Al Leiter. John Candeleria. Frank Tanana. Hideo Nomo. Dock Ellis. Warren Spahn. Don Cardwell. Kenny Rogers. Scott Erickson. These are players who had no-hitters in their resumes before coming to the Mets.
On Thursday, Mark Buehrle created his own category: Pitchers who spun perfect games after I write a post suggesting we trade for him. (The picture will look very familiar.)
I don't bring this up as a "see, told you so" point ... oh, who am I kidding, of course I am. After all, how many times am I right about anything? Once? Twice? I have to milk this for the little it's worth. But it is worth very little. Because when it's all said and done, if the Mets had made the deal I suggested, not only would Buehrle not have a perfect game or a no-hitter for the Mets, he would have been arrested well before today for selling arms to the Dominican Republic or something.
But here's the real point I'd like to make: If you haven't seen the highlights of the perfecto by now ... if you were at a wedding reception on a Thursday or you were on a safari expedition, or maybe you were just finishing up your three week boycott of ESPN because John Kruk had the gall to say that vegetables were overrated, check out the catch that led off the ninth inning. Considering the surrounding situation, it was probably one of the most spectacular clutch catches ever in life.
Think about it. Defense, for a guy who doesn't have 17 walks in 17 innings. Imagine that.
Duly noted, Dewayne Wise was a ninth inning defensive replacement. But do you realize how many errors have been made this season while Buehrle's on the mound? Four. F*&$ing four ... in 134 innings. I'd be willing to guarantee that part of that has been due to Buehrle's habit of working quick and throwing strikes, something Oliver Perez doesn't do, and keeping his defense on its toes.
But here's the wacky thing: Keeping in mind that Perez has pitched about 100 less innings than Buehrle, the number of errors the Mets have made this season while the maddeningly wild Oliver Perez is on the mound? One! One error, all year. You know who committed it? That's right, Daniel Murphy. Hard to say that was the fault of Perez. So guess what? Perez actually has received good defense behind him this season.
Which means that when you have a guy who has 38 walks in 38 innings, maybe defense is the least of his problems!
Since Buehrle is the order of the day, I want to talk about a recent quote of his:
"If I could just put a Cardinals jersey on for one day, throw one pitch, that would just be a dream come true."It's relevant because for years, it seems like it's either been the dream of players to play in St. Louis, like Buehrle (a Missouri native), or that good players come play for the Cardinals and they fall in love with it there, such as Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds and, probably soon, Matt Holliday.
If the Mets have any hope of regaining a little of that momentum, they have to fire Tony Bernazard.
It's a valid point to say that now that Bernazard's in the news, there's more of a mob mentality to fire him simply because he's in the line of fire and he's the man who's front and center in the tabloids right now, representing a team whose fan base is looking for a scapegoat. But who better to be a scapegoat than Bernazard? His firing certainly wouldn't be without merit. This is a guy who has a reputation that precedes him. This whole Bingo Mets thing isn't an isolated incident. He's had his hand in trouble for this organization from the beginning, from botching the original Carlos Delgado negotiations to manipulating Willie Randolph out of his job to all the dopey shenanigans this season. That it's beginning to bubble over now only magnifies the problem, not merely starts the problem.
(I mean really ... a hand gesture? Thin-skinned much, Tony?)
So firing Bernazard is as much about reality as it is about perception. But make no mistake, it's about perception too. And as you know, perception is reality. To keep Bernazard after the Bingo Mets incident, whether it's overblown or not, would send the absolute wrong message from an organization who has been handing those out like candy lately. And forget the fans, how do you think players around the league are perceiving the Mets right now? If Carlos Beltran is furious at the organization at the way they handled his injury, much like others have been (Ryan Church, anyone), don't you think this is going to affect the decisions of prospective free agents? If the Mets have become a running joke among their fan base, I can only imagine what a guy like, say, Doc Halladay must be thinking.
(And by the way, what kind of message does it send to all the working stiffs out there who are losing their jobs simply for being alive during a recession to keep this guy on the payroll despite acting like a moron?)
Keeping Bernazard tells players and fans that pre-existing relationships, yes man sycophants and "good old retread networks" are more important than putting the best people in the best position to get the job done. And that's not a message the Mets need to put out there after what's happened to this franchise since Game 7 in 2006. Yes, if the Mets are five games in first place then the Bingo incident doesn't mean as much. But the placement in the standings means everything. Their placement in the standings is completely relevant, because it's gone on long enough where you can realistically say that 2006 was the fluke.
And that's not even mentioning that Bernazard is the VP of Player Development, and nobody's developing anything except meniscus tears and bone bruises. Think about it this way: Fans have come up with the refrain that "You know, I'd like to see how other teams fare after losing their best players to the DL." Well, the Angels are now 10-2 since losing Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero. They've also been missing Kelvim Escobar for over a month, and didn't have John Lackey until May 16th. Not to mention they tragically lost Nick Adenhart in April. The team is 56-38.
Do you know who their VP of Player Development is? No? Well neither do I because he or she isn't out ripping off his or her shirt in the locker room of the Arkansas Travelers and getting his or herself in the newspaper.
It's all about perception and reality. In many ways, they're one in the same. And both perception and reality dictate that Bernazard has to go.
(Editor's note: The Angels director of player development is Abe Flores.)
And finally, John Maine might miss the rest of the season because of his injury. In other news, studies show that water can make you wet.