Monday, September 29, 2008

The Manifesto (New And Improved)

Guess that sabbatical I suggested last year wouldn't have been such a bad option, eh?

There's a saying, you might have heard of it.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
That's how I feel. Not that this team duped me, but that I let this team dupe me. To a certain extent, we were all fooled by this team ... that this time would have been different. This team, with Daniel Murphy and Argenis Reyes and Nick Evans and an improved Mike Pelfrey and a more focused Oliver Perez and a rejuvenated Carlos Delgado and a revived Jose Reyes and a more honest Snoop Manuel and a less complicated Dan Warthen and Billy Wagner pitching from the windup and all of the moving parts that made the 2008 team less "bored" than their 2007 counterparts and that this team was choke-proof.

We put our blinders on and begged this team to tell us it would be all right. And if it wasn't going to be all right, we begged them to lie to us.

I was fooled. Again. Roger Daltrey, I'm not.

I was looking for the footnote to 2007. Seven games with seventeen to play is a monumental choke job. There were two footnotes that were possible when history was to look back on 2007. One of them was: "The Mets would bounce back from that horrible collapse to make the playoffs the following season." The other was "The Mets would plunge into the abyss after the collapse, missing post season play for the next 25 seasons."

No way did I think of the third option: "The Mets repeated their historic collapse of 2007 in 2008 when they were once again eliminated on the final day of the season by the Florida Marlins." But that's what we're stuck with. Because one choke is a fluke ... two is a trend.

(And three is grounds for contraction.)

Here's what's bothering me already about Collapse Part II: Every time somebody who watches maybe nine innings of baseball all year tell me that this team needs intangible, imaginary concepts like "heart" and "fire" and "guts". I've heard it already. I've used those terms. Sometimes, they apply. This year, they're inconsequential. We don't need "heart" or "fire" or "guts".

We need a bullpen.

Whereas 2007 was one giant choke, 2008 was more like many small chokes encompassed into a big picture that you need to look past the "big picture" to really see. Not that it's any consolation to us, but 2008 was less choke and more suck. If baseball was an eight inning game, the Mets would have had an eight game lead going into the final weekend of the season. Curse you Abner Doubleday for choosing the number 9.

But most of all, curse you Mets bullpen. Curse you Mets bullpen for being the sole ... and I mean the sole reason that the Brewers are going to Philadelphia and not to the golf course where they've been every year since Ben Oglivie roamed County Stadium. And curse you for forcing me to resort to the most simple and the least eloquent to put your accomplishments into a tidy twenty words or less:

You all suck.

When Oliver Perez was slugging through his innings of work on Sunday, I thought of the relief pitchers I would want to keep for '09. The first guy I thought of was Joe Smith. And I'm guessing that Snoop agreed with me. When Perez started slowing down, in came Smith into an impossible situation: bases loaded, one out. He was lucky to escape with only letting one of Ollie's runs to score.

The second guy I thought of? Brian Stokes ... because we need a long man. And he was second in to preserve the tie game that Carlos Beltran created with his two run HR that rocked the house for ... what turned out to be ... the final time. Stokes also didn't disappoint with a scoreless inning.

After that, I really don't trust anybody to come back. But if you had put a gun to my head for a third guy? You guessed it, the third guy in. Scott Schoeneweis.

Um, never mind. I'll stick with two.

But really, if everybody in that bullpen was to depart I wouldn't be heartbroken. Certainly, the only way anybody in that bullpen besides Smith and Stokes attends Opening Day at Corporate Field is either with a ticket or a contract with the Padres. And I'm to the point now ... at this very moment ... if anybody besides Johan Santana were to leave this team, I'd shrug my shoulders in an act of indifference. That includes the Carloses, that includes Jose Reyes, that includes the very handsome David Wright, that includes everyone.

And that's why I'm glad that the current team didn't show their faces at the Shea Goodbye ceremony. Some may disagree, but it took a lot of effort to get the angry crowd (or the portion that didn't leave right after the game like myself) to feel good about anything. And the ceremony actually accomplished that ... seeing this current crop of star-crossed imitators posing as Mets would only send the crowd back to step one of the twelve step program.

We certainly needed one today with the range of emotions the crowd had to go through today. Ticket holders today had just about an hour and a half to go from happy to angry to morose to sullen to nostalgic all at once. After the sixth inning, I'm thinking about changing work schedules so I could get to Game 3 of the Cubs/Mets playoff series on Saturday. By the ninth inning, I'm looking up at the soda stains on the back of the upper deck stands ... trying to take in every nook and cranny that this Stadium had to offer me in the last 32 years of my life, and resigning myself to the fact that "Holy crap, this is it. Once I leave here, that's that."

And that's why I had to stay. Some left, and I can't blame them. Everybody has to deal with these things in their own way. I stayed. I'm glad I did. It started with some reminders as to why we're thought of as second class citizens by the people that provide us with this stupid sport called "baseball", as we were told at 5:23 that the ceremony would start in five minutes. Eight minutes later we were told the ceremony would start in two minutes. This confirmed what we already knew: that this team's only good at counting when they're counting the money they're going to make by selling the dugouts and the championship banners and the NYC parks logos that encase the trees.

Sorry if that comes off as being petulant.

(Some Phillies website referred to my Choke Manifesto from last season as "petulant". I don't necessarily disagree, and there's sure to be more of it in the coming post, and in the coming weeks and months. So if you're expecting anything different, you might be disappointed.)

Then we were reminded that there were very important Mets that had "other things to do" rather than be here for the only closing ceremony that Shea Stadium will ever know. Great, more misery. Not that Nolan Ryan, Hubie Brooks, Mookie Wilson and the like didn't have better things to do. But after what Mets fans had to endure on Sunday, the previous week, and the previous two years, everything felt like a slight.

But then the players who were here came out. And we were excited again for a few minutes. The highlights, of course, were guys like Doc, Darryl, Piazza, and Tom Terrific. But what got me were the guys that helped introduce me to baseball that you don't see anymore. Did anybody really expect to see Dave Kingman come back (or for that matter, show his face in public anywhere?) When was the last time Craig Swan was at Shea Stadium? And my first ever favorite Met, Doug Flynn? They really invited Doug Flynn? Boy, I didn't think this organization had it in 'em to be all-inclusive and recognize players from all eras and not just the good ones. The Mets have been accused of not recognizing their history. Every single criticism in that regard has been well deserved.

But Doug Flynn? Well played, evil geniuses ... well played.

It was all emotional, and it made us forget for a little while that our franchise is once again the joke of the sporting world. But it reminded us that this is it. The old barn is gone forever. No playoff games with the Cubs ... and no next season. It'll be knocked down and made into a parking lot by April.

It's a lot of childhood they're knocking down.

Unfortunately, every time I think about all the good times I've had at Shea, and even the multitude of bad events I've witnessed personally (Pendleton in '87, Gibson in '88, the Yankees clincher in 2000, Scott Speizio in '06), I'll think about the fact that while our bullpen sucks, it was former Met Matt Lindstrom officially closed out Shea Stadium by knocking the Mets out of the playoffs. And that it was the Marlins who were scooping dirt from home plate as a keepsake ... and as a symbol of conquest.

And that the Honeymooners episode that was shown tonight was the one I referenced yesterday: the one with the cornet. Everything was supposed to be louder than everything else. Instead, Shea Stadium exits stage left ... quietly.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Everything Louder Than Everything Else

I have to admit that Friday night put me in a foul mood, and it carried over to Saturday, lingered on my train ride to Shea, and festered during the short rain delay as everybody in my section found it easier to leave the section through my row, of which I was the only one sitting in.





Sort of like the last week of the season. Down on Monday. Up on Tuesday. Down on Wednesday. Up on Thursday. Down on Friday.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaay down on Friday.

The thrill was gone at Shea during that loss, so Snoop Manuel turned to Johan Santana one more time. And Santana knows that if the thrill is gone, then it's time to take it back.

Take it back he did ... by the throat ... on three days rest. And in the process he turned my frown upside down (for now).

Not all 2-0 wins are created equal ... certainly not here. Most 2-0 Met wins feel like you just went through the gauntlet at Oklahoma. Saturday's 2-0 Met win felt like mere confirmation that Johan Santana is worth every player, every penny, and every bit the effort spent to get him to Flushing in '08. But even with a full year of Santana, here we are ... right back in the very same place we were last year following a big win against the Marlins. Tied with a team for the last playoff spot with a lefty on the last year of his contract taking the hill. Last year it was the Phillies for the division, I was all in. We know how that turned out.

This season, now we know that it is the Brewers and the wild card ... and I'm all in yet again. I have no choice.
"I ain't in it for the power
I ain't in it for my health
I ain't in it for the glory of anything at all
And I sure ain't in it for the wealth."
At $8.50 a beer and $26 for a "Final Series at Shea" tee shirt, you know damn well I ain't in this for no wealth.

But as the song goes, I'm in it 'till it's over and I just can't stop ... even if I tried. (It's some sort of birth defect.)

So indeed, sign up all your raw recruits. It's all hands on deck today ... for players and fans. So let's make a deal:

Fans: if you have a ticket, go. I know, the weather report has been awful the last few days. But rain system that's worse than a drizzle gets labeled as "The Storm of the Century" these days. Screw the inaccurate forecast and go. Go! And as loud as it was on Saturday, everything must be louder than everything else today. So scream your head off. Remember, you have all winter to dry off and rest your voice.

Players: In return, promise us you will try your very best not to go to the bullpen in the first inning like a certain game last season that we aren't going to mention again. You may think I'm kidding, but this is Oliver Perez we're talking about.

And may I just say as a personal aside to you, Ollie, that today would be a terrible time for the bad Oliver Perez to show up. To paraphrase Alice Kramden: I like the good Oliver Perez. And after your stumble in your last game, I'm not going to let you give up (runs). And if the bad Oliver Perez ever shows up around here again, I'm going to hit him right on top of the head with this cornet.

Now to you Ollie, to the rest of you players, and everybody in attendance tomorrow ... take that cornet and go hit that high note. Make it louder than everything else you've ever hit.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Our story begins with a knock at the door:

Shea Stadium Usher: May I help you?

Reaper: Hi, I'm here for your season.

SSU: Excuse me?

RP: You heard me, cough it up!

SSU: But the season's not over. There are games tomorrow and Sunday, and the Mets are still alive.

RP: Alive? You call what happened Friday being alive?

SSU: Well, mathematically we're still alive and I'm not authorized to hand over the season anyway.

RP: (Sigh) Lemme speak to your boss.

(Usher frantically seeks out an authority figure)

Jeff Wilpon: May I help you.

RP: Yes, I'm here for your season and you have a difficult employee.

JW: Yes, I know ... I have many difficult employees these days. But look, you know I can't just hand over the season to you.

RP: Yes well you know what happened last season. I came for the season on Saturday afternoon. You had to go and try to take it back from me when it was rightfully mine. I drove all the way back to my cottage in North Tonawanda, and then your season flatlined so I had to drive all the way back. I'm not driving all the way back tonight and I'm not leaving without your season.

JW: Is there something I can give you in the meantime? Matt Wise's career?

RP: I got that last May.

JW: Aaron Heilman's soul?

RP: Don't you remember? My assistant came for that back in '06.

JW: All right, listen ... you can stay here. I have a luxury box already set up next door at Citi Field, and I'll get you a ticket to tomorrow's game. But I need you to take a more pleasing form ... I can't have you in the stands looking the way you do.

RP: How about this?

JW: Who are you supposed to be?

RP: Missy Peregrym. I'm in some television show called, oddly enough, "Reaper". Your fans will just be so happy to see a good looking celebrity they'll never get the connection.

JW: Fine.

RP: Oh, and when I take your season, I'll just take the Stadium too. I got the pick-up truck so I don't need to take two trips.

JW: Fine, just get it out of here. I never liked this place. Isn't it going to take you a while to knock it down and get it into the truck?

RP: Nah, when your fans turn into an angry mob on Sunday they'll help destroy it and make my life easier. MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

JW: Yeah, whatever. Just don't laugh like that while you're here ... you'll scare the children.

RP: Fine. I'll be by the door with my wolf.

JW: Randy Wolf? Ooh, can he pitch?

RP: (Sigh)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Carlos Power Trumps Hoffpauir

It's a simple rule I have for baseball games (especially baseball games during the final week of the season):

If I'm going to catch pneumonia watching baseball during a nor'easter, my team had better win.

Despite the efforts of future hall of famer Micah Hoffpauir (from my seats tonight I kept asking Hoffpauir if I could deliver his induction speech), that rule was adhered to, thanks to ... Ramon Martinez, Robinson Cancel, and Ryan Church??!? I guess if you played that trifecta, you'd be able to retire on your winnings.

So with apologies to Jon Stewart, Here now: Your moment of Zen:

Good luck Milwaukee ... Micah's your problem now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just For Mets

I never bother with post game news conferences. People get up to the podium and say the same boring things over and over again. Drives me nuts.

So when it was time for Snoop Manuel to discuss what was perhaps the worst loss of the season afterwards, I got ready to leave the room only to hear his opening statement:
"Oh it's baaaaaaaaad. It's baaaaaaaaad."
Sign number one your season is in trouble: When your manager sounds like Emmitt Smith in the rocking chair from the Just For Men commercial, it really is bad. Emmitt, thespian that he is, sounded like he was dying in the commercial (I don't know how you die from gray hair but that's another conversation.) This Mets season is dying a slow painful death too.

It should have been a glorious evening with the Braves not only doing to the Phillies what they did to the Mets this week, but with Julian Tavarez and Shane Victorino arguing like two old ladies going after the last hair clip at Target.

(Editor's note: If Shane Victorino and Julian Tavarez fought to the death, I wouldn't know who to root for.)

Instead, only missed opportunity ... much like that ninth inning where Daniel Murphy tripled to start off the inning, and David Wright struck out for the first out, allowing the Cubs to walk the Carloses to get to the absolutely putrid Ryan Church ... who promptly grounded into a fielders choice for the second out to expedite the end of the inning, and perhaps the Mets' playoff hopes.

(Retrospective Irony: If Murphy had only singled rather than tripled, the Carloses get at-bats instead of intentional walks after Wright's strikeout. But if Wright doesn't swing at ball four, then at least one of them gets an at-bat. At least Wright is still handsome, and has a wax statue.)

Oh it's bad, especially when Fredi Gonzalez has announced that he's playing his regulars in the final series of the season.

Asked why, Florida's manager said: "To stick it to the Mets again just as we did last year because we hate them and we hate everything about them For the integrity of the game and for the way you should play the game. That's the only way to do it. Like we did last year."
Yup, I think Wednesday was the last nail in the coffin. Oh it's baaaaaaaaaaad.

(Editor's note: In the spirit of missed opportunity, I am usually keenly aware of chicken finger night on Wednesdays, when my job puts out chicken fingers for the staff. Last night, I missed the chicken fingers. I felt like Ryan Church, David Wright, and Fluff Castro combined. So it was that kind of night. I choked. Clearly, it's an epidemic.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Moment Of Praise

I don't know if Tuesday's events are the start of something magical, or simply another "dead cat bounce" that delays the inevitable like John Maine's 13-0 win and the corresponding Phillies loss was last season. But whatever happens, let me just say this:

Johan, you're the flippin' man.

Dude, you could have come here, negotiated your new contract, and proceeded to become a huge disappointment like most people that make their way here to Flushing for big bucks. You could have torn your ACL and your MCL stepping out of a golf cart. You could have taken the mound wearing earplugs. You could have trafficked weed in peanut butter jars. Nobody would have known the difference.

Instead, you haven't lost since I saw that crazy woman get dragged out of Shea in a strait jacket. And that was a while ago. Every big start that this team needed in the last three months ... you've provided. It's too bad your talents have been wasted on this team and this bullpen ... you should be a 20 game winner. You should be in the Cy Young conversation. You should have had the opportunity to really turn this town on its ear.

In fact it's to the point where if you start this Sunday and have a clunker, I can't even be that mad at you. I mean yeah ... I'd be a little mad because if you had a clunker the last day of the season, I'd have to go on another "meaning of life" quest to the Arctic Circle or something because I wouldn't even know what do say, do or think at that point. But I'd wind up taking it out on Aaron Heilman, Tom Glavine, and Armando Benitez anyway. Because what you've done up until this point should have been more than enough. What you did last night ... eight innings of gutty baseball pitched with a hit and a fielder's choice where you beat out a double play ... on a night where I had the "season's over" proclamation ready to go, should really be enough.

Instead, this freakin' team is still fighting for their lives. But whatever happens from here on in, just know that it's not your fault Johan ... it's not your fault.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Could It Be Tragic?

Or at least more tragic than last year?

Consider that although the Mets never had a seven game lead this season, Son of Choke might statistically be bigger than Choke itself. Consider:

The Mets had their seven game lead at the end of play on September 12th, 2007. In the twelve days since, they lost five games in the standings to the Phillies while going 4-7.

At the end of play on September 10th, 2008, the Mets had their biggest lead of the season, a 3.5 game lead. From then until now, twelve days since, they've lost six games in the standings to the Phillies while also going 4-7. And this year, they're threatening to choke the playoffs away to not one, but two teams ... including, of course, a team that was choking so bad they fired their manager in September.

That team has three games with the Pirates coming while the Mets' three games are against the Cubs. Then, the Brewers get the Cubs for three while the Mets get Florida. The Brewers will miss Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden while the Mets get them on Wednesday and Thursday. The Mets, meanwhile, have their ace going tonight ... which means another chance for the bullpen to blow a lead for him.

So forgive me if I start thinking about alternate plans for October.

Pitcher Grand Slams Are So Four Months Ago

So much for the "Cubs have nothing to play for theory". Yeah, I loved when people asked me "Hey, the Cubs have nothing to play for so that should help the Mets, right?" Oh yeah, except that these are the same Mets who lost the last four out of six to the Braves ... who also had nothing to play for except jamming it down our necks. And the Cubs at half speed are better than these Braves at full speed. The Mets speed? Think Mo Vaughn running through 100 yards of marshmallow fluff.

The same marshmallow fluff that Jon Niese threw to Jason Marquis for his grand slam, which helped crushed the Mets tonight in the first day of the rest of your life. So let me get this straight: This is the Cubs team the Mets are supposed to beat in the first round? The team that has nothing to play for?

That's all right ... Because the way they're going, soon the Mets will have nothing to play for too.

(Editor's note: "Choke" opens in theatres this Friday. Apparently, they made a movie about 2007. Lucky for them the sequel's being written as we speak.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

S.O.B. (Save Our Bullpen)

I'm hearing through the grapevine that after today's loss to the Braves featuring yet another bullpen meltdown, that Jeff Wilpon is currently drafting a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to ask him for one of those government bailouts that he's been handing out lately.

You know, during Saturday night's game, Gary Cohen speculated on the amount of Mets pitchers that could reach 80 appearances for the season. At that point, Aaron Heilman had 75, and Gary said that Heilman, with eight games left on the schedule, would probably reach 80 games.

That would mean that after today, Heilman would appear in four of the final seven games to reach the tragic number. And I'll say this: if I have to sweat through four Aaron Heilman flavored games in the next week, I'm flying to Chicago ... I'm going sightseeing at the top of the Sears Tower ... I'm going to take some wonderful pictures from atop the Tower ... And then I'm hurling myself off of it. It's about the same kind of experience that I get watching a Mets game anyway these days.

Now ... explain to me one more time why Al Reyes was released? I mean, does Reyes really have less control and velocity than a rotting corpse?

How Could C.B. Bucknor Screw The Mets From 604 Miles Away?

All told, the Mets got the short end of the stick on bad umpiring tonight.

I'll explain:

First the Mets got a gift from Gary Darling in the second as he called Josh Anderson out on a play at first when he was clearly safe. Anderson would have scored on Martin Prado's double, but instead Prado was stranded harmlessly to keep the score at 3-0 Atlanta.

The Braves got the break back as Brandon Jones was called safe on a steal of second when he was clearly out in the sixth ... and Jones would then score on a single by Anderson so the Braves got the run they should have gotten in the second. I can't get on Bill Hohn for the botched call ... from where he was standing there's no way he could have seen the tag which was in time. My complaint on the play is this: I was surprised when Ruben Gotay wasn't called for interference for bringing his bat back into Brian Schneider's throwing zone. The bat clearly got in Schneider's way.

But that was borderline, so let's call the previous two plays even ... which means the Mets completely deserved their 4-2 loss tonight (a loss in which Jorge Campillo, let's face it, was lucky to be alive after the Mets hit a bunch of balls right at people ... when Pedro Martinez whacks you for a two run double you have problems. Then again, when Pedro Martinez is your entire offense you have problems.)

The tipping point was in Miami, where C.B. Bucknor, known for such hits as "Runners Interference" and "Obscure Lines In My Rulebook" (available on Ronco Records) completely botched a play at the plate where Jorge Cantu clearly was safe as he slid through Carlos Ruiz's leg on a play at the plate. It was in the eighth inning, and of course Cantu was the tying run. Instead, the Phillies defeat the Marlins 3-2 to jump back into first place.

Umpires 2 Mets 1

But thankfully, and most importantly, the Brewers are chum. So at least if the Mets break our hearts, they'll most likely fall into the mild card, and not the golf course. I'd go further into why it would be a good idea to win the division instead of the mild card ... but of course if the Brewers were to catch the Mets after my detailed analysis then I'd have to live with it the rest of my life, and my life doesn't need that scarlet letter.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What I Meant To Say ...

I guess Snoop Manuel almost had it right when he said Santana would go 170 pitches. He just transposed a couple of numbers. Johan only needed 107 to vaporize the Nationals and gain a split of the series.

Enjoy the Braves series all, as Metstradamus is out of town (yes, I allow myself one third person reference per season ... and you just read it.) Be back with something halfway meaningful on Sunday.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friends In The Pen

I don't know what's more amazing: that the tying run came to bat for the Nationals in a game that the Mets once led 7-1, or that the Mets used seven pitchers to close the deal for Brandon Knight ... yet Al Reyes still can't buy his way into a game.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When You Wish Upon What The Mets Call "Stars"

At the beginning of the day, I stopped at a fountain, and made a wish that the Mets would gain a game on the Phillies tonight. I was desperate. With that, I took a penny out of my pocket and hurled it towards the fountain with my eyes shut tight.

As I opened my eyes, there was Willie Harris diving in the fountain and catching my penny before it could hit the water.

But you know what, even after Harris' latest defensive gem which helped put a nail in the Mets 2008 season (which is currently in a hand basket on Hell's front porch), I'm beginning to think that it could have been Lenny Harris out in left field, and it wouldn't matter.

In fact, screw that. The Nationals could have fielded nine Lenny Harrises tonight. It didn't matter. It's not going to matter. Not when you can't get hits off a guy who gave up six runs in three innings in his last start against ... oh, wouldn't you know it? The Mets!

So let's review: The Mets are out of first place, Fernando Tatis is out for the season, and Endy Chavez couldn't save AIG. So for tomorrow's meeting, let's try reading from the passage of "Maple Bats, The Heimlich, and You".

Monday, September 15, 2008

All My Rowdy Friends Collapsed On Monday Night

You're going to tell me now that I'm supposed to be excited that Bobby Parnell had a scoreless inning in his debut?

Well if that's the only choice I have, I guess I'll be on board. Because there's nothing else to be excited about after tonight's 7-2 debacle at the hands of the putrid Washington Nationals. Certainly not Pedro Martinez, who was one out away from getting through his six inning outing with only two runs tacked against him, but instead is continuing his descent into the ordinary. Used to be that Pedro would muddle through a game, but knew when that last batter was coming and would dial it up to finish strong ... especially with runners on base. Tonight, sixth inning ... runners on second and third with Anderson Hernandez at the plate (you know the one who hit under .200 in New Orleans this season), and Petey couldn't put him away. (Gee, an ex-Met killing us? That neeeeever happens!!!)

Certainly not the Mets offense, who somehow turned John Lannan from lamb to lion in just one week. He was a lamb against the Mets last Tuesday, lion tonight as the Mets "resilient" offense could only knock one hit off him tonight.

And definitely not Filthy Sanchez, who came in and only had to get one freakin' out in the seventh after Ricardo Rincon came out of seclusion to get the first two outs in the seventh without incident. Then, in came Filthy to put out the fire once and for all:

Walk, single, home run, scorched earth.

To think the rookies dressed like Michael Phelps yesterday. Dressing like gold medalists seem a little bit out there for this bunch. Investment bankers, I would have believed.


I loved that Matt Yallof asked Lee Mazzilli during the pre-game if Pedro Martinez has it in him to step up because ... "you've played against him for years." Of course Mazzilli played against Pedro ... in Playstation. Because as you know in the real world, Mazzilli was retired for three years before Petey made his debut in '92.

Oh, Matt must have meant "managed" against him for years. One problem: it was only one year. Pedro pitched with the Red Sox in '04 while Maz was the Orioles manager ... and Petey gave up 22 earned in 24 innings against Baltimore that season.

In actuality, Mazzilli only "bench coached" against him for years ... which is kinda the same as "well, I was in the park and saw him pitch a lot". Yeah, Maz and about 25,000 others. There's some perspective you can't find anywhere else.

P.S. Maz thinks that Pedro needs Shave Zone ... tough guy.


There's actually a precedent for what happened to Ned Yost yesterday (by the way Ned, thanks for showing up against the Phillies ... proving once and for all that you can't depend on a choke artist to help prevent a choke of your own ... that's like hiring Robby Alomar to be employed by the New York Chamber of Commerce), and you're familiar with it if you're a New York sports fan.

The 1989 New York Rangers were battling for a division title with 15 games to go in the season. Coaching them was Michel "Le Petit Tigre" Bergeron, famous for his hot goalie system and his hot temper. Bergeron's Rangers went 3-10 when, with two games left in the regular season, GM Phil Esposito fired Bergeron and took the coaching reins himself of a team that was headed, albeit while limping, to the playoffs.

The Bergeron/Esposito relationship mirrored the Steve Phillips/Bobby Valentine relationship in certain ways near the end of their two year relationship. Certainly, the relationship between Bergeron and his players kinda looked like the Valentine/Player relationship. I can only assume that things were completely unmanageable between the Brewers clubhouse and Ned Yost if this move was made at this point. Heck, if it was the choking itself, there were plenty of opportune chances to fire Willie Randolph down the stretch last season.

(Editor's note: Esposito did no better than Bergeron, losing the final two regular season games and then getting swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Penguins. So I wouldn't expect this firing to really make a whole lot of difference unless things were really as bad as some think in that Brewer clubhouse. The moral to the story is, don't f***ing get swept by the Phillies and maybe you can keep your job.)

Here We Go Again

So I recorded Sunday's Mets game on my Digital Video Recorder ... and when I got home, I couldn't help but fast forward to the end. You wouldn't believe what I saw:

I don't know if I recorded the Mets game or "Toonces the Driving Bullpen".

But on the bright side, I set a new Guinness World Record for most times kicked in the pedoingas in a 24 hour span. First it was Luis Ayala, then it was Ned Yost, then Jay Feely wound up and swung from close range ...

He missed.

But Matt Cassel finished the job, then Ned Yost came back for seconds. Thankfully, I was wearing my super protective gear or else it would have been a really long day.

Wait, is that the Mets bus I see leaving for Washington?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Life Is A Highway

Schoeneweis: Thanks for the ride, Johan.

Santana: My pleasure.

Stokes: Yeah, we've had smooth sailing with no traffic for 200 miles, and now we're almost home.

Feliciano: Thanks Johan.

Santana: Always glad to ... uh oh.

Stokes: What is it Johan?

Santana: Guys, my foot fell asleep. I'm pulling over. One of you is going to have to drive the last three miles home.

Schoeneweis: I'll do it (trades places with Johan and takes the wheel.)

Schoeneweis: Three miles, can't be too hard

(Schoeneweis runs over a squirrel, then swerves into a ditch.)

Schoeneweis: Oh no! What are we going to do?

Stokes: Let's get the car out of the ditch and I'll drive (the guys push the car out and drive off.)

Stokes: There, just a little detour, we'll be fine (slams into an 18 wheeler, the car comes to rest by the guard rail.)

Stokes: Dammit!

Santana: What the hell is wrong with you guys?

Feliciano: Guys, we need some gas. Let's hit the rest stop ... I'll drive.

(The guys drive into the rest stop, and slam into the gas station. Santana's car explodes into a fireball, the guys ... somehow ... are unharmed.)

Santana: You idiots!!! That's the seventh Mercedes you guys have wrecked! Why do I drive with you guys??!? How the hell are we going to get home???

Stokes: Hey, there's another car in the lot, it's a pick up truck!

Schoeneweis: You mean the one with the vanity plates?

Stokes: Yeah, NIESE 49.

Feliciano: Hey buddy? Can you give us a lift? Hey? HEEEEEEEEY?!?

Niese: (Locks doors and speeds off.)

Schoeneweis: Aww.

(Editor's note: No squirrels were harmed in the making of this short.)

Acme Doppler

June 14th, 2008: The Mets make fans wait 90 minutes for a rainstorm to pass, claiming that their radar told them that the storm would pass. Instead, the freakiest storm of the summer ensues, and the Mets are forced to play a doubleheader the next day.

September 12th, 2008: The Mets make fans wait 90 minutes for a rainstorm to pass, claiming that their radar gave them an "improved forecast". Instead, a storm system that forces five other games from as far away as Chicago and as close as the Bronx forces the Mets to play a doubleheader the next day.

So here's the question: Who did the Mets entrust to buy their Doppler system, Wile E. Coyote?

"Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mud."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Exit Sandman

You can't make this stuff up:
"I've played my last day as a Met, that's the way it goes ... I've always tried to take on everything straight on. There's no use sitting here and saying, 'Geez, I could always make this miraculous recovery and pitch in August and September.' I'm going to let the thing work itself out and see where it takes me." -Billy Wagner

Wagner said he wasn't feeling much pain, to his elbow or the knee from which doctors extracted a tendon to help repair his elbow, and was comforted by hospital visits on Wednesday from Moises Alou and Scott Schoeneweis. The estimated 12-month recovery phase has begun.
Alou really had no excuse not to visit, considering he's been in the hospital so often he pays rent.

"I've gotten used to the food."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blogging The Enemy

Well, here it is: the first ever true live blog on the Musings ... etc. We'll be following Brewers/Phillies on this Mets off day and see if this darn lead can be stretched to four games. It's Sheets vs. Moyer (neither of whom the Mets seem to hit very well so it will be nice to see them try to destroy each other for a change.)

We can talk about whatever you want ... the game, the Mets, whether Ryan Howard can defeat Prince Fielder in Sumo, cheesesteaks, beer, anything around the realm of this game. Just beware, I'm moderating the comments, and I'm in charge of approving the comments ... that's just the way this apparatus works. So don't be alarmed if your comment doesn't hit right away, and please don't hit resend 46 times. I'll get to you, I promise. Stupidity is encouraged. Just be nice.

Let's play blog.

The Good, The Bad, And The Certifiable

Simple. Ready:
  • The Mets are good.
  • The Nationals are bad.
  • Elijah Dukes is insane.
And not the good kind of insane like Carlos Delgado's been for the Mets lately. No, Elijah Dukes is that special kind of crazy. Look, here are my simple rules for anger management at the plate:
  • If you feel that a pitch hurled your way had the intent of ending your life, or costing you money come contract time by breaking an important bone, then by all means ... charge the mound and get down.
  • If it's not quite that bad, then shut up and get in the batters box for the next pitch.
It really is that simple. Stop with this bat wagging "I'm gonna get you" staredowns, especially if the pitch comes inside and doesn't even hit you. Like I always say: Don't sing it, bring it. But no, Dukes apparently goes to the Cody Ross school of solving disputes and is willing to let someone get in front of him before he gets tough. And it's not like Dukes is 5'9" like Ross is ... in fact, Dukes could floss with the treehouse that Ross lives in since Dukes is like, six foot twelve. But apparently as a general rule, he doesn't fight anyone taller than Cody Ross.

But giving the "crotch chop" to fans in the stands for booing him is fair game. Nice job, X-Pac. You may stand tall, but you still have to stand on your toes to get a peek at fourth place ... so make a chant out of that with the rest of your softball girls.

And don't think it's a coincidence that after Dukes had to be calmed down like an overactive child for five minutes, Pelfrey all of a sudden couldn't find his game ... no doubt thrown out of rhythm by Elijah's little hissyfit. Luckily he withstood the Nationals' ongoing "dead cat bounce" and escaped the game after five innings with a 7-5 lead. But then ...

"You know, it's getting really f***ing expensive to keep throwing gasoline on all these fires."

When you come into a game, walk the leadoff batter, and then let the likes of Emilio Bonifacio have ten pitch at-bats off you, you are asking for trouble. I mean, Emilio Bonifacio is just Michael Bourn with a higher average and a cooler name, and Aaron Heilman's nibbling? Nibbling??!? Heilman would then proceed to give up a bomb to Cristian Guzman and couldn't even finish the sixth inning.

And I'll maintain that Heilman was only in the game tonight because the pen was extended a bit Tuesday night and that Pelfrey couldn't get himself to the sixth (probably because the Mets didn't want to extend him in another Nats/Mets slugfest.) Snoop Manuel has been reluctant to put Heilman into key spots lately, and that mistrust ... along with ten pitch at-bats to Emilio Bonifacio and bombs to Cristian Guzman ... is going to wind up keeping Heilman off the postseatson roster (and cinch the Manager of the Year award for Manuel). Store that in your mind's Rolodex.

(Editor's note: If that's the case, why haven't we seen Al Reyes yet ... just for a look?)

But once again, the Mets had the bat out again for 13 runs in their 13-10 win (they would have kicked that other extra point but, you know ... Mike Nugent was hurt), helped out by the fact that Lastings Milledge was playing center field somewhere on Parsons Blvd. and base hit after base hit in the seventh inning was falling in front of him (not to mention Guzman's error which went into center field where it took Carlos Beltran five seconds to realize the ball was in center ... and still had time to go to third because Milledge was playing Daniel Murphy to hit it to the chop shops.)

And kudos to David Wright not only for going 4-for-4 and smacking a dinger to give the Mets breathing room in the 8th, but for wearing his cape in the sixth and coming from nowhere to field Wil Nieves' topper off Joe Smith's glove in the seventh and bare-handing the play to nail him. To me, easily ... Wright's highlight of the night. Considering he had three sparklers and four hits, that's saying something.


Thursday is an off-day in Metland ... but the Phillies and Brewers kick off a super-cool four game set that either brings the Phillies close to the wild card, or knocks them out of the box completely. So here's what I'm thinking: If you guys ... you loyal readers ... want it, I'll put together a live blog of the Phillies/Brewers game so that instead of following it on Yahoo! or something, we can have a little Internet party here on the blog and have some fun following the enemy. I'm usually not feeling a live blog for a Mets game ... you're all watching it anyway, typing would be a waste of time for you. But for an out of town game, maybe you want a different and strange way of following it. So why not follow it here?

So for you guys that don't have the MLB package, or even for you guys who do, and are into this, just give me a "hell yeah" in the comment section, and if there's enough yes votes, I'll set it up and we'll make an appointment for a 7:00 enemy live blog right here. The ball's in your court.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I know that most Met fans aren't allowing themselves to get ahead of themselves ... asking themselves such questions as:
  • Will the Mets go to three starters or four in the playoff rotation?
  • Will Aaron Heilman be on the post-season roster or not?
  • Will Andy Phillips get a full World Series share?
But with last night's victory (and admit it: you loved that 10-8 score even though Oliver Perez was hit around and Jerry Manuel broke the new Met rule of "never pitch Nelson Figueroa against a bunch of softball girls") it's all right to feel good. No, I'm not going to feel better until the Mets are seven games in first place with sixteen games to play, but to see Carlos Delgado not only hit home runs but knock down satellites in the process is key ... not only because he's been the key to this lineup ever since he's gotten to New York, not only because the whispers of "MVP" have turned into full blown chants, and not only because I bought his jersey back in April when he stunk and he made me look like a genius.

But because Carlos Delgado is the guy who said this last season:
"I think at times we can get a little careless. We've got so much talent I think sometimes we get bored."
For as much undue flak Delgado received for that, it really is nice that he's the guy now carrying this team. Because who knows if he was talking primarily about the team or about himself ... but the one thing you can say now that Delgado has morphed into Ted Williams is that there's no way he's bored. If he was bored, would he have 11 home runs against lefties this season (as opposed to four last season?) Manny Acta thought he would be cute last night and bring in lefty Charlie Manning in against Uno Cinco to turn him around and then have Manning in to face Delgado ... they both homered (Charlie's no Peyton, obviously.) You can't get cute with the Carloses anymore.

So feel good ... it's okay to dream about post-season shares. Because you know, Ambiorix Burgos will probably need that share for legal fees. Idiot.

(Editor's note: At least Brian Bannister's ERA is rather high.)

It's Official ...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Only On YES

This date in Yankees history:

September 8th, 2008: The Yankees give up six runs in the sixth inning of a 12-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ... in that same sixth inning, Pudge Rodriguez was ejected along with Torii Hunter after a brawl.

But more importantly than that, during the sixth inning, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network went to a commercial ... and that commercial featured New York Mets stars Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran pitching Puerto Rico Tourism. This commercial would air at least one more time during this particular Yankees loss. This is significant due to the multitude of Derek Jeter commercials shown on SNY, the Mets television network.

If you would like to read about some more great Yankees memories, go out and buy "This BAD Day in Yankees History" by Gabriel Schechter.

Monday, September 08, 2008

It Tolls For Country Time

"Never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee" -John Donne

Win One, Lose Two

Great. Carlos Delgado hits two mammoth home runs, Johan Santana keeps the Mets in first place after Pedro gets knocked around in the opener (by the way, Greg Dobbs is really starting to piss me off), and what little fun I enjoy is ruined with the news that Billy Wagner is out for the season. Fasten your seat belts, indeed.

Help us Obi Wan Ayala. You're our only hope.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Weather Is Not To Be Trusted

"I don't trust the weather," Manuel said. "Everybody says it's going to rain and then the sun is shining. I'm telling you we're playing tomorrow." -Jerry Manuel on Friday night
Dear Jerry,

Mother Nature wanted me to respectively remind you that you shouldn't mess with her.



(Editor's note: Mother Nature has some sense of humor ... how would you feel if you bought a ticket to see a Sunday afternoon game, then had your plans changed to see a Sunday night game, and there wound up being a Sunday afternoon game anyway? I don't know what John Kruk has to do with this but gosh darn it I'm not going to rest before I found out.)

Check Your Inbox

"One pitch, one at bat, one play, one situation, think ‘small’ and ‘big’ things result, tough at-bats, lots of walks, stay up the middle with men on base, whatever it takes to ‘keep the line moving’ on offense, 27 outs on defense, the Mets know you’re better than they are. They remember last year. You guys are never out of a game. Welcome the challenge that confronts you this weekend. You are the stars. Good luck. #20."

-Mike Schmidt, in an e-mail to the Phillies before Friday night's 3-0 Met defeat.
Thankfully, the Mets family showed that once you leave the Mets, you never really leave the Mets. And they responded after the game with a flood of e-mails in support of the current team:
"Gosh golly boys, you can do it! Gee whiz! And just know that if you need me to manage, I'm a phone call away." -Gary Carter

"Hey you need that extra motivation against the Phillies. You need that second gear. Hey, tough guys, you need ... Shave Zone!" -Lee Mazzilli

"If they ain't startin', you ain't departin." -Garry Templeton

"Hey, just letting you know that now that my team is out of the running, that I'm rootin' for ya ... take 'em to school like that school was in Colorado!" -Mike Hampton

"F**k Whitey! F**k the f**king Cardinals. Wait, what? They're playing the Phillies? Oh. Hey, you need stock tips?" -Lenny Dykstra

"Show 'em the Bronx!" -Bobby Bonilla

"Hey guys, I know how to make this loss hurt a whole lot less ... if you're interested." -Tony Tarasco

"Does Von Hayes still play for them? No? Oh, good. Go get 'em boys! -Calvin Schiraldi

"As long as you battle you'll be winners in my book! -Art Howe

"I wish you the best of luck." -Brent Gaff

P.S. Yes, I did play for the Mets. Does anybody remember me?

"Gregg Jefferies sucks!" -Roger McDowell

"Don't worry about not scoring runs tonight. Your offense is so good you'll come out this series and explode ... like that M-80 that I hurled towards a school girl." -Vince Coleman

"Hey, you still need bullpen help?" -Toby Borland

"Just keep 'em off the scoreboard in the first inning next time and you'll be fine." -Tom Glavine

"What the hell is 'e-mail'?" -Kevin McReynolds

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bush Wants To Separate Church From State

Or at least from his state of mind ... or from the state of Wisconsin.

Get Outta My Head

You ever get the feeling that people are surfing the personal internet that's inside your brain?

Like when earlier today I had been perusing the bullpen statistics ... specifically the splits of the main bullpen culprits, er ... I mean pitchers, and found the following:

.151/.224 vs. Left (Avg/OBP against)
.330/.426 vs. Right

.207/.269 vs. Left
.344/.427 vs. Right

.203/.288 vs. Right
.311/.426 vs. Left

.215/.320 vs. Right
.310/.401 vs. Left

.175/.175 vs. Right
.371/.421 vs. Left

And I'm thinking: "Ooh, I can put these splits in my back pocket and spring 'em in a future post dissecting the bullpen. It'll be great, they'll never expect me to go all statistical on 'em, they'll just expect another Robby Alomar joke. Oh, It'll be great."

So what do you think happens? Of course, SNY breaks out the lefty/righty split graphic during Tuesday's game ensuring that I'll just look like a copycat fool when my master bullpen dissection comes out. The one time I get all stat geek and it's ruined ... ruined I say!

But it doesn't take a genius, a stat geek, or a Mets television network to point out what's so wrong with this bullpen and why it needs to be revamped next season: Everybody in the pen is a specialist. Schoeneweis, Heilman, Smith and Feliciano ... when used right ... should be guys who are facing one or two batters. The Mets don't really have anybody who could face anybody. Except ...

The one guy who's splits were on the SNY graphic didn't belong:

.261/.331 vs. Right
.217/.314 vs. Left

That's a weird one because his numbers are slightly worse against righties, correct? And the OBP againsts are similar against both lefties and righties. It doesn't make much sense. But the splits get more normal when you go back to his salad year of '06:

.179/.266 vs. Right
.276/.362 vs. Left

So even Sanchez falls along that specialist line. But he's been an eighth inning guy before, so one would think it would be imperative for him to somehow regain a little of that '06 magic if this bullpen is going to last to and through October without dropping dead.

Until then, we'll take ninth innings like Tuesday night, where Stokes put a runner on (after two solid innings) before Feliciano got the lefty Prince Fielder to double himself up, and Smith came in to wipe out Corey Hart and give the Mets an opportunity to win the game in the tenth.

.291/.333 vs. Right
.259/.341 vs. Left
.241/.301 with nobody on
.321/.379 with runners on

If Luis Ayala could stop giving up rallies with two outs (started by guys who look like Bob Hamelin's distant relatives), he could be a guy who could not only close, but could slide into an eighth inning role if/when Country Time comes back.


Jon Niese's scouting reports says that he likes to compete, which basically makes him the anti-Steve Trachsel.

Niese gave up five runs in three plus innings against the Brewers tonight in his major league debut ... which is two innings more than Trachsel lasted in Game 3 of the 2006 NLCS.

Basically, when you talk about a full list of Met pitchers from best to worst, all you have to do is just kinda show up and you'll surpass Trachsel.


And by the way, if you're interested in reading about Cody Ross popping off some more on Mike Pelfrey, then you should check this out. Try not to giggle uncontrollably.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Channeling Your Inner Boggs

The name that has been associated with Daniel Murphy has been Wade Boggs. You saw all sides of that today. Boggs wasn't the best of fielders in his rookie season either. And Murphy had some adventures in left field today that looked a lot like "Danny Being Manny".

But boy did Murphy look like Boggs in the eighth inning with a seven pitch at-bat against Eric Gagne which set up Carlos Delgado's 0-2 dinger which wound up winning the first game of this series against Milwaukee.

Of course, they'll need Murph to be Boggsian (not to mention Delgado continuing to stake his claim to the MVP award ... that's right, I said it) if Carlos Beltran is going to miss any time after tweaking his knee sliding into the home plate umpire, Ed Rapuano, while scoring the last run of the game. Which brings up an important point: How many times have you seen a runner slide into an umpire ... I'd be willing to say never, right? So this raises the question:

What in the bloody hell was Rapuano doing there?

I mean, if this never happens, and this isn't a common mistake, then you'd have to think that Rapuano's positioning is, oh I don't know ... stupid?
Beltran said a brief conversation with Rapuano ensued. "He asked me, 'How do you feel?'" Beltran said. "I said, 'Look at me, I'm limping.'"
I know the Mets have to play against the umpires every once in a while but this is quite ridiculous.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Cavalry (Or Calvary) Is On The Way

The Mets apparently don't care about crowded houses. They're calling up nine guys for the September stretch drive ... and apparently the surprise is that most teams don't call up nearly that many players when the rosters expand.

My surprise is that the Mets didn't use up all 15 of their extra available spots ... and that they were all relief pitchers. Need 12 outs? Use 12 pitchers. (Just make sure you pick up the 12 pitching arms from the side of the road in November.)

Conventional wisdom would tell you that our extra relievers ... Al Reyes, Bobby Parnell, Carlos Muniz and Ricardo Rincon would get the bulk of the work tomorrow so that our tired and our weary can yearn to breathe free in whatever huddled masses they'd like to join. Brian Stokes, for example, can join the huddled masses of the exhausted, having pitched in five straight games. Luis Ayala can join the huddled masses of those whose groins are tweaked. Aaron Heilman ... I don't even know what masses he's huddling in. I think they're giving him some bad advice.

But against the Milwaukee Brewers, that might not be possible. The good news is that Johan Santana goes for the Mets today, and he's capable of going nine. The bad news is that the Brewers slug .470 against lefties, and have an OPS of .820 (and against Johan and his longball tendencies that's trouble, not to mention Jon Niese makes his first start against these guys Tuesday ... welcome to the show, kid.) But here's the most important thing the Mets need to be mindful of this series: If they're lucky enough to make the playoffs, guess who they will probably get in Round One?

That's right, Milwaukee.

And while it's a relief that the Mets miss CC Sabathia this series, if they lose two of three or worse then they will have done so to a team that didn't have CC at their disposal over the next three games.

Good thing the cavalry is on its way (or is that calvary?) Maybe Labor Day isn't going to be so laborious after all.