Saturday, May 31, 2008

Postcards From The Edge

Dear Aaron Heilman,

Drink lots of fluids in New Orleans. It's hot there this time of year.

Dear Willie Randolph,

Aaron Heilman's splits going into tonight read as such:

Bases empty: 2.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .175 BAA
Runners on: 9.53 ERA, 2.12 WHIP, .370 BAA

And just for fun:

RISP w/2 outs: 21.60 ERA, 2.70 WHIP, .412 BAA

Why you would wait for a runner to reach base to bring Aaron Heilman in continues to be one of the great mysteries of my life. Sure, the runner should have never been on base because it was a bad call on the Pierre play. But dude, when there's runners on base, Heilman needs to pitch with a shrink behind him sitting in a lawn chair. Why would you do that to Aaron? Somewhere in this city, Aaron's on the phone talking to someone about his mother to work out his mental block. And I blame you.

Dear Tim Welke,

Thank you for continuing to convince the masses to bring instant replay to baseball. When you basically helped the Mets lose with your bad call to start the eighth inning, you are helping to score a greater victory for the sport in the process. So when a Derek Jeter foul ball in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2010 World Series against the Mets is overturned and made a walk-off, series winning home run, baseball has you to thank.

Dear Luis Castillo,

Congratulations on your second home run in three days. Those guys in front of your locker are there because it's time for your "random" drug test. Not that they don't trust you but ... you know, just in case.


P.S. They also want to ask you something about Mindy McCready.
Editor's disclaimer: The author of this blog is not insinuating that Luis Castillo is on the juice. That would be silly. He only means to illustrate that we live in a time that people will always associate unexpected power with performance enhancing drugs, which is an ill-informed point of view. Performance enhancing drugs are used more to bounce back from injury, which Luis has now. So as much as Luis gets injured and hobbles around, he can't possibly be juicing.

But when he hit that home run, tell me you weren't thinking it for a split second. (Liar.)
Dear Chan Ho Park,

The one start you made for us in your life is a start that I'll never have back. If you had never wore a Mets uniform, that might have been us that got swept by the Rockies instead of Philadelphia. And if my team is eliminated from the playoffs this season by one game, guess who I'm blaming?

Dear Clayton Kershaw,

I look forward to you throwing a no-hitter against the Mets one day. I'll find a way to blame Chan Ho Park for that too.

Dear Jonathon Broxton,

My cat likes to howl at the moon. So can you take a step to the left? You're blocking the moonlight.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Nostalgia's Interference

Because Joe Torre is the polar opposite of Bobby Valentine, chances are you weren't going to see him get ejected from tonight's game after Russell Martin's catcher's interference blunder on Claudio Vargas' groundout to second with two outs ... which led to four Mets runs, and yet another Mets victory over Brad Penny. And if Torre did argue and get chucked, better chances had Torre not returning to the bench in a fake mustache and glasses like Valentine did.

But coincidentally, it was a catcher's interference call that caused Valentine to get thrown out of a game against the Blue Jays in 1999 (a game where Carlos Delgado went 1 for 5, you know, before he wore the home team uniform and became the villain ... although it looks like Willie's benching has convinced Carlos that he's no longer allergic to diving), which he later returned to the dugout in the guise of some sort of grounds crew worker. When Vargas' bat tipped Martin's glove close to nine years later, you could almost feel the ghost of Bobby V ranting and raving and kicking dirt.

So if you felt a little deja vu surrounding you at the ballpark, don't worry ... you could cut the deja vu with a knife with all that stuff from the past swirling around you. Valentine, Delgado, Torre, a three game winning streak ... memories of which were somehow vaguely familiar, yet all fuzzy until a bat hitting a glove brought 'em all back.

Thanks Russell. Console yourself in the knowledge you made children happy.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Your New York Mets: Now With 30% More Fuzzy

If there was ever a team that needed a win such as the one you saw on Wednesday night, it's your New York Mets.

(Boy, like you really needed me to tell you that. Like the first thing you thought was "I wonder how big a win this was ... let me read that Metsahumpa and find out.")

Yeah, let's be careful about taking two wins and a row and saying "this is it ... this is it ... this is it!" For example: I have a friend. Big Knicks fan. Seemingly every day for the past six or seven years before a big game he would come up to me and say "tonight's the night". The last time he said it to me, the Knicks lost by about seven hundred points. So look where that got him. He's reduced to a drunken mess who's perpetually rocking in the fetal position, hoping that the Knicks will somehow pick both Lopez brothers with the sixth pick (did I mention he was delusional?)

But last night was different. Look, when Willie Randolph whined about SNY never showing him clapping and pumping up his players, it seemed rather silly ... because I know I've seen him do that before via the fine camerawork of Sports Net New York. But if Aaron Heilman were to ever complain about that, now that would be a case. Because never have I seen Aaron Heilman do anything other than have that look like would rather be doing about a thousand other things ... or like he just had a root canal. Never has SNY caught Aaron Heilman point at a fielder and bark encouragement like they did tonight. Never had SNY caught Aaron Heilman ... wait for it ...

wait for it ...

clap and yell from the dugout.

Yeah! Aaron Heilman did just that! I saw him! I swear!!!

Because it sure is great to see Heilman come in, pitch two big innings, and strike out the first four batters en route to a perfect eighth and ninth to keep the Mets in the game to set up Endy Chavez' (!) pinch hit HR in the ninth to tie the game. But Aaron looked like somebody who somehow took whatever tension and regrets that he's had in his life and threw it out the window. He seemed ... dare I say ... happy?

Perhaps he's reached his moment of Zen! (Sorry, the Three Jewels of Zen Buddhism. I was recently corrected on that.)

And don't underestimate what those two innings did for the crowd. For one of the few times this season, I didn't get the sense from watching the game on television that the crowd was about three seconds away from storming the field with various blunt objects and such. It was a crowd that had the vibe of expecting something good to happen ... unlike the doom that we've sensed more often than not this season ... even after the Alfredo Amezaga home run. The crowd, I think, I can't be too sure, actually liked the Mets. The crowd was kinda like that scared cat that finally came out from under the bed to rub his dad's leg. (Yes, the Mets are dad's leg.)

We may have finally started that healing process that we've all needed a dose of. The Mets have had one walk off victory this season. It was courtesy David Wright and his wind blown fly ball that barely landed fair against the Pirates. What struck me about that was that Wright seemed more relieved than happy when the ball landed ... and everybody just kinda walked off the field ho-hum without a smidgen of enjoyment. Not how walk-off's are supposed to look.

This one was more like it.

Although I must admit, I still had that sense of doom after the game winner. I saw an AP story floating around my head that contained the words "Fernando Tatis", "victory pile", and "separated shoulder". But that's just because I'm insane. This team, between Heilman, Chavez, Luis Castillo blasting a home run (!!!) Carlos Delgado pinch hitting and not swinging at everything that crossed his path for a walk, Carlos Beltran's clutch hit in the 12th, and Tatis bringing it home and actually looking like he was enjoying himself, had that warm and fuzzy feeling tonight. The healing process might have begun.

Of course, another five game losing streak and both warm and fuzzy go down the drain (and probably clog it up). But if this starts that hot streak the Mets have been waiting about a year for to get them back up to the top of the division, then Wednesday night was indeed ... the night.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quality Time With Pine

How does one bench someone who doesn't get paid to think so he can clear his head?

If he doesn't get paid to think, what exactly is in his head to clear?

It's a riddle that I think only one of those five-year-old prodigies that can solve a Rubik's Cube in like, three seconds can figure that one out.
"If you want to be an ass, I can be an ass too. -Carlos Delgado 5/26/2008
"Your ass is on the bench." -Willie Randolph, symbolically 5/27/2008
I like my managers vindictive ... and it's good to see a little vindictiveness from Willie for the whole Jon Heyman debacle before Monday night's game. I don't think it was the non-commit answer that Delgado gave originally, but the "that's not a good answer to ask in front of everybody" Delgado came up with that had to get Willie's goat. If it was just the former, then both Carloses would have gotten the message Tuesday night (although maybe not, since I think the Mets next option at outfielder would have been either Dave Gallagher or Jeff McKnight).

I mean, let me get this straight: it would have been all right to ask Carlos Delgado if he thought Willie should still be the manager if no cameras were around? Why? So he can be one of those "anonymous sources"? Yeah, that would have been a great sign that Randolph had the room under control.

Instead, Randolph sends a message to Carlos Delgado. But don't ask Willie what the message is. It might not be a good question to ask in front of people.

Was it too little too late to get the room back under control? And did the Delgado message inspire the Mets to play better tonight for their second win in a week and a half? I'm guessing that Delgado's .300-ish OBP on the bench might have had a little more to do with it.

Oh, and some guy named Santana too. He's pretty good.

(Editor's note: Be prepared for this blogger to use any and all excuses to pull out the "If you want to be an ass ..." quote. It really should be the slogan for this season. Think about it: "The 2008 Mets: If you want to be an ass, we have a seating plan for you ... and your ass!" Gold, baby!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chaaaaaaaaaaaarge! (Thud)

All right. The cloud is lifted. Our manager's job status is resolved. Now it's up to us as players to play better ... and there's no excuse not to anymore. Our fragile little baseball player minds can now be free to hit, pitch, and catch like we know how! So let's go out there and ...

and ...

fall flat on our faces?

Nice that this team can show as much fire and brimstone on the field than they do in the locker room.
“If you wanna be an ass, I can be an ass too.” -Carlos Delgado
Ooh! Jon Heyman, you got owned!!!

Ricky Nolasco, not so much (Delgado was oh for three with a sac fly RBI).

I'm not about to sit here and analyze Delgado's non-reaction to Willie Randolph not losing his job. Nor will I analyze Carlos Beltran's similar non-reaction. Look, athletes in general are skittish about every little thing they say in a locker room be dissected like a grasshopper in biology class. So I can't get on them too much. But the one thing they said which is non-negotiable to put on that bulletin board is this: "We have to play better."

Well, duh!

And don't try to tell us it's early. Because in reality, it's late. It's late when it comes to the window of opportunity that is closing for this team as presently constituted. It's closing when Mr. Beltran is hitting .260. It's closing when Mike Pelfrey keeps exposing himself as someone who isn't going to live up to his draft slot. It's closing when Ryan Church is still seeing little Disney characters circling his head. It's closing when there are whispers that Johan Santana is losing his velocity. And all this on the same day as the Phillies score 20 runs, and Scott Kazmir strikes out ten batters in seven innings.

It's just another red letter day to be a Met fan.

Monday, May 26, 2008

You Mean I Stole All Those Cardboard Boxes For Nothing?

Hello, Three Bears Moving? Yeah, I need to cancel my appointment ...

R.I.P. Geremi Gonzalez

Just a few minutes ago, SNY played that commercial where you saw David Wright hit one over Johnny Damon's head and leap around in joy.

Geremi Gonzalez started that game for the Mets. And now he's gone.
A government official in Venezuela says former major league pitcher Geremi Gonzalez is dead after being hit by lightning in the South American country.

Emergency management official Herman Bracho says the 33-year-old pitcher was at the beach in western Venezuela and was on a pier when lightning struck him on Sunday night.

Gonzalez started in the major leagues for the Chicago Cubs in 1997 and later played with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Boston Red Sox, the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers.

He last played in the major leagues in 2006 with the Toronto Blue Jays and also pitched last year for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan."
What sad and unexpected news.

Kid Vulture II

Dear Mr. Wilpon,

Now that the Mets have lost two out of three games against the Rockies, I understand that Mr. Randolph is now hanging on by a thread heading into his meeting with you and your son tomorrow.

I would like to let you know that if you indeed decide to fire Willie Randolph, I would like you to know of my availability. I'm only a phone call away, because my contract allows ... ah, who's kidding who. Like it takes a contract to write this blog ... only a commitment (in the insane asylum sense). And I could be in New York tomorrow if necessary. Because unlike Gary Carter, who I understand is also interested in the job, I am in New York right now ... which I believe would be points in my favor.

The comments that David Wright made saying that, you know, there's no spark, there's no fire ... if anything I would love to bring that to the table. You want fire? I hereby promise to take a bat to Carlos Beltran's locker and tell him that if he didn't pick it up, the next swing would be in the general direction of his weak quad muscle. Because that's good motivation. You think Larry Bowa is motivational? I would bring in a small white dog and spray paint it silver in front of the team like I saw a crazy guy do once on the street before he covered his own head with tin foil ... just so the boys would know that I would seriously take a bat to their heads if they crossed me by not hustling. Because again, that's good motivation. They'd know I mean business after that.

Speaking of paint, I would paint my face half blue and half white like in that movie Braveheart? You know? And I would give the most awesome speeches. I would say stuff like "They can take the bunt play away. They could take away the inner half. But they can never take ... our freedom!" You know, because stuff like that is gold.

I would keep the paint on during games too. You want a manager that would go after umpires and protect his players? What's Angel Hernandez going to think when I go out there to argue a fair/foul call with my face painted blue and white while carrying a pointy stick and riding a horse? Angel Hernandez would soil his chest protector at the mere sight of me and my pointy stick! So consider your players protected! (You know, while I'm not going after them with bats.)

While I am indeed fiery, I believe I could adapt to any and all situations because of my versatility. Because while I am part Larry Bowa, I am also part Phil Jackson. You know how he motivates his players with books? I would buy a copy of "Stranding Inherited Runners For Dummies" and leave it in Aaron Heilman's locker ... gift wrapped. I feel it's something he can read and absorb while he's on those long bus rides in the minor leagues. And I could get a discount from Amazon if I buy in bulk in case anyone else needs a copy. See, I'm thinking finances too. I know you and your son can appreciate that.

And as manager, I believe I can show a softer side when the time calls for it. I would reward the players with cookies, Reese's Peanut Butter cups, and trips to strip clubs where Pacman Jones can lecture them on the advantages of restraint. But only if they finished their celery and wheat grass first (no, not marijuana ... I do not condone the usage of marijuana. Another point for me, right?)

In any event, I hope that you will take my over the top campaigning and my shameless self-promotion under consideration. In other words: Your Manager Has Come.

Yours in circling a carcass,


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Is It Lastings Or Ladell?

Hi kids.

Just wanted to keep you informed on old friends, and alert you to the new craze in Washington, where Lastings Milledge has taken to a new celebration style during home runs. You see, apparently high fives are more for fans than for third base coaches. So when Lastings rounds third base after a home run, he ... wait for it ... takes an imaginary handoff from third base coach Tim Tolman. You can see such handoff in video form here (done after his home run made the score Milwaukee 3, Washington 1). I guess Milledge wants to be a two-sport athlete.

So I ask this: Are the Milwaukee Brewers going to be extra motivated on Sunday to beat them? Or does that only apply when Milledge wears blue and orange? Funny how that works.

The folks at Nats 320, who made me aware of this new craze (thanks), write this letter to Lastings in response. So much for getting his "grown man" on.

Keep dancin' Lastings.

Hey You Were Right Willie, This Champagne Really Does Taste Sweet!

What a scene it was in the Mets lockerroom after finally winning a game for the first time in close to a week.

The banners were hung from the lockers with care as this meaningless win was sponsored by Budweiser.

"All right, I saved my job! For tomorrow."

"Woo hoo! I can't believe it David ... I got a clutch hit!"

"Hey Jose, who's this Nick Evans guy? He's not half bad! And his OPS is already higher than mine!"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Zen 'Till The End

How elegant is the morning sun
Shining on the rafters and eaves.
How cool are the terrace and pond after the rain.
I burn incense to break the deep silence,
Drink the spring water and relax in joy.
When the mind is at ease and spirit is at peace,
Understanding is gained.
There is nothing left to comprehend.
Who can say that the realm of Tao is far from us?
How tranquil it is
Like the beginning of Heaven and Earth.

Sitting at home tonight during the Mets' 6-5 13-inning loss to the Rockies was when I realized it. After all of the dopey things to happen: Marlon Anderson's hamstring exploding ... Ollie Perez's gazillion pitches in five innings, and then starting the sixth ... Fernando Tatis hitting a home run ... Billy Wagner giving up the first earned run of the year to send the game to extra innings (everybody else has screwed up this season, what makes you so special, Billy) ... Jose Reyes getting picked off second base by a shortstop which had just entered the game after Reyes hustled for a double in the tenth ... Reyes then risking getting thrown out of the game arguing a third strike which would have forced Fluff Castro to play shortstop ... Willie Randolph actually coming out to protect Reyes ... Aaron Heilman pitching a good inning in the 12th ... then losing the game in the 13th because he refuses to throw a strike against a hitter the size of Kate Moss ...

(Side note: home plate ump Mark Wegner deserves points for using great restraint, because he could have easily chucked Reyes but didn't, perhaps knowing the Mets precarious situation.)

It all came together in a flash. All the losses. All the heartbreak. From this year, last year, and all the years prior. I don't need to list them all, you know them all by now, you know them all by heart. It all ... became ... one. And then, became nothing. These competitions don't matter anymore. I, my friends, am one with the higher truth ... that this team stinks.

And it's all right. Because when that base hit dribbled into right field to win the game for the Rockies, I simply laughed. And then I walked away. Things are so bad, they're actually good. I have reached Zen and I am cleansed.

My mind is truly at ease.

My spirit is truly at peace.

Understanding is indeed gained, for there is truly nothing left to comprehend.

Who can say that the realm of Tao is far from Willie Randolph?

How tranquil it is.

Like the beginning of Heaven ... and that little piece of Earth known as Coors Field.

Spring morning on the lake:
The wind merges with the rain,
Worldly matters are like flowers
That fall only to bloom again.
I retire to contemplate behind closed doors,
A place of true joy,
While the floating clouds come and go
The whole day long.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Nadir At Every Turn

Is this the way the season is looking?

Keith Hernandez said at the head of tonight's game that last night (Wednesday) was the nadir of the season.

Keith failed to realize not only that nadir is much too fancy a word for me, but that a nadir is only as low as your next game, when you go to the hill with your ace and still lose.

So this is the nadir now, right? Sure it is. Until Friday.

So ... team, is it all right to boo now? Now that Ryan Howard is heating up, the Marlins (a team that makes less than Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo) are steaming towards June in first place, and the Mets are closer to last place than they are to first place while everybody is calling last rites on you and you've given us no reason to believe otherwise, please do us all a favor and lay off the "boo hoo why are we being booed so much" rhetoric until you can get Larry Jones and Mark Teixeira out, or perhaps string together a few hits off of Odalis Perez, Tim Redding, and f***ing Jorge Campillo?

Death, Taxes, Moises Alou Injured, And The Mets at .500

Moises Alou suddenly left Wednesday night's ballgame with one out in the third inning with a sudden urge to escape the sinking ship that is the 2008 New York Mets. He commented afterwards that the last year and a half has been a complete waste of time.

Oh sorry, let me try that again:

Moises Alou suddenly left Wednesday night's ballgame with one out in the third inning as his fairy godmother appeared and reminded him that if he stayed healthy and active for more than three weeks at a time, that he would turn into a pumpkin by the fifth inning.

Damn, I keep messing that up. Oh wait, I know:

Moises Alou suddenly left Wednesday night's ballgame with one out in the third inning as an act of protest due to the fact that Willie Randolph is unfairly portrayed by Sports Net New York.

No, it's not that either. Here's the real story:

Moises Alou suddenly left Wednesday night's ballgame with one out in the third inning to make sure he was by his locker in plenty of time for the media to interview him after the game. This act pleased Billy Wagner very much.

Dammit, wrong.

Moises Alou suddenly left Wednesday night's ballgame with one out in the third inning to get head start watching film on the next triple-A call up from Atlanta, or Colorado, or Florida to shut them down.

What is wrong with me?

Moises Alou suddenly left Wednesday night's ballgame with one out in the third inning to sit in the last row of Turner Field with Kevin Burkhardt and Keith Hernandez and discuss tornadoes.

Wait, wait, wait:

Moises Alou suddenly left Wednesday night's ballgame with one out in the third inning to beat the ever loving snot out of Aaron Heilman. Then, he's going to hunt down Steve Bartman once and for all and beat the ever loving snot out of him as well..

No, that's not right either. Ohhhhhhhhh.

Moises Alou suddenly left Wednesday night's ballgame with one out in the third inning due to a cramp in his left calf.

There, I've got it now.

This is not considered a serious injury, except for the fact that this is Moises Alou we're talking about and we'll probably see him next around August after doctors find manicotti cheese where his knee ligaments should be. See you in August, Moises. Get healthy for that stretch drive (where if you're lucky, you'll be a DH for a contender, since this team isn't playing like it's going to contend for anything anytime soon.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Somebody Get ESPN Classic A Thesaurus

Paul Lukas, ESPN columnist and lifelong Mets fan, wrote a scathing review of Mike Piazza's Mets career in his Page 2 column today. The title of the column is "Good Riddance, Mike Piazza".

Whether you agree with the column or not (and judging by how much Piazza is beloved in this town, I'm guessing most of you will not), a column like that from a lifelong Mets fan doesn't bother me, because at least his opinion is informed and comes from following the team. And most importantly, I give points to Lukas for truth in advertising. He doesn't care for Piazza ... he laid out why he doesn't ... and his title led you to believe that a rip job was coming. If the title of the very same article was "A Tribute to Mike Piazza", then Paul Lukas would be ...

Well, he'd be ESPN Classic.

I quote Metsblog:
"ESPN Classic will honor Mike Piazza, who retired from baseball yesterday, with a five-hour tribute on Friday, starting at 2 pm. The Mike Piazza Tribute consists of three of his most-memorable games, including July 8, 2000, against the Yankees; Oct. 22, 2000, against the Yankees; and Sept. 21, 2001, against the Braves."
Now I'm nothing more than an idiot blogger. But correct me if I'm wrong: Isn't a tribute supposed to be a recollection of one's greatest accomplishments? You agree with that, right? All right great. Now answer me this: How do the first two thirds of that trilogy qualify as a damn tribute? On July 8th, 2000, Mike Piazza was concussed by Roger Clemens. On October 22nd, 2000, Mike Piazza was almost impaled by Roger Clemens. That's what ESPN calls a tribute?

That's a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast!

Since Dean Martin is no longer with us, maybe ESPN can get Andy Dick to narrate the so-called "tribute", complete with sound effects. Maybe ESPN Classic can show game two of last night's doubleheader during their Ryan Church "tribute".

Quantity Of Crap

There have been a whole bunch of days in the history of this franchise that have ripped your hearts out as Mets fans. Game 7 in 2006, Game 5 in 2000, Game 6 in 1999, Game 4 in 1988, and countless regular season games just in the last ten years that are too numerous to mention.

But in terms of sheer quantity of events today, this ... May 20th of 2008, may turn out to be a seminal moment in all of your Met rooting lives.

Think. Think about all that has happened in your lives today. First, you turn on SNY to see and hear everybody running around yelling "controversy!"

Of course, they're talking about the Ian O'Connor article in which Willie Randolph was wondering why SNY painted him in a bad light ... only showing him in moments of seething and frustration and not when he's schooling his players, and why Met fans were booing their team in April. And then he wondered how much of that has to do with race. And at the time, I saw this reaction to it along with others and thought that there really was nothing else of substance I could add.

But Randolph's reaction to the article on Monday could perhaps be stranger than the article itself.

"It does seem like it's piling on after a bit. But, I understand it. I think I mentioned feeling `almost racial.' That was a tongue-in-cheek kind of reaction to what I've been feeling. Not that this is racial. The Wilpons hired me not because I am black, but because they feel I can do a good job for them. They trusted me and hired me because I can do a job and not the color of my skin.

"There's been a lot of negative stuff going around here and I've been feeling some of that, and I was expressing how I felt at the time, but it wasn't anything to do with race and I wasn't trying to bring race into it.

"I'm not necessarily upset with anyone. I understand what they do."

The "tongue-in-cheek" thing bothers me. Not because I necessarily think that Willie's b.s'ing us. I mean, read the article. Anybody who cites Isiah Thomas as an example in his defense has to mean it tongue-in-cheek, right? Right?

But if he meant it tongue-in-cheek, then what exactly did he expect? Did he expect Ian O'Connor to print the quotes and then qualify the whole article by saying "but dear readers, he didn't really mean all that so everything you just read is useless"? Did he expect O'Connor to use judgement and not to print it at all? A very Pollyannic view of the world by Willie, don't you think? I mean, would you think that a guy who's managed a baseball team in a baseball market like New York for over three years (not to mention his time in the city as a player and coach) would understand a little better the way things work, no? That "tongue-in-cheek" thing doesn't translate too well to words on a back page.

And if Willie wants SNY to, as he says: "Show the whole person, the whole attitude, the whole persona", how about a freakin' reality show? Willie's World, perhaps?

Ah yes, reality. The same reality that smacks you in the face like it did me in the first inning of game one ... the very same lousy first inning that Tom Glavine couldn't get out of to save his life last September ... of the first game of the doubleheader today. He gives up a HR to Luis Castillo (of all people), then he loads the bases with one out and I'm thinking "Yes! Yes! Oh Sweet Revenge! Finally, Some Justice In This World!" (Yes, when I think, I think in capital letters.)

But no, Alou lines out to third and Carlos Delgado flies out to right field. And Tom Glavine got to do what he couldn't do during Game 162, and that's set down 17 opposing hitters in a row in the innings that come after number one. Before you knew it, Glavine was not only steaming towards a victory, but towards coming back for 2009 and proving that Citi Field is the perfect place to pitch a no-hitter.

(Thanks Tom. Coming up next ... my lunch.)

Sure, Tom Glavine may come back ... but before we go to game 2 in this doubleheader from hell, we are reminded that Pedro Martinez might not come back to throw a pitch in Citi Field, much less a freakin' no-hitter. And we find out that the next time Mike Piazza comes to Citi Field, it isn't going to be as a visiting player ... but it'll be to unveil his number 31 on the wall.

So now it's apparent that too many things are swirling around. Like sharks surrounding blood. So could there really be any other ending to a game two that featured the Mets being mowed down by the immortal Jorge Campillo (really? Jorge Campillo?), than one that involved actual blood ... like the blood from Ryan Church's head? Of course not. No, not just a normal loss to complete a run o' the mill sweep. What's so torturous about that? No, Ryan Church has to bleed and acquire his second concussion as a Met with a Yunel Escobar kick to the head (much like all the kicks in the head Met fans have taken in the last year.) The MVP of the team so far this season is morphing into Eric Lindros right before our very eyes. Absolutely excellent.

I wonder if Church will remember anything after a good night's sleep. I wonder if he remembers how good that Yankees series went.

I wonder if anybody remembers.

It's almost pointless to do this Heil-o-Meter thing again, since the whole team has a needle on the negative side right now. But the only thing us fans can do now is pile on ... it's all we're good for right now. Heilman comes into the first game, a game which was still pretty much in reach, and immediately gave up a walk and a home run. And the only thing I can do is laugh to keep from crying. And did you all notice that Matt Wise pretty much "pulled a Heilman" in the second game, giving up a crushing two run HR in the eighth to Mark Kotsay ... and Keith Hernandez couldn't tell if it was a fastball or a changeup that Kotsay hit? Kinda reminded me of Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions, where he threw his 83 MPH fastball, and everyone in the ballpark thought it was his changeup because it was so damn slow. Matt Wise is Monty Brewster. With Aaron Heilman as Doug Sisk (Hey, with Ryan Church concussed and a roster spot perhaps becoming available, maybe Jorge Sosa can come back and "fortify" the bullpen.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Agent 47: Spygate Atlanta

Was it coincidence?

Or was it the most secretive and ingenious implementation of spying since Moe Berg, Maxwell Smart, and Matt Walsh were making a living?

Did Tom Glavine take off his virtual good guy mask to expose his true self on September 30th, 2007? Was he nothing more than Nicholas Cage in Face Off, where Cage's character gets plastic surgery to look like John Travolta to make sure that L.A. blows up? Tom Glavine was Castor Troy with Sean Archer's face ... and he was successful in blowing up the Mets playoff hopes last season.

Now, Glavine is back to being Castor Troy. The old scars and the old uniform are unmistakable. And it's time for a little revenge ... with John Maine as Sean Archer for the 1PM premiere of Face Off Two: Your Uniform is Ugly. The good thing about this sequel is that it can't be worse than the original like most sequels are.

But of course, in the really good sequels like The Empire Strikes Back, the good guy doesn't always win. But good sequels never fail when it comes to carnage, chase scenes, and devastation.

Oh, sorry ... no devastation. Only disappointment.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Small Miracles

I gotta be honest with all of you: I fully expected the Mets to lose this game tonight ... the pitching matchup didn't seem to be in the Mets favor, and it's just like the Mets to follow up a stirring win with a heartbreaking loss. But these two games against the Yankees ... especially an 11-2 win in the second and final game of this series, goes to prove how maddening this team could be.

That not only a team, but a pitcher like Ollie Perez can be capable of what he did tonight, could be the same team and pitcher capable of a whole bunch of stinkers like the ones they put forth this season is positively looney. I look for things in this team ... patterns ... they like this, they don't like that ... it's mid-May and I can't figure them out to save my life.

I certainly didn't think they would win after the fourth inning when the three blind mice (meaning the three umps not named Reilly) reversed Carlos Delgado's home run call into a foul ball ... the three umps that were in worse position than the one that actually made the right call.

I've seen games like this before: Mets have a chance to win/sweep series, Mets go on a roll in final game, Mets get screwed by a bad call, Mets use that as an excuse go in the tank, Team B wins. Inevitable. And when Hideki Matsui (I don't ever want to see him get an official at bat in a big spot ever again) hit that fourth inning home run to close the gap to 4-2, my doom fearing mind saw that "Yankees 5 Mets 4" final that of course was going to turn that Delgado home run ball with the black scuff mark on it into the most famous scuffed baseball since Mike Scott roamed these parts.

(Side note: For those who think that instant replay would slow the game down: In the time it took for the umpires to huddle and screw the call up, for Willie Randolph to argue the call, for Jerry Manuel to argue the call some more and get kicked out, somebody down the third base line with a video monitor could have watched the damn play, signaled home run, and we all would have been on our merry way at 6-0. Besides, if baseball was truly worried about slowing the game down, there would be pictures of Steve Trachsel at every ballpark with a red line through his face reading "Do Not Admit" underneath.)

But a remarkable thing happened: The Mets hit. And hit some more. And hit even more. Ryan Church went to the right of the black seats. They batted around in the eighth. Jose Reyes went yard again. And for a brief time, the Mets we all knew and loved ... and so desperately want to love again ... came back to us. They knocked at our door, flowers in hand (or was that the head of Ross Ohlendorf) and implored upon us not to give up on them.

And since we're suckers for gifts (like when your cat gives you a dead bird), we invite them in for coffee. Heck, what else are we going to do?

Speaking of cats and dead birds, there are certain times when I wish for a cat to take it's claws and puncture my eardrums out. Watching Sunday Night Baseball is one of those times. For fear of going all Fire Joe Morgan on you, this is for those of you who attended the game: I swear our friend Joe Morgan uttered this exact phrase during an iso replay of Jose Reyes' home run:
"You know what I like about that? He ran around the bases. He hit it, and he proceeded to go around the bases."
Yeah, I hate when batters decide to stop at first base after a home run and wave the hot dog vendor over. Bud Selig oughta invent a rule against that when he's not so busy not implementing instant replay.

(Editor's note: This was followed by some nonsense about how Derek Jeter is like a fullback and Jose Reyes is a halfback and they both must know how to dance because they're shortstops ... and Morgan remembering a Shea Stadium/Yankee Stadium doubleheader last year where the second game was rained out ... except it was two years ago and it was the playoffs so the Mets and Yankees weren't even playing each other.)

I really have to turn the sound down on these Sunday Night games and blast my iPod. The song lyrics have a better chance of matching up with the play on the field.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Gold Shift

You want yet another reason to hate the Yankees? Even their good luck thongs are gold.

Sure, Jason Giambi might have the golden thong, but as the Mets are the team of the people, they would never be caught dead in fancy schmancy gold thongs. For example, Luis Castillo's luck comes from a ratty old thong he borrows intermittently from some stripper named Diamond*. And that good luck charm was instrumental in Castillo's 40 foot grass hugger giving the Mets the lead for good in their game against the Yankees on Saturday.

(Side note: Castillo will miss the Sunday night game against the Yankees with what the club calls "general itchiness".)**

But here's what I don't understand: If Carlos Delgado has a shift, why don't teams employ a shift on Luis Castillo? It would look something like this:

Oh well. If teams aren't going to respect the prodigious swinging bunts and awe-striking Texas leaguers, then those same teams are going to continue to pay the price as the Yankees did today.

*Luis Castillo wearing a thong is a mere rumor that has been floating around the blog-o-sphere that I cannot confirm.**

**All right, all right. I made it up. And I made up the Castillo itchiness story too. Jeez, you guys are no fun.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Cold, Damp, Train Wreck

The train wreck that is the 2008 Subway Series, featuring the last place Yankees and the dysfunctional Mets, has been washed out tonight. The one pitching matchup that clearly favored the Mets, of course, is postponed until ... well, we don't know yet. If there's a day/night doubleheader tomorrow, Willie Randolph has already said that Johan Santana will start the day game, meaning that the Yankees could put Andy Pettitte on afternoon duty while creating an Oliver Perez vs. Darrell Rasner matchup at night.

(However, the game will not be made up over the next three games, according to the Yankees press release. Meaning that Alex Rodriguez will get to play four games against the Mets rather than three, and that Johan Santana will go against Andy Pettitte rather than Rasner. Great, another "break" the Mets get.)

Speaking of Willie, if you heard him on WFAN today, boy did he sound agitated and teed off or what? He may not show much fire towards umpires, but as long as he saves his agitation for Mike and the Mad Dog, you know what ... that's all right with me.

So instead, I'll be watching that classic rivalry between the K.C. Royals and the Florida Marlins. (When Jack Norworth wrote "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", that's the matchup he had in mind.) My wife notes that on any given day, there are more people in our living room than there are in Dolphin Stadium. But to that end, during that broadcast they announced that there will be a news conference tomorrow (Saturday) morning at the site of the Orange Bowl. So it looks like the Marlins are going to stay in South Florida after all and get their new stadium. Hopefully some fans will follow.

More importantly, Lisa Lisa and Stevie B will be performing after the Marlins game on May 24th. The bad news is that there was no mention of Cult Jam.

Just another exciting Friday night at the Metstradamus house.

(Oh and one last thing about Wagner-gate: Billy, a f***ing Pats hat? You're from Virginia. Come on!)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Plop Plop Fizz Fizz, Oh What A Disgrace It Is!

All you need to know about today's 1-0 loss to the Washington Nationals is that before the game, there were some free giveaways to be had outside Shea. Were they fun things like free gum, or powdered iced tea samples? Guess again.

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:


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 ...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stranded No More

I loved Gilligan's Island as a child. Syndication of this show got me through a lot of early mornings getting ready for school. As I look back on the show, I realize a couple of things:
  1. Tina Louise was hot. And ...
  2. If Aaron Heilman had inherited these stranded castaways back in 1964, there would have never been a show. Because the castaways would have gone home immediately like every runner on base when Heilman comes into the game.
Because of the archaic rules of baseball, recent call-up Claudio Vargas was tagged with the loss tonight after 6 and 1/3 innings of three hit baseball. We know better, as Heilman gave up the same amount of hits while only getting one batter out. And now this clinches a homestand of at least three losses in seven tries, meaning that the good work done during the 3-3 road trip against Arizona and Los Angeles is pretty much negated ... meaning that more people will want Willie Randolph fired. I know who I want fired:

Let's review: Aaron Heilman had gotten the second out in the seventh, and had Jesus Flores on an 0-2 count. Then he fooled around and fooled around and fooled around and Flores worked the count full and I thought, "at least Heilman will do the smart thing and walk him rather than give up the base hit to get the run home." I should have known that Flores would line the 3-2 pitch to left field to give the Nationals the lead. It didn't matter, as everybody would have come home anyway. P.S. For those of you who thought that Lost would have been a better reference than Gilligan's Island, I've never seen Lost. Gilligan's Island, I've seen. And I stand by my assertion that Tina Louise was hot. But from now on, I'll do my best to stay consistent with the generation I'm living in. But thank goodness that Aaron Heilman wasn't alive in 1964.

Maine Up!

All right, first things first ... as in the first pitch of Tuesday night's victory from John Maine that nailed Felipe Lopez in the leg. Statement? Maybe, maybe not. But Maine has been in the middle of controversy before ... twice last season he had chances to dust guys. First, it was after Hong-Chih Kuo's bat flip after the third home run in three pitches. Then, it was during the Mets/Marlins brawl ... but that was while Maine was pitching a no-hitter.

Tonight, after the Nationals chanted and danced like "softball girls" (says the man who's now a minor leaguer) the previous night, John Maine coincidentally hits the first batter of the game. Well played, Bangor. He gets the controversy over and done with right off the bat so the two teams can go about their business of playing baseball instead of letting it linger and waiting for ... say, Elijah Dukes to come up so he can hit him. Should John Maine have waited and hit the man who was seemingly most responsible for the chants?

(Maine is a man, but he's not crazy. You see how big Elijah Dukes is?)

But I love what Maine did. I love that he sent a message to protect the honor of his teammate. Whether Nelson Figueroa was justified in what he said, or whether he needs to suck it up and ignore the Romper Room in the third base dugout, Maine stood up for his guy. It's not a pre-requisite that everybody in the room has to like each other off the field ... but it does help when teammates stick up for each other between the lines. Maine did that. And he did it in such a way that the Nationals backed down and didn't escalate the fray by retaliating.

Sit, stay.


Looks like Figueroa and Sosa got the boot on the Mets very own reality series. Figueroa was designated for assignment after the Nationals Cheer Squad tried to get in his head Monday night. Also on Monday night, Jorge Sosa was so bad that he actually forced the Mets do to the sane thing (something they try to avoid at all costs) and DFA him instead of sending down Joe Smith. You've got to be a special kind of awful to make the Mets do something right. So the Mets will now try to trade Sosa for what they hope will be a highly flavorful ham sandwich.