Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Warm And Fuzzy

As long as the Mets are going to lose, they might as well lose in a way that makes Met fans more comfortable. When the Mets lose because of bad starting pitching, or a lack of hitting with runners in alleged scoring position, it's frustrating because we, as Met fans, are not used to that. We're freaking out like animals that know a storm is coming ... we're under the bed snapping at people when they're trying to give us food.

But when the Mets lose because the bullpen blows a Johan Santana start ... well, we've grown quite accustomed to that. We sleep like babies, which means we wake up screaming every two hours but again, it's comfortable and familiar like an old blanket or our softball mitt. I can deal with that. I'm used to that.

I will say that as a first guess, I had the thought of walking Cody Ross with first base open to pitch to Alfredo Amezaga. Ross is a Keebler Elf, but he's a dangerous hitter. Maybe Snoop didn't want to put too many men on base ... maybe he felt that throwing four intentional balls after throwing a bunch of unintentional balls (losing Jorge Cantu after going 1-2 on him was deadly) wasn't the best way to get J.J. Putz back on track. I don't know, but I would have thought about walking Ross.

But I can't get crazy over that because Putz made his own bed today with the walks (an alternate title to today's entry would be "Thunderstunk", but I'll save that for a later blown save ... especially after I just found out that a derivative has been used today ... boy that would have been embarrassing) and deserved to lose. But I would like to ask this of Snoop: Why in the world would you bother pinch hitting Omir Santos, your other catcher, for Fluff Castro with the bases loaded and two down in the ninth? You had Fluff in mothballs for three days, he gets two hits today, and with the bases loaded you sit him down? Wasn't Castro a guy who was considered to have enough pop in his bat where you would carry three catchers so Fluff could come off the bench? And now you're pinch hitting your other catcher for him in a situation where a base hit might only bring home one run? Then you've burned your catchers for extra innings.

It was redundant overmanaging if you ask me ... and I'm sure it was done in deference to Snoop's man-crush on Santos. But Snoop's testing the cult factor. You know that going to the well again for some bases-loaded magic so soon after Santos' grannie on Monday was tempting fate. It's like when Richie Cunningham was the hero for his basketball team one week, and then he was expected to do it again in the championship game after he became "Lucious Legs" and he missed the free throw? Remember that episode? You knew he wasn't going to be the hero two games in a row, just like you knew that Omir Santos wasn't going to get a pie in the face twice in the same series. Manuel tried to be too cute on that one.

Perhaps he offered Santos a Life Saver after the game.


Random fact: The Mets are now 0-2 in their last two Weather Education Days, hosted by Mr. G and WPIX. This clearly means that it's time to stop this promotion. Wanna learn about the weather? Stick your head out the window.

Instead for you kids, it'll be Mets Chant Education Day, hosted by me. Lesson one: It's Lets-Go-Mets-(pause)-Lets-Go-Mets-(pause)-Lets-Go-Mets-(pause). Not: Let's-Go-Me-ets-(clap, clap, clapclapclap)-Let's-Go-Me-ets-(clap, clap, clapclapclap)-Let's-Go-Me-ets-(clap, clap, clapclapclap).

Because it's all about the kids.


By the way, because I know you're all curious ... Shake Shack? Aarrgrhrghrghrgrhgrhrghrgrh (drools). Burgers are heaven on a bun. Fries are excellent, and the black and white shake is quite tasty. The line takes 25 minutes (I timed it), but hey, get there early. I myself am glad I finally had the patience to wait in line.

But here's another take on Citi Field from Steve Somers ... and modified by a commenter you all know as "Metmaster". Wonder what you think (what you are about to read is the modification):

"Listening to Steve Somers on the FAN, I have come to the same conclusion re: Citi Field. He suggests that the Mets as a team might not like their new digs. I wholeheartedly agree. Generally good for the fan experience, but a bad fit for this Mets team. It is a place for line drive, slap hitters. Whitey Herzog would love it. The Mets are big swingers and the park is a grave yard for them. A couple of Marlins, according to Somers, commented before the game that the place is beautiful, but they would not want to play 81 games there. In their mania to make it Ebbets Field II the Wilpons created a hostile theme park for their team. They will never sign another power hitting free agent. Could April have been any worse?!"
Interesting. What this means of course is that Ryan Church and Bobby Parnell will be traded for Juan Pierre so he can play right, and Willie McGee, who is only a year older than Julio Franco, will return to baseball so he can play left field. It's inevitable.

(blogger wakes up screaming)

Overworked And Underwhelmed

“Three runs shouldn't be something that’s insurmountable. It appears when we get in that position, it’s an insurmountable lead. We have to address that.” -Snoop Manuel
That only took him a year to figure that one out ... duh.

But you know what he hasn't figured out? He hasn't figured out that Sean Green doesn't have to pitch every day. Green took the loss Tuesday as he melted down in the seventh inning, and he coughed up the kind of one-run lead that he's paid to come in and hold on to (as if there's another kind of one-run lead). But did Green really need to pitch during a five run lead? Or down by four?

It doesn't seem like a large workload for Green, who has pitched pretty much every other day for the most part (until Tuesday), but with a guy who you know was overworked in the early part of last season, I'd think you would want to be more judicious with him so that you can pitch him back to back later in the season, and not throw him in blowouts. He's already on pace to blow away his career high in appearances and approach the levels of guys like Scott Schoeneweis' and Pedro Feliciano's totals last season. I know part of it is the lousy starting pitching, but do we really want to go down that road with Green?

Not that I know what I'm talking about anyway ... but when has that ever stopped me?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Cream

This is completely unacceptable. Six runs in the first inning and one the rest of the way? Dammit, same old freaking Mets. That's it. Time to clean house. Fire Manuel! Trade David Wright for Joe Crede! Trade Jose Reyes for Cutter Dykstra so we have grit! Fire Omar Minaya! Fire the Wilpons! Trade Mr. Met for Slider!!! I'VE HAD IT!!!

By now, you should have figured out that I'm, umm ... kidding. (I know I know, not funny.) And I can kid because John Maine continued his dominance of the Marlins on Monday night, and went back on track in the process. And hey, the Mets have won three of four! Joy.

Omir Santos played his third straight game and smacked a grand slam in that first inning. And we all know that even before the slam that Snoop has a man-crush on Santos. So when Brian Schneider returns from injury, the Mets have a very interesting decision to make. Will Santos go back down? Will Fluff Castro invent an injury? Will Fluff Castro have an injury invented for him? Will the Gary Sheffield experiment end? Will Fernando Martinez be traded for milk to make room on the 40 man roster? These questions and many others will be answered on the next episode of Soap.
"What? A visit to Debits Field and no mention that the scoreboard went on strike in the 4th, which only 40% of the fans noticed, since it's
You're correct. And I noticed. Here's the proof:

They even made an announcement before the game that one of the amenities would be "non-operational" during the game. I didn't hear what it was, and I didn't want to know. Just would have given me one more thing to bitch about.

(Editor's note: There was a similar announcement before Monday night's game about something in the park being non-operational. Turns out it was Gary Sheffield's mitt.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Place For Your Cup, But Not For You

In this season with a litany full of firsts came another first: First regular season game for your blogger at Kiti Field. After attending one preseason game (and only sitting in my assigned seat for about two innings), I would be a fool to assume that I would know everything I need to know about these new digs. I knew that this old dog would need to learn some new tricks.

Here's what I didn't expect to learn: I didn't expect to learn that just because my ticket has a seat number on it, it doesn't necessarily mean I have a seat.

No, seriously. I had Section 406, Row 5, Seat 10. It was printed right there on the ticket. I found seats eight and nine fine. But where was seat ten?

In fact, we had seats 7-10. Seat seven doesn't exist in this row either. Eight and nine? Bolted to the floor. Seven and ten? Nowhere to be found.

As you can see in the picture above, seat ten had a cupholder. Seat ten, however, didn't have a seat!

I'm extremely confused. But then came an oasis:

Gasp! A seat! It came after one of the staff members was told that the seats were missing and he said, "Oh, I have to get you folding chairs". Then he stood there for ten seconds before he realized he actually had to go get the chairs. And honestly? Seat ten was quite comfy. It had arm rests, was all cushiony, and I could move it closer to the railing if I wanted to.

But I still have to get used to this new math. Eight and nine? Sit right down. Seven and ten? Empty spaces with cupholders. I have a lot to learn about Kiti Field.

(Editor's note: Really, I have a lot to learn. Was the seat intended for handicap access? Because that's the only thing my feeble mind could come up with. And if it was, why would they sell it to me? Or is this whole thing just completely screwed up? Please help me become a better blogger and let me in on the joke.)

Here's what else I learned on Sunday: I learned to recognize the Daniel Murphy groan. It's the specific groan you hear from the crowd after Murphy butchers another fly ball while you're off getting a hot dog from the Nathan's stand. It's a very distinctive sound that the crowd makes that's unmistakeably Murphy. I swear instead of the Baseball Tonight crew, Dick Clark and Ed McMahon should be doing "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" from a platform in left field.

So here's the scorecard: Two games, one calendar month. One windburn, one sunburn. Two games almost single handedly ruined by Oliver Perez, who has his own distinctive crowd groan. It sounds more like "boooooooooo!"

And now there's talk that Perez is going to the bullpen. Nice. A $36 million mop-up man who needs to be coddled and stroked for every step he takes. All because Perez's most consistent two months of his career came right before free agency (gee, no red flags there). And because the Mets penny pinched on Derek Lowe because they were afraid of his age and that he'd be useless the last year or so almost like Pedro Martinez turned out to be.

Yeah, about that ... Oliver Perez is useless now!

$36 million. You could bailout the MTA with that money. Instead, we get to watch Oliver Perez derail every fifth day and move his large contract to the bullpen when Tim Redding, now thrust into the role of savior, returns from injury. Until then, please welcome 40-year-old rookie Ken Takahashi to the big leagues to provide veteran leadership and no doubt to fool everyone to think his 0.77 ERA in Buffalo means anything, just as it didn't with the journeyman he replaces: Casey Fossum. (Nelson Figueroa is in Buffalo right now saying "you've gotta be kidding me".)

Maybe the roster spot would have been better filled by our hotshot catcher, Jesus Flores. Oh wait! We let him go so in the Rule V draft he could hit 47 home runs against the Mets this series!!!

What? Too soon?

(Speaking of catchers, I hear Fluff Castro is on the DL with a hurt feeling.)

I mean, Perez has to go to the bullpen, right? Snoop Manuel threatened changes if this garbage continued, and Perez has continued his garbage on Sunday. Would Manuel go back on his threat?

That wouldn't be very gangsta.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

That Ceremonial First Pitch Had Some Serious Movement

Some may say that MacKenzie Brown's appearance at Citi Field was for a ceremonial first pitch. But in Omar Minaya's world, "ceremonial first pitch" is code for "audition". In fact, the seventh grader is already complaining that Dan Warthen is overworking her.

No wonder that Mike Pelfrey pitched relatively well against the Nationals on Saturday. You see, when it comes to having a fire lit under you, Ryan Church has Gary Sheffield (and Wily Mo Pena), and now Pelfrey has Brown. (Brown poses a deeper threat than Nelson Figueroa, who returns to Buffalo after no other franchise took a flyer on him.) Perhaps she can stick around for Oliver Perez's start on Sunday and teach him the two-seam grip along with how to pound the strike zone consistently.

Oh, never mind. Late word is that she's been designated for assignment to make room for Julio Franco.


The Libra in me would like to point out the following fact:

That the above was a sweet play ... not so much for the catch but the gun to double up the runner at first base. And we were worried that Murphy had an infielder's arm. It wasn't quite Endyesque (or is that "Endesque"? No, that sounds like a perfume, or a charcoal briquet brand ... "Chavesque"? No, that sounds like a political movement. Chavez Ravinous? Oh forget it, I'm tired), but it's nice to see that instead of Murphy, someone else's blooper reel is added to for a change.

The uniforms may have had no "o", but the Nationals have little "d".

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Philosophy 101

The Mets continued struggles with men in scoring position (2 for 18 tonight against Washingtn and 13 men left on base) got me thinking:

If you're in scoring position, and you're a Met, are you really in a position to score? Or are you just in a position to eventually make me mad?

RIPTEMMM, if you're scoring at home.

Because the way I see it these days, if you're a Met and you're in a true position to score, you're already standing on the plate. In which case, every RISP scored tonight.

And if you are a Met, you probably want to thank Johan Santana (again) for another hide saving outing. The best way to do this is to not make every game he pitches a must win.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Unlucky Sevens

Four games, four starting pitching performances ranging from respectable to "oh my god he's got a gun." The author of the respectable pitching performance? He chose to give a giant "up yours" sign to his hometown team after they designated him and is now a free agent.

The Mets? They're left with four starting pitchers with ERA's over seven.

It's a jackpot of failure.

The latest member of Sevendust joined the club today after a brutal outing in which he is starting to make us realize why the Twins would flat out release an Opening Day starter (You'll remember he started well last season too). He is Livan Hernandez, who is quickly turning into as good an idea as New Coke was. More accurately, he's that bottle of Coke that's been in your fridge for 12 years, and instead of just walking to the corner store and buying yourself a new bottle, you decide "eh, what can it hurt?" So you drink it, and it tastes good going down. But then three hours later you're puking your guts out screaming "Why! Why didn't I just spend the buck fifty for a new bottle of Coca Cola???"

Yeah, it's April. Feel free to beat that drum set, for it's a catchy tune. But pretty soon the Mets are going to have to think about other options. Those options could include Cliff Lee, who the Indians may try to "sell high" on at some point. (Some may say that could make the rotation too lefthanded, but the alternative is to have a rotation that's too ... well, it's awful.) Other than that? Your guess is as good as mine. Now that Nelson Figueroa's gone, the next couple of options seem to be Jon Niese and/or Dillon Gee. (Good thing Omar Minaya stockpiled on the Freddy Garcias of the world, no?) If this keeps going with Sevendust in the middle to back of the rotation, all options have to be on the table.


Oh and by the way, one of the defenses for bringing Gary Sheffield on board was that he was a "take no s**t" guy ... a guy who "doesn't back down", as was quoted here. Funny then that when he had a chance to put that attitude to good use and run down Albert Pujols in the fourth inning, he became a nice guy and pulled up. I'm not talking about running into him at full speed and pulling a Sean Avery on him, but just running the bases as normal and not going through great pains to pull up.

Now I don't bring this up to pile on Sheffield, but to bring up a common thread that drives me crazy with this team (that and complaining about the starting pitching and Oliver Perez gets old after four or so of my paragraphs.) The Mets are too damn nice. Why, for example, is it a big deal when Sean Green knocks Pujols off the plate? Because it is a big deal. The Mets never do it. So when Green does the right thing and brush Pujols back, it gets noticed by Gary Cohen and Ron Darling as a big event.

What's wrong with that picture?

And how about this: If Carlos Beltran didn't want to slide on Tuesday night, why was choice two trying to score standing up? How about bowling Yadier Molina over? Why is that not an option? Is it because it wasn't a throw from the outfield? Is it because Molina is his buddy? Or is it because of the common thread that this team is just too ... damn ... nice?

Think about it, what kind of statement would it have made if Beltran would have knocked over Molina ... and let's assume the worst case scenario that night which would have been that Molina holds on to the ball, Beltran's still out, and Daniel Murphy still does his Foster Brooks impression in the outfield, fine. I'm willing to bet Bobby Bonilla's salary that the Mets don't come out so flat on Wednesday night. Sure, Beltran would have gotten some bad press for being a dirty player on a dirty play for a few days, even though clearly he's not a dirty player, and last I checked running over the catcher was a clean baseball play. And the Mets would have been scrutinized for a little bit. But the rewards would have outweighed the peripherals, guaranteed.

Instead, Beltran goes in standing, Sheffield pulls up, and the Mets prove the saying that nice guys get swept.

Calling All Omens

True story for you:

So I'm waiting for my order at a Wendy's in New York City, when a young man approaches me to ask about my Rangers hat. I expressed concern about Game Four against the Caps later that night. That's when he told me that he was a Canadiens fan, and that he was getting ready to get swept later that night by the Bruins.

As we talked hockey, I told him that I had always wanted to go to a game in Montreal, that the place looked like it was hoppin' on Monday. He tells me that he's gone to plenty of games and indeed, Montreal's a nice spot for a hockey game. Then the following exchange occurs:
Him: My uncle played professional hockey.

Me: Really? (Expecting to hear that his uncle played three games for the Milwaukee Admirals or something)

Him: Yeah. He played professional for 20 years.

Me: Twenty years? Ummm ... if you don't mind me asking, who's your uncle?

Him: (Matter of factly): Guy Lafleur.
So before the biggest game of the Rangers season to date, and I run into not only the nephew of one of the greatest players of all time, but a former Ranger who was quite popular in his one season with the Rangers.

So I decided to take it as an omen, and felt better about that night's game.

Rangers 2 Capitals 1

If you've gotten this far in the blog post you're probably asking yourself "Why is he telling me this?"

I'm glad you asked, er ... yourself.

Because I could probably use one or two ... hundred ... similar omens regarding your New York Mets, who were about as present at Busch Stadium Wednesday night as I was.

So I implore of you: If you're a relative of a Hall of Famer who was once a New York Met, and you happen to see an annoyed looking guy wearing Mets paraphernalia, go up to him and give him a handshake and a smile ... and convince him that everything is going to be all right.

It doesn't matter how distant a relative you may be. You could be Rickey Henderson's third cousin. You could be Duke Snider's granddaughter. You could be Eddie Murray's grandniece. It doesn't matter. If you see a Met fan on the street, let him know you care.

Heck, at this point, your Met relative need not be a Hall of Famer. Dave Gallagher's fourth cousin twice removed? Dave Magadan's uncle in law? Jeff McKnight's baby mama? In fact, forget being related. You could be Kevin Mitchell's gardener, Nolan Ryan's limo driver. Butch Huskey's sous chef. Doesn't matter. Met fans need good omens right now. Because the Mets aren't providing any.

I mean, Joel Pineiro? Again? And this is especially disgusting because by all accounts (okay, by Bob Ojeda's account) Pineiro was merely ordinary compared to how he looked during the infamous three-hit shutout back in '07. Which means that the after the horrifying loss on Tuesday night, they bounced back about as high as a meatball dropped from seven stories. For a team that has had its mental toughness questioned, that's not a good sign.
"Even in April?"
Yes, even in April.
"If Joel Pineiro's relatives come up to me and ask me to attend their family reunion, what kind of omen is that?"
I don't know, but if you're a Met fan, you should probably run ... fast.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mets Finally Honor Their Past!

The bad news is: The past they honored tonight was 1962.

Daniel Murphy is going to get killed for that stumble in the eighth which turned out number one into a triple, which turned into Tuesday's winning run for St. Louis. Your hope for Murphy is that going forward, future errors are the kind of errors which come in 9-3 games or don't lead directly to a run ... and not the kind of errors which lose ballgames, like his last two.

But let's scatter some blame here, shall we?

First off, when did Jeremy Giambi open up a baserunning camp and when did Carlos Beltran attend this? Can we slide next time, please?

And boy am I glad that Mike Pelfrey wasn't placed on the DL, so that Darren O'Day can be DFA'd and offered back to the Angels as a Rule V draftee to make room for Nelson Figueroa to replace Pelfrey, so that Figueroa could then be DFA'd to make room for Casey Fossum to have that second lefthander in the bullpen to face lefties ... so that Fossum could walk the tying run home against the first lefthander he sees as a Met on four pitches.

(That tossed the dog, that worried the cat, that killed the rat ... etc.)

That's roster management at its best, folks. Omar Minaya is the guy who's really good at buying expensive gifts for his wife, but he has to because he constantly screws up the little things like letting three weeks of garbage pile up or calling the dinner order ahead, then forgetting to pick it up and spend the rest of the night wondering why everyone is so hungry. Nice job, Omar.

Of course, it wouldn't have come to Casey Fossum if Oliver Perez could get through six innings without giving up a leadoff single to a pitcher and walking a .230 hitting shortstop with the bases loaded. At least Ollie's ERA went down from 7.84 to 7.80 on Tuesday. That's called good news.

And in an unrelated story, here's some bad news:
“Teams are going to realize the Florida Marlins are for real and they have to play us differently. That’s what we want. We want to be known as the team to beat.” -Wes Helms
Great choice of words, Wes. Spectacular.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Autograph This!

But wait! You have the Mets all wrong! If the Mets were to clean off Dwight Gooden's autograph, it would have been done with Mets history in mind: by Bret Saberhagen with a bottle of bleach.

This whole Doc Gooden autograph flap is three parts hysterical and two parts pathetic. As I'm sure you are aware by now, Gooden had the audacity (note sarcastic tone) to sign a blank wall by a Citi Field bar as a cute little spontaneous act. The Wilpons, upon learning that Gooden neither pitched nor was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, decided to wipe the autograph clean. Many fans, including myself, thought that the autograph should stay and become the start of a makeshift mural of famous Met signatures ... you know, kind of like throwing a bra up at Hogs and Heifers.

The Mets, at first, took their familiar stance of anti-fan. Here's the part that got me:
"We still plan on honoring our past, but there's a right way and a wrong way to go about it." -Mets P.R. Director Jay Horwitz
To me, there was never any doubt that the Mets, eventually, would put up more Mets memorabilia around the park ... whether it was because they were taking their time getting around to it or whether they were going to cave in to fan pressure. The Doc autograph forced them to do it sooner rather than later. But in the Mets world, as in most business settings, there's a right way and a wrong way.

Translation: If the Mets had come up with the idea of former players autographing a wall and making it a mural first, that would have been the right way. Because somebody outside the organization thought about it before the Mets braintrust could, that was the wrong way.

But, eventually, the Mets changed their minds. Here's Horwitz explaining why:
"We got a lot of calls on this and it was a topic on [sports radio] all day, so we're going to listen to the fans. This is a way for us to honor our past."
Is the Mets organization really that clueless as to not have an inkling about the fans desire to have a new park that honored their own? Really? They had to wait for the issue to hit sports radio? Fans have only been talking about the owners' obsession with the Dodgers and their perceived ignorance of Mets history for weeks and months!

Years, even.

Yet instead of recognizing a cool idea as it's hitting them over the head, they wait until they get some bad PR on sports radio before listening to their fans and saying "all right, you got what you wanted ... here's some ice cream to take to your room", and then ... and this is the best part ... telling us that this was "a way for us to honor our past."

"Us" ... didn't do a damn thing to honor anybody or anything. Mets fans honored their past by screaming bloody murder about it. Hell, the New York Post honored the Mets' past more by originally bringing it up. "Us" made a decision based more on avoiding bad PR than "honoring our past."

Remember when Doc was at Modell's? Various bloggers got to submit some questions for him (which was supposed to be an honest to goodness Q&A but the party was in kind of a rush), and I actually got a couple of mine answered. I asked how it felt to be back at Shea and about the ovation he got after so many years away from the Mets family. Here's what he said:
"The ovation they gave me, just now gave me chills. The fans here have been very forgiving to me, and they’re supportive at all times. And that’s just a great feeling. It was great to be back."
I bring that up not only because I was going to bring it up anyway (his favorite and most influential Met, by the way: "Keith Hernandez, undoubtedly"), but because here's one of the most popular and one of the best Mets ever, a guy who spent a lot of time away for various reasons, who is now making inroads to become a part of the family again, and the family is embracing him. And the Mets, in one fell swoop, have threatened to screw it all up for no good reason.
"Last year when I came to say goodbye to Shea, the ovation the fans gave me made me want to come around more, but when things like this happen, it makes me feel like maybe the Mets don't want me around," Gooden said. "Maybe I shouldn't be, I don't know."
Well why would they want him around, when the CEO of Spongetech or Armando Reynoso is just a phone call away when they need someone to throw out a ceremonial first pitch?

I'm a Mets fan. They were my first love. But the Mets are a business first, a brand second, and somewhere down the list they also play a little baseball. And it's never been more apparent to me than right now that I root for a business. I should just root for IBM, or Nestle. Or Sanford L.P. (They make Sharpies, you know.) It's really no different.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Losing My Religion

With an 0-2 record and a 12.91 ERA, where would one go for help? Most pitchers find a pitching coach. Jeff Suppan, fittingly, seeks out a Cardinal and a Brewer fan in Mets clothing. It worked as heaven's apparent favorite son defeated purgatory's official team 4-2 on Sunday.

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. Then, God flipped his remote long enough to find that Todd Coffey was doing most of the work with a 2 2/3 inning save, prompting the masses to wonder where all the specialization has come from, and curse Tony La Russa under his breath.


Seeing Livan Hernandez and Dave Bush go at it Friday night was like watching slow pitch softball with their 60 mph dipsy doos and their fastballs that would make Reid Cornelius laugh. Saturday was fast pitch. And then faster pitch, as Johan Santana and Yovani Gallardo matched each other pitch for pitch, K for K.

The difference today, as was the difference last season, as the Mets hope will be the difference in a different way this season, was the bullpen, as Putz and Frankie out-foxed Carlos Villanueva out of the bullpen, albeit barely as the Mets scored their only run on a walk, and error, and a fielders choice. Put it all together, you have the first 1-0 Mets win since Paul LoDuca had to be convinced that Wyoming wasn't a country.

The blueprint for Mets success so far, at least when Santana on the mound, is working. When Johan starts, he gets the game to the brand new bullpen and the machine hums like a Harley. When anyone else starts, the vehicle is more like a Wild Wacky Action Bike. (Almost impossible to steer, and on certain nights when David Wright drinks a little too much Vitamin Water, glows in the dark.)

Now, the Mets have their foots on the necks of the Brewers, poised to sweep. It was frequently an issue for the Willie Randolph Mets to put the clamps down on a sweep game. Maybe now that the Mets are against Willie they'll put the hammer down, especially going against a pitcher who's 0-2 with a 12.91 ERA. However, that pitcher's name is Jeff Suppan, so maybe he's just saving the most gratifying win of his career for Sunday.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

First Dogpile

Can you hit a punching bag that is hitting .387?

All right, all right ... so he's more like slapping .387, but a slap looks like a hit in the boxscore. And two slaps and two RBI's look like the first walk off hit and the first dogpile at Kitti Field as the Mets took a 5-4 decision from Willie Randolph's Brewers, and Castillo avoids punches and scorn for a few hours.

More firsts: Gary Sheffield provided not only the first 500th home run in the history of the park, but I believe the first curtain call as well, which is something you can stump your friends with in ten years or so. (I don't believe that David Wright was called out of the dugout after tying the game on Monday but if he was, I'm sorry. Don't kill me.)

I kept thinking about our friend Wallace Matthews, and how he basically called Mets fans suckers for daring to get excited about Tom Glavine's 300th victory back in '07. And I'm wondering if he's doing the same thing now that Mets fans at the park dared to cheer for the first player in history to hit his 500th home run as his first for a team. At least Glavine was with the team for a good four years when 300 happened. 500 was just as odd for me as I thought it would be. I'm just glad the home run was a big one and not a dinger that made the score 9-3 Brewers, setting the stage for Castillo's walk off.

The weird part came for me afterwards, just as the ninth inning started and I'm trying to do something on my e-mail account, and I swear to you the following message pops up:
"Oops ... the system encountered a problem (#500)"
Is that a higher power telling me to lighten up on Sheffield? Okay, I'll give him this: He's said and done all the right things, and the team seems to have received him warmly after the home run. Maybe he's having that Dewey Cox epiphany where he's reflecting on his life and is ready to write that masterpiece he kept promising his brother's spirit, or in Sheff's case, maybe his uncle Doc? I don't know. For Gary Sheffield, the beautiful ride at the end of his baseball road need only consist of behaving ... as he's done so far to his credit. Home runs, even milestone ones, are gravy.


In an unrelated story, to welcome Randolph back to New York, Omar Minaya had a pizza delivered to Willie's hotel room at 3AM.


I now have a valid reason for being disgusted with the black home uniforms: For some reason, they make the dopey hideous patch stand out. I hardly noticed them on the white ones.


Irony? It's when the "durable" catcher is on the disabled list.

Friday, April 17, 2009

He's On A Mission From God

Heath Bell wants you to sell him your women.

And why shouldn't you? After all, he's made New York his personal playground with two saves out of three games here ... and if the Padres didn't play so sloppily it very well could have been three for three after tonight's 6-5 loss.

On the one hand, those who think that Heath Bell should pipe down with all his anti-Met propaganda have a valid point. After all, Bell hardly set the world on fire when he was with the Mets, and he should be thanking them for trading him to the Padres and affording him the chance to be the new Trevor Hoffman, instead of worrying about the social habits of his former team. If you look at the obsession meter, Heath Bell lies somewhere in between Lisa Sheridan and a Philadelphia Phillie.

On the other hand, if Gary Cohen's account from today's game is true (and why wouldn't it be), and that Bell was closing in the minors while being a long man while up on the New York part of the shuttle, then he does have a point. It does nobody any good to keep switching roles upon entering and exiting the majors. It reeks of no organizational plan. But again, that's our problem (apparently), and Bell should be happy to be gone. I'd be too if I had five saves the first week of the season after going nowhere with the Mets. But dude, enough. You know? Enough. Enough of your saves, and enough of your chatter. Go save the world somewhere else while Braden Looper comes to town this weekend and points out more of the Mets' organizational flaws.

Honestly, it breaks my heart to see a boy that young goin' bad.

And speaking of piping down:
"This is the most gratifying win I think I’ve ever been a part of as a Padre, watching the total team effort that we gave tonight result in a win." -Jake Peavy
Somebody show Jake a calendar and tell him it's April!!! Really? Most gratifying win? A victory in the first week of the season for a team that's one ten-game losing streak away from trading you to Milwaukee for Seth McClung and a case of Schlitz? Does anyone have perspective anymore?

Oh, and Mike Pelfrey might miss a start. If he does, expect the Mets to call up Chan Jose Lawrence.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Hey, look at the ballee.

All right, so it's not exactly Jose Reyes stealing home like he wanted to ... and I'm sure he would have liked to pull it off while the league was wearing Jackie Robinson's 42 (I hear that later in the homestand the Mets are holding Mo Vaughn night ... and Kevin Appier is throwing out the first pitch), but being the second runner to score on one wild pitch is something I would consider "close enough". It's sure as hell rarer than stealing home.

Tonight had to be some sort of rarity, where five Met runs scored on either wild pitches, sac flies, or double plays (is it me or is Gary Sheffield having a hell of a time getting around on a breaking ball much less a fastball?) You might consider the Mets 7-2 win an ugly victory. I on the other hand ...

No, that was pretty ugly. But it still counts.

The ugly part, in actuality, was all the attention on the continuing outfield adventures of Daniel Murphy. First, a runner tags from first on a fly ball to Murph ... a smart play by Scott Hairston knowing who was in the field. Then, going to third on the Murphy throw that handcuffed David Wright. And at this point you're probably thinking "oh great, every SNY camera is going to be trained on him for the rest of the night."

And then you realize: "S**t, the game is on ESPN too." Poor Murph.

Throw in the first Padre run, a single to left which an outfielder would have had a real chance to throw out Luis Rodriguez at the plate. An infielder in outfielder's clothing? Eh, not so much, as he threw the ball like he was holding second on a double play. As the kids like to say: "It's a process." But that doesn't mean that Daniel Murphy's defense isn't going to be scrutinized from now until the end of time (or until he robs Scott Rolen of a home run in the NLCS and turns it into a double play.) Welcome to your life, Danny Murphy.

Hopefully the process is coming to an end for Oliver Perez, who turned in a quality start on Wednesday against an opponent not named Phillies, Yankees, or Braves. Imagine that. Guess Dan Warthen's 'round the clock supervision is finally paying some dividends for Ollie. Or perhaps there's a Shake Shack burger on the top of every staircase in Kitti Field to entice Ollie to get his running in. Whatever works.

(Stupid World Baseball Classic.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Help Doc Heckle Sheff

Dwight Gooden had a message today for anyone sitting in the brand new "Mo Zone" in right field, where you watch the game from right behind the outfield fence:

See, it's okay to heckle Gary Sheffield. Gooden is family ... so it's like you're family.


I've never really been comfortable using this platform to promote myself. But now that I've convinced myself that this very platform in and of itself is a mechanism to promote my demented point of view anyway, I've made myself feel better. So here goes (deep breath):

If you want to actually hear what I'm thinking about the New York Mets instead of just read it, then this Wednesday and most Wednesdays from 9PM until 11PM, you can come look and listen to Sports Talk New York Live, where your friendly neighborhood blogger will be talking Mets for about ten minutes unless he starts going off on a tangent about rancid beer, earthworms, or Christmas gifts gone horribly wrong. Your hosts, Mark and A.J., will do their best to reign me in and make sure I take my meds.

The best part, no doubt, will be this week's guest and your other favorite blogger Greg Prince, who will discuss his new book, which I'll plug later.

There ... now that wasn't so hard, was it? But I feel so dirty promoting only myself. Let's hype some other stuff that you can plan your Wednesday around:

First, why not prepare for the show by taking an afternoon trip to Modell's in Times Square, where they will be hyping up the "Mo Zone" in Citi Field ... where you can watch the game from behind the right field wall? At old Shea, I got to watch about an inning of a game from behind that left field wall under the bleachers, and it was kinda like a dungeon without the stockades.

Oh, and Doc Gooden will be there to meet and greet you, continuing his return to the Mets family. 3:30 start time, which will give you plenty of time to get home to see Oliver Perez wage his latest war on control.

Then, why not have something cool to wear while you're listening to the show. Why not order a brand new Ralph Kiner shirt from Gary Keith & Ron's website, and acknowledge the longest tenured announcer in Mets history, who is getting better with age?

And don't forget about their line of t-shirts and other fine outerwear at their website ... proceeds of which all go to charity.

Afterwards, you can curl up with a good book ... much like Faith and Fear in Flushing. After listening to Greg discuss the book on that show that I'll be making my weekly appearance on (this self promotion thing becomes easier and easier, doesn't it?) why not read him than right after you listen to him?

Okay, got all that? Go see Doc, buy a t-shirt, read a book, and listen to me on the internets. See? Life is good when you let a blogger plan it for you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beginnings of What, Exactly?

They played the wrong Chicago song.

When Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza reprised their first pitch from Shea Stadium's last pitch tonight at the brand new Citi Field, "Beginnings" was blaring over the sound system. In the reality we know as Mets baseball, "Old Days" would have been a better choice for this 6-5 historical blemish. Too many eerie reminders of the old days.

First off ... a cat? Come on. Waaaaaaaaaaay too convenient. Waaaaaaaaaaay too coincidental. You tell me that that by chance there was a cat roaming the field to open up the new stadium on Opening Night when one of the signature moments of Shea Stadium involved a cat? Yeah, I'm sure some cats made the trip ... but Opening Night? Please. If there weren't so many flight restrictions in New York there would have been a parachutist in the second inning. Somebody set that up.

Then, let's return to older days like ... last season, as in Jody Gerut becoming the first player ever ... ever ... to open a new stadium with a home run, a stadium that's supposed to be impossible to hit a home run in, or at least Gerut-proof just as Shea was supposedly "Gerut-proof" last season. Somehow, that wasn't a coincidence either.

Or, let's go back in time to ... yesterday, as in another outfielder having a ball go right off his glove and helping to bring in the winning run which, if it wasn't balked home, it would have been driven home by David Eckstein. You remember Eckstein from 2006 when he was being a general pain in the ass during the NLCS, never to be seen or heard from again until the next momentous moment in Mets history, the opening of a new park. Of course Eckstein would be around to screw that up by driving in two runs with three hits. What, the Padres couldn't trade for Yadier Molina and Jeff Suppan?

No, they decided instead to get two former Mets to close out this game for the Padres. Filthy Sanchez and Heath Bell. Six up, six down. First game ever at Citi Field, and it's closed out by Sanchez and Bell ... from the old days. Heath not only was dreaming about this moment, but he got it to come to fruition with a 1-2-3 ninth. Awesome. Just awesome.

And I'll state the obvious: if this is what we are to expect from Mike Pelfrey over the coming weeks, then Citi Field is going to turn into the House of Angst for a New Millennium. Oliver Perez goes on Wednesday for the Mets. Maybe the appropriate Chicago song will reflect the final score ... as in 25 or 6 to 4. And we'll have endings before the beginnings actually begin.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Flight To Heaven

What a terrible week this is shaping up to be for baseball, and certainly a terrible day. I didn't really pay attention to baseball until a few years after the Mark Fidrych phenomenon, but I sure as heck knew who he was (the SI cover helped). During tonight's Mets broadcast, it was noted that Rusty Staub thought 1976 with Fidrych was more crazy than 1984 with Gooden.

Not only did MLB Network just show the Monday Night Baseball game from 1976 featuring Big Bird, but I had just been discussing Fidrych with someone not two days earlier. Just very, very sad to hear of the passing of Big Bird.

Putting A Rivalry Aside

If you die doing what you love, chances are you die a happy man. If Harry Kalas didn't love what he was doing, he would have been retired by now. So take solace in knowing that Harry Kalas died doing what he loved to do. Condolences to the Phillies family.

Drifting All The Way Home

People have asked me over the offseason if I thought the Mets could win with Daniel Murphy's defense in left field. My response was that if the Phillies could win with Pat Burrell playing left field, then the Mets could win with Murphy.

Murphy's drop which led to the two unearned Marlin runs had nothing to do with an infielder playing outfield. That had nothing to do with range, ability, nothing lying alongside of the UZR road. That was, plainly and simply, dopey. And we'll just have to accept that along with all of the good things Murphy is going to bring to the table, every once in a while he's going to do that. Hopefully, not all of his blunders are going to be the kind of mistakes that turn Johan Santana gems into Josh Johnson gems.

Now, here's the thing about this 2-1 loss which drops the Mets to 3-3: There's no reason for panic because they dropped two of three to Florida. Sure, you don't want to waste Johan Santana starts, and they haven't wasted many since that June day in '08 when women went crazy and Yankee fans were ... well, Yankee fans. You can, however, start panicking if the Mets lose two out of three to the Padres at home. And before you tell me I'm crazy for even suggesting that scenario against a team that Gary Cohen said would have trouble merely competing during a spring broadcast back on March 19th, remember this: Oliver Perez starts on Wednesday. Jake Peavy starts on Thursday. If the Mets somehow lose Monday's opener, then all those pigeons ready to push that panic button could be let loose by Thursday. Remember, this Padre team is 5-2.

(What it probably all means is that the Mets will lose Monday and win the next two. Logic? What's that?)

Hopefully, logic will hold for at least one game, and the Mets will pull out a win for the first real game ever in the new digs. Even with the two games against the Red Sox, even with me having been to one of them, I still don't know how I'm going to react to seeing a Mets home game that counts played somewhere other than Shea. Every opening day I was ever at was played at Shea. I was there for Craig Swan's two run single in 1980, after skipping school. (There were really only 12,000+ at that one?) I was there for Seaver's return in '83 ... again, after skipping school. Strawberry's dinger off of Pascual Perez in 1988? Yup, skipped school again. The Rockies' debut at Shea? I probably skipped some nutty college class for that too. In fact, I was at every home opener between '87-'93. If I hadn't skipped so much school I probably would have made more of my life.

And I have to admit that I was a little emotional after being at Citi Field for the first time, and having it really hit me that Shea is really gone, reduced to a pile of rubble that shrinks every day as if it was a division lead in September of '07. But the past is the past, and the future is upon us. If you're like me, you'll have to remind yourself every once in a while that progress is good.

My only hope is that the vibe from the stands, the atmosphere that made Shea so unique, the one that Mets fans created will make its way across the parking lot. There was always a certain roar that came from Shea that was so recognizable to me that I could close my eyes, have a random game on, and I knew that the game was being played at Shea. Something was always different from the roar after a strikeout at Shea than the roar after a strikeout anywhere else. That was more fans than building, but the building had a little something to do with it.

Who knows if that roar will return ... we're all still feeling our way through this new park, and you know that at least in the beginning, there will be a lot of people visiting more for new architecture and better food than to watch Luis Castillo butcher a ground ball. So that unique atmosphere might not be all there to start. That's to be expected. Hopefully familiarity and a pennant race will bring that atmosphere, along with some home field advantage, to the new digs. Here's hoping.

Happy housewarming.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Not So Low, Low, Low, Low ...

So the Marlins kept Mets fans from watching the first couple of innings of Livan Hernandez's debut because the Marlins didn't want the post game Flo Rida concert to start too late. Here's the rationale:
"We found an overwhelming demand from our fans to start the games earlier. Tomorrow night, we will have a crowd larger than opening day." -David Samson, Marlins President
Wait, the overwhelming demand from the 8,000 fans that are there every night, or the overwhelming demand from all those fans that are going to top the opening day crowd just to see the concert and then never go to a baseball game again?

And if they never go to a baseball game again, then I hope it's because the home team stunk on Saturday night ... because they almost let Livan Hernandez shut them out for seven innings, and because they gave up four hits to Luis Castillo. (Gee I hope it wasn't because I suggested he cork his bat ... if Fredi Gonzalez confiscates his bat on Sunday I guess I'll know why.)

Or better yet, here's what I hope: I hope that one, maybe two ... thousand of these people who went to the first baseball game of their lives just to see Flo Rida (real name: Tramar Dillard ... see, I read Wikipedia just like you) perform saw the 8-4 Mets win on Saturday night and thought "Hey, this game is pretty cool ..."

"I'm a Mets fan!"

Then these people can join all the rest of the Mets fans in Miami whenever the Mets come to town and hack off the locals for the rest of eternity, and then David Samson's plan which cost Mets fans two innings of their lives would backfire dramatically.

Stick that in the back pocket of your apple bottom jeans and sit on it, Potsie.

Scrapped Is The New Battled

When a reporter asked Snoop Manuel what he thought of the Mets' fight after the game, I immediately thought "uh-oh".
"I thought we ..."
Oh no, don't say it.
"I thought we scrapped."
Whew, that was close. Because the last word I want to hear after losing on a walk-off hit in the ninth is the b-word.

Not that b-word.

No no, Art Howe's b-word. You know, battled. Whether you scrap, or you battle, a loss is a loss is a loss. So I'm not sure that scrapping is going to make me feel any better than battling. I was, however, impressed with the big hit that Jeremy Reed came up with to tie the game at 4-4 in the ninth. Big hits were at a premium last season, and their horrible RISP number tonight mean they're at a premium again this season (lovely). But the fact that Reed got a huge one can mean only one thing:

Happy trails Marlon. Write if you get work (and save your former team $400K in the process).

Yeah, there weren't enough big hits to go around, and a whole bunch of people are going to point to Luis Castillo ... because it's easy, and because it's good for ya' too. Not to be a shill for Luis, but I'll say this: That pitch he took in the seventh inning? That was a good six inches inside, and it started about a foot and a half. For me, that didn't even fall under the category of "too close to take". I don't understand how you could call that a strike, personally.

But here's what worries me about Castillo: The swings that he's taking look like they're moving through the zone, that he has bat speed. But the balls he's hitting, whether they're on the ground or in the air, die. What looks like a gapper off the bat is an easy fly ball. What looks like a screamer up the middle rolls harmlessly into Hanley Ramirez's glove. Now I don't condone cheating, but nobody's checking bats anymore (they're too busy checking urine tests.) If he's got some super balls or some wine cork lying around ...

(The previous passage was satire. Cheating is bad. Metstradamus does not condone cheating. Bad blogger.)

Well, back at 'em tomorrow, with Livan Hernandez on the hill at 6PM. Of course, you can't see the first hour because Flo Rida is having a post game concert (get it? Flo? Rida? Florida? And it's Miami! How clever!!!), and he has to get home at a decent hour so the game has to start during FOX's exclusivity window, and will be joined in process by SNY at 7PM.

Of course by then, the Marlins could be up 11-3 so maybe this whole blackout thing could work out in your favor ... but Livan will still have to pitch eight innings and run his pitch count up to 305 to save the bullpen, so even this abbreviated game could be quite interesting.

And apropos of nothing, I've had quite enough of Emilio Bonifacio.


The other big story is John Maine starting and having a very soothing outing tonight. It will be nice to have only one starter to be worried about rather than two.

And speaking of Oliver Perez, I have a feeling we're going to spend the bulk of April and May linking Perez with the guy who the Mets should have signed in his place, Derek Lowe. But if Ollie's season keeps going the way it has, then forget about Lowe ... Perez is going to start being compared to Kris Benson. Remember Kris Benson? Of course you do. Well, at least you remember his wife, who couldn't save him earlier in the day on Friday. Benson was absolutely torched by the Tigers today ... giving up eight runs (seven earned) in five innings, striking out three and walking two. His ERA on the season: a healthy 12.60.

The only thing separating Benson from Perez, basically, is two thirds of an inning, so take the following punchline with a grain of salt. Still, Benson's ERA, bad as it is, is a full four runs lower than Perez, at 16.62. And Benson's coming off what ... fifteen surgeries on his elbow and shoulder? Let that protect you and comfort you like a heavy blanket, a fireplace, and a warm cup of cocoa on a January night.

Kris Benson! Four runs!!!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Hide Your Pets, It's Oliver Perez!

Well hey ... at least statistically, the bullpen was perfect.

Considering that Joey Votto picked this weekend to announce to the National League that he was changing his name to "Babe", the Mets should consider themselves fortunate that they won two out of three. But for those concerned about whether Oliver Perez would carry his horrid spring over the the regular season, well be concerned no more. He has.

(While it was actually Darren O'Day that gave up the base hit that eventually proved to be the game winner, all of the runs on the table were Ollie's ... and O'Day's pitch that was hit by Paul Janish to drive in the deciding two runs wasn't a bad pitch. You could say that hitting Edwin Encarnacion with a pitch as soon as he came in was O'Day's biggest mistake. Considering O'Day pitched today knowing his friend and former teammate Nick Adenhart was killed last night, nobody should have any qualms about Darren's performance.)

There will be plenty of time to panic over Perez (remember, panic is a marathon not a sprint). For now, let's tip our hats to Babe Votto on a Ruthian series. Here's hoping you at least have him on your fantasy team.


The baseball world is mourning the loss of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others, who were killed by a hit and run driver late last night after Adenhart's first start of the season. There's really nothing to say except this is absolutely heartbreaking. There's a hole in the heart of baseball fans today. My heart goes out to everyone that cared for the victims, family, friends, and Angels fans.

Blood Thinners, Anyone?

Now I know how Fred Sanford felt.

I just assume these days that most Mets games are going to end up just like Wednesday's nine inning marathon did. Frankie Rodriguez has to know ... and if he doesn't he'll learn ... that he can get all the saves and break all the records he wants when he's wearing Anaheim red ('xcuse me ... Los Angeles of Anaheim red). But when he closes games for the orange and blue, being behind on the count 2-0 is automatic. From Sisk to Orosco to Franco to Benitez to Looper to Wagner, Frankie Rodriguez is just the next victim in the chain. Honestly, what makes him so special that he can just get through ninth innings without some sort of challenge ... whether it be not having his best stuff, or an umpire being talked into a call by the runner?

Or tonight, both?

Go ahead and watch that play where Delgado pulled himself off the bag to try to throw out Brandon Phillips going to third base in the ninth. It's okay to admit that Delgado was, in fact, off the bag. But he's the issue I have with it: If Carlos was indeed off the bag, it was by a couple of inches at most. And Bill Welke was way out of position to make that call. Welke was talked into the call by Edwin Encarnacion, who gets the Lee Mazzilli award for that stunt.

But Frankie caused a lot of his own problems by pretending that 2009 was actually 2008, and also by pretending that he was Aaron Heilman in a very demented game of charades where it's easy to mimic "blown save". Rodriguez, however, had the intestinal fortitude to reach up to the top shelf and pull down some of those pitches he saves for a rainy day and finish off the Reds once and for all.

(Hey, I'm not complaining. Frankie's replacement in Anaheim just gave up three runs in the ninth and blew his first save. Uh-oh.)

So now with the entire back end of the pen having gone the first two games, it would be nice if Oliver Perez could give the Mets a little length for the day game after the night game. But the optimist in me says that Perez will probably put the Mets behind by about seven runs by the time you read this, so Rodriguez, J.J. Putz, and Sean Green aren't going to be needed anyway. If I were Brian Stokes though, I'd start warming up now. (Billy Wagner is already warming up ... but he'll only be effective on eleven months rest.)

(Yeah, I said optimist. I could have said "down by forty runs".)

Mike Pelfrey won with less than his best.

Oh, and you're a true connoisseur of baseball if you were more impressed by Delgado's single to the left side to drive in the sixth run than you were by his tape measure blast in the first inning. If Jerry Manuel's 80 pitches in 6.6 seconds drill is truly going to have this effect on Delgado, maybe teams will stop playing the dopey shift on him.


Gary Sheffield's outfield workout before Wednesday's game didn't go so well.

To Gary Sheffield's credit, he has yet to leave roadkill on my doorstep for anything that I've written on this blog. But because he was preparing for a season where he didn't have to play the outfield, maybe he ate the roadkill.
“I knew I was just hitting, so I kept weight on just to be able to hit and keep my strength. Now I’m asked to do something else, so I have to get the weight off and be able to do both.” -Gary Sheffield

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Bullpen Is Not Pigpen

Just like you can't go crazy about Derek Lowe pitching shutout ball over eight innings the day after Oliver Perez imploded against the Red Sox in a preseason game (which I really tried not to do), one victory against the Reds isn't going to make or break the season.

But it sure does make you feel warm and fuzzy doesn't it?

It makes you feel warm and fuzzy because it's Opening Day. And because four years ago Braden Looper blew one in Cincinnati that caused cancer in lab rats. And because last season, a 2-1 lead that Johan Santana left in the sixth inning would have resulted in a conga line of people coming up to you and kicking you in the groinal region (Aaron Heilman, Luis Ayala, Doug Sisk, Gene Walter, your Uncle Mortimer, etc.)

But thankfully, at least for one game, Omar's famous quote of "We've addressed the bullpen" was more "tear down this wall" and less "mission accomplished", as Sean Green, J.J. Putz, and Frankie Rodriguez gave Met fans some real hope that they could prove the difference this season. Early on, this bullpen is going to be tested, as Snoop Manuel isn't going to take a chance early in the season on rainy days with Santana. And he might not have the luxury of extending guys like Oliver Perez and John Maine. So Bullpen 2.0 is going to have plenty of chances to prove just what kind of upgrade it is from that 24 bit bullpen that made New York home last year.

Omar Minaya gets a point for this one, as all his big acquisitions over the last two off-seasons chipped in for this one. For Minaya, the mission is accomplished ... for one day.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Play Ball

And off we go. For Johan Satnana, off we go means a different handshake with every teammate, coach, and trainer to start the season. Way to go, Johan. And screw Cole Hamels if he has a problem with that.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

And Jimmy Thought We Were Bad ...

I'm hearing that Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado are interested in freshening up their act a little bit.

Have You Ever Been To Ebbets Field?

After the implosion at ... and the demolition of Shea Stadium, I admit that I wasn't in a huge rush to go see a game at Citi Field. When your best friend in the whole world moves away after thirty years, rushing out and finding a new best friend isn't the first thing you do. So I wasn't going to look for a game. A game was going to find me.

I just didn't expect it to be the second game ever.

So I had to brace myself for the train ride, one which I hadn't taken since the final disastrous game at Shea, sooner than expected. If you normally take the 7 train, and you haven't yet, brace yourself. Because when you get completely used to seeing something and then have it not be there anymore, it's a shock to the system. You know something's different when you can see Citi Field all the way from Junction Boulevard. You really know something's different when the pile of rubble sitting where Shea used to be is getting smaller and smaller (yet you still see some royal blue twisted metal amongst the crushed concrete.)

My relationship with Citi Field is going to be a little awkward for a while. I knew Shea like the back of my hand, but I'm going to have to get used to the new digs, where the stairs are, how to get to the Pepsi Porch (tough for a guy who drinks Coke Zero all the time), and where all the souvenir shops are. (Editor's note: my biggest complaint about the new place so far is walking into one of these shops, and the first thing I see when I walk in are the Brooklyn Dodgers jerseys, while the classic Mets jerseys were tucked away in the back. Until they sell David Wright jerseys in Chavez Ravine, we should work under the premise that the Dodgers are never coming back.)

But for a guy who complains a lot, I have to say that I think Citi Field and I are going to be fast friends. The park is so nice that I'm sitting in the seats and for a moment I'm trying to figure out what time my flight is to get back to New York, because until now parks like this were always elsewhere. Now I leave the park and there's the 7 train home ... and, you know, the rubble and the chop shops.

Food? Great. The chipotle wings have a nice kick, the pulled pork sandwich has the right amount of tang, and I happen to like the smoky bacon sauce that goes with those box frites, thank you very much. And the cannollis? I wouldn't know ... they were all out by the sixth inning. Hopefully, these two days will teach these guys to make sure there's enough for everybody. If you hold press conferences to hype up the food, make sure there's enough.

There also seems to be an overtly friendly atmosphere from the staff, something that many people say have been missing from Shea. Although you could kinda tell that the usher at the left field entrance had his share of fans who didn't know how to scan their barcoded tickets. But everyone seems happy to help.

Of course, I can't have a ballgame go by without a strange moment, and it took place in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, as I was checking out the pictures of Ebbets Field and taking pictures when an esteemed member of the Citi Field staff asks me:
"Have you ever been to Ebbets Field?"
Now, I may have some gray peeking out of my hat these days, but for crying out loud, I'm 38 years young. Ebbets Field was demolished more than ten years before I was born!!! The only explanation I can think of is that the "start" by Oliver Perez aged me about 30 years in one day, which is entirely possible.

So no, I've never been to Ebbets Field. But I was at the park that this was modeled after in many respects, which is Citizens Bank Park, an outstanding park despite the team that plays there. And maybe that's the complaint, that this park came after all of the other new parks, and that once you come in from the Ebbets Field vibe outside, you see a lot of Philly. You see a little Cincinnati. You see a little St. Louis. You see a little of what the Wilpons saw everywhere else. It doesn't make Citi Field any less enjoyable. And it doesn't make it any less home.


At least you can't blame the Mets 9-3 loss on Gary Sheffield ... and I'm loving all of your responses to my Sheffield rant, which I still stand by. Low risk/high reward seems to be the new buzz phrase for anyone signed under a million bucks. But when you're talking Sheffield, the risk is never low as long as there's a chance that he's going to say something stupid. And high reward? Well let's just say that anybody who thinks there's a chance that a 40-year-old who's coming off an injury riddled season and a terrible spring is going to have hit 20/80 is living in a fantasy world. So don't hold your breath for that pot of gold at the end of Gary Sheffield's enormous rainbow. The best you can hope for is finding a lost wallet with no identification and a few bucks in it.

It's obvious that you either love him, or hate him. If you want to read a more even handed approach, check out Dan Graziano's piece on FanHouse. Seems we all might be a little bit right.

So maybe we can all get along one day?