2.
The amazing thing about Franco's pinch hit was that it was through a shift normally designed for a guy like Carlos Delgado...except that the Delgado shift is designed to go after a guy's strength, while for Franco, it's designed to dare him to try the pull the ball, which let's face it, he can't do anymore. The sad thing is that while a guy like Delgado can beat the shift by say, lay down a bunt or drive the ball the other way (as he did to drive in the second run tonight), Franco can only hope to get around on an off speed pitch to get that ball down the line. Franco's bat speed isn't what it once was to begin with, and the way he holds the bat, which is way over his head, gives him even more of a disadvantage in getting around on a pitch. So sadly, at his realistic best, Franco does what he does tonight which is ground the ball up the middle for a base hit. But there's a fine line between grounders up the middle for base hits, and grounders to shortstop for 6-4-3's. We'll see if this keeps up.
But for now, Franco remains the feel good story of the new millennium...mainly because when he hits, I feel good.
Mike Pelfrey looked as good as you can expect from a fifth starter. Got a little wild in his five and 2/3's innings. Somehow, on Friday the 13th, Pelfrey developed not a fear of the day, but a phobia of Dmitri Young (commonly called Carocamuraphobia...trust me, if you know Latin, that's really funny), walking him twice. But he wasn't helped by the umpires, who took their sweet time getting out to the mound for whatever reason before the game started, forcing Pelfrey to return to the dugout because there were no umpires to give him a freakin' baseball. Good job, blue.
Good thing Ryan Zimmerman wasn't due up in the ninth for Billy Wagner, eh?
If you're scouting at home, scout this: There might be no way to pitch Jose Reyes these days that will keep him off the basepaths. But teams are trying to neutralize his effects by pitching Paul Lo Duca more carefully. Twice now in the last three games, teams have been pitching the Undertaker more inside pitches, forcing him to pull the ball and keeping him from moving Reyes around to third base as he likes to do. Something tells me that Lo Duca is going to have a tougher time with bat control this season.
And finally, just a thought, but supposedly there's a huge nor'easter coming on Sunday. Any reason why we can't move Sunday's game up to Saturday? Give Saturday's ticket holders a free game, and in the meantime, let Sunday's ticket holders exchange their tickets to any game they want...even (gasp) tickets to a higher tiered game (since Nationals games are probably puce colored or something like that). This way, nobody has to squeeze in an extra game later in the season when everyone is tired.
Baseball would probably argue that since it's a division game, it's just as easy to schedule the game in September (17th-19th) because a division rival will certainly visit again...and with the September call-ups, fatigue will probably not be a factor. But why make the Mets and Nationals play 14 games in 12 days in September, when you can bite the bullet now and have a built in day-off the next day?
I realize baseball has bigger issues on their faulty scheduling plate like, why the hell are there games scheduled in April in cities notorious for lake effect snow. But can't the powers that be think a little outside the box when it comes to matters like these? Or is that too much to ask of a group that let an All-Star game end in a tie?
Just a thought from a person famous for not having any.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Oh, sorry, that's Glavine and Moyer.
Luckily, the right muppet came out on top. I don't know whether Tom Glavine would be Statler or Waldorf, but he helped pitch the Mets to a 5-3 victory to take the series from the Phillies, despite giving up two home runs to new arch-enemy Jimmy Rollins. Luckily, a mechanical adjustment fixed that:
"I was rushing in my delivery and rushing to try to make pitches...After the second inning, when I threw my warmup pitches in the third inning, I kind of tried to make a little conscious adjustment and it felt good. It felt like my pitches were a little bit better during the warmup and just tried to go with it, and it seemed to work." -Tom Glavine
And there lies the difference between Glavine and say...Oliver Perez. Aah, you're groaning. I know some of you think I've given up on poor Ollie. And that's just not so. I haven't given up. But Oliver did lose the strike zone. All I wanted to do was provide a public service to help him find it. I was only trying to be being helpful.
But the only difference is that Glavine was able to figure out what he needs to do between innings, and is not totally dependant on Rick Peterson to tweak himself. Perez, meanwhile, seemed lonely out there on the mound, hoping to get out of the third inning so that he could get some Rick Peterson advice to get him through the fifth. If only he had gotten that third out, he might have made it. Instead, we saw one of the most painful innings that I had ever seen, because Perez was on an island with no life preservers near him.
It's the disadvantages of youth.
But Ollie could very well come back with another strong outing his next game with some tweaking from Peterson, and I'll be roasted for putting up that sign. I expect it. Hell I welcome it. That would mean that the Mets got themselves another victory.
I've gotta give Jimmy Rollins credit. He pissed off everyone in New York along with their mothers with his comment, but he backs it up by hitting the lights out of the ball. Good thing he's been pretty much the only one hitting consistently on that team or the Mets would have been in real trouble this series.
Instead they have gone 6-3 in the first nine games, which were thought to be a tough way to kick off the schedule. You would have taken that in a heartbeat, no? And now, the Nationals come to town and present a chance for the Mets to fatten up...especially now that the Nats have gotten their win for the week, bringing Atlanta back to the pack a little bit in the process.
Of course I say this, which means the Nats are going to come in and sweep the Mets because they're motivated to win in Manny Acta's former house. Nothing is a sure thing, but a sweep may be a must here. Something tells me that the fate of the other four teams in the division are going to be decided by how little (or how often) they lose to the Nationals. The Braves have one. Can the Mets take advantage?
Probably not, now that I've jinxed it. Good going soothsayer.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
And according to Jimmy Rollins, the Philadelphia Phillies are the best team on paper. Right?
Well, I've picked up the paper. Guess what it says:
The Nationals win the tie-breaker and thus are listed on the higher line....Because as we know, the first division tie-breaker is not head to head record, but less errors by players who make silly predictions. Jimmy Rollins' error brought home the tying run for the Mets today in their home opener, and opened the floodgates for the Phillies bullpen to give up six thousand more runs as the Mets won by a score of 6,005-5.
All right it was only six runs in an 11-5 victory. For the Phillies, it only seemed like 6,000 runs. For the Mets, it didn't seem like enough.
Here's my startling admission of the night: I never hope for sweeps. Sweeps, to me, are a lot to hope for. I've got one of those friends who wants to go 162-0 every season. Tells me on the phone: "You know, if we can win 19 of the next 20..." as if that kind of thing happened all the time in baseball. I'm always the one reigning him in, trying to keep his expectations somewhat reasonable so that he doesn't give himself a coronary episode if heaven forbid the Mets only win 6 out of 10.
That being said, I've gotta tell you: I want two more from these guys. I want this team demoralized immediately. I want the entire city of Philadelphia getting out of their houses at 2AM wandering around Logan Square wondering what the hell happened to their team. I want people at Pat Gillick's door with bats and billy clubs waiting for answers. I want Pat's and Geno's to be so disgusted with the Phillies that they pack up and move to New York. I want the Phanatic to wear blue and orange. I the city of Philadelphia to know that the defending division champs are not to be trifled with via cheap motivational speeches.
Yes, I'm hoping for a sweep.
A word about The Amburglar, if you will. You may disagree with me...no, check that: you will disagree with me. But I don't mind the decision to pitch to Ryan Howard in the sixth. Yes, there was a base open, but if you intentionally walk the struggling Howard, you bring up a Met killer with the bases loaded (a Met killer currently hitting .385, it should be noted). Damned if you do and damned if you don't...but Howard hadn't hit anything all season. And up until two strikes on Howard, Burgos proved that you can make him look silly.
But once Howard fouled off the first pitch after the second strike, I started to get a little nervous because Howard was starting to battle, and starting to time Burgos. Amburglar went to the well once too often, and there's no way that an off-speed pitch should have been anywhere near the strike zone...it was like he caught the Mota disease as he kept going to the junk instead of going upstairs with the heat, or throwing the splitter down by his ankles. Except that wasn't Scott Spiezio with his warning track power, that was Ryan Howard with his "I'm in a slump and if I get a pitch to hit it's going to the flippin' moon" power. So instead, we got what Keith Hernandez called "a helicopter slider" or some similar nonsense.
I was upset after the Burgos Bomb, and knew that it would be talked about for a while. But once the SNY crew was discussing the Gary Carter HR from Opening Day '85 I thought "you know what, it's the home opener. Deliciously evil things happen during home openers at Shea (unless it's 2003 and you're down 27-3)"...and I cheered up. And once Matt Smith took over for Wonderboy Cole Hamels, I cheered up some more.
And when Geoff Geary came in for Smith, the smile on my face grew wider than Sidney Ponson's pants size...because we all know the deeper you get into Philadelphia's bullpen, the better the odds that Charlie Manuel's face will turn beet red like his uniform (or those things the Braves wear on Sundays). It was fun to watch Geary walk a 78-year-old man, no? It was fun to watch Jimmy Rollins boot a Jose Reyes grounder to tie the game. And it was lotsa fun watching David Wright blast one off the top of the wall to put the game away in a grand eighth inning which bore seven runs of fruit for us.
And it will be just as much fun to pick up the paper tomorrow and see the best team on that paper in last place.
Ah, but these Braves fans wear rose colored glasses to lessen the effects of these stop sign uniforms, and unfortunately they enjoyed what they saw today, which was a 3-2 Mets loss at the Ted.
Deep down we knew. We knew that it wasn't going to be as easy as coming in to Atlanta, winning three straight, eating their food, dancing with their wives, and having Braves fans turn in their Sunday red jerseys and follow Jose Reyes to the home opener in New York like rats following the pied piper. Sure we were hoping for that. But deep down, with the changes that the Braves made to their bullpen (and the changes that were made to ours that were out of the Mets' control), that it wasn't going to be easy.
And we knew that the breakneck pace of the Mets offense couldn't last forever. After all, Jose Reyes can only do so much, finding a way to get on third base seemingly every trip to the plate. Somebody is going to have to drive him in. On Sunday, the Mets couldn't do it. Hence, two runs and no more. The Braves were one run better because Aaron Heilman couldn't find a way to get Jeff Francoeur, who's been known to swing at flying peanuts in the stands, out.
The Mets are in the midst of nine games which were labeled as tough. They're 4 up and 2 down so far. And guess who makes their way to Shea for the final three "tough games"? Yes, that would be the Philadelphia Phillies who, according to John Kruk, Steve Phillips, and Kevin Kennedy, are God's team. (Yes gentlemen, I'm like Evil Claus this season...I'm keeping track of who's naughty and who's nice.) The Phillies are 1-5, and are a Nationals team away from holding up the division. And that brings me to an e-mail I received from a fan who was touched by crime, and is making a connection to the Phillies:
"As a soothsayer and a talented hater, you are probably used to people coming to you with personal problems. Confident in this, I decided to let you know that my sister's car was recently stolen in downtown Philadelphia. Am I correct that this can and should be directed into hatred for the Phillies? Is it appropriate for me to encourage her to picture Chase Utley with a slim jim down her driver's side window? Cole Hamels piling into the passenger's seat for a joyride? Shane Victorino in the back, trying to talk Utley into doing burnouts in front of cops?" -B.K.You're more correct than you know, B.K. As I was going through my Cold Case starter kit the other day, I came across a surveillance photo that was forwarded to me from one of my many moles. Turns out you're sister's car was stolen by members of the Phillies, but not who you might think. How do you think Aaron Rowand earned a living while he was out with his broken face?
As you can plainly see, Rowand is armed and dangerous with his sidekick Pat Burrell, as he does on most sliders on the inner half of the strike zone, acting as the lookout. Even with this evidence, your sister is going to have a hard time getting the charges to stick in the city of Philadelphia.
They're telling us that parking is going to be scarce at Shea Stadium for Monday's home opener. But what they're not telling you is the danger of having various members of the Phillies scour the parking lot looking for cars to jack. So remember that if you absolutely cannot take mass transit to Shea and must drive, use The Club as it is always the best deterrent to car theft by Aaron Rowand.
Happy Opening Day, y'all.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Unfortunately for Shawn Green, he was the little leaguer in the field today, as his drop of a Matt Diaz sac fly in the sixth enabled the Braves to score two extra runs as the Mets lost their first of the season 5-3.
Not that Green was totally useless, he did some good things...really! He got three hits including an RBI against lefty Mike Gonzalez in the seventh. But with Lastings Milledge hovering over him (Joe Buck compared him to "The Shadow" today), and growing groups of angry fans with pitchforks and torches marching towards Green's locker, it will be the dropped ball in the outfield with the bases loaded and one man out which will be focused on and scrutinized. (Not that Green was the only defensive choke artist today...Carlos Delgado dropped an Easy...please note the capital "E"...throw from second on the first Braves batter of the game to set up all sorts of mayhem today, and it seemed like Delgado couldn't catch anything coming his way today. )
With Alex Rodriguez hitting a grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning right as the Mets game was starting up, the first thing I thought was "great, now the focus of New York's ire is going to be Green". Once A-Rod starts hitting, the New York papers are going to move to a new goat. What better candidate than Green, who is unpopular to begin with? Now after the drop, I fear that the target on his back only grows.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
The Orioles faced many of the same question marks as the Mets in terms of starting pitching, going into the '94 season with a staff who's rotation only had one pitcher over .500 in '93 (Sadie McMahon). But they started the '94 season much like the Mets have this season, winning their three games by scores of 8-3, 12-6, and 4-3. But still nobody believed in them. Consider what a Boston Globe columnist wrote about the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff back in March of 1894:
"Why bully, these Orioles have no pitching. Tony Mullane? He's old. The rest of these chums are too young. Baseball is all about the future...and my sources tell me there will be a team soon called the New York Highlanders which will be playing a better brand of baseball than these National League bums. Bully!" -Sebastian Verducci, Esq.The Beaneaters had just gotten done with a sweep of their own over the Brooklyn Grooms...who's shortstop, Tommy Corcoran, had said during one of his January medicine ball workouts that the Grooms were the best team on paper in the National League. So this was going to be a great matchup between the Orioles and Beaneaters.
Except that the Orioles made the much anticipated game an annihilation, a 15-3 victory on April 24th over the Beaneaters that started their dominance of the National League in 1894, finishing with a league best 89-39 record behind 25 wins from Sadie McMahon, and a mid-season trade which brought none other than Kid Gleason to the Orioles. His 15-5 record gave the Orioles the National League pennant. (But you probably know him best by the character played by John Mahoney in Eight Men Out.)
One hundred and thirteen years later, here were the Boston Beaneaters again in the next meeting of 3-0 National League teams...except this time, they're the Atlanta Braves. The Baltimore Orioles? You guessed it, they were defunct by the turn of the century. But in their place is a team who once beat a team called the Orioles in a World Series...and just like the 1894 Orioles, their starting pitching was much maligned.
"The tone in the Mets' camp has been similarly unsettled, largely because of a starting rotation that has nothing but question marks behind Tom Glavine. Orlando Hernandez went to camp assured of a job but has been horrible. The other spots seem likely to go to John Maine, Oliver Perez and either Aaron Sele or rookie Mike Pelfrey, who has been the one bright spot." -Phil Rogers, Chicago TribuneBully.
Like the defunct Orioles, the Mets made minced meat out of the Beaneaters, this time by a score of 11-1. Jose Reyes had two triples and four RBI's, and Oliver Perez, of the much maligned starting rotation, pitched seven strong innings with six K's and zero walks. The only thing defunct regarding the Mets in six years will be Shea Stadium. Is a pennant in their future as it was for the Orioles? Who knows. But watch those Brooklyn Grooms. I hear they're the best team on paper.
(A special thank you to Gary Cohen, for providing that interesting nugget about the last time 3-0 National League teams played each other...thus providing me with tonight's material. It's your world Gary, we're just squirrels trying to find a nut...and decipher what Keith is talking about.)
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Side note: Remember when Claude Lemieux rearranged Kris Draper's face during the playoffs, and Dino Ciccarelli said after the series was over "I can't believe I shook that guy's fricken hand"? Well this would be a more delayed reaction but...I can't believe I ever defended that fricken guy.
Surely you remember the mock "Jose Jose" song that Looper performed in the Cardinals lockerroom after the bitter end to the NLCS. I remember. We all remember. I wonder if our friend Mr. Looper remembers. The Mets will make sure he never forgets it after tonight's 10-0 demoralizer against the Champs.
It was going a little too good for Looper early as he got through five shutout innings against the Mets which was more than he ever had for the Mets, seemingly. Luckily, John Maine was every bit the equal and then some, chucking one hit ball over seven innings and getting out of his only real bit of trouble in the fifth inning when he gave up a hit and a walk with nobody out. I've said it before and it's worth repeating. Our starters really stink, don't they?
Then the Mets played a little Big Bam Boom with Carlos Beltran providing the Big and the Boom, and Jose Reyes providing the Bam with three home runs putting the game out of reach. It helped too that the Cardinals outfield, once again, was horrific! First, it was Jim Edmonds having to make a catch on his knees after he slipped on some Clydesdale manure leftover from all their damn celebrations. Then it was Preston Wilson playing tonight's role of "Skip Schumaker" losing the ball in the lights numerous times...or perhaps he lost it in the twinkle of all the extra World Series rings that replaced the lights, reflecting the moonlight on to the field as a symbol of Tony La Russa's massive genius.
In any event, the Mets are 3-0. The 2006 NLCS is ancient history. The Mets spring training record? More ancient history. The days of people saying that the Mets starting rotation is a pile of clydesdale manure? Getting there quick.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Willie Randolph could have went the safe route and pulled Hernandez for a pinch hitter such as David Newhan, who tore up during the spring. Instead, Willie opened himself up for ridicule, taunting, and having garbage thrown at him by leaving Hernandez in to bat.
At best, I figured, Orlando would meekly strike out. At worst, as you know, Hernandez could have torn every muscle in his body at once, leaving the training staff to carry him off the field piece by piece. Hernandez is so fragile that as he was running to second on that double, Chan Ho Park started dialing the airline to book a flight to St. Louis.
Thankfully, Hernandez reached second base without incident...and thus a turning point was born. A two run cushion became a four run bulge, and Orlando let the bullpen rest for a couple of more innings during their 4-1 victory.
Yes, he can afford to smile. He'll live to pitch another day. Willie can afford to smile as well. He'll live to have another hunch.
Hey, any chance that the Cardinals can have a ceremony before Wednesday night's game to give out special ceremonial rocks from the old Busch Stadium or something? Those ceremonies seem to work out really well for them...gives the team that extra jump, no? Maybe instead of a ceremonie, Braden Looper can sing the "Jose Jose" song in front of the sold out Wednesday crowd.
Am I a bad person for being a little extra excited that Looper is pitching tonight?
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Monday, April 02, 2007
I was never any good at Monopoly, and obviously neither are the Mets. But they are very good at baseball, and it showed tonight as the Mets beat the Cards 6-1 on Opening Night...and while it will never quite put to rest what happened last season, it does put to rest their horrendous spring training record which nobody remembers anymore.
Carlos Delgado got the Mets going against Carpenter with a two run double in the third inning. For that alone, shouldn't we all send his wife some flowers for having her baby early enough so that Carlos could play on opening night? From there, the spigots were opened. After those two in the third, the Mets scored three more in the third on the strength of a Paul Lo Duca single (we should send Willie Randolph some flowers while we're at it for keeping Lo Duca in the two hole) which drove in Jose Valentin and Shawn Green. Speaking of horrendous spring trainings that nobody will remember anymore, Green had two hits and scored a run. Two hits a night should be enough to fill the moat and keep the angry mobs (and Lastings Milledge) at bay temporarily.
And boy (sarcasm alert) our starting pitching is atrocious, isn't it? It's amazing that Glavine only gave up one run over six innings while using a walker (which...I think...caused him to balk a couple of times). Nine more to go for the aged one.
Most impressive could have been the Mets defense playing as if it was the Steel Curtain of old. Think how bad the sixth inning could have been if the 40-year-old Moises Alou didn't get on his proverbial horse and rob Adam Kennedy with a sliding catch? Or if Carlos Beltran didn't deliver a strike to home plate to nail David Eckstein trying to score from second? (Why does Carlos Beltran have better control from 250 feet away than Alay Soler ever did from 60 and a half feet?)
Or how about the eighth inning, where Jose Valentin (I promise Jose, I'm not going to mistake you for John Valentin anymore!) dove to start a sweet double play off Scott Rolen with the bases loaded to basically ice the game? I would say that we should salute the Mets by waving terrible towels, but that didn't work so well during Game 7. But forget Game 7...because this is Game 1 all over again. Game one of our 2007 marathon that has started off on the right foot...with the good guys in first place.