Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Lights, Camera, Lastings!

On the surface, Met fans gave Lastings Milledge one of the warmest major league debut ovations this side of Gregg Jefferies in the bottom of the second inning tonight (and an even warmer ovation after lining out to shortstop in his first major league at bat...probably the most warmly received out in the history of Met baseball, sending him on his way to a 1 for 4 evening.)

But was it really for Milledge?

Or was it Mets fans saying thanks?

Thank you, Mets management. Thank you for not ending any of the recent trades end in "and Lastings Milledge"!

Thank you, Lastings Milledge. Thank you for not blowing out your knee or your shoulder or any other appendage on your way to the big leagues!

Thank you, Willie Randolph. Thank you for not burying him on the bench during his time here in New York. Thank you for giving him an everyday slot in the lineup!

Was it a thank you? Was it a sigh of relief? More importantly, was it a mistake to give the hyped up prospect a number like 44? I mean, what are they trying to tell him exactly...

"Lastings, we're going to make you the Reggie Jackson we never had...because we passed on drafting him in 1966."
It's like the father who tries to live his dream through his little league playing son.

Well it doesn't matter, because there's bigger problems on the horizon. Namely, that Alay Soler is going to obsess over each and every pitch that he throws (as he did tonight) that he's going either going to wind up in a mental institution, or he's going to get so po'd after a 2-1 curveball hits the dirt that he's going to light himself on fire in front of 35,000 people. And to make matters worse, the Metstradamus crack staff is reporting that the english translation of the name Alay Soler is "Jeff Weaver".

I know Soler and the Mets got their heads beat in tonight, but the last thing the Mets need during this time when they need to fill out the back end of their rotation is a prospect to be institutionalized in public. Does there have to be a separate ambulance equipped with a psychiatric couch parked at Shea? There's competitive...and then there's Gregg Jefferies (and thus, the circle completes).

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

It's Hard Out Here For A Pipp

You're Xavier Nady.

You've waited your entire career to become a starter. Not only do you become an every day player, you do so after a trade to the New York Mets, who become the first place New York Mets. And just when things are humming have to have an emergency appendectomy and be placed on the disabled list for at least one month. And if that's not enough, the prized jewel of the organization is coming to replace you. The ghost of Wally Pipp surfaces.

How are you feeling at this moment X?


You're Victor Diaz.

At one point, in a not so distant past, it was between Xavier and yourself for the last outfielder spot. It was you who was thought to be in the picture of the future Mets outfield. Now, when it seems that your break has finally arrived, and Nady is out of said picture, it's Lastings Milledge and not yourself that steps inside the frame. Oh, and that sound you heard was your trade value hitting the core of the earth.

How exactly are you feeling right now Victor?


You're Omar Minaya.

You have one chip that you've been dangling to try to pry a starting pitcher. Sure you've been saying that he's not going anywhere...but everybody says that. In reality, you take nothing off the table and as well you shouldn't. Well now out of necessity, the chip is coming up to the show (where the towels are so absorbent) in full view of everyone. The value of your chip will never be as high as it is right can only go down from here. Well, it can go up...but if it goes up, are you really going to trade him at that point?

Do you have a plan B, Omar?

Save The Last Dance

The night started out with the pleasantly surprising revelation that an honest to goodness movie star is a life long Mets fan...Bourne trilogy star Julia Stiles threw out the first pitch, using the leg kick that she learned from a certain recent acquisition.

The night ended with another late inning victory for the New York Mets...a reminder that you should always save the last dance for this team.

(Stiles' ceremonial first pitch by the way, was the only pitch hurled by someone in a Met hat that did not leave the yard on Monday night. As such, Omar Minaya announced after the game that the Mets have signed Stiles to a minor league deal, hoping she can fill the role of fifth starter or long reliever at some point this season. Hey, she adds depth, no?)

It didn't matter whether Steve Trachsel threw one down and away, up and in, or right over the was getting hit just as fast right back at him, and out of the yard. Trachsel had a bone pop out in his back recently, and tonight it may or may not have caused him to be a "pain in the ass". Seven hits and four runs in six innings isn't helping Omar Minaya's poker face when he goes to other general managers and tells them "oh no, our starters are fine! See the new girl we got?"

Fortunately, it also didn't matter what Diamondback pitchers threw Paul Lo Duca...he was getting a base hit. The Duke was four for five, and had the cajones to tag up from first to second on a routine fly ball to left field in the fifth (great slide included) . Duke also had a big hit in the ninth to get Jose Reyes to third base. The hits were all big in the ninth...a pinch hit from Endy, the first hit of the night from Reyes which drove home Chavez, Duke, and finally David Wright with his walk off job over a drawn in outfield to win it.

Tonight had it all...the continued resurgence of the slumping left fielder who went two for three with a big dinger...the cruel twist of fate near the end as Aaron Heilman coughed up the lead in the seventh...the career revival of the formerly useless bench player who has now seemingly become the everyday second baseman (another three RBI's for Jose Valentin)...and it even had the bumbling comic relief, who was booed lustily tonight as he pinch hit for Trachsel.

Tonight even had Julia Stiles, our new ingenue...who by the end of the season we hope will be the leading lady in all of baseball.

And of course, the Hollywood ending.

(P.S. Great minds do think alike. So click here for the same title, but smarter perspective.)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Random Rants Just Before Game Time

Remember when I had no idea who Aaron Hathaway was?

Besides getting myself in trouble regarding pictures, it was my introduction to Mets minor league catcher Aaron Hathaway. I kind of forgot about him after that...and apparently, so did the Mets, and now, he's retired...temporarily.

As I read the article, I learned that the Mets value players with "higher ceilings", and I'm starting to think about how a guy like Billy Beane would love to have a guy like Hathaway in his organization...not necessarily because he possesses the on base percentage that Beane loves, but because he sees a minor leaguer who is the exact opposite of what Beane was...a "high ceiling guy", and would no doubt love an opportunity to turn him into a player and embarrass his former organization yet again (does Jason Isringhausen for Billy Taylor ring a bell?)

Aaron Hathaway, Oakland's next star. You read it here first.


I read about Aaron Hathaway here first, and Adam Rubin also talks of Philip Humber, Matt Lindstrom, and calls Jose Lima the "John Smoltz of the International League"...kind of.

Good, he can stay there.


If you saw Sunday's game, then you knew about the Mike Jacobs T-shirt fiasco perpetrated by the Marlins. If you didn't, read what happened here, and prepare to shake your head.

This is what happens when you source Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song as "research".

In turn, the Mets plan to give away Orlando Hernandez bobblehead dolls in conjunction with Puerto Rican Heritage night.


And check out the feel good story of the day...Carlos helping Carlos. I'm ferklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Hold The Pity Party

Is there anyone out there who watched the top of the first inning today and thought "oh, what a pity about these Marlins, having been torn apart twice in their short history...and now, in Bad News Bears style, they can barely field a ground ball"?

Not me. Screw 'em.

I say, get your licks on these guys now while you can, as the Mets did in their 7-3 victory today.

Sure the Mets scored four in the first inning before while barely getting a ball out of the infield, and by all rights and purposes, shouldn't have scored any. But Jeffrey Loria is going to sleep better at night knowing that the rest of the league handed over some bees knees prospects to help him win the World Series in 2013 (at which point they'll be wheeled again). And these same guys that couldn't turn tailor made double plays now are going to get big October hits in the decade of the 10's (with Joe Girardi as the manager no less...if Joe Girardi is ever a World Series winning manager, it will ensure that Mike Francesa will never, ever shut up.)

It's easy to be jealous that the Marlins, a team that's been around 13 years have as many World Series as a team that's been out there for 45 seasons. But that's due to getting great prospects from fire sale number one (A.J. Burnett for Al Leiter...Juan Pierre for Gary Sheffield by way of Mike Piazza and Preston Wilson...Derrek Lee for Kevin Brown). And now they have another bumper crop that has arrived with Ramirez and co. But there's another reason to be bitter here (there's always another reason to be bitter).

Where were all the damn prospects coming in return for the Mets' 1993 team?

Who was the genius that decided that at 35-68 on July 30th, there was no reason to get rid of everybody? Who was the genius that decided that this was the team of the future?

They traded Gallstones Fernandez for Darrin Jackson...thirty year old Darrin Jackson.

They traded Wayne Housie for Josias Manzanillo.

And that was it.

They waited until 1995 to trade Saberhagen for Juan Acevedo and Arnold Gooch (Gary Coleman's character obviously wound up marrying The Gooch in the "Different Strokes Reunion Special"...different strokes indeed!) In other words, they got nothing for Saberhagen.

They got nothing for Eddie Murray.

They got Kevin McReynolds for Vince Coleman.

They got Kenny Greer for Frank Tanana.

And in the ultimate circle of hell, Ryan Thompson...who was acquired for David Cone in one of the Mets' plethora of genius moves...was traded for Mark Clark...who was traded for Mel Rojas...who was traded for Bobby Bonilla.

So they started by trading one member of the 1993 Mets...the 59-103 Mets...and in the end got a member of the 1993 Mets back.

Where were our Hanley Ramirezs and Reggie Abercrombies and Jeremy Hermidas? No, our 1993 "fire sale" got us Bobby Bonilla back. Damn you Al Harazin.

So shed not one tear for the Florida Marlins and hold your pity to a bare minimum.


All right, now that we got that out of the way...

Orlando Hernandez was 5th Starter-licious today, doing what fifth starters are supposed to do, and what fifth starters have been doing for the Mets lately. Three runs, five innings, one meatball to Hermida. I've always thought that if you're patient, and if you sit on fastball with Orlando, you can have success. The problem is, when is the fastball coming? As Ron Darling so eloquently put it, Hernandez works backwards...setting up fastball with off speed stuff.

When teams are patient, you get more of what you got today: five innings, one thousand pitches, and the results might not be as good. But that isn't going to matter when the bullpen does what it does today.

Speaking of which: I like this "Heath Bell As Long Reliever" experiment. But why is it that whenever I see "The Movement" in a game now, the word that comes to my mind is showcase?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Putting The Rotation Back On Its Axis

That's more like it.

Tom Glavine had no-no stuff today in the Mets 7-4 victory against Florida. There, I said it. And when the Marlins are the opposition, as talented as they will be someday (I'll talk more about that soon), you always have to think that if there ever was a chance at a Met no-hitter, a game against the baby Marlins would ping the radar at least faintly.

But this is the Mets we're talking about. So add another stool at the bar for Reggie Abercrombie.

Figures that in the bottom of the sixth inning, when I start to think of the steps Tommy needed to take to get to that elusive he's going to get past the best efforts of Brian Bannister and Rick Reed, then Pedro Martinez and Rick Reed...then David Cone and Gary Gentry, before finally getting to the plateau of Tom Seaver...standing toe-to-toe with the greatest ever to don Met colors ever so briefly before getting those final two outs to stand alone in Mets history...does it all fall apart.

Face it, when Tommy huffed and puffed around the bases in the sixth, you knew it was over. You knew those next few dead fish out of his hands would be just a bit too alive for the Marlins hitters to pass up. You knew that the names you heard in addition to Seaver and Cone wouldn't be Reed, Gentry and Petey...but the familiar list of Mike Scott, Hideo Nomo, A.J. Burnett, Dwight Gooden and Nolan Ryan...all those players who threw no-hitters after they left. That's who Kenny Albert dredged out of our shattered memory as Abercrombie lined a clean hit to left field off of a newly aerobicized Glavine.

And speaking of FOX announcers, Lou Piniella made his debut in the booth today. At one point. he gushed about the job Ramon Castro did as the every day catcher last year for the Mets, but that he's relegated to back up duty this year behind Paul Lo Duca.

Albert, not wanting to pull a muscle rescuing his partner from the deep waters, only went so far to say that Castro (202 at bats in '05) split time with Mike Piazza (398 at bats in '05) last year. Obviously, the Enron people did the splitting (One for you, one for me. Two for you, one...two for me. Three for you, one...two...three for me...)

I understand that national guys shouldn't be expected to immerse themselves in every nuance of the teams that they are announcing for. And I know it's Piniella's first time. But for crying out loud when you totally omit from your consciousness a future hall of's Mike Piazza! Is it too much to ask that the person that's painting pictures for me over the television screen have heard of Mike Piazza?

This Saturday FOX Baseball Rant of the Week was brought to you by...nobody.

A Peek Into The Notebook

The Metstradamus staff has obtained an exclusive copy of tonight's entry into Carlos Delgado's notebook, written after the Mets' 5-1 loss tonight:

Dear Diary,

Tonight was very special to me. Tonight my new team went to Miami to play my old team, the Marlins. Of course, my teammates looked to me to give them the inside track on tonight's starter, Josh Johnson. Unfortunately, I had to ask Ron Darling about him because I had no idea he was my teammate. I was too worried about not booting the next grounder that came my way so I had no idea who was on the mound. I think Josh Beckett was my teammate...yeah, he's the guy that never shaved and went around yelling at everybody. Or was that Burnett? I don't know. Anyway, Darling wasn't really very helpful. He told me Johnson had a good fastball. Thanks, Ron.

My teammates also depended on me to find them the best food while we were here in Miami since I played here. I took the guys to Versailles downtown and everyone had a huge sandwich except Pedro, Paulie, and Beltran. Duaner had two sandwiches, and a big heaping bowl of rice. He must have been hungry.

I liked playing in Miami very much...the fans used to dress in these great costumes. But they weren't very original...after a while, everyone just started dressing in the same tired "empty seat" costume. The ushers, on the other hand, dress up like Jimmy Buffett. But it was great today...if it wasn't for the big "MICOSUKEE" sign in left, I would have thought we were at Shea Stadium today with all the people chanting "Let's Go Mets". But they were still dressed as empty seats. Some things never change.

David Wright got a day off today. The rest of us got two hits off of this kid who was allegedly my teammate last year. I fear that poor David might never get a day off ever again. Pedro was outstanding, but we couldn't string together any hits for him...just two all game! I myself was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts against this guy that I allegedly played with last season...although I still have no recollection of this. Heck, I've already forgotten about Jeremi, and he's only been gone about six hours.

All in all, my triumphant return wasn't what I thought it would be. We lost 5-1, and I didn't get the standing ovation for the months of service I put in here. Heck I didn't even get booed! It was like they forgot I was there. Well I forgot that this kid Johnson was my teammate so I guess we're even. At least the sandwiches were very good...perhaps too good. Duaner had two and he gave up three runs and made a throwing error. If I was at first base, it would have been an out. But Kaz was covering on a bunt and he's half my size. If I were Duaner, I'd skip the big meal from now on.

Well, we got Dontrelle tomorrow. Dontrelle was my teammate last season...I remember that much. I didn't have to field a lot because Dontrelle struck everyone out so I remember him. Thank goodness I don't have to go to Ron Darling to find out about this guy. I would have just went back to the team and told them that Dontrelle had a good fastball and I would have been laughed out of the clubhouse. I wonder if he'll be my teammate again before long? I hope so. It's that much less I have to field...and errors are bad. But Dontrelle is good. It's a good thing that Willie is already sitting me against him so I don't have to make up some ludicrous story about my sandwich poisoning me so I can't play on Saturday.

But it's great to be back in Miami to see all of my old teammates...all two of them. I still don't count this kid Johnson. He couldn't have been my teammate. Someone is going to have to prove this to me.

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Try To Forget This...Try To Erase This

I was going to go to the game today...really I was. But the combination of general laziness, tending to a cat who's currently on the DL, and wondering what to get for Mom's birthday tomorrow hence keeping myself available for an emergency trip to the mall, kept me home.

Mom's going to get a nice present when I add in the $60 I would have blown on a ticket to today's debacle.

The Mets have done a great job coming back from early holes. Today was no exception as Jose Reyes erased an early 0-3 hole with a dinger to right field (all of a sudden Len Dykstra, and his extra 20 pounds of muscle going into spring training in 1988 pops into my head.)

But late inning bullpen help and late inning timely hitting has always saved the Mets during their latest winning streak. Today? Not so fast my friend. Pedro Feliciano was tagged in the seventh by Chase Utley (gee, not Pat Burrell?) and the Mets lineup couldn't generate anything off Arthur Rhodes and Flash Gordon in the late stages. So that's that, Mets lose 5-3...and they settle for a series win and not a series sweep going into the Romper Room of baseball, Florida.

Jeremi Gonzalez basically had the same numbers today against the Phillies as Alay Soler had last night. Three runs...six innings. And Jeremi was not the reason the Mets lost today. Jeremi, bad start and all...did exactly what teams need their fifth starter to do.

But thinking long haul, there wasn't going to be a place for Gonzalez on this team when Bannister returned, or when Hernandez debuted (which will be Sunday in Florida). If it was a choice between Gonzalez or Heath Bell to the minors, with the other remaining in the bullpen, it would have been nice to have Gonzalez as a long reliever...except that having a guy who's ERA is 3.billion in his first innings of work doesn't really spell effective long guy. And with "The Free Heath Bell Movement" hanging in there for 2.2 innings of long work today (length that I didn't think The Movement was capable of...maybe he's on "Baseball Cialis" or something), well that sealed poor Jeremi's fate, hence he was designated for assignment (which is the official term for "get out!") after the game today.


Speaking of The Movement, how does this trade for journeyman starter Dave Williams affect Bell's status with the club? With Gonzalez's DFA, you would think Bell might actually be safe. But considering that The Movement hasn't been able to stick with the big club up to this point, I'm starting to figure that it's never going to happen.

Which is sad, because one of the first things I learned on the new Mets Channel was that Heath Bell had a dog named "Slider". And when players are promoted, demoted and traded, it's always the dogs that suffer. I fear that a trade is in The Movement's future, when poor Slider is going to have to be uprooted and forced to acclimate to a new environment. Whatever happens, I wish Heath luck. And for Slider, nothing but the best...woof woof.

(As for Williams, those hoping that the trade Omar Minaya all but promised was going to be a big one were sorely disappointed...not to mention surprised that it was a starter and not a reliever. But he does supply depth in addition to pushing Jose Lima En Vivo further down the depth chart. Williams is the guy that was traded to the Reds for Sean Casey. This time, he was traded for some guy named Robert Manuel. How the mighty have fallen...actually, was Dave Williams ever mighty? And if you're not mighty, how far can you really fall?)


Speaking of dogs...

I admit I was curious as to the play by play stylings of Messrs Francesa and Russo I did something that I almost never do: I had the radio on while watching the game on television. Not that I listened to them the whole way, as I still had the TV guys sound up most of the game. With the radio at least seven seconds ahead of the television, that's not something I can do for nine innings. So I'm not the guy who's going to give you a fair assessment of the job they did. But here's what I noticed:

  • Every ten seconds, The Diet Coke King and The Ritalin Billboard felt the need to remind their listeners...made up of 99% Met fans which is not what they're used to...that the Phillies needed this game. No! You don't say!!! I think Mike and Dog needed the Phillies to win this game more than anything.
  • Every once in a while, they would slip into afternoon drive time mode and forget that there was a game going on, going into their riffs about how great Chase Utley is, oh yeah, and about how the Phillies needed this game.
  • The best moment of their broadcast was Ron Darling's (I think it was Darling) impression of Francesa on SNY: "Hey dooooooooowg! Hey dooooooooowg!" Priceless.
  • The next to last pitch of the game was described as a "LINE DRIIIIIIVE...FOOOOOOUL, down the first base line!!!" by Dog. In fact, Beltran hit a screamer about 50 rows into the first base stands, which is nowhere near the first base line. A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but Dog's words are worth very little. By the way, did I mention that the Phillies needed this game?

But the absolute best part about having Mike and the Mad Dog calling the Mets game today was hearing the rant provided by a friend of mine during the game. Mario, a native New Yorker, now resides in Orange County...Angels country. So he got himself an XM radio so he can get his Mets fix. But when he turned on the satellite radio, he got Mike and the Dog. Believe it or not, it was the first that he heard about their Mets radio appearance.

So he called me. And for twenty minutes, I heard one of the better rants that I ever heard...even went so far as to tell me that not only is he going to write a nasty note to WFAN, but he might go so far as to create his own blog for the sole purpose of writing about his hatred for Francesa and Russo.

But that's not the best part. After twenty minutes of this rant, I get this from Mario:

"Oh by the way, I'm engaged."

Does hatred for Mike and Dog know no bounds? I think not. But they did raise $40,000 for various charities, so it only goes to show that hate can build bridges. Good job.


Speaking of charities...shouldn't you help?


You can tell Paul Lo Duca was a Met fan growing up.

After Jose Reyes' home run today, Lo Duca dragged a bunt for a base hit...victimizing an unsuspecting deep infield. It's the second time that Lo Duca has followed up a home run with a drag bunt lately.

It's something that Gary Carter did on a regular basis...check the tape from the 1988 playoffs for proof. After Darryl Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds went deep against Dodger pitcher John Tudor (yes, Dodger pitcher John Tudor), Carter tried to catch the Dodgers napping at a wild ballpark with a bunt. (He popped it up). Carter did this quite frequently.

I wonder if this is where Duke got this from...

Soler Satisfies Hunger

"Tasty, toasted Cuban sandwiches have a submarine-style layering of ham, roast pork, cheese, and pickle between a sliced length of Cuban bread. The key to a great, versus a good, Cuban Sandwich lies in the grilling. A great Cuban sandwich is grilled in a sandwich press (called a plancha) until the ham, pork, and pickles have warmed in their own steam. Cuban restaurants use a sandwich press, but you can substitute a waffle iron. These sandwiches use no mayonnaise, lettuce, onions, bell peppers, or tomatoes; however, butter and mustard are optional. Cuban sandwiches are sold hot (pressed) or cold (room temperature)." -from the What's Cooking America website.

Where will Metstradamus go with the Cuban Sandwich reference?

  • He will say that Alay Soler and Orlando Hernandez will now form the perfect Cuban sandwich at the back of the rotation.
  • He will note the size of Soler and observe that he is a couple of Cuban sandwiches short of Sal Fasano.
  • He will tell us that Cuban sandwiches come in three sizes: Small, Medium, and Bartolo-sized.
  • He's never had a Cuban sandwich because he doesn't care for pickles, and he'd rather have a White Castle cheeseburger with onion rings.
  • Metstradamus would never resort to a cheap joke.

Yes he would.

But Soler impressed in his long awaited debut tonight, in a game which needed a strong performance by a Met starter after last night's marathon. He gave up five hits and walked four in six innings, but much of the damage was done in the first inning when Alay was certainly a bundle of nerves, walking the bases loaded right off the bat. All three walks would score as Pat Burrell, who resumed his anti-Met crusade tonight, singled home a run and Chris Woodward's error allowed two runs to score. But after that, Soler shut the Phillies down impressively. Only Burrell cost Soler his first major league victory with his dinger off Pedro Feliciano in the seventh. Yet I'd say that Soler ha's earned another start or two, in what could be a complete re-working of the back end of the rotation.

Offensively, well...what's Carlos Beltran been eating? (Oh sorry Jon Miller: What has Carlos Bel-TRAN been eating?) Another first inning homer for Carlos, who usually fares better the second time he faces a pitcher (.385) rather than the first time (.236). But now, first inning home runs off Randy Johnson and Jon Lieber. Add that to his high average in the 16th inning or later (1.000 this season) and you have a superstar in the making.

And give credit to Chris Woodward for making up for that error, tying the game in the third.

But the game winner, which came after Burrell's home run, was delivered by David Wright in the seventh with an RBI single. Wright is starting to make a habit of these big hits, which is starting to worry at least one Yankee fan. He was chatting with a small group of people which included yours truly earlier this week, and talked about Friday's Yankee/Met game. I now pharaphrasically quote:

"If I'm Mariano, I pitch to Carlos Delgado. If Delgado beats us, fine. But to let David Wright beat us, it holds an even further significance that it was their golden boy that beat us. I can live with Delgado beating us. But David Wright? Met fans loved that a whole lot more than if it was Delgado, and that makes me sick."
Personally, my standards aren't very high when it comes to who beats the Yankees. I can pledge to you that Carlos Delgado beating the Yankees is as sweet as David Wright beating the Yankees, is as sweet as Carlos Beltran beating the Yankees, is as sweet as Cliff Floyd beating the Yankees, is as sweet as Jose Valentin beating the Yankees.

I really have no preference as to who or what beats them. I learned not to think like that the hard way. When I was sitting in the upper deck, and Mike Scioscia hit that home run off of Gooden in the playoffs, my thought was "Good. This gives Kevin Elster a chance to beat them in the ninth." I don't know why I thought this way, but the fact that I did think that way at least makes me partially responsible for the fate that befell me that night...that cold, dark, scary night. So no more picking and choosing my heroes.

But it's nice that Yankee fans are starting to dread the fact that David Wright is becoming one of those home grown special stars on our side of town. Hopefully they'll start to familiarize themselves with the sick feeling that I get when Derek Jeter is up in a walk-off eligible spot in October, and the same thought runs through my head in a CNN-type news ticker: "anyone but him...anyone but him...anyone but him."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dawn of Orlando's Era

I have to admit that I'm torn on this.

Then again I'm torn on just about everything. That's the price of being a Libra.

Not torn from a baseball standpoint though. From a baseball standpoint, trading for Orlando Hernandez was a move that had to be made for a number of reasons. First off being that the back end of the rotation was about as calm and comforting as all those apocalypse movies that have been on television lately. Orlando is going to help in that regard.

And let's face it, the price is right. For all the good that Jorge Julio has done lately in mop-up and less pressurized situations, two things were at play here. First, Julio is always going to be behind Sanchez, Heilman, and others on the depth chart. So that leaves "fourth inning set up guy"?

And even if Julio gained his effectiveness back, and his confidence back, what's going to happen the next time he has a bad outing after a few good ones? I'll tell you what's going to happen. He will sulk, and then you can cue up "The Lonely Man" theme as he slinks away from the mound. Julio will always be a project, he'll always be high maintenance, and he'll always have the temperament of an overly sensitive cocker spaniel. Orlando meanwhile, has bulldog in him...and anyone who disagrees with that need only to dust off the tape of when he entered a 2005 playoff game in Fenway Park with the bases loaded, nobody out, and up by a run. Nobody scored.

Hernandez will also be a guy who will be comfortable as a long man in the pen, which he may be relegated to at some point in the season...and definitely in the playoffs.

So why am I torn? Is it the fact that his back has been balky? (Oddly enough, his next Diamondback start might have been pushed back to the series against the Mets early next week. It still might, but...) Is it the fact that he has a history of hiding his injuries like someone else we know and love? Is it his record and high ERA so far this season? Is it the fact that nobody, including Orlando himself, knows exactly how old Orlando is? (At best, he's thirty-six. At worst, Julio Franco now has a father figure.)

Or could it be his former residence?

I'm told he has a nickname. You know what it is. I know what it is. But you won't see it in this post. You see, I don't refer to him by his nickname...never did. There are a few athletes that reach mythical status to the point where he is referred to solely by his nickname. But most of them achieve that status after years of performance. Orlando earned it with years of service in Cuba. But not here.

Here in the U.S., he earned it because of the myth of the pinstripes. You could go weeks watching sports highlights on local television in New York without once hearing the name "Orlando Hernandez". Nope, just the nickname.

Orlando's credentials in the post season (8-0 before his first loss to...oh you already know) did in fact earn him the nickname status eventually. But the fact that he had that status here in New York well before them just burned my ass. And the fact that he earned them in the Bronx made me crazy. Hence, we traded for Orlando Hernandez today, and not what you might know him as. At some point, now that he's here, that may change as far as I'm concerned. And when it does, you know something really good has happened. But for now, you'll all just have to settle for me telling you that it's just another winning move for Omar Minaya.

Besides, the Mets already have a Duke.

Stealin' Is Good Fun

I can't stop laughing.

This game was hysterical. And put aside for the moment how long it was, although that aspect provided enough laughs in and of itself. But this was dark comedy. Sinister, even.

Because the Mets stole this one.

Stole it. Like Danny Ocean from Terry Benedict. Like the Hamburglar steals from the metrosexual clown. Like Robby Alomar stole paychecks for years as a Met.

Like Chase Utley stole second in the sixteenth.

Ah, but no. Chase Utley was called out on a gift call (close, but still a gift). What's that you ask? Why yes, I guess the alleged umpire conspiracy is over. It wasn't the only gift the Mets got either, as Billy Wagner's 3-2 pitch to Ryan Howard was high and inside, yet called a strike. It must have been a "face your former team for the first time" call.

And even before that, with the Mets down 8-5 in the eighth, there were more gifts. (I think I get it is the new black...30 is the new 21...and May 23rd is the new Christmas!) Phillies pitcher Ryan Franklin got to two down with nobody on, and Endy Chavez up. Now pitchers supposedly work on those plays where you cover first like, I don't know...all of spring training? So Chavez hits one of those toppers and Howard flips to Franklin, who beat Chavez to the bag, and he dropped the ball. Must be that World Baseball Hangover...oh wait, he wasn't in the tournament? Oh...then I can't help him.

After a Chris Woodward pinch hit double...yes, Woodward is cut the Philly lead to 8-6, came proof that it wasn't going to be Philadelphia's night. You see, Jose Reyes has this annoying habit, that sometimes goes into recession but rears its ugly head now and then, of swinging at pitches that are hurled in the general direction of London. Lucky for Ryan Franklin, he likes to throw pitches towards London, so this would be a great match up for Philly right? Sure it would...especially as Franklin got Reyes he threw one headed towards Reyes ankles. As Jose Reyes cocked his bat to swing that flawed lefthanded swing, Met fans all over town made that initial move to the kitchen to start searching for dessert. After all Reyes, who did nothing before this at bat and nothing since, was surely going to strike out on the pitch that was headed towards LaGuardia.

Instead, it was a non-stop flight over the right field wall. Please keep your seat belts fastened until the plane taxis down the runway and comes to a complete stop...eight innings later.

Another gift? Well how many games have you witnessed where the pitcher who takes the loss is the most impressive pitcher of the night? Ryan Madson started his eighth inning of work out of the pen when Carlos Beltran took him deep to finally end it. (And good for Beltran, who if not for the presence in this city of Alex Rodriguez might be the player who gets ripped for not coming through in the clutch...I guess not being the most covered baseball team in the city you play in has one or two minor advantages.) A close second was Cousin Oliver, who pitched four scoreless for the win (hey wasn't Oliver one of those scrubs who was just supposed to take up space?) Madson really did deserve a better fate, although you could say his work tonight kept the Phillies bullpen a small bit fresher than the Mets' pen...who along with being outstanding tonight, basically went through everyone. Hereby giving the Phils the advantage in the next two, with Alaaaaaay Alay Alay Alaaaaaaay making his debut tomorrow (today) and Jeremi (heart over the i) Gonzalez going Thursday afternoon.

But Madson was robbed tonight...robbed by the New York Mets. And stealin' is fun.


Now go give 'em nine tomorrow Alay. No pressure.

Speaking of Soler, I know that it's en vogue to shorten language nowadays. You know Mickey D's instead of McDonald's (first time I heard that I thought it was a completely different restaurant), KFC instead of Kentucky Fried Chicken, IMHO, LOL, ROTLMFAO, DJSMBHFB...I mean, it's FUBAR!

But during the post game show, when Ron Darling referred to Soler as the Cuban de-fect...which has an entirely different meaning than what he actually is: a Cuban defector... I finally got my proof that we as humans have gone completely insane.

Ronnie, I thought they taught you better at Yale!


Speaking of the idiot box, does it scare you that during extra inning games, Gary Cohen gets all Phil Rizzuto on us...breaking out the home run call for a fly ball to medium center field by Cliff Floyd?

Someone wanted to go home.

Or perhaps someone wanted to see good things happen to a good person who's going through a bad stretch. So was tonight the turning point for Cliffy, who was two for five with two walks tonight? Well, if this was last year when Floyd had a greater role in the offense than he does now, I would be hesitant to say he's coming back. But with other alphas in front of him with more expectations heaped on them, this could be the game that snaps Floyd out of it. Even his outs were loud tonight. It's a good sign. Let the climb begin.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Quarter Pole Grades: 2006

All right, so the Mets have played more than 40 games, but a day off post Yankee series seemed a natural break to give out some quarterly grades.

Paul Lo Duca: The team...the heart...the soul. Grade: A

Tom Glavine: For all the problems at the back end of the rotation, the front end of the rotation has exceeded expectations. Grade: A

Pedro Martinez: See: Glavine, Tom. Grade: A

Carlos Delgado: Not only does he get an A for being the missing Mets ingredient, but he gets an A for visiting my old junior high school...I was a wiffle ball legend in this very gymnasium. Grade: A

Julio Franco: How does one get an A for 23 at bats? When you break up a potential brawl, soothe your center fielder's fragile ego, and become the oldest player in the history of baseball to do everything except inject with steroids, 23 at bats is more than enough. Grade: A

Duaner Sanchez: "Filthy" indeed. Grade: A

Aaron Heilman: Aaron Heilman is why I waited until after the Yankee series to give out grades. Heilman's three perfect innings on Friday jumped him from a B+ all the way to...Grade: A

Xavier Nady: Would have gotten an A except for the fact that X might be the ugliest fielding right fielder around. Not that he's botched more than one or two plays, but every time a fly ball comes his way he looks like Joe Hardy at the very moment he lost his athletic ability. Grade: A-

David Wright: Great offensively. Defense knocks him down a peg. I still love David's blog. Grade: B+

Endy Chavez: His catch against Pittsburgh on May third is a microcosm of his whole season..."Where'd he come from?" Grade: B+

Jose Reyes: Streakiness keeps him from earning an A. Walking more, creating more excitement at the top of the order. Average needs to come up. Grade: B

Pedro Feliciano: Matt called it. Grade: B

Darren Oliver: Cousin Oliver is the early front runner for the "Roberto Hernandez Award", awarded to the supposed washed up reliever who becomes the pleasant surprise of the season. Grade: B

Carlos Beltran: Carlos, meet Cut-off Man. Cut-off Man, meet Carlos. Now there's no excuses. Grade: B

Brian Bannister: I've been on the fence as to whether Brian Bannister deserves a grade for just five starts. You know what...26-17 has put me in an extremely good mood. Grade: B

Ramon Castro: Fluff has scored on every double that he's been on second or third base for this season...that's progress, kids. Grade: B

Kaz Matsui: This is some sort of Twilight Zone episode...the supposed offensive force can't hit this season (average in the .230's with ugly swings thrown in) yet the man who uses a skillet for a glove has been close to errorless so far...and he has learned how to turn a double play! Rod Serling needs to end this madness once and for all. Grade: B-

Chad Bradford: April was like a root beer float. May has been more like room temperature milk. Grade: B-

Chris Woodward: There's a rumor that in the midst of digging for Jimmy Hoffa's remains in Michigan, work crews found the part of the depth chart that has Chris Woodward's name on it. Grade: C+

Billy Wagner: C is for Country Boy. C is for Concentrating with a four run lead. Guess what else C stands for? Grade: C+

Steve Trachsel: All right, I'm going to give Steve Trachsel a grade. Wait, I'm not ready yet. I have to go get a soda from the kitchen. All right, now I'm rea...wait, bathroom break. All right, now, oh, the cat wants to play? All right, here's some bottle caps and some tin foil balls. Wow, you're pretty good at this. Oh, right. Trachsel's grade. Well, he's been victimized by unfavorable matchups, hitter's parks, and the Atlanta Braves. But I have a feeling better things are to come for him. But before I give a grade, let me step away from the keyboard to get some resin for my fingers, because typing is hard on my fingertips and I'm getting some calcium deposits on them...all right, oh, now I have to burn a Mrs. Grundy CD for my sister...ALL RIGHT CALM DOWN I'M GETTING TO TRACHSEL'S GRADE! Giving grades need all my concentration and care...okay, finally. I'm ready. What? Runtime error??!?!??? Grade: C

Cliff Floyd: Most players would get a horrible grade for hitting .203 at this point in the season. But Cliff still busts his ass in the field, and he makes David Wright smile just by being his friend and calling him a wannabe pimp. Grade: C-

Jorge Julio: I will not make a gratuitous Anna Benson joke. I will not make a gratuitous Anna Benson joke. I will not make a gratuitous Anna Benson joke. I will not make a gratuitous Anna Benson joke. I will not make a gratuitous Anna Benson joke. I will not make a gratuitous Anna Benson joke. Grade: C-

Jose Valentin: Completely useless until the Miller Park series. Must have been that cold frosty Old Milwaukee. Grade: D++

Victor Zambrano: "Rehabbing with Barbaro...The Victor Zambrano Story" Grade: D-

Anderson Hernandez: One web gem does not a quarter of a season make. Grade: INC

Rick Peterson's Hair: Grade: A

Jose Lima's Hair: Grade: F

The Fools that wrote that "Our Team, Our Time" song: Grade: F

Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling: Not Fran Healy. Good enough for me. Grade: A

Willie Randolph: There are no hard numbers to quantify what kind of job Willie Randolph has done this season...except for this: Two ejections this season. Willie is no longer a doormat...and that's good enough for me...for now. Grade: B

Monday, May 22, 2006

Episode III: Revenge Of The Closer

"Stuff it!"

Stuff it...said Rick Vaughn to Johnny the bitter Indians fan in Major League II (played marvelously and eerily auto-biographical by Randy Quaid), as he entered the game for the first time all season as his old self, causing Johnny to proclaim that the Mild Thing is dead, and the Wild Thing is back.

Now I'm sure that Billy Wagner didn't tell a fan to "stuff it" on his way from the bullpen down the right field line tonight...but Country Time's "stuff" did all the talking he needed on the mound. It wasn't 1-2-3. We've learned bitterly through the years that no Met closer ever is, or ever will be, 1-2-3 (I suspect the Mets have had closers that had trouble merely counting that high). But the Mild Thing that entered the game on Saturday, the one that couldn't find the plate and walked the dual immortals Melky Cabrera and Kelly Stinnett, is dead.

The Wild Thing is indeed...back.

And guess what, he isn't going to be perfect, and he may very well have one more meltdown or two left in him this season (let's hope for just one), but tonight proved that he's willing to come back the next day and not let the bad days bleed with the present days on the calendar. Billy Wagner's Saturday outing was being referred to in our tabloids as having the worst traits of John Franco, Armando Benitez, and Braden Looper combined (I would agree, and throw in the 1987 version of Jesse Orosco for good measure). If someone compared you to those three, how would you react? If it were me, mind as well talk about my mother. That's how offended I would be. How would you respond?

Tonight, we found out how Country Time responds...simply by saying "Stuff it!"


The cynic in me keeps waiting for the outing...the big, important outing...that Tom Glavine forgets how to pitch and remembers that he's not a Brave anymore.

Seven hits and four walks in six innings tonight could have spelled out that this would be that outing. Yet Tom Glavine was one makeable play away (and one wind-blown double) from keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard.

The Metstradamus curse is about to rear its ugly head again...but I think we're looking at your 2006 National League All-Star starting pitcher.


Back to Saturday for a brief second:

The loquacious Jaap Stijl suggested that I put together a list of the greatest sports writers of all time. As much as I think about it, it's such a tough list for me to put together because my minds change on these guys from day to day depending on what they write.

Take for example New York Post scribe Mike Vaccaro. I generally like his writing style, and even as he writes about the Yankees I don't want to perform peristolsis as I read him. But today, he annoys me.
"There are times when the Yankees simply like to remind you they are the Yankees, and that goes for everyone: Mets fans, cynics, small-market apologists, skeptics who see their doom lurking around every corner. There are times when they still make you shake your head, even when it seems all the walls are collapsing around them."
I love that there are "small market apologists", but there's never any Yankee apologists. There are only The Yankees. Even the FOX Saturday pre-game show (the program Metstradamus loves to hate), showed Friday's highlights of the Mets victory without mentioning a single Met name. It was "Here's Randy Johnson getting's Mariano getting hit...and the Yankees lose 7-6." I feel sorry for any blind person watching that show wondering who got the winning hit!
"The Yankees have been doing this for a long, long time. They knew what was at stake. They knew the ramifications of going down meekly in the ninth inning."
Only a Yankee apologist can turn Billy Wagner not being able to find the strike zone into Yankee legends Melky Cabrera and Kelly Stinnett having done this for "a long, long time". Or into Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano...three Yankees who have never been on any of the championship teams...having done this for "a long, long time." Only Bernie Williams, of the batters Wagner faced on Saturday, has done this for a long long time...and I doubt his eons of championship experience helped him get hit in the middle of the thigh.

I realize it's not something I should get all worked up about...but then I turn the page and I find a full page article on how great Scott Kazmir is...also written by Vaccaro.

Scott Kazmir's pitching performances...including today' all that needs to be spoken. I don't need you, Mike Vaccaro, rubbing salt in my wound...thanks. (Vaccaro's new book: "Why Scott Kazmir Will Be a Yankee One Day" hits bookshelves in a nightmare near you.)


Somewhere, at a World Series in the not so distant future, is a blown save for the ages. As long as he's pitching against the Mets and not for the Mets...I'm not worried.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Episode II: Attack Of The Roller Coasters...And Make It A Double

So was today the floor wax, or was today the dessert topping?


There was an old Saturday Night Live skit years and years ago, where two people are arguing whether the substance in the spray can was a floor wax or a dessert topping. Chevy Chase, in one of the last years that he was anything...appeared to settle the dispute.

Allow me, during this trying time, to be Chevy.

So who was to blame for today's meltdown? Who's to blame for plunging the Mets from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows? Was it the floor wax? Was it the dessert topping?

First, Willie Randolph. Let's call Willie the floor wax. I got called out today to basically rip Willie apart in today's edition of this little blog, and he does deserve to be questioned, if not ripped. Hindsight, yes. But Billy "Country Time" Wagner had no business being in this game when he game after a night a non-save situation. If you bring your closer into a game in a non-save situation, and he makes it a save situation because he doesn't have it as Wagner did today...then what do you do? That situation came to fruition today. Willie was stuck with replacing a lefty with a lefty in Feliciano to face Johnny Damon, which was to me, an embarrassment. And add that to the fact that Wagner feels he's being overworked, then you have a recipe for disaster putting him in for a day game after a night game. Now if Feliciano or, heaven forbid (drench those last two words in sarcasm for me, would ya?), Duaner Sanchez starts the inning, then Wagner has to come in for the save and he blows it, then it's on Wagner.

But this should be on Wagner, the dessert topping in this scenario. This isn't a Yankee lineup that contains Sheffield, Matsui, or Posada. All Billy Wagner had to do, even after allowing hits to Giambi and Cano which sandwiched a walk to Rodriguez, was retire Melky Cabrera and Kelly Stinnett. Getting those two out doesn't require 24 hours of rest. And it doesn't require careful pitching.

He walked them both. Inexcusable.

This was the point that should have been obvious to take Wagner least that's what I thought at the time (see, this rant isn't completely based on hindsight). Instead, Wagner cashed in a couple of his experience/tenure chips to earn himself one more batter, Bernie Williams. And he hits him to force in another run. Now I thought this was a blessing in disguise because Bernie, I'm convinced, would have tied the game with a hit. But now, Willie had to replace Wagner with Feliciano, completing the backwards progression (can you have backwards progression?) of bullpen usage. And even though Feliciano did what he could by almost getting the double play, the Mets, Randolph, and Wagner, got exactly what they deserved today. They deserved to have Mariano even the Sandman score by striking out the side for the save, just as Wagner struck out the side for his victory last night.

So is it the floor wax, or is it the dessert topping?

My answer to you now is the same as Chevy's was thirty years ago: "You're both right."

Randolph deserves the blame for reminding us of Art Howe. Wagner deserves the blame for reminding us of Braden Looper.

You're both right.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Episode I: The Phantom Unit

I've gotta start with this: I love Randy Johnson.

Before he became a member of the Fast Crumbling Empire, he has been one of my favorite pitchers of all no small part because he's always been a Yankee-killer. Killed them in 1995 with Seattle. Murdered them in 2001 as a member of the Diamondbacks, where he won three games against the Yanks (including winning game 7 out of the bullpen, just 24 hours after winning game 6), yet only shared the World Series MVP that year.

And he's still killing the Yankees, even while wearing those pinstripes.

Randy Johnson signs a big contract with the Yankees, after basically orchestrating his way on to the team...and in a sure sign that the karma may be turning in this town, Randy Johnson with the Yankees has now become Randy Jones with the Mets. The Big Unit, supposed Yankees Ace, can barely out-pitch Jeremi Gonzalez at this stage.

Anyone who thought tonight's game was a mismatch due to the pitching matchup, and you were out there, obviously hasn't seen Randy pitch all year. Tonight didn't worry me because Randy Johnson was on the mound. Tonight did worry me because of the litany of pitchers wearing that uniform who...and I'm going to steal Shari's signature phrase here...stunk on ice for months only to come up big when the Mets were the opponent (Doc Gooden, David Cone, Denny Neagle). Johnson could have been the latest Yankee to use the Mets as his own personal Robitussin.

But being down four to Randy Johnson isn't the end of the world anymore, as evidenced tonight. Thankfully the bats, led by Carlos Beltran and X, made sure of that as every time the Yankees scored, the Mets either scored or made the Big Onion work hard in the bottom of the frame. Like it or not, the Mets new and improved lineup needs to make a concerted effort to provide runs in excess when the likes of Jeremi Gonzalez or the newly bald Jose Lima En Vivo are on the mound. Tonight, they made it happen thanks to the once, future, and forever Yankee killer, the Phantom Unit.

Yeah, I hate him for wearing the uniform...but I love him for killing the uniform.


It was two games in one tonight, as the fifth inning ended six-six. But when Song 1 Verse 2 began, it was Aaron Heilman on to pitch three perfectos at the Yankees tonight in innings 6, 7, and 8. There will be some who say it's Heilman showing why he should be in that rotation. There's validity to that.

But it's also why he should stay right where he is. I'll maintain that he's too valuable to take out of that pen, especially when Jeremi with an "i" and Lima with three "L's" are going to man the back end of the rotation. (But alas, not for much longer, as Lima En Vivo's Met career is reportedly muerte.)

So go to Soler (who's name you can sing via the soccer anthem: A-laaaaay, Alay Alay Alaaaaaay...Aaaaaa-laaaaay, Sooooo-leeeeer), go to Pelfrey if you have to. But keep Aaron Heilman right where he is, and make sure he keeps coming up with efforts like he came up with tonight.


And finally, speaking of signs that karma in this town is turning: Two Sandmen entered the ninth inning tonight. But only one exited unscathed.

Exit Light.

Enter Wright.

When else does this happen?

Only now, when the Mets have Paul Lo Duca...staking his claim as the greatest clutch hitter in the history of clutch hitting...does this happen.

Only now, when the Mets have David Wright...staking his claim as the greatest two strike hitter in the history of two strike hitting, does this happen.

Only now, when the Mets are on WPIX and the Yankees are on WWOR (had to be a first tonight), does this happen. Could that have been the answer all along?

And speaking of broadcast outlets, the only question now is: will FOX recognize this victory, or will they completely ignore it in their pre-game show tomorrow, as they did in 2004?

Maybe only now...they will.

(And speaking of biased media coverage, SNY's pre-game show tonight seemed much more Met friendly than Thursday's coverage...thankfully. I thought that I would be fair and mention that.)

Yankee Hating Primer...Version 2K6

Once again, it's time for the Shea Stadium installment of Yankees/Mets interleague play. And you know what that means? That's right boys and girls, time for more irrational hate.

You hear a lot about the "liberal media". I don't know about that, but this time of year, the media is definitely colored navy...even the media that's partially owned by the blue and orange.

Look, I like SNY. I understand where they are coming from in terms of not turning into a broadcast shill for the Mets...great! And I'm not going to slam SNY for playing it down the middle...except that I don't think they're playing it down the middle at all. I think they're so worried about being too pro-Met, that they're overcompensating the other way to prove that they're fair. They even produced a commercial where the television head icon is painting the toenails of a Yankee fan, in an effort to portray that they are "down the middle". With all the good that SNY has been doing in their inaugural go-around, my lasting legacy of this network that's partially owned by the New York Mets is of a man wearing a television on his head painting Yankee pinstripes on a woman's toenails!

Following Thursday's Mets game, "Daily News Live" had their Yankees/Mets preview. Who were the guests? Two Daily News writers, as is the norm, and recording artist/Yankee fan Fat Joe.

Fat Joe?

So let me get this straight...the Daily News' own Bob Raismann slams Gary and Keith for being biased by wearing rally caps in the fourteen inning game against Atlanta, but Fat Joe can go on "Daily News Live" and get the panel, a panel mysteriously devoid of a celebrity Met fan, to dance the "lean back" dance (puke bucket, please) and that's OK?

Then, on half hour highlight show "Sports Net Live" at 6PM, the anchor goes to break four or five times in that thirty minute span...and twice, they go to break showing a "classic moment" from Yankee/Met history. The very first thing they show?

Is that nice?

The other "moment" they showed? Well, it could have been balanced to make it fair...because it's the fairness that they're going after here, right? But noooooooooooooooooo! We get a Paul O'Neill walk off base hit in 1997. What, no steal of home by Steve Bieser? No Dave Mlicki complete game? No Matt Franco walk-off hit? No double by Dae Sung Flippin' Koo?

No. Instead, we'll get three days glorifying the Giambino. We'll get a heaping dose of Tino Martinez...oh, excuse me, "The Bam-Tino" on "Baseball Tonight", an ESPN original production, telling us that Miguel Cairo (the Mig-bino) should have made that play where "Captain Cyborg" Derek Jeter (the Bam-Jeter) threw one high on the glove side where Cairo had to jump for it and whip back with the tag...because nothing is ever the Manchurian Shortstop's fault...nothing!

We'll hear about Alex Rodriguez, more commonly known as the Al-bino. We'll see a steady loop of the recent walk off home run by Jorge Posada (the Bam-sada) on FOX's pre-game show on Saturday, because FOX's major league baseball game of the week has never heard of the Mets. Posada, meanwhile, is predated in Yankee lore by Ron Hassey, who during his time with the Yankees was also called "The Babe".

Of course, the Yankees will be missing Hideki Matsui, also known as Bam-zilla, and Gary Sheffield (the Sheff-bino), but there will be the Bam-Cano, the Damon-bino, game one Yankee starter: the Unitino, and the closer, also known as the Bambi-Mo.

And don't forget Yankee announcer John Sterling who insists on peeing on his team's history by nicknaming every marginal player after the man with the second most home runs of all time.

And all this, on the network partially owned by the Mets!

I must add that finally, after having missed the 10PM highlight show, a pro-Met moment appeared on the "Sports Net Live" highlight show at the high viewer traffic hour of one in the morning...a Mike Piazza home run in a 2001 game. But seven minutes later, during the same show...

Fifty-three all time regular and postseason matchups, and Roger Clemens' attempted homicide gets two airings...all because the guy with the television head insists on painting the Yankee fan's toenails.

What's next...Mike and the Mad Dog call a Mets game on the FAN?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Audition Gone Wrong

"Hi, what's your name dawg?"


"What are you going to sing for us?"

"I'm going to dust off something from my 2004 catalogue."

"Ok Jose, off you go."

On this "audition" start for Jose Lima, made especially important by the re-aggravation of Brian Bannister's hamstring today, Willie Randolph and the Mets were hoping to see Bo Bice, Chris Daughtry, or even Taylor Hicks emerge.

Instead they got William Hung.

And it's not like Lima had to be Whitney Houston or Billy Holliday out there. St. Louis featured a lineup sans Pujols, so all Lima had to be was a cut rate Vince Neil. But Lima was pounded by the likes of Scott Spiezio and Aaron Miles, and he's perilously close to being voted off.

I want to see the Lima en Vivo experiment work. His honesty and "team first" attitude displayed during his post game interview underscores the reasons I want to see it work. And before today I would argue with you that Lima was just a couple of unfortunate umpire calls away from being looked upon as a serviceable fifth starter. And even today, in the fifth inning, Lima should have gone 1-2-3 if not for yet another horrible umpire call, this time at first base with John Rodriguez clearly out on Jose Valentin's glove flip to first base. Instead, the fifth was extended by an out, and Scott Spiezio's flare over third drove in a run and knocked Lima out after 4 and 2/3's (a familiar storyline).

Someone once said that adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it. Today, adversity brought out the very worst that Lima Time can provide...most notably, the temper. Take the second inning after his error allowed the fourth run to score: showing up Fluff Castro in full view...barking at Jack Bauer Franco (definitely frowned upon), and cocking his bat back as if to bash someone's head in...all in the span of ten minutes.

Lima Time is apparently kept by coo-coo clock.

It did reveal some good, as Lima was close to perfect after the second inning. And immediately after the bad call, Lima dove for Scott Rolen's tapper and made the out from his back, so there's just a hint of bulldog in him. But the second inning revealed that there's also some pit bull in him...and unfortunately it's the pit bull who's trained not to interact with people so they can be intimidating guard dogs, then turn around and attack infants (and Franco), at which point the owner acts all shocked that the dog would do this.

And now, after a 3-6 road trip heading into the Yankee series, the Mets braintrust have some questions to answer: Can they really afford to wait until Mike Pelfrey is completely ready for the majors? Is there another option in the minors? Is there a viable trade option out there that will be better than Jose Lima, yet not cost an arm and a leg?

"Jose, your performance reminds me of a really bad wedding singer. That was horrible."

"No no no no no no no no no no no, please Mr. Randolph, I can be better...I caught a touch of Keith Hernandez's pneumonia when we were re-enacting the civil war...let me sing again."

"But dawg, it was pitchy...way too pitchy. It's a no for me."

The Truth Is Left Handed

Bob Sebra.

Justin Thompson.

Tyler Green.

Junior Herndon.

Brad Halsey.

William Van Landingham.

The Mets have been shut out (at least partially) by pitchers much worse and much less successful than Mark Mulder.

But it doesn't lessen the hurt of coming up empty after loading the bases with one out in the ninth. Why can't Steve Trachsel match Mark Mulder zero for zero? Why can't David Wright come up big in every situation? Why can't Cliff Floyd get on track and hit a line drive with two outs in the ninth?

Hey, Trachsel was fairly phenomenal against St. Louis, considering the problems he's had in the past few starts. And how can you get on David Wright after a 2 for 4 night?

Cliff? He's hurtin'. Don't know what...don't know how...but something about him is not correct. You can only put your car through so much before it stops running. And Cliffy it seems has taken his Dodge Dart of a body on too many cross country trips, which have included a few ill advised spinouts on major highways, and too many sideswipes on cross streets. He's getting a few hits here and there, and again...and there's no shame in an oh-fer against Mulder and Generation Isringhausen. But I have this sinking feeling that on national television, Cliff Floyd is going to collapse in a heap of body parts, where his ligaments and tendons will be transplanted into the arms of certain pitchers (I hope Cliff signed his organ donation card).

Speaking of sinking feelings, guess what time it is mere hours from now?

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What, Me Worry? The Code Only Knows

I was starting to think it was me.

"Good God man, what have you done??!! You've released the genie from the bottle. For Matsui-san I predict errors a-plenty, pathetic waves at curveballs, baserunning blunders and another injury. I see the showers and toilets backing up at Shea, emergency landings at LGA, unusual tides in Flushing Bay, and when they break ground for the new stadium the construction gang will unearth and disturb some ancient Indian burial ground for unlucky and cursed members of the Iroquois nation...Blaspheme no more Metstradamus! You are tempting the fates!" -The Metmaster on May 2nd, after I put the whammy on Kazuo Matsui
Silly, right? I mean, Kaz has still only made one error since my proclamation, and the Mets have a winning record since then, right? It can't be me.


"See, I told you! The rotation is in shambles, they've lost five of the last six games, the umpires are blowing calls left and right against the Mets, the two pitchers acquired for Victor Zambrano have Tommy John's all coming to pass! You've doomed us with your prophecies! Are you happy now?" -Metmaster on Monday.

Could I have unwittingly unlocked "The D'Amico Code"?

Why does everyone blame me? Just because I'm 0-4 at Mets playoff games (hey, who isn't?) Because I dare speak prophecy (hey, who doesn't?) Because Jeromy Burnitz drives in four runs the very day I wear my Jeromy Burnitz gray Mets t-shirt (hey, who doesn't own a Jeromy Burnitz t-shirt?) Because Gary Bennett threatens to go Pat Burrell on us (hey...who's Gary Bennett?)

I have to admit, the conspiracies that have abounded since Metmaster's harbinger of doom have been as plain as the frog in Keith Hernandez's throat. I even heard a rumor, after the Yankees were down 9-0 tonight, that Jerome from Manhattan was becoming a Met fan!

So Dark the Con of Angel Hernandez.

But tonight, as Paul Lo Duca got himself yet another big hit, Jose Reyes sets up the game winning run with a walk and a steal, supposed gold glover Albert Pujols was a bit indecisive on a ground ball allowing four runs to score in the eighth (are we going to find a way to blame that on A.D.D. too?), then slipped and conked his head on the on-deck circle thanks to the long rain delay, I felt the tides turn. I feel that things are finally getting right with the world. The Mets are back on track, slaying the team that we were all panicking over coming in. The jinx has left to gestate somewhere else. I can come out of my house again.

This team, is clean.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Doomed By The Pink Bat

Check out Yahoo's blurb written about the Milwaukee Brewers during their preseason preview...

"Everyone's chic playoff sleeper is about a year away. Give Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks time to develop on the right side of the infield, and give Doug Davis, Chris Capuano and Derrick Turnbow time to prove they were more than one-year wonders."
Nowhere in that preview did I read: "Second Incarnation of Harvey's Freakin' Wallbangers coming to a stadium near you". But alas, Prince Fielder became Cecil Cooper; Damian Miller became Ted Simmons; and Bill Hall became Robin Yount before our very eyes this weekend.

And today, they wallbanged with special Mother's Day edition pink bats.

Can you imagine Gorman Thomas with a pink bat?

But it's a shock that the entire Mets pitching staff hasn't gone on the disabled list with whiplash after turning to watch all those baseballs fly out of the park...nine in the three game series. And guess who's next, folks! Why, it's Albert Pujols! And he's capable of hitting nine in three games all by himself!!! Goody.

So is it time to panic yet? Well every team goes through ebbs, flows, peaks, valleys...and right now is low tide. But with St. Louis, the Yankees, and the Phillies coming up, now is no time to put holes in the lifeboat. And here is a suggestion for our boys in blue and orange: When Jose Valentin goes Ty Cobb on everyone and burns his former organization (even though he was a part of that organization five uniforms, three or four managers, one ballpark, and one ownership group ago...not to mention having played with the Brewers when they were an American League franchise) with six hits and six RBI's in two games, it's best not to waste such efforts.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A New Noise

Sometimes when a bat swings with such ferocity and anger, you hear a "fw-oosh!". If you're lucky enough to hit the ball, you hear a "fw-app!".

I could swear on Paul Lo Duca's ninth inning swing off of Derrick (I have camel hair on my bobblehead doll) Turnbow, there was a new noise...for Paulie's prodigious swing had a definite "fw-uck!" sound to it...followed immediately by the ornery bat flip which was akin to the letting go of a breath..."whew".

Put those two sounds together and tell me what you get. You get a message to baseball's increasingly incompetent umpiring crews.

You want to tell me that it reaks of childish with a hint of eau de sour grapes to whine about the umpires? Well that means nothing to me. Because these guys are absolutely out of control. I mean, is there any other umpire out there that is applying to screw over the Mets? The line, apparently, forms to the right.

First it was the incompetence of Angel Hernandez.

Then, it was the agenda of Doug Eddings.

Last night, it was the lack of fundamentals by Laz Diaz.

Tonight, Tim Tschida might have trumped them all.

First, the home plate ump Tschida overruled the first base ump on Prince Fielder's HR* to right field. (If only Todd Zeile had gotten such a generous ruling in Game one of the 2000 Series.) Now I'm no physicist, but isn't first base closer to right field than home plate? And doesn't it send a bad message to your first base ump when your home plate ump claims to have better eyesight than him?

But then, in the mother of all injustices that have befallen the Mets in the past week: the ejection of Duaner Sanchez, which came after back to back home runs and a plunk in the back of Brady Clark with a fastball...

in an 8-8 tie.

Who, I ask...WHO seeks retribution during an 8-8 game in the bottom of the eighth, after much of the bullpen has been used to plug the gaping holes between Jose Lima, Jeremi Gonzalez, and the end of the game? WHO?

All right, besides Armando Benitez?

(Nobody likes a smart ass.)

Just so we're straight...I'm not crying conspiracy. I'm crying incompetence. Massive, egregious, undeniable incompetence. But it is rather incredible that the more certain Mets ask the questions about a conspiracy, the more these dopey things start to swirl around this team. It's like my mom always told me: "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean somebody isn't out to get you."

It was advice like that which made me into the person I am today (explains a lot, doesn't it?) And for that, I am grateful...Happy Mother's Day.

But luckily, the Mets have finally found a way to beat their opponents when their opponents wear blue. They do it with a prodigious, angry blast, and a new noise...

"Fw-uck! Whew."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

My Kingdom For An Inch Of Beer

So what's tougher right now for the Mets:
  • Losing a game in Milwaukee, a city supposedly full of beer, or...
  • Going out after said game to try and drown their sorrows in some of that beer, only to find out that Rick Sutcliffe and Bill Murray drank it all last night?

They say that baseball is a game of inches. I happen to think that all sports have their moments where inches send an outcome one way or the other. But tonight was one of those nights where a game was decided by mere inches. How about Jose Lima's 1-2 pitch to Prince Fielder (who's looking to become King by the end of the series), which missed by inches, before Fielder hit a ball that went only a few inches...

about 5,700 inches.

Then the fifth, with runners on first and second. Lima gives up a base hit to Bill Hall and Brady Clark takes a wide turn at third (due to a late stop sign by perhaps the worst third base coach in recorded history Dale Sveum), and is almost caught going back to the bag by David Wright. Missed him by maybe inches. Maybe one inch. Maybe he didn't miss him at all. But the out of position ump called him safe, and six more runs came home after that.


How about the ninth with the score 9-4 Brewers and the Mets seemingly out of it, a potential oasis comes in the form of Dan Kolb. Paul Lo Duca (who Keith Hernandez called De Luca at least once tonight), hits a shot up the middle which just happens to hit the middle of Kolb's glove and sticks (happy birthday Danny Boy). What if that's hit an inch in any direction? What if Derrick Turnbow comes in one batter earlier with Cliff Floyd, who you have to give a punchers chance to tie the game against a fastball pitcher, as the tying run instead of Kaz Matsui?

And now all of a sudden, look who's creeping up behind the Mets...trailing by two games. Yup, it's those Phillies. It's those eleven wins in twelve games Phillies...who won tonight because they were smart enough not to trade their prize lefthanded prospect for a bag of used hubcaps (like there's actually a team that would be dumb enough to do that...oh wait).

Two games.

Mere inches at this stage of the game.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Ramblin' Man

Freestylin' on a host of topics:

Since "Angel-Gate", and the subsequent lack of justice afforded Julio Franco, it's legitimate to at least keep an eye on blue for future close calls that go against the Mets.

But let's not get too bent out of shape against last night's rain shortened defeat. Remember that it's the home team that has control of whether a game is played or not before the game starts, and it was "getaway day" for the Phillies as well as the Mets so the Phillies could have easily bagged the game for later. Add to that the fact that last night's game could have just as easily been a 2-0 Mets victory, at which point I doubt there would be too much consternation about waiting around for ninety minutes before going to Milwaukee. You could also bet that if it was a 2-0 Mets victory, Phillie fans would be calling for Charlie Manuel's head for deciding to try to get the game in. So yeah, it's a tough loss (is there a such thing as an "easy loss"?) but if the Mets miss the playoffs by one game, this isn't the game I point to.

Speaking of Phillies fans...

I understand that you hate everyone and everything. But I'm curious as to what you think about Bobby Abreu. Outside of maybe cash, I don't understand why the Phillies have been trying to get rid of a talent like Abreu, basically since last season's home run derby...and now the inevitable Yankee discussions have started now that Hideki Matsui's wrist is shattered. If a Bobby Abreu to the Bronx trade goes down, then there should be some heads checked in Philadelphia. It would be yet another example of a team solving its payroll problem without necessarily solving its baseball problems by bailing out the Yankees.

If the Phillies are going to wheel Bobby Abreu, they should treat it as the Marlins would treat a Dontrelle Willis to the Mets trade...ask for the world. The last thing I want to see is another David Justice for Ricky Ledee trade (which helped the Yankees beat the Mets in 2000). Don't not ask for Philip Hughes just because you have enough good pitchers in your farm...because you never have enough good pitchers in your farm. So if you're going to do this, and raise the white flag on a season where you've just beaten the Mets 2 of 3 and are only three games back, then do it right.

Then again, if you are stupid enough to trade Bobby Abreu...anywhere...and help the Mets this season in the process, then so be it. Even if Bobby Abreu does become a Yankee (which I don't think he will when it's all said and done), it isn't going to break my heart.

Alfonso Soriano? That's another story.


Jaap Stijl alerts us to a giveaway night in Milwaukee while the Mets are in town...Saturday is Derrick Turnbow bobblehead night, and all bobbleheads have lifelike hair. Jaap also asks this question:
"When will the Mets hold the Jose Lima Crazy Orange Hair Bobblehead Night with the exploding Bobblehead?"
Well Jaap, you're closer than you think. This was hard to obtain, but my crack staff has obtained a prototype straight from Jeff Wilpon's look for this giveaway at the next homestand:

It doesn't explode, but it comes with braidable hair, it's own gray suit, and a fedora. And when it hears salsa music, it sings, dances, and hugs your cat.

P.S. I'm sensing a solid outing for Lima Time tonight.

Shortened Game(r)

Shortened games seem to be against the natural order of the games need to go nine innings, after all.

And losing shortened games is just plain brutal.

But if a guy is willing to break his nose to make a play to help his team win a ballgame, then what fault can you find in that?

I will say this for Aaron Rowand, this is absolutely why the Phillies acquired him. The SNY crew told an anecdote about former Phillie Kenny Lofton refusing to run into the outfield wall because "I'm not stupid".

Here are other things that Kenny is not: a gamer, and a world champion. But Aaron Rowand is.

Rowand does have a way to go before he can catch up to the undisputed king of broken noses.

I give this guy a load of crap for being a jinx...mainly because he is. And I probably shouldn't give him any props because he's bitching to me that I can't get my posts in before 2AM. But he came up with a good point, and I feel that not only is it worth sharing, but it's something we should all be thankful for:

Thank your lucky stars that Aaron Rowand's catch was not made by Derek Jeter.

Can you imagine if Derek Jeter made a catch like that? (And just so we're clear, the first Yankee fan that tells me that Jeter's catch in '04 was better than this one is getting a bat to the head.) Can you imagine the poem Frank DeFord would come up with for that one (and something tells me that DeFord isn't at his typewriter trying to find a word that rhymes with Rowand)? Can you imagine all the Jeanne Zelasko tributes? I'd have to stop showing up to work. I'd have this guy and his ilk all over me for weeks playing back the tape to me.

See when you lose a game in five innings, you take solace in any little thing. Tonight, I am thankful that Derek Jeter had nothing to do with that catch.

And another thing to be thankful for: there are a boatload more games against the Phillies to try to keep them in the rear view...and three of those games come May 23rd, 24th, and in what may be my first appearance at Shea this season, May 25th. That means pictures boys and girls, pictures.

P.S. Chase Utley, just stop it. Stop it please.