Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mets Win Despite Invisible Sabre Tooth Hamstring Eater

Is there an animal that lives about 80 feet up the first base line that jumps up and bites runners in the hamstring as they go by? And who's equipment bag is this animal stashing himself in?

Jorge Sosa was hustling to beat out a double play on a sacrifice bunt one second, the next second he was writhing in pain on the ground as if he was...well, as if he was Endy Chavez, who got hurt the exact same way in the exact same spot on the field in the exact same hamstring...

...against the exact same team.

Well whaddaya know, another conspiracy we can blame on the Phillies: carnivorous hamstring eating animals.

The Mets organization is saying that it's a strained hamstring, but they also said that Moises Alou just needed a day of rest too before "finding" a tear in his quad. Believe me, if the Mets could get away with calling it a "lower body injury", made famous by Pat Quinn and the Toronto Maple Leafs, they would. Especially since the more severe the injury, the higher the price for Mark Buehrle would probably become. (And maybe higher if wherever Oliver Perez was bitten turns into an issue. Mike Pelfrey, white courtesy phone.)

But the five innings they did get from Sosa were solid enough to get them another victory in Philadelphia, making sure that they will exit the city of brotherly crab fries in better shape than they will have entered it. And there's another rookie pitcher that will be waiting. Today it was J.A. Happ (he prefers that the A. is silent...who knew?) Tomorrow it will be Kyle Kendrick, a higher tiered prospect with a name that sounds like he should be running the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 tomorrow.

Of course, the scarier injury was one that was suffered (kinda) by Jose Reyes, who jammed his right shoulder on a first inning swing and had trainers check on him before and after his single in the frame. But when he scored ahead of Paul Lo Duca's first inning home run and he commenced with the handshake, we knew he was fine. Reyes then was seen smiling and laughing in the dugout before hitting the field in the bottom of the frame, while at the same time Tim McCarver was telling us that he wasn't sure if Reyes would be on the field when that inning came.

See with your eyes, Tim. See with your eyes.

And me thinks that Carlos Beltran is back, with four home runs (and if you remember his first at bat from Friday's nightcap, almost five home runs) in two games. The last home run almost saw Aaron Rowand climb the fence and make what would have been one of the most spectacular catches in the history of spectacular catches. It was in his glove. But in line with the way things are going for the Mets this weekend, the ball squirted out, and all remains well in the world of Carlos Beltran and the Mets.

But you know how I know things are going right with the Mets? Scott Schoeneweis pitched a scoreless inning. Will wonders ever cease?

True Colors In The Hood

"My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called 'Metstradamus'". -Narrator from Mad Max 2 (with some blogging license at the end)
I have returned.

And I bring you the head of J.D. Durbin!

All right, maybe it was more like a Phillies mini-helmet which I ate my ice cream out of. Still, as the Empire State Building appeared on the horizon as I rolled back on New Jersey Transit, I felt like one of those warriors from Mad Max or something, holding up my symbol of victory in proxy of young Mr. Durbin's head. An offer to the gods of the New York Skyline, as if the city told me upon leaving: "If you don't bring back a win, don't come home."

Thankfully, now at 4-0 on the road, I've always been able to come home.

It was an interesting day to say the least, starting out with a smooth ride on NJT to meet my ride (in spite of my floundering inability to find the track at Penn Station, and find my way off the train...wondering why the doors aren't opening even though there's no platform). Then the rest of the way listening to Paul Lo Duca gripe about the media on the car ride. (Why is everything interpreted in the most damning possible context? And why hasn't Lo Duca figured out by now that the best way to keep the media off his back is to not bring up anything about "speaking English" in a lockerroom famously known for its Latin players...although this is the first time I've ever heard someone get tagged as racist for saying that someone can speak English.)

Then, a bad exit choice by us, and some terrible directions from a couple of gas station attendants who looked at us like we had three heads when we mentioned the Walt Whitman bridge put us in downtown Philly, forcing us to take Broad St. to the complex. Now for those who have never been to Philadelphia, stay away from Broad Street! The traffic lights may be the most disjointed in the country, taking the "flow" out of "flow of traffic". (And take Exit 3, not Exit 4.) But we still got there on time and in our seats for the 1:30 start, which was better than my last trip, when I didn't even have a seat, and got there late.

(Food note: Last year, it was the cheesesteaks that lured me to Philly. This year, the attraction for me, thanks to Mets Grrl, were the crab fries. Highly recommended.)

I loved the Philly fans today, constantly reminding us through the Mets early game offensive run that "hey, you know you're doing this off of a single A pitcher, right? Wait until the nightcap when you face Cole Hamels!" (Oh, much more on him later.) For the record, yes we were quite aware of who your pitcher was. And at the end of play today, he's still employed by your team. So we are not the ones hanging our heads in shame for being able to hit him. Thank you, drive through.

There was one guy sitting next to me who saved his most fervent Met bashing for when I wasn't sitting in my seat. Yeah, that's manly. I mean, he had ample opportunity to kill us when the Mets were trotting out Guillermo Mota and Aaron Heilman, who are about as useful as a bag of plastic hammers right about now. (Flippin' Heilman...0-2 count on a .202 hitter and he lets Pat Burrell hang around until he gets a pitch he can serve up to center field to make it a 6-5 game. Way to go, clutch!)

Thankfully, there was Billy Wagner (with no Burrell at the plate) to finish things off and send us home happy...if not swiftly. Damn, the traffic coming out of the Bank is simply atrocious, as one lane of traffic was allowed to pass while the rest of us were made to crawl along. It was like coming home from a Jets game! We were moving so slow that...and I can't be sure of this...I could have sworn that I saw a couple attempt to get busy in the back of their SUV while waiting for the second game to start.

Heck I was even able to leave the car in traffic to ask a policeman about the easiest way to get to the elusive Walt Whitman bridge, when a kid then comes up to me in my Pedro Martinez jersey and warns me "man, don't wear that jersey in the hood." What? Your fans can't heckle me to my face and I can't wear my jersey in your hood? I'll tell you what, if I wear my Brian Leetch jersey to a Flyers game, then I'll worry (and wear armor underneath...because, as you know, we must protect this house). Until then...

Silly me thinking I could get back to New York in time to watch the second game (I blame the traffic, but I also blame Charlie Manuel's waste of time at the beginning of the game, checking Orlando Hernandez's cap for pine tar or chocolate or whatever Manuel was searching for). Instead, I stepped into my hood just as the second game ended, with only time enough to watch highlights, which included Cole Hamels not only throwing 3,287 pitches in three innings (oh yeah, wait until you face Cole Hamels indeed), but throwing behind Jose Reyes on a 3-0 count after thinly veiled threats to go after Paul Lo Duca.

Here's another fact about Cole Hamels that you may not know: Do you know what you get when you take Cole Hamels, take about 15 mph off his fastball, and add about 15 points to his IQ, do you know who you get?

You get Shawn Estes!

Yes, we haven't forgiven Estes for missing Roger Clemens' girth in retaliation for Mike Piazza. But Cole Hamels, who talks like he's been in the league for 100 years, was so dumb that in his lame attempt to send a message on a 3-0 pitch to Jose Reyes behind his back, that it went all the way to the backstop allowing the run to score. Not even Shawn Estes pulled off a Merkle like that! Way to go Cole. And shame on that umpiring crew for saving Hamels' bush league hide for immediately issuing warnings, ending any chance that John Maine would send another "fact" Hamels' way (not that Maine would have retaliated but still.) I initially thought from the radio broadcast that Hamels had been wild all game so this was just a by product of that. But after seeing it with my own eyes? There's no way there wasn't purpose to that pitch. No way. I'm not sure I can be convinced otherwise on this.

"YOU! You can RUN, but you can't HIDE!" -Vernon Wells (not that Vernon Wells) from Mad Max 2

Your day is coming.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Cheese-Break

The Mets and Cardinals were washed out tonight.

And because of such, Mike Pelfrey has been washed out for Friday's doubleheader. And that's a relief. Because there was a part of me that was scared that Pelfrey would pitch the day game instead of John Maine. Now, at least if Maine is pushed to Friday night, Orlando Hernandez, who was supposed to go tonight, will go in the afternoon and not Pelfrey (and if you believe what you read here, it will indeed be Orlando Hernandez in Friday's afternoon game).

Why do I care so much about who goes in the afternoon?

Well let's just say that your friendly neighborhood blogger will be off on another adventure. A repeat trip to try to duplicate the success of last year's jaunt. Some would say that sequels are never as good as the original. But I'm willing to take that chance...and hope that the karma of a 3-0 lifetime road record (along with the karma of "The Metmaster") will trump the karma of Chase Utley and bad sequels.

No, I don't expect to see Carlos Delgado and Keith Hernandez on the Amtrak again. In fact, I know that's not possible. But besides a victory, there's one sequel I'm looking forward to:

I'm bringing a bag full back to New York and will enjoy one of them on my couch for the nightcap. Can I bring one for anybody else?

Comp Time

It would have been just like the Mets to have their first no-hitter come on a five and a half inning rain shortened game, up against a guy who hadn't won a regular season game since the Nixon administration.

Thankfully, David Wright threw one wide and Met fans don't have to have an existential internal discussion about whether to embrace this game as history, or hide it in shame as the Mets usually seem to do with their history.

Frankly, I'm not smart enough to have that conversation with myself.

Maybe it was Wright's master plan to save us from ourselves. Maybe Wright knew that it was going to be a rain shortened game anyway (hey, Willie Randolph admitted that he manages differently when the forecast calls for a monsoon, why is it so far fetched that players play differently), so he let one fly in the name of avoiding asterisks.

Or perhaps, the ball just...slipped.

That sounds right.

In any event, Tom Glavine moves to 297 wins in a six inning game that's merely comp time from the first two eleven inning games, and he's now three away from the magic number. And the Mets magic number shrinks as the Phillies lose.

Oh, and Scott Spiezio, I got your infected finger right here. If you can guess which one it is, I'll hold it up for you.

(Editor's note: Grudges die hard.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

With All Apologies

Sorry Scott.

I really had no way of knowing that one of the eight-year-old kids that I kicked off my lawn today would sneak off to Shea Stadium and hit a home run to beat you.

I should have known better. I should have known that if there was a chance you would enter the game tonight, that an eight-year-old child would hit a home run off of you. My bad.


But really, outside of the fact that some eight-year-old named Brendan Ryan would hit his first major league home run off Scott Schoeneweis after hitting six total home runs in his four year minor league career, the Mets are still fine. One of the things that drew me to the Mets in the first place (when I was Brendan Ryan's age) was that good or bad (happy or sad), the Mets would always put up some sort of fight in the ninth inning, no matter how many runs they were down by. During the latest bad stretch, the Mets would be dead in the final inning (more like the final four innings). No fire, no effort. Kind of like a game I saw back in 1981 (or so) Dave Kingman taking three straight weak hacks at fastballs while at the dish as the last hope for the Mets (he must have had a plane to catch that day).

With Shawn Green's walk in the ninth, I stopped worrying. Good at bats like Green's against Jason Isringhausen are all you can ask for when you're the last hope. So with Valentin up and Green on first, I was overtaken with a sense of calm. Because everything felt all right.

That is until that eight-year-old wouldn't get off Scott Schoeneweis' lawn. (Sorry again, Scott.)


Scott Schoeneweis. Pug. Same being? You decide.


Anybody else find it weird that the Yankees sign the first players from China, and then just days later they sign an endorsement deal with a Chinese dairy company?

Personnel moves decided by advertising? Oh that's rich.


Has Carlos Gomez gotten dusted yet?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sliding Bullpen Doors

Here's the answer:

Shawn Green hit a dramatic home run in the eleventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS sending the Mets to the World Series, where they defeated the Tigers in five games. Yes?

What would have happened if Yadier Molina had been abducted by aliens off the side of I-10 in Reading, PA last October?

That's correct.

(And now your Final Jeopardy answer: Roy Oswalt for Aaron Sele. The question we were looking for was "What is a pipe dream?")

Monday night's Cardinals/Mets game...the first Cardinals/Mets at Shea Stadium since you know what...would have to go into the ninth tied at 1-1, wouldn't it?

It would have to feature Billy Wagner facing So Taguchi in the ninth inning, wouldn't it?

It would have to feature Aaron Heilman in any capacity, wouldn't it?

All that was missing was Guillermo Mota shaking off Paul Lo Duca.

It even had the Mets facing a dominant lefty Tiger. No, not Kenny Rogers, this time it was Mike Maroth...and dominant he was, if no longer a Tiger. And even though he never even pitched in last year's series, it was too close a call. It was still too much of a reminder of what could have been if, as the Jeopardy contestant said, Yadier Molina had been abducted by aliens (or injured, as he actually was).

But regardless of the fact that this outcome came eight months too late, the Mets will take it. They'll take the excellent bullpen work by Wagner, Heilman, and for pure level of difficulty: Pedro Feliciano and his Houdini act in the seventh inning, getting Scott Spiezio (oh, the pangs of reminder) to ground out back to the box and preserve the tie, and set up Shawn Green's 11th inning swing (which was reminiscent of a five year old with a new Nintendo Wii swinging with that exaggerated uppercut from his foul ball to his game winning walk off, but hey...whatever works.)

Here are some funny things to consider:
  • Did you notice the home run swing is back around the same time as the hair?
  • Would this home run have happened had Julio Franco not missed this game due to injury? Because you know that Franco would have been out there at first base instead of Green against a lefty had Franco didn't come down with a sore birth certificate...I mean, sore knee? (Well, seeing as if Shawn Green played right field and not first base as he did on Sunday...which confused me, then that blows the theory to smithereens. There's a second shooter though, and I'll find him gosh darn it.)

It's just more alternate endings to the fork in the road that is the life of a Met fan. Sore knees, Nintendo swings, alien abductions...they're all fun to wonder about. But you know that what really happens the rest of this season will be much more inventive and interesting than those fictional situations. The baseball gods wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Run Baby Run

Oh look, there's the ball! Oh look, there's no fielder. Oh look, I can keep running!

Wasn't that trip around the bags kind of like the last scene in the Bad News Bears where the pitcher just holds on to the ball and the runner keeps going around the bases? It was like that, but faster. And cooler.

And from there, it was all downhill for the Athletics for the final nail in their sweep. Legend will have it that if you squinted really hard this weekend, you could see Tug McGraw slap his glove to his thigh instead of John Maine, Wayne Garrett hitting home runs instead of Jose Valentin, and Willie Mays pleading with the home plate umpire.

Uh, no, that was Paul Lo Duca threatening to kill the home plate umpire. Speaking of which...

Perspective: The Mets, with this sweep, have improved to 6-13 over the last 19 games. In that stretch, they've gained a game on the Atlanta Braves. Of course, they've lost five and a half to the Phillies, and the Mets' series with the Cardinals (where if you squint, you can see Adam Wainwright...oh never mind) is merely the appetizer to a huge four game series coming up in Philadelphia over the weekend. It's important to continue to fatten up on the banged up birds, because the Phillies will be facing the truly and horribly putrid Cincinnati Reds.

The good news: The Phillies are currently scouring their minor league system to find a starter for the Friday afternoon game. The bad news: That starter, likely to be brought up from AA, will most likely throw a two-hitter against the Mets.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Attica! Attica!

"We won yesterday. If we win today, that's two-in-a-row. If we win tomorrow, that's called a winning streak; it has happened before." -Lou Brown, Major League
And on Sunday, it may happen again, thanks to Orlando Hernandez, the bullpen, and David Wright for a 1-0 victory at Shea Stadium on Saturday night.

No thanks to Marvin Hudson or the 7 train.

There was one of those magical Shea Stadium moments as Mike Piazza brought out the lineup card for Oakland before the game. I of course missed it because of the MTA, which put the D train on the C line bringing me to 42nd St. instead of 7th Ave., then two 7 trains fill up with Met fans before the announcement that the train would not be running from Times Square, but rather from Grand Central, adding more time to my commute, and putting me in the ballpark at the bottom of the first, and in a seat at the top of the second.

Game day, and there's limited 7 train reliability. My tax dollars at work.

Thankfully, Paul Lo Duca threw my tantrum for me in the sixth inning at home plate ump Marvin Hudson.

Now look, you don't show up the ump on balls and strikes...and that's what Lo Duca did. But don't you think that if a catcher is complaining that something is wrong? Why would a catcher show up the home plate ump knowing it may cost him, at the very least, some calls later in the game...or perhaps his presence in the game? I'll tell you why, because Marvin Hudson was obviously inconsistent. I couldn't tell from where I was, but if Lo Duca is making a production out of balls and strike calls, something is wrong.

(By the way, the "Paul Lo Duca" chant you heard tonight after the incident? All me. I started it. Unfortunately, the "Attica! Attica!" chant didn't catch on. One day...)

Orlando Hernandez had his splendid eephus pitch on the mark, the bullpen worked around a Carlos Delgado misplay in the ninth, Fluff Castro replaced Paul Lo Duca and started the winning rally, and David Wright got enough wood on the ball on the last pitch to pull out the victory. Did the "Curly Shuffle" which was played in the middle of the ninth have something to do with it? I'd like to think so. Bottom line? We win one on Sunday against Joe Kennedy and the swingin' A's, that's called a winning streak.

It has happened before.


I now have somebody to blame for making steroids popular. Drum roll...

Thom Brenneman.

During the Giants game on FOX (my faaaaaaaavorite baseball network), there was a graphic showing the NL all star game leaders...including Jose Reyes. From the corner of my ears, I could hear game announcer Brenneman say "oh, well Jose Reyes shouldn't be there, J.J. Hardy should."


Jose Reyes doesn't deserve to start the All Star game? Why? Because J.J. Hardy has more home runs? Thom? Have you seen Jose Reyes' stats? Or do you just value home runs?

Disclaimer: I think Jose Reyes deserves to start the all star game. I think J.J. Hardy deserves to start the all star game. They're both having great seasons. I have both players on one of my fantasy baseball teams, so I hope both of them rock the world the rest of the season. I think you can also make a case for Hanley Ramirez. All three deserve to be a part of the San Francisco festivities. And I certainly don't think J.J. Hardy is on steroids...

But as long as Thom Brenneman dismisses what Jose Reyes has done because J.J. Hardy has more home runs, all that's done is further the notion that nothing but the long ball counts. Indirectly, steroids are glorified.

Or could it be that Brenneman is sticking up for the poor midwestern player who doesn't get any votes because he plays in teeny little Milwaukee? Boo hoo! Don't like it Thom? Here's an idea, put the Brewers on FOX more often instead of chasing Roger Clemens all the time!

Attica! Attica!


You know you want to hear more rants like that. And if you tune into New York Baseball Live on 1240 WGBB AM from 9-11PM ET, or you hook yourself up to the internet, then you just might hear one. I will be on in the second hour to discuss my views on Paul Lo Duca's temper, Jose Reyes' statistics, and if you're lucky, an anti Yankee rant or two. And all that in a ten minute segment. Impossible? You're just going to have to tune in and find out.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Breathing a Tad Easier

When I look at the three victories that the Mets have had over the last sixteen games, none of those victories gave me the impression that they were out of the woods.

Two wins were shutouts where the lineup was dead. The other victory was a blowout with John Maine on the hill and Johan Santana looming. Tonight, however, felt different. Tom Glavine looking sharp in a blowout has a different feeling than John Maine looking sharp in a blowout, for this reason: the Mets need Tom Glavine to be successful to feel better about themselves.

And it sure looked like the Mets felt better about themselves. This game had all the hallmarks of a slump busted. It had Shawn Green driving in three runs and hitting his first home run in about the time it took for Glavine to get win number 296. It had Carlos Beltran getting his average up to .272 with two hits, two runs, two RBI's, and a long home run. It had a opposing rookie pitcher treated like...well, an opposing rookie pitcher. It had Jose Reyes making a dynamite play on a double play ball in the fourth inning, and more importantly, looking like he's still having a whole lot of fun on the bench which you don't normally find on a team winning it's fourth game in seventeen.

And I can't be sure, but I can swear I saw Aaron Heilman smile.

But Glavine is the big deal here. This blogger was disgusted by Glavine's performance on Saturday against the Yankees. This blogger is now happy after hearing Glavine say in his post game interview that he was also disgusted by that performance (I believe the word was "embarrassed"). Still, after all these seasons in the sun, Glavine still has the honest introspection to make his game better, and the competitive fire to want to go nine innings even with a 9-1 lead tonight (not to mention the extra batting practice to get himself two hits and two RBI's).

And now, Tom Glavine can discover all over again what a post game spread tastes like after a win. It just tastes different.


And speaking of Oakland, if Omar Minaya went and acquired the recently DFA'd Milton Bradley for a mere bag o' shells, let's just say it totally wouldn't suck.

(Editor's note: Scratch that, as Bradley has already been traded to...Kansas City? Kansas City? Boy you have to really hate somebody to trade them to Kansas Ci...Kansas City? Are the Royals like those guys who buy houses on foreclosure and then fix them up and sell them at normal market value? Kansas City? Really? At least Bradley will help the Royals get past the White Sox in the standings.)

(Kansas City???)


Maybe it was my minor league rehab assignment that did the trick for the Mets tonight.

Yes, my minor league rehab assignment. They sent me down to the farm on Thursday...

Despite rain delays of over two hours, a train ride home of over two hours, and being present with a Yankee fan, all was well as the Cyclones pulled one out over the Staten Island Yankees, 6-1. Of all the people still there when the game ended at midnight, I wonder how many of them were from Queens? Well, actually there was at least one more, as Cow-Bell-Man made the trip, and even let two other fans take control of the cowbell in the top of the ninth. I apologize that there's no evidence of this as my battery ran out during the second rain delay, but the camera did catch this ominous shot right before the rain delay:

Then this happened:

And because that happened, the Cyclones were nice enough to offer us free tickets to another game after waiting until 10:15 PM to start the fourth inning with the Cyclones leading 5-0. You can understand why I thought God really was a Yankee fan looking at the above picture. But dollar sodas the rest of the night allayed that fear.

(P.S. For real analysis on this game and all things Cyclones, check out Matt Himelfarb at Cyclones Nation.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pig Beautification

"Oh the Butcher and the Baker and the people on the street...Where do they go?"
To beat the Mets!

At Shea Stadium.


At least that's where the Baker goes. That's where Scott Baker know, the rookie who came into the game with an ERA over seven, and probably needed to come up with a decent game to keep his spot in the starting rotation. As in, the guy that the Mets had a civic duty to pound all the way back to American Legion ball on Wednesday.

Yeah, that guy.

The Mets did manage seven hits in five innings, but just two runs which was not quite enough to overcome Oliver Perez's start...which featured five hits, four runs and five walks in just over five innings. The bullpen failed to keep the Mets close to the Twins, and yet another series goes by with the Mets being on the short end.

The John Rocker Appreciation Society and the Blunt Cigars both lost as well on Wednesday, so at the pig that was Wednesday's game is equipped with lipstick. (Did you know that lipstick is made that contains pigments? So it's like putting pigments on a pig!) But 3-13 since June 2nd is a pig that needs lipstick, rouge, foundation, exfoliating products, laser hair removal, corrective eye surgery, and perhaps the odd shower to get it looking healthy and clean again.

Or maybe the pig just needs one of these, one of these, or perhaps one of these. That'll do, pig. That'll do.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Month That Would Never End

You know, forfeiting would have produced the same score without the eyesore.

I think everybody needs to rip the month of June out of their calendars (wall or desk, it doesn't matter), take it to the Shea Stadium parking lot before Wednesday's game, and burn it as a sacrifice to the baseball gods. When doing so, perform the following chant:

Bel-tran...bomaye! Bel-tran...bomaye! Bel-tran...bomaye! Bel-tran...bomaye! Bel-tran...bomaye!

Why not? Nothing else has worked.

(Oh, and don't forget to vote for Paul Lo Duca for the All-Star game.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Vote Paul Lo Duca!

Well that was a mighty fine start to the homestand, wasn't it? Not only a victory, but a blowout victory at that.

Don't forget to vote Paul Lo Duca for next month's all-star game.

Carlos Beltran's quad certainly seemed no worse for wear either, as he dashed home from third on Carlos Gomez's sacrifice fly.

Hey, vote for Paul Lo Duca five times for the all-star game.

And John Maine was spectacular. When the Mets needed a great effort from their starting pitcher, Maine was there for them with seven and 1/3 innings of four hit ball and only two walks.

Paul Lo Duca needs your votes to take the lead back for starting catcher for the all-star game.

And the lineup seemed to be breaking out a little bit as well. Two hits each for Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green, Jose Reyes, heck even Ricky Ledee had two hits. And David Wright had three!

You know who else had two hits? Paul Lo Duca. And you know he needs your all-star votes.

You might have noticed the frequent in-game requests to vote for Paul Lo Duca for the all-star game. Well, don't worry. Those of us at home were also hit with commercials to vote Lo Duca. This recent election campaign came after Russell Martin of the Dodgers recently took the lead. I myself am mildly surprised that the Mets would undertake a campaign for one player over the others, but Lo Duca is the player that needs your help right now.

But as long as they're spending money to get votes in preparation for this Queens caucus, the ad campaign needs to be a bit stronger. May I suggest:

Monday, June 18, 2007

Midwestern Rules of Displacement

So I was having a conversation the other day with an Ohio State student. I asked her how upset they were about losing to Florida in two separate championships, in two separate sports. I paraphrase the answer:
"When we lost in football, we were too shocked to be really angry...because we were supposed to win that game. So there really wasn't a lot of anger on campus.

Then, when we lost in basketball, as we were supposed to as the underdog, we really couldn't get too upset about that, so we got really mad at the football team. And all the anger started coming out."
Displaced anger. What a concept.

And that's why I can't get upset over Sunday night's brutal loss to the Yankees, making the 2007 Subway Extravaganza a complete wash. Because I really didn't expect much from this matchup between Orlando Hernandez and Chien-Ming Wang. I figured that if the Mets went down meekly against sinkerballer Brandon Webb, their luck probably wouldn't be much better against sinkerballer Wang. Hernandez would have had to have been lights out to merely get the Mets to extra innings, and to the tenuous Yankee bullpen, to have the best chance of taking this rubber game.

Not to be.

That's why Saturday's game still sticks with me. All of a sudden, I'm throwing pizza boxes again, just as I did on Saturday, but without the shock and mindlessness of it. This time, the anger was more calculated, if not timely.

That's why the Los Angeles series still sticks with me. Swept by a team that fired their hitting coach for their lack of offense, except for their sweep against the Mets...of course.

That's why the Philadelphia series still sticks with me. Even one win would have put the Mets in a significantly better position than they are now. That one win should have been the middle game...the Aaron Heilman 0-2 home run to Jimmy Rollins and Endy Chavez exploding hamstring game.

With every loss from here on in that holds the Mets back in the standings, I'll keep being angry about those games. I'll keep throwing pizza boxes.

This upcoming homestand doesn't give the Mets a breather, as the Twins and Athletics come to town. The Mets have a chance to take care of two bugaboos that they have: Win at home, and win against tough American League competition. The Mets have an interleague record of 4-5...considering that consists of a split against the Yankees, and one win in three tries against the Tigers in Detroit, that's actually not so bad. But the Mets need to turn it around this week. They need to turn it around at Shea, where they are only 17-16, and they need to turn it around against pitchers like Carlos Silva on Monday (4-7, 4.07), Scott Baker on Wednesday (1-2, 7.33), and Lenny DiNardo on Friday (2-3, 2.21, five runs in 3 and 2/3 on Saturday).

If they wait until the 25th when the putrid defending champion comes to town, then how good will it really feel? And will they be in first place by the time that day comes? And how many pizza boxes will I have thrown by then thinking about Heilman's gopher ball, Glavine giving up thousands of runs, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Carlos Beltran swinging at the first pitch?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Small Soldiers

Sometime during the eighth inning, the screen showed that if you stuck around past the game, that you would see a movie called "Small Soldiers".

No thanks, CW11. I've seen enough small soldiers on my television for three plus hours. Of them all, here are the three smallest (in lack of size order):
  • Tom Glavine: All right, let's see. An ace is defined, in part, as the guy your teammates look to when you need a big victory. You can all come on this site and comment that John Maine is the ace, or Jorge Sosa is the ace, or Oliver Perez is the ace simply because of their stats. But let's be real. When your offense has been slumping, and you finally get to a rookie who can't find the plate, that team looked to Glavine to give them a quality start. Now, a quality start is giving up no more than three runs in no less than three innings. Heck, five runs in five innings would have been fine. Five runs in five innings is like remembering to bring your number two pencil to your SAT exam, and that's all Glavine needed to do. Glavine instead gave up seven runs in four innings. An ace has gotta have a tad more intestinal fortitude than that. It's not like the team was asking for a whole lot.
  • Willie Randolph: I have figured out why the price of gasoline is so high...because Guillermo Mota insists on using buckets of it to put out fires. Yes, Mota is pitching like a dog this season (a sleeping dog who doesn't pay any mind to baserunners). But the two runs in the sixth inning could have been avoided, if only Willie Randolph had just made the prudent decision to walk Hideki Matsui with runners on second and third and two outs. Matsui has probably gotten as many big hits against the Mets as a certain Revlon wearing Ford driving shortstop we all know. And if you don't believe your eyes, then believe what you see on the stat sheet: Matsui was a career .349 lifetime hitter against the Mets before today. The on deck hitter, Robinson Cano, is a career .235 hitter. I know Willie likes to manage by the seat of his pants and I would prefer he stay that way. But today, Willie made the wrong move.
  • Carlos Beltran: We here at Folgers have replaced the Mets' normal center fielder with Bobby Abreu. Let's see if they notice...YES, WE'VE NOTICED! PLEASE BRING OUR OUTFIELDER BACK! I know...Carlos Gomez can play left field like Todd Hundley sometimes, but give the kid some credit for the way he battled Mariano Rivera on an eight pitch at bat which resulted in a single. Then, Jose Reyes takes Rivera eight pitches deep for a single of his own. So after that, you mean to tell me that Carlos Beltran swings at the first pitch and foul pops it to the catcher? To complete an 0 for 6 day? This offense scored eight runs on the strength of Jose Reyes and the bottom of the order. Ruben Gotay can't continue to be the lynchpin of the lineup. What could the Mets have done if the middle of the order is hitting like it's capable of? Not to belabor the point hits in six at-bats!!!
There...your small soldiers. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

A Quantity Of One

It sure didn't seem as neat and tidy as a 2-0 win should have been. There were runners all over the place against Oliver Perez, who wasn't too sharp with his control despite not allowing a run through the first three and 1/3.

And then there was Miguel Cairo's fly ball to left field at Yankee Stadium, which has been a coffin corner for the Mets at times, between Lenny Harris' deflected ball off his glove for a home run, and Todd Zeile's home run except for the fact that it wasn't which resulted in Timo Perez becoming a household name by not running. So when Carlos Gomez went back to the wall, there was trouble written all over my television screen.

And when that fan in the front row lept out of his seat to try to become part of the game and interfere with the natural order of life, the worry on my screen grew ten-fold. You know what can happen when kids...or drunks...or well meaning folk with walkmen decide they want to be part of the fun.

But the ball landed harmlessly in a leaping Carlos Gomez's glove, who turned it into a double play, saving the Mets from not only their fifth loss in a row, but the embarrassment of getting through a lineup full of all-star caliber players only to give up the big hit to Miguel freakin' Cairo.

Subsequent to that catch, Perez calmed down and looked a lot better the rest of the way going 7 and 1/3's scoreless before giving way to the bullpen for some stellar work. And by the way, even though it was Gomez and not Chavez, and even though Gomez only prevented a double while Chavez prevented a two run HR, did you think back to Endy's catch when you saw Perez with his arm up in celebration? Did you get all warm and tingly inside for a moment before you remembered how that game ended? Thankfully, this game ended differently.

It still doesn't mask the deficiency of the middle of the order. The Mets lineup, you see, is a tasty treat. Unfortunately, the tasty treat in question is a doughnut. Gomez and Jose Reyes provided the speed and savvy, with Gomez bunting his way on base twice against the aging walrus that is Roger Clemens (gee, making the 45 year old move around...what a novel concept), and Reyes driving both runs in with a single and an upper deck dinger. But Carlos Delgado took the golden sombrero tonight against some less than nasty stuff from Clemens. Diesel struck out against batting practice fastballs, for crying out loud. And the four through eight hitters in the lineup had a grand total of zero hits.

So while the Mets are finally in the win column with a one game winning streak, there was little of quality to fall back on to make this blogger feel that this team is completely out of the woods. Saturday features Tyler Clippard for the Yankees, who baffled the Mets at Shea Stadium causing my back to go out (well, it wasn't exactly Tyler Clippard that did that, but it's a good story). The Mets lineup has an opportunity to get well against this rookie now that there's some tape on him. He fooled them once, shame on him. Fool them twice?

Well, you know who gets shame then.

Friday, June 15, 2007

How I Reflected Upon My Life On My Day Off, By: The New York Mets

(Friday morning, in a dark dingy Yankee Stadium lockerroom...)

Willie Randolph: All right were all told to write a paper telling me what you've learned over this bad stretch of games, and how you reflected on it during your day off. I would like for you all to read your paper out loud. David, we'll start with you:

David Wright: What I did on my day off, by David Wright. First, I went to the Vitamin Water people to pose for a new advertisement, and then I shot a new commercial for MLB 2007. Then I read "The Winner Within" by Pat Riley to help make myself the best leader I could be. The end.

WR: Very good David. And how did it help you see how you can help us turn this around?

DW: I learned that when you see a fork in the road you should take it.

WR: Very good. Anything else?

DW: Uh, a raised fist means to go to the post?

WR: Okay then. Let's have someone else read their paper, about you, Aaron?

Aaron Heilman: I also read a book. I read Sandy Koufax's autobiography.

WR: Very good choice. And what did you learn?

AH: I learned a lot of helpful hints about being a good starting pitcher. He went into the mindset and the preparation necessary to be a starting pitcher in the major leagues.

WR: That's great, do realize that you're a reliever. Have you learned anything about being a good relief pitcher?

AH: I learned that middle relief pitchers don't get book deals.

WR: Astute. What about you, Jose?

Jose Reyes: I hit the gym and did some extra laps in the pool...I gotta tell you, I feel great!

Carlos Beltran: And I picked him up from the gym and drove him home.

WR: That's great guys! That was a very nice thing to do Carlos, driving your friend home.

JR: Yeah, well...

CB: Shut up Jose!

WR: What? What happened?

JR: Carlos drove me to my neighborhood but then had to ask a policewoman for directions.

CB: Shut up Jose! You know it's been a while since I drove anybody home and I got confused.

WR: was still a very nice thing for you to do. And what did you learn?

CB: That I need Mapquest to drive a teammate home?

WR: Very good. Hey Joe, I see you ducking in the back. What did you do on your day off?

Joe Smith: I took a picture of myself and made it into a Sports Illustrated cover because I'm going to be a famous pitcher one day.

WR: Arts and crafts I see. And what did you learn?

JS: I learned to use scissors and crayons.

WR: All right then. How about you Paulie, what did you do on your day off?

Paul Lo Duca: I killed a guy.

WR: Why?

PLD: He looked at me funny.

WR: Did you do anything else?

PLD: I killed another guy.

WR: How come?

PLD: He flipped his bat in an American Legion game.

WR: And did you learn anything?

PLD: When you're pushed, killing is as easy as breathing.

Billy Wagner: Lighten up, Rambo.

WR: Hey Billy, what did you do yesterday?

BW: I looked for Filthy Sanchez, he owes me money.

WR: Did you find him?

BW: I thought I saw him at a gas station in Oyster Bay.

Jose Valentin: Really? I could have sworn I saw him at the food court at the Green Acres Mall.

Damion Easley: No no no, I saw him yesterday on top of the Statue of Liberty.

WR: Well, Rome wasn't built in a day. We'll work on finding Duaner during our next off day. Moises, what did you do yesterday?

Moises Alou: I've put every legal drug in my quad muscle and I still can't walk.

WR: And what did that teach you?

MA: That I'm old. I'm very, very old.

Julio Franco: Settle down, you're not that old, junior.

WR: What did you do on your day off Julio?

JF: The cage...all day. Worked on my ability to pull the ball.

WR: And what did that teach you?

JF: That you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

WR: Great. All right then, you're all dismissed. Now go out there today and make me proud.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

In The End of This L.A. Story, Everybody Dies

Hey, more exclusive Mets/Dodgers highlights straight off the presses. This clip is a mere montage of Wednesday night's action:

Where Tuesday featured a meltdown of historic proportions (that game marked the first time that the 7-8-9 order of a lineup hit consecutive home runs where the 9 hole hitter was actually a pitcher), Wednesday's game was a suffocation of the ho-hum variety, a 9-1 beating behind the woodshed by the no longer offensively challenged Los Angeles Dodgers.

Yes, it was television too brutal to watch, yet I couldn't turn away.

David Chase's Sopranos ending forced viewers to bring something to the table and think. The Mets, meanwhile, are forcing bloggers everywhere to try to explain this 1-9 slide...and the best that I could probably do is stand at the doorway shrugging my shoulders making an unintelligible sound resembling a walrus when it's attacked by a polar bear.

No hitting? Been there. No bullpen? Done that. Slumping starting pitching? Bought the souvenir t-shirt. Tonight, the new victims to go along with all the old victims was the defense. No diving, vapor locks on covering first, dropped throws from the all added up to another carcass picked at by the vultures of Dodger Stadium (to go along with all the birds that picked at our carcass back in Detroit).

And guess where we go next? That's correct, the Bronx where every newspaper man, ESPN analyst, and head of state will be salivating at the bit to bury the Mets and are already writing stories leading this way: "Now that the Yankees have swept the Mets and have taken back the city..." It's enough to make this blogger go on media blackout besides actual baseball games for three days to a week and a half. Imagine if you will, how the Mets are feeling right now.

Well you don't have to imagine how Paul Lo Duca is saw it on display after the game, head in hands...disgusted look on his face...ready to take a bat to something. Maybe he already has taken a bat to something. A wall? A toilet stall? Wilson Betemit's head?

It doesn't matter. Because taking a bat to any of those options only serves as a reminder that walls, bathroom stalls, and heads of Dodgers are not baseballs. And if you're not making solid contact with baseballs, there's no use wasting all those hits on other options. They'll need all the hits they can get come this weekend.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don't Worry, Lightning Never Strikes Twice...Er, Three, Er...Aah, Forget It!

Three pitches...

Three homers...

One stunned blogger.

I'm lost. I can't even fathom this right now. Three home runs on three straight John Maine pitches to the 7-8-9 hitters in the order?

On a team that came into the game second to last in all of baseball in home runs?

And the pitcher flips his bat after the third home run without eating the batters box in his next at-bat? Oh, and let me reiterate that the last time this guy hit a home run was high school.

High school?

The same pitcher that now has two career wins, and both against the Mets?

Dae Sung Kuo against the rest of the league, Hong Chih Kuofax against the Mets. Phenomenal.

It's gotten so bad that Hilary Swank doesn't want to be seen in her Mets hat anymore, as she was during Monday's game. Perhaps she used it to wipe Alyssa Milano's blood off the floor after a particularly heated Mets/Dodgers argument. Now that would be a more anticipated matchup than Jorge Sosa vs. Brad Penny.

But here's the good news, the Mets are on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. At this point, what's left to jinx?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

R.I.P. Coach

By all accounts, Vern Hoscheit was a hard ass for all time. Baseball could probably use more of those right now.

Coaches like Hoscheit, a part of the staff for the 1986 champs, are a dwindling breed...and unfortunately, that breed is down by one as Hoscheit passed away Monday night at the age of 85 after a long illness.

A story was told recently by the Mets cast of characters in the television booth about how Hoscheit, the bullpen coach, made no exceptions when it came to being on the team bus. "Be on it, or be under it", or something like that. The only way to heaven for Vern, I assume, is on that team bus. Surely, it will be his smoothest ride ever.

May the bullpens in heaven be filled with many tomatoes.

Tea Totallers

And now, exclusive to you, are condensed highlights of Orlando Hernandez's performance against the Dodgers tonight...we start in the fourth inning:

Or were those Sunday's highlights?

And before you get on me for being fair weather, I'll remind you that as Met fans, you should understand that food tastes better, traffic moves faster, and air smells less smoggy when your favorite team wins.

When the Mets lose, we're grumpy. It's how we're wired.

I, my friends, am grumpy. And at this moment, I sincerely don't feel like putting things in perspective, keeping a happy face, turning the other cheek, noting that before tonight Hernandez has been nothing short of spectacular, or anything else that resembles positivity. This blog post, as are all blog posts, are not a reflection on how things will go the rest of the season, but rather a snap shot of how I feel at the moment. And guess how I feel right this very moment? I feel grumpy. I don't feel like spin doctoring, or being logical, or rational, or reminding myself (and you) that the Mets are still in first place. No, right now I feel like using Bugs Bunny as a metaphor for Orlando Hernandez.

Yes, Hernandez may be an innocent victim here, as the Mets lineup deserves scorn for not getting a hit past the sixth inning. And Paul Lo Duca deserves wrath for his idiotic throw to try to double up a runner after a squeeze play was foiled, costing them the fifth Dodger run. Even though it meant nothing, the play served as a microcosm of the horrible fate that has befallen the Mets since Doug Davis yo-yo'd them to death eight days ago. And you can't prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that after Lo Duca's mistake cost the Mets that insurance run that the air didn't come completely out of the Mets balloon.

But I can't find an appropriate video depicting a horrible throw to first base...and heaven knows I've tried (I even searched the term "midget toss", so don't tell me I haven't looked everywhere). Besides, Russell Martin taking over the All-Star balloting lead at catcher is probably punishment enough.

At a future date, hopefully not that far in the future, we'll all have a good laugh about this. We'll laugh as the hitting is good enough to overcome the pitching, and vice versa. But right now, the grumpiness seethes from my pores. I choose to embrace that. You may not, and that's your prerogative. Until further notice, and a couple of wins in a row, I'm grumpy.

All right, maybe a little positivity, but that's it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

No Birds Were Harmed In The Cooking Of The Mets' Collective Goose

In my younger days, we used to play softball in a magical place named Hoffman Park, tucked away behind the Boulevard of Death.

The problem that we often faced as softball players on the hard top surface was that every once in a while, some yahoo with bread crumbs would sit on the first base bench spreading bread crumbs and attracting every single seagull in Queens to have breakfast. So here we come to play and there would be birds everywhere. Fly balls were a problem, because you would look up for the ball and would have to dodge bird excrement instead.

How did we get rid of the birds? You never really got rid of them completely, but enough running around and pings off the bat usually did the trick. The same yahoo must have been at Comerica Park (or should I say Audubon Society Park today) with his bread crumbs making playing baseball in Detroit akin to playing catch on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Or playing softball at Hoffman Park.

But it's ironic that a stadium with big statues of scary Tigers all around (some with baseballs in their mouths depicting what would happen if a bird would get too close) could be prone to having birds just wander in and make themselves at home all over the outfield...or in somecases, across the infield. But I guess if birds were scared by mere statues, Alfred Hitchcock would have never had a career.

Speaking of irony, during a ball game that looked like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, the Mets came to the mound with a guy who looked more like Sterling Hitchcock today, as Tom Glavine waited until the fourth inning until a frame where he didn't even give up a run. I think we can safely assume that if one were to count the birds that roamed the outfield during today's ballgame, it would be a safe bet that the count would go not one higher than 295.

There's no reason for Glavine to be irritated at anybody but himself today. There's been talk about Glavine getting his jock in a bunch about bad defense and the like, but this was all on Tom today. The Mets are starting to fall into that pattern where they pitch well, but they don't hit. They hit, but they don't pitch well. Glavine had no excuses today, with Magglio Ordonez on the shelf as a late scratch, and Carlos Guillen leaving the game after the third inning with an injury. Instead, he gets beaten by Placido Polanco, and a protection-less Gary Sheffield. And another weekend comeback by the bats in the late innings (with help from Carlos Gomez's first major league home run) gets laid to waste.

And although the Mets scored seven runs today, they always seem to be one hit short these days. They seem to be leaving a ton of runs on the bases...including runners on third with less than two men out. One of those hits here and there would might have made this a winnable game. Instead, it was a football score on the wrong side as the Tigers scored more today than the Detroit Lions normally do.