Friday, August 31, 2007

A Token Of Thanks

Mr. Maine,

Please accept this thank you for having some guts and not laying an egg as if you were in Philadelphia. Hopefully, whatever you pitched with tonight can be spread out a little though your locker room. Be sure that you share some crackers and salami with your friends Carlos D. and Jose for their efforts. And please make sure that Mike gets some pears and oranges in preparation for his start tomorrow. Fruit, as you know, is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals needed to pitch in Atlanta.

God speed to you and yours,


P.S. If your catcher had blocked your change-up, then you would have gotten out of the sixth without a scratch. So if you decide not to give him crackers or salami, that's your business.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Iguchi Kinda Rhymes With Taguchi

FEMA has declared the Mets clubhouse an official disaster area. Sadly, FEMA can't help them (it's just like real life).

I got calls from all across the country today to make sure I was alive.


Los Angeles.



Not that I answered the phone. You would think that people would know better than to call me fresh after a loss like that.

But one call I did take was from Art Howe. He congratulated the team for battling.

"We'll bounce back. We're not going to fold any tents." -Willie Randolph
Great, the manager has been reading the Art Howe "Book of Folksy Quotes." I give up.

Are you like me...waiting for the headline on Yahoo! Sports that says "Wagner Sets Crotch on Fire After Loss?"

(And for those who question Randolph asking Country Time to get six outs, I ask you this: Would you have trusted Aaron Heilman to face Chase Utley, Pat Burrell, and Ryan Howard?)

Just remember: they're not saying "boo", they're saying...oh I can't even finish that with a straight face. They're saying "boo".

Along with other expletives.

We're still in first place, right? Sure feels that way, don't it?

But it's the same thing every year. Mets lose "one of those games", and I get phone calls from Yankee fans all over the country asking if I'm OK, like they really f***ing care. They probably want to see me dead anyway. Whether it's Yadier Molina, or Braden Looper, or Luis Sojo doing the damage, the phone calls always come; "oh, another tough one, huh?" or, "just calling to say we suck", or "if you're in Philadelphia watching this game I'm going to shoot you".

It's the same f***ing phone calls every season. I mean, I actually wondered today what deal was made with the devil for 1969? And did the devil give a cut rate deal for my soul in exchange for '86? And then I left the house...and I saw a guy wearing a big placard hawking psychic readings by "Teresa", who apparently will show me the way to fix all of my problems. And the guy wearing the sign was also wearing a Yankee hat.

The only thing I'm asking the psychic is this: How are the Mets going to lose tomorrow?

Because it can't get any worse, can it?

Oh wait, the Mets are going to Atlanta. Damn. Time to visit the psychic.

Then I'll hit the shrink on the way back.

Aah, Your Mangled Hearts

You never know when Sir Charge from the Verizon commercials is going to pop up and take your money.

C.B. Bucknor doesn't need your money...just the searing flesh of Met fans. And that's what he popped up and took today with his interference call. (According to the poll, I'm in the minority so far...and I know it and accept it. But Bucknor blew it.)

This loss might have been the one to take the wind out of me. Most of my blogging brethren probably went right to their keyboards banging on their keyboards chanting "Hulk Smash". Some of them might need a new computer after tonight.

I couldn't do that. I couldn't watch any postgame recaps, and I probably will stay away from ESPN and all of its brethren for the rest of the night. Instead, I watched Hard Knocks. (The title alone has to be apropos of something, right?) The latest installment featured a riveting forty second montage of Chiefs head coach (and former Jets general) Herman Edwards sitting on the couch in his office doing nothing but wonder who his starting quarterback is going be. After tonight's debacle, I did the same thing...sat on my couch and wondered what the bloody hell is going on as the Mets' season is threatening to go down in flames.

While Edwards came up with an answer to his question, I have none. Sure, the Mets did this to themselves all series. Six runs in three games off of two slumping pitchers and a rookie is unacceptable and embarrassing. But tonight was the one that just made me throw my hands up in the air in disbelief and remind me just how torturous it is to root for this team sometimes. The Mets at least hit some balls hard. But all of them were caught. The scorcher down the line that Ryan Howard turned into a double play, and the two laser beams that Abraham Nunez caught to rob Luis Castillo of two hits down the line.

And then the ninth inning, and that fateful call. And more torture. When Shawn Green grabbed a bat in the dugout, I thought how nice it would be for another franchise's fans to refer to a Met as "First F***ing Last". You know what I mean: Terry F***ing Pendleton, Brian F***ing Jordan, Larry F***ing Jones, and Adam F***ing Wainwright qualify for us (as well as Armando F***ing Benitez and Kenny F***ing Rogers even though they wore our colors). When have you ever heard of somebody else's fans ever refer to a Met that way? Ever?

A home run by Shawn F***ing Green would have had a nice ring to it. Would have torn the Phillies' hearts out.

Instead, it's C. F***ing B. F***ing Bucknor. Sir Ump. Calling interference even though Marlon Anderson touched the base on his slide. Marlon Anderson punished for trying to make something happen and not be a zombie like the rest of this roster could be sometimes.

And while I'm on this tangent: if they're not zombies, they're too nice. Nobody liked what Jimmy Rollins had to say at the beginning of the season about the Phillies being the team to beat...least of all me. But he said it, and he's backed it up by jamming it down our throats with home run after home run. Nobody liked it when Brett Myers said that he hated the Mets, again, least of all me. But wouldn't you like one of your Mets to come out, pick this team up by the scruff of its scruffy neck, and say at least a little something that's brash and arrogant, and follow it up by getting some big hits and being a leader instead of being too worried about making somebody angry? It would probably prevent people from talking about eighteen year olds on Long Island or strained hamstrings or how bad the bullpen is...okay, maybe not how bad the bullpen is. But you get my drift. The Mets are badly in need of a leader right now, and not a cliche f***ing soundbite about how they have to forget about this and move on. Of course, if that leader emerged after the game tonight, I wouldn't know it, because I can't bring myself to read anything about this game right now. Maybe in an hour or two, but not now.

C. F***ing B. F***ing Bucknor.

Buckner giveth, Bucknor taketh away. It's a hard knock life indeed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"One Shot"

The later portion of Tuesday night's loss had a very Deer Hunter feel to it. Not the video game, but the movie where Christopher Walken offs himself while playing Russian Roulette.

There's one problem: Can it really be a game of Russian Roulette if the gun only has bullets for one contestant?

Because apparently, the Mets wasted their lone bullet in the second inning, when Carlos Delgado hit a ball to the moon for a 2-0 Mets lead. Who knew that would be it off of Adam Eaton?
If the Mets don't hit Adam Eaton tomorrow night, not only should they be ashamed of themselves, but the Phillies are going to be back in this race with a load of confidence tomorrow. -Me, unfortunately, last night
Guess what cheech, we have a race. (And the Mets should be ashamed of themselves.)

Can't say there weren't plenty of chances to stretch the lead a little bit. Paul Lo Duca grounding into a double play in the fourth inning. Delgado just missing on a deep fly to right field in the sixth, followed by Lo Duca stranding Carlos Beltran at third base. Delgado striking out in the eighth with runners on first and second.

After that, and after Jimmy Rollins hit a home run off of Pedro Feliciano while Tom Glavine was doing his in-game interview on SNY, it was just a matter of when and how...not if.

(And while I'm on the subject, these in-game interviews have to stop for the good of humanity. Yes, they're informative...yes, they're fun. And yes, the Mets seem to lose every single time one of these interviews happen...especially to Glavine. So around the start of the seventh inning, Kevin Burkhardt needs to be tied to a chair and gagged for his own good...only to be let free when the game is safely over. Irrational? Yes. But is it important...)

Of course, it's always the "how" part of the equation that's most fun. How does a Lo Duca throwing error, plus a thirty foot bunt hit that Lo Duca let roll foul except for the fact that it rolled the complete opposite way and stayed fair to cause the 2-2 tie grab ya? Somebody had better get Paulie some Dramamine so that he can get to sleep and not have the nightmares of Tuesday's game that he's going to have?

The Phillies came back in the ninth with their closer, Brett Myers. Who do the Mets counter with? Guillermo Mota. That, apparently, is how you play Russian Roulette where the chamber in the gun is empty when the Phillies are holding it, and when the Mets take hold of the gun, the chamber has five hollow point bullets ready to pierce a hole in your brain so wide that even Doug Sisk can throw through it for a strike. Amazingly, the empty bullet slot came up in the ninth inning for Mota. Predictably, that same slot did not come up in the tenth for him, as he gave up a bloop hit to Shane Victorino, then a bomb to Ryan Howard to bring the Phillies to within four games of the divison lead.

Why was Mota in for two innings...again? Probably because Pedro Martinez called up from Port St. Lucie over the weekend because he spotted a mechanical flaw in Mota. Of course when Pedro talks, people listen. And Mota's two "Post-Pedro" scoreless innings on Sunday against the Dodgers gave everybody in the organization this warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

But did you know that you also get a warm and fuzzy feeling from drinking anti-freeze before you convulse and die? Apparently, that's what you get from Mota in his first inning of work before the Mets convulse and die during his second inning. Pedro spotted a mechanical flaw? Hooray! Who's going to spot the rocks in Mota's head which would cause him to throw a cookie to Howard on a 1-2 count?

How ironic is it going to be when the man who called collect to try to fix a flaw in Guillermo Mota's mechanics is going to be the same man who will put Mota out of a job when he returns? At least Met fans hope it's going to be really ironic. Because the Guillermo Mota experiment, which really should have ended long ago, has to end tomorrow after Willie and Omar get a night's sleep to think this over.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jayson Werth Is A Gangly Freak

Oh now that's terrible, Metstradamus. Guy gets nine hits in a row, and you're just mad that the last four were against your favorite team and you took it on the chin tonight. You're an awful, awful man.
Yeah, I am. It really is just an excuse to put Jayson Werth's head on a whooping crane. It was also meant to get your attention, one way or the other. Hope it worked.

Some may say, if I may use generalities, that a blowout is better than a close loss...because a blowout is easy to forget, while a close loss sticks in your gut for a while. We know all about close losses that have stuck in the Mets gut. And in this case, one could say hey...the Phillies smacked around a guy who generally gives up a Boeing 767 full of hits (it only seemed like Brian Lawrence and the bullpen gave up the actual amount of 767 hits tonight) in a park that's very dangerous for that type of pitcher. So the temptation is to pull a Derrick Coleman and tell the world "Whoop de damn do."

But I'm going to go the other way on this one. The Phillies needed a shot in the arm coming into this series with Chase Utley coming back from injury, and they sure as heck got it. Charlie Manuel gets everyone riled up by getting thrown out in the first inning, Utley hitting a home run (that was really just a glorified pop-up, right Brett?) and the Whooping Crane getting four more hits. This was a huge shot in the arm for Philly, and it's just what they needed with three more coming up against the Mets, and their batting practice machine coming off the DL to pitch for them tomorrow night (Adam Eaton). If the Mets don't hit Adam Eaton tomorrow night, not only should they be ashamed of themselves, but the Phillies are going to be back in this race with a load of confidence tomorrow.

But more of an atrocity than the Mets not getting any offense going against J.D. Durbin with one of the two runs created by Brian Lawrence (who has probably pitched his final game as a Met this season with a certain someone firing 88 pitches with nothing earned tonight), more of an atrocity than even C.B. Bucknor antagonizing the Mets' bench (he's going to be like a whack-a-mole this series, popping up and screwing up at every base from now 'till Thursday), was Mr. Met showing up in Philadelphia and being hauled away by security for the simple crime of trying to lead the fans in song.

Seeing Mr. Met having his arms thrown behind him is akin to a war crime. (Thanks to our friends at Metsblog, you can watch the war crime here.) And if you ever needed a reason to push Mr. Met into the Mascot Hall of Fame with your vote, this was it. Because Mr. Met has not only a large ball for a head, but he has an ample supply of large balls period...because now not only has he shown up in other visiting ballparks like Baltimore and Boston, but he's shown up in Philadelphia...the belly of the full Met regalia in front of hostile Phillies fans. Have you ever seen the Phanatic take a trip to Shea to face Mets fans? I think not. I mean, who does he think he is not making road trips...Vin Scully? Yet the Phanatic is in the Mascot Hall of Fame and Mr. Met is not. It's just more evidence of the deck being stacked against Mr. Met.

You have the power to change that. You have the power of your vote. Use that power. It's your right and privilege as an American.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

That's A Mighty Big Neck To Step On

Willie Randolph: "What have I constantly told you guys about stepping on a team's necks?"

David Wright: "We tried skip. But the first neck I tried to step on was David Wells' neck, and it's so big I think I sprained my ankle."
But really...when the following happened, the Mets kinda deserved to lose.

Good news on Jeff Kent's condition after being beaned in the head: He's fine. He just thinks it's 1992, and refuses to wear a clown suit. Dodger officials don't understand what that means.

Interesting time to get revenge for Hong-Chih Kuo's bat flip, eh? (Or maybe it was revenge for Kent's Met career. Now that we know that nothing's broken, I can safely say the following: Screw you, Jeff.)

Live Bat...Dead Arm

That was a Roy Hobbs moment we witnessed on Saturday at Shea.

It was surreal to see everyone rise as one in the fifth inning and cheer Carlos Delgado before the pivotal at-bat of the game. It wasn't like that in innings one and three, where Delgado failed. He came up in those innings to an apprehensive crowd...mixing boos and cheers. Then came the fifth inning, with Jeff Conine being walked to get to Delgado.

Grady Little and Eric Stults...the supposed Met killer...slapping Delgado in the face by basically giving in to the bashing by Met fans, saying "your own crowd doesn't think you can do it, so we don't think you can do it either". And once again it comes down to Met fans being protective of their own. "Sure, we can boo him...we're family. But don't you dare come in as an outsider and slap our guy in the way." So the crowd rose as one to exhort their embattled one on. The FOX cameras caught it just as it was scripted. Of course FOX always has at least 35 cameras in the stands to catch those "I just saw Elvis" looks in the crowd. But for once, the cameras were useful. Because as if the crowd all at once said "what the hell have we been doing with our booing? Let's try something different...and let's show Grady Little that he shouldn't disrespect our guy by walking to get to him. Disrespecting our guys are our job."

Don't think Carlos didn't notice. Don't think the shortness of Carlos' swing on his two run single to center field which basically won the game (Orlando's ninth straight start with a win...yeah, he helped too) was a coincidence. He knew. He understood. All that was missing was blood on his jersey and a Savoy Special.

Of course, to go with our newly live bat, is a dead arm. And unfortunately, it's Billy Wagner's dead arm. Country Time has pitched a lot lately...why else would Aaron Heilman be entrusted with the fire hose today? Thankfully, there was water in the hose instead of kerosene. That's probably because Willie Randolph never told Heilman he was closing...he never had a chance to fill the tank with gas.

Somebody get the ointment to revive Billy's arm...quickly.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Viva Los Mets

Well that's a fine way to celebrate Butch Benton's 50th birthday.

One could look at "Los Mets" and think of tonight's Fiesta Latina. I look at those jerseys and think that they look like a mistake..."Oh snap, those Los Mets jerseys never arrived!!! Quick, let's sew the word 'Los' right here next to the word 'Mets', nobody will notice." Certainly, a jersey that says "Los Mets" could have been done a little better.

Another could look at "Los Mets" and think that it's merely the Wilpons floating a red herring out there so that if you squint, that "Los" would kind of remind you of the "Los Angeles" that the other team was wearing...and thus the Mets would look closer to the Dodgers and Fred would get all warm and fuzzy inside. Don't laugh, when the shrine to Ebbets Field opens in 2009, the Mets could have new uniforms that look like this:

But when I think of "Los Mets", I must forever think of David Wright, his home run, and his two unreal plays in the field in the same inning on Friday (one of the ESPY variety, switching direction off of a Perez deflection to barehand a tricky hopper and fire Andre Ethier out).

I will also think of Oliver Perez. No, he's not quite all the way back yet, but he's really close...and it's hard to argue with seven shutout innings. There were runners all over the place, but Perez's guile-o-meter is rising with every game.

I will also think of Billy Wagner. You know, he's scuffling, but I don't think he's that far off. He's been getting dinked and dunked, and the hardest ball hit off of him was probably Jeff Kent's sac fly for the second out (which, with Kent as the tying run, put my heart in my throat for a good five seconds). But he's close. You know, (facetiousness alert) today was probably the product of Wagner not having his full concentration in non-save situations as he has been known to have. I hope he doesn't get designated for assignment like somebody else in our division did, because Bob Wickman flat out didn't want to come in if it wasn't a save.

(Somehow I doubt Billy Wagner cares about such matters. After all to quote him: "F**k I'm 36 years old. I could care less, I'm out there battling and, it's just the best you can do. If I was real bad they would have scored four. So f**k, I've got that going for me." Actual quote, my friends. You go, Country Time.)

I'll think about Mike DiFelice going three for three and wonder just how long it will be before the pixie dust wears off on him (and whether pixie dust is a performance enhancing substance).

I'll think of the Geico Caveman, and how he enhances the Met game experience (and how he may look a little bit like Ricky Ledee).

But most of all, I'll think about gaining another game in the standings. Not only is Adrian Gonzalez is proving to be an equal opportunity heart breaker, but the Braves' lose a closer over some clubhouse issues. It was enough to bring this thought to my mind:

"I wonder if I should get a ticket to a late September game in case it's a clincher."
Too soon to think about that yet? Yeah, probably. But on the magic day that is not only Fiesta Latina, but Butch Benton's 50th birthday, I think I can let my mind wander a little bit.

Happy Birthday Butch, wherever you are. And Viva Los Mets.

The Injury Plague Continues

NEW YORK (AP) -- Billy Wagner was placed on the 15-day DL after tonight's game due to inflammation of the metatarsal bursa scarpal tunnel. The ailment is more commonly known as "Motaitis".

Wagner says he felt discomfort soon after the ninth inning, when he blew the save against the San Diego Padres.

"It's tough, but we feel the need to just give him some time to rest, heal, and work out his problems in a rehab session" said Willie Randolph. "I know in my time here that some people can pitch with it, and some can't."

"Aaron Heilman, who has been pitching through Motaitis since the beginning of the season, feels the move to put Wagner on the DL was the right choice.

When one person has Motaitis, you can kind of pitch through it" said Heilman, who gave up the game winning homer to Adrian Gonzalez in the tenth inning on Thursday. "But when it becomes an epidemic, something has to give. We can't let an ailment like that affect the entire clubhouse where all of a sudden nobody can get anybody out. We're gonna miss Billy, but honestly it's the best thing for the club."
Yeah, leave it to me to take a shot at Guillermo Mota after a loss that he had nothing to do with. But I can't help it. To put it bluntly, the bullpen...the strength of the team in 2006, is going to be its death in 2007. (Oh wait, it was our death in 2006, wasn't it? Oh crap.)

It really was a hell of a game on Thursday. And I can say that because both the Phillies and the Braves have both lost so I can look at Shea's happenings from merely a baseball standpoint, and not from an "I'm going to hit myself in the face with a mallet" standpoint. In fact, this whole series contained three restaurant quality games between these two teams. And if we do see these guys down the road in October, it's either going to be really fun, or really excruciating. (Could you, for example, stomach a seven game series where Heath Bell has a 0.00 ERA against the Mets and Mike Cameron has two walk-off hits?)

Here's my one question: How, on God's green earth did the Mets ever let Marlon Anderson get away? The freakin' guy was money in '05, money in 2006 with the Dodgers. He could have been money in 2006 with the Mets instead...what if it was Marlon Anderson pinch hitting for Chad Bradford in last year's Game 7 instead of Michael Tucker?

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wanna Get High?

It's now official, Guillermo Mota's ERA is higher than Towlie.

No, I don't condone drug use ... whether they be performance enhancing or mind altering. But damn, Wednesday's game is driving me to drink something that's about 180 proof.

Sure, you can kill Carlos Delgado for leaving a small village on the basepaths tonight, but three at-bats against Jake Peavy and one more against Trevor Hoffman isn't normally going to produce great results. (I do wish, however, that Delgado would take swings that didn't resemble a hammer throw.)

But wouldn't you know that Guillermo's three runs after two were out and there were two strikes would make the damn difference in the seventh inning. Not Peavy's great pitching, not Carlos Delgado's oh-fer or Lastings Milledge's golden sombrero...not even Jose Reyes' three steals to new club record for stolen bases. (I heard the crowd reaction to that...don't you try to tell me that ovation said "Congratulations, Jose!" That was an ovation that said "Thank you Jose for making sure that Roger Cedeno is out of our record book and our lives forever." You guys can't fool an old goat like me.)

It's all Mota. He was the difference between Carlos Beltran's dunker winning the game, and Carlos Beltran's dunker setting up Carlos Delgado's bat toss from hell. Guillermo Mota was the difference between the Mets putting further distance between the Phillies (who lost 15-3 in a game that Cole Hamels was supposed to pitch except for Cole Hamels Fact number 6,398,682: he's on the disabled list) and the Braves (who lost once again to the Reds tonight), and merely taking a date off the calendar. All because Guillermo Mota can't step on a team's neck with two outs and two strikes in the seventh inning.

And now, there's an angry mob at Guillermo Mota's door waiting to step on his neck (let's get him!)

(Editor's note: Al Gore is reporting that the Rangers scoring 30 runs in a game is a direct result of global warming. You can help by shutting down your air conditioners, your SUV's, and your Christmas lights. Willie Randolph can help by shutting down Guillermo Mota.)

The Crest of Emotion

I can't be sure, but I'm guessing that it had to be Marlon Anderson who made the inspirational pregame speech exhorting his teammates to win one for pride. Win one for the home crowd. But most of all, win one for the recently retired Ricky Ledee.

This one had all the twists and turns of a well written movie like Arlington Road...or Fight Club...or American couldn't tell what the story was. First it was the sign that the Mets could beat up on top pitchers like Chris Young when healthy. And it was the continuing hot streak of Carlos Beltran.

Then, it was John Maine running out of gas...and the inability, once again, of the Mets bullpen to hold his lead, even though Aaron Heilman wasn't one of the culprits.

(But then the world got normal when Heilman came in and had one of the worst outings ever had by a pitcher who gave up no runs.)

That's when things got weird.

I felt on Sunday that things were turning around for the Mets, and the eighth inning proved it. Because the Mets of June and July would have let their former bullpen mate Heath Bell come in, walk all over them, and when the game was over throw beer cans at them like the one you see here. And then I would have had to put Bell on the hate list for learning a new slider after he leaves the Mets...I kept wondering where that slider was when he was firing fastball after fastball after fastball to Derrek Lee at Wrigley in 2005. But he saves it for Carlos Beltran.

Alas, this isn't June or July for Carlos Beltran either, and Beltran slapped one into left to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth, and turned Heath Bell into just another ex-Met victim.

You knew that there would be some drama left as Billy Wagner blew the tie in the ninth, leaving Met fans muttering to themselves wondering if there is anybody in the bullpen that can just come in and have a 1-2-3 inning. I mean, is that too much to ask?

But yet again, the Mets of June and July would have gone down meekly against a closer on the level of Trevor Hoffman. Not this time. Not this team. Not this team at this time. Not the time, the team, the Mets...oh no. Not winning players like Lastings Milledge, Mike DiFelice, Marlon Anderson, or Jose Reyes. And certainly not Luis Castillo...who's arrival has brought a 12-6 record in an August that will sadly be more known for four horrific losses than for a .667 winning percentage.

(And by the way, the Braves? The wonderful, heroic, world beating, cancer curing Braves according to Steve Phillips, are 10-9 in August...even with Mark Teixeira's bat...after losing tonight to the Reds. And that's the Jeff Conine-less Reds, mind you.)

So that's one big pitcher down, the other one coming on Wednesday in the form of Jake Peavy. With the wave of emotion coming over the Mets squarely at its crest, it really doesn't matter who's pitching, who's hitting, or who's giving the pre-game speech. With Ricky Ledee in their hearts, there's no speech necessary.

(Editor's note: One year minus one day ago, the Mets faced the same kind of problems regarding that killer instinct. Then Carlos Beltran hit a walk-off HR against Jason Isringhausen and a sleeping dog got its swagger back. Fifty-two weeks later, another relatively flat team that had been slowly climbing the ladder of crispness showed its fangs, its killer instinct, and its rock and roll against another top closer. Hopefully, unlike 52 weeks prior, that top closer will not get hurt, paving the way for some no-name starter to join the major league club and throw a wicked curveball past Beltran for strike three in the 2007 NLCS. If I have to send Trevor Hoffman some herbal tea and some aromatherapy to keep him fit, I'll do it. So stay well, Trevor.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Summoning Mr. Marlin, The Barbarian

If you're going to bring in every former Marlin known to man, then you mind as well get Mr. Marlin.

Jeff Conine was a necessary get for the New York Mets, with the injury to Damion Easley. He is also a great get as he provides right handed pop off the bench, and prevents the brass from having to worry about what would happen if they ever had to see Anderson Hernandez play in another major league game.

Here's what I like best about Jeff Conine: He has a grill. Rusty Staub also had a grill. Rusty got a lot of pinch hits despite obviously overindulging in the leftovers from his rib place. Conine, who is in much better shape and is marginally faster than Rusty, will be asked to do the same...I mean get pinch hits, not eat all his leftovers, which he obviously has refrained from. I'm not sure if it's Jeff's greater will power than Rusty, or that the food isn't that great that Jeff has been able to resist it for so many years, but in either case good for Jeff, and good for us.

(Conine's "Clubhouse Grille" is in Hollywood, FL...just off of I-95. That means that most likely, Shane Spencer has either been drunk, involved in a bar fight, and/or arrested there at least once in his life. I'm not sure about what kind of karma that brings, but it's karma nonetheless.)

Oh, you want like, tangible reasons to like Jeff Conine. All right, try this on for size: Career average as a pinch hitter: .292. Career with a runner on third and less than two men out (you know, those situations that make you pull your hair out because the Mets can never get anybody in): .356 (and that's 344 RBI's in 340 at bats in those situations).

And before you're thinking that most of that damage came when he was an all-star and that he can't do it anymore now that he's 41 years old: His 2007 numbers as a pinch hitter: .409. His 2007 numbers with a runner on third and less than two outs: .500. That's half his at bats!

OK, so he only had eight at-bats in that situation this season. But how many times would you expect the Reds to have had a runner on third base this season? They are after all, 54-70. (Yeah, keep picking on the Reds'll only be there in September, do you want to get killed? Why not just wear your Buddy Harrelson jersey and make sure you die!) Oh, and that 4 for 8 had bore the fruit of 14 RBI's.

But it really doesn't matter what he's done in the past...only that he's done it in the past. (And that he's a Met at the cost of A-ballers Sean Henry and Jose Castro, which as long as one of them doesn't grow up to be Jason Bay is fine by me. And even if one of them does? Hey, there's a difference between filling a need for a team that's five games in front, and making a pointless trade for a team that never had any business making the playoffs anyway.)

And if Conine does it in the future like he's done it in the past, maybe he'll shed that "Mr. Marlin" tag temporarily and become our very own: Mr. Met!

Oh relax, I'm kidding. Now turn that frown upside down and throw me a towel.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Quite Frankly...

You know how you tease, kick, and mess with your little brother to no end because you can? But heaven forbid somebody else picks on him you get pissed and beat the ever lovin' snot out of him? He's my brother. Only I can tease him about his wavy hair, or his flood pants, or his velvet green jacket. If you tease my brother, you better at least be around often enough to buy him gum or take him to the arcade or something.

Well, the Mets are like a little brother to me. They're kind of like our little brothers. We can tease and punch and kick them all we want because we love our little brother about his bullpen, his stadium, or his crazy dances. But he who teases them without being around to support them will feel the wrath of the big brother.

Certainly, we've seen and heard enough from the national baseball pulpits and the local media with axes to grind. But when Stephen A. Smith decided to throw his stone at the Mets all the way from the annals of the NBA, well that's how you know that this has gotten way out of hand.

Stephen A. Smith is dogging the Mets? What, Kobe Bryant hasn't demanded a trade in the last ten minutes and he's bored?

The premise of his article was basically this: "Hey, the Phillies stink. But the Mets stink worse. So why can't the Phillies win the division?" I'll tell you why. Because while we're busy beating the Pirates and Nationals 5 of 6, the Phillies are splitting with those same teams. Because while John Maine and Oliver Perez are struggling at the moment, and while they may not be the most established pitchers out there, would Stephen A. Smith take Kyle Lohse over either of them? Would you?

If Tom Glavine is ancient, what does that make Jamie Moyer? Spry?

So who's next to take a swing at the Mets? Does Merrill Hoge want a piece? Perhaps Tommy Smith wants to say that the Mets are going to exit in the first round. Or maybe Carson Daly wants to tell us that the Mets farm system is weak.

Seriously folks. It's bad enough when baseball people take shots at the Mets because at least they're paid to watch baseball (although taking into account some of the things that come out of their mouths, it's debatable how much baseball they actually watch...or whether they're actually watching it with their eyes.) But when columnists better known for basketball start taking shots at the Mets, it gets beyond baffling.

It's partly the Mets fault for losing games in the fashion that they have lately...the rip your heart variety that this franchise has been known for. And it's partly our fault for turning every bad loss into Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Met fans do have a tendency to go a little bit overboard. But that's the point. Met fans have every right to go overboard. Met fans live, die, and go to purgatory (winters only) with this team.

I wonder what Stephen A. has to say after this weekend's while the Mets were busy sweeping the Nationals, the Phillies were losing two out of three to the Pirates. How much did we lose it after Thursday's disaster? Okay. Double it. That's what Phillies fans should be feeling at this moment. But as long as Stephen A. is telling them that the Mets stink worse than that, and as long as John Kruk is going on television and telling us that nobody in the N.L. East is starting to pull the Mets go up five games on the field with less than fifty games to go...than why should they feel anything but confident? They're still the best team on paper, the Phillies...right?

I'm willing to put it on the line and say that finally, this may be the beginning of the run that the Mets have been hoping for. Something was different about the Mets this weekend. Seeing Luis Castillo clapping like a madman while traveling the bases with the go ahead run is starting to make me think that the fire might be back in the Mets' bellies. Seeing the rest of the team follow suit is heartening as well. Seeing Orlando Hernandez stalk the bench after pitching seven sweet innings and talk up everybody from the bench coaches to the peanut vendors showed me something (and kinda scared me a bit too, but in a good way.) And you know that Carlos Beltran hitting two home runs doesn't hurt as well.

Maybe I shouldn't be so hasty in proclaiming that. After all, Jake Peavy and Chris Young await the Mets at Shea this week, while the Phillies host the slumping Dodgers (and miss Brad Penny in the process), and the Braves visit the fairly terrible Cincinnati Reds, followed by the Cardinals. So it's a good thing that the Mets have that five game cushion to play with going into this week. But the way they shook off Thursday by dispatching of the Nationals makes me think that this coming week may not bring the doom that Stephen A. is probably expecting right now.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gross Instability

As someone who has turned his ankle a few times, let me be the first to say...


You can always tell when I'm coming by the clicking sound that my ankle makes when it's involved in the process of walking. You see, one too many turned left ankles on the basketball court ended that 0.00001% chance of me becoming the next Larry Bird (lousy bone chips). After Damion Easley's left ankle hit the ground on Saturday (with no Lawrence Taylor to expedite the process as he did with a certain former Redskins QB turned ESPN announcer in the exact same stadium), I wonder if he's going to hear that same clicking sound for a while after Easley was diagnosed with a Grade 3 sprain.

Grade three, if you're wondering, is really bad.
"Complete tear of the ligament. If the examiner pulls or pushes on the ankle joint in certain movements, gross instability occurs."
Of course, this would happen about an inning after Easley's immeasurable value was being discussed in the booth during tonight's game. What does this mean? It means Shawn Green at first base against lefties until Carlos Delgado gets back. Please get well soon, Carlos. And Damion...well, just get well. Soon may be too much to ask.

(You know, I hear Jose Offerman's available.)

And of course this would happen after the Mets lost another catcher to the DL today, as Fluff Castro still has an arthritic back.

(I know about bad backs. I also know of the rigors of catching, as I was pressed into duty as an emergency catcher for a company team in a tournament some years back...I wasn't even a part of that company but they begged me. That was their first mistake. Let's just say that it was so bad that I got special dispensation from the umpire to wear my shin guards while I was batting...because it wasn't like I was making contact with the ball anyway and if I did, It wasn't like I could get much slower. I just didn't want to break my toe fouling a ball off. So how bad was I? Let's just say that it's a good thing that this boxscore is never going to show up on Retrosheet or anything like that. And by the way, Alberto Castillo laughs at me.)

But otherwise, this was an extremely productive night in the standings for the Mets as they have gained a game on their competition with a 7-4 victory, coupled with Micah Owings having a little league game against the Braves, and the Pirates coming back from four down against the Phillies At least they've never done that against the Met...oh, wait.

I like the fact that Oliver Perez gutted through his six innings. But I'm still wondering if he's hit some sort of wall. He is lacking a little bit of velocity and an ever so slight bit of movement. It's a good sign when Perez can win with guile like Tom Glavine does, because maybe he can use these smarts when his stuff comes back.

I just hope he doesn't have to do it that often.

I wonder if John Lannan would have rather given up number 756 to Barry Bonds than give up Luis Castillo's first home run in one year, one month, and two days (or 674 at-bats if you choose to count that way). Between breaking Chase Utley's hand, pitching to Bonds, and now this, it's already been a lifetime of cool memories about John Lannan. (I can't wait until he mathematically eliminates the Mets from playoff contention in 2014 with a two-hitter. You know it's coming.)

(P.S. My crack staff has been following Guillermo Mota around after tonight's game. Apparently he was seen visiting every White Castle in the D.C. area...hoping that with all the sliders they have, maybe they're the ones that stole his by mistake. If he finds it, he can always reapply it in cream or clear form.)

Move Along, There's Nothing To See Here

Yes, 301 is a higher number than 300.

No, Mike DiFelice is not fast, despite his triple.

Yes, Moises Alou is still raking.

No, the Pirates couldn't be fair and break the Phillies' heart too.

Yes, Brandon Webb kept his scoreless streak alive, to our benefit.

No, the Mets are not knocking on death's door.

Yes, that double play was freaking awesome.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bullpen Blows Up, But Who Lit The Fuse?

My initial reaction to Thursday's version of "Your Season Has Come, And It's Going to Rip Your Heart Out and Show It To You!" was to blow up as bad as the bullpen did in the seventh inning and go ballistic on the food poisoning twins as I have done before, but the Libra in me has decided to be fair and analytical about this latest loss and look at it from both sides, especially since my Friday piece on Flushing University is all about not getting too angry and to try to enjoy this pennant race we're in (I was putting the finishing touches on it when the Mets were up 7-3, what can I say?) So here now, are both sides of tonight's coin (both, unfortunately, come up tails):

In Defense of Aaron Heilman:

Those who are regulars here at my virtual barstool know that I'm not a Willie-Basher. I'm a firm believer that even if you have no business being in a ballgame, you have to go at it the very best you can when you get in there. Sure, there's some extreme circumstances, but very rare is the manager who will make a dumb move like put in a pitcher seventeen days in a row including off days (at least this side of Dallas Green.) So if you're in there, you have to get the job done.

That being said, if Jorge Sosa wasn't going to be available for you (and he shouldn't have been since he's already pitched in four of the last five games), then you had to find a way to get Brian Lawrence in for the sixth inning. Sure, I understand the desire to have Ruben Gotay pinch hit with the sacks full to blow the game open...and frankly, that takes some guts to do that up 7-3. But to try to play Russian Roulette with Mota for two innings, and then when that doesn't work, only use Pedro Feliciano for a batter, and then basically run out of options and force yourself to ask Heilman to get six outs (and start that journey with runners on first and second), you're not putting your team in the best position to win.

Look, Heilman is a one inning horse, as proven by some guy named Molina...I forget which one. Mota's best role is pitching in the bullpen exclusively and never on the actual field. And if I may be frank with you, the way the Mets are using Pedro Feliciano is kinda creepin' me out. How Mota gets to pitch all this time and Feliciano doesn't leave the bullpen for a week is scaring me. Does Feliciano need a "Joe Smith" type rest? Is he mentally drained? Physically drained? Physically hurt? An emotional wreck ever since Pirate Master got cancelled? I don't understand it at all...and I'm not sure I want to.

But managing yourself into a corner and force Aaron Heilman to try to get six outs is not good baseball. And that's not Heilman's fault.

In Persecution of Aaron Heilman:

Physical errors happen. David Wright throwing one into right field while charging a ball is going to happen (especially to Sugar Pants). Mike DiFelice dropping a throw from right field happens every now and again (even though DiFelice has been ready to catch since birth, but I'm too old to split hairs.)

But one of the tests of a good pitcher is whether he has the intestinal fortitude to bounce back when you make a good pitch but your defense lets you down. Are you mentally tough? We got one hint of the kind of mental state Heilman was in when he fielded Jose Bautista's sacrifice bunt and pumped to third base even though he had no shot at third base, and allowed Bautista to reach first and load the bases.

So what does Heilman do after Wright's error? Toughen up and get the next man out? No, he gives cookies to Adam LaRoche and Jason Bay for them to pound on like chop meat. Was it the off shoot of being in the game longer than usual? Or is it a case of not having the mental toughness that a big game reliever should have? Unfortunately, you never quite know with Heilman. Maybe Heilman does have some bulldog in him. You would never tell though past the hangdog look on his face and his not-so-secret desire to be a starting pitcher. Maybe it's unfair to bring that up every time he blows a game, but if you make a mental mistake like pumping to third on a beautiful sac bunt, then one has to wonder.

So there you have it. I've been fair. You decide which side of the worthless coin that you're putting yourself on. I, meanwhile, will try to find some loose change in the wall by banging my head against it.

Called Shot

Jose Reyes leads off the game with a single off of Matt Morris. This was overheard soon after:
"I want blood. Five runs in the first inning. Let's go."
Author of said quote? Yours truly. Yes, Metstradamus calls his shot and delivers with a virtual 500 foot bomb to center field (Not to be confused with Moises Alou's actual bomb to left field to make the prophecy come true.)

How does your soothsayer mark the occasion of telling the future? By trying to tell the future again.

"I don't think this one's in doubt anymore."
Metstradamus once again calls his shot and hits a virtual 320 foot shot to the warning track at PNC Park, proving once again that you quit when you're ahead.

Because from beginning to end, it was in doubt. Before you knew it, that 5-0 lead became 5-3 as John Maine struggled yet again. Then Guillermo Mota hit Jack Wilson with two outs to set up the fourth run, and every Mets fan that was in the building wanted to pull a Mike Piazza and chase him around the PNC parking lot.

Shawn Chacon and his throwing error opened the door for a five run Mets ninth inning to put the game out of reach at 10-4. But then Aaron Sele hit the mound instead of Billy Wagner to end the game...and predictably, all hell broke loose. So Country Time had to come into the game anyway and close things out. Thankfully, ten runs turned out to be enough.

Ten runs should be enough. Consider this: the Mets are 8-6 since Luis Castillo came on board (outside of an 0 for 6 against the Brewers in a 12-4 win, and an 0 for 3 against Florida last Saturday, Castillo has had a hit in every game that he's batted in a Mets uniform), and since Moises Alou started a run of 12 games out of 14 with a hit. His average has gone up in that span from .298 to .310, and he has had many big hits in the process. In those 14 games, the Mets have averaged 6 runs a game, and the only reason that the Mets only went 8-6 is because of Willie Harris, Guillermo Mota, and Aaron Heilman.

And yet, Steve Phillips comes on ESPN Wednesday night and says that he doesn't think that the Mets aren't going to make the playoffs because they're not hitting enough!!! For crying out loud, say that our bullpen stinks. Say our starters are struggling. Tell me that Moises Alou can't be depended upon 100% to stay healthy. Tell me that the Brewers, Marlins, Cubs, and Pirates aren't the best of competition. Any of that...I'll buy. Really, I'm not that difficult to satiate.

But all I had to do was go on the internet to find out that the Mets are hitting a ton. I mean, is it really that hard?

Yet these are the people dispensing information to the masses...and paid good money to do so. I give up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Quick! Name That Ex-Met:

If you said Jose Offerman, you're not only right, you're a keen observer of detail. If you're wondering why he has a bat in his hands while on the mound...well I'm not sure I know the answer to that myself. Ummm, he's a moron, perhaps?
"Long Island Ducks shortstop Jose Offerman charged the mound wielding a bat Tuesday night after being hit by a pitch, according to the Connecticut Post. Bridgeport Bluefish starting pitcher Matt Beech hit Offerman in the second inning and a brawl ensued that resulted in Offerman's arrest. He was being held on $10,000 bond on a second-degree assault charge. Offerman hit a home run in the first inning and was hit by a 0-1 fastball in the calf. Offerman's attack left Beech with a broken middle finger on his non-throwing right hand. Also injured was catcher John Nathans, who suffered from symptoms related to a concussion."

Excellent. That's how to shake the image of a bitter old man. Way to go Jose.

Wait...Long Island Ducks shortstop Jose Offerman?

Shortstop? He's like 100 years old!

I feel like Jose just gave me a concussion with a bat.

Oh, let me reiterate in this space that Jose Offerman is a douchebag.

Victories! Everywhere I Look: Victories!

So much for pitch counts.

David Cone once had a 166 pitch game, but that was a nine inning game. Orlando Hernandez threw 130 times tonight, in six innings, at the age of forty...something. This means that for David Cone to match that feat, factoring in the age exchange rate, he would have had to throw 529 pitches to match tonight's performance by Hernandez.

(It's kind of like those commercials where they say that you would have to eat 250 bowls of your cereal to match one bowl of Total. Orlando, being as old as he is...or may be...should know all about the value of a healthy cereal.)

Tonight, a victory, made possible by Hernandez, and Mr. French Cooking himself, Jorge Sosa. Carlos Beltran hitting the ball hard and not being placed on the DL is another victory. Tomorrow, Hernandez's arm and Pedro Martinez's arm still being attached to their shoulder sockets would be two more victories. One more victory against the Pirates on Wednesday night and that's 5-0 in two days.

(If only moral victories counted in the standings.)

Sure, it was ugly in the minds of some people. Anything less than 12-0 against a team like the Pirates probably would have been considered ugly. But case anybody hasn't been paying real close attention lately, the Mets have been playing as ugly as Mike DiFelice sliding into third base (he may be born to catch, but tramps like DiFelice aren't born to word on whether DiFelice's wife is named Wendy). So we'll take it. Take your Moises Alou go-ahead RBI's and go home before somebody changes their mind.


Chances are you laughed at something Keith Hernandez said during the game tonight. On those nights that I'm really paying attention, I always laugh at something he says. He's just a goofy human being, and we as Met fans should be eternally grateful for that, especially on those all too familiar nights lately where Hernandez has been the highlight of the broadcast, way above and beyond the actual game.

Does he remind you of anyone?

Never have I appreciated Phil Rizzuto more than when I realized about a week or two ago that Keith Hernandez, in all of his goofiness, is turning out to be our Rizzuto in the booth. As much as the Yankee affiliation turned me off to him, I realized later in life just how entertaining Rizzuto was.

And never have I appreciated the Scooter more than when the Yankees beat the Orioles on Monday night, and noticed a huge John Sterling likeness on the scoreboard with his "Yankees Win" phrase next to him. After I threw up upon the sight of that pompous forced schtick, I wondered aloud if Yankee fans will ever realize how good they had it once upon a time.

And twelve hours later, Rizzuto leaves us. If they don't realize it now, they never will.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I Feel Much Better Now

That's good. Because I've only been ready to blog since 3:30 in the morning. And this was the best I could come up with.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Insurance...What A Concept!

You would think that a leaping amazing catch at a wall containing the logo of a now famous insurance company would have put a collective thought in the heads of the team that benefited from said catch.

AIG, in fact, stands for: Ain't Insurance runs Grand?

Ain't It Grand to be able to go into a late inning and be able to breathe...regardless of the fact that Jose Reyes had to kick Matt Treanor in the head to do it? Because it's not necessarily the clutch ninth inning come from behind win that's going to convince Met fans that their team is, it's wins like today where you have chances to put a team away and you score five runs in the eighth inning (two home runs by Moises Alou don't hurt none either). They made the most of that chance today, unlike past games where they've had chance after chance to deliver the knockout blow and instead let teams hang around until they can break their hearts (see: Friday and Saturday).

But of course, with every silver lining comes a dark cloud (you like how I flipped that one on you, don't ya? You see, the usual phrasing is...ah, forget it). As soon as the Mets put Paul Lo Duca on the DL despite Lo Duca claiming he's healthy and feels great (after what's happened to Endy Chavez, I don't think I would take a chance, either), Fluff Castro comes up with "lower back discomfort", exposing the Mets to the musical stylings of Mike DiFelice.

Yes boys and girls, Mike DiFelice, until further notice, is the starting catcher for the New York Mets. If there is a silver lining to that dark cloud (oh, the phrasing equivalent of the double reverse! You can't stop can only hope to contain me in a nut house somewhere) is waiting to see Willie Randolph justify batting DiFelice ahead of Lastings Milledge in the lineup. The anticipation is killing me.

French Cooking With A Sickening Twist

Jorge Sosa is like French least according to a fan on the 7 train tonight. Sosa was pretty good in the seventh and eighth innings on Friday night, so French cooking must be pretty good.

So what does that make Guillermo Mota and Aaron Heilman?

Salmonella and Botulism, apparently.

The Florida Marlins, let's face it, are a team that should be beaten into submission by teams at the top of the division. They run themselves out of innings. They have a left fielder that calls for a ball that is headed twenty rows deep into the bleachers, and a third baseman that would have probably scored in the sixth inning if he would have had a salad instead of another mozzarepa for lunch yesterday.

But all of those weaknesses, along with tonight's strength of David Wright's two bombs (and Carlos Delgado's bunt hit...bunt hit!!!) were neutralized by the dynamic duo of Salmonella Mota and Aaron Botulism. Excessive amounts will make any Met fan vomit (as well as excessive amounts of these gut wrenching losses).

I'm done. I'm done with them. Listen, I'm not right about a lot of things, as you well know by reading this drivel. But one thing I did say that kinda sorta made sense was that last winter was the time to trade Aaron Heilman. His value as a money pitcher was at its peak last year...even the infamous Yadier Molina home run was generally forgiven, as it was his second inning of work. But that was it. The trend was down, and everybody knew it. You know what you can get for him now?
  • A Ziploc bag full of toothpaste. Not even in the tube, just a plastic bag that you have to dip your toothbrush in to brush your teeth.
  • You know when you crack off the tab on your VHS tape so nobody can record over it anymore? You can get a bag full of those...not the tapes, the plastic tabs.
  • Steve Trachsel.

(I'm starting to miss Steve Trachsel. At least Trachsel would let you know early that a game was a lost cause. What's the use of having a 300 game winner on your team if your bullpen is only going to rip your heart out in the end? Steve Trachsel let you know early that your night was going to be a wash so that you could go to the pub and commiserate.)

And I'm sorry I ever started to soften on the other twin. It really was in our best interests that Mota would bounce back from his suspension and shake off last season's NLCS. Omar Minaya was right...other teams wanted him in the off season. Willing to sign him at multiple seasons. He's damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't on that one. If he goes somewhere and is lights out, Minaya looks foolish. So I could understand what he's thinking here. We should have been a better team with the inclusion of Guillermo Mota. Instead, I wish that he could have just been evasive and vague like every other mope that got caught on the juice so that Omar wouldn't have thought twice about not signing him and that would have been that. Instead, Mota had to be truly sorry, much to our detriment.

Scott Schoeneweis was the Mets' best reliever on Saturday. Just thought I'd remind you of that.

And here's another thing that bothers me: If Carlos Beltran can't hit from the right side, we're through. I thought Willie was a boob tonight for putting Ruben Gotay up to pinch hit instead of Beltran in the eighth with two runners on, and no guarantee that Beltran would see the light of day today. Instead, Beltran comes up for Luis Castillo (with Gotay already burned in the eighth meaning that Damion Easley would have had to go from right field to second base), an at bat that would have never happened if Jose Reyes hadn't walked with two outs in the ninth.

My point is this: teams are going to bring in lefties to force Beltran to bat righty the rest of the season. Who can blame you or me for thinking that this oblique that is hindering his right handed swing is going to stick around for a while. For crying out loud, it's 2005 all over again, where Beltran was hurt and David Wright has no protection (and as long as Carlos Delgado isn't going deep, Wright has no protection). So as long as Willie Randolph is forced to make goofy moves like holding batting Ruben Gotay and holding back Carlos Beltran, we're doomed...doomed to an immediate future of throwing up in the bathroom non-stop from some bad bullpen food.

So where can I get some of that French cooking?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fan Mail

Dear Hanley,

I know you wanted to show us how good a shortstop you are, and prove that you are deserving of the press that Jose Reyes gets.

Mission accomplished. Whoever didn't know how good you are in New York, now know.

So stop it. Please.

Yours in baseball,


P.S. Please tell Larry Beinfest that if he dares trade Miguel Olivo to the Braves just to screw with Billy Wagner, I swear I'm going to fly to Miami and kick him in the crotch so hard he'll be spitting urine on Moises Alou's hands. Thank you kindly.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Phrase Of Hate

"Only time will tell..."

You hear that all the time when you're watching television. A serious looking face comes on your screen and says something like "Will I be hit by a truck? Will a meteor hit the earth? Will Lindsay Lohan drink again? Only time will tell."

"Only time will tell" is the literary equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders. "I have neither idea nor insight." So you understand how painful it is for me to type what I'm about to type:

Only time will tell (shudder) if Willie Harris is going to be a footnote in this 2007 season, or a thorn for all time. It depends on what the Braves and Mets do during the time that is left (and "time" isn't a nebulous throw away term...the time we're talking about here is a finite about of days and games left). Today, Willie Harris is their Endy Chavez. In time (you know, the time that will only tell), he may become our new Terry Pendleton.

Larry Jones is there already. And he, of course, was up to his old tricks, hitting a three run bomb (and I mean a flippin' bomb) off of John Maine which turned the game on its ear (it's amazing how when I see Jones play against others, the pain in his thumbs make him wince and grimace like he was David Wells at a vegan convention...but against the Mets all that pain seems to wash away like he's taking a Calgon bath or something.)

Mark Teixeira is getting there. Not only for his home run which followed Jones', but for prevention of a Luis Castillo RBI triple in the fifth inning...the same inning in which Fluff Castro popped up with the sacks full to end the inning...and how much more damaging than one run would that frame had been without Teixeira's diving play down the line? Yeah, he's getting there.

But it's always the one that you never expect. I was in the stands when Pendleton ripped my heart out of my chest and fed it to Tom Pagnozzi in front of everyone. I can absolutely tell you that I never saw it coming. The thought never entered my mind that Pendleton would hit a ball that crossed the plate at his ankles out of the ballpark. And it never entered my mind that Willie Harris would rob Carlos Delgado of the tying home run in the ninth. Never would I have thought he would have done that twice in the same game after robbing Moises Alou of a double in the first inning...again preventing a small inning to grow and blossom into a large one.

I wasn't in the stands for this one, although my cat probably would have wanted me there for all the soft objects turned into projectiles around Casametstra today. But that's the way it goes in the big city. One minute, Oscar Villareal's cab is taking him to Yankee Stadium, the next he's getting his first save on any level of professional baseball...against the Mets, of course. But that save was equal parts Larry, Tex, and Willie Harris. At 3.5 games ahead, the world isn't ending. The meteor isn't hitting anytime soon. Or has it already hit the Mets season...

"Only time will tell."

In True John Franco Fashion...

Boy, that ninth inning scared the Orosco out of me.

Somewhere, the ghost of Randy Myers is having a good chuckle as Country Time decided to pull the ultimate escape act, as he loaded the bases only to get the next two batters to provide three outs in a 4-3 Mets thriller.

Maybe, as much as Chris Russo gets on my nerves, maybe he's right when he says that there's been something missing from the 2007 Mets as opposed to the 2006 Mets. While it's hardly a fair statement considering that the 2006 Mets were like that perfect regular season storm that comes once in a generation, it may have been true up until tonight.

You see when Orlando Hernandez was victimized by a two out walk to Willie Harris that turned into three Braves runs, it seemed that that something missing was going to remain missing, with Atlanta winning yet another series from the Mets.

But in the battle of trade deadline acquisitions set in the backdrop of National League East battle, Castillo defeated Mahay to get the Mets even with the Braves at three apiece in the seventh. You must understand how much pressure was packed in that at-bat...the difference between John Schuerholz being anointed a genius for all time, and Omar Minaya saying "Ha, take that you Liberty Media Slut!" (Honestly, I don't even know what that means.) And considering my admitted Luis Castillo man crush, it held higher stakes than even that. If Castillo strikes out, it's my butt on the line here.

Wrong again. Castillo ties the game, and takes the first step on the road to Brave slaying.

Then there's Moises Alou...the walking conundrum. Sure, we want David Wright and Carlos Delgado to hit. But we also want Moises Alou to hit with the bases empty, where he stood at .338 this season with three of his four home runs coming in...and not with runners in scoring position where he is at .167 entering Wednesday, including a rally killing double play on Tuesday. It's the catch 22 of life, and we're stuck with it. Even when he does hit a home run his reward is Jose Reyes making fun of his swing. What a drag it is getting old.

Billy Wagner pulling one out of the John Franco playbook though, is no drag. Loading the bases with nobody out and still coming out on top is exciting, exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Maybe that's what we've been missing...a mind-blowing escape act that you can put in the win column.

And on your cardiology report.