Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pacifiers For Everyone

All right, our bullpen is awful. Yada, yada, yada. We know this. We know that the force of Mike Jacobs' home run was enough to knock Gustav down to a Category 2. We know this. I for one am not going to let Saturday's loss distract me from my focus right now ... and that's this:

Cody Ross needs to shut the f**k up.

Sorry to be so blunt, but I'm in the midst of working five straight holiday shifts and I'm kinda in a mood. So I'm taking my anger out on Cody Ross. Displaced anger? Probably. Sound familiar? Yeah, kind of like Cody Ross got unnecessarily uppity at Mike Pelfrey for hitting him with a fastball that ran inside while Ross was on top of the plate?

Oh, and then to top it off, wait to yell at Pelfrey until there were people in between Ross and the much bigger Pelfrey (they do call him "Big Pelf" for a reason)? Oh, what bravery. I mean, look at the picture above ... Cody's gotta get on his tippy toes to yell at Pelfrey. Dude, trust me ... if Pelfrey wanted to hit him, he'd know it.

I don't know what made Cody Ross upset, and frankly ... I could care less. He's just another one of the many whiny hypocrites we have here in the NL East. This division is flippin' loaded with them. Let's start with Jimmy Rollins and his constant yammering about how the Mets celebrate. Does it get play? Of course it did. It's fun to pick on the Mets for celebrating. But let me ask you this, is there anybody out there who noticed J.C. Romero stepping off the mound pounding his chest like King Kong ain't got nothin' on him after striking out Geovany Soto Saturday in the eighth inning? I sure as hell did. But you're not going to hear anybody complain about that, are you? So I'm the one that's going to have to do it. So settle down, Denzel. And the next time Rollins complains about the Mets celebrating, I'd be glad to show him the tape of his friend and teammate.

And much the same, nobody is going to take Cody Ross to task for his little fake temper tantrum on Saturday, so again ... I gotta be the one to do it. Obviously, Ross was waiting for Miguel Olivo to race out of the dugout and come to his defense ... not realizing that Olivo is in Kansas City with his own anger management issues. But to no avail. Then he goes and gets picked off (no truth to the rumor that Carlos Delgado was heard asking "Hey, Cody, tell me how my glove tastes" after that pick-off) and he wasn't a factor after that during the game.

Trust me, I know we lost. My anger towards Ross is magnified by my resentment of the Mets bullpen right now for making everything I wrote above basically toothless because they went and blew the game. But to me, hypocrisy is a bigger issue than one game. So thank you for letting me vent (because nobody else will). Now I can sleep easy.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Name Change

You know, he is in Florida, after all.

The Greatest Game Ever Played (On A Friday Night In The State Of Florida)

Did Friday's incredible win remind you of something?

Did you see a little Lenny Dykstra in Luis Castillo as he started the rally with two outs and nobody on?

Did David Wright remind you a bit of Mookie Wilson when he continued the rally?

Was Carlos Beltran's grand slam part Keith, part Darryl, and part Ray Knight all rolled up into one?

You can be forgiven if you saw Jeremy Hermida and Hanley Ramirez reach base and all of a sudden see Davey Lopes and Bill Doran roaming the bases ... or if Mike Jacobs looked an awful lot like Glenn Davis ... or if Jorge Cantu's long fly ball down the left field line which would have won the game all of a sudden made you see Billy Hatcher jog backwards down to first base before Cantu's ball went foul and you were allowed to breathe again.

You can be forgiven because we've pretty much waited for this kind of thing from the Mets all season long ... October magic in August was that lacking ingredient last season, and Friday it returned in all its spectacular fashion. Of course, it wasn't without its corresponding headaches as Luis Ayala threatened to go Jesse Orosco all over Miami.

I might be reaching with this comparison, but you have to realize one thing from my perspective ... that there was another parallel between October 15th, 1986 and August 29th, 2008: I fell asleep during both games.

Only in '86 I had it timed a little better: I had come home from school dead tired for that 3PM start and tried like hell to stay awake, but after the Astros had taken a 3-0 lead I must have thought that Game 7 was inevitable, and unconsciously became, well ... unconscious. By the time I woke up, I kid you not, Lenny Dykstra was leading off the ninth inning. So you can say I really didn't miss a whole lot.

Friday night, same deal. Wright strikes out with the bases loaded in the seventh and I'm done. I sleep with the TV on so that if something big happens, most likely I'll wake up to it. I must have been extremely dead because from the time Cantu misplayed an easy ground ball in the eighth until Jacobs was up in the ninth, I was dead to the world. Not even a grand slam was enough to shake me out (and Gary Cohen gave it the double "outta here" ... and I still didn't wake up. Whoa.)

In fact, for some reason I had it in my mind that 2-1 became 5-2 because of two runs in the eighth and two runs in the ninth. (Obviously, I had created my own ball game while I was asleep.) But truth, as always, is stranger (and more dramatic) than fiction.

(Editors note: You know what else contributed to that '86 feeling? It was the football markings on the field. They were all over the Astrodome ... and it was those football markings which forced that NLCS to start and end in Houston when the Mets rightfully should have had home field advantage. It's just too bad that more of the home fans didn't show up Friday ... I mean, Maroone Honda sales draw more customers. But hey, more seats for Met fans. Oh well ... maybe they'll show up Saturday. I hear Mike Scott's supposed to pitch.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Escape From Philadelphia

Let's forget the obvious for a moment, that the five runs that the Mets scored after the fifth inning were instrumental in the Mets Wednesday victory because:
  • the Mets were behind and actually needed the runs,
  • the Mets were playing the Phillies ... ahead of them to start the night, and ...
  • the Mets got those runs off of the Phillies bullpen, Kryptonite to Mets bats.
I got a comment on my last post which basically said that late runs are a non-story, and that seven runs late in the game still would have left the Mets one short. So I put on my white coat, entered my math lab, made all of the calculations and concluded that yes, seven runs is still less than eighth no matter when the seven runs are scored. Let that be a lesson to you kids: Math is useful and fun.

But here's the difference between late runs and early runs: Tuesday night: I had this feeling in the ninth that it was only a matter of time until the bullpen blew it. Wednesday night: I thought the game was over entering the ninth (and don't tell me that I had that feeling because the lead was three instead of one ... I've seen what this bullpen can do with three run leads and it's not f***ing pretty). And if I, of all people, was feeling a little invincible, imagine what they were feeling on the Mets bench.

Also, when you score runs early, you're most likely going to do it against one pitcher. When you score runs late, you're probably going to do it against three or four guys with all of the pitching changes, so you make a team feel like they have no options ... you know, that feeling you get when Snoop trots out Heilman, Sanchez and Feliciano all the time? That one.

Don't get me wrong, I'll take runs during any inning at any time. But those late runs, thanks to Carlos Delgado, Daniel Murphy, and Brian Schneider, kept those creepy feelings away ... at least until the next time we meet up with the Phillies (the team that the Mets officially won the season series with last night ... incidentally.)

So enjoy your day off today in the knowledge that at least for now, all is right and familiar with the world. The Mets are in first place, Fluff Castro is on the DL, and Skip Bayless is still an ever-loving tool:
"Way to go, Phillies!!!!!!!" -Skip Bayless on Wednesday's "First Pizza", or whatever they call that show these days.
Bite me, you contrarian cupcake crumb.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What A Twist!

You want to know what it's like to be a Mets fan?

At about 11:00 every night (except for maybe a day off every three weeks), read "The Tortoise and the Hare". Don't read any other books except that one.

Because the Mets season is the same damn story all the time ... the script doesn't change:
  • Score a bunch of runs in the first three or four innings.
  • Take a nap.
  • Watch the other team pass you at the end and celebrate off your bullpen.
Wash, rinse, repeat.

"But Metstradamus, last night's game was a great game, I'd hardly call it the same old story".

Okay, so it was "The Tortoise and the Hare" adapted by Tolstoy. It doesn't matter. It's the same story. There's a tortoise, there's a hare, and the Mets lose. You could get Martin Scorsese to direct the movie version ... or you could get Ang Lee to direct it. The ending remains the same. Mets lose.

If the 2008 Mets were a sitcom, it would have been cancelled by now for being too predictable.

You could change the players (Luis Ayala as closer ... any more good ideas?) even put some character actors in leading roles (Aaron Heilman as vanquished hero is kinda like Brian Dennehy as Bobby Knight, it just doesn't look right), but it's the same movie ... the same book ... the same poem.

Well screw this, I'm changing the postscript. You see, this is the part where Metstradamus goes insane. Not tonight. In addition to being too tired and too numb from the 4,912th gut wrenching loss in the last two years, I present to you the following: The Mets have come back from many of these types of losses this season with some great efforts ... and they have the right guy on the mound tonight to make it happen. And if he does, it's a split.

There, optimistic and level headed. How's that for a surprise ending.

(And if Santana can't make it happen, then we could always hope for Brian Fuentes to be claimed by the Mets on waivers. Or maybe that nine-year-old that's too good for his little league team can come help out.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Now You Will Know My True Self

Remember the South Park episode where Butters was fired from the group of friends because he was too lame ... and then Butters went home and was so bitter that he developed the alter ego: "Professor Chaos"?

I have this picture in my mind of Willie Randolph at home watching Monday night's game and seeing Carlos Delgado pounding away (.728 OPS 9 HR's 28 RBI under Randolph, .925 OPS, 17 HR's 52 RBI since ... not including the two dingers and six ribbies tonight) and Mike Pelfrey morphing into Roy Hallapelf (3-6 under Willie, 10-2 since ... including his second straight complete game tonight) and making the decision to don the tin foil and become "Manager Chaos", forumlating a plan to get revenge on his former club for not overacheiving under his watch ... while sneaking into restaurants and switching people's soup in the meantime. So if you're in a Philadelphia diner this afternoon and you ordered Tomato Bisc and instead get French Onion, you'll know ... you'll know.

But I know how Willie will get his revenge. It's either going to involve the upcoming two game series in Philadelphia (maybe he'll try to flood the earth and broadcast an evil message on the scoreboard like Professor Chaos did at Coors Fied) ... or he's going to work his underground connections to make sure the Mets make a trade for a certain pitcher that has recently been seen passing through waivers to help replace the recently DL'd John Maine.

Trust me, you don't want to know which certain pitcher I'm talking about ... unless you're masochistic. If you are, click here and find out. And if it does come true, remember Manager Chaos. And if it doesn't come true, it'll be because he was told that the Simpsons already did it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Old Boys Network

I don't want to say that Brad Ausmus and Darin Erstad are old, but after they hit dingers off of Pedro Feliciano in the tenth on Sunday I could swear that I saw Bea Arthur grabbing a bat in the dugout mouthing the words "I want hacks ... I want haaaaaacks!!!"

Of course, it would have never come down to the tenth inning had the Mets not continued their Roy Orbison impression (years between hits).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

David Newhan Has Sent You an E-Card

Saturday night was the sixth anniversary of a very painful event in this Met fan's life. Six years later, I celebrated it by returning to Shea with one of the very same people that I was with that night. How did David Newhan celebrate? By reminding me that the world still spins on its axis. What kind of world would it be if former Mets didn't return to Shea to beat up their former team? You know how bad Newhan's production was last season? I saw over half if it live. And I didn't go to that many games last season. Now he comes to Shea as an Astro and he's Wade &^#%$@ Boggs. It's unbelievable, yet typical at the same time.

And a Happy Donne Wall Day to you. Hope you got your shopping done, and hung your Jason Jennings press clippings by the chimney with care.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Physical Challenge

Two things caught my eye all the way from the upper deck on Friday.

One was Johan Santana ... not only the seven shutout innings, but his battles with Lance Berkman. The first inning epic, 11 pitches long, was indicative of how the early part of the night was going to go ... long, arduous, and meticulous. Thanks in part to Berkman, Santana had a pitch count of about 60 with two outs in the third inning, and a five inning outing was looming over the stadium like a cloud of smoke from Derek Bell's boat.

And then came the fifth inning. Berkman came up again with runners on second and third with the immortal Geoff Blum on deck. I turn to my friend and hold up four fingers ... a sign that surely I thought was coming from the dugout after Brian Schneider had a long talk with Johan on the mound. But Santana must have pulled a Rick Vaughn and given Schneider the "I want ... Berkman!" speech because Schneider went down in the crouch. And that's where my baseball companion for the evening gets the +1 for the Double Dare reference and says: "Johan is ready for the physical challenge."

Turns out he didn't know how right he was, as it wasn't an "unintentional-intentional" walk as we thought it might be. But instead, Santana turned the messy stunt of fielding a hard comebacker up the middle off Berkman into the turning point of Santana's night, as Johan wound up going seven innings ... a feat that seemed impossible coming out of the box.

And speaking of physical challenges ...

The other thing that caught my eye is the same thing that caught everyone else's eye: the return of Ryan Church.

First batter of the game flies out to Church, and he kinda gets turned a couple of ways chasing that ball. He looked about as disoriented as I was climbing down to the box seats in the upper deck (I had forgotten how steep the upper tank was.)

But in the midst of Ryan Church's own physical challenge, he beat out a base hit in his first at-bat back to set up Schneider's two run HR. With what Ryan's been through, running down the line ... and running in a straight line ... is a victory in itself.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Face Washed

There are certain things I notice about a baseball game that nobody else does.

It's not something I brag about, because most of these things that only I notice border on the ridiculous ... like in the bottom of the seventh when Fernando Tatis made a bid to give the Mets the lead with a deep drive to left, only to fall harmlessly into the glove of Omar Infante ... the same glove which he then used to give a playful face wash to a fan behind the wall, no doubt getting a little revenge for some good ol' American heckling. Infante got a smile out of that.

So who's glove do you think clanked Carlos Delgado's fifth hit of the evening and lost the game for the Braves (and completed a sweep ... a sweep??!?) Ooooh, it was Omar Infante's glove. The same glove that face washed one of our own in left field.

Dare I say, I got a smile out of that.


I also got a smile about the play in the top of the ninth, which Gregor Blanco really should have been called safe on a play at first base with two outs and a runner on second, and prevented the go-ahead run from scoring from Atlanta. Perhaps karma is on our side right now.

But I ask this, and it has to do with replay: If you eventually make replay about more than home runs, and include plays at first base ... and a play like that happens where you look at it, and then reverse the call and put Blanco at first base ... what do you do with the runner? Put him at third? Let him score? Make it a judgement call with the umpires even though the umpires, as soon as the play is called "out", stop paying attention to what Martin Prado is doing at third base?

That is a subtle reason why you'll probably never see replay go past fair/foul, home run/no home run.


Luis Ayala for Anderson Hernandez: A trade that works for everybody except the Phillies.

And speaking of the Phillies: In the remaining days of the month, the Mets and Phillies play twice. Otherwise, the Mets have the Astros and Marlins. The Phillies, meanwhile, have the Dodgers and Cubs.

So if there's ever a chance to pad the 2.5 game lead, it's August.


And just because I've gone a whole post without mentioning it ... and this is purely obligatory:

Hey Mikey? How those schools in Denver working out for ya?

(Editor's Note: You do realize that in twelve years when the Mets celebrate the 20th anniversary of the N.L. Championship team, that Mike Hampton will be there? You realize that he'll still get booed, right? Maybe instead of money, the fans can throw loose leaf paper and chalk in his general direction ... maybe some erasers too.)

(Editor's Note Part II: I'm not condoning violence.)

Meeting Of The Minds

We set the scene in the Mets bullpen, during the first inning of Wednesday night's game against the Braves:

Schoeneweis: Hey everybody! Everybody! Gather your butts 'round here, Billy's got something to say to all of you!

Wagner: Thanks Scott. I want you all to know that just because I'm not going to be able to close for y'all in the foreseeable future cuz my elbow is the size of Fluff Castro's head, that you guys are more than capable to get the job done. In fact, I want to tell you that you guys are great, and there's not a guy out there that I would trade any of you for. People just focus on me because I have the closer title ... and the only reason that I'm a closer is that I stunk as a starter.

Heilman: You stunk as a starter?

Wagner: Why, yes I did.

Heilman: Tell us that story.

Wagner: What story?

Heilman: About how you stunk as a starter and are now the best closer in this bullpen? Please?

Wagner: Well, that's not really ...


Schoeneweis: Aaron! Pipe down!

Wagner: No Schoeney, it's okay. I'll tell the story.

Feliciano: Cool! Story time! Hey Joe, you have the candy in the Hello Kitty bag?

Smith: Yup. Hope you guys don't mind, I ate a lot of it ... just the stuff with the processed sugar.

Schoeneweis: Will you mutts stifle so Billy can tell his story ... we may have to pitch soon!

Wagner: Well, there's not too much to the story ... when I was at Quad City in 1994, I started 26 games, went 8-9, and walked 91 batters in 153 innings. So then after I started some in AAA, the Astros decided to make me a reliever. So I really mean it when I say that you're all better than me.

Smith: Ha ha, hahaa ha. I'm better than yooooooou. Hey, I wonder who else I'm better than (hops off).

Feliciano: That wasn't a very interesting story. Where's the compelling plot lines? The sultry ingenue? The action scenes?

Heilman: Wait a second, I wasn't that bad in Norfolk ... I didn't walk as many guys as you when I was a starter, and they didn't make me a closer. The Mets just made me a stupid seventh inning guy.

Smith: (licking the sugar off the inside of the candy bag) Ha ha hahaa, ha. I'm better than yooooooou, Aaron!

Heilman: No really, I only walked 66 in 151 innings in Norfolk and the Mets told me that I had to pitch in the stupid seventh inning. What does that say about me?

Schoeneweis: What Billy is trying to say is that you're all capable of closing so keep your chins up.

Heilman: My chins? Are you calling me fat? I'm going to go now. (stomps off)

Feliciano: Billy, if there was a movie made about you, who would you get to play you? John Malkovich?

Stokes: Edward Norton?

Schoeneweis: Jack Black!

Wagner: Close Schoneny ... John Franco.

Smith: Hey, you know who else I'm better than? John Smoltz. After 57 years as a starter, he was a reliever for a couple of years. That must mean he stunk as a starter too. So I must be better than him too, right? I'm better than Smollll-tziiiiiiie. I'm better than Smollll-tziiiiiiie.

Schoeneweis: You're a little dense. Hey what's Heilman doing over there?

Stokes: Schoeny, he said something about "goodbye cruel world" and I now think he's trying to slit his pinky finger with a spoon.

Heilman: I'll do it too if I can find only my wrist!

Stokes: What should I do, Billy?

Wagner: Leave him alone. He obviously lacks his tools and his command tonight so I wouldn't worry about him.

Smith: Hey, I'm reading Wikipedia, and there's this guy named Mathewson, and he had 28 career saves. So that must mean he stunk as a starter ... and he's in the Hall of Fame! So I'm better than him, right? Wow, I'm going to be in the Hall of Fame! Wait 'till I rub it in to the guys at Wrigley! I'm a Hall of Faaaaaaaaam-eeeeeeeeeer! I'm a Hall of Faaaaaaaaam-eeeeeeeeeer!

Schoeneweis: Wait a second, where's Filthy? Filthy! What are you doing in the corner???

Sanchez: I'm making a t-shirt for Johan! It says "I Went to the Dugout with a Three Run Lead and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!"

Feliciano: What does it say on the back?

Sanchez: It says "Oh Yeah, and a No-Decision Too!"

Heilman: Ha ha, that's funny! Maybe this world isn't so cruel after all! I want to liiiiiiiiive!!!

Schoeneweis: Oh jeez, with all these basket cases I'd think it was Easter. I hope we don't have to pitch tonight.

Wagner: I wouldn't worry about that.

Al Reyes: All right boys, I'm here to help. Where's the candy?

Schoeneweis: Wait, you're a Met?

Al Reyes: Well, sort of. I'm a Binghamton Met.

Feliciano: Don't you play second base?

Stokes: I think that's Argenis.

Smith: Yay! We lead the league in Reyeses! Yaaaaaay! They're better than yooooooou! They're better than yooooooou!

Heilman: Where's that spoon?

Wagner: (Buries head in hands. Elbow inflames to the size of Mr. Met's head.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On Second Thought ...

Cancel that order for Will Ohman.

And if Luis Ayala goes on to become a huge bust here in New York, let it be known that at the very least, his very first pitch as a New York Met not only brushed a hitter back (a novel treat for a Met), not only brushed back an Atlanta Brave, but started a sequence where a Met reliever put water on a fire and not gasoline.

And it made possible an eighth inning rally to put the wraps on a home win for the Mets over Atlanta.

Somehow I get the feeling that after those three very uncommon occurrences, that I should play the lottery like, immediately.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Scrambled Hubris

Hey, the Braves are in town. And as such, I think it's time to revisit something:
"I've got to say that there was something particularly satisfying about taking two from the Mets and their two best pitchers right after Metsradamus dismissed us as not even in contention for winning the DIVISION, much less anything else. You said we would be lucky to break .500 (...) The Mets still can't win at Turner Field. The Mets still can't beat the Braves. Order has been restored to the baseball universe." -Anonymous Braves fan, April 7th, 2008
So how's that baseball universe treatin' ya, buddy? Seem a little disoriented? Of course you do. Now you know how Ryan Church feels. Yeah, remember him? He of the late slide that callously caused your shortstop to miss a couple of games.

Oh, by the way, Yunel Escobar has played 63 games since Church's slide. Church has played 15 ... and for a couple of months, he couldn't differentiate eggs from light sockets.

But his slide was dirty. Yeah, our bad.

But hey Anonymous, you'll always have those two games in April. They'll keep you warm during those cold winter months. Now go trade Will Ohman to us for a box of hammers.*

*Assuming your true identity is Frank Wren.

Monday, August 18, 2008

How Much Are YOU Worth?

There's a goofy website out there called "Human For Sale" which tells you how much you're worth if you ever want to sell yourself. And before you ask, I never finished the survey because I don't have to ... I already know you can't put a dollar figure on my worthlessness.

And lucky for Luis Ayala, he doesn't have to finish this survey either (and risk having his e-mail flooded with spam for weeks afterwards.) Because we know what Ayala is worth: $1.88.

That's what the Mets gave up for Ayala ... as in the buck eighty-eight average that Anderson Hernandez was putting up in New Orleans, cementing his place as nothing more than a defensive replacement on a good team (equivalent to a regular role on the Washington Nationals), so off he goes to get the former Montrealer Ayala in return and continue Minaya's march to create the "Metspos".

Of course, in this Mets bullpen, you can't place a value on another veteran arm with a 1-8 record and a 5.77 ERA, which makes him fit right in with this outfit which suffered through another outing where Filthy Sanchez did nothing but throw batting practice to the Pirates in a tie game. That created a small stain on a stellar road trip which finishes up at 6-1 after the 5-2 loss to Jack Wilson, Steve Pearce, Steve Pearce's Ultimate Warrior facepaint, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Sanchez blames a monkey on his back. It certainly couldn't have been the super-cool shades he was wearing, right? Perhaps the good ol' goggles should make a return.)

And it's crystal clear that John Maine needs to learn what Johan Santana has learned ... that is how to go nine innings. Johan learned to make sure the pen doesn't see the light of day, and now Maine needs to learn the art of distrust. But seriously, Maine seems to be back where he was before the injury, five innings, few runs, and 2,000 pitches (okay, 96). I'm sure that regardless of the bullpen problems, the Mets would love find a way to have John use his pitches a little more economically. Because when it comes to today's economics, $1.88 doesn't buy much these days.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

While You Were Out

So here I am in the Meadowlands thinking I was going to be far away from any bullpen problems the Mets would have (and as I saw courtesy of my DVR, they indeed had their problems before finally winning.) But when Paul Raymond dropped what would have been the winning touchdown against the Redskins, and Mike Nugent hit the upright on a field goal at the buzzer (who the hell plays for the tie in a pre-season game ... oh, right. It's the Jets) can you blame me for thinking that Raymond and Nugent were kidnapped, tied up and left in the upper tank of the Meadowlands, and replaced by Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoeneweis? I mean, the Jets closed out that game as if they were ... well, the Mets. Can you be positive that didn't happen? Maybe that wasn't Heilman warming up in the bullpen in the ninth in Pittsburgh. Maybe it was a C.I.A. operative. Maybe it's part of the intricate plot to keep Billy Wagner on the disabled list for a few extra days. Uh-oh, I've said too much.

At least the Phillies lost. And Brett Favre looked good. Not quite Pedro Martinez good, but good. Conspiracies aside, not a bad day.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

High Anxiety

So when did you get nervous?

Was it when Filthy Sanchez walked in from the bullpen?

Was it when Jack Wilson hit his first home run of the season off Filthy, and first off of a Met since he hit a grand slam off of Danny Graves?

Was it when Aaron Heilman showed his face on the PNC mound?

Or perhaps ... was it when Carlos Delgado got himself "set" to field that Andy LaRoche grounder and instead did his best impression of a bullfighter?

Or did you get nervous the moment I did, when the team plane hit the tarmac in Pittsburgh?

Luckily, Argenis Reyes knows that when it's Delgado backing up on a grounder, he should take nothing for granted. And luckily, all of Aaron Heilman's pitching problems didn't cause him to forget how to cover first on that play ... which helped to save the Mets in their 2-1 win (yes, I believe Heilman should split that third save with Argenis. You can have 2.5 sacks, why not 2.5 saves?)

But Heilman still had to get Jack "Slugger" Wilson to end the game as the winning run. Were you nervous then? C'mon, it was Jack Wilson! He had only hit two dingers in a game once before. And once again ... this was Jack Wilson we were talking about.

Oh just admit it ... you were nervous. Admission is the first step.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Picture Is Worthless

Carlos Delgado has done many great things in his career. Last night's achievement might have been his greatest: He finally hit a ball that Willie Harris couldn't catch.

Turns out Harris keeps a picture in his locker of a game winning catch (a walk-off catch?) off of Delgado last season that wound up, among other things, costing the Mets the divisional title. But he only puts it up in his locker when he plays the Mets. It didn't help him Thursday night, or at any point this series.

I'll use the above picture, one where Harris can only watch Delgado's home run sail over the wall, as my screen saver. But only when the Mets play whichever team Harris happens to be on. This means that I can't use it during the Pirates series in Pittsburgh, where the Mets have historically lost some awful games. This also means that Ronny Paulino is probably busy tacking some things up in his locker.


By the way, Orlando Hernandez thinks that Olympic gymnasts lying about their ages is totally reprehensible.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's Already A Wonderful Life

I hope that Dan Murphy never pulls a George Bailey and wonders how much better life on earth would be if he didn't exist. Not that Dan would be wondering that now, what with his .467 batting average and all that.

You see, Dan Murphy setting the Mets' world on fire has squashed any thoughts the Mets might have had in bringing Gary Sheffield and his circus to town, now that the Tigers have put him on/passed him through waivers. (And if you don't think the Mets would ever think about it, just note that people have brought it up to me. And if us commoners have talked about it, you know that a Wilpon or two has thought about it.)

But if Murphy ever thought that the world was better off without him, if he ever got down about his place on this earth, then let me give him ... and you ... a peek at what life would be like without him:
As the Mets fall further back in the playoff chase for 2008, sources say that Gary Sheffield is privately grumbling about not only playing time, but about Jerry Manuel's managing style as well. Sheffield has this to say about his time in New York:

"I'm the only winner on this team. The rest of 'em, they're losers. Either by choice, or by birth."

Sheffield was brought to New York after being put on waivers by the Detroit Tigers. The Mets, who are 15 games behind the Phillies, are dealing with the loss of Ryan Church due to injury, the slow maturation process of Fernando Martinez, and the fact that Daniel Murphy was never born.
Dan Murphy. Changing the course of history since 1985.

Cousin Oliver Redux

Could Brian Stokes have been the key all along?

Now far be it from me to be the one to make excuses for the outfit in the pen and the way they've been going these days. Heck, during the early stages of the Mets' 10-0 lead tonight, when you were thinking if there was anyone out there who thought the Mets' bullpen could blow this lead, the answer was yes ... me! But here's what I'm thinking:

Forget the whole "different roles" thing. That's an excuse. A lame one at that. But could it be ... just maybe ... that the whole reason the bullpen has reaked of fresh roadkill is due to the lack of a long option in the pen?

When Darren Oliver played here in '06, the Mets' record in games he's pitched in was 17-28. Look through his game log and you'll see a lot of the scores of the games he's been in are of the 15-2, 11-3, 10-1 variety. Now, go through this season and check out the boxscores of similar games with similar scores. For example: May 12th against the Nationals, where the game was decided by the sixth inning:

Sosa 1 IP
Sanchez 1 IP
Smith 1 IP
Wagner 1 IP

How about two days earlier, a game which was 10-3 after six innings:

Heilman 1 IP
Feliciano 1 IP
Sosa (Who's this Sosa guy?) 1 IP

Even July 3rd, a game with was 11-0 after five and a half.

Schoeneweis 1 IP
Smith 1 IP

Games like this in 2006 saw Darren Oliver eat inning, after inning, after inning. The above blowouts featured names that would be better serve to use their limited bullets on close games, and not blowouts (though the Heilman appearance was very well one of those "I need to find my game" appearances. Apparently, he lost it again.)

Tonight was one of those games that you knew was going to be a patchwork bullpen game with John Maine restricted in his first game back from his shoulder issue. And in a game without Brian Stokes, even with the score 10-0 (which would end 12-0) you would have seen Schoeneweis pitch an inning ... Filthy pitch an inning ... Smith pitch an inning ... heck, Jorge Sosa could have come in tonight just for laughs (Sosa is in the Seattle organization, in case you were wondering. I know you weren't. Heck, I wasn't until I was looking through old boxscores. How did I miss Jorge Sosa going to Seattle? Or should the question be: How could I not?)

But with Stokes on the roster, he fills the Darren Oliver role and gives the rest of the beleaguered some rest by pitching four innings and getting a save in a 12-0 game. And now I'm wondering if there's a way to keep Stokes on the roster when Country Time comes back. Which of course, there is ... with Eddie Kunz eligible to be sent down, and Fluff Castro probably overdue for a spot on the D.L.

And speaking of bullpens, notice how the Phillies bullpen melted late for the second night in a row? Yes, I felt dirty rooting for Chan Ho Park. Dirtier still rooting for Joe Torre. And dirtiest of all when Jeff Kent was up with the Dodgers down by two runs and second and third, and he lined one down the left field line to tie the game which was met with "Yes! Jeff!" A swear which was quickly followed by "I still hate you Jeff!!!", which is the baseball equivalent of blessing yourself after you swear which is what my grandmother did a lot ... thank you, Nana!

But we'll have to send the Dodgers some sort of bouquet of flowers of some sort for sweeping the Phillies and helping the Mets climb back into a tie for first. Hopefully Manny doesn't think it's lettuce and mistakenly eats it. Thank you, Nomar.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Like Having A Dentist Extinguish A Fire

I understand that one save of a Johan Santana victory doesn't mean that the bullpen shouldn't stop designing those t-shirts that say "I Got Traded To The Mets And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" on the front, along with "And 17 No-Decisions Too" on the back. (I wonder if Johan has exited the fetal position yet.)

But if Jerry Manuel thinks that John Maine as closer is a good idea, consider that in pitches 1-15 of a game, Maine has an ERA of 7.03.

And maybe Juan Samuel would work in center field too.

By the way, South Korea crushed one-time Met starter Brandon Knight in Olympic play today. Obviously, South Korea provides a higher level of competition than the Cardinals.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Symphony, Tragedy, And Cutlery

You ever get the feeling that the Mets bullpen could be a ride at Disneyworld?

Seriously, I know people that have been on the tower of terror so many times that it bores them. The Mets bullpen is the new Tower of Terror. Guaranteed to slay your spirit.

This may have topped 'em all. A Pirate team in town for one game on a rainout make up game ... a team that was 1-348 on the season when they give up the initial lead on the road, and was down 4-1 to Pedro Martinez and the Mets after six innings. It was a symphony.

Then came the bullpen. Tragedy.

And then the cutlery ... that needs to be kept out of my possession (along with all shoelaces and belts).

It's never good when the game plan of a bullpen is "Hey, let's not let Luis Rivas beat us!" But that's how they pitched to him ... like he was Luis Aparicio.

And you know what, silly me ... and silly everybody ... thinking that Aaron Heilman's problem is that he gets down on himself and mopey when he doesn't pitch important innings. Aaron Heilman's problem is that he stinks to high hell. There's no psychology involved. Freud can go back to his therapy couch in heaven and aim for a more realistic goal. There's nothing more he can do.

For the rest of them? If you subscribe to the theory that these clowns aren't successful because they're in the wrong roles with Wagner out ... a theory I don't subscribe to (poor babies), but if you do, then shouldn't Eddie Kunz, who's closed in the minors, be closing? But I don't know. I'm stupid to begin with, and I'm running out of answers. I just hope that the Mets relievers don't take side jobs as knife throwers in the circus. They'd kill people ...

... in the audience.

Your 2008 Hall Of Hate Inductee

The voting for this season's Hall of Hate turned out to be as much psychology experiment than ballot. Who do you blame more for 2007 ... the opposing player who made a brash promise and delivered? Or your own player with the Hall of Fame credentials who fell flat on his face in one of the biggest starts of his life, and certainly his biggest start as a New York Met?

Your vote was close, but ...

You, the fans, voted Tom Glavine in the Hall of Hate by 12 votes over Jimmy Rollins. Certainly, that fateful start last September was the main ingredient. But his ill-conceived post-game non-chalance and his quick return to the safe haven of the Mets' main rival over the last 15 years sealed this meal.

Tom Glavine 177
Jimmy Rollins 165
Guillermo Mota 162
Shane Victorino 156
Brett Myers 129
Pete Rose 63
Mel Rojas 46
Albert Pujols 39
Joe Torre 33
Jeff Torborg 24
Eddie Murray 23
John Thomson 22
Tony Fernandez 22
Richie Hebner 20

And if Mike Jacobs continues his assault on his former franchise (and if he comes up with a stupid quote about putting on your Yankee gear), you can expect him on this ballot around the year 2023.

(Editor's Note: For those itching to hear the big announcement, and didn't get to do so on WGBB last night, you can hear the show in its entirety Monday at 6PM here.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Deepness Is Spreading

In a world that seems strange ... a world that seems to conspire against you, what with Paul Lo Duca jumping up about a hundred games in the standings and joining the Marlins for the express purpose of getting a key hit during the last game of the season to knock the Mets out of the playoffs, and Juan Samuel being inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame during the same week he got a write-in vote for my Hall of Hate, take comfort that Daniel Murphy is on your side.

Murphy, batting .500 entering the game, is already receiving the respect of his peers, with Fredi Gonzalez going lefty-lefty on him in the sixth and bothering to bring in Reynel Pinto to face the rookie. That Gonzalez would be willing to burn a pitching change on a rookie is respect. That Murphy would make that move go up in flames by going deep to provide the margin of victory in an 8-6 win is cause for rejoice.

And that Brian Stokes would be the latest character from the minors to come up with a decent effort after I made fun of him just proves that maybe I should just learn to shut the hell up every once in a while and stop complaining about every low level minor league trade. Heck, he's the only Mets pitcher I've seen this season brush some hitters back, including Hanley "Waaah, I don't get as much coverage as Jose Reyes" Ramirez.

Although that's probably because he was wild and not because he was staking his claim to the inside of the plate. Oh well. I'll take it.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Vote Or Die!

Just a friendly reminder, if you haven't voted for your 2008 Hall of Hate candidates yet, what are you waiting for? You have until 5:59 PM tomorrow, and it may sound cliche that "your vote counts" ... but I'm here to tell you: Your vote really does count! I'm not going to give you the standings or tell you who is ahead, but let's just say your vote really could decide it. It's that close! So vote!!!

Or, you know ... die.

This Photo Is Not Doctored

What you see is Aaron Heilman after last night's save.

What you just read is "Heilman" and "Save" in the same sentence.





And somewhere, Johan Santana is banging his head against a wall.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Count On David

Fitting that Sesame Street's own Ernie was at Shea today to help teach the many kids in attendance to "Count On Sports". And all those kids that were out there today learned from Jody Gerut that you can always count on sports to give you a tummy ache ... especially when Gerut waits for the Mets series to decide that there's some lineage to Mel Ott in his family.

So remember for all you kids out there (as Keith would say), sometimes ... bullpens suck. You don't have to tell Johan Santana that as he walked off the mound after being pulled from the game in the 8th after a couple of seeing-eye hits ... and his strut wasn't so much a strut but a hunched over shuffle to the dugout as if to say "oh great, another no-decision" as he left with a 3-1 lead. Sure enough, a spectacular double play by Reyes squared and Nick Evans (along with a bonehead slide by Scott Hairston as Glenn Hoffman was waving him around) could only delay the inevitable as Scott Schoeneweis gave up Jody Gerut's latest bomb to snatch yet another W from the ledger of Johan. I think that everyone kind of expected it, as it was a ninth inning that didn't quite feel like a ninth inning as the crowd had a vibe of impending doom. Alas they were right.

But thankfully, sometimes you can count on sports. And you can count on David Wright ... because he's handsome and he's going to save the day as he did Thursday with a walk off jobby off of Heath Bell. The Mets win, yet the kids learn valuable lessons about adversity, being a good teammate, and not being required to like everybody in your bullpen. Everybody wins.

Yes Virginia, you can count on sports.

But on a related note: perhaps putting the clip of Ernie asking Bert to "count the balls" on Diamond Vision isn't the best way to squash the misconception about Bert and Ernie's sexual orientation. Then again, maybe playing the part of the Gwen Stefani song that mentions a "stupid ho" over the sound system isn't the best choice on kids camp day either. Perhaps the following brilliant, fun filled yet potty mouthed ditty could have been played in homage of Bert and Ernie instead.

(Disclaimer: NOT for all you kids out there)

(And speaking of Diamond Vision ... for what was perhaps the defensive play of the year from Reyes squared to Evans, we in the ballpark could have really used a replay of that. The Monkees sing-a-long can wait ten seconds. Just sayin'.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Moment

I call it: "The Bernie Mac Moment".

It's that moment whenever we're in Las Vegas (where we were over the last five days) where you realize "wow ... I'm in Vegas". It comes from the scene in Ocean's Eleven where one moment, Frank Catton is faking a cough to get transferred to Vegas ... the next moment, he's smiling with his shades on in a cab on his way to the strip. Yes, he's made it.

(It's a moment made more timely, unfortunately, due to Bernie's recent health problems.)

If the time I spent away has produced a certain theme ... you know, besides dumb plays and Randy Wolf kicking our butts ... it's a whole bunch of new faces having their own "Bernie Mac Moments", getting in a cab to Shea Stadium smiling ... perhaps with shades on ... because they're in the show.

Danny Murphy.

Eddie Kunz.

Ruddy Lugo.

Jon Niese. (Perhaps on Saturday.)

It's the by-product of Omar Minaya's thinking that the chips he's got in the minors aren't worth anything that was on the market at the trade deadline. Arthur Rhodes? As capable of imploding as anybody the Mets have in their bullpen ... yes, even as capable as Aaron Heilman. No, Omar's job isn't on the line if these young kids don't come through ... but it certainly comes across as a sink or swim decision, doesn't it? Not only does Omar believe in these kids enough not to trade them for the likes of Arthur Rhodes, he believes in the kids enough to give them major league roles in a major league pennant race.

And notice that those names don't include the one name that would have made some people happy for the sake of making them happy: Fernando Martinez. So no, these aren't moves made to appease the public. These are moves, while out of necessity first and foremost, that also mirror Minaya's belief in this system that so many trash on a daily basis. It's belief that borders on stubbornness. But considering what was out there, Minaya could have done a whole lot worse than stand pat.

Except if these kids fall flat. Then they'll be back in the minors faking coughs ... waiting for that next "Bernie Mac Moment" that may never come.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

This Is Why I Need A Vacation!

I don't normally blog when I'm at the high seas or the desert or wherever crazy place I'm at, but I felt the need to just say this:

That tying hit on Saturday night against the Astros was the single dumbest play I've ever seen. Dumb. I'm kinda glad that the JetBlue flight I was on wasn't equipped with XM radio, or I probably would have been deemed an unruly passenger on the flight and had gotten arrested. Two runners scoring on top of each other? Really?

I don't know of the other circumstances of that game. I don't want to know. That play is all I need to know. I knew I needed a vacation from everyday life ... now I know I need a vacation from this baseball team. I will say that if that was Paul Lo Duca behind the plate, he would have tagged both runners out, stepped on them on the way back from the dugout, and then gone to a club in Long Island and picked up both their daughters.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Your Fourth Annual Hall of Hate Vote

Hey, Aaron Heilman's implosion got ya' down? Don't despair because it's that time boys and girls. It's time for Metstradamus to go on vacation, which means it's time for you to take out your frustrations by voting for the next member of the Metstradamus Hall of Hate!

Some background for the unfamiliar (which eerily looks like the exact same thing typed last season ... which is why your blogger needs a vacation: He's burnt out.) Soon after starting this blog, I created a daily hate list...five people, places, or things that put a burr in my saddle for that particular calendar day. Mostly baseball players, but many times I would go off the board. From there, due to overwhelming positive response, it evolved into a more permanent and lasting "Hall of Hate", of which the original 25 members were chosen by me, here. It was meant to be a list that encompassed the biggest "enemies" in Mets history, the ones who the mere mention of their names makes one want to drink a bottle of ipecac just so you can puke all over your dog.

Not being enough to satiate the appetite of you, the hating fan, I opened balloting up for additional members, and so far you have voted in five candidates (most of them deserving) in 2005, and then to three more in 2006 to join the original 25, along with two more in 2007. The balloting would coincide with whatever vacation time I was taking.

Well it's that time once again. Metstradamus leaves you for a much deserved and much needed vacation ... but leaves you with a fun procedure to undertake for the next eight days. You, the people, get to vote on the next members of the Hall of Hate via the poll in the sidebar.

Here's the deal, you get one vote per computer. Amongst the list, you can vote for multiple candidates ... anyone you feel deserve induction (so you can check off as many boxes you want, but you can only click "vote" once). You have until 5:59PM on Sunday, August 10th to cast your vote. Later that night the winner will be announced on New York Baseball Digest with Mike Silva (exciting!) This will be the first year that only the top vote-getter gains induction into the Hall of Hate, so fill out your ballot with the utmost of care.

Here now are your candidates for the Hall of Hate:

Pete Rose: Picked a fight with a man half his size because his team was getting it's Big Red Tails kicked in during the 1973 NLCS. Received 76 votes in 2007 and was sixth in the voting.

John Thomson: A new nominee for his recent trashing of Paul Lo Duca as a reason for not signing with the Mets. Also, pitched like a wet dishrag in his prior stint for the Mets in 2002. Thomson was ninth with 54 votes last year.

Jimmy Rollins: His debut on the Hall of Hate ballot, basically for bragging about his team ... and then backing it up. Rollins proclaimed his team "the team to beat", and then getting key hit after key hit to knock the Mets out of the playoffs. Rollins' appearance on the ballot is a respect thing.

Brett Myers: Hates the Mets, hits his wife. Myers' appearance on the ballot is not out of respect, but true hate.

Jeff Torborg: Managed the 1993 Mets, who exposed him as a managing fraud. (Also managed the 2003 World Champion Marlins, but only during the beginning of that season when they stunk.) Received 55 votes and was eighth in last year's voting.

Guillermo Mota: Was on the list in the past for transgressions against Mike Piazza. After shaking off Paul Lo Duca en route to giving up a series-changing double to Scott Spiezio, getting busted for a banned substance, and for basically dubbing 2007 as his own personal year of suck, he re-appears on the ballot.

Mel Rojas: Was traded to the Mets as part of the Turk Wendell deal. The reason it's called the Turk Wendell deal is because Rojas was about as useful as a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Rojas gave up a home run to Paul O'Neill in 1997 that finally landed in 2002. Rojas' greatest transgression was his final act as a Met, which was bringing back Bobby Bonilla in a trade. Rojas garnered 65 votes and finished seventh in the 2006 balloting.

Joe Torre: From "Clueless Joe" as a Met, to a hall of famer (and Roger Clemens apologist) as a Yankee. And now gets ready to stick it to the Mets with the help of Manny Ramirez as a Dodger. Was fifth in 2007 with 77 votes.

Richie Hebner: Wanted no part of the Mets, and played like it at third base. If I'm correct, he set the standard for giving baseball fans the finger. Received 34 votes in 2007 and was tenth in the voting (down from 65 votes in '06).

Eddie Murray: The first baseman of the worst team money could buy, the 1993 Mets. Is it really a compliment when you're the leader of misfits? Eddie was 11th in last year's voting with 29 votes (after being 11th the previous year with 30 votes).

Tony Fernandez: Was successful at every major league stop he made, except Shea Stadium, where he had maybe three hits in half a season, and blamed gallstones. Tony received 18 votes in 2007 and finished last in the voting.

Albert Pujols: Made the ballot last year not-so-subtle digging into Tom Glavine after Game 1 of the NLCS, combined with being on the trainers table receiving "treatment" during the ninth inning of the 2007 All-Star Game, possibly costing the Mets a shot at home field advantage in the '07 World Series. Pujols was 4th in last year's voting with 104 votes. And speaking of Glavine:

Tom Glavine: Had a decent Mets career before derailing during the last three weeks, and certainly the last day ... compounded by his "disappointing not devastating" comment afterwards. But let's not forget his start as a Met, a 4,397-2 loss to the Cubs on Opening Day of 2003 ... a day so cold and so dreary that I, of all people, left in the sixth inning. I personally wouldn't vote for Glavine but there's enough of you that still hold a grudge that he needs to be on the list. I don't blame you.

Shane Victorino: General pain in the ass, has shared Brett Myers' disdain for the Mets in the past while taunting the Mets by standing on home plate after scoring and clapping in the general direction of the Mets dugout ... yet somehow escapes criticism from the national baseball media because he's a "gamer" and because he's not Jose Reyes.

And as always, you may write in a vote here in the comments section. If someone gets enough write-in votes, then yes, I'll put him in (unless it's an obvious attempt by a rogue group of Yankee fans that want to experiment and see if they can get somebody like Tom Seaver or Gary Carter on the list just by creating computer systems that will write the same name hundreds of times. So don't even bother). And in terms of write-ins, if you write in a vote please make it easy for this old man and put the name in bold or something like that. (But please, before you come out with a comment like "Where's Bobby Bonilla" or "What about Chipper Jones", please refer to the original induction list along with the additions via fan balloting below).

Your Hall of Hate members:

Mike Scioscia-Charter Member
Jeff Kent-Charter Member
Robby Alomar-Charter Member
Rey Ordonez-Charter Member
Larry Jones-Charter Member
Bobby Bonilla-Charter Member
Vince Coleman-Charter Member
Ken Griffey Jr.-Charter Member
Roger Clemens-Charter Member
Mike Hampton-Charter Member
Mike Scott-Charter Member
John Tudor-Charter Member
David Wells-Charter Member
Armando Benitez-Charter Member
John Rocker-Charter Member

Donne Wall-Charter Member
Mike Stanton-Charter Member
Mike DeJean-Charter Member
Brian Jordan-Charter Member
Eddie Perez-Charter Member
Pat Burrell-Charter Member
Terry Pendleton-Charter Member
Jose Vizciano-Charter Member
Pedro Guerrero-Charter Member
Juan Gonzalez-Charter Member
Whitey Herzog-Charter Member
Art Howe-Charter Member
Dallas Green-Charter Member
Al Harazin-Charter Member
The 1993 Home Uniforms-Charter Member
Kenny Rogers-Voted in 2005
Derek Jeter-Voted in 2005
Mo Vaughn-Voted in 2005
Joe Randa-Voted in 2005
M. Donald Grant-Voted in 2005
Mike Francesa- Voted in 2006
Jim Duquette- Voted in 2006
Steve Phillips- Voted in 2006

Dick Young- Voted in 2007
Braden Looper- Voted in 2007

You have the power to decide who joins them. Remember, your vote counts. And back to remind you for this recruiting campaign: