Friday, September 30, 2005

We Are Young...No One Can Tell Us We're Wrong

This final stretch of success has been heartening and disheartening at the same time.

Heartening because Mike Jacobs and Aaron Heilman, as evidenced by their performances down the stretch and particularly during tonight's 3-2 victory over Colorado, present the Mets with options next season...fallback or otherwise. Disheartening because you can't help but let your mind wander as to how different this season could have been if Aaron Heilman was the closer all year, or even since June.

Now nobody could have realized that Braden Looper was hurt, or that Aaron Heilman could have had some success in the closer's role, but it's human nature to wonder "what if..."

But it's nice to know that if whatever plans the Mets have for free agency fall through, at least there isn't going to be a panic as to how plan B should proceed. And that's not to say that the Mets should be the favorites for the division if Aaron Heilman is the closer, but what I am saying is that for the first time in a while, there's a foundation coming from within where as the Mets could use free agency to enhance a team, as opposed to using free agency to build an entire team, which we know never works.


When you think of Shea Stadium moonshots you think of the many that Darryl Strawberry hit for the Mets off that big scoreboard, including one I saw personally off Fernando Valenzuela that hit off of Keith Hernandez's "17 1B" lineup spot on the board (and since he batted third, you know that's pretty high up). You think of Dave Kingman's shots into the parking lot...and again I have to note one that I saw which came on a 3-2 pitch, the first one after a rain delay which I think knocked out a car window. You even think of a shot Mo Vaughn hit off the Budweiser sign in 2003.

Well now you think of...Marlon Anderson?

Marlon Anderson?

His shot off the scoreboard in the fifth was the game winner for the Mets tonight, and made a winning pitcher out of Kris Benson, a feeling he hasn't felt in about six weeks.

Marlon Anderson?

Jacobs also hit a moon shot which was more high than far...but majestic. Jacobs has reached double digits in homers, and he'll still have a shot to win the rookie of the year award in 2006. The more I see Jacobs escape the adjustments that pitchers have made off of him, the more I think that maybe he has enough power to play first base regularly next year.

But then I think how nice it would be to have his offense behind the plate.

Marlon Anderson?

You Like Me...You Really Really Like Me

It started just as any other day started in prophet-ville. Wake up, feed the cat, log on the computer and check to see the pounding my fantasy baseball team is taking despite having Mark Texeira, Adam Dunn, and Jake Peavy on it. Oh yeah, and make sure there's no comments on this blog that hawk "chinese cooking" blogs and stock option related stuff.

Imagine my surprise as I hear from Matt over at Metsblog...the premier Mets blog. And that's when I visit his site and discover the news:

I won an award.


Wait wait wait...back up. I was named as Matt's favorite Mets related blog besides his own...with the powerhouse Mets blogs out there? Me?

Did Jack Palance read my name by mistake?

Nope, it's true. I still can't believe it. I started this here blog because I was causing e-mail boxes to be flooded and arguments started over spelling errors. So, I figured I'd streamline the rants and have my very own website. Now, my friends don't have to call me anymore to yell about the Mets...they can yell at me on the website.

So what started to happen was, the audience got wider, people started to notice, and now I have an award.

So many people to thank.

First and foremost, thanks to the academy (Matt) for the award. As I've said, there are so many great Mets blogs out there, and not a day goes by when I don't read something on one of them and think "damn, I should have thought of that." And I know I've caught on to something when the site counter goes up by 500 in 10 minutes which means that Matt linked to me. And some of those folks even stuck around and became regulars. For that I am greatful, because it tells me that I'm not chasing windmills by staying up typing until 3:30 in the morning (only 12:30 in Vegas). So thanks to you.

(sniff sniff...I promised Mess I wouldn't do this...)

Thanks to those who visit regularly. Erik Love, and Kyle from Virginia, Joe and jdon, and all of the anonymouses out there. If I forgot you, it's because I'm old.

A special thank you to the bloggers out there who have visited and shown their love. Andrew from Chuck and Duck, Mark Simon from Mets Walkoffs, Greg and Jason from Faith and Fear in Flushing, Dave Murray from Mets Guy in Michigan, Michael Oliver from The Metropolitans, Jaap Still from Archie Bunker's Army, Gail from Mets Fan, the boys at Misery Loves Company, Mr. Know it All at It's Mets for Me, Shari from 7 Train, Vinny at No Joy in Metsville, the Mets Analyst, and all the rest over on the right hand side...home team and visitors. I stand in reverence of all of you and I will always consider myself the new kid on the block. I'm truly not worthy.

Thanks to the Dodger Blues website...the undisputed king of acerbic wit, for inspiration. I am a mere imposter.

Thanks to my wife, who doesn't complain when I crawl into bed at 4 in the morning.

Thank you to Art Howe. Your ineptitude and inability to manage a game spurred me to start this blog. Thank you.

(piano starts playing, cueing me to wrap this up...)

Thanks to Doug Mientkiewicz for all the quotes...

Thanks to Nostradamus, for not coming back from the dead to sue for copyright infringment on the name.

Thank you Omar for the transcripts.

And thank you to Warren Beatty. Thank you so much for being my mentor and believing in me. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


Was there a game tonight?

Oh yeah, there was. And guess what? After an 11-0 win, the Mets have 81 wins! You know what that means. Personally, my magic number is 83...which is the mininum number of victories that I predicted for them this season. 83-87 is what I thought was reasonable and attainable for this team after all of the changes. With three more against the Rockies at Shea, that number is more than attainable.

If you want to cheer for .500, cheer for Tom Glavine going .500 on the season (13-13) after starting out with an ERA which hovered around 7, and this genius proclaiming he was done. And cheer for the Rockies who are obviously anxious to get the season over with...9 strikeouts swinging against Tom Glavine? Now, it doesn't seem so bad that Glavine's option kicked in and that he's going to be a Met next year.

Of course, another 1-4 start and he'll be done again. And I'll probably be the first fool to write it.


If you want to complain about the Padres winning their division while perhaps finishing under .500, you have every right to. It's tough to take when the Mets, who will finish in the bottom three of their division, may wind up with a better record than a team that is going to the playoffs. But it also would mean that the records in the East would have been inflated by pounding on the teams in the West, no?

But consider this...the Mets did their job against the West going 18-11 against them so far on the year. In fact, the Braves have only gone 13-17 against the West. The Mets have a better record against teams in the East and West divisions of the N.L. (56-47) than the Braves do (55-47). You want to point to something which killed the Mets this season? The N.L. Central. The Braves pounded that division, going 28-14, including 6-1 vs. the Cubs, 7-3 vs. the Reds, and 5-1 vs. the Astros. The Mets meanwhile, have a 20-21 record against the Central which includes 4-2 against the Cubs, 3-3 against the Reds, and 5-5 against Houston.

Which begs the question: How the hell did the Braves get four extra games against Cincinnati while the Mets got four extra games against Houston? I guess the schedule maker was too worried about which holidays and important dates to schedule Yankee/Red Sox games for to worry about being fair.


"You don't win 96 games by don't win 96 games by win 96 games because dammit, you're a good team."--White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson after the Sox clinched the A.L. Central division.

Or was that Stuart Smalley?

My guess is, if you have to have a daily affirmation to justify your team getting in the playoffs after turning a 15 game lead into a 1.5 game lead, them most likely you're out in the first round.

But damn, that's pretty rip roaring funny!


This isn't funny.

The Red Sox traded two warm bodies for Mike Stanton, who can only pitch for them through the next three games. (Can Tony Clark back in a Yankee uniform be far behind?) Boy, the Red Sox are making it extremely tough for a Met fan and a Yankee hater to root for them. So the question is: do I update postseason scoring system, since Mike Stanton will not pitch in the playoffs? Or do I take into account that he's a member of the organization? Here would be the updated totals:

San Diego Padres: -2
Los Angeles Angels: -3
Philadelphia Phillies: -3
St. Louis Cardinals: -3
Cleveland Indians: -4
Chicago White Sox: -4
Houston Astros: -6
Boston Red Sox: -8
New York Yankees: -41
Atlanta Braves: -45

Don't forget: Stanton is a former Yankee, a former Brave, and a member of the hall of hate...a charter member. The only way he could be a more abominable human being is if he threw sea otters off the Empire State Building.

I don't think Stanton would do that.

I do, however, think he would sautee them in relish and bake them with potatoes before eating a whole one in a sitting.

Fat bastard.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Final Exam: The Metstradamus Grades!

The Mets day of reckoning is here. And since I seriously doubt anything that happens in the last four games against Colorado is going to radically change my mind, it's time for the final grades:

Pedro Martinez: Had some minor health issues and started to run out of gas down the stretch, but was still the ace and the workhorse that Met fans were hoping for. Considering all of the pitfalls that Met fans were warned about, 2005 was definitely best case scenario.

Quarterly Grade: A
Midterm Grade: A+
Final Grade: A

Jae Seo: How would you like being demoted in your place of business because somebody who works above you doesn't like you? It happens a lot in business...but it seems so silly when it happens in the world of baseball. Seo handled it as well as anybody could handle it when faced with the same situation. And he became a better pitcher for it while keeping the Mets in the race. Not everyone could have done that.

Quarterly Grade: B+
Midterm Grade: No grade (Not even an incomplete? What is wrong with me?)
Final Grade: A

Cliff Floyd: Was on a tear until nagging injuries finally caught up to him a bit. It may have been unfair to expect him to be Superman...but like many of the Mets, he faded during the road trip from hell, but picked it up nicely afterwards. Staying healthy has been his biggest achievment...his play in the field has been a close second.

Quarterly Grade: A
Midterm Grade: A
Final Grade: A

David Wright: Has shown the most improvement from game 1 to game 162. His fielding has improved greatly, he's picked up his hitting since the all-star break, and has given Met fans a real hope for the future of the lineup. Still room for improvement in terms of guessing on pitches, but that comes with experience. David Wright is the Mets' beacon of light.

Quarterly Grade: B-
Midterm Grade: B+
Final Grade: A-

Chris Woodward: Don't blame Chris Woodward for nuttin' this season. Woodward has been spectacular in a limited role, with steady defense at many positions and a clutch stick...the most clutch stick on the team. Scary, ain't it?

Quarterly Grade: B
Midterm Grade: A-
Final Grade: A-

Roberto Hernandez: Faltered a bit at the end but it's to be expected out of a 40 year old. A huge surprise and a pleasant one for the Met.

Quarterly Grade: A
Midterm Grade: A
Final Grade: A-

Mike Cameron: A very telling stat that Mike Cameron, as of September 15th, has the highest batting average with runners in scoring position of anyone on the team. It's a testament to Cameron's improvement this season, but also speaks to a lineup-long problem for the Mets. Cammy has also played a near flawless right field. Hopefully, he will be able to return next season at full strength from his horrific injuries.

Quarterly Grade: A-
Midterm Grade: A-
Final Grade: B+

Jose Reyes: Speed kills, and Reyes has been killing more opponents as the season has gone on. Reyes has been creating runs all by himself by getting on base, stealing, and scoring on sacrifice flies...he's becoming a bonafide weapon. If he ever learns the strike zone, he'll be an all-star.

Quarterly Grade: C-
Midterm Grade: B-
Final Grade: B+

Marlon Anderson: Has been a nice surprise off the bench. When the Mets purge some of the older bench players, I hope that Anderson and Woodward stick around.

Quarterly Grade: A
Midterm Grade: B+
Final Grade: B+

Mike Jacobs: Was bound to cool off after becoming the only player ever in the history of baseball to hit 4 homers in his first four major league games. But after cooling off he found some consistancy and made some adjustments. Has played a near flawless first base as well. Does his future lie there? Probably, not definitely.

Final Grade: B+

Ramon Castro: Castro has been a big surprise with the bat...his three run HR against the Phillies to put them one-half games back in the wild card was probably the peak moment of the season. Has been great defensively with his arm. Had it not been for the Pittsburgh debacle and for the wild toss against Washington, he would get an A.

Quarterly Grade: C-
Midterm Grade: C
Final Grade: B

Kris Benson: Benson was pitching like an ace until he ran out of gas down the stretch. Like most Met starters, was the victim of some shoddy bullpen work. Would like to see him build up some arm strength so he can stay consistant. His lack of strikeouts hasn't really hurt him all that much.

Quarterly Grade: INC
Midterm Grade: A-
Final Grade: B

Aaron Heilman: Gets credit for bouncing around...had a strong streak as a mop-up man, but struggled in spots where there was more on the line. Later in the season his pitches have found more movement and he's gotten more consistant. He should have a shot to crack the starting rotation in 2006.

Quarterly Grade: A
Midterm Grade: B
Final Grade: B

Juan Padilla: Has shown a bunch down the stretch, enough to give him a grade, especially with a 1.57 ERA. Deserves a slot in the 'pen next year.

Final Grade: B

Tom Glavine: I'm going to give Tom Glavine a boatload of credit. I wrote early in the season that he was done...and now his ERA is below 4. He's had good starts down the stretch, but his most impressive start was when he gave up 5 runs...but that was because he went 8 innings with less than impressive stuff against the Cubs to save an overworked bullpen. He also pitched a gem against the Braves in the infamous "Braden Looper double blown save game". He'll never be the Tom Glavine from his Brave days, but now, finally, he won't be mistaken for a Braves mercenary.

Quarterly Grade: D-
Midterm Grade: C-
Final Grade: B-

Carlos Beltran: Beltran is quickly running out of "Get out of Jail Free" cards. First it was the quad. Then it was the collision. Beltran, sooner or later (say about April of next season) is going to have to justify that contract. The numbers bear out that he has been historically a better two hole hitter than three hole hitter...if the Mets make certain moves, would they dare put a $119 million player in the second spot in the order?

Quarterly Grade: B+
Midterm Grade: B-
Final Grade: C+

Heath Bell: Bell didn't see a lot of time down the stretch, so I'm invoking the college rule about making your previous tests count in abscence of a final exam. Deserves a regular shot in the bullpen as much as any used up slug the Mets can bring in.

Quarterly Grade: C+
Midterm Grade: B
Final Grade: C+

Mike Piazza:Had one good stretch in August where he hit the ball hard. Otherwise, has been a sad shell of his former self. I hope that "Mike Piazza Day" does him justice.

Quarterly Grade: C-
Midterm Grade: C
Final Grade: C

Victor Zambrano: Zambrano has been the weak link in a strong starting staff, but even Zambrano has had his strong stretches. It will be a shame if he is forced in a rotation spot to justify the Kazmir trade, because he might have value as either a middle reliever, or in a trade to a team that has little starting pitching.

Quarterly Grade: D
Midterm Grade: B
Final Grade: C

Miguel Cairo: Sharply fell off offensively in the second half. Was miscast as a 2 hole hitter, but his .290ish average with the Yankees last season gave all of us a false sense of excitement and hope that he can do that job. Nothing more than a utility player at this point in his career, and the Mets have enough of those.

Quarterly Grade: B+
Midterm Grade: B-
Final Grade: C-

Doug Mientkiewicz: Glove was as advertised. Bat was not. A back injury cut him down just as he was finding his stroke, but an average in the .240's is unacceptable at that posititon.

Quarterly Grade: B-
Midterm Grade: D
Final Grade: D+

Braden Looper: Was hovering at B- for a while but down the stretch was absolutely useless. Was it injury? Was it the mere fact that he's been miscast as a closer? He's a stand up guy and I hope wherever he goes he finds success, and his retaliation against J.D. Closser in 2004 endears him to me forever. But that doesn't count towards his 2005 grade.

Quarterly Grade: B-
Midterm Grade: B-
Final Grade: D+

Gerald Williams: Points for being good in the clubhouse, which basically means he's at his best when he's not playing.

Final Grade: D+

Kaz Ishii: He did have a few decent starts...but overall was atrocious and here's hoping he languishes in Texas next season.

Quarterly Grade: INC
Midterm Grade: D+
Final Grade: D

Jose Offerman: Blew a game against the Marlins because he can't catch...and was thrown out at second on a line single to center. And all this along with rumblings of a bad attitude. Somebody ought to gently remind Offerman that he's 102 years old and is lucky enough to have a job where he still wears a uniform. Did get some big pinch hits and that's the only thing that saves him.

Midterm Grade: INC
Final Grade: D

Kaz Matsui: Was injured for a good part of the season, but a huge disappointment overall. Hit well for about a week in September. Needs to go.

Quarterly Grade: C-
Midterm Grade: D-
Final Grade: D-

Dae Sung Koo: Let's see, grooves a 3-0 fastball to Carlos Delgado...blows his shoulder on a slide...refuses to warm up when asked late in the season...Congratulations Dae Sisk, you are my first official failure!

Quarterly Grade: Didn't bother.
Midterm Grade: D
Final Grade: F

Manny Aybar/Danny Graves: To me, they're the same guy. Aybar was useless in a mop-up role, and Graves replaced him with no expectations. Any upgrade over Aybar would have been considered a bonus. There was none.

Quarterly Grade: Aybar got a C-
Midterm Grade: Both got incompletes
Final Grade: One big fat F

Mike "Hitaway" DeJean: Because I can!

Quarterly Grade: C
Midterm Grade: F
Final Grade: F

Victor Diaz: Have liked what I have seen so far, espeically filling in for Mike Cameron early in the season. But Diaz tailed off at the end and I don't feel I've seen him enough.

Quarterly Grade: A-
Final Grade: INC

Shingo Takatsu: Blame Willie Randolph all you want, Takatsu, a veteran, needed to get Cabrera out and didn't. He deserves some of the blame for that.

Final Grade: I'm going to be nice and give him an INC

Brian Daubach: Why exactly did he disappear?

Midterm Grade: INC
Final Grade: INC

Anderson Hernandez: Why exactly is he not playing in garbage time?

Final Grade: INC

Royce Ring: Has anyone seen him?

Midterm Grade: B-
Final Grade: INC

Willie Randolph: Randolph had some first season jitters to be sure. I liked that he moved David Wright up in the order. I didn't like how long he took to do it. I liked that when a player had a "moment of truth" game like DeJean, Felix Heredia and Aybar did, and went south in it, got rid of them almost immediately. I didn't like that others who have shown nothing like Graves, Ishii and Cairo continue to get looks at the expense of others such as Ring, Diaz and perhaps Yusmeiro Petit. I liked when he made moves based on hunch. I didn't like when he relied too much on the numbers, especially small sample numbers.

Some of Willie's moves have been out of necessity...not enough firepower in the lineup, and injuries forcing guys like Marlon Anderson to hit fifth. I think when he learns to be his own man and when he stops trying to use Yankee philosophies for players who are not Yankees, he'll be OK. Don't say you're a champion of young people and then force us to watch Danny Graves and Kaz Ishii...although that isn't entirely his fault. The honeymoon is officially over.

Quarterly Grade: A-
Midterm Grade: C+
Final Grade: C+

Omar Minaya: I'm tempted to give Omar an incomplete because he didn't get anything done during the season. But that inactivity deserves a grade too. I give him points for being imaginative going after Manny Ramirez...those circumstances made it hard for anyone to get that deal done. But in going after the big fish, let some little ones get away like Kyle Farnsworth who would have helped the Mets bullpen mightily.

Final Grade: If you just go on in-season, he gets a C. If you include the last off-season, he gets a B+.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


The world of oblivion is upon the Mets.

Some handled it well (two HR's for Marlon Anderson, Cliff Floyd and David Wright with a HR each).

Some...did not (Tim Hamulack's ERA is now at a healthy 23.14 after giving up 5 runs in two thirds of an inning. Steve Trachsel gave up 7 in 4 and 2/3's during tonight's 16-6 defeat).

For most, it was business as usual (Willie Randolph and Rick "The Genius" Peterson summoned Danny Graves and Kaz Ishii for no good reason other than to take up space.)

Now, it comes down to four games at Shea with the Colorado Rockies...where the only thing to look forward to is Mike Piazza Day on Sunday.

Hamulack, it goes without saying, didn't do himself any favors getting his bell rung today (not Heath Bell...who also faltered near the end of his outing on Wednesday). It will be interesting to see Randolph and Peterson's patterns regarding bullpen usage during the Rockies series. You could see Randolph trotting out the walking dead (Graves and Ishii) during the Phillie series, as you could rationalize the fact that the Phillies are still in a race, so the Mets had to at least make an effort to look like they were putting in an honest effort to the outside world (people familiar with the Mets like you readers know better). There will be nobody accusing the Mets of lying down and helping the Phillies in their playoff chase after this series.

But against the Rockies, who's only purpose right now is to set themselves up to get that second draft choice, there's no excuse for Mets coaches not to feed the Rocks a steady diet of Bell and Hamulack. Obviously you're not going to judge Hamulack on one bad outing in a bandbox ballpark (although he did get torched by lefties tonight), so how about more of a sample size for these two?


Meanwhile, Pedro Martinez showed reporters his right foot today, proving that indeed it's a good idea not to trot him out to the mound in a meaningless game. (Also read how Peterson doesn't jog with the rest of the coaches).

A Postseason Scoring System

Now that the Mets have been officially eliminated from playoff consideration, I know many of you feel the need to find a bandwagon to buy a ticket to during the 2005 stretch run. "Who should I throw my support behind to make the postseason watchable?" is probably what you're asking yourself.

Well if you truly need a bandwagon, and if it's going to get you to sleep at night, I have devised a scientific system to help you find your "baseball chi". Call it "DeKoonig's lost theory"::

Here's the scoring system:

If you're a former Met not named Carl Everett or Timo Perez: +1
If you once stole a base off of Mariano Rivera to start a comeback from 0-3 down and defeat them in the ALCS: +1
If you're a Yankee: -1
If you're a former Yankee: -1 (If you're Aaron Boone, make it -2)
If you wear a uniform that says "Braves": -1
If you're a former Brave: -1
If you have ever been the World Series MVP against the Mets: -2
If you have ever hit Mike Piazza in the head with a pitch: -2
If you have ever hit Mike Piazza with two pitches, and ran away when he charged the mound (the Guillermo Mota rule): -2
If you're a member of the Metstradamus Hall of Hate: -3

Using this scoring system and the rosters from ESPN website, here are the team wide scoring totals among squads who still have a realistic chance, letting you know who you should root for (feel free to double check my totals):

San Diego Padres: -2
Los Angeles Angels: -3
Boston Red Sox: -3
Philadelphia Phillies: -3
St. Louis Cardinals: -3
Cleveland Indians: -4
Chicago White Sox: -4
Houston Astros: -6
New York Yankees: -41
Atlanta Braves: -45

The Angels were at zero until I took managers into effect, and Mike Scioscia IS in the hall of hate...Bruce Bochy is also a former Met (albeit for ten minutes), so the official bandwagon has changed from the Angels to the San Diego Padres, who win out with a score of -2. So the Padres are now the official pick to root for half heartedly until they are eliminated.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Baker's Dirty Dozen

It's now official.

The Mets have backed out of the playoffs.

Aaron Heilman closed out the Phillies and severely damaged their playoff hopes with a 3-2 victory at Citizens Bank Park tonight. But the Astros, who brought in Brad Lidge in the eighth inning against St. Louis tonight, defeated the Cards 3-1 and mathematically knocked the Mets out of contention.

Let's not kid ourselves, we all knew this was coming.

But the fact that the Mets crept this close makes it excruciatingly clear that a few games here and there might have made the difference between being right there with Houston, and being knocked out on the final Tuesday of the season. Looking back, there were plenty of these moments...and half of them going the other way would have made a big difference.

What's sad is that I thought that I would struggle finding enough games to put together a top ten list, but instead I came up with extras...and I had a hard time leaving any of these games off the list. So here now, are the thirteen potholes that turned the Mets' 2005 Cadillac into a Lemon:

April 4th (Joe Randa cooks Mets well "Dunn"): It should have been the perfect way to start the season, with Pedro Martinez treating the Reds like obedient dogs (sit, stay)...but Braden Looper was sunk by Adam Dunn and Joe Randa home runs in the ninth, blowing a three run lead. Considering how bad the Reds became, the Mets really should have taken two of the three games in Cincy (if not all of them)...but opening day was the one that hurt.

May 23rd (Taken off the board): The Mets actually tied this game at 8 apiece, but in a call that could only be made against the Mets, and could only be made in Atlanta, David Wright was called out as he slid too far away from second base. The Mets lost 8-6.

June 12th (E-5): David Wright's error gave the Angels a 4-3 victory in the ninth, and killed all momentum from the Mets' breathtaking walk-off victory from the night before.

June 15th (Rung out to dry): Reliever Royce Ring gets squeezed on a 3-2 pitch to Bobby Kielty in the ninth, and he comes home on Marco Scutaro's two out base hit. This was the other road trip that killed the Mets this season.

June 19th (The Hitaway Debacle): Aaron Heilman holds the Mariners after they take a 6-1 lead, and the Mets cut the gap to 6-5 in the sixth. Inexplicably, Willie Randolph replaces converted starter Heilman with Mike "Hitaway" DeJean in the bottom of the sixth, and the wheels fall off for the Mets. Hitaway is soon released.

June 26th (Subway derailment): The Mets are on the verge of a sweep at Yankee Stadium, when Braden Looper has his second big meltdown of the season, and in the process saving the Yankee season, and Jason Giambi's career by giving up the game winning hit to him.

July 8th (Fluffed): Ramon "Fluff" Castro fails to score from second base on a double in the ninth, and it proves to be the difference as Looper gives up 4 in the ninth and one in the tenth for perhaps the most gut wrenching loss of the season...well, second most.

July 28th (Homecoming Horror): Carlos Beltran begins a horrific four game series at the Juice Box as a visiting player, as Brad Ausmus beats Roberto Hernandez with a two out hit...Ausmus had two RBI's in the game that led off three straight losses against the Houston Astros.

August 4th (Gassed): Roberto Hernandez, closing for Braden Looper who had pitched a million days in a row, gives up 5 in the ninth to the Brewers as the Mets go down 12-9. Hernandez, 126 years young, had also pitched a few days in a row...but that was a minor detail.

August 11th (Crash): A 2-1 loss is overshadowed by a frightening outfield collision between Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron. Cameron's face is shattered and he is lost for the season, Beltran misses a handful of games before coming back.

August 14th (No hitter? No, no): Pedro Martinez pitches a no hitter into the eighth inning, but the Mets lack of offense, a theme throughout the rest of the season, ensures that Pedro's lone hiccup is costly as the Mets lose 2-1.

September 3rd (We lost the funk): Willie Randolph brings Shingo Takatsu in with the bases loaded and Miguel Cabrera at the plate...nice spot for a debut. Takatsu, instead of throwing his "funk" throws a magnetized fastball that turns into a bases clearing double for Cabrera and another road trip loss for the Mets.

September 7th (The Collapse): Looper seals his fate as Mets closer by blowing one run leads in the ninth and tenth to the Braves in Atlanta. The fate of the Flushing nine is sealed.

No Steak, Just Cheese For Philly

It's about time someone else got booed.

It's always hard to imagine how another team feels after losing this type of game...maybe it's the defeatist in me that feels that these kind of games always happen to the Mets.

But the Philadelphia Phillies are going to look at this game, a game where they had a 3 run lead on the Mets in the eighth inning, as a game where not only they should have won, but a game they had in the bag. A game where the Mets were at the poker table across from death, and went all in by walking Bobby Abreu to get to Pat Burrell.

Yeah, that Pat Burrell.

The same Pat Burrell that hit a ball ten miles of of Shingo "Mr. 60 miles and hour" Takatsu for his 30th career home run against the Mets in his career.

Now that's what you call tempting fate. Either batter would have been poison, and it was the ultimate "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. But there would have been something sadly symbolic about getting eliminated at the hands of Pat Burrell.

Instead, of all things, a check swing tapper to the pitcher to end the game.

The Phillies just experienced their Terry Pendleton game.

I have to tell you, spoiling other teams doesn't exactly give me goose bumps. But spoiling other teams the way the Mets did it tonight? That's another matter entirely.

Don't get me wrong. I'll wake up tomorrow back to my old grumpy self as the Mets still face 6 match points at the hands of baseball's version of Roger Federer...elimination an inevitability, and with a long off-season ahead...especially if the Yankees spend another October on FOX. But tonight, as long as you're awake, feel free to feel good about this one. Because at the very least, the Mets haven't thrown in the towel and completely given up as in years past. Cliff Floyd is turning out to be correct...this team is different from the 2002 and 2003 and 2004 versions. This team, even as a spoiler, and even after they are finally eliminated, has a heartbeat.

Monday, September 26, 2005


So it's come down to this.

The Mets come in to Philadelphia as the Ralph Nader of baseball..."fightning the good fight" as they are still mathematically alive, but most likely they get to decide who gets to go to the playoffs. Ironically, a good showing in Philadelphia by the Mets will help, of all people, Roger Clemens go to the playoffs.

Kinda takes the fun out of it, no?

Monday: Jae Seo (7-2, 2.38 ERA) vs. Brett Myers (12-8, 3.75 ERA)
Tuesday: Victor Zambrano (7-11, 4.10) vs. Jon Lieber(16-12, 4.23 ERA)
Wednesday: Steve Trachsel (1-3, 2.78 ERA) vs. Vincente Padilla (8-12 4.61 ERA)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Take Me Away...I Don't Mind

Well look who's trying to drive eighty-eight in the DeLorean to reach back in time.

Look who hit two home runs today and made a spectacular catch and tag on what would have been the insurance run and the backbreaker that eliminates the Mets from post-season consideration.

Instead, the Mets unbelievably still have life after their 6-5 victory over the Nats which puts them in fourth place. (Did you know the Mets magic number is 18?)

As Mike Piazza most likely winds down his Met career we're left to ponder what his legacy will be in Flushing. Obviously, Piazza's numbers are incomparable at his position as he closes in on 400 HR's, and he will be a Hall of Famer with his number 31 up on the left field wall at Shea Stadium. But there's also the stigma of falling just short in that 2000 season. There will also be the controversies with Roger Clemens...the mad dash at Guillermo Mota...and the only press conference in the history of the press conferences where Mike Piazza was forced to come out of the closet as a heterosexual.

As time goes on, all the goofy stuff...jamming with Alter Bridge while holding one drumstick...his public admiration for Rush Limbaugh, his indirect responsibility in getting a radio personality fired...that all fades away. He is beloved at Shea and nothing will ever change that. The collisions, the home runs, those will always be remembered. But there will always be the fact that Piazza fell just short of the ultimate goal which was a World Series ring. Unless he goes to a team like the Angels, contributes mightily as a full time DH and the Angels win it all in 2006, there will always be that "Patrick Ewing" cloud that will hang over him...never quite had the big time horses around him to win until this, his last season here (most likely), just like Ewing.

Piazza deserves the opportunity to get all of the at-bats he can in 2006 if that's what he wants...and if there is a club other than the Mets that can give him 500 at bats as a DH and about a million or two more than the Mets would offer him, then nobody should begrudge him that. Today, he proved deserving of that opportunity next year.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Have A Cigar

I can sleep at night now...knowing in my heart that now that the tragic number is down to one, that Mets manager Willie Randolph is going to pull out all of the stops to motivate his team and protect his players.

Tonight, in a monumental turn of events, Randolph was ejected from a baseball game for the first time in his career.

I wonder if Mike Piazza has a cigar for that occasion.

The momentous occasion occurred after Jose Reyes was ejected well after getting rung up by Sam Holbrook in the Reyes said the magic word while walking away. Randolph went ballistic, an occurrence Mets fans have waited for all season, and Holbrook made history by being the first umpire to toss the mild mannered Randolph during the Mets 5-2 victory. And Metstradamus applauds Willie Randolph for finally showing us that he is indeed alive.

I know, I know...better late than never. But why has everyone waited for garbage time to start sucking the marrow out of life instead of choking on the bone? Randolph had plenty of chances to protect his players and get himself tossed while protecting players and coaches alike, but waits until now to get himself tossed. It must be part of that "garbage time" experimentation...the same scientific experiments that have Roberto Hernandez closing when there are other players to look at in the system...the same experiments that have Miguel Cairo at second base as Anderson Hernandez rots on the bench...the same experiments that have Marlon Anderson in right field losing baseballs in the lights while Victor Diaz spends quality time with his sunflower seeds.

I can't wait for the next trick to be pulled out of the bag. Maybe Rick Peterson wants to look at Kaz Ishii. Joy.

But for now, light up New York...and celebrate history.

Failure Spans Eras

It was a strange, surreal scene at RFK Stadium tonight.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, when Roberto Hernandez faced Carlos Baerga tonight, it was like a harsh reminder of the failure of the former Met and of that trade in 1996.

Then, of course, Baerga hits a game tying home run.

The very next frame...the top of the tenth, another Carlos, this time Beltran, came to bat with 2 outs and a runner in scoring position. And again, a harsh reminder of the .213 batting average he carries in that situation, along with all of the other times he's failed to hit the ball hard, or in a gap, or over a wall.

And wouldn't you the ultimate "who cares" moment of the season, Beltran hits a home's like the ghost of failures present meets the ghost of failures past.

Hey let's carry it into next year!


The one thing you can carry into next year is the job Aaron Heilman did to nail down the game in the 10th. Sure, it was a three run lead, but Heilman made quick work of the Nats to seal the 5-2 win and provided little drama. With the way his pitches were moving tonight you wonder if the Mets have some sort of thought as to trying Heilman as the closer. Obviously, it's not what he wants, just in the way it isn't what John Smoltz wanted either. But Heilman has stuff that could be that much better when pitching for an inning at a time...Smoltz threw his splitter at 87 mph when he was a starter the first time...then threw it at 93 when he was a closer.

Heilman is exhibiting that same kind of difference...he has 34 K's in 42 innings as a starter, and before tonight: 68 K's in 60.1 innings as a reliever. His ERA splits are similar: 4.71 starting, and 2.39 out of the pen. And don't forget his microscopic 0.79 ERA after the break. I'm sure that's something that the Mets will look at over the off-season.

Now, that's not an excuse not to go and spend their money for an elite closer next year...there are still many venues and situations as a closer that Heilman isn't familiar with. And using him in middle relief would almost be a waste of time. But with starting pitching help somewhat abundant in the minors (Yusmeiro Petit, Gaby Hernandez), and quality relievers hard to come by, Heilman's numbers whether he likes it or not, presents him as an option for the bullpen in 2006.


Speaking of bullpen options, "mad props" (is that still lingo that the cool kids use) to "The Fly" Juan Padilla, whose ERA dropped to 1.76 after his work tonight. Does this mean that the Mets can stop bringing in 57 has-been relievers to every spring training, hoping one of them sticks when they're only going to retire halfway through camp when they figure out they can't cut it like one of the "Junction Boys"?


One more thing about Baerga...

Is it me, or does he look more and more like a cupie doll every day?

And when exactly does MLB start their botox testing policy?

Friday, September 23, 2005

How Dirty Boys Don't Get Clean

From the FOX Sports website...confirming what we've always suspected:

Men are dirtier than women. Scientists confirmed this by spying in public restrooms, watching as one-fourth of the men left without washing their hands.

The worst offenders were at an Atlanta Braves game. In contrast, 90 percent of the women washed up.

Wednesday's results mark the American Society of Microbiology's latest look at how many people take what is considered the single easiest step to staying healthy: spending 20 seconds rubbing with soap under the faucet.

It also explains why infection experts use paper towels to open bathroom doors.

In 1996, the society first studied how often people wash up after using the toilet. Researchers lingered in public restrooms while surreptitiously counting. They concluded about one-third did not wash.

Every few years, the research is repeated. This time, 83 percent of people washed, reported Harris Interactive, which last month monitored more than 6,300 public restroom users for the society.

The worst hygiene was at Atlanta's Turner Field, where 37 percent of the men left the bathroom without washing and 16 percent of the women did.
So is that why they chop...AIR DRYING!



Would you rather be in last place, eleven and a half games out of first place, or one and a half games in front, with the best record in the league?

It seems like an easy question on the surface.

But let's put it another way...

Would you rather be basically out of the pennant race all together, or be in the midst of pulling off one of the biggest collapses in baseball history?

Have your answer yet?

Well let's up the stakes...

Would you rather be playing out the string as the second fiddle in a two horse town where, even though you've been around about sixty less years than your cross town rivals, it's possible to steal the hearts and minds of that city's fans when you come forth with a winning product?


Would you rather be drawing mediocre crowds even as a first place team in a town where your team could win back to back pennants, and even a championship...and still play a distant second fiddle to a team that has been around with it's current nickname two less years than you, and haven't won a World Series since the best pitcher in the league was Christy Mathewson?

The question doesn't seem so crazy, now does it?

Imagine if the nineteen eighty-six New York Mets, who had a 16 and a half game lead on August first that season, all of a sudden had a one and a half game lead on September 23rd instead of having the division clinched for six days and playing guys like Stan Jefferson, John Gibbons, John Mitchell and Rick Anderson?

How much hair would you have pulled out of your head?

And keep in mind the Mets owned the city in 1986.

The White Sox were about 15 games up on August first of this season, and they still played second fiddle...a distant second fiddle to the Chicago Cubs. Now of course, their lead over the Cleveland Indians is a slim one and a half games, and they end the season with three at Jacobs field. And all signs point to the White Sox collapsing and ensuring that the 1995 California Angels can leave their houses again.

So who would you rather be?

Oh, who am I kidding. The Mets lost tonight to a team that batted their pitcher seventh.

I guess that ends that debate.


Speaking of Dontrelle batting seventh, it was noted tonight that Rick Rhoden batted seventh for the Yankees as their DH in a game against the Orioles on June 11th, 1988. I was at that game, and I also remember a Jay Buhner grand slam that carried the Evil Empire to victory. Which Oriole sad sack pitcher gave up that grand slam?

That would be Doug Sisk.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

8 in 8, Won in 9...How Can You Sleep?

Braden Looper is taking the Stewie Griffin path.

Remember when Family Guy's Stewie Griffin was moving up the ladder with his theatre partner Olivia...and after being involved in that fistfight with her on the marquee stage, Stewie started moving down the same ladder? His act failed at the strip club, the nursing home, until finally he's on the porch with Rupert drinking imaginary tea and performing his act for Rupert's stuffed animal friends...then finally in a strait jacket at the looney bin.

Well, poor Braden Looper is headed down that same path. He failed in the marquee stage against Atlanta, then started failing on smaller stages. Tonight, in blowing his 8th save, he has failed at the nursing home...otherwise known as "the eighth inning".

Suffice it to say, the phrase "garden variety" appears many times.-Stewie Griffin
And if my eyes weren't decieving me, and Braden Looper was indeed crying tonight, then the looney bin can't be that far away.

The Mets came back and won the game 5-4 in the ninth on a Mike Piazza single in the bottom of the eighth, and a Miguel Cairo single in the ninth which scored the hustling Jose Reyes. They're now just a game under the magical .500 mark.

Meanwhile, in another sign that there's absolutely nobody left on the bandwagon, MSG's "Mets Rewind" has been shortened to an hour from it's usual two hours. By the time the season ends, MSG might squeeze "Mets Rewind" during commercials of Ethan Zohn's "Metro Soccer Report".


The Mets TV announcers metioned that Mike Jacobs wouldn't mind catching next season, but really enjoys playing first base.


That's back to back walk-off wins for the Mets. This could only mean one thing...

No, not the world ending.

It means that there's smoke rising from the computer of Mark Simon as he tries to figure out when the last time there were back to back Met walkoff wins...was Mike Cameron involved?


If the Mets win on Thursday and basically end the Marlins' hopes, does that seal Jack McKeon's fate as manager? It would be a injuries were no help to Florida's cause.

" pause)...tough." -Fran Healy, after Miguel Cairo's winner tonight
Funny, I thought he was going to say something else.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Future

I have found an innate difference between Mets fans and Yankee fans.

Yankee fans, generally, get more excited about which big free agents are coming to the Bronx during the off season.

Mets fans, who have been burned plenty via free agency, get more excited over the farm system.

It's slightly ironic when you think about it. The very fact that Yankee fans are in the position to realistically dream about being able to attract free agents is because of the fact that their farm system produced the players that it did. But the Yankees have a good record over the last 30 years with free agents...Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Gary Sheffield, and even Jason Giambi.

The Mets, meanwhile, long ago tried to construct an entire team via free agency, and 1993 didn't work out so well, did it?

And after Pedro Martinez and Robin Ventura, who as a Met free agent, has had a major positive impact with the organization...ever?

So Mets eyes, generally, look towards the farm...regardless of what happened with Generation K...regardless that after Darryl Strawberry and David Wright, the Mets haven't developed many stud position players...or any stud position players that have stuck with the club.

Which brings me to Tuesday night's walk-off hero in the Mets' 3-2 win over the Marlins, Mike Jacobs.

Jacobs is going to be an interesting case in 2006. He's shown he can hit. He's shown he can play first base. He has caught plenty in the minors. He certainly deserves a chance to show he can contribute in a major role. But will he?

If Omar Minaya, in an effort to completely revamp the lineup next season, goes out and gets a first baseman AND a catcher, then where does that leave Jacobs? And how nervous will the Mets fan base be...with free agents everywhere and Jacobs on the bench or in the minors? And will they demand Minaya's head on a platter if it doesn't work out?

For me, there's definitely a place for Jacobs on the club in 2006, and in a major role, along with other youngsters such as Wright, Jose Reyes, and Anderson Hernandez. Where? I'm not telling. And this is where I tease my upcoming "plan to save the Mets" for next season, which some may feel inappropriate for me to post until the Mets are eliminated this season, so let the chance to berate me and my plan be incentive to keep visiting.

But as for right now, Jacobs has certainly proven that he belongs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Yankee Inspired Rant


What's so funny?

It would be funny...if it wasn't so sad.

As the Yankees steamroll towards another season of taking the baseball playoffs hostage with the help of yet another feel good story, this time Bubba Crosby and his walk off home run, the Mets finish up their last off day of the doubt spent making plans for golf outings at Pebble Beach, tanning sessions in the Caribbean, hunting expeditions in Wisconsin, and in some cases scanning the classifieds for career change opportunities.

But not to worry, because Willie Randolph is a 12 month a year manager! He'll be busy making arrangements for that winter caravan. I, for one, can't wait.

In the meantime, I get to hear Jeanne Zelasko wax poetic about the intangibles of Derek Jeter. I get to read Darth Marc toot the horn of A-Rod. I get to watch a whole month of playoff baseball with the unmistakable slant of pinstripes. I get another round of bandwagoners who couldn't pick out Robinson Cano in a police lineup stopping by to ask me if I have any connections for Yankees playoff tickets. Oh yeah, and all this while staying up at three in the morning trying to figure out how to write yet another insulting blog about Mike Stanton as ESPNEWS will loop footage of Jason Giambi kissing babies every half hour as I run spellcheck on the phrase "reverse peristalsis" because that's how I'll be feeling.

I live for this.

Mark Simon points me to a great article written by Barry Federovitch detailing the 32nd anniversary of the "ball off the wall" play which propelled the Mets to the 1973 division crown, and ultimately the pennant. You should absolutely check it out, and I thank Mark for alerting me to it. I myself was only three years old when that happened so you know what kind of memory that brought back for me?

Timo Perez.

And that's what it comes down to...another October of flashing back to Met underachievement while rooting for an end to the Yankee playoff hostage siege. But it's not going to happen...because here comes Bubba Crosby. This is the guy I thought was going to be the hero of game 7 of the ALCS last year for the Yankees. Thankfully, he wasn't. But I know it's a matter of time. Because every time I proclaim that the death of the Yankees is imminent, here comes Aaron Boone or Bubba Crosby or Chad Curtis or some other unlikely hero who's about to write a book like the damn bat boy did.

And even if the Red Sox eliminate the Yankees during that last weekend of the season while making the month of October fun the long run, who cares? Because the Mets will spend that last weekend playing in front of 2,000 people including the Rockies wives and children, buried behind the Yankees, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Metrostars, St. Francis Prep, Ken Moran's fishing column, horse racing odds, Pookie's cooking tips, the week in dogs, makeovers by Leona, and the fun with socks column in your local newspaper. Oh look, there's the Mets boxscore on page 38 next to the ads for the male enhancement. "Does your center fielder need a...bigger stick?"

Bubba Freakin Crosby.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Debate:

Does Willie Randolph's bobblehead...

look like Little Richard?
Does Willie Randolph...
look like Little Richard's bobblehead?
Great gosh a'mighty!

Honey, I'm Home!

Wife: Honey, is that you?
Husband: Yeah, it's me.
Wife: Where've you been?
Husband: Out walking.
Wife: Oh...(long pause) were with her, weren't you?
Husband: No.
Wife: Oh come on! Do you take me for a fool? I just don't do it for you anymore, do I?

I lived this conversation today. You see, this was my mistress.

My wife? The New York Mets.

Yeah, I cheated today. I cheated on the old ball and chain that I have been trying to reconcile with since April 4th. But while the Mets are the old standby that will always be there, my mistress is that once a week fling that gives me that exciting three hour date that's full of surprises.

So I cheated. I missed the Mets. I missed Tom Glavine's complete game. I missed Cliff Floyd's two run HR. I missed Victor Diaz batting second. I missed Anderson Hernandez's major league debut where he left 5 men on base.

The Mets make me a beautiful roast and I'm out having cocktails with my mistress. I come home and the roast is cold.

I do feel bad.

I feel like I have cheated on all of you.

Here are some flowers.

I'm will not happen again.

(fingers crossed behind back)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Thank You For Being Most Valuable

Sad news to report...

Donn Clendenon, the MVP of the 1969 World Series, has passed away after a long battle with leukemia.

Clendenon was 70.

Being that I wasn't even a gleam in my parents' eyes in 1969, I can't be the one to wax poetic about Donn...but I do know that the mid season trade that brought Clendenon over is widely regarded as the final piece of the puzzle that put the whole miracle together.

Feel free to share your thoughts here...

Your Brief Respite Of Fun And Happiness Has Ended

Saturday was the baseball gods' way of paying the Mets back for Friday.

First it was the Mets' defense, who gave the Braves one out too many in the first inning on a David Wright throw which was mishandled by Mike Jacobs scoring a run, and leading to Adam Laroche's two run bomb.

Then, it was the umps, who clearly missed a trap by Andruw Jones (depicted by artists rendering above right) on what should have been a 2 run single by Mike Piazza, instead calling it the third out of the inning.

Then, it was the rest of the Braves lineup, who tacked on four more for a 7-4 victory, wasting dingers by Cliff Floyd, Piazza and Jacobs.

Meanwhile, Willie Randolph is experimenting with Shingo Takatsu...

"He's a guy you feel you can trust in big spots because he's been there and he has the funk..."
He had funk today alright.

Just not that George Clinton funk.

More like that "haven't showered in three days" funk.

All I'm hoping for is that the Mets come to their senses and give out those Willie Randolph bobblehead dolls after the game...or else there's going to be a few thousand incidents.

Me, I'll just hang myself with Friday's giveaway, my Mets fleece scarf.


But now for some good news: Anderson Hernandez has been called up to the big club as his contract was purchased for the 40 man roster. In even better news, Dae Sung Sisk has been designated for assignment. Here are some assignments I would like to designate for Mr. Sisk:

  • A 1,500 word essay on proper sliding technique
  • A Carlos Delgado scouting report entitled "Likes 3-0 Fastballs"
  • "I will warm up when asked" written on the blackboard 1,000 times.
Of course, it remains to be seen if the newest hope at second base will get some significant playing time.

P.S. Hernandez is number one in your program...soon, he hopes to be number one in your heart.