Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The Mets finally have Armando Benitez's number. And after all that Met fans have been through with Blow-nitez, the Mets owning him is just right.
The Mets, if justice were to come all at once, would have Barry Zito's number already. And not because he took more money to sign with the Giants. Because it really doesn't matter that he chose the money and the short move over the immediate chance to win the pennant and World Series. That's his prerogative and I'm not going to begrudge him that.
But this nonsense that Zito came out with regarding the Mets being "arrogant", and spinning it to sound like that was a main factor in him signing with the Giants is so ridiculous that if it Barry was to do any more spinning I'd have to tie myself to the couch to keep from hitting the wall. Sure, I wanted the Mets to open the checkbook as much as anyone, but the Giants blew the Mets out of the water. And maybe the Mets were arrogant, although I thought that the Mets dragging their heels on the negotiations was a more deciding factor than any arrogance (and considering the performances of John Maine and Oliver Perez this season, turns out that Omar Minaya and the Wilpons had every right to be arrogant).
But the largest factor started with a 1 and ended with a 26...as in the number of millions in Barry's bank account after these seven seasons are up. For him to pretend that it's not reaks of some major hypocrisy on his part...and some major spin doctoring as well. He took the money, so bless his heart. Honestly, if I was left-handed and could pitch like Barry Zito, I don't know what I would do. What I hope that I wouldn't do is insult everyone's intelligence and make something like "arrogance" a factor more major than making enough money to add a movie theater or a regulation size hockey rink to the back of the house.
So in that respect, if karma was one hundred percent right this season, the Mets would have hit Barry Zito as hard as say, Zito's former teammates did when he faced them. Instead, Zito twirled seven scoreless as the Mets were shutout for the first time all year. Instead, karma will just have to come one step at a time. So we'll take solace in the fact that the Mets have the best record in the National League, and Zito's team is not only a game under .500, but still employs Armando Benitez...although you wouldn't know it from his conspicuous absence in a save situation tonight.
(Editor's note: "The Met Fan" booed Guillermo Mota upon his return, before he threw two scoreless innings tonight. Happy, Chris? Probably not.)
The real Armando Benitez is also back. The one we all know and love...to hate.
Combine the two, and you have a recipe for a sweet night. And oh, how sweet it is.
Sometimes, karma lies dormant for a while. We had all hoped for this the minute Armando left the Mets...hoped for the Mets to have his number from the start. Instead, he went 12-for-12 in save opportunities against the Flushing Nine in 2004, and we all wondered what the Mets did to deserve that.
Oh that's right, they hired Art Howe, signed Shane Spencer and Karim Garcia instead of Vladimir Guerrero, and traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. Now I remember.
But that bit of karma has been in someone's hip pocket for a long time, just waiting for the right time to be played. And between Lastings Milledge, and a gaggle of walks, it has indeed been well played over the past couple of seasons. But if there was a quintessential way to defeat the man we affectionately call "Blow-nitez", two balks and a walk-off bomb by Diesel was it. Especially after Armando threw his infield under the bus after a recent game against the Rockies:
"I'm doing my job, I got three groundballs and what happened?" Benitez asked. "We had an opportunity to win the game. How many times we got somebody on base and nobody moved him? Somebody had to pay and the person that paid was me. He hit a good pitch, a slider away, and a sinker."Amazing that when it's someone else's fault, our friend Benitez is willing to expound to reporters afterwards. Not like when he was here right?
Oh, here's Armando's pearl of wisdom tonight...after he had nobody to blame but himself:
"I lost the game."Yes, you most certainly did. Here's what Omar Vizquel should have said afterwards:
"I'm doing my job, I dive and rob Julio Franco of the game winning hit in the ninth, and Kevin Frandsen makes a great play on the barehand stab of my flip and what happened?" Vizquel asked. "We had an opportunity to win the game. How many times we got somebody on base and nobody balked him all the way home in the first eleven innings? Somebody had to pay and the person that paid was me."Maybe Vizquel can put that in his next book whenever he decides he wants to piss off another teammate.
Tonight, for the first time since his departure, I can truly say I'll miss Armando Benitez when he leaves Shea Stadium. I'll miss his karma.
Speaking of members of the Hall of Hate, I had high hopes for one of them today, as Mike Francesa started out the "Mike and the Mad Dog" show at Shea Stadium by warning about revisionist history regarding Roger Clemens, and how people are making him out to be this savior after making his appearance in the owner's box at Yankee Stadium announcing his comeback. And how Clemens has never been a savior in his Yankee history, only a mercenary.
Loved it. Francesa was making sense.
Then, inevitably of course, he blew it.
Somehow, of course, he and his partner Russo called Met fans hypocrites for booing Barry Bonds and holding protests while cheering Guillermo Mota.
To clarify, Mr. Francesa, a group of fans at Boycott Barry organized the protests with the blindfolds. Somehow, Francesa associated this with "the Met fan" as Francesa liked to refer to us as repeatedly, as our protest. It wasn't our protest. The fans in the park on Tuesday played along (as evidenced by the crowd being somewhat subdued until Bonds came to the plate in the tenth), but it certainly wasn't organized by Mets fans. But hey, why let a little research get in the way of painting "the Met fan" with a broad brush.
And by the way, if you gentlemen are going to get on "the Met fan" for cheering Guillermo Mota upon his return (and if you see the small sample on my current poll question, it's basically split down the middle between cheers and boos...although I'm surprised more people didn't click the chicken and beer option), then "let's be fair", as you like to say Chris, and get "the Giant fan" for cheering Barry Bonds the way they do. Why not get on them, even though Giants fans actually have good reason to love him, because steroids or not, he saved your franchise from being moved to Tampa Bay in the early nineties.
Go ahead Chris, be fair.
Oh who am I kidding, this is a guy who's good friend Mike North got a shot at the Imus time slot on Tuesday morning, and according to someone who actually heard his show this morning, responded by calling the Mets "red-headed stepchildren". In reasoning that only proves that he's Russo's friend, since the Yankees got all the coverage in the morning newspaper, while the Mets got none, "nobody cares about the Mets."
THE METS DIDN'T PLAY ON MONDAY THAT'S WHY THEY WEREN'T IN THE NEWSPAPER YOU NASAL DISCHARGE!!!
I know, I shouldn't care what any of these people say or do, but I can't help myself. Watching these guys are like a drug, or a relationship that's a bad idea but somehow you can't break free from. Besides, restraint is no fun...for me, or for you.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Unfortunately, with all of the other baseball being played on the holiday, Met fans probably wished that Tommy Lee Jones would show up at their door with the red ray that made you forget everything. I know I could have used it during the Rockies game today, where this was the direct quote from the Colorado announcer:
"Another big hit for Kaz Matsui."Another big hit? When exactly was the first? It sure as hell wasn't in New York after the first at bat of the season. Was it in Colorado Springs, perhaps?
Or how about what we were forced to remember during night time action, as Steve Trachsel actually went the distance for the Orioles in a 9-1 win...a game which lasted, get this, 2:27.
Two hours and twenty seven minutes!!!
Remember when 2:27 was his time between pitches? And now he's pitching efficiently? He didn't have a single strikeout in the game. Stupid Royals.
Even the latest Roger Clemens comeback game made us pause and remember, as none other than Timo Perez was playing left field for the Toledo Mud Hens. Seeing Timo at the plate must have gotten those juices flowing for Clemens, who had his first decent minor league outing (what kind of juices were flowing I don't know...but I'm not going to speculate because I'm a positive person.) Seeing Timo at the plate only made me remember this.
When can we have a Forgotten Day, where it's all right to forget everything that's haunted you in the past?
Sunday, May 27, 2007
But this weekend, the Mets put away any hitches and glitches and triskadekaphobias they might have had and put away the Marlins, with the back end of the sweep coming at the expense of Scott Olsen, making the Marlins look more like the Brooklyn Brawler than the Ultimate Warrior.
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the Braves were busy getting their heads handed to them by the Phillies, and the Mets now have a 4 and 1/2 game lead in a division that just three days earlier was slipping away as everyone wondered if the Mets going 3-6 against Atlanta spelled doom. But let's throw this out there: The Mets record against the rest of the division is 12-5. The Braves, meanwhile, are 11-12 against the likes of Philadelphia, Florida, and the Washington Nationals.
What is striking me about the recent exploits of the Flushing nine is the resurgence of the middle of the order, albeit a reshuffled deck. David Wright and Carlos Delgado have taken their rightful places in the top three on the team RBI list. And Carlos Beltran was heating up against the Fish. What made the Mets so good last season was that for long stretches, every single lineup spot was hot...or at least not in a slump. The Mets have the best record in the National League without hitting on all cylinders in the lineup. They had Reyes and Beltran without having Diesel and Sugar Pants. Now Delgado and Wright are coming around without the help of Reyes. When they're all clicking...well let's just hope the pitching holds up when that happens.
Happy Memorial Day, remember the troops, grill those burgers, and enjoy your day off.
Since Green shaved his head as part of what the NFL would call "OTA's" (organized team activities), Green has not only seen his average drop from .356 to .314, and let a ball drop in front of him which basically prevented a sweep of the Yankees (despite being more aerodynamic), but now he has a broken bone in his foot and is out indefinitely (the word "indefinitely" never sounds good...it always translates to me as "until the end of time).
Just as fielders used to leave their mitts on the field for the opponents in the late 1800's, Green must have left his curse on the field for tonight's starting right fielder...as Carlos Gomez's hamstring felt the power of the curse as he strained his hamstring in the second inning. Keep in mind that Gomez also shaved his head.
Endy Chavez then moved from left field to right field, prompting fears that the curse would claim poor innocent Endy. Aah, but Endy's head was already freshly shaved before the season started (and before the OTA), so he had three hits and a diving catch in right field on Saturday night. So Endy, despite the wolf being at the doorstep, avoids the Samson curse for another evening.
Another previously shaved head came back to life tonight, as Carlos Delgado's two home runs and five RBI's gave the Mets a 7-2 victory. Combine that with what's happening in Atlanta, as the Braves have dropped two straight to the Phillies, Bobby Cox has been ejected for the 4,841st time, and the Mets have quickly gained two games in the division. Combine all that with the return of John Maine to the win column. He still walked four guys...and he still got himself into trouble at spots...but unlike his last start against the Yanks, he got out of trouble which has been his trademark throughout the season.
The departures of Gomez and Green pretty much means that the Mets outfield is going to consist of Chavez, Carlos Beltran, and...and...
It's gonna seem like a long wait until Moises Alou returns, which should be this week. After that, hope Alou gets healthy. Because indefinitely is a long time.
You might have seen the portion of Saturday night's game where Keith Hernandez was banging poor Gary Cohen's head with those thundersticks. But Friday's game scared me a bit. He was eyeballing the girls in the pool just above the right field bullpen saying "hey, if they had pools by the pool while I was playing, I would have wanted to be a reliever instead of an everyday player." And then the camera got a shot of all those girls by the pool that he was all jealous of...
and they're all like, twelve!
Either Keith is going insane, or his production crew is making him out to a pedophile. Either way, I'll never hear those words "I'm Keith Hernandez" quite the same way again.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
After six innings of the "Orlando Hernandez Revival Tour", we were treated to the Mets version of the "Seventh Inning Kvetch", as three at-bats told a story that belied the actual outcome of the game.
First, it was David Wright failing to run out a foul ball that trickled back fair...as if I needed any reminder of Todd Zeile's similar grounder in the Subway Series of 2000. Then, it was Carlos Delgado failing to run hard on a ball off the oversized left field scoreboard, then proceeding to get thrown out at second base. Now Delgado should know, being the slowest man on the face of the earth (besides your friendly neighborhood blogger right here), that he needs to run hard every chance he gets...especially considering the slump he's been in.
Then, after Paul Lo Duca's fourth hit of the night, Shawn Green failing to...well, failing to keep himself upright as major league umpires are continuing to call every flinch of the bat as a strike, as Green was called out while falling on the ground. Now those are three at-bats that usually signal that I should just turn off the television, because no good can come of this game. I'm sure that Willie Randolph wanted to turn off the television as well except that he couldn't because he was there, and watching these guys perform feats of brilliance and stupidity just happens to be his job.
Fortunately for the Mets, the Marlins matched their late inning dreadfulness...for every Carlos Beltran lazy throw to the infield to help along Miguel Olivo to third base, there was a Dan Uggla error. For every Aaron Heilman meltdown to let the tying run score in the bottom of the eighth, there was Carlos Tosca playing the infield back with runners on first and third and nobody out with the score 1-1 in the top of the ninth. The Fish even threw in a bad throw home combined with a wild one hand stab at the ball with Miguel Olivo to bring home the go-ahead run, to put the Mets on track to a 6-2 victory which you can make the argument they really didn't deserve.
What could be the root of all of this craziness?
Of course, it's Petey! No wonder everybody lost their concentration, they were watching Pedro Martinez keep everyone entertained by dancing around and bugging his eyes out. Petey has that effect on people like a dark magical spell. In 2005, Pedro had such a hold on his bullpen that they blew 78 saves for him that season. Heck, I'm surprised the Mets didn't wander around the field muttering "must...kill...the queen..." and pull handguns from under second base.
Although there are two more games to this series so I guess anything can happen.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Am I supposed to be worried that the Mets are 3-6 so far against the once and future nemesis Atlanta Braves after Thursday's 2-1 loss?
Or do I take comfort in the fact that at one and a half games ahead, the Mets are still the hunted while the Braves are still the hunter?
Look, nobody said that it was going to be easy. If you thought that 2007 was going to be the same kind of cakewalk as 2006, then your optimism is at a level that I can't even begin to understand. This 3-6 stuff, really, is only an issue if the Mets wind up going 3-4 or worse against this team in October. If this had happened say, two seasons ago, then yes...it's an issue. It's an issue because in '05 we had no idea if the Mets had the horses to reach the postseason. Obviously, the Mets have the horses this time around.
And think about how close Thursday's game really was...we're talking a Matt Diaz home run close, since the other two runs in the game were basically caused by errors (one by Carlos Delgado which wasn't an official error, but a ground ball he should have at least blocked led to a sac fly by Jeff Francoeur), and one by Kelly Johnson (who made a great play to rob Ruben Gotay of an RBI). In reality, the game was even closer than that, as David Wright should have at least seen one more pitch with the bases loaded in his third inning at bat against Smoltz (umpires have to stop calling every flinch of the bat a check swing strike).
(In fairness, even if Wright saw those extra pitches, there's no guarantee that he would have delivered...and I say that because I never thought that John Smoltz, who won his 200th game tonight, had lost control of the game. I'm not afraid to say that Smoltz, despite wearing the uniform of the enemy, is a damn good pitcher who deserves to be considered for Cooperstown.)
But what worries me more than six losses against Atlanta is this mini-slump that Jose Reyes is having. El Hombre Incredible is one for his last 14 with four walks, and not so coincidentally the Mets have only scored six runs in those four games. The four walks are a good sign, but Reyes has had the bad fortune of swinging at some nasty pitches and popping them up. It shows how valuable Reyes is that when he's off, so are the Mets.
Once he starts hitting, the Mets will be fine. And they'll live to fight another day. Sure, you'll want separation between the Mets and Braves, but don't count on it. In fact, don't expect the pennant race between the Mets and Braves to be anything other than this:
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Jose Reyes, who had a 25.4% chance of getting the top spot, had his ping pong ball drawn first. But in the big upset of the night, Shawn Green moved from sixth all the way to second even though he only had a 6.3% chance of moving up (Green responded with a hit and a walk, and plans to draft Kevin Durant).
The big losers in the Mets lineup lottery were Paul Lo Duca, who had a 19.9% chance based on his second spot in the order last year, but dropped to fifth making him the Grizzlies. Carlos Delgado was dropped from fourth to sixth, making him the Celtics. But both Lo Duca and Delgado responded with two hits each.
The big winner was Oliver Perez. With his 1.7% chance of moving up in the order, he stayed at the ninth spot. But like Dirk Nowitzki, who was drafted ninth by the Bucks and then traded immediately, Oliver Perez proved you could turn in a most valuable performance while coming in ninth.
After his third dominating win of the season against Atlanta, my only hope is that Braves fans can grow to hate Oliver Perez as much as we hate Larry Jones.
And Brian Jordan.
And Greg Maddux.
And John Rocker.
All right, all right, that last one isn't possible (unless Oliver Perez makes some inappropriate southern jokes during one of his post game interviews).
P.S. Memo to Christopher Russo: That was Joe Smith striking out Edgar Renteria and Larry Jones for a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Just wondering if you were convinced yet.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
One is the "Troubles at the Ted". After one season of respite, the Mets have lost three in a row in the house that Time Warner built after winning the first one. It's doubtful that doubt is creeping back into the minds of the Mets about this place, but three in a row is too long a streak for a team that's 14-3 in stadiums not named "Shea" or "Turner".
Another is the infamous "S.U.C.K.M.E" theory, where the Mets famously lose to rookies and jokers. First, it was Tyler Clippard. Tuesday night's "joker" was Kyle Davies, who is slowly becoming a Met killer. Davies hadn't gone eight innings in about a year...and the last time was against the Mets too. And not only that, he sent an Aaron Sele pitch into orbit for a three run home run. It wasn't a typical pitcher home run...down the line off the fair pole just over the way...no, this was a center field blast. Aaron, you really should be ashamed of yourself.
Jorge Sosa wasn't going to go 15-0 throwing one-hitters all the time. And he had some good pitches get knocked around. But not the best timing to lose your first against the team that you really wanted to beat...and against the team chasing you. Bad timing. An 8-1 loss means that the Mets are in the position where they have to save a little face and win these next two games. It's possible with Ollie Perez (who has two stellar games against Atlanta under his belt so far this season), and Tom Glavine going. However, the Braves counter with Chuck James and John Smoltz, and it's entirely possible that they win two more as well.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
While in the midst of self medicating over the last 24 hours and nothing to sink my teeth into during this off day, it occurs to me...a microcosm of why the Yankee fan is so loathed in Queens.
I'm talking besides the obvious.
It's something I noticed in the crowd during the Sunday night game. The key...my friends...is in the chants. And it's a phenomenon you'll probably only see at Shea Stadium, but when Met fans chant "Let's Go Mets", it's in the general vicinity of the field, where the Mets are. The chant is delivered quite literally. We want the Mets to...well, go. So we chant "Let's Go Mets" to the Mets. The chant, you see, is used in the traditional method.
The "Let's Go Yankees" chant...a chant, by the way, rarely heard if heard at all before the mid-90's (despite the fact that the Yankee revisionist historian will probably have you believe that this chant was born the same day as Frank Crosetti himself...I will swear to my dying day that chant is a mere derivative of the "Let's Go Rangers" chant, which really has lasted since the beginning of time), was chanted on Sunday night by Yankees fans not in the vicinity of the field to exhort their Yankees to victory, but rather with their backs to the field, with pointed fingers at Mets fans as if "Let's Go Yankees" was a threat. Or perhaps a four-letter word...which many Mets fans consider "Let's Go Yankees" to be anyway...a cuss.
So how else, I ask, is a Met fan to respond to being cussed out?
And while I'm not trying to exonerate the Met fans who went too far with their actions Sunday night, and neither am I trying to condemn the majority of Yankee fans who behaved (including, thankfully, the two that provided us with our tickets), this is more a way of trying to further delve deep into the psyche of the Met fan...what makes the typical Met fan lash out when confronted with "Yanksimus Maximus".
It's a mere sparkplug of the psychiatric melting pot that was Sunday night at Shea Stadium.
Monday, May 21, 2007
But as it turns out, your great and all knowing soothsayer doesn't know well enough to know that if you swing yourself under the rail that separates the sections in the upper deck, and that if you're considerate enough to keep bending at the waist so as not to block your fellow fans from the incoming pitch, then there's every chance that your back is going to go out.
And out it is.
My back is more out than Derek Jeter's blast off John Maine...which was so out it was halfway to the CitiField construction. The Jeter blast, unfortunately, was the signal for all of the frustrated Yankee fans to let loose their frustrations and morph into the bragging, puffy chest, brain surgeons that we all knew they could be, as a big bag of popcorn came flying down from the reaches of section 41 in the upper tank. Not so coincidentally, that is the general vicinity where all of the fights started, yet it took the security folk a good two innings to reach that area and start ejecting people.
Then, of course, there seemed to be one of them in every section...the one that felt he needed to get up and make a spectacle of himself to everybody to prove that he's a Yankee fan, reminding us to look at the scoreboard (but conveniently failing to bring up the current standings), like the one in our section...section 31. He deserved a good booing, but it couldn't be from me...heck I could hardly stand up. Even booing hurt.
On Sunday night, a lot of things hurt.
But let's keep in mind that while losing to a pitcher fresh out of grade school is a bitter bill to swallow (along with that court order that prevents Shawn Green from coming at least ten feet away from every fly ball), the Mets have won another series, and have gained a game on the Braves in the process (not to mention the 7-3 homestand). Silver linings people...silver linings.
Enjoy your off day, and I'll give you a little bit more then...that is, if it doesn't hurt to type.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
The only proof you need is the 4-0 lead the Mets had on the Yankees last July 2nd in the Bronx, with David Wright batting against Ron Villone with the bases loaded. Villone had come in to the game after an early hook to Jaret Wright, and Wright had a chance to put the hammer down early in the game. Villone struck out Wright, and the Yankees wound up winning the game 16-7.
So here we were today, Darrell Rasner (who looks and pitches a little too much like Fresno Bobby Jones if you ask me), gets the early hook because of an Endy Chavez comebacker that fractured his finger, and in comes a man who had never made an appearance before the third inning in his career. As if the Yankees pen could get any more tired, here was a golden opportunity for the Mets to...once again...put the hammer down with David Wright at the plate after the Mets had tied the game.
One chicken...two chickens...
No, stop it. I will not count my chickens. But this time, Wright blasts one off of Myers for a 3-1 Mets lead and I'm starting to feel good. I'm feeling better after Wright hit his second home run off Myers in the third to give the Mets a 6-2 lead, and Luis Vizcaino coming in to burn out his arm.
Three chickens...four chickens...
Enough! The score becomes 8-2 with Glavine cruising along for an easy route to his 295th career win, and it officially becomes safe to bring in Scott Schoeneweis. He gives up one of Glavine's runs for an 8-3 lead...but even Mr. Met is counting his chickens. After the third run scored, you can clearly see Mr. Met twirling his finger around in the universal sign for "whoop-de-damn do". So after seven innings, either a five run lead is too large to blow, or the umpires are surely going to call this game because it's raining pretty hard. So it's safe now, right? I can resume counting?
Five chickens...six chickens...Alex Rodriguez hits a home run, oh it's a fluke...seven chickens...eight chickens...Jorge Posada hits another home run off Schoeneweis...nine chickens...ten chickens...Bobby Abreu walks off of Schoeneweis who has fallen behind every hitter since I started counting my chickens...
That's it! All of you damn chickens can now officially get the hell out of my yard!!!
For those of you who wonder why I find FOX more intolerable than ESPN need only look at today's eighth and ninth innings After lying in the weeds during an 8-3 game, all of a sudden it's 8-6 with Aaron Heilman coming in to face the Face of FOX, and here comes all those Derek Jeter video montages, and let's play that Joe Torre "This team has fight" quote and show Schoeneweis getting rocked again...and then Joe Buck lays down all those Derek Jeter stats like "He has more hits than anyone not named God", and "Derek Jeter has a lifetime batting average of 2,ooo", and my favorite "Derek Jeter's VORP is in triple digits!"
And then the ninth inning, after Robinson Cano's 17th error of the game made it 10-6, let's drum up those flashbacks of Country Time blowing that four run lead last season and see if he'll do it again. And here we go again with Yankee this and Yankee that and you thought that Michael Kay and Suzyn Waldman were in the booth and on and on and on and on and on and then Billy Wagner finally gets that last out and suddenly the only words that Buck can think of to say is:
Now that I feel better, let's see...where was I? Eleven chickens...twelve chickens...Tyler Clippard pitching for the Yankees on Sunday night...thirteen chickens...fourteen chickens...
Russo also said during an earlier show that Joe Smith had to show him something...how even though he hadn't given up a run all season, he still had to show Russo something in the eighth inning, even though the eighth inning wasn't his domain. Unfortunately, Smith gave up a grand slam to J.J. Hardy that day. But on Friday, the Subway Series, Smith came in and struck out Derek "history will show that I got two hits in every single one of my at-bats" Jeter to finish off the eighth inning.
Oliver, after tonight, has earned the benefit of the doubt. From Russo...from me...from everyone. He's earned the right not to have certain bloggers put up snarky "missing posters" with one bad start. He doesn't have to do any more. Of course we don't want him to have another 24 walk night. But if he does, I'm not going to worry because he'll most likely bounce back in the next start. And because with the most chips on the line, he's come up huge. First in Game 7 last season, and now Friday night...both nights with the crowd at its most electric...Oliver has come through with flying colors.
As for Mighty Joe, when you're done wondering why Aaron Heilman wasn't summoned for the eighth inning, take some time to wonder when Joe Smith is going to see more eighth innings. It's going to happen at some point, either when Heilman gets wheeled at the trade deadline, or next season after Smith shows over a full season that he can handle the pressure of a tight spot. Today was his greatest test...D.F.J. at the plate with a one run lead, in a situation where you know Jeter is going to get a hit...only, he didn't. All D.F.J. had was a smirk on his face for the home plate umpire which said "How dare you call that against me? Don't you know I'm Derek Jeter and the women think I'm dreamy?"
Then there's Endy Chavez, his throw from left which nailed Johnny Damon stretching to second for the first out of the game, and his home run which provided the difference against Andy Pettitte. Can we get this guy a breakfast cereal?
Seriously, if we can't get him on the all-star team, I think he deserves his own breakfast cereal. It's the least we can do to show proper appreciation. But can we put marshmallows in it? I love marshmallows.
And were you scared when Hideki Matsui was called safe on what could have been the last out of the game? Not because he was really out (tie does go to the runner), but because plays like that are usually followed by a 600 foot bomb. I was concerned...all right I was shaking in my boots. If these were the Yankees of the late nineties, it would have happened. Now? Not so much.
Game two is Saturday (later today), and I don't have a good feeling. Not because of any inside information or such, but because watching a Met game on FOX feels like watching a Met game on YES. Bad karma. I'll feel better on Sunday...not only because ESPN just feels better than FOX, but because I'm not even going to watch ESPN. I'll instead be at Shea, meaning the most insightful commentary I'll hear is when my brother asks me to buy him another beer...and I'll take that over Joe Morgan any day of the week.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
And as today's 6-5 miracle showed, even when the Mets aren't playing good baseball, they're playing good baseball.
Let's face it, with the lineup that Willie Randolph put out there today, the Mets had no business winning today. None. Ruben Gotay (who let a "cramped" Jose Reyes rest) and David Newhan up the middle? Fluff Castro filling in for Paul Lo Duca? Julio Franco at third base? Jason Vargas on the hill? This was a throwaway game. A Sunday lineup designed to do nothing else but rest the troops for the Yankees series.
This was a game designed to give Jason Vargas a renewed idea about what it's like to be in the major leagues, and not necessarily to have him pitch the way he did over the first five innings.
This was a game designed for me to remind you all that former Brooklyn Cyclone Angel Pagan still has the best name in baseball history. Remember when you had Jim Gott ("Gott" meaning "God" in German) facing Tim Teufel ("Teufel" translated in German meaning "Devil"), and you had those titanic struggles between good and evil and it felt good rooting for evil? Well now you have Angel Pagan. That's an internal titanic struggle resulting in evil consequences for the Mets when boiled over.
This was a game designed, at 5-1 down in the ninth, to remind us that you can't win 'em all. Instead, it reminded us that you can win on any given day. You can win any given game where Ryan Dempster is pitching in the ninth. You can win any given game where everybody is expecting Randolph to pinch hit for Gotay in the ninth with David Wright and Jose Reyes on the bench, but instead he lets Gotay hit and he keeps the rally going with a hit to drive in the third run.
"Nice job by my A-minus boys" -Willie RandolphYou can win any given game where David Wright gets a big single in his first ever pinch hitting appearance, and any given game where Carlos Delgado...0 for 4 and a batting average closer to my weight than his...is up with the bases loaded and no shift put on him, which let that little grounder get through to the outfield to score the tying and winning runs.
Yes, you can win any given game. Three given games come this weekend. One team is hot, one team is not. I've learned that in these situations it's best to stay cautious and stay focused. They say you "throw away the records" when certain teams meet. Well, the Mets were really good at throwing away the records when their record wasn't that good. Now that the tables are turned, we need to learn to throw them away still. It isn't going to be easy to throw the records away. However, I'm thankful that the record is one game better than what it really should have been.
You would have enjoyed it. After a three hour rain delay (yes, the game started at 10:15 PM, officially making it a west coast game) Jorge Sosa continued being phenomenal, giving up one hit in seven innings. Damion Easley hit yet another home run (six home runs in sixty at bats puts him on pace to catch Barry Bonds by the time he's 49 years old), and the Mets won 8-1. (Time of game: 2:36. Time of Rain Delay: 3:07).
All is well? Not quite.
There is the business of Jose Reyes leaving the game in the eighth inning with a "tight hamstring". If you recall, Reyes had hamstring issues in 2004 that were so scary, some thought he would never be a completely healthy player (but really, who is?) So to a Mets fan, "tight hamstring" is to "Jose Reyes" as "jump" is to "off a building".
Hopefully, by the time you read this, Reyes' left hamstring will be as loose as (this joke has been edited by Paris Hilton's lawyers), and he'll be in the lineup for the matinee against Chicago. Keep your fingers, your hamstrings, your rap songs, and your performance enhancing drugs crossed.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Unfortunately, the satellite was knocked out of orbit by Aramis Ramirez's grand slam, launched by Scott Schoeneweis at Shea Stadium in New York.
Before it could knock any satellites off the air, it turned a manageable 3-1 game into a 7-1 disaster, and it was well on it's way to the 10-1 debacle that it turned out to be.
When Aramis Ramirez is in New York, he's the greatest enemy that the space program has...if you remember (and believe me I tried to forget) he hit the same set of green seats against Steve Trachsel last July with a home run that traveled 425 feet. Obviously, he didn't want to limit the souvenirs to the people in the mezzanine box seats, so this time he hit the less expensive reserve seats with the grannie. Sure he was helped out by a slight 18 mph breeze to left field, but if that's all he needed, maybe the launch center in China should rethink their more expensive methods of satellite launching.
"That would have been an out in most parks."So now John Maine is 5-1 instead of 5-0. He wasn't fried to a crisp as he could have been, he kept the Mets in the game for the 96 pitches and five innings that he lasted, and that's a good thing. All we can ask of Maine at this point is that if he's going to have an off night (7 hits and three walks for a game WHIP of 2), battle and keep the team in it, which he did.
Of course, Maine's counterpart Carlos Zambrano picks a great night to stop sulking over not getting that contract extension signed before the Cubs announced an impending sale of the team. Zambrano (I'm going to resist the easy "has been pitching more like Victor Zambrano" joke because I feel I'm better than that...all right, maybe not) has been subpar all season long until breaking out of the slump tonight in Flushing, going eight innings and giving up a lonely home run to Shawn Green. The Mets had opportunitites off of "Z", with Paul Lo Duca getting the big two-out hit only to have Green chucked at home...and Endy Chavez leaving a few men on the basepaths tonight with a couple of two out at bats.
And of course, tonight featured the inevitable "stick it to your former teammates" game, this time by Cliff Floyd. Floyd (who's healthy while Moises Alou is not...gee, who knew?) had three hits, a run batted in, and scored ahead of Ramirez's blast, following in the footsteps of famous "stick it to ya" games such as Mike Piazza's two HR's, Tom Seaver's complete game, and whatever Victor Zambrano has in store for us for whatever team he's playing for (because you know that will be the worst of all).
All we could have really hoped for was that Cliffy got an ovation fitting of a man who played his heart out in his time with the Mets. He did so during a time when such players seemed to be few and far between...case in point: 2003, when he basically played on one leg until the Mets were eliminated from playoff contention. It's easy to be remembered for your accomplishments towards a winner. But Cliff Floyd showed what he was all about when the chips were down...when you really find out what someone is made of. We know what Cliff Floyd is made of, and the crowd showed him that tonight...although no matter how loud the crowd would have gotten for him, it would have never seemed like enough.
Of course, Cliff will surely test the limits of that love with another bushel of hits in the next two games. It's inevitable.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Carlos Delgado, who I'm sure was tempted to either ground a ball to the left side or lay down a bunt to send a message regarding the "Delgado shift", instead did the sensible thing and worked out a walk (off win) against Wuertz to put the seal-a-meal on a 5-4 victory, and their return to first place (thank you, Jason Bergmann).
Tom Glavine wasn't sharp in seeking victory number 295, giving up a single to Jason Marquis drove home that point along with two runs. But the Mets bullpen outperformed the Cubs bullpen, as not only did Wuertz give it away in the ninth, but they roughed up a guy who's ice cream I bought over the weekend.
There's a name that's about as ill-advised as the plot line that had Florence date Bentley in the later seasons of The Jeffersons.
Yeah, that show was put to rest a little late. Here's what else is put to rest: talk of David Wright's slump. Wright is hitting .429 since May 7th, which just happens to be the day that Wright shaved his head and had the rest of the team shave theirs!!! So when you're looking for the turning point in the young man's season...
(Well, not really. Wright actually shaved his head on May 8th...but this is what's known as poetic license, which is what major networks like FOX will take when trying to come up with storylines for the turning point of David Wright's slump come October...because come on, you don't really expect the network to mention the Mets and their shaved heads before Saturday's telecast of Mets/Yankees? They're working on their six minute Matt DeSalvo piece as we speak!)
Monday, May 14, 2007
Or, you can buy a pink bat much like the one Carlos Beltran used to put the icing on today's 9-1 cake, and more proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen foundation.
Otherwise, I'm speechless.
Speechless because Oliver Perez is threatening to make the Xavier Nady trade look not only even, but decidedly in the Mets favor. His 8 and 1/3 inning of shutout ball before Bill Hall's annual Mother's Day Tribute Home Run is going to go a long way towards making believers out of the largest skeptics of Met starting pitching.
(Of course his one hit was to the pitcher, and I think I feel better with Perez giving up the home run to Hall than I would if Perez had pitched a one-hit shutout where the one hit was to the pitcher...just another game that would have tortured my no-hitless soul.)
Speechless because Damion Easley hit another home run, and I'm left wondering what is in this guy's Wheaties...and do they sell it in bulk.
Speechless because Carlos Gomez's debut (two hits, one diving catch, one stolen base), is giving the Mets a future that is starting to match their present.
Speechless because Perez didn't pull a hamstring rounding the bases on Jose Reyes' triple (hey, what's Brian Bannister doing these days?)
Speechless because the Mets have taken two out of three from the team with the best record in the National League...coming just one Mike Pelfrey away from a sweep. Pelfrey, if you hadn't heard, was the New Orleans sacrifice to make room for Gomez, and even though I have been the biggest proponent of keeping Pelfrey up here and letting him work through his problems in the major leagues, I'm at peace with the decision. The major leagues can be used to work through some problems, but not 0-5 with an ERA hovering around seven with a fastball that doesn't move and a slider that is just about as hard on the stomach as the sliders you get from White Castle, but they don't taste nearly as good.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
But at least the seats were good.
Actually, that's a severe understatement, the seats were unbelievable! To give you an idea of how good these seats were that were basically field level right behind the plate, the seat number started with an "X" to give you the feel that you were going to a trendy club.
(Actually, those blue seats that were added in front of those original orange seats behind the plate are like going to the club since they were actually chained off. All that was missing were the bouncers that kept you away from the models...just ushers that popped up out of nowhere like they were in a jack in the box to keep people out of those seats in the eighth inning after the cat was already let on to the porch at 9-3. Aah, ushers.)
The seats came courtesy of a commenter we know as "Kingman Fan", who I had the pleasure of meeting through the poetically indestructible Greg Prince, who I had finally had the pleasure of meeting in person (for those wondering if two bloggers getting together would create a more powerful and ground-breaking perspective the likes of which have never been seen before, all we really decided was that maybe Mike Pelfrey needs another trip to New Orleans...and he really didn't need me for that.) Now when I say "Kingman Fan", I really mean it. He had the authentic "KINGMAN 26" authentic jersey to prove it. He'll be happy (or disturbed) to know that he was not the last Met fan I saw today with a Kingman model, as another authentic Kingman authentic popped up at the Roosevelt Ave. train stop while transferring after the game.
(But the winner of today's "jersey you don't see every day" contest goes to the guy with the powder blue Milwaukee Brewer "VUKOVICH 50" jersey. Dude, you win. And did you know he played Clue Haywood in "Major League"?)
Unfortunately, the 1982 references weren't done there, as the Brewers and Mets both played like their 1982 counterparts, which is to say that they played like the American League Champs that they were and we...well we had Dave Kingman. Pelfrey was the Mike Scott of the group, and not the Mike Scott that had learned his "split fingered fastball" (which was a middle fingered fastball in the '86 NLCS), but the Mike Scott that was nicknamed "the human white flag" back in '82. Pelfrey didn't get a whole lot of help from his defense, which somehow turned a fourth inning Prince Fielder pop-up with the bases loaded into a double play, but not before Craig Counsell and Tony Gwynn Jr. tagged up and scored while the Mets were infatuated with getting J.J. Hardy out on the basepaths.
And really, even though the Brewers opened the spigots with eight more runs including Hardy's grand slam against Joe Smith, the game was over after the Mets "Hardy Boy Mystery" in the fourth (first and last time for that reference...promise). Not even David Newhan's pinch home run brought the crowd fully back into the game, as the prevailing thought was that the game should have at least been tied after the botched rundown. But Newhan's home run did send a guy named Pete to Barbados as it was the hometown home run inning, so somebody besides the Brewers fans in the stands went home completely happy.
Here are some things I learned for being at Shea for the first time this season. Some things most of you know (since I hope you've all taken at least one trek out to Shea before me in '07), others you may not:
- The bleachers are roped off into sections now. 50, 52, 54, 56, and I think 58 (kind of like jersey sizes, but they're actually a continuation of the upper deck sections). The bleachers is one spot that I have yet to sit in, because it's exclusively either group sales (I don't have that many friends), or Pepsi can night (I'm a Coca-Cola guy). So that's my mission before Citi Field takes its initial bow.
- Speaking of the new park, it has now become officially bizarre to see scaffolding directly behind the outfield. I thought it was weird when it happened in Cincinnati, especially since they tore down the outfield stands of Riverfront Stadium while construction for the Great American Ballpark was happening while the Reds still played in the old cookie cutter. But to see it behind Shea is just totally mind boggling and surreal.
- What is with the spinning Dunkin Donuts coffee cup in the left field bullpen which spins after a home run? It's gotta be the most out of place product placement gimmick ever. But knowing the way our franchise works sometimes, I could totally see that thing following us to the new park, while the Home Run Apple gets left behind or put on eBay because some think it's cheesy. This possibility scares me to death.
- This next thing was also noted here, but I can say it too because I came up with it all on my own, I promise. But do you find it weird that after a fan was banned from Shea Stadium for shining a light into Edgar Renteria's eyes, the Mets have Flashlight day? (I heard that the Mets are going to have reflective mirror night in June, sponsored by Dunkin Donuts of course.)
- During the fateful eighth inning, I ran to the food line behind the plate. I thought there was a really long stoppage of play because there were loud commercials hawking concerts and what not on the television screen. But while I was listening to that thinking I wasn't missing anything, Joe Smith hit Gabe Gross. And I had no idea the game was even going on. Can we turn down the commercials on the concourses while the game is going on, please? Dopey people like me get confused.
Sunday is Chris Capuano vs. Oliver Perez, and the Mets had better find a way to bounce back and take two of three from Milwaukee. Because, to paraphrase our ticket benefactor Kingman Fan, they're running out of body parts to shave.
Friday, May 11, 2007
I wonder if there's scientific proof that watching Aaron Heilman pitch can do the same?
Heilman made a 5-2 game into a 5-4 game with one swing of the bat, but settled down in time to hand the ball to Country Time Billy Wagner for a six pitch save in a one run victory over Jeff Suppan and the Brewers.
Aah, Jeff Suppan. The Mets scored four runs off of him in the fourth inning, and of course the inevitable question popped in: "Where was this in Game 7?" But at least Suppan is having a somewhat decent season. You know what really depresses me? It depresses me that Jeff Flippin' Weaver, who basically shut the Mets down in Games 1 and 5 in last season's NLCS, is 0-6 with a 14.32 ERA. Do you know how bad that is? His last start for Seattle saw him give up six runs in five innings...and his ERA went down! Now, Weaver is now on the disabled list for Seattle, and is a candidate to be either sent to the bullpen or released upon his return.
The same Jeff Weaver we couldn't hit in the playoffs last year.
That's depressing. It's about as depressing as thinking that Heilman has turned the corner with sixteen straight outs, but then he gives up a home run to J.J. Hardy to make things more difficult.
But let's look at the bright side:
- Heilman did straighten out in time to get three outs before getting that third run
- David Wright and Carlos Delgado both cranked home runs (Delgado's to the opposite field) to hopefully put them or keep them on the road to recovery. Damion Easley also hit another home run which turned out to be the winning run (thanks to Heilman).
- Jorge Sosa was good again for the Mets. The home run bug hit him in the fifth and sixth as Geoff Jenkins and Prince Fielder touched him up. But between the two of them and J.J. Hardy, we're not exactly talking about giving up long balls to Rafael Belliard, Frank Taveras, and Buddy Biancalana. This is a good Brewers team, which brings me to the next point:
- This is a good Brewers team. (Redundant? Redundant? Redundant?) This was the series known as the litmus test for us and for them. The Mets took round one, which is huge considering tomorrow's pitching matchup (Ben Sheets vs. Mike Pelfrey) doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence.
So sit back and enjoy a cold brew tomorrow (that is, if alcohol hasn't been banned from your clubhouse yet) and enjoy a game that would merely be the foam off the top if the Mets can pull off the win.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
A Benitez relieved B Hennessey.
Paul Lo Duca Ball, P Lo Duca singled to left
Ruben Gotay Ball, Ball, R Gotay bunted into fielder's choice to third, P Lo Duca out at second
Endy Chavez Ball, Strike (swinging), Strike (swinging), Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, E Chavez walked, R Gotay to second
Jose Reyes Ball, Ball, J Reyes singled to right, R Gotay to third, E Chavez to second
David Wright Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike (looking), D Wright doubled to deep left, R Gotay and E Chavez scored, J Reyes to third
Now, that same transcription, with the thoughts of former Met reliever Armando Benitez interjected:
A Benitez relieved B Hennessey (All right, here I come to face the Mets again. I never lose to the Mets, ever! Not since they traded me to the Yankees I'll never lose to them as long as I live. Let's play ball.)
Paul Lo Duca Ball (Sonofabitch), P Lo Duca singled to left (All right, I can get out of this jam. After all, I'm Armando Benitez...and I never, ever, lose to the Mets.)
Ruben Gotay (Ruben Go-who? He had his home run for the season, I have nothing to worry about.) Ball (Damnit, he's trying to bunt and I can't throw a strike), Ball (Damnit! This umpire is squeezing me.), R Gotay bunted into fielder's choice to third, P Lo Duca out at second (That's more like it...but this umpire is still killing me.)
Endy Chavez Ball (I am seriously going to choke someone if I don't get a strike call), Strike (There we are, I'm Armando Benitez with my healthy 95 miles per hour fastball who can't be hit) Strike (Yeah, I am so the flippin' man! F-the Mets!!! F-the Mets!!!) Ball (Damn, I'm seriously getting po'd right now), Foul, Ball (Damn, where is Coach Valentine to visit me and tell me what a great pitcher I am?), Foul, Ball (I could really use that mound visit now), E Chavez walked, R Gotay to second (You know what else I can use? A cup of hot cocoa...and my old teddy bear...has anyone seen my old teddy bear?)
Jose Reyes Ball (All right, this is really starting to suck right here), Ball (oh I'm so mad now...I'm going to show the world how mad I am and go stalk behind the mound and throw this resin bag down, now the world will know that Armando means business...damn, now Reyes is going to expect a fastball down the middle, which is pretty much what I'm going to throw him. Maybe he'll get overanxious and pop it up...and you know I still don't have that teddy bear yet), J Reyes (Yes! He popped it up. I am the man!!! Just get over there Ray...get over there, it's an easy pop up...Ray? Linden???) singled to right (G*D D***MIT YOU $&^HOLES I COULD KILL YOU BOTH WITH MY BARE HAND RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I'M BIGGER THAN BOTH OF YOU COMBINED!!!), R Gotay to third, E Chavez to second
David Wright (They're warming somebody up in the bullpen??? This Bochy's no Bobby Valentine) Ball (Now settle down Armando, remember that this is the Mets we're talking about. This Wright character hasn't had a hit in three weeks), Ball (unintelligible spanish cursing), Ball (Oh my goodness gracious, I'm going to walk the winning run home...where has my life betrayed me), Strike (Ha! I rule! F-The Mets, F-The Mets, F-The Mets), D Wright (get foul, get foul, GET FOUL!!!) doubled to deep left, R Gotay and E Chavez scored, J Reyes to third (That's it, I'm not talking to the media. How dare they only come to my locker when I lose...uncontrollable sobbing).
Aaron, I'm sorry. You did shave your head. You are a good teammate and I never meant to imply otherwise. You helped us win by keeping the game tied. You are a good pitcher. Please forgive me...I'll take you to a Jet game in the fall, on me.
Now get those clippers ready for Jose, please.
John Maine did not have his best stuff today and still fought through for a quality start. That's what good pitchers do.
But regarding the two run home run that Maine gave up, I have to quote the fine folks at Dodger Blues, in reference to Derek Lowe:
"Giving up a home run to Dave Roberts is like getting mugged and robbed by an 85-year-old amputee. Embarrassing."So what exactly is giving up a home run to a guy who was supposed to go on the disabled list on Wednesday with bone chips in his elbow, who also happens to be Dave Roberts? Getting mugged and robbed by a 95-year-old amputee? A 105-year-old amputee? Rusty Staub?
"The 34-year-old Roberts homered in the Giants' 5-3 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday, but noted afterward that he did so under the influence of strong anti-inflammatories and was fresh after not having played in the three previous games."Under the influence? Is that cheating? Can we get George Mitchell in on this?