Wednesday, April 30, 2008


It really doesn't matter if the names are McLouth, Nady, and Doumit ... or if the names are Crosby, Malkin, and Hossa, the sad truth is this: the city of Pittsburgh kinda owns us right now.

Doesn't matter if it's Marc Andre Fleury holding off the kitchen sink, or if it's Tom Gorzellany blanking the Mets through his five innings of work. Because here's how you know it's not your day: When Gorzellany has some serious back spasms after 4 and 2/3's and he decides to gut it out and throw some cookies to David Wright to get that final out ... and Wright still can't buy a hit? The lords of baseball are against you. Go home and get some sleep.

The scary part was that Gorzellany, with back spasms, hit the plate today with better accuracy than Oliver Perez, who issued as many walks as he retired batters (that would be five) during the 13-1 drubbing. Perez got no help in that seven run second, as Luis Castillo's mitt doing an impression of a skillet on a double play ball made five of those runs unearned. But on the bright side, it was Cyberchase Day, so the stadium was full of kids who haven't been taught the concept of "boo" yet.

(Speaking of boo, whether you believe that booing is cathartic and necessary to get a message across, or whether you believe that only positive reinforcement will help a player get out of a slump, I don't think anyone will disagree that when nobody covers second base on a rundown ... as happened in that second inning, that's fair game. Boo!)

Having squandered a small chance to build on taking two out of three from Atlanta by splitting the rain-shortened series with Pittsburgh, the Mets now go to Arizona ... a place they've dominated in the past. Hey, they've even beaten Brandon Webb a couple of times. But mostly, they've beaten the likes of Russ Ortiz and Miguel Batista. This weekend, it's Micah Owings, Webb, and Dan Haren. Add those three to the memory of Eric Byrnes' mustache, and you've got trouble on so many levels.

Bad News Bees

Here's the disadvantage of working a 14 hour day: The Mets beat the Pirates in eleven innings and the only coherent thought in my head right now is that Ronny Paulino's bright yellow catcher's pads make him look like a killer bee:

Really? Is that what it's come down to for me? Am I that sleep deprived that it's come down to playing "Project Runway" with Ronny Paulino's pads?

(Hey, weren't the Mets supposed to trade for this guy?)

Well at least I'm not so tired that I would resort to defending Roger Clemens and his pride in himself as an "example for kids". (Especially the 15-year-old blondes, apparently.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Three The Hard Way

It was a daunting task to salvage this Braves series after the horrid outing on Friday night, as they came into the weekend staring down Tim Hudson and John Smoltz.

But oh miracle of miracles, both were chased over the weekend, and everything is right in Met-land ... at least for now.

Chasing Hudson on Saturday alone after three innings was a phenomenal feat considering the success he's enjoyed against the Mets last season (only 2-2, but a 3.33 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP last season). It was so phenomenal that I sat in my chair thinking "nah, he has to be hurt." But sure enough, he's not.

Smoltz however, could very well be hurt as he felt discomfort in his shoulder after his shaky four innings of work during Sunday's Met win. Many, Braves fans and Mets fans alike, will poo-poo the two wins over Atlanta as a result of Smoltz not feeling his best and Larry Jones not playing at all. Valid. But for you Braves fans that come with that argument remember this: Injuries are something that your Braves came into this season being prone/ripe for. It's not like the Braves are suffering freak injuries to guys like Mark Teixeira and Tim Hudson and Jeff Francoeur ... guys who are in their prime and didn't have the injury tag following them. This is happening to the guys over or nearing 40: Jones, who hasn't been injury free since he was telling us to put our Yankee gear on, and Smoltz, who's been healthy since missing all of '00 and most of '01 but is over 40. And let's not forget Tom Glavine, who's never been on the DL until now ... over the age of 40.

(And don't get me started on Mike Hampton.)

Those are the guys that many who picked the Braves to win the World Series (I'm looking at you, Jayson Stark) cited as big reasons. So downgrade the significance of the Mets weekend victories. It's valid. But you're also downgrading your argument about the Braves being a serious World Series contender.

The Mets don't have that to lean on as an excuse, but they do have an old guy in Carlos Delgado who has been awful lately ... until his two solo HR's today which accomplished one very important thing: It made me feel better about ordering that discounted Delgado jersey that I seriously thought about burying underneath the Jackie Robinson rotunda when it comes in the mail.

But Delgado did not want to take a curtain call. Apparently the Shea crowd has become the husband that stayed out carousing all night, and then coming home to his wife (Delgado) and did nothing to berate her and call her things like "fat" and "mean" and "lousy in bed" and "can't hit a curve ball" for weeks. Then all of a sudden the husband tries to make it up to her by buying her flowers, but the wife is still mad so she doesn't reciprocate by baking those Toll House cookies he likes. So Delgado and the fans have a strained relationship right now.

I wonder if Delgado stopped and took the time to think: "WWJD"?

And of course, that stands for "What Would Julio Franco Do?"

"I've got a great deal of respect for the game, and I don't think that's the place for a curtain call." -Carlos Delgado
I hope that the same fans who have been complaining that the Mets lost last year because Jose Reyes and Lastings Milledge fired other clubs up by dancing too much don't come out now and say that Delgado should have taken a curtain call.

That's of course assuming that they buy Delgado's explanation, and don't dismiss it as covering up a desire to stick it to the fans for booing him. Although when you look up "Carlos Delgado Curtain Call" on Google Images, you really don't find a picture of Delgado taking a curtain call. So I'm not sure what to make of it. I just hope Delgado's hitting continues and that I don't get booed at Shea when I wear his jersey.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


So Ronny Cedeno lines a single on a 1-2 pitch off of Aaron Heilman this past Monday ... a pitch that probably should have been nowhere near where it was ... and a Notre Dame fan comes up to me the next day and says to me: "Clearly, Aaron Heilman is the stupidest player to ever come out of Notre Dame."

From that, I waited for the next time Heilman imploded to use that to put together a new way to voice my displeasure with the way he's pitching. Thus came Thursday nights post.

One of the problems I have when I write is that I expect everyone to be in on the joke that was said to me in a one-on-one situation. It's a stupid assumption to make. Obviously, Aaron Heilman, a Notre Dame alum, is not a stupid person. thus the jist of the joke. Some people got it, others did not, and that's my fault. Sometimes, jokes don't work. Hey, every once in a while, a comic tells a joke in a club that bombs. It happens. The comic that doesn't tell bombs is the one that gets the HBO specials.

The comics that do? Well, some of them become lame bloggers.

(And let's face it, guys like Aaron Heilman ... or Joe Smith for that matter ... could care less about bloggers such as me saying they're stupid. Just sayin'.)

Does he made stupid decisions on 1-2 pitches that are up in the zone? Absolutely. Was that still bothering me at the time? You bet. Did my thoughts come clearly from brain to keyboard? No. What you got was less of a joke and more of a visceral, raw, childish reaction from me ... and that was the jist of the flak that came back at me from what I wrote yesterday.

The criticism is valid. Sometimes, I let a little of the visceral seep out in the matter that I did last night ... it took my best efforts not to just come on the blog and write "you suck" 500 times, which is how I was feeling at the time.

Here's how I'm feeling at this time: it's slowly becoming clear to me that it does me no good to get frustrated and call players stupid. To get that way about the 2008 New York Mets is to assume that this team is underperforming.

In actuality, and from what they've shown me not only with this 21 game sample size, but with their putrid offensive effort against the Atlanta Braves tonight, is that maybe ... just maybe ... the Mets aren't that good a baseball team.

At least, they may not be as good as we all think ... or as good as I thought. That's not to say they're that bad, and that's not to say that the season is over by any means. If anything, it looks like the rest of the teams in the N.L. East have been stuck in mediocrity as well, and that the Mets could still pull out this division with one quasi-hot streak somewhere down the line.

But I think we're slowly realizing that after 22 games, a sample size that isn't so small anymore, that 2006 may be forever dead and buried, and those that are expecting 2006 again should temper their expectations just a bit. Twenty Oh-Six was built on a record setting lineup, and a dynamite bullpen. Of course, everyone complained about the lack of starting pitching, but the 2006 dynamic worked until Game 7 of the NLCS.

It's two years later, and I think we all expected this team to basically be 2006 plus Johan Santana. Well, Johan is Johan. But 2006 is no longer. The bullpen outside of Billy Wagner (and now, Filthy Sanchez) isn't quite as deep as it was then. And this team does not have the monster lineup it once had. Part of it was evidenced by the two hit performance they put out tonight. Yes, we had to endure Raul Casanova and Damion Easley where Brian Schneider and the Ghost of Carlos Delgado should have been. But with Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Delgado all in slumps of various length, there's nothing around the rest of the lineup to pick up the slack. Two years ago, Jair Jurrjens would have been toast in that third inning where he was walking the park home and ticking off home plate ump Tim McClelland, because somebody would have gotten a huge knock to bring home two or three runs.

This season? No such luck. And unfortunately, if guys like Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran can't find their stroke, there are going to be more of these kind of nights than there were last season, which was more than there were the season before. Because counting on guys like Brian Schneider (when healthy) and Angel Pagan to keep up their torrid paces is just ... plain ... not realistic.

(You were waiting for another word, perhaps?)

Twenty-two games into the season, I see a team like the Arizona Diamondbacks that's dominating with their starting pitching, yet also unexpectedly dominating with their lineup. I see a team like the Chicago Cubs that have seemingly adopted a whole new approach to hitting that has seemingly rejuvenated their team this year ... but with the Mets, I see the same old song and dance that killed them last year. And it's frustrating. It's maddening!

It's stupid!!!

But it just may be what we have to deal with the rest of the season. At least until that hot streak we're all hoping for. And that is my revelation.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lower Learning

Distinguished Notre Dame Faculty,

I write to you with the utmost respect and admiration. I am a great admirer of all of your accomplishments. For example, your graduation rate of 95 percent is exceeded by only Harvard and Princeton. Your 98 percent retention rate between the freshman and sophomore years is among the highest in the country, thanks in large part to the University's unique First Year of Studies Program. Your graduates are accepted into medical schools at a rate of about 75 percent, almost twice the national average. Your sociology department ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to placing articles in the discipline's top three journals. I could go on and on.

So I would like to ask you this: With all of these accomplishments, how did your fine university manage to turn out somebody as stupid as Aaron Heilman?

Any ideas?

"You'd think he dominates all the time, but he gets in jams ... The thing that sets him apart is that he has the ability to raise his game ... The great ones can do that."

That was a quote from your former baseball coach, Paul Mainieri. The amazing part of that quote is that he actually said this about Aaron Heilman. And I haven't found any proof otherwise (believe me, I tried), so I can only assume that Mr. Mainieri is talking about the same Aaron Heilman that is single-handedly driving us all to drink with his uncanny ability not to raise his game under pressurized circumstances.

So my question is what happened between then and now that he became not so bright? Doesn't the University of Notre Dame have academic standards? Aren't the teachings of your fine institution supposed to stay with your alumni for a few dozen years ... or at least until senility sets in?

Maybe it's set in already.

Maybe the stuff you taught him was replaced with all those Rick "I'll fix him in ten minutes" Peterson metaphors, and maybe he's just supremely confused.

But "great one"? Yes, great ones have the ability to raise their game, not give up two run singles and grand slams to middle infielders on teams that can't hit, as he did Thursday night. So I'm wondering, is this your doing? Or were your teachings somehow forgotten? Does Aaron need to take correspondence courses? Has he been brainwashed?

Please do what you can to rectify this situation.



Do I really need to explain the Heil-o-meter tonight? Apparently Heilman was demoted to the sixth inning, and he still couldn't find his stuff. The Mets are running out of innings to slot him in. Maybe he can be the first inning guy. Think about it: He'd be happy because he's technically a starting pitcher, and then he could be yanked for the real starting pitcher in the second. Or, perhaps he could be the 19th inning specialist. Think about how important the 19th inning is! You know, all of a sudden, I miss Jose Lima.

Studio Perspective

Harold Reynolds was fired over a hug. Meanwhile, others who supposedly perform much worse acts still have a job. It's the way of life, unfortunately. But fortunately, Baseball Tonight's loss is the Mets' gain ... as Reynolds will now be in the SNY studio to provide analysis. This is excellent news because Reynolds has always been solid, meaning: he's never made me throw my shoe through my television (others can't say that.)

But I have to show concern from this quote from Reynolds:
"I've never worked on a 'local' broadcast," Reynolds said. "I hope to bring some national perspective."
Harold ... buddy, national perspective is Steve Phillips building a virtual shrine to Carlos Zambrano for getting calls, but calling John Maine "lucky" for doing the same thing. National perspective is why we needed a network our very own ... to get away from national perspective!

But seriously, welcome aboard, Harold! Just go easy on that national perspective. (And a word to the wise, don't move Lee Mazzilli's hair gel. He doesn't like that.)

What The Doctor Ordered

Trust me, it's not that victory over the Washington Nationals is ever assumed (remember last September?) It's just that when your team is coming off of a three game losing streak headed to face a team that's 6-15 going in, with your very bestest ace pitcher on the mound, a loss would have been pretty gosh darn inexcusable.

However, when that very bestest ace pitcher (you know him as Johan Santana) gives up a two run double to the opposing pitcher (you may know that guy as Tim Redding), you may have gotten the feeling that inexcusable was about to become unavoidable. But then it took a teaspoon of that good ol' Washington tonic in the sixth inning to settle our stomachs.

You might know its ingredients: 35% Ryan Zimmerman throwing error which brought home Carlos Beltran from first base, 30% Ray King chucking the ball at Angel Pagan's feet on his RBI single to bring home Ryan Church. And 35% Wil Nieves failing to throw out Pagan as he swiped second and third which was key as he scored from third on Brian Schneider's ground out.

It all goes down smooth with a chaser of seven innings from Santana, who has reached the magic number four times in five starts (the other start was six and 2/3's), and results in a 7-2 victory. The two run double was merely a bitter aftertaste, but those usually go away ... especially when Santana also goes and gets two doubles to counteract that aftertaste. The only thing is that the medicine has a side effect ... it reminds you that with those two doubles, Santana now has a batting average which is only one point behind Carlos Beltran.

(If the Nationals were still the Montreal Expos, this medicine would come a lot cheaper. Damn you Canadians and your superior and affordable health care!)


Peripheral side note: You've just read career post number 1,000. I just had a ceremony where I presented myself with a pile of blank computer paper and an old calculator. My cat fell asleep halfway through my acceptance speech. It was that good. I got emotional and teared up (the cat missed the best part).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Murder Is Never An Answer

I swear to you that this is a direct quote from the Mike and the Mad Dog show at about 5:35 PM today:

"There's not a solution in sight first half of the season ... Maybe there is in July, maybe in July they can get a first baseman, they could kill him, they could bench him, they can do a million things then." -Chris Russo, on what the Mets can do regarding Carlos Delgado and his slump.
They could kill him?

Damn, I know baseball has an anti-trust exemption but I don't think it covers murder.

They could kill him?


Gee, I guess that first day that Delgado gets a rest, the SNY announcers will have something to speculate about besides "Is he hurt" or "Is he fatigued" or even "Is he stuck in traffic". No, now the boys in the booth will actually have to wonder if he's dead.

They could kill him?

Where exactly would they hide the body?

And if the Mets are in fact allowed to use this option, how many of these type of transactions are they allowed in a season? Would the Mets have to put Delgado on waivers before they take him out back and kill him? In that case, Ruben Gotay should be relieved that the Braves picked him up off of waivers before the Mets resorted to the "Chris Russo Rule".

Somebody who's not as technologically deficient as I am needs to be a You Tube Hero and get this quote to the masses ... stat! Meanwhile, I'll be busy laughing my head off. Thanks, Dog.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Head In The Hills

Watch the following video:

What you just saw was:

A) One of the great musical moments in one of the highest grossing films of its time.
B) The signature moment in the career of Julie Andrews.
C) Carlos Delgado covering first base in the fourth inning against the Cubs today, helping along their two game sweep.

Rexy Beast

If you live in Chicago (and seeing that it's the Cubs that are playing our Mets, you just might), think about how you felt every week during the last two football seasons seeing Lovie Smith come to the podium week after week and sing the same song and dance the same dance over and over again after another three interception game by quarterback Rex Grossman:

Rex is our guy.

Rex is our guy.

Rex is out guy.
I think that Aaron Heilman might turn out to be baseball's Rex Grossman ... if he's not already. Because you can just see Willie "Lovie" Randolph over the next few weeks hammer it into the media's heads:
Aaron's my guy.

Aaron's my guy.

Aaron's my guy.
Blame Monday night's eighth inning on Jose Reyes' error that led off the inning for Heilman all you want. Constantly, constantly, Heilman responds to adverse situations by pitching with that sourpuss on his face and serving up meatballs like Rex Grossman throws up ducks. How many times is Jose Reyes going to make an error to put a pitcher in a bind? How many times does he ask a pitcher to pick him up like that? So what does "Rex" Heilman do? He hits Aramis Ramirez and gives up a single to Kosuke Fukudome to load the bases with nobody out. And before you go giving him credit for almost getting out of the jam by striking out Mark DeRosa and getting Geovany Soto to pop-up, he didn't have to get himself in to that position in the first place. It reminds me of this classic sketch from The Honeymooners:
"How 'bout that time we were playing softball and you got hit in the head with a bat? Who got a cab and took you to the hospital? I did. Who come up and saw you every day? I did. Who brought you cigarettes and candy? I did!"

"Who hit me in the head with the bat? You did!"
Hey, who got two outs with the bases loaded? Heilman did. But who loaded the bases in the first place? Heilman did. Reyes' error wasn't one of laziness or hot dogginess. He got his glove down, the ball came up. Fine. Pick up your teammate, and get out a guy who's 150 pounds soaking wet (Ronny Cedeno) for crying out loud. Because if you don't, there's Filthy Sanchez coming up right behind you putting up good outing after good outing coming off a 21 month layoff, and going after that eighth inning job that he held before the car crash. The cries get louder for Filthy, which will no doubt prompt the following from Lov, er ... Willie:
Aaron's my guy.

Aaron's my guy.

Aaron's my guy.
By the way, good thing ESPN wasn't the only option for Mets viewing in New York tonight. People outside our fair city didn't have SNY as a choice, so they got to hear Steve Phillips laud Carlos Zambrano as being "a craftsman" when the umpire gives him a strike that's inches off the plate ... yet at the same time calling John Maine "lucky" when he got the same generous strike zone ... this information coming from a source outside the city.

I made the mistake of trying to convince the source that Phillips wasn't letting his previous employment by the Mets affecting his judgement, it was met by my source yelling "shut up and agree with me! SHUT UP AND AGREE WITH ME!" It was the first time in all my years with this person that he had ever ... ever ... yelled at me. This, my friends, is what Steve Phillips does to people. And it's what Aaron Heilman does to people too ... heck, these days Aaron Heilman is driving people to want to punch kittens!

(Hide your kittens.)

But on a good note, (and this ties into the whole Rex Grossman theme), for those who were watching on SNY, you found out along with me that Colts tight end Dallas Clark, who was on the winning end of that Super Bowl that Rex Grossman was in, is a big Mets fan. Clark, who grew up in Iowa, attached himself to the Mets while growing up in Cubs and Twins country. And he came to tonight's game in his David Wright jersey amongst all of the Cubs faithful.

Of course, when you're as big and strong as Dallas Clark, you could probably wear a suit of honey in a bear cage and get away with it. But the crack staff and I would like to applaud Dallas for being his own person and not following the crowd. And Dallas, if you're ever in New York, you're more than welcome to join me at Shea to take in nine innings.

I'll even offer to pay for the ticket ... that is, as long as you promise not to bring up that game in Indianapolis where you torched the Jets for five catches and 100 yards while I was catching flak from Colts fans in my Jets jersey. (See, I know about wearing my colors in enemy territory too.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Great Mysteries Of Life

So my brother calls me after the top of the seventh inning to inquire as to whether Carlos Beltran's at-bats were sponsored by Gorilla Glue.

If they are, my guess is that nobody would know ... since the advertisement would be placed on the very spot on the shoulder of the jersey where Carlos keeps his bat against pitchers like J.C. Romero.

So when Carlos was up with two outs in the ninth inning and the tying run two bases away, the stage was set for Beltran to make Brad Lidge look like Adam Wainwright, or to give him a Scott Podsednik flashback.

The very fact that he swung the bat is a moral victory. The fact that he made good contact turned out to be the great tease as Eric Bruntlett ... the same Eric Bruntlett that made a mess of himself last week at Shea Stadium, saved the day with a brilliant stab up the middle and drove a stake through our hearts as the Phillies hung on to prevent a sweep, 5-4.

Four out of six wins against Philadelphia is nothing to sneeze at. But it still doesn't explain why Adam Eaton makes the Mets sit and stay on command. It's become one of life's great mysteries along with such classics as "Why are we here?" " Is there life in outer space?" "Where do we go when we die?" And "If someone with a split personality threatens to commit suicide, is it a hostage situation?"

Or: "Is this game going to continue the long line of games where the Mets have an opportunity to step on a team's throats, with a seemingly hittable pitcher on the mound (except for us, apparently) only to wither and die (remember Tyler Clippard?)"

Or maybe: Why would Willie Randolph put Luis Castillo back in the two hole when Ryan Church has been working out just fine lately?" I mean, I'm all for Luis Castillo. But when it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

(You can weigh in on that in my completely tongue in cheek poll.)

Or even this: "Why I don't just turn the sound down on my television while a Met game is on ESPN?" Joe Morgan, who does like what ... one, two games a week, doesn't have time to research why Mike Pelfrey wears a mouthpiece? And they're on ESPN in New York again tomorrow? What exactly have I done to my television to deserve this retribution from it?

(The game's on SNY as well, right? Or is my channel guide just playing with my head?)

That one's too hard for me. I'll stick to easy ones like: "Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?"

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dancing Machine

All right, I'm all for Jose Reyes dancing ... but it seems that he might have gone a little bit overboard as he was making up for lost dances after his two run dinger in the seventh inning provided the margin of victory over the Phillies on Saturday. I mean, you tell me:

Oh sorry, that was just the rehearsal before the game. This was Reyes' routine after the home run. Unfortunately, the clip ended about 20 seconds and two dances too soon. But full marks to the FOX cameraman knowing that he had to pan backwards to catch the Reyes "Lean Back" move.

Of course, FOX loses points for their montage at the beginning of the game which featured members of the Mets and Phillies, and included Lastings Milledge.


Heilman came into Saturday's game against the Phillies with the bases loaded and one out, and promptly gave up a single to Carlos Ruiz. But then he redeemed himself by promptly striking out Geoff Jenkins and Jayson Werth, thereby saving the day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Why Does Aaron Heilman Insist on Torturing Me?

I hate being right.

You think I enjoy this? You think I enjoy being right about things like this?

"Don't make me look like a moron and implode against the Phillies (Now watch him do it just to spite me.)." -Metstradamus on Aaron Heilman, just about 24 hours ago.

So what does he do? And more importantly, how long did it take for him to do it?

I'll tell you how long: two pitches. Two lousy pitches. From 5-1 to 5-4 in just two pitches thanks to Heilman and Greg Dobbs.

That's what I get for trying to give a middle reliever credit for pitching scoreless innings instead of merely blasting them for giving up big home runs. Stupid me trying to empathize and be true to my Libra sign and be fair.

Well ha ha, very funny Aaron Heilman. Bet you got a good laugh out of that one. You've made me look like a moron for the last time!!!


On the bright side, hey they won!

And on the brighter side, Johan Santana pitched a helluva game (before Heilman made his line look worse than it should have been), with the bullpen in need of a rest after a 14-inning game. Certain Mets fans should be expecting a letter in the mail soon because of this game. Here's a sneak peek*:

*Disclaimer: Not an actual letter. Please don't sue.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Road Trippin'

I assume, because I can't tell you from first hand knowledge, that this isn't the kind of game you would have wanted to watch while on a drug trip.

Without the benefit of controlled substances that alter your mind, it was trippy enough drifting out of a fifteen minute long sleep hearing Gary Cohen yell about a long David Wright drive to center field, and then exclaim "The Mets win the game!" only to find out that it was only a dopey commercial for SNY. Then to see Damion Easley lead off the 14th with a chopping single to the left side while thinking it was a flashback to the 12th when Easley led off that inning with a single that looked exactly the same, and then realizing that it was actually the fourteenth, that was enough to make me see colors while turning my hand back and forth.

But when Joel Hanrahan sent Easley to second on a wild pitch, then to third on a throwing error, then struck out Ryan Church for the second out, then walk Wright and Carlos Delgado to force the Mets to use Brian Schneider ... their last position player off the bench ... while only thinking to warm up Scott Schoeneweis at the moment that Delgado was walked (way to think ahead), then have the whole delicious scenario of seeing the Mets fly blind for a couple of innings only to have Hanrahan throw another wild pitch and call the whole thing moot anyway?

You mind as well have put me in the Heavy Metal movie trailer at that point. I was all tripped out at that point without the benefit of drugs. It was just weird.

Sure, you say extra inning wins are fun. Sure they are. But not heading into the Philly series with Filthy having pitched two straight days, Joe Smith having pitched two straight days, Schoeneweis having warmed up 28 times in six innings, and Aaron Heilman having pitched four straight scoreless outings, which means he's overdue for a meltdown.

No seriously, good job Aaron. I fail to give him credit when he deserves it. And Aaron deserves it. Now don't make me look like a moron and implode against the Phillies.

(Now watch him do it just to spite me.)

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Nelson Figueroa, who had his second superb outing in a row (seven K's in seven innings, along with seven brides for seven brothers) further distancing himself from fifth starter experiments gone horribly wrong. Speaking of which, Jose Lima just got released by the Kia Tigers in Korea. Does it mean his career is over? Or does it mean there's a rotation spot in New Orleans waiting for him? Only time will tell.

On to Philly. The Amtrak food service car is now open ... enjoy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jose Reyes Says Screw The Establishment, I'm Going Sean Avery All Over Baseball

Perhaps it's true that I have a Sean Avery fetish these days. But you can't blame me for having Avery on the brain with the Rangers up 3-1 on the Devils in the first round ... thanks mainly to Avery and his goal scoring. Of course, all anybody will talk about is Avery's face guarding of Martin Brodeur during Game 3, which was a gallant attempt to help the Rangers win (and until the next day, not against the rules ... so take that, establishment.)

I once compared Avery to Endy Chavez, in terms of pure record when the two are in the lineup. Now, the more apropos comparison would be Jose Reyes. Avery hacks people off on the ice with his nastiness and ornery nature. Jose Reyes ticks some people off in the baseball establishment with his exuberance ... hand slaps and dances.

That is of course until the beginning of the season where Reyes, in response to some in the baseball community poo-pooing his natural "high on life" state, decided to tone it down. And where did it get him? It got him a .205 average after nine games.

He learned a lesson. He learned that part of being effective is to not deviate from who you are. So guess what? The old Jose Reyes is back. And in two games, he's upped his average 87 points with six hits and a home run. So the whiny, easily offended portion of America's baseball establishment that wants to complain and be envious of Jose's hand slaps and dances and act like baseball is in the 1950's with firm handshakes at home plate is just going to have to deal with it.

(I'm looking at you, Hanley Ramirez.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Get Your Rest

Apparently Luis Castillo needs more rest.

He got it tonight. He got a whole six batting slots of rest.

And look what it did for him ... he got three hits! Castillo must have learned to sleep standing up. (Or perhaps he's practicing Inemuri, the Japanese practice of sleeping on the job.)

So here's a managerial move that Willie Randolph isn't going to get credit for. He batted Castillo eighth and Ryan Church second against Matt Chico ... Ryan Church! The guy who can't hit lefties! And Church only went out and hit a home run in the first inning, and then singled in front of Carlos Beltran's three run home run to help the Mets to a 5-2 victory.

You know what, I'm gonna ask my boss for a rest every sixth and seventh day ... see how that goes.

25 Bottles Of Butch On The Wall

Jackie Robinson is nothing short of a baseball icon ... a pioneer of the highest order. If he wasn't baseball's best player ever, he sure might have been its most important.

But seeing every New York Met wear the number 42 tonight in honor of the 61st anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier didn't make me think of how important Jackie Robinson was. It made me think: "Gee, I wonder what Butch Huskey is doing now." Because I didn't see 25 Jackie Robinsons tonight.

I saw 25 Butch Huskeys.

(Sounds like a weird dream ... "all of a sudden I'm in a field of marshmallow fluff and I see 25 Butch Huskeys flying around my head.")

Now 25 Dodgers wearing 42 would make me think of Jackie Robinson. But to see Jose Reyes wear 42 made me think he gained weight. I mean, he moved fast, but he just looked slow. Thankfully, Jose didn't hit like Butch Huskey, going 4 for 5 and taking his rightful place as the most important Met right now, leading the Mets to a 6-0 victory over the Nationals. Tied for most important are Mike Pelfrey with his seven shutout innings and David Wright and his five RBI's.

A close second is the long-awaited return of Filthy Sanchez to the ranks of the active, pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

(Side note: Was it mere coincidence that at the very moment SNY revealed their poll results regarding whether it's unfair to boo the Mets so early in the season, Aaron Heilman entered the game?)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Answer To Your Questions

The good thing about old grudges is that they eventually die hard. Even today, where players and public figures take great care to keep the media at arm's length from their dirty laundry ... everything comes out eventually in some form or another.

The Mets feelings towards former golden child Gregg Jefferies came out when one of Jefferies former teammates, Roger McDowell, taunted Jefferies into starting a brawl during the last home game of the '89 season. It was then that we started to get a good idea about the cracks in the clubhouse that Jefferies caused, albeit unknowingly or unwillingly.

Which brings us to tonight ... when the Mets meet up with former teammate Paul Lo Duca. During the two seasons that Lo Duca was here, we heard how Lo Duca had it in for latin players. There were lots of denials, and you couldn't find too many people that put a lot of stock in it, including myself. But if there truly was something to it, if there was some lingering bitterness somewhere towards Lo Duca from the clubhouse, chances are we'll find out on the field at some point over the next three games. And if there wasn't, we'll find that out too.

What we do know is that Lo Duca wants his former team to lose every game. The way the Mets have played so far this season, he's getting more of his wish than any of us have ever expected.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Shea Stadium: The Board Game

Off days and rainouts stink.

What is a Met fan to do on those lonely off days and rainouts during April besides wonder why Willie Randolph consistently mismanages his bullpen?

Well now, you can combine off-day fun with Shea Stadium nostalgia with a great new board game titled: "Shea Stadium: The Board Game"! Can you get through a day at Shea without being pinched by the ushers, buying a cold knish, getting into an fistfight with a Yankee fan, or seeing Carlos Beltran strike out in a big spot? Now, you can experience the fun, excitement, and frustration of seeing the Mets at Shea Stadium from the comfort of your own living room! So help celebrate the final season at Shea Stadium with this addicting board game!

*Click board for optimal view ... template shamlessly stolen from here. Extended game play may cause drooling and dizzyness.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fitness Protection Program

Rumor has it that after Sunday's 9-7 Brewer victory over the Mets, Gabe Kapler, a one-time fitness magazine cover boy and a minor league manager at this time last year, snuck into the Citi Field construction site and buried one of his pectoral muscles underneath one of the concrete pillars, further cursing the Mets beyond what he did today, which was homer, double twice, and knock home three runs.

As if the Mets need any more curses, between scoring six runs off of Jeff Suppan when they could have used those runs the last time Suppan faced Oliver Perez in Shea Stadium ... and still not being able to take advantage of it.

Speaking of Perez, how is Willie Randolph feeling right now? He blasted Perez for throwing five and two thirds shutout innings after his last start, so I have a feeling that right about now Perez is being sent to bed without dinner and playtime, and has lost his internet privileges for a week. In fairness, as ridiculous as it sounds to blast Ollie for throwing shutout ball (and it is), Perez is past the point where we give him a cookie and a pat on the back for not walking 79 batters (he had three today), no matter what else he did. Perez is past the point of being a reclamation project ... he's a viable major league pitcher now. So blowing a 6-2 lead and getting hit hard is no longer acceptable.

"Bad Ollie ... bad! Go to your room!"

Maybe Willie Randolph will bury Ollie Perez's toys underneath Citi Field's bullpen, just to teach him a lesson.

And then there were those pesky five double plays in a row, including the last one in the eighth when a certain fan favorite was on the mound struggling and refused to throw the ball over the plate, including the ball that Carlos Delgado popped up with two outs and the bases loaded, prompting Guillermo Mota to pump his fist as if it was, oh I don't know ... Game Two of the NLCS?

Perhaps Mota can bury his leftover HGH underneath the Citi Field mound. That oughta seal the Mets fate for decades to come.

A Trip Down Memory Hell

It was exactly 11 months ago yesterday when a Saturday afternoon game featuring Ben Sheets and the Milwaukee Brewers turned into a romp fest for the Beer Heads. Eleven months later, it's Johan Santana instead of a shaky Mike Pelfrey, so this was a game that was supposed to highlight the difference between last season and this season.

Well the only thing different was Gabe Kapler instead of J.J. Hardy going deep (along with Bill Hall and Rickie Weeks) against the Mets and the result was practically the same ... Mets get beat by long balls and Johan Santana losing his Shea debut (and getting booed too ... welcome to the team, Johan!)

The one thing that was similar was the play where Santana went to first base too quickly with Corey Hart on third, Hart walked home as Santana failed to pay attention to him. Eleven months earlier, it was a botched rundown which lead to a Brewer run which should never have scored.

Flashbacks stink. I hope they don't return in my dreams as I sob myself to sleep.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Triumphant Return

Congratulations, Nelson Figueroa. Your first major league appearance since '04 was a highly successful one. Not only was your return to the majors a heartwarming story, but with your six strong innings of work you've taken your first step up the ladder of the Met History Hierarchy ... that is to say, you're one step above the likes of Geremi Gonzalez, Chan Ho Park, and Jose Lima.

It would have been a shame for you to bomb as the other three have ... what with your family going insane for you in the luxury box. It would have been a shame to have your name lumped in with the others like some sort of law firm from hell (Park, Lima, Gonzalez and Figueroa LLC). Nobody in Shea wanted that fate to befall you. Instead, you were more than adequate ... heck you were damn good ... you were so good that people in Ohio thought you had 14 K's through four innings instead of the four you actually had! Although to be honest, we all knew you weren't getting that no-hitter that you had through four and 2/3 ... because as nice a story as you are, no-hitters just don't happen around these parts. Sorry, Charlie. But damn fine job anyway, dude.

Now while you're treating your shoulder, can you be sure to save some Icy Hot for Jose Reyes' tight hamstring, please? And if there's some left over, Luis Castillo's knees? Thanks.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Accentuate The Positive

I'm not going to be a complete curmudgeon (SAT word) and complain about certain things that I could complain about.

"A win is a win is a win" is what an old dear friend of mine used to say (of course, he used to say that about the Knicks so you know those wins are at a premium), and I'm going to take that tact here. The Mets have won their series against the Phillies, and they're back to .500 on the season. That should be enough to satisfy my palate.

I will not be focusing on the fact that the victory should have been in eight and a half innings and not flippin' twelve. I'm not going to focus on the fact that Carlos Beltran would have an excellent mindset at the plate if he indeed had a mind. I'm not going to sweat the fact that after Jose Reyes and David Wright executed a double steal in the eighth, and J.C. Romero had a 2-2 count on Beltran with first base open, a hitter that Romero has dominated on deck (Carlos Delgado), and every reason to pitch around him, Beltran went hacking at a pitch designed to be impossible to hit and unlikely to tick the strike zone and strike out.

I'm not even going to fret that these two Met victories over Philadelphia came with Jimmy Rollins on the bench (save for a strikeout against Billy Wagner in the ninth on Thursday) because Joe Morgan gave him medical advice.

And I'm in such a good mood, I'm not even going to mention how Aaron Heilman sucks koala bear testicles.

Instead, I will revel in the outing provided to us by John Maine (one run in six plus strong innings.)

I will pump my fist and wipe my brow over the jam that Scott Schoeneweis got the Mets out of in the eleventh getting Chase Utley to ground into a big double play.

And I will do a Reyes/Delgado hand slap over the fact that the clock hasn't struck midnight for Angel Pagan, and that he still gets hits ... including the big walk-off hit in the twelfth in back of Reyes' second extra base hit of the year.

(All that, and Claudio Vargas too? What did I do to deserve this?)

But then my heart will sink because it took me from February until ten minutes ago that the Mets have an Angel, and a Church on the team. How did I not see this and make a stupid joke about that up until now? I have to be a better writer than that. But otherwise, it's positive, positive, positive.

A win ... is a win ... is a win.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Celebration Parade And Route Announced

The New York Mets and the city of New York revealed plans for a celebratory parade to celebrate tonight's Mets regular season win over the Philadelphia Phillies, their first win over Philadelphia in 284 days.

The parade will take place on Monday, April 14th at 2:00 p.m. and begin at Union Turnpike. and Myrtle Ave, where Eric Bruntlett will serve punch. The route will head East on Myrtle, and stop briefly at 88th St., and end at Woodhaven Blvd. in the middle of oncoming traffic, where special guest Art Howe will be signing autographs.

Those fans interested in attending the rally and program on Woodhaven Blvd. are encouraged to seek psychiatric help immediately. Fans can visit and reserve complimentary consultations, which can only be reserved on-line and printed by the user utilizing the 'Print At Home' feature at Tickets will be available beginning at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, 4/10).

Opening Wounds Day

We stink.

Look, I'm all for blaming voodoo on this one. Losses to the Phillies have taken on a mystical, surreal feeling. If it's not a ball rolling 30 feet fair up the line, or an interference call, or a lost triple in the sun, then pray tell it's Brian Schneider committing two passed balls after missing five all of last season ... or it's Carlos Delgado hitting Chase Utley in the back on a double play ball that would have otherwise gotten them out of the inning. At that moment I swear I saw various ghosts, goblins, and Allen Ludden looking into the camera and saying "for all of you folks playing at home, I'm terribly sorry."

(Not as sorry as me, Allen.)

But how did the Mets respond when life got them down? I'll give you a hint: Not with Orbitz Gum. They responded by letting the game get away from them and shying away from the challenge like lambs. And if that mental toughness is going to keep escaping this team, then it doesn't matter what the talent level is ... the Mets will continue to stink, voodoo or no voodoo.

Aristophanes, like losing to the Phillies for the 429th straight time for our last ever home opener at Shea, is ridiculous.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Maekgaibeo Kal Santana

So this is the way it's going to be this season.

Oh yeah. Just let Johan do everything, just like it was with Pedro in 2005. Let's not hit for Johan. Let's blow leads for Johan. Let's let Johan make all the spectacular fielding plays. Let's let Johan get on base for all of us. Let's not score until Johan leaves, but before then, lets turn a 1-0 deficit into 3-0. Let's make life extremely difficult because Johan Santana will find a way to get us out of it. Sure.

He gets paid all the money, what does he need with run support? He can buy runs. Sure, it's easy not to score against John Smoltz. But Johan's so good, we don't even need to score against the likes of Will Ohman and Peter Moylan. Oh, and Blaine Boyer too. Because Johan will get us out of it. He's our MacGyver. All he needs is a rubber band, a shoelace, and some lighter fluid. He'll balance pots and pans on a bag of ice that melts from heat produced by a toaster oven if he has to. He doesn't need runs!

Doesn't matter that we lost 3-0, Johan will get us out of that jam. We'll be 3-2 by the time the home opener comes around.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Que Sera Sera

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning and Jorge Sosa peering in ... I had this flashback of Kenny Rogers.

Yeah, that one.

So my conversation with Sosa at that moment ... which was one-sided because, you know, I'm in New York and Jorge can't hear me 1,000 miles away through a television, was this:
"Jorge, just throw the slider. Throw it in the strike zone, and whatever happens, happens. Que sera sera, buddy!"
That'll teach me to draw my wisdom from a Doris Day song.

It seemed like solid logic. Hell, Sosa had been striking out guys with that slider, coming back from 2-0 to get Matt Diaz. So who would have thought that Kelly Johnson would scrape the clouds with Sosa's 3-2 slider and send the Braves to an 11-5 win? I guess I should have known. And in retrospect, I probably would have taken the Kenny Rogers route rather than given up the whole bushel all at once.

Random thoughts:
  • How could Tim McCarver assume that on that wacky play where the Mark Kotsay trap was called a catch and Angel Pagan passed Ryan Church on the basepaths that if the umpire had gotten the call right initially that Pagan would have still passed Church? Does he think that Ryan Church is stupid enough to go back to third base if the umpire had called trap to begin with? Sure, Ryan Church can't hit lefties ... but I wouldn't call him stupid.
  • John Maine was not that bad today. He gave up four runs in four innings, but that RBI single to Jeff Francoeur was a good pitch that got him on the handle. But a combination of Maine's off season workout regimen and Francoeur's off season workout regimen caused that ball to be hit off the handle with such force and spin, that it made it all the way to the outfield and then took a sharp right turn as soon as it hit the ground. I'm not worried about John Maine.
  • I'm not worried about David Wright either. But he did leave four men on base today when a key hit could have changed the complexion of the game. No, it's not a microcosm of anything, but David Wright had a tough game.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Keep Your Pets And Old People Indoors

A tornado watch in Atlanta until 10PM has put the kibosh on tonight's game. It'll be made up on May 20th as a day/night doubleheader. On a separate note, did you notice tonight that Keith Hernandez looked like one of those guys who showed up at a restaurant without a jacket, and had to wear one of the restaurant's spares so that he could eat there, even though the jacket didn't match anything else he had on? It was just really bizarre.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Church Of The Absurd

Small sample size alert: Ryan Church, the guy that can’t hit lefties, is currently hitting .333 against lefthanders this season with an OPS of 1.262. after his dinger against young stud Andrew Miller helped the Mets to a 13-0 victory last night. It only signifies that this regression to the mean is going to feel something like trying to quit heroin cold turkey (not that I would know anything about that. Caffeine? Maybe.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

That's Just Fowl

The early results on Pedro Martinez's MRI came in. With our exclusive super zoom lens, here's a look at what doctors found:

Those birds will do a number on hamstrings.

All this talk about who's going to be the fifth starter, and now one of them is going to be the fourth starter after Pedro's injury. At least the bullpen showed how good it can be after Petey's shaky outing ... that is, until somebody named Robert Andino took some low-80's slop from Matt Wise and deposited it over the left field fence for a 5-4 Marlins win in ten innings.

Too bad Wise couldn't hear Keith Hernandez say that you can't continue to put pitches up in the zone as he did on the 2-0 pitch. The 2-1 pitch? It's going on Andino's mantle.

As for Petey, he's quickly headed towards the Orlando Hernandez region, where your starts are much anticipated, yet nobody expects anything out of you anymore. Pedro Martinez was a number two starter in ceremony only ... as far as I'm concerned, John Maine had the better chance to team with Johan Santana to create the 1-2 punch that teams fear anyway. Pedro got the second start of the season to keep his ego massaged. Now, he'll have his leg massaged instead.

And now here's the worst part: Pedro Martinez is injured while Mike Hampton is healthy.

Here's the second worst part: I have a friend at work who is ready to put Bobby Parnell in the Hall of Fame for his seven shutout innings this past spring. Now, he's probably ready to live on a billboard until Parnell is called up ... which means he'll probably alienate his friends and family, get fired from his job, and worst of all: not shower for weeks at a time, because Parnell isn't coming up anytime soon.