That's right: Alka Seltzer.
Is this a team that knows its fan base or is this a team that knows its fan base?
Because somehow they knew that we'd need it today. Somehow, they knew that Mike Pelfrey was going to no-hit the Nationals for six innings (until Aaron Flippin' Boone struck again) and yet still be denied of a victory. They knew that the Mets lineup was going to accelerate the rehabilitation of Jason Bergmann, making his first start since going on the disabled list this season with an ERA of 11.68.
Let me repeat that because I find it vaguely important:
ELEVEN FLIPPIN' POINT SIXTY FLIPPIN' EIGHT!!!
They knew that Jose Reyes, whose baseball IQ is dropping by the minute, would try to take third base on a Luis Castillo sacrifice bunt, thinking that Ryan Zimmerman was too far off the bag covering the bunt to get back to third ... only to look like a defensive back burned by the touchdown combination of Aaron Boone to Cristian Guzman. Or was that Tony Romo to Terrell Owens?
They knew that Willie Harris was going to continue to try to muscle his way into the pantheon of Met killers solely on defensive efforts. Remember last season when Harris stole a win for the Braves against Carlos Delgado? Remember last night's great defensive play too? He did it again today with a diving catch down the left field line for the first out in the ninth inning off the bat of Ryan Church.
They knew that Carlos Beltran was going to break for home on a Carlos Delgado line out to first base with one out, leaving him a dead duck ... somehow ... on a throw across the diamond to end the game on an inexplicable double play. (What was that I was saying about baseball IQ?) You know, the thing that the Mets had in abundance two seasons ago, but seems to be lacking with pretty much the same group of players two seasons later? Has everybody gone senile?
No, they've just gone crazy ... at least Billy Wagner did after the game at a group of reporters:
"Wagner looked over toward the area of first baseman Carlos Delgado's locker and blurted: "Someone tell me why the (expletive) you're talking to the closer. I didn't even play. They're over there, not being interviewed. ... I got it. They're gone. (Expletive) shocker."So here's the deal with this: First, Wagner goes postal on Oliver Perez. Then, Willie Randolph says "oh, no no no no no no no no no no no, we need to keep those things in house." Sure, leave it to the leader, right? One voice representing the club, right? Except that last night, where was Willie Randolph when Moises Alou was getting ejected by Dana DeMuth? I'll tell you where he was: He was on the top step of the dugout under the false impression that everybody was going to be impressed and taken aback with how stoic he is and how cool and calm he is. Willie thought that DeMuth was going to reflect on what a bad thing he did making Willie stand still and seethe for five seconds.
So today, with Randolph obviously unwilling to take a bullet for his players (see: Marlon Anderson getting suspended for a game last season because Randolph couldn't get his stoic butt out to the field to defend him), of course Billy Wagner is going to pop off. Because nobody else obviously will!!! So in that respect, when Wagner rips his 'mates, he may be ripping his manager in the process whether he realizes it or not.
Look, you guys and girls have read me long enough to know the way I feel: that unless the manager is of the Art Howe naptime variety, it's generally the players who win and lose ballgames. I still feel that way. But when Billy Wagner is continuously popping off and feeling as if he's the one that has to stir things up and bring things to light in the clubhouse, that's an indictment of the manager. No, I don't expect Randolph to kick a chair or turn over a buffet table for the pure sake of doing it. Grown men see through that. But going out to cause a ruckus with an umpire to defend your player is something different. Players notice that, both ways. And heaven help me for what I'm about to say, but here goes: how do you think Bobby Cox has lasted so long? I'll tell you how: His players love him! And part of the reason is that he'll defend them even if they don't deserve defending!
Think about it: Besides the little school girl fight that Larry Jones and John Smoltz had recently, how many times have you seen the Bobby Cox led Braves go through something like that? Now how many times have you seen it in the Mets clubhouse in the last two weeks? With a manager, it's worth noting, who was tough when it came to no beards in the clubhouse three years ago, and now only seems to be tough on Oliver Perez?
I've held off as long as I could. I tried and I tried and I tried. But it's time for me to acknowledge that today might be the first day of the rest of Willie Randolph's life. Nobody in that clubhouse has said anything bad publicly about Willie's managing. I'm not even going to assume that anybody is even thinking anything bad about Randolph. But actions, as you well know, speak louder than words and thoughts. The actions I saw today tell me that a new voice needs to speak louder than Willie Randolph is willing to speak.
Maybe it's time to take that Alka Seltzer to neutralize this sick feeling I have about this team. That and the bucket of chicken wings from the Diamond Club today. Plop plop, fizz fizz ...