Sunday, August 30, 2009


The lords of baseball saw an opportunity to throw some high hard ones by me while I've been away. To that I say, ha! You're going to have to do a lot better than this to get one by me. Besides, I have a team of experts not only finding these stories for me, they read them to me, they explain them to me, they spell out some of the words phonetically to me, and they diffuse bombs in their spare time.

So without further ado, I give you: "The things you've missed while I've been away."

Or is that, "The things I've missed while you've been away?"

Maybe it's "The things that we've all missed while David Wright's been away" ...

Oh, the hell with it, here's some stuff to read:

Item: Scott Kazmir traded to the Angels for two players not named Victor Zambrano.

First person that says "see, told you so" gets a beating. Kazmir for Zambrano: Still the worst trade ever. Anybody who wants me to rehash why it's worse than Ryan for Fregosi is more than welcome to ask.

Here's the funny thing, the Rays trading Kazmir for prospects is a "future" trade. The Mets trading Kazmir for Zambrano was a "now" trade. (Actually, it was a "never" trade.) The Rays are closer to first place "now" than the Mets were "then". Meanwhile, I can't be sure ... but I think Victor rang me up at Old Navy the other day.

Item: Billy Wagner finally gets into a game for Boston, and strikes out three in his inning of work.

Hooray for Country Time. And even though Brian Cashman was probably only doing his due dilligence for claiming Chris Carter on waivers from the Red Sox, and even though keeping Carter from joining the Mets this season in the Wagner trade is probably akin to doing him a favor and keeping him from getting injured ... screw you Cashman. Your team has the best team in baseball and you still have to cause unnecessary problems. We have enough necessary problems, for crissakes.

Surprisingly, it took until Sunday for Billy to get into a game. Apparently, Terry Francona is only allowed to pitch him if he doesn't throw a bullpen session, throw darts against Papelbon, or throw up earlier in the day. So I wasn't able to give you a video of "Enter Sandman" in Fenway Park from Friday. So instead I give you Jason Bay from Friday, for no other reason than to remind Steve Phillips that he traded him for Steve Reed.

Thanks for giving me that initial slice of hell that has been compounded over time.

Item: Catcher Josh Thole to be promoted, may only bat against righties.

Wait, this is the organization that rushes their prospects through the system ... so they could reach the majors and be coddled? Memo to Snoop: your major league catchers can't hit lefties (Santos: .234, Schneider: POINT ZERO ZERO ZERO). I know we're long past the point of managing to win (that point being 2008), but can we use our brains, if only a little bit? The next Joe Mauer could be here in September. Or, the next Joe Mauer could be in somebody else's organization. Or, the next Joe Mauer may be merely a twinkle in some groupie's eye right now. We'll never know for sure, because the Mets will continue to groom players of all shapes and sizes to be nothing more than glorified platoon/utility players, putting them in a box with no hope of breaking out and being more than what they are perceived to be.

Sounds a lot like life ... or at least life in Flushing.

Item: Jeff Kent honored in the Giants Wall of Fame (sent to the home office by Squawker Lisa).

Fans can visit the wall and wash the very motorcycle that Kent claimed to had been washing when he broke his wrist.

Item: Aaron Heilman pitches two innings of shutout baseball against the Mets on Saturday, only giving up one hit.

Seems that Heilman was claimed on waivers by a National League team on Thursday. If the Mets were that team, I'm burning down Citi Field. Immediately.

Triple play? Pshaw. Castillo Schmastillo. This ... is ... rock ... bottom.

Item: Jim Duquette blasts Mets for cancelling their fall instructional league.

Okay, scratch that. This is rock bottom.

And it brings it all full circle, doesn't it? We started with Kazmir, why not end with Duquette? When this is the man that is killing your organization for being cheap, what does that tell you? What does that tell you??? Jim Duquette is throwing tomatoes at you ... with more accuracy than Oliver Perez, at that!
"Now the rumors within the scouting circles are that they can't afford - which it roughly costs about 300 grand to staff and to invite and fly down all the players, to having meals throughout for about, it's like a 4 to 5 week program. It gives you a chance to extend the development of your young players, of your prospects. And they're not gonna have it. They have cancelled it for this fall. And to me, being a development guy, that's big news. If you're development oriented, it's not a good decision in my opinion."
Maybe that's why Thole is only batting against righties ... because they can't afford to develop his batting eye against lefties. Boy oh boy, nothing verifies the myth of a bad farm system like ... not developing your farm system. Thanks, Mr. Wilpon.

In a related story, the Mets have saved millions in salary by trading Danny Meyer to the Padres in exchange for Grimace, the Hamburglar, and a fictional character to be named later. Shake Shack will now serve delicious McDonald's cheeseburgers for the 2010 season.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's Country Time In Beantown

Coincidentally, we're up here in Boston to have some chowder and catch Billy Wagner's debut with the Red Sox (which didn't come on Thursday ... Nick Green pitched instead). It was a little tense when Country Time brought his Mets gear into the home clubhouse. Luckily, the crack staff chronicled the entire thing. We have it exclusively for you:

National Cruelty

As the season drags to a close, we find our latest irony: Mike Pelfrey getting tagged by the Marlins, while Livan Hernandez ... yes, that Livan Hernandez ... giving up just two runs in six innings, including none in the first inning. None.

Umm, Mr. Lord of Baseball, why are you so cruel to me? Why must you continue to make me cry? Livan Hernandez?

And speaking of Livan, don't you find it ironic that he's been the healthy one this season, and as it turns out he was the one in the car wreck?

It's entirely possible the Mets may never win again this season. But let's look at the only positive we'll ever take from a 2009 Mets game going forward: no player was hurt. Mets bloggers including myself, however, weren't so lucky.

But you know the next injury is coming. And I think I've found the next culprit: gum!
A Vasco da Gama player ended up in hospital after colliding with an opponent and choking on his chewing gum during a second division match in Brazil. Striker Aloisio lost consciousness for a few moments as he collapsed to the ground after challenging for the ball in the second half of Vasco's 1-0 win over Brasiliense on Tuesday. Doctors said he sustained a head injury and stopped breathing momentarily as the chewing gum obstructed his airways. (...) "I only remember the doctor taking the gum out. I have never been scared like this — no more chewing gum for me."
Knowing this team, it'll probably be hard candy like a Jolly Rancher. Or a mouth full of pizza. But don't be scared ... the incident isn't going to be life threatening. It's not like this team hasn't had experience with choking. Concussions, they'll screw up. Choking? No problem.

Well, as the glue from my Felix Millan mustache is making me light-headed, it's time for a few days off to get my bearings straight. Don't worry, I'm not flying to Denver, and I'll be back for regular duty on Sunday. But until then stay tuned for a special report from Billy Wagner's first day in Boston!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Free From Ollie

More "bad" injury news:
MIAMI -- Left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez has patellar tendinitis in his right knee and will undergo season-ending surgery, the Mets announced Wednesday afternoon.

Team medical director Dr. David Atlchek examined Perez Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The Mets expect Perez to be ready for Spring Training
My sources tell me that in a cost cutting move, Perez and Johan Santana will perform their respective surgeries on each other. Unfortunately, that means that Perez's operation will go smoothly while Santana will accidentally be stabbed in the neck. He will not be ready for spring training.

(Editor's update: Hear me talk Mets, or what's left of them, at 10PM tonight on SportsTalkNY Live, right here.)

Gone Fishin'

Does J.J. Putz count as two injured players since he frayed an entirely different muscle?

Does Johan Santana count as two injured players because he's Johan Santana?

That means the Mets lost four players for the season in one day.

Awesome. You realize that along with Oliver Perez's latest injury (why isn't he shut down for the season?), the starting rotation right now is Mike Pelfrey, Nelson Figueroa, Pat Misch, Tim Redding, and Bobby Parnell. And the lineup consists of players that even Livan Hernandez could shut down ... and probably will now that he's a National again.

Football season can't get here fast enough.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Country Time Learns To Love That Dirty Water

The saga is over ... Billy Wagner is a Boston Red Sock. The Mets, instead of getting the two first round draft picks through arbitration desperately needed to help resurrect the franchise, or even halfway decent prospects from Boston to help down the road, will receive two players to be named later, who will probably wind up being two guys named Sully and Fitzy that hang out in Cambridge on the weekends. Meanwhile the Red Sox will probably draft the next Ted Williams and Josh Beckett with the high picks they get, ensuring that they'll continue to be a behemoth for years to come.

But fear not, because the Mets will save more than two million bucks on Wagner's contract which will help the Wilpons stay out of hock for another three months. You want better players? Maybe you should have bought two Shake Shack burgers instead of one.

What a joke. An awful joke that's not funny.

Good luck, Country Time. It's been fun. Now play nice with Papelbon while the rest of us sort through the garbage in this never ending wasteland.

Scream '09: You're Next

I'm starting to get the feeling that Frankie Rodriguez is the Jamie Lee Curtis of the group ... the last one standing after Michael Myers has killed everyone else, while Billy Wagner is the guy who you thought died in the first half hour of the film, only to be that guy who finally drives a stake into the psychopath's heart when he's just about to kill Frankie, then tear both of his hamstrings.

Well, someone's gotta survive ... who will be left to kill off for the sequel? Cory Sullivan? Cory Sullivan doesn't sell tickets.

With that, I'd like to share with you an e-mail exchange I had today:

Monday, August 24, 2009 3:37 PM
Subject: Francoeur

Torn thumb ligament. Day to day. When does it end?

My response:

Monday, August 24, 2009 3:45 PM
Subject: Francoeur

October 4th. Unless Johan Santana is electrocuted by his Christmas Tree.

By 4:30 PM, Santana had been scratched from his start today, scheduled for an MRI on his pitching elbow, and the subject of candlelight vigils all over New York. Note to baseball gods: I was kidding!!! You don't light Christmas trees in August!!!!!

SNY better hurry with that "Nelson's Next Start" graphic ... because "Johan's Next Start" might be anywhere from next week to 2011.

I don't know what else to say (and I'm scared if I say anything else about anybody, that person will be swallowed whole by the Atlantic Ocean) except this: Drown your sorrows at Two Boots Tavern tonight for the second installment of the Amazin Tuesdays Trilogy. Greg Prince and Jason Fry of Faith and Fear in Flushing are your gracious hosts, and Dana Brand and Caryn Rose will be your guest readers. As for what they'll be reading ... rumor has it they'll be reading from the book of ancient war chants to ward off whatever evil spirits that are hovering over this baseball team. Either that or they'll be reading the American Journal of Medicine, I'm not sure which.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Two Thirds, Three Balls, And Six Runs Create The Circle Of Life

Oliver Perez waited on the mound for Jerry Manuel to reach him, no doubt to remove him from his much ballyhooed matchup with Pedro Martinez before Martinez could stroll to the mound. He didn't know what to do. All he knew was that he was being pulled with a 3-0 count on the opposing pitcher, and his career was crumbling around him.

So he walked off the mound, into the dugout, down the tunnel towards the clubhouse. He kept walking. Down the corridor, past the old home run apple, out the bullpen gate, over the chop shops, across the bridge ...

Down Main Street, past Parsons Boulevard, and off he went ... Walkman in tow, to search for the meaning of it all. He heard of the ovation that Pedro received, the inside the park home run, the attempted comeback, and the unassisted triple play. As his head filled with the news of the Mets' latest demise that he caused, he looked up at the combination of cumulus clouds and isolated thunderstorms that signify the mixed bag that was his life. He knew he needed a change. He knew that change would not come in Flushing, where the organization that gave him $36 million dollars was deciding that they would remain status quo for the foreseeable future.

Oliver thought much of the circular nature of life during his walk. Eric Bruntlett set up his historic triple play by making two errors to put runners on, so Bruntlett completed his circle. Of course, that whole inning doesn't happen without his six runs in two thirds and three balls. So where was Oliver's circle? Where could he go to complete his journey? Wandering around looking at clouds while three run homers fly over your head certainly wasn't the path of a thinking man such as Oliver.
AP Alert (New York) - Mets' pitcher Oliver Perez announces his
And with that, Perez was officially disappeared. But the competitor in Oliver remained. He would stare out his window that night. And when he wasn't imagining the tooth fairy spreading pixie dust all over the neighborhood, his brain was on an endless search to quench the competitive craze inside him. It was at that moment that he took a look at one of the many newspapers that he had ordered subscriptions to in Buffalo when he was bored during his rehab stint:

"Eureka! If this guy Favor can do it, so can I! I'm going to un-retire and play for the Vikings!!!"

The news conference was, in no exaggeration, bizarre. Capping off a day where news helicopters chronicled the landing of his personal airplane, the server crashed upon the flood of clicks to order a "46" jersey, and the ceremony upon where Perez's jersey said "Oliver" on the back ("I wanted it to be like my idol, Vida Blue"), Brad Childress, Ziggy Wilf, and Perez took the podium in Minneapolis without realizing where Perez would play. Quarterback, after all, was taken. Perez needed a position which was available, and where he would cause the least damage. Long snapper seemed like the perfect compromise.

But it was slow going for Perez, coming into camp mid-stream, learning a new position. Many of his snaps would hit Ryan Longwell in the face. Childress had a problem ... how could the Vikes have a kicking game if his new long snapper misses the holder completely? Surely, Favre can't keep going for it on fourth down. Not even a call to old pitching coach Rick Peterson would help.

BC: Coach? Coach Peterson?

RP: Yeah?

BC: Hi, it's Brad Childress. I want to ask you about Oliver Perez ...

RP: (click)

But then, like a bolt of lightning from the sky, former Viking great Fran Tarkenton agreed to talk Perez through his problems as a special consultant. Tarkenton and Perez would sit around the camp fire, and Fran would tell the most wonderful stories.

FT: Yeah Oliver, I knew a guy who juggled knives, another guy who stayed in a small box for hours on end, and still another guy tried to catch a bullet between his teeth!

OP: Wow Fran, that's incredible!

FT: I know! That's what I kept saying! But don't try this at home.

And with that, Ollie was rolling. Thanks to his new mechanics, and his friendship with Tarkenton, all his snaps were true. Longwell was perfect for the season, Chris Kluwe led the league in net punting average, and Perez was the getting more hits on his player page than any other long snapper on the internet. Life was good. The Vikings were going to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in the playoffs was even better.

There was added pressure on Perez for the game, as he was going to play center in the shotgun formation, snapping the ball to a Hall of Fame quarterback. Tarkenton told him that whatever he did, to be sure to snap the ball high to Favre. It wasn't the kind of pre-game pep talk he was used to from Fran, and he went into the game tight. Sure enough, when Childress called for the shotgun team with two minutes left in the half, Perez went into the game at center ... and had the most brutal athletic competition of his career. His first snap hit the scoreboard. His second snap rolled to Favre. His third snap went so far out of the end zone, it took a great catch by Endy Chavez from keeping the football from going into the first row of the stands.

OP: Why'd you tell me that, Fran?

FT: HA HA HA HA HA!!! I hate that sonofabitch Favre! HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

OP: Oh.

The Vikes were out of the playoffs. The love affair between Minneapolis and Perez was over. Talk radio was all over him to make a decision about his playing career. It was then that Perez announced his retirement to ESPN's Ed Werder.

EW: Can you say without hesitation that you're retired for good?

Perez: Yeah ... yeah I can. And I'm comfortable with that.

But it wasn't over. After a very brief stint with the circus as a knife thrower, Perez wanted to return to baseball ... and he wanted to return with the Phillies. After the retirements of Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer, they were looking for a starter. And Perez wanted to come back to a division rival ... just like Favre did. But unlike the poison pill that the Packers put into their trade with the Jets, the Mets put no such restrictions on the Vikings. If Perez wanted to give up six runs for the Phillies in the first inning, fine by them. Besides, Omar Minaya had filled his rotation need by re-signing Orlando Hernandez.

So Perez returned for more baseball in 2010 ... and fired a no-hitter at Citi Field.

The circle was complete.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flushing Express

For one night, when you hear "Nolan Ryan" 'round these parts, it's not followed by the seven no-hitters he pitched somewhere else. It's not followed by echoes of one of the worst trades ever. It's not followed by the pangs of wonder of what might have been if management had been a little more patient with his inconsistencies, his blisters doused in pickle brine, and his maniacal fastball with wrecking ball control.

On August 22nd, 2009, "Nolan Ryan" was only followed by the wild cheers of 38,049 strong.

The last time Ryan wore a Mets uniform was on September 28th, 1971, which was personally witnessed by 3,338 not so strong fans who were anticipating the end of a disappointing season. Ryan lasted zero innings, walked four, gave up a hit, and he was yanked by Gil Hodges. In 2008, an outing like that would have gotten him a 36 million dollar contract en route to a rehab stint in Buffalo. But in 1971, it got him traded for Jim Fregosi en route to the Hall of Fame. Boy, inflation's a bitch.

But Ryan eventually returned to help celebrate the past as a peripheral pawn in the moment where the future was blown to bits. After all, the Ryan Express only reached the pinnacle at one stop: Flushing. It's where the miracle of all baseball miracles occurred forty seasons ago. He couldn't come back for 20, he was still pitching. He had just retired by the time 25 came, but after pitching for 27 seasons, who wants to go on an airplane for a reunion? That's just one more unnecessary road trip. Besides, the Mets in 1994 probably would have tried to sign him as a better alternative to Pete Smith. Who could blame Nolan for not wanting to be tempted? But here he is for the fortieth anniversary, with no reason and really ... no excuse to not show up. His mission to build up the pitch counts of the entire Rangers organization can wait another day.

No word on whether the Mets tried to sign him as a better alternative to Oliver Perez.

1969, much like the rest of Mets' history, belongs to Tom Seaver. He will always be the headline act at these things, will always be the one to speak at the podium, whether he reads his words as if he's a disciple of Evelyn Wood's reading dynamics or not (seriously, he read that speech as if the piano player from the Oscars was cueing him off ... was Jeff Wilpon rushing him?) He deserves the honor for all he's done for the the New York Mets. He is, after all, The Franchise. But Ryan stole the show on Saturday. Much like Doc Gooden stole the show (at least for me) during the final day at Shea on September 28th, 2008 (the 37th anniversary of Nolan Ryan's fateful final day), Ryan returns as probably the final person who can come back from years and years without wearing a Mets uniform and be cheered the way he was (Bobby Bonilla returning to the Mets payroll in 2011 isn't going to count, sorry.) With open arms he is received, and perhaps because of it, the future will be presented to us with at least one less ghost haunting our favorite franchise.

Ryan's final outing as a Met occurred when I was just finishing up my first season on planet earth, where the only thing being blogged was my size in relation to the Thanksgiving turkey (I lost that battle), and that was done with a Polaroid. So you'll forgive me if there's no record of me complaining about that outing, or about the trade that sent him to California. I was one year old ... and the only way I could communicate was by puking all over the living room. Was I possessed? No, probably just pissed about another season down the drain. Before the invention of computers, vomit was the only way I could get my point across.

So as you can imagine, I wasn't even a twinkle in anybody's eye in 1969 ... which means that I'm not the best guy to wax poetic about the season of miracles. Yup, I missed it. I'm just not that old. You want to talk about 1986? I'm your guy. Hell you want to talk about 1979? At least then I was nine and counting down the winding days of that season celebrating that they actually avoided 100 losses. The '69 Mets? I can only rehash and mimic what I've seen in the old video clips.

Not that I'm not all too happy to do that for you. It's what I was doing for a friend of mine when I was a senior in high school during a late night school function that involved singing for a rock and roll band (wrap that one around your collective head). I couldn't tell you what notes I missed, what lyrics I tried to sing, or how rockin' the place was, but I could tell you about the girl who asked me who Tommie Agee was.

Who's Tommie Agee? You've gotta be kidding. Of course, this was before the understanding that not everybody in my high school followed baseball. "Who's Tommie Agee? Really? Okay, if you've gotta know, Tommie Agee is the guy who made the two greatest catches in World Series history. Here, let me demonstrate for you on this filthy cafeteria floor. No matter that I'm about to be the front man in my best rock singer outfit ... I need to educate a poor young soul as to who Tommie Agee was. That takes precedence!"

I should mention the reason why this girl bothered to ask me who Agee was ... he was in the room at the time.

I have no idea why a World Series hero was in my high school at a late night carnival. But here I was diving on the floor to my left, and crashing into the school wall to my right ... because how else could one really explain who Tommie Agee was. My demonstration must have been the universal sign for 1969 ... I might have butchered it, but the guy who brought Agee to the event recognized it well enough that he came up to me and asked me if I wanted to meet him.

Crap, I'm about to sing in front of a crowd of people, and I could care less. I'm about to meet Tommie Agee!!! And at that moment, it really didn't matter that I wasn't alive for the original version of those catches. Because I was about to shake hands with 1969. That was good enough for me.

The rest of the meeting was a blur. It all happened so fast. I know I shook his hand. I know it had a World Series ring on it. And I know that he signed an 8X10 black and white to "my very good friend", which I still have to this day. And like I said, I don't remember the rest. The one thing I regretted was not rushing out after the carnival to Shea to see the end of the Met game that I had missed to be at this carnival. Not that I regret it ... I freakin' met Tommie Agee for crying out loud! And heck, it was a good omen that I took with me to the television to catch the final pitch of that night's game.

You could probably guess at this point that when Agee died in 2001, a childhood memory of mine shed a few tears. Thankfully, the scrambled memory neither died nor even faded all that much. When you hear the latest outcry as to why the Mets need to honor their history, that's why. Saturday night was for all the people who lived through '69, and for all of us who grabbed ourselves a memory of a 1969 hero almost twenty years after the fact. These memories need to be honored, re-honored, then honored some more. We need to see Jerry Koosman around more. We need to see more photos of Wayne Garrett and Al Weis. We need to have more celebration of one of the iconic teams in baseball history without having to wait until the 50th anniversary.

My hope is that instead of looking back at Saturday night in the "boy we made it through a hectic day that was really a lot of work", Mets management will look back on it and understand the many connections between fans and Tom Seaver ... and Nolan Ryan ... and Jim McAndrew ... and yes, Tommie Agee. They'll understand the roar that they heard when Seaver, Koosman, and Ryan reunited to throw first pitches to Jerry Grote, Duffy Dyer, and Yogi Berra ... and that finally, they'll get it. They'll have it seep through their brains and that it'll finally hit 'em why we scream bloody murder when they want to erase a Dwight Gooden autograph on a concrete wall.

Am I holding out hope? Well, seeing as if they totally forgot to pencil Kenny Boswell's name into the script, no I'm not. Boswell, as Bob Murphy liked to point out, wanted to be out there "each and every day". Ironically, this is the one they failed to mention ... the one that wanted to be out there every day, but couldn't make it out there on this day. What, you expected a Mets arranged notation of history to go perfect?

So they almost got it right for the fortieth anniversary party. Maybe they'll get it 100% right in 2019. Maybe the fiftieth anniversary will be even better. Maybe they'll mention everyone. Maybe, just maybe, the 2019 Mets will win the game instead of flood the disabled list ... and maybe the team will wear some '69 replicas this time around.

Or perhaps we're not going to have to wait that long for the next nod to the past. But we waited 38 years for Ryan to come back. What's ten more, right?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

If I Could Save Baseball In A Bottle

Tonight was merely a sad reminder of how life could have been 'round these parts in September. Close games with division rivals ... Cole Hamels imploding ... some brushback pitches ... smart baserunning ... emotion from the manager ... fights in the stands ... it was all featured at Citi Field as the Mets gained a game on the Philadelphia Phillies with a 4-2 victory. The only thing missing was Larry Andersen wanting to put one in Frankie Rodriguez's neck, although I'm sure that quote is coming.

Only 13 and a half games to go!

I have to admit, as I'm searching for small things to clutch to, that I gravitate towards the spiteful. Whether it's 13.5 back or 13.5 ahead, Cole Hamels could walk off a skyscraper for all I care. Seeing him fall below .500 (and incidentally have a worse record than one Mike Pelfrey), did my baseball heart some much needed good. Was it important? No. But was it satisfying?

Well, not as much as I would like. After all, all the good done on Friday will most likely be neutralized as the J.A. Happ (remember when it was good news to see him on the mound?) will ride a potent Phillies lineup against Tim Redding on '69 night Saturday, and then Oliver Perez on Sunday. (Whoo boy, if you thought Ryan Howard hit the ball hard against Pelfrey ...) But Friday night was something that really should be put in a bottle and saved for all of those September nights when the Mets are down 17-1 and you don't want to go all the way back to 2006 for a halfway decent baseball memory.

Also, I'd like to mention that the Boston Red Sox lost on Friday by a score of 20-11. This is notable for two reasons: One: because the Sox hope that Billy Wagner can be the one to stop these football scores from being put up against them as they've claimed him on waivers from the Mets. And two: Because this was the score that broke the camel's back at Citi Field. This was the score that revealed another Citi Field flaw ... the out of town scoreboard doesn't have the capacity to show that any team scores over 19 runs. They only put enough lights in the teens column for a "1". So once the Red Sox surrendered 20, the score was taken off the board.

Funny how the 97-year-old creaky scoreboard at Fenway can handle 20 runs, but the state of the art six-month-old scoreboard at Citi can't handle it. Actually it's not funny at all. It's just sad. But it's not surprising. In fact, it's a big f***ing shocker. Right Billy?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And You Wonder ...

How could it be piling on when there's constantly new material to complain about?

The latest drama in this anything but "drama-free" zone revolves around Gary Sheffield. First came rumors of Sheffield's release, which would have been hysterical hours after the release of Livan Hernandez for a team that has no depth. I mean, who's left to call up? Apparently, his nameplate was removed from his locker, Tim Redding had told somebody that he heard Sheffield was released, but the only ones who were released at that point were the hounds.

Seems that Sheffield was claimed by either the Marlins or the Giants when he was placed on waivers, and the Mets pulled him back, presumably because they didn't want to trade him to a team in their division, or because the Mets wanted more value in a trade than the Marlins or Giants were willing to give. Why that matters at this point, I'm not sure. Then Sheffield, I guess wanting some incentive to be stuck with a dysfunctional franchise such as the New York Mets, asked for a contract extension. When that was denied, Sheffield wanted to be either released or traded to the Marlins. When that was denied, Sheffield threatened to take his toys and go home, and was scratched from the lineup.

Got all that?

So who is at fault? Everyone, of course. At this point, why pick sides? Sheffield, I have to admit, has been as much as you could ask for in the clubhouse. His offensive output has been a little overrated for my tastes. ("Where would they be without him" I keep hearing ... they'd either have a better player, or they'd be a little closer to the Nationals.) But the issues I thought would creep up never did, at least until the Mets were essentially dead and buried. The worry for me has always been that a Sheffield tantrum would distract the Mets from a pennant race. No pennant race? No problem.

But the Sheffield tantrum did come. It always comes. It happens everywhere he goes. Sheffield has a valid point about wanting to play for a contender at this point, and he deserves a chance to go elsewhere as a reward for the little trouble he's caused. But the fact that he needed a day off "to clear his thoughts" isn't the most professional move he could have made. It's why players refuse to negotiate contracts in-season.

The Mets are at fault here too ... basically because they're the Mets and they're guilty on general principle. (Does that qualify as "piling on"?) But first off, what the heck are they holding out for from the Marlins for Sheffield? Dan Uggla? Josh Johnson? Hanley? Once again, Gary Sheffield has ten home runs, is forty years old, and has hamstring issues. You want a stud prospect for him? You're afraid he's going to come back and hurt you? Really? If he hurts you this season it's throwing a pebble in a canyon. Who cares? If he hurts you next season, bless him. He's not hurting anyone next season. And if that team was the Giants ... then simply, why?

And second, yet again, more crossed signals from player and coach. Sheffield says he's out of the lineup because it's "good for the lineup", Snoop says Sheffield asked for the day off. Snoop says Jose Reyes has a good day running, Jose Reyes says he never ran. Snoop says Carlos Delgado had a good batting practice session, Delgado says he never swung a bat. Snoop says Wilson Valdez had Fruity Pebbles and black coffee for breakfast, Valdez says he ate Boo Berry with grapefruit juice (weird). The dog chases his tail, the tail says it never moved. It never ends, and as long as this regime is running the ship, it never will.

The only thing the Mets are correct for is not granting Sheffield the extension he wanted. What's amazing is that by the standards of what the Mets have given us over the past few months, this will be seen as a shrewd move instead of the no-brainer it actually is. The bar just gets lower and lower.

Figures that the night that Billy Wagner comes back and strikes out two in an inning would be eclipsed by the Sheffield lunacy, but that's the way this season has gone. Besides, who would really be surprised if this exact situation repeated itself with Wagner after the Phillies series? But Country Time's return 11 months after Tommy John surgery deserves its due, mainly because it's the first time I've clapped hard regarding anything involving a Mets game since June. It's probably the last feel good story of the season, so enjoy it. And good job, C.T.

Hopefully, the Mets will come to their senses and get something for him (before he blows an achilles stepping off the team bus) so that he can enjoy a pennant race (in Texas, perhaps ... ) and escape this season that gets more wretched by the day. But that would make too much sense.

From The Desk Of Omar Minaya: Revised

Flushing: Where careers go to die.

That's Hank Aaron Award Nominee Angel Pagan To You, Sir

The line from Wednesday's boxscore reads as such:
A. Hernandez ss-2b-ss-2b
It's brilliant when you think about it, switching him back and forth in the same game. Because, if Anderson Hernandez goes back and forth from shortstop to second base often enough, then on double plays he could just throw it to himself ... saving Luis Castillo that pesky task of covering on double plays.

Not that it would have helped in a 15-2 disaster, which was helped along by Bobby Parnell's "learning curve." Not that a curveball was called all night ... Omir. You have more than one finger, you know. Wasn't the point to help Bobby use all his pitches now that he's a starter?

I wonder how hard Billy Wagner is hoping for somebody to claim him off waivers? (Hint: Enjoy Tampa.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Defenders Of Dead Carcasses

How do you know the Mets have hit rock bottom ... again? Well, not only have Met fans turned their anger into wild cheering for Andy Green at-bats, but even Mike Francesa' foundation of tweaking the Mets has collapsed on itself. He went on his simulcast today and told us all to leave the Mets alone. Mike Francesa!!!

My world is officially upside down:
"Enough, with the Mets! You don't have to, anymore, get the point across. (...) The Mets are like, you tied them to a tree and you just keep pounding them with their hands and feet tied. And you just keep beating on them, and beating on them, and beating on them, okay? It doesn't take any toughness now to beat on the Mets. They are like a dead carcass on the side of the road. We understand that. The year was a disaster, they've been terribly inept and terribly unlucky in the same year, enough! You gotta stop beating on the Mets ... The Mets right now could get knocked for anything. The Mets could cure cancer tomorrow and get knocked for it. (...) It's no fun picking on somebody when everyone's beating on them. Enough already, move on. The season's dead, it's over. (...) Beating on the Mets cannot be something that you think is any more clever, or tough, or a real strong opinion, to me its just piling on now. Get off the Mets back already! I can't take it anymore! (...) There's nothing left, I mean how about just everyone just back off a little bit and move on, I mean enough's enough, jeez. You can't tell me you like it anymore, it's gotten to be sickening."
For the record, I still like it. It's fun. Besides, if you don't keep reminding everyone how inept the Mets are in this age of ADD media, people will forget and move on to stories like Brett Favre coming back (or Brett Hinchcliffe).

For example, it was revealed today that Neil Diamond's musical career was sparked by the departure of the Brooklyn Dodgers. To which I reply: "Now we know why the Mets insisted on playing Sweet Caroline all these years."

See Mike, isn't piling on fun?

But Mike's moratorium on Met bashing lasted about 30 minutes, at which point he blasted the throwback uniforms. So I guess not all is wrong with the world after all. I, for one, am relieved.

If you'd like to hear Francesa's entire rant, play the video below:

Enough Money For One Lousy Beer

I hope for Alexi Panos' sake that she's not still doing "Beer Money" when she's 45 years old.

But if she is, she'll have that ace question in the hole where she'll ask the contestant du jour to name as many players who got a hit during the inning where they set a club record with ten. She could even tell them that the year was 2009. And the guesses will inevitably include luminaries such as Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and perhaps even Ryan Church.

Heck, some would even guess Keith Hernandez before they guess Luis Castillo, Jeff Francoeur, Gary Sheffield, Omir Santos, Anderson Hernandez, Angel Pagan, Fernando Tatis, and freakin' Oliver Perez.

That's right, the largest inning of offensive juggernaution (no, it's not a word) includes those last eight names ... and yes, Oliver Perez is one of them. If you can truly cause death by paper cuts, then that's a textbook murderers row. But the record inning does not include Daniel Murphy, who made two of the three outs in that inning and should really be ashamed of himself ... because now he'll be benched for the rest of the homestand knowing Snoop.

Of course, I missed the damn inning ... partly because of just plain "stuff", but partly because I was in no rush to get back to the television after Perez gave up a bomb to Adam LaRoche to give the Braves a 4-0 lead, and I launched into some sort of song where the lyrics "I hate you Ollie" were prominent, and stormed off to go on a string of activities ... not the least important of which was dinner. What happens? They set records. The team who's about seven injuries away from me playing left field set a franchise record. I missed it. I suck.

Not that the record or the win makes me feel any better. In May I would have been reassured by Oliver Perez beating Derek Lowe ... "hey, looks like the Mets made the right choice, eh?" Now? It's only part of the cruel irony of 2009. It's like slaying the dragon ... when you're 100 games out. Because Ryan Church will leave New York at the end of the series still trying to make the playoffs, while Snoop Manuel will be trying to avoid Jeff Wilpon in the hallways.

Speaking of:
Mets manager Jerry Manuel's support system is eroding. First, his main backer, Tony Bernazard, the top aide of GM Omar Minaya, was fired. Now we're hearing that Minaya is about to be "reassigned," and John Ricco will be promoted to the GM job, an indication that the owner's son, Jeff Wilpon, wants to expand his involvement in day-to-day duties.
Oh, that's the solution to this mess ... more Wilpon. Why didn't I think of that? I feel better already. Hey when you "reassign" Minaya, can you please assign him to my apartment to slit my wrists with a plastic spoon while Alexi Panos asks me to name all the pitchers that have had a no-hitter after leaving the Mets? Thanks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


When the Mets signed Alex Cora, they did so on the same day that Derek Lowe went to the Braves. I then compared Cora to a bag of Funyuns.

Yeah, here's the thing: I like Funyuns. Always have. Cora had more nutritional value to the Mets than Funyuns have when I eat them.

But don't go running to the stores to load up on them, they're out of stock for ten weeks. Yes, Alex Cora is out for the season with not one, but two bad thumbs. Which begs the question: how in the world did he hit a home run in San Diego with two busted thumb ligaments? And can we have a banner hung in left field to honor that?

In other news, Livan Hernandez's thumb ligaments are fine ... it's just his stuff that's out for the season, as another hitter in a deep slump comes to New York and finds his stroke in a 10-1 loss to the Giants. The season has gotten so bad, and fans have gotten so upset that they're now raucously cheering one-out walks to Andy Green while down by nine runs in the ninth. They've become so mad that they're happy, and the whole foundation is collapsing upon itself. The Mets will be physically rehabbing in the offseason, while their fans will be rehabbing with hours and hours of intense therapy. Good eye, Andy.

In even more news, Jeff Wilpon had to perform more damage control as he personally travelled to Buffalo to apologize for making Bison fans miserable watching the one team which might be less fun to watch than the Mets.
"There's disappointment in the fan base and ownership here as well as ownership in New York with how they've performed. We have to fix that. It's something we want to do better and we will do better for the city of Buffalo and for the Mets. It's good business to do better and it's also the morally right thing to do because Buffalo has opened its arms to us and we really appreciate that."
So basically what he's saying is that the team that he gave to Buffalo is an affront to Jesus, who is probably pissed off that somehow, Mike Lamb still has work. But funny how good business comes before morals in that statement. Money, then values. Of course.

Wilpon also went on to apologize to the city of Buffalo for jobs lost due to the recession, the state government, Oliver Perez's rehab starts, Brett Hull being in the crease, lake effect snow, Scott Norwood, Patrick Kane punching the cab driver, and Terrell Owens' reality show. He hinted that all of those events were somehow caused by Ryan Church.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Check All Their Brains For Bruises

I didn't mean to be back so soon, but I finally got to read the actual quotes regarding the concussions of David Wright and Ryan Church that our fearless leader came up with today, so I wanted to relay them to you while underlying the fact that our manager is slowly becoming the Gangsta Art Howe:
"You have to be careful into stereotyping individuals. David is a different animal, so to speak. How he is made up is a little different than, say, Ryan Church, in my opinion. That's not to say that one is better than the other, but they're different. With Ryan, there was always something thrown from leftfield - 'We need to check that.' That made it somewhat difficult to evaluate that particular situation."
Check that ... Art Howe was never this petty. Clueless, at times. Petty, never. It took a beanball to bring out the truth but here it is. Laid out on the table ready for you to ingest and then puke.

So the question is this: What makes this different than the Minaya/Rubin situation? Well for one, Rubin was around to defend himself. Ryan Church is in Atlanta preparing for a rain delay, and probably never saw this coming.

Manuel was probably intending to pay a compliment to Wright, calling him "tough" and what not, but ended up blasting Church in the process, making him look like a sniping ingrate. Gee, maybe the "particular situation" was "difficult" because he had a freakin' concussion!!! Concussions, by nature, are difficult. And guess what, tough brains bruise in much the same way as brains that are "thrown from left field".

If Ryan Church was bad in the clubhouse, if he stole his teammates' iPods and programmed them to play only Leo Sayer songs, if he dangled babies off the roof of Citi Field, say so. Clue us in on the joke as to why he was such a bad guy. Until then, he's gone. You jerked him around, then you traded him. Let it go. And stop dancing around the issue and being all coy. It makes you look petty, and petty is not a good look. Petty, combined with absolutely wrong, is a fashion faux pas.

And people wonder why there's no faith in leadership.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A No-Brainer In More Ways Than One

It's probably only true in my head. But hearing Gary Cohen discuss the David Wright beaning at the top of Sunday's telecast made me think that he took on the role of patriarchal figure ... one who regretted being away from legions of Mets followers only for a day, but for a day that was event filled for all the wrong reasons. There was Cohen calming us, reassuring us, that our old friends were returning to put what we saw on Saturday in proper perspective. Saturday's FOX team, Thom Brennaman and Mark Grace, were a much welcome pair in contrast to many of the other alternate announcing teams we've been treated to during nationally televised affairs. But the Wright beaning needed perspective from the familiar. Sunday was better late than never.

Gary and Keith Hernandez were needed, if for no other reason, to wade through the latest nonsense out of Snoop Manuel's mouth. This time, it's about how tough people don't get concussions.
"David would know well enough whether he can move forward," Manuel said. "He's a bright young man and he understands a lot of different things, what's going on, and I think he has enough wisdom to put it in its right place"

"I would think him being who he is... because of what he means, I think I would give him the benefit of the doubt. And that’s just coming from the manager. I got hit in the head, and I’m still a little off here or there. I don’t have anything to do with how the medical people proceed. But for me as a manager, for what he has done for me, I want to give him every benefit of the doubt. What that is, I don’t know."
Because as you know, players who mean more to a team have a thin coating of alloy covering their brain designed to protect them from beanballs, home plate collisions, and walk-off dogpiles. It's in the journal of medicine.

Paging Eric Lindros ... Eric Lindros, please find a white courtesy phone.

Thankfully, Omar Minaya listened to Lindros, the Hospital for Special Surgery, and the tooth fairy. Because Minaya has just announced that the team has put Wright on the 15-day DL with the concussion. At no time did Minaya hint that Cain hit Wright because he had lobbied the team for a player development position.

So not only did the Mets prevail via the Daniel Murphy walk-off, but common sense has also prevailed. (What's more shocking, the Mets using common sense, or Luis Castillo reaching the second deck with a home run?)

The bad news is that Wright can come off the DL on September 1st where he'll have to meet the club in Denver ... of all places. The good news is that 15 days will give Wright enough time to take a train there.