Monday, June 30, 2008

The Good Ollie Makes A Cameo

I had it all worked out today ... how I was going to come home tonight and proclaim the Mets dead in the water after the inevitable Oliver Perez meltdown against the Yankees today. Because certainly, against a team that knows how to take pitches and squeeze Johan Santana out of the ballpark on Saturday would certainly wait around for that special inning from Perez where he would throw balls towards College Point and Park Slope.

Only it never happened. Perez once again showed how maddening he can be by looking like Warren Spahn against the Yankees and Braves while looking like Jeff Musselman against powerhouses like the Pirates, Giants and Mariners. After starts like Sunday's where he goes seven innings and walks not one member of the team famous for taking pitchers into deep counts, I want to grab Ollie, kiss him on the forehead, and then shake his lapels and yell "what is the matter with you!!!"

Maybe Dan Warthen and his more streamlined approach to pitching has gotten to Ollie. Maybe Ollie has been looking at his pitch FX graphs and has learned something from all those red dots. Or maybe Ollie got himself a hypnotist. Who knows. But let's see him do this on Friday against Philly ... no, scratch that. I don't necessarily need to see the exact same thing against Philly. I'd settle for Ollie having an inning where he gets into trouble ... first and second, or maybe loads the bases ... hell he can give up a run, but then show some intestines and get the Mets out of trouble. But let's see him come up with a solid effort against the Phillies. Then five days later against the Giants. Then maybe a similar start in Cincinnati so my brother doesn't call me during the sixth inning from the Riverfront Club in a drunken stupor saying "can we trade Oliver Perez to Parker Brothers for Short Line Railroad and Vermont Avenue?"

But I'm still not sure I shouldn't lower my hopes for the season. The Mets are 6-6 since Snoop Manuel took over. That includes two losses to Seattle, and one loss to Sidney Ponson. That also includes one loss where Johan Santana was not only just good enough to lose, but stopped just short of playing the "nobody tries but me" card.

It also includes one little league tantrum by Jose Reyes.

Hey, I'm all for being frustrated while killing the team with errors on routine ground balls. But holy Steve Sax, Batman ... Tanner Boyle has a calmer disposition than you. Snoop threatens to cut you after throwing one tantrum, and you throw another one?

Over the past month or so, I keep going back to Kent Desormeaux at Belmont. Down the stretch, with Big Brown running third, Desormeaux knew he had no horse. Much like the trainer blamed the jockey, Omar and company blamed Willie Randolph. But the Mets are now riding with a new jockey with new ideas. And they still have no horse. Is it the horse's fault?

Well, Dutrow once injected Big Brown with Winstrol ... just Minaya injected the Mets with old guys.

And after 81 games ... the halfway point ... its becoming increasingly clear that these Mets have no horse. Yeah, the Snoop Sample Size might still be too small. But the size of the sample that says that this is a .500 team has over a year's worth of data ... and it gets more data with each passing week.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Loss Through The Eyes ...

Saturday was my final chance to see a Met victory against the Yankees at Shea Stadium. First, it was an exhibition game in 1989 where the only thing I remember is that Ken Phelps went nuts. Then, it was Game 5. Then not again until Tyler Clippard. Saturday was my last chance. And not only is my final record against the Yankees at Shea 0-4, but the infamous lords of baseball made me sit through an hour rain delay. But that was at least entertaining because of:

  • The Yankee fan who pointed at ever Met fan who walked by on the opposite concourse and yelled "Hey Met fan! Hey Met fan!!! Getthefuggouttaheeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!!!!" Then he almost fell on me.
  • The woman who had to be dragged out of the stadium by four cops ... yes, I said woman, and yes, I said four cops ... one for each appendage ... all the way down the ramps from the upper deck down to the floor. I don't know what she did, but it must have been serious. Must have had the audacity to say that she thought the dead animal on Jason Giambi's face was "sexy".

Otherwise, it was a dark day ... punctuated by the guy in the Mattingly jersey leaving the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth because "this game's over ... it's not even fair." (And you wonder why everyone hates Yankee fans). Join me for a quick photo essay of the day:

The guy hugging the catcher is newest Knick Danilo Gallinardi. Let's see, he just got booed by 5,000 people ... so let's put him in front of an angry and liquored up crowd of 56,000. Yeah, that'll work.

The attendance for Saturday's game against the Yankees was actually 56,172. When you count the players, umpires, ushers, vendors, and the Pepsi Party Patrol with their boxes of Bubba Burgers, the amount of people probably pused 57,500.

Yet when Jose Reyes was picked off second base with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, he couldn't have been more alone.

No sign of anybody sliding on the tarp today.

Meanwhile, Carlos Beltran struck out four times ... this one against Kyle Farnsworth. Nice job, clutch.

This signifies ... well, it signifies whatever you want it to signify. I know what it signifies for me.

    Saturday, June 28, 2008

    Sad Panda

    I should be worried more about the fact that a Mets offense can score 15 runs at 2:00, yet can't score after eight o'clock against Sidney Ponson despite filling the bases against Sidney in the first few innings like they were allegedly pouring drinks for him the night before a start (remember, I said allegedly).

    (By the way, I knew some guys who couldn't score after eight. It was sad.)

    But I worry more about Pedro Martinez. After the fifth inning, when Snoop Manuel was talking to him in the dugout, Pedro had this droopy, defeated look on his face. Every time I've seen that look from Pedro, he either cried or was on the disabled list within 24 hours.

    Now I was convinced during this conversation, which took place after the fifth inning at 0-4 down, that Petey was done for the night. Snoop even made a motion towards Pedro as if to say he was done. I obviously misinterpreted the hand motion (wouldn't be the first time ... it once caused me not to score after eight.) Because Petey was right back out there for the sixth inning, where he gave up two more runs to turn a manageable deficit into garbage time in a 9-0 loss in the dual stadium nightcap.

    Opponents are batting .336 against Martinez this season. That means that Petey is making the entire league hit like Tony Gwynn (and I'll have you know that's not just a random reference ... Gwynn was a career .338 hitter). And that's not even taking into account the walks, which his pushing his WHIP ever closer to 2.00. Heck, I'd look sad too, not only because the Yankees "adopted him" yet again, but 'cuz them there's some dangerous numbers. Much like the dangerous numbers which say that the Mets couldn't score off of Sidney Ponson after scoring 15 runs in the matinee. The Mets couldn't even tack on a garbage run against Kei Igawa. Heck, even that would have been a moral victory for me.

    Instead, a day which is yet another microcosm of the Mets season. Some good ... some bad (very, very bad). Although I'm sure Pedro would love to experience some of the "some good" already. His body of work this season isn't making anybody hopeful. But the upside is that his problems seem to lie in his command and not his velocity. Yeah, command has always been his strength, but at least it can be worked on. A lack of velocity usually signifies physical problems. So it's a little something to be thankful for.

    Big picture: I wanted three wins this series, which basically means putting all my chips on Johan Santana on Saturday, and then letting it ride on Oliver Perez the next day. That's no way to make a living if you're a gambler.

    Friday, June 27, 2008

    Revolution #9

    What you saw today in the matinee is what the Mets should be doing to pitchers like Edwar Ramirez and Ross Ohlendorf.

    But nine ribbies? A team record?

    See, it's the blue hats. Carlos Delgado likes blue hats.

    Argument fallacies aside, Delgado's nine ribbies changes the landscape significantly. Now, not only is Delgado on pace for 30-100 all of a sudden, but now I'm not going to get that shoulder shrug when someone sees me at Shea in my Delgado "1986 special". Heck, some stranger might even buy me a beer tomorrow (hint).

    I guess we can stop the nonsense about benching Delgado (for now). And you know what, with Sidney Ponson going tonight, there's no reason why Carlos Delgado can't get nine more in the nightcap.

    (To which Carlos Delgado replies: "You know Metstradamus, if you want to be an ass ...")

    Demanding Heaven For A Blue June

    No, this isn't a post to canonize Dave Mlicki (although pitching a shutout in the Mets' first ever game at Yankee Stadium certainly deserves canonization ... if that's even a word.) But it is to canonize the blue caps with the gray roadies.

    The Mets brought this look back today for the first game of the dual stadium doubleheader, again ... not to canonize Dave Mlicki, but to acknowledge the last season at Yankee Stadium. Screw that. Let's acknowledge how nice this combination looks and put this back in the regular rotation, please?

    Blue caps with gray roadies is baseball heaven. Black hats with gray roadies is baseball marketing. See the difference? Come on Charlie, bring back heaven.

    And a tip of the blue hat to you, Dave Mlicki ... wherever the hell you are.

    Thursday, June 26, 2008

    The Sugar Pants Effect

    They say that if you kill a butterfly, it can alter the fate of the world. They also say that if you give David Wright a day off after a game changing error, it can set off a chain of alternate events that include Wright hitting two home runs in one game, Vladimir Guerrero catching a cold, Todd Jones impersonating Magglio Ordonez, and Shawn Chacon choke-slamming his general manager (although I must admit there was a time that an urge to choke slam Ed Wade seemed perfectly legitimate to me.)

    But the most alternate event is a Mets victory against the last place Seattle Mariners. Yes! The Mets didn't get swept by the Mariners. Party time, yo.

    (Can you tell that my expectations have dropped through the floor?)

    To top it off, the Mets bring back some of that winning Yankee pedigree with the signing of Andy Phillips off waivers, just in time for the final Yankee series at Shea.

    They should have waited ... Chacon will be available soon.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    It Could Always Get Worse

    The one thing that always bothered me about Willie Randolph was the fact that he wouldn't go out and protect his players while they were getting into it with umpires. So you'll forgive me for being excited when Jerry Manuel went out to protect Carlos Beltran in his argument with the highly unprofessional Brian Runge (isn't nepotism wonderful), and then got ejected for "getting" bumped. Of course, Beltran went and got himself run anyway for saying the magic word (which according to Beltran was the highly toxic four-letter word "weak"), but at least finally the team has escaped the tyranny of the stoic arm folding of Willie Randolph and are on the same page with its manager.

    Except that page they're on? It's in a book that has ripped pages, pages with mustard stains on them, the glue in the binding is coming apart, and the paperback cover has been stolen. In fact, the book that tells the tale of the 2008 Mets' season will do more to promote illiteracy than Officer Barbrady ever did. Who wants to read after that?

    In the long run, it's nice to have team harmony. It's nice to have a manager stick up for you. And despite Beltran's refusal to take the bait of the beat reporters after the game and say that yeah, Willie Randolph never went and stuck up for us so he basically lost us, you can't say for sure he wasn't thinking it. But team harmony, however nice it may be, unfortunately means nothing when your lineup at the end of the night have averages of .293, .258, .205, .230, .148, .254 (which was .224 to start the night), .265, and .234, and can't do anything off of Robert Allen Dickey or Rodney Allen Rippy.

    Oh, and your starting pitcher makes Barry Zito look crisp.

    (Editor's Note: Kenji Johjima, a .218 hitter with two home runs this season, hit a bomb off of Oliver Perez.)

    To sum up, the Mets lost 11-0 ... to the worst team in baseball. Yes ... to be the worst you have to get beat by the worst. Our team, at this time, has hit yet another rock bottom. I can't imagine a lower plateau unless Newtown High School suddenly appears on the schedule. (Don't laugh: they're over .500 unlike a certain other team that plays in Queens.)

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Felix Hernandez's Bat Is Bigger Than A Honda

    I guess I have to be the cranky one ... again.

    Disclaimer: Felix Hernandez was the first American League pitcher to hit a grannie in 37 years. It led the way for a 5-2 Mariners victory in the first of a three game series. Good for him. Beat us single-handedly.

    Did he really need to take an hour and a half to Cadillac around the bases? I mean, was he scared of busting up his foot trotting the bases hard because pitchers aren't designed to run the bases? (By the way: Hank, we'll stay in the 19th century. Your pitchers can hit just fine, thanks.)

    Of course, nobody ... and I mean nobody ... will call Felix Hernandez out on it. "Awww, Felix hit a home run. How delightfully cool. It's the first grand slam by an A.L. pitcher since the 19th century. Why be a killjoy and ruin the moment?" I'll tell you why. Because in a world, and a city, where a goofy Jerry Manuel quote regarding fertilizer can be twisted into "the new manager calling Met fans s**t", you know that say ... a Johan Santana home run Cadillac trot would be all over the tabloid sports shows and Johan would be the new symbol of evil and somebody from one of the local newspapers would immediately call Goose Gossage for an interview and he would say "see, told ya ... the evil slow trot of Johan Santana is going to make people mad and motivated to beat the Mets". So yeah, I'm going to be the one to get on Felix Hernandez for taking a year to round the bases. Nothing personal ... but being 27-49 isn't going to garner any extra sympathy from a guy who sat through 1993 (even though he basically admitted that he had his eyes closed).

    And yes, it's more proof that I'm old and I'm cranky. I understand that. I get it. I know that I take things like this waaaaaay too seriously. The top notch Mets blogging community saw my crankiness in full force as the largest gathering of Mets bloggers in the eastern hemisphere got together to see Santana vs. Hernandez, because some dope got the bright idea "Hey, let's go see the Mariners ... it'll be fun!" (Sorry.) No wonder I freaked out when Felix got hurt and he was limping off the field faster than he was trotting the bases. (Sorry 'bout that too.) Hey, I hope he gets well. (I clapped when he was carried off.) I was also hoping that Johan Santana would buzz him during his next at-bat.

    But I hope for a lot of things ... for David Wright to live up to his gold glove status and not give up errors that set up game changing hits. For the Mets to take advantage of not having to face "King Felix" for more than four and 2/3's by getting some hits off the Mariners bullpen. For Johan Santana to beat an ace and not give up a grand slam to him. Oh well. I obviously should re-adjust my hopes to more realistic wishes ... like winning two out of three games from the worst team in baseball. That is realistic, right?

    Hey, you think Willie Randolph and John McLaren are sitting in a bar during this series arguing over who got screwed worse?

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Back With A Venegance (If You Can Call It That)

    I was originally going to title this entry: "Boy Do The Phillies Stink". There's a headline that would have gotten me a few hundred more hits on this here web.

    A headline that would read more accurately, like "Phillies Struggles Enable Mets To Climb Back Into Race", doesn't exactly have that "juice". Also, it's too long. So to you Phillie fans whose eyes are all bulging while reading this, and getting ready to call me every nasty name in creation, calm down and go back to your cheesesteaks. Your team is still quite awesome.

    But even the most insane of the Philadelphia lot would have to admit that their team hasn't been that awesome in their last seven games (1-6), and a funny thing has happened because of that. Week one of the Jerry Manuel era has seen the Mets gain three games on the Phillies. It's not that the Mets have been tearing up the league ... Gangsta Ball is only 3-2. But the Phils are 0-5 in that time, and their little mini-slump has tightened the division and brought the Mets to within 3.5 games ... coincidentally this week of all weeks, exactly when the Mets needed it. Just enough to string us along, and keep hope alive.

    The Phillies recent struggles (with Chase Utley and the rest of the bats, of all things) remind me ... and should remind you ... that this is indeed a long season. And I don't mean in the "dammit, when do the Jets open training camp" kinda way, but in the "I gotta stop having a conniption fit when the Mets lose three in a row" way. The Mets go down the roller coaster, then they go up the roller coaster. And every once in a while, the Phillies hit an air pocket and the Mets are back in the race. It didn't seem possible when I woke to the news that Willie Randolph was fired on a sunny Tuesday morning.

    But in a world where we're slowly learning to trust Mike Pelfrey more than we trust Pedro Martinez, then I guess anything is possible. (Of course, that includes losing two out of three to the worst team in baseball, starting Monday night.)


    Jerry Manuel is bizarre. Either that, or he's been reading some of those Zen books that Rick Peterson left behind. Consider:
    Asked how the struggling Heilman was holding up under constant booing at Shea this year, Manuel said: "It's very, very fertile ground for growth in Shea Stadium. It's fertile ground for a team's growth and development. Sometimes, fertile ground has fertilizer ... Fertilizer is a good thing," Manuel said before the Mets' afternoon contest against the Rockies. "It's a good thing. You get the greatest results - get the most beautiful plants - when you put it in that type of fertile soil. That's what we have the opportunity to do."

    Sadly fitting that while writing a baseball blog entry where I mention the Jets, I find out that the man who gave us "Baseball vs. Football" is gone.

    In baseball, the object is to go home. George Carlin has gone home.

    Of course, considering Carlin's many bits on religion, I'm not quite sure where home is for George. But here's hoping that wherever it is, that George Carlin is indeed, safe at home.

    Rest in peace. You were one of the greats.

    Sunday, June 22, 2008

    The Special Assistant: Baseball's "Other Woman"

    Soothsaying is a curse.

    As I've been discussing the possibility of Omar Minaya losing his job at the end of the year if the team he has assembled remains a .500 squad (or under ... where the Mets returned to Saturday night as Pedro Martinez had some predictable problems with the spacious outfield in Coors ... pelted with the silver bullets of Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe, and the Colorado Rockies), then the guy I would want to come in and replace him was the recently disposed Reds GM Wayne Krivsky. After all, Krivsky has been the guy to bring guys like Edinson Volquez (albeit at the price of Josh Hamilton) and cultivate pitchers like Johnny Cueto ... he would be the perfect guy to have one eye on improving the farm system while at the helm of the New Mets, which have become the old Mets (and breaking down Mets as ... hey guess what, Jose Valentin is Alou'd for the season).

    Well, whaddaya know! Guess who is now a proud member of the New York Mets organization as the ... ahem ... "special assistant" to Omar Minaya? That would be Wayne Krivsky. Needless to say, I got a good laugh about that one.

    Krivsky started the season with a "special assistant" in Cincinnati. You know him as Walt Jocketty. Since a baseball special assistant exists to assist in replacing the general manager if he can't right the ship fast enough, it couldn't have been more transparent that Jocketty was brought to Cincinnati to provide that "special" assistance to Krivsky ... as in: assist in heating the hotplate being occupied at the time by Krivsky.

    Krivsky has obviously learned the trade, as he is now the "special assistant", and now he will show us all what he learned from Jocketty as he "assists" Minaya. Of course, Krivsky isn't out for blood, same as Jocketty wasn't out for blood in Cincinnati. But Krivsky is brought on by the ownership to provide that friendly little reminder to Omar he shouldn't hang any more posters in his office with super glue.

    Remember Omar, as I always like to say: just because you're paranoid doesn't mean somebody isn't out to get you.

    (Of course, as I head to sleep, I do so with the full knowledge that I will probably have a nightmare that I'm reading the first official press release of Krivsky's tenure, which includes the quote "We feel that Gary Majewski's injury problems are behind him and that he can be an important part of the Mets bullpen." Sigh.)

    Saturday, June 21, 2008

    Jump For Joy But Pray For A Soft Landing

    I know, we should be excited over Friday night's victory. Perhaps there's something good percolating in Queens. But jeez, Fluff ... jump with somebody your own size. This is a celebration mismatch. If I wake up tomorrow and find out that Fluff Castro strained a meniscus jumping (which is entirely possible), and that Jose Reyes bruised his hip, er ... receiving, I'm going to freak. Jump with Cancel!

    On second thought, never mind. In Denver, a jump between Castro and Robinson Cancel might cause a snow drift.

    Thursday, June 19, 2008


    Sometimes, perception isn't reality. For example, when I callously assumed that Jerry Manuel was going to be more of the same kinda Willie Randolph that we've had ... same kinda mellow, same kinda bland.

    Wrong again, Metstradamus.

    Instead, Jerry Manuel responds to Tuesday night's Jose Reyes controversy with a firm hand, and great ... more mob references.
    "I told him the next time he does that, I’m going to get my blade out and cut him right on the field," Manuel joked yesterday. "I’m a gangster."
    You wanted tough? You got Snoop. Dig it.

    (Editor's note: Those expecting a photoshop depicting Jerry Manuel as a Gangster, Keep walkin'. Anthony from Hot Foot has already nailed it ... I'm not even going to try. Game over.)

    The response from Reyes? Running around like a lunatic, creating two runs at the start of the game, running hard all the way from the box on a pop-fly in the middle of the game, and creating the tying run off of Frankie Rodriguez (not chopped liver) in the ninth by taking second on a semi-wild pitch ... This play prompted a friend of mine to ask me: "Why the hell is he sliding into second with nobody there?"

    F-that. The way this team is going this season, running hard and sliding is no longer negotiable. This is just one of the many ways the Mets, as a roster, can respond to Snoop Manuel's voice ... by tying a game off an elite closer and then winning a game in extras while hustling every step of the way. It's still the same deal as when Willie was here, kids. The players are going to decide the fate of Snoop by playing hard. It might be easier for the players to respond with the new voice, but they still have to be the ones to respond.

    And I'll say this: Let's be careful about saying that last night's win, as great as it was, "could be the spark". We've been fooled by that before. But instead of saying "it could be the one", I'll go and say: "it has to be the one". It absolutely has to. Two of three from the Angels heading into series with Colorado and Seattle has to lead to the big run. If not, then that's proof enough it's the roster, and not the manager.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Mob Mentality

    The movie Goodfellas was on the other day. I was really tired and wanted (needed) to take a nap to refresh myself, but Goodfellas is one of the movies on my list that I inevitably stop what I'm doing to watch whenever it's on. When I can't make it through the whole thing, the scene I at least try to make it through is the one where Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) thinks he's being made ... and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) is like a proud father waiting by the pay phone to find out when the deed was done. Except he found out it was the wrong deed when Tommy was whacked instead of made. And Jimmy made the phone call only to hear "Nah, there was a problem ... It's done, and ain't nothing can be done about it." And then Jimmy gets mad and beats the phone into the receiver.

    When I got home from work Monday night at about a quarter past two in the morning, I wasn't expecting to wake up with any sort of earth shattering news. But I was reasonably sure that I was going to wake up to Willie Randolph being the manager of the Mets. That's why I wrote this during the game. It was satire. I was kidding.

    I woke up instead at 6:30AM (entirely too early) with a kiss from my wife ... and three words whispered: "Willie Randolph's gone."

    The first thing I thought of was the classic scene from Goodfellas. Because finding out about it the way that I did felt like a mob hit. There was a problem (actually, a few problems) and the deed was done. Ain't nothing can be done about it. Only instead of revenge for Billy Batts, it was punishment for lack of bats.

    I spent today probably the same way most of you spent the day ... lamenting about the classless way that this was handled by the Mets. You know, making Randolph fly all the way to the left coast to fire him after one day, and then hear from Omar Minaya that it was because of the circus that had enveloped the team this past weekend (as if the previous month was a scene from Masterpiece Theatre) and that he wanted an extra day to "sleep on it" after he had made the decision Sunday (apparently not having a pocket schedule with him at the time), and also that he didn't want to fire somebody at the ballpark so he waited until Randolph got to the hotel to do it, hence the late hour. Oh, and did I mention the fact that he wanted Randolph to hear it from Minaya himself and not the media, even though the cat seemed to be already peeking out of the bag?

    Classless? Yes.

    Vapid and thoughtless? Certainly seems that way no matter what Omar says.

    But let me ask a question of you. And ask this of yourself honestly: What did you expect?

    I don't mean that in the "well the Wilpons have done this kind of non-sensical stuff before" sense, but in the "baseball is a business" sense. Baseball was bought and paid for a long time ago. It's been hammered in our heads that baseball is a business for a lot of years. And guess what: This kind of stuff happens all the time in the business world. So why wouldn't you expect this to happen though the thin veil of the public trust that baseball is supposed to fall under but never really seems to?

    Yeah, it sucks. It sucks to be Willie Randolph tonight. The manner in which Randolph lost his job, whether you believe he should have ultimately lost his job or not, sucks. But in retrospect, we shouldn't have been surprised. And you ask why you should have sympathy for Willie, who lost his job while having a significant nest egg to fall back on while the rest of us struggle with our everyday jobs?

    Because if the Wilpons do this to Willie Randolph, a supposed member of their baseball family, imagine how they'll treat you. Well, you don't have to imagine, between tiered pricing and $8 beers and waiting every last minute during a rain delay to sell those beers before announcing the cancellation of the game. So you already know that it's a business.

    Oh, players like Tom Glavine will tell you that he originally signed by the Mets because the Wilpons were all about family ... but then they let this happen. Because to the Wilpons ... who are the one common thread woven through the likes of Al Harazin, Jeff Torborg, Bobby Bonilla, firecrackers, bleach, marijuana in peanut butter jars, Mike Piazza to first base, Shane Spencer and Karim Garcia instead of Vladimir Guerrero, and all of the underachieving, dysfunctional clubhouses we've been graced with over the last 20 years ... letting Randolph twist in the wind before firing him in the middle of the night is just murder by numbers at this point.

    Now if you have a taste for this experience
    And you're flushed with your very first success
    Then you must try a twosome or a threesome
    And you'll find your conscience bothers you much less
    -Murder by Numbers/The Police
    Omar was right about one thing: It's not about the shortcomings of Willie Randolph. It usually isn't about the shortcomings of one person when a whole team is going badly, or not as good as they are going on paper. Changing a manager is like pulling a goalie in the NHL. It's usually not because the goalie himself is going bad, but because the team in front of him is skating in molasses or glue and making the goalie look bad. The Mets have been skating in molasses and glue since Memorial Day of '07. Or if you really want to find the true seminal moment, since Cecil Wiggins slammed into Filthy Sanchez's cab the night before the deadline in 2006. Randolph has made questionable moves ... as I'm sure all managers have in that time frame. But the team sure as hell has made him and his moves look bad.

    I've admitted in the past that maybe it's been time for that new voice. And certainly, the Mets have had plenty of chances to relieve Randolph of his duties in a way that doesn't make the organization look like bumbling fools. But those at least as old as me know that the Mets don't do things the easy way. Even when the net is wide open they always seem to clang one off the post. The organizational types had plenty of chances this season to dump Willie the right way and give their fans a sign that they're not ready to give up the season and are ready to do anything they have to do to change the voice and charge up their roster.

    Instead, they give their fans a peek into their vapid thought process, and have embarrassed them along the way. They make Willie sit through these awkward news conferences to announce that he wasn't losing his job, like that movie that tried to tell the story of the late night wars of the early nineties but ended up being one of those strange cult movies that also ... strangely ... is one of those movies that I watch whenever it's on. (Goodfellas and The Late Shift: the only time you'll see those two movies in the same sentence.) Where Jay Leno says that "hey, we've all gathered here at this news conference, and I have the job! We're here to celebrate the fact I haven't been fired yet!"

    Instead, they fire Randolph after a 2,500 mile plane ride and one day in Anaheim. Good job, boys.

    Instead, they fire Randolph, Rick Peterson, and Tom Nieto (an arbitrary choice if there ever was one), to try to put a charge in this roster. And Ken Oberkfell, who has been promoted to the coaching staff after managing in the Mets' minor league system for 13 years, joins the major league squad ... and would most likely be fired as part of a purge if there's a new GM next year. Way to see the fruits of 13 seasons riding buses in the minors.

    And instead, Jose Reyes ... who's development has been tied to Randolph for years, and is one of the players expected to improve after Randolph's dismissal ... develops a beef with Manuel one play into the new era. One f***ing play! Manuel takes out Reyes as a precaution after he was flexing his leg a bit and tried to work through it. But Manuel, who wants to keep the roster fresh, saw taking out Reyes as an opportunity. Reyes threw a mini-fit and sulked off.

    This gives you confidence for the rest of the season?

    And there you have it. The Jerry Manuel era: kicked off with a fresh controversy, Reyes' injury replacement forgetting to cover second base on a successful pickoff play, and a rousing six singles. Not really the desired effect. And guess what folks: it's guaranteed to last the rest of the year ... the same guarantee that Randolph couldn't get because, in Minaya's words: "what if I gave Willie the guarantee for the rest of the year and then the club lost fifteen in a row?"

    "You know, we always called each other good fellas. Like you said to, uh, somebody: You're gonna like this guy. He's all right. He's a good fella. He's one of us.: You understand? We were good fellas."
    Manuel, for the record, is only fourteen losses away from that mob mentality kicking in again.

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    Breaking News

    With the Mets 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning against the Angels, sources are reporting that Willie Randolph will be the Mets manager through the bottom of the first.

    Update: After the Angels scored in the bottom of the first, the Wilpons have given Omar Minaya the option of firing Rick Peterson and replacing him with the Rally Monkey.

    Update: The Mets' 3-1 lead in the third means that Minaya has called off orders to shoot Tom Nieto on sight. Nieto has gone out to the coaching box without his kevlar.

    Update: Carlos Beltran has just hit his second home run of the night as the DH to give the Mets a 4-1 lead. Hank Steinbrenner has just been quoted as saying that he no longer likes the DH rule.

    Update: Hitting coach Howard Johnson's job is tenous after concern that offensive production has gone down in each of the Mets' last four innings. Two runs in the first, one run on two hits in the second, one run on one hit in the third, and no runs in the fourth. Minaya has said that "Johnson is my hitting coach, and we will continue to re-evaluate as we go."

    Update: Mets brass are privately blaming Willie Randolph over Carlos Delgado's decision to come home on a ground ball with runners on first and third, which may or may not have led to two Angels runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Wilpons are reportedly putting together a list of potential replacements for Randolph.

    Update: Tom Nieto was reportedly seen in the tunnel putting his kevlar back on sometime during the last two innings.

    Update: Luis Castillo's two run single and David Wright's RBI double in the seventh has convinced Omar and the Wilpons that Howard Johnson should remain the hitting coach for the remainder of the game.

    Update: The latest implosion of the Mets bullpen in the bottom of the seventh inning to close the gap to 8-6 has forced the Wilpons to step up their search for a new manager. Brass is torn between Wally Backman of the Joliet Jackhammers, and Tim Teufel of the Savannah Sand Gnats. Omar Minaya has even suggested a platoon system where Backman would be the manager against righties, and Teufel would be the manager against lefties.

    Update: The Mets escaped with a 9-6 victory, Mike Pelfrey's first win in more than a month ... but a ninth inning rally off of Billy Wagner has caused some concern over the job that Willie Randolph is doing. The Wilpons and Omar Minaya have refused to shoot down the notion that the Mets coaching staff will be replaced by the cast of "The Hills" for Tuesday night's game.

    Monday, June 16, 2008

    They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Haaa!

    It's becoming evident that Willie Randolph has gone completely insane.

    It's not his fault. But circumstances are driving him to the asylum.

    Of course, it doesn't help that Sandy Alomar Sr. had the kind of flashback that makes slow catchers look eerily similar to Lou Brock during Game 1 of the double dip against the Rangers. But here's Willie Randolph on Alomar's decision to send Brian Schneider home on a short fly ball to Milton Bradley in the eighth which basically blew any Mets chance at a comeback:
    "In retrospect, he was thrown out by a lot (at home), so it probably wasn't a definite good send," said Randolph, who served as the Yankees' third base coach for 10 years. "But it's lonely over there at third base, and you make a decision. The throw was good, but it didn't put a damper on that inning right there."
    It's lonely?

    Wait a second, shouldn't that mean that instead of having lots of friends around to talk to, that Sandy Alomar Sr. would have extra time to, oh I don't know, think about why sending a catcher home on a short fly ball would be a bad idea? Lonely??? Alomar made a bad read because he was lonely? Sandy Alomar Sr. needs to go on

    "Go Schneider! Run like the wind! I want to be lonely again!!! Booooooooooorn Freeeeeeeeee! As free as the wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind bloooooooooooooows!"

    Koo-koo! Koo-koo! Koo-koo!

    (Or is that ... Dae Sung Koo-Koo?)

    Then, after Robinson Cancel saved Randolph's bacon by getting a pinch-hit two run single in the sixth giving the Mets the lead for good in game 2 while everyone in the stands were chanting for Pedro Martinez to stay in the game (and saved the Mets from the awful stat that the team is 0-9 when being tied after six innings), Randolph says this:
    "Because of the rainout, yeah it almost felt like we went one for three really ... but the record shows otherwise so we'll take it."
    Willie Randolph has become one of those chain smokers that can't enjoy food anymore because he's smoked so much that everything tastes like tar and menthol. Even a series win feels like a series loss to Randolph. That's not supposed to happen to a manager until he's been around 25 years. Willie hasn't even managed four.

    That ... my friends ... is what working for this organization will get you. Fewer brain cells. So yes, fire Willie. Fire Willie Randolph so he can regain his sanity and get a cushy job as Joe Torre's bench coach. Save him from a fate of sneaking on team flights in disguises so he can't be fired.

    Fire Rick Peterson so he can become Barry Zito's love guru. (Or maybe he'll go to San Diego and straighten out Heath Bell's fastball again).

    Fire Tom Nieto so he can go to another organization and a whole other fan base can forget that he works for them until it's time to fire seven coaches.

    Fire them all. Except Jerry Manuel, that is. Yes, by all means promote Jerry Manuel ... who outside of one division title in 2000 is a .500 manager ... a perfect match for a .500 roster. He'll fire up the troops just fine.

    Yes, give us Jerry. Arm him with more of the weapons of Omar Minaya's past ... such as Tony Armas Jr. And bring back the rest of the Expo luminaries: Shane Andrews. Fernando Seguignol. Orlando Merced. Wilton Guerrero. Trace Coquillette. And what's Mel Rojas doing these days, anyway?

    Bring 'em back. That'll do the trick.

    Ah, f**k. Guess I've gone crazy too. And I haven't even flown back and forth from the west coast every other week. Think how Willie feels.

    Most be lonely on those flights.

    Sunday, June 15, 2008

    Rainy Anniversary

    June 14th, 1994: Chants of "Let's Go Rangers" fill the air in New York as thousands watch the New York Rangers win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.

    June 14th, 2008: Chants of "Let's Go Rangers" fill the air once again in New York as hundreds watch Ian Kinsler, Milton Bradley and and four of their Texas Rangers teammates slide across a tarp during a rain delay at Shea Stadium, before being ushered away by Stadium security. Because of course, if the Mets aren't having any fun, why should anybody else?

    (You know, there used to be a time when a Met would do that. Now, the fact that our bunch has become joyless is evident by the fact that a team with a similar record is having oodles more fun than them. Then again, if the Mets had done that, you knew somebody was breaking an ankle. It's just in the stars.)

    And apparently, it was mentioned on television that when the Rangers were playing slip 'n slide, they had already known that the game was called. Yet I can tell you that the announcement in the park wasn't made until a good 10-15 minutes after the Rangers were horsing around. Hope the Mets put that money from those extra 10-15 minutes of beer and poncho sales to good use.

    Saturday, June 14, 2008

    Leap Of Faith

    Our story starts in the manager's office of the Texas Rangers, where the coaches are holding their daily meeting on how to handle the New York Mets ...

    Ron Washington: All right boys, I have the lineup here for the Mets: Reyes, Castillo, Wright, Beltran, Delgado, Anderson, Schneider, Chavez, and the pitcher. Any thoughts?

    Mark Connor: Gotta keep Reyes off the bases, obviously.

    RW: How does the kid look tonight?

    MC: Feldman looks good. He should be able to shut this lineup down since they've never seen him before.

    RW: Art, anything to add? You managed Reyes.

    Art Howe: Loved Reyes ... he battles. Don't give him anything to hit.

    RW: So how do you like being back in New York?

    AH: Love New York. The people in this town know how to battle.

    RW: What were Reyes' weaknesses at the plate that we can exploit?

    AH: Off speed stuff down. Swings all the time.

    RW: Very good. Hey, can you get us some lemonade in here? The air conditioning in this place has crapped out again and we're hot as hell.

    AH: I will. (Leaves room)


    AH: (in a remote area of Shea Stadium) Hello? Al? Where are you?

    Al: I'm right here.

    AH: What the @#$% has Ziggy gotten me into this time?

    Al: This one's bad, Sam. You've leaped into the body of Texas Rangers bench coach Art Howe.

    AH: Who?

    Al: Art Howe! You managed the New York Mets in 2003 and 2004.

    AH: How did I do?

    Al: According to Ziggy, you battled ... but you pretty much stunk.

    AH: How bad?

    Al: Not too bad ... you once woke up long enough to play the infield in down by seven runs.

    AH: Why the @#$% would I do that? That's stupid. Did it work?

    Al: No, the guy got a base hit. But according to Ziggy, you have to make sure that Willie Randolph doesn't get fired.

    AH: Who's Willie Randolph?

    Al: How do you not know who Willie Randolph is?

    AH: I'm a Twins fan, I don't pay attention to the National League.

    Al: Willie Randolph is the manager of the New York Mets, and Ziggy says he's about to get fired depending on how he does against the Rangers this weekend.

    AH: So what am I supposed to do, throw the series? I'm only a bench coach!

    Al: You have to try. If Willie Randolph gets fired, the Mets will revert to a level of suck which is so bad, it will send the entire sport in a tailspin which will cause irreversible damage to it's fans and corporate sponsors.

    AH: Is Ziggy telling you which manager would revert the Mets to that level?

    Al: Let me scroll down, da da da da da da da da da ... oh no.

    AH: What? Who is it? Is it Satan? Is it Lothos? Is it Mike Cubbage?

    Al: No, Sam. It's you.

    AH: Me???!?!??!?!!??

    Al: Well, it's Art Howe ... and right now, YOU are Art Howe.

    AH: Why me?

    Al: It's timing, Sam. If Willie gets fired this weekend, you're in the ballpark. You're close-by. And of course you want another crack at putting things right. So of course you're going to take the job. But the consequences are not good, Sam. Ziggy says that if you manage the Mets, that this would be your last leap ... and that you're stuck as Art Howe for the rest of time, tortured for all eternity!

    AH: Oh crap. What is Ziggy putting the odds at?

    Al: Right now, there's an 85% chance that Willie gets fired, but you can stop it. You have to do what you can to make sure your Rangers do ... not ... win. Is that understood?

    AH: I'll do what I can. But what do I do?

    Al: Well to start, you can get that lemonade for the rest of the coaching staff. Go! Go! GO!!!


    AH: (Re-enters Washington's office) Hey guys, here's your lemonade.

    RW: Thanks Art. And thanks for the scouting report.

    AH: Hey, about that ... that off-speed stuff I told you about? Now, this is going to sound strange, but you should really mix that in with some fastballs down the middle. It sounds stupid, but Reyes has a mental block when it comes to them. They make him ... cry.

    RW: Oh ... well, I'll pass that along. Thanks.

    AH: No problem. And by the way, tell the hitters to swing early and often against that kid Perez. He's always around the plate. And he battles!

    RW: Very good.


    (Art finds Al in the bullpen after the Mets win the first game of the series against Texas.)


    Al: What?

    AH: I did it! Did you see the game? Reyes got a couple of hits, and I made Oliver Perez look like a stud. What is Ziggy placing the odds at now?

    Al: Hey, good news. Ziggy says the odds are down to 30%. You did it, Sam!

    AH: Thank goodness. I couldn't stand being this old man for much longer. Uh-oh, I'm leaping!


    (A man in an airplane is getting a free drink from the flight attendant.)

    Flight attendant: All right sir, here's your ... hey, wait a minute! You're Trot Nixon! I heard you just got traded to the Mets! I'm a huge Mets fan!!! Hey, you were dynamite in the playoffs last year with Cleveland. You think you can save the franchise?

    TN: Oh boy ... Al?

    (Editor's note: Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home ... or at least to home plate.)

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    All Our Troubles Seemed So Far Away

    Can we just enjoy a win even if it almost wasn't and made you want to jump off a bridge. Being a Met fan is hard enough now we can't even enjoy wins? -Tim, responding to some of the dire comments from yesterday even though the Mets pulled out a victory
    Apparently, we said something wrong.

    And now we long ... for yesterday.


    Baseball was such an easy game to play.

    Now Billy Wagner needs to hide away.

    Oh I believe ... in yesterday.

    Unfair Warning

    Former MLB commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti once warned us that baseball is a game that's "designed to break your heart". What he failed to mention to me was that baseball is also capable of ripping out your still beating heart and showing it to you. Then, it has the ability to eat your heart in front of you and your children. And just as an FYI, baseball will think nothing of eating your children.

    Bart Giamatti never warned me about those things. Thus, I still watch this stupid game. And I witness things like Mike Pelfrey, like a bolt from the blue, pitch eight brilliant innings (yes, Mike Pelfrey) ... only to watch Country Time come into the ninth and blow it. But not just any blown save, a blown save where the pitch before the game tying three run home run actually hits Mark Reynolds in the toe, clearly shown on replay, yet the home plate ump looked for shoe polish and saw none, and allowed Reynolds to continue his at-bat. Of course, and as I suspected would happen, Reynolds took the next pitch and smacked it towards the back of the picnic area to tie the game while the Mets had them down to the last strike.

    It's a game designed to put you in a rubber room.

    So even as the Mets came back and won it on a stirring walk-off home run by Carlos Beltran in the 13th, somehow this still feels like a loss. The Mets used to have a way of making losses feel like wins for whatever reason. Now, they win on a walk-off home run in the 13th and all I can think about is how the bullpen is now unnecessarily gassed for Thursday's afternoon game, and that David Wright should have hit one of the five strikes he saw from Edgar Gonzalez in the 13th inning in play and not foul. Maybe I'm only thinking that way to keep myself from writing some dribble about "this is the win that will get our team going", and then going and shouting it from the rooftops in my underwear while offering my Mike Piazza bobblehead as a sacrifice to the baseball gods. But that's how I'm thinking.

    It's a game designed to make you use plastic bags as toys.

    And of course, I'm also thinking about how Moises Alou can't stay healthy for nine innings, and how his latest calf injury has reduced him to a bumbling mess:
    "I'm embarrassed to walk in here and look at my teammates with what they're going through right now," Alou said. "I wish I could stand here talking about getting a game-winning hit instead of, 'I'm hurt, I'm hurt, I'm hurt.'

    "It's the story of my life. It's not what I want to talk about, it's not what the fans want to hear."
    Shakespeare once said that "the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves". Moises, you're a star ... hence it's not your fault. Your star is simply fading. Dude ... you're 41. These things happen to 41 -year -old ballplayers. So the fault lies not in our stars, but in our general managers for realistically expecting 41-year-olds to play 130 games.

    It's a game designed to tighten your calf during rain delays.

    Thanks for the advance warning, Bart.


    But on the bright side, looks like the whole punctuality thing will not be an issue anymore for our friend, Fluff Castro.

    Flu-ffy Fluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuff!

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    High Speed Fitness

    Today, Willie Randolph helped launch Be Fit NYC, a search engine to help New Yorkers find fitness activities wherever they are in the five boroughs.

    Meanwhile, in a dark clubhouse, Moises Alou turned to Marlon Anderson and said "You know what Marlon, Willie has a good idea. Let's be fit from now on". Hence, they both returned to active duty today.

    (Note: Fluff Castro would have been in that conversation, but he thought Tuesday night's game was 7PM Munich time ... and he also thought it was Monday. So he came to Shea, played, and went home before anyone else even arrived at the park. Castro, somehow, went 0 for 4 in an empty ballpark ... while hitting off a tee. Oh, and he tweaked an imaginary muscle getting thrown out at first base by imaginary fielders while trying to beat out a bunt which, it's worth repeating, came off a tee. If he had "been fit", this would never have happened.)

    I wonder if the game in Castro's head was any better than the actual game, a 5-1 Mets lead into a 9-5 Mets loss to Arizona, complete with a rain delay, making sure that fans had to make a choice between leaving during a tie game and making their train and staying until the bitter end. And some made the right choice.

    By leaving.

    For the rest of us, the Mets have become one of those high speed chases you see on the news every once in a while ... the ones that almost always take place in either Los Angeles or Texas. You're watching it, and you know it's going to end badly for the perp. Because let's face it: once you're on television and the helicopters are following you, you're not getting away. So you know it's going to be a bad ending. But what do you do? You watch anyway. Because you have to know how it's going to end. Will the driver run out of gas and come out peacefully? Will the driver slow down like he's going to surrender and then back up into the police car before speeding away again thinking they're all slick? When the cops stop the perp, will they put a major league beating on them?

    At least with the Mets, you know the major league beatings are coming ... every night. But you can't turn away. How will the chase end? Who gets the ultimate beatdown at the end of it all? Willie? The Jacket? Hojo? Omar? Because under the glare of the helicopter that is New York, nobody will get away. They're all on the table for a beatdown at the side of the road. And you and I will have front row seats at our televisions to watch the carnage go down ... all season long.

    (Editor's note: Don't expect any help from the minors ... your New Orleans Zephyrs were one-hit by the likes of Brandon Duckworth in a 13-0 loss last night. Great.)

    Sunday, June 08, 2008

    The Four Horsemen Of The 2008 Mets' Apocalypse

    Perhaps Willie Randolph is hoping that if this disaster of a series against the Padres turns into another four game sweep, that nobody will notice because all the games to this point ended after one o'clock in the morning.

    I doubt that's possible. Because believe it or not, a four game sweep at the hands of the Padres is probably a few ticks worse than a four game sweep against the Braves. Banks, Wolf, Baek and Ledezma: The new four horsemen that are in the process of riding the Mets into the sunset ... which is creeping ever closer ... while tied up with mouths gagged and balancing on the back of the horse (which may, or may not be Da' Tara, although the horse that Baek is riding looks like it could be Big Brown). Barring a significant change in talent and ability up and down the roster, the tombstone of this team is going to read "Here lies the 2008 New York Mets ... one run on eight hits."

    Some have expressed concern about the links I posted to yesterday, that I was somehow headed over the edge. I want to assure you that even though Scott Hairston pushes me closer and closer every day, I'm still a ways away from that breaking point. But I do have to tell you ... and the timing I assure you is total coincidence, that I will be on hiatus. Yes, there will be a beach involved. But it will be short, and I will return to preach more gospel (or spew more garbage ... which is probably more accurate) on Tuesday night. Hopefully by then, there will be more of a heartbeat in the collective hearts of this team than there is in the head of Ryan Church.

    Now while I'm gone, don't forget the Aaron Heilman initiative ... the one where you do something for the good of society when Heilman comes into the game. A good thing to do is to buy one of these snazzy t-shirts from Gary, Keith and Ron at their website. Buying a t-shirt helps society as the proceeds go to the announcers' favorite charities. And if Heilman doesn't come in to Sunday's game, then it's time to celebrate. And you know, the best way to celebrate is to buy a shirt with a number 17 wearing a mustache.

    Saturday, June 07, 2008

    Friday, June 06, 2008


    Think of it this way: Scott Schoeneweis did everyone a favor.

    When you're staring down the barrel of a 1-1 game with the San Diego Padres in the ninth, you know that dealing with this team that can't score that if you go to the tenth inning, you're most likely going to the 18th ... or the 22nd. And you can't re-introduce Abraham Nunez to the major leagues with a 30-inning ballgame after he spent the last six weeks riding buses ... because that's not fair. So rather than put Nunez, and us fans, through a long, riveting at-bat showcasing the very crux of baseball's battle of wits between pitcher and batter ... rather than build up the very drama that makes baseball great, Scott Schoeneweis gave us all the equivalent of that brain freeze you get by eating ice cream too fast by hitting Paul McAnulty with his first pitch with the bases loaded to sent everybody home. Not happy, but rested. And that works for the greater good.

    Besides, the Mets kinda didn't deserve to win anyway ... what with their five measly hits off of Josh Banks (who hadn't given up a run in his first three starts of the season before tonight which didn't shake Gary Cohen's firm belief that the Mets would come into San Diego with such ferocity against their staff that every pet in Petco Park would be let loose) and their bagel against the bullpen which included Heath Bell ... who surely is in the Padres locker room laughing his ass off right now. So why draw out what really should have been a loss anyway?

    (Editor's note: Mike Pelfrey gets so little run support that he's becoming that employee that always arrives to the conference room late when there's pizza on the table, and all that's left is the pie with all those vegetables on it that nobody eats so Pelfrey just skips it and starves.)

    So you think you're pissed now? Imagine losing 2-1 in 43 innings instead of the regulation nine? Don't think it's not possible with these two teams ... especially with Abraham Nunez on the bench instead of ... say ... Ike Davis.

    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Maine Beats Cain, Gain But No Pain

    It really was a nice try by Aaron Rowand, as he was intent on breaking his face again just to prove a point against the Mets like he did in '06.

    But instead of making Aaron Rowand a folk hero again, Thursday's drive to center by a Met (this time Carlos Beltran) tipped harmlessly off of Rowand's glove while Rowand harmlessly bounced off the padded outfield wall, and the fun began for the Mets.

    One Jose Reyes dinger and six strong innings by John Maine later, the Mets were finished doing what they were supposed to do and took two out of three from the Giants. (And Rowand left the game with his face intact.)

    And now it's on to San Diego, where the quadrant of Josh Banks, Randy Wolf, Cha Seung Baek, and Wil Ledezma awaits for the Padres ... yet they don't seem to strike fear in the heart of Gary Cohen, who basically said that the Mets should cut through this staff like a hot knife through a cheap butter substitute. Well, he didn't say it in so many words ... but those four didn't really seem to strike fear in Gary while he was looking ahead during the broadcast yesterday. But these are exactly the kinds of pitchers who the Mets have been making look like Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, and Hong-Chih Kuo. So let's tread carefully ... but swing hard.

    And don't forget about baseball's draft tomorrow, where the Mets have three picks in the first 33 ... in addition to Memphis Red Sox pitcher Robert Scott, their choice in the special ceremonial Negro League draft to take place beforehand. No word on whether the Mets adhered to baseball's slotting system to make that choice.

    Wednesday, June 04, 2008

    The Main Event

    People will say that Pedro Martinez has this "sense of moment" which makes starts that are ordinary starts for everyone else "events" for Pedro Martinez.

    But when Pedro makes such few precious starts, of course they're events. Hopefully one day we'll get to the point where we can expect Petey to go every five days instead of having his three starts a month be events like when the amusement park used to come to the Shea Stadium parking lot during the west coast road trip and it was a big deal because it wouldn't stay very long. That's what Petey's become.

    But in the scale of Pedro Martinez Returns From Injury, this one was damn good. Three runs in five innings would have been fine. But Willie Randolph needed a sixth inning ... probably because Oliver Perez caused the bullpen to go on overload on Monday. And Petey went out and gutted one more out in cool weather after two months off.

    And I for one hope that Oliver Perez took note of that. Maybe seeing a pitcher battle with his own eyes will get through his head more than Billy Wagner talking about battling can ever do.

    And two hits to boot? Should we call him Micah Martinez?

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Fly Ollie To The Moon

    There has been a lot of justified whining over the re-scheduling of Sunday night's game from a 1PM to an 8PM affair, meaning a late night cross-country flight without a day off. It's justified because unlike the Mets and the Dodgers, ESPN had matchups to choose from between two teams that weren't traveling anywhere the next day (like the Red Sox and Orioles).

    But don't blame ESPN for Monday night's brutal loss which featured a six run Giants first inning courtesy of Ollie Perez, because Perez flew to San Francisco at least a day beforehand!

    And don't blame jet lag for Ollie Perez's flat and fat fastball, because his fastball has been flat and fat pretty much all season. The only fielders that needed to be awake in the first inning were the fans in the left field bleachers. And I think they had a pep in their step.

    And don't blame Carlos Muniz (as Keith Hernandez did) for taking the wind out of the Mets' sails when he gave up four runs and when the game was already halfway out the door in the sixth and seventh. Because Carlos Muniz is a AAA pitcher (literally, as it was made official after the game that Muniz is down to make room for Pedro Martinez.)

    Meanwhile, Perez is going to get a gazillion dollar contract next season ... even after Glavining up that first inning on Monday. (I mean really, Oliver ... Brian f***ing Horwitz?)

    There has been some discussion from the pundits about whether Omar Minaya needs to make a trade that will change the face of the team midseason, a-la 2004 when Theo Epstein traded Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs and everybody thought he was insane before the Red Sox went on to sweep the Yankees (in games 4-7) and go on to win the Series. If Minaya is to make a trade like this, it is now painfully clear that it has to involve Perez. No, Perez isn't the pitching equivalent of the 2004 version of Nomar Garciaparra. Nomar, though hurt that season (and every season since) was a .300 hitter in '04. No, Oliver Perez isn't even the pitching equivalent of flippin' Rey Ordonez right now.

    So no, there's no Orlando Cabreras to be had for Perez. They'd be lucky to get Doug Mientkiewicz (yes, he was part of the Nomar deal). But Perez is going to be someone else's problem anyway next season, as Scott Boras is going to get some sucker to pay Carlos Silva money to get him and his "potential" on the free agent market next season.

    He's got potential to throw in-game batting practice is what he's got. And if there's any chance that the Mets could get anything better than the compensatory draft picks they would get by losing Ollie to a city that has his SoCal comfort zone vibe going, even if it's for dimes on the dollar then Omar should really think about pulling the trigger and giving someone other than me (and Rick Peterson) headaches.

    Monday, June 02, 2008

    The Light In Your Eyes

    Ryan Church looked up to admire his home run on Sunday.

    While looking up, he saw lights.

    After he saw lights, he was still able to touch every base while trotting around the bases, and run in a straight line.

    I'd say those symptoms, like that Hiroki Kuroda pitch, are long gone.

    Good health to you going forward, Mr. Church. Hopefully, the flight that you're probably on as I type this, doesn't mess you up like your previous two.

    Also, some random thoughts to follow you to California:

    Were you surprised that Johan Santana is only up to win number 100? I sure as hell was. (By the way, Santana is now 7-3, 3.20 after 12 starts. After 12 starts last season: 6-5, 3.30. Yeah, he's really not the same, right ... ESPN?)

    Do you get the feeling that if there is a Mets vs. Dodgers playoff series that the pitching probables would look like this:

    • Game One: J. Santana vs. H. Kuo

    • Game Two: J. Maine vs. H. Kuo

    • Game Three: P. Martinez vs. H. Kuo

    • Game Four: O. Perez vs. H. Kuo

    This must be the real reason Don Mattingly is no longer traveling with the club as a coach: because he's in some laboratory in Evansville trying to figure out a way to clone Hong-Chih Kuo nine times by October.

    Forget Mike Piazza, if Jeff Kent (who was drilled again today by Joe Smith proving once again that Joe Smith is my hero) is such a shoo-in for the hall of fame as our broadcast crew seems to think, what cap does he wear? What do you think of him as? And is there a club that would be proud to have Jeff Kent immortalized in its cap? And is it wrong for me to associate him most strongly as being the whiny crybaby he was with the Mets? Can we put Jeff Kent in the Hall of Fame with a Met cap just to give me a good laugh every day when I wake up in the morning?

    But seriously: If Jeff Kent gets into a Hall of Fame that is without Gil Hodges, I'd crawl into a grave just so I could spin.

    All right, now that I've horrified you all, allow me to bring a little light back into your eyes:

    Sunday, June 01, 2008

    The Sun Shines Through

    (Editor's note: Please forgive the potential weather metaphors that are possible with this post.)

    The weather read like it was going to be more conducive to ducks ... er, I mean ducks and kites with keys on the end of them, than it would have been for baseball. But as I searched for the cell phone number of my game companion today (more on who that is later on) to ask if he was still into making the trek for Cap Day, knowing that we could wind up turning around and going home without seeing any baseball, that's when the sun started to peek through.

    The rain that was forecast for pretty much the whole day (and had me anticipating a day/night doubleheader tomorrow) instead stayed away long enough for the Mets to come up with a stirring 3-2 victory at Shea today. The game worked out just like the weather today: cloudy and stormy early (Pelfrey giving up a run right off the bat thanks to his own sub-par stuff, and Jose Reyes ' glove doing an impression of a skillet on a throw from Endy Chavez that would have had Matt Kemp out by ten feet ... instead kicking the ball away and letting a run score), stabilizing in the middle (Pelfrey giving up two runs in seven innings for an outing that was more more laborious than his line would indicate ... yet probably saved his job) and very sunny late.

    (Cue dream sequence music)

    This is now starting to get about time where I start getting nostalgic about Shea Stadium. The first game I went to was more like "hey, it's the first game at Shea for me this year" (and I had no real time to sit and be nostalgic that game since I was too busy getting pissed off at the no run support for Pelfrey and trying to catch t-shirts shot out of a cannon ... and yes, I got one that day), so this second game was the one where it started to kick in. I sat in the right field mezzanine today, right near the seats that I spent so much time in during the late 80's, early 90's ... and when Carlos Beltran was up in the eighth as the tying run, I started to get some Darryl Strawberry flashbacks.

    Strawberry's stats tell you that in close and late situations, he stunk. So maybe it was the idiocy of youth, or maybe it was the lack of the Internet to look up his numbers on the Baseball Reference website. But every time Straw came up, I had that feeling that something good was going to happen ... he always had the ability to jack one off the scoreboard. If I wasn't longing for Straw's close and late numbers instead of Beltran's (not terrible for his career, but awful for '07 and '08), I certainly longed for that good feeling to come back ... not like the feeling I get when Beltran's up. Damn, why can't Beltran hit one off the scoreboard every once in a while and send Shea rockin' like we always knew Straw could. I mean, things aren't as good now as they were then and back when I was young I had to walk uphill to school in the snow without any shoes or socks and I still believed Darryl Strawberry could hit the scoreboard mere minutes after rolling out of bed and ...

    (The fwack of Carlos Beltran's bat brings me back to reality and ends the dream sequence music)

    Holy crap! He hit one off of Jonathan Broxton! We never hit that guy. And Carlos Beltran roughed him up!

    Broxton, as you know, is as big as a forest ... never mind the tree. So when Fernando Tatis came up, and we know that Tatis sometimes comes up to the theme from Superman, it was like a comic book battle between The Man of Steel and The Incredible Hulk. And with a bouncer up the middle, Superman won.

    (Editor's note: Apparently this was a battle that actually happened in an actual comic book ... and Superman won that one too.)

    And with that (and a one-two-three inning from Country Time in the ninth), the game was over, and the sun went away, knowing it was now needed more somewhere else.


    There's a big milestone that happened today that I want to acknowledge.

    No, I'm not talking about Manny Ramirez's 500th home run. (Although, that's worth acknowledging too ... not only because Manny is Manny, but also a beast of a hitter who's going to the Hall of Fame ... but because it came off our old friend Chad Bradford. And since former Mets have been muscling in on some milestone hits lately, I fully expect Ken Griffey Jr. to hit home run number 600 on Sunday against Royce Ring.)

    Saturday's Mets victory was the 200th regular season win witnessed by my companion today: blogging buddy Greg Prince over at Faith and Fear in Flushing (a blogfest if there ever was one, especially with Mark from Mets Walkoffs stopping by as well). He even mentioned Manny Ramirez to me today in terms of having been through four losses before getting this victory, just as Manny waited a decent amount of time for number 500. Certainly, as Manny is going to the Hall of Fame five years after he retires, Greg deserves a place in the Hall of Fans if there was one. I'm happy to have been the Chad Bradford to Greg's Manny Ramirez.


    Weirdest jersey of the day: The guy who came to Shea today wearing the Don Mattingly jersey.

    The Don Mattingly Dodgers jersey. The one with the number 8 on it.

    Dude, you topped my Todd Zeile jersey.