Friday, April 30, 2010

Grab Everything That's Not Nailed Down ...

All right, everybody grab a chair, a picture, the sofa, the memorabilia, everything.

Once you've got something in your hand, come on over to the new website.

Change your bookmarks, and make yourself at home.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Time Flies

It was five years ago today I started this blog.

I guess today is my blogoversary.

(Editor's note: The traditional five year gift is wood. So, will you guys hit already?)

A sincere thanks to everyone who was a part of this madness, whether it be those who comment, those who link to me, those who I have befriended, and to my family who puts up with me.

I plan to commemorate this in a big way. Stay tuned ... y'all will find out soon enough.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Get Out The Swiffer Wet Jets

So last week, the Mets were on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. Yesterday, the Mets were also on ESPN. And next week, the Mets play under the lights on Sunday for the third week in a row. Throw in two Monday Night Baseball appearances in that span (including another one tonight) and the country gets a steady diet of the big, bad over .500 Metropolitans from New York in April.

No wonder the terrorists want to kill us.

Joe Beningo reasons that this is because nobody wants to take a chance presenting our favorite team to the country in August and September. That's comforting. (Here's what else is comforting: Does it worry anybody else that it took an act of God to get the bullpen some rest? Raul Valdez must have summoned up some rain gods with the one pitch he threw in the sixth before the skies opened up.) But if Mike Pelfrey keeps pitching shutout ball without his best stuff then the World Wide Leader might regret making the Mets "April's Team".

After a rain soaked sweep of the Braves, the Mets are now 10-9 which is no small feat after a 4-8 start (and if you'll notice, the entire National League is just four games apart from first to last.) Who do we have to thank for this sweep? Jeff Francoeur, of course. Why? For making sure that Larry Jones (one hit and three sloppy plays this series), Jason Heyward (1 hit and 4 K's this series), and Brian McCann (infield fly vapor lock) got to the ballpark. I doubt we'll start calling him "Limo Larry" (send a limousine to make sure he gets to the park) anytime soon, but Frenchy did well to make sure these guys were present and accounted for.

And for those who don't take kindly to fraternizing with the enemy (like me), what's more dangerous: befriending Braves, or befriending aliens? With all due respect, Stephen Hawking never played against the Cardinals in the 80's.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stimulus Splinter

When last we left Ralph Kiner, he was comparing Fernando Martinez to Ted Williams.

On Saturday, Kiner was at it again ... comparing Ike Davis to Ted Williams during the SNY broadcast.

So let me get this straight, we have not one, but two Splendid Splinters in the New York Mets organization? Wow! Get that Canyon of Heroes ready for the next hundred years!

(The bad news is that in the parking lot after the game, Kiner told a fan that Frank Catalanotto, Alex Cora, Dillon Gee, his goldfish, and fagiolini rigati all reminded him of Ted Williams.)

But the fact remains, Davis has come up and been involved with five wins and only one loss with the Mets. The Stimulus has batted .350, cleared the bullpen with a home run, saved Snoop Manuel's job, fixed Oliver Perez's control, used mind tricks on Yunel Escobar, ended Jason Bay's slump, turned Henry Blanco into Rickey Henderson, optimized the batting lineup, and made Larry Jones drop that infield fly on Friday. All that's left for Davis to do now is put more Mets pictures on the walls of the ballpark, revamp the tiered pricing system, and end poverty and hunger in the inner cities. Who says he can't do it? He already has the Ted Williams swing down. The rest should be easy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Historical Perspective

Larry Jones once said that Mets fans booing him and chanting his name (his real name) motivated him to do well.

At no point was that more evident to me than on February 29, 2008, when I was in Orlando chanting Larry's name so loud at a spring training game that I could be heard all the way back in New York ... if you turned on ESPN's coverage of the game. Could a professional baseball player be motivated by taunts during a spring training game, you ask? Well, Larry went 2-for-3 in that meaningless game so you tell me.

In the years that have passed since Larry made his "Yankee gear" crack, the booing, chanting, and general hate has subsided. It's a tad disappointing when you put that up against Brewers fans booing Gary Sheffield furiously 17 years after he admittedly threw balls into the fifth row of the stands. But it happened. Maybe part of it is a brand new ballpark taking the focus away from rattling the opponent and shifting it towards the Acela Club. Or maybe it's because that brand new ballpark that replaced the old ballpark that Larry named his kid after because he practically freakin' owned it.

That's what makes it ironic that it was Citi Field that has now housed Jones' most frustrating game vs. the Mets to date which included a foul pop that fell inches in front of Larry, and a bizarre infield fly where Jones dropped the wind blown pop-up, and Brian McCann went to tag the runner who was already out while Angel Pagan raced to the vacated home plate (Angel Pagan? Heads up baserunning? Is this Bizarro Pagan?) with the fourth run of the game (McCann was obviously returning the favor that David Cone paid to the Braves in 1990.) But with the atmosphere ripe for a famous "Laaaaaaa-rryyyyyyy" chant, none was to be heard, at least audibly on television. Has the ballpark finally softened Met fans? Have we finally learned how to tame the beast that is Larry Jones? Or is Larry just getting old? (He gets older on Saturday ... and he's 9-1 on his birthday. Uh-oh.) Or are the burgers just really, really good?

It was merely the biggest and strangest of twists in a 5-2 win that featured more of them than the most recent episode of Survivor (J.T. ... dude.) Between Larry's fly pop follies, Bizarro Pagan's heads up baserunning play, Stimulus' first career bomb that almost hit the bridge, and Hisanori Takahashi coming to the rescue of John Maine and his two arms which both refuse to cooperate, who the hell can remember that Jose Reyes batted third?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Drawing The Long Straw

You were scared, weren't you?

So was I, when it was 0-0 in the sixth and people were wondering about another 20 inning game to the point that they were taking bets on what would happen first, the Mets game ending or the Jets picking at 29.

But Johan Santana would get his run support to ensure that there would be no lengthening of Thursday night's game. Instead, Frankie Rodriguez lengthened his efforts for a five out save (first since July 2nd of 2005), and the Mets won their first series of the season against the Cubbies with a 5-2 win.

And now, the Mets move on to face the Braves, where rumor has it that Snoop Manuel will unveil his new lineup with Jose Reyes at the third spot. Will it be Lineup 2.0? Or will it be more like Lineup Vista? In any event, Snoop hopes that Reyes in the three hole will "lengthen the lineup" (if Stimulus keeps going 3-for-4 that should lengthen the lineup far enough). This is all very phallic to me, and I'm scared that Mets games are going to be played at 2AM and sponsored by Extenze.

I guess anything is better than those anti-smoking commercials. Hey, I'm anti-smoking too but, gross.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Low & Slow

With Jeff Francoeur mired into an 0-for-18 slump heading into Wednesday night, and David Wright slumping worse than Julian Tavarez in a singles bar, it was time for Howard Johnson to organize another one of those barbecues. They worked so well on Francoeur at the beginning of the season that the boys ordered out from Hill Country BBQ in the city.

Problem was ... the BBQ was delivered to the wrong clubhouse. And Carlos Silva ate it all. To make matters worse, barbecue for Silva is like spinach for Popeye. How else could Silva give up only two hits and two walks in six innings? That's right ... lots of meat. And chicken.

And macaroni and cheese.

What? It can't be because the Mets' lineup has the consistency of runny eggs. Nah, I refuse to believe that.

Worst part is, now Snoop's postgame newsers are like watching an ant drown in honey thrashing his arms around begging for a life raft (enjoying the food references?) hoping the right answer will turn on a faucet full of runs. Last night, he talked about breaking up Frenchy (now 0-for-22) and Jason Bay like they were troublemakers throwing firecrackers at a fourth grade ballet recital. You know what that means ... that's right. First lefty stick with a high strikeout rate gets a job in the middle of the order. Line forms to the left. Woo hoo!

Can't we blame Oliver Perez for this? It's so much more fun when it's Ollie's fault. I mean, he wasn't that great, but he wasn't that much worse than what Jon Niese was the other night. He didn't completely implode, and he didn't hang himself with his own intestines on the mound. So that in itself is a moral victory.

No, I can't in good conscience lay false blame. The Mets lineup would do better to stride to the plate and try to hit Silva with a side of beef.

Hit this, Bluto.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Relaxation: Good For Some, Not For All

Who knew that all a guy who sat on the couch for three weeks needed was a day off?

It's funny how that works, but whatever works is fine with me.

Between Jose Reyes' extra day off on Monday, and Mike Pelfrey's one less day off on Saturday, everything comes out even and the Mets get another needed win against the Cubs. Reyes gets four hits and two RBI, and Pelfrey has another stellar outing with seven scoreless innings. This is starting to look like a 2008 type run for Pelfrey, who might have to relieve more on his throw days, now that Ryota "Swallows Man" Igarashi has gone and tweaked his hamstring enough to earn an MRI later today. Oh, and Carlos Beltran has been pushed back in his quest to start baseball related activities. This is starting to look like a 2009 type run.

By the way, did you know that in the world of buzzwords, Baseball Related Activities are the new Cortisone Shots?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Puppet State

As a Met fan I know, realistically, that being happy is something that comes fleetingly these days. And that when the Met fan in me is happy, I expect a cold bucket of water to douse that flame of glee.

Joel Sherman's framing of Omar Minaya as the culprit behind Ike Davis' hurried call-up might be a bit off, but it serves its purpose as cold water. And the fact that Davis' day was unnecessarily a long one isn't what caught my eye from Sherman's blog:
"Mets general manager Omar Minaya told me he did not make his series of calls to get ownership's blessings, and to explain the plan to Jerry Manuel and others in the organization until yesterday morning. So instead of making a crown jewel's first day in the majors easier, the Mets turned it into an obstacle course."
Remember this. Remember this when Minaya gets fired, and you're all having your "Fire Omar" parties and you're shooting fireworks off your roof with the Gruccis. Remember that every move that Omar makes, good or bad, and the moves the he makes that will eventually get him fired one day, has to go through and be approved by ownership. While you may focus on the fact that Minaya didn't call for ownership's blessing until Sunday, I focus on the fact that Minaya has to get ownership's blessing to call up a minor league player in the first place.

I find it hard to believe that this happens everywhere in major league baseball. If I'm wrong, then please enlighten me. They have final say to the point where Minaya can't even make a call-up without calling Jeffy. Remember that the reason that Ike Davis was preparing to bat cleanup for the Bison in the morning only to fly to New York to prepare to hit sixth was because the Mets' general manager has to ask for "ownership's blessings" when it comes to trades, call-ups, pitch counts, and whether he's going to have the soup or the salad with his dinner.

Remember this when the next GM comes in and has the same puppet-like restrictions, and we wonder in five or six years why absolutely nothing has changed.


It had to be a long, long day for Ike "The Stimulus" Davis. At 11AM Monday morning, he's batting cleanup for the Bisons.

(Editor's note: Isn't the plural of "Bison" just plain "Bison"? I mean, you spend money on a minor league jersey and it prominently displays bad grammar? What are we teaching our young players? What are we teaching the youth of America? Oh well, if you can have a grammatically incorrect professional team like the Maple Leafs, who really should be the Maple Leaves, then I guess you can have Bisons. Okay, I'm done.)

As I was saying before I rudely interrupted myself:

At 11AM Monday morning, Ike Davis is batting cleanup for the Bison for a 1:00 start. His day ends as the sixth hitter for the New York Mets in a game that ended with two hits, a run knocked in, and a pie in the face from Jeff Francoeur at about a quarter past ten. I go that long without a nap and I get cranky. I'm sure the last thing that The Stimulus is feeling is cranky.

You can't get much better than two hits and a pie in your major league debut. Hell the pie was probably the first true smile that Met fans have had in a long, long time (I don't count that Nelson Figueroa pie last season ... that was more of a "thank God this abortion of a season is finally finished" pie.) But as "feel-good" as it was, this may have been the pie that made pies passe. Think about it, if Stimulus knew the pie was coming five seconds before it actually hit him, then that means the pie has become way too predictable. Either that, or Francoeur has become way too predictable.

Dousing him with the grounds keeper's hose ... now that's a postgame celebration, my friends.

But seriously, it isn't like that pie was Ike's introduction to Frenchy. Jeff was all over him all pregame with smiles and hugs as that's obviously a relationship that has blossomed this spring. At least Davis has somebody that will show him the ropes and teach him not so much how to play baseball, but how to be a major leaguer. That's an advantage for Davis. And with Frenchy only being three years older than Stimulus, they can discuss similar things like God O' War 3, Beavis and Butthead, and Ultimate Fighting. Eventually, these are the guys that are going to bring back the hotfoot. And Howard Johnson can sure as hell coach that.

Oh yeah, there's the matter of how Davis actually played.

They kept talking about John Olerud. Olerud in 1999 helped make probably the most perfectly constructed lineup that the Mets have had. Not the best, or most productive lineup, mind you ... but the construction of it was classic from 2-5 with Alfonzo, Olerud, Piazza, and Ventura. Lefty, righty, lefty, righty, all prototypes of what those batting slots should have. Ironically, what that lineup probably could have used was a guy like Frenchy batting sixth (too bad he was only 15 years old at the time.) And it's that construction that has obviously spoiled Snoop Manuel as he's tried to make Mike Jacobs into Robin Ventura by batting him fourth and fifth all season. (Ventura once hit a grand slam single ... Jacobs once had a grand slam breakfast at Denny's. Similarities end there.)

If Davis is anywhere near Olerud, I think we'd take that ... at least until he goes 0-for-10 against the Phillies, then we'll start complaining again. But there was a shade of Olerud in his game tonight. The long reach. The sweet classic lefty swing. And in the seventh inning, the ability to hang in on a curveball to ground it into center field after getting pushed off the plate by an inside curveball the pitch before. That's usually the benchmark in whether a rook is ready, how he responds to that. Davis did well. He stepped in the bucket a little bit on that pitch, so he has a ways to go. But he didn't look completely overmatched. As we move forward the next two weeks, that could change. He'll see Carlos Zambrano. He may see Derek Lowe or Tim Hudson. He may see Jonathan Broxton. All vets with either a clue, or with unbelievable stuff. We'll see what The Stimulus can create out of that the next week or so.

The best thing to happen on Ike's first night in the majors was that the night ended. Now, Davis can be a major league ballplayer instead of the looming savior that he has been made out to be since spring training ended. Having to hear about LeBron James every day for the six months leading up to his NBA debut and then having the entire day of James' debut be dedicated to a guy who had never played a professional athletic competition in his life drove me absolutely nuts. For crying out loud his nickname was "King" and he had done nothing except dunk on a bunch of 15-year-olds a foot shorter than him. That kind of lead-up and hype drives me unbelievably insane. But the best part of James' debut was that from that moment on, he was an NBA player, like every other NBA player. Now that he's among the best if not the best that the NBA has to offer, he deserves all the hype he gets.

My disclaimer here is that I'm not, repeat: not comparing Ike Davis to LeBron James or his baseball equivalent. But the hype that Davis was getting was morphing into a local version of the national attention that LeBron got. Between Mike Francesa doing an entire segment devoted to Ike Davis on his show every day to the constant mentions of his call up during the pre-game show to having hoards of media surrounding him when he steps out of the dugout can be a little much. Perhaps it was that hype that pushed the Mets to call him up in the first place. But now that he's played his first game, all that stops. He can now be a major leaguer instead of a mythical creature. (I guess you can say the Mets released the Kraken.) That can only be good for him as he can now put smiles on our faces for his production with the Mets, rather than put agita in your coffee cup for the things he was doing in Buffalo.

It'll be fun watching him take the next step in his career ... such as what Jon Niese did tonight. Niese wasn't dominating as he gave up eight hits and walked three in his 5 and 2/3's tonight. But what he did was get himself in trouble, and then get himself out of trouble by coming after guys and being aggressive. He wasn't scared of throwing any of his pitches, whether they be heat or off-speed, in the strike zone. Now you might say that it's a trait that only makes him better than say, Alay Soler, and you would be right. But what Niese showed Monday is that while he's going to have those struggles as he did against Colorado, he's also going to have those games where he's going to battle and give you good innings. And that those games might out-number the struggles if only by a little. From Niese, that's all you can ask for. He's also got a ways to go, but he took a step forward.

Oh, and Angel Pagan hit a big home run. It's an opportunity to tell you that when I was in Washington last season, a few Mets were kind enough to sign a baseball for me. Angel Pagan was signing too, right before the game. He had to get to the dugout as the anthem was done and he was leading off the game. But he said "I've got time for one more." Standing near him was me ... and a nine-year-old girl.

I just walked away. That's a war I can't win.

Monday, April 19, 2010

For People Who Communicate Not Good

"But I am throwing my fastball." -John Maine to Dan Warthen during a trip to the mound on Sunday night.
Not that I necessarily trust the lip reading skills of Joe Morgan, but ...


And not for nothing, if there was ever a time to cover your mouth with your glove when you speak, that would have been it, no?

It's never a good thing when you have a Brewster's Millions moment on the mound where the pitcher throws his fastball and the announcer calls it a changeup, along with everyone on both benches. It sure isn't a good thing if your pitching coach thinks you're throwing a change-up. And you know what's really scary? Not only is it my second Brewster's Millions reference regarding that particular scene, but I'm not even the first person to make a John Maine/Brewster's Millions connection this week!

Yeah, uh-oh.

That Maine actually got through the fourth inning scoreless was something of a feat, much like the feat that Mets pitchers pulled off this weekend of minimizing Albert Pujols' damage. Think about this for a second: Pujols was 2-for-14 this weekend with four walks. And the Mets dropped two out of three. That's like getting Shakira's phone number and transposing two of the digits while putting it in your cell.

But the fifth inning was Maine's undoing as a walk, single and Colby Rasmus' three run dinger put Maine out to pasture. And once Adam Wainwright found his groove against a lineup that featured Frank Catalanotto in the clean-up spot, you knew it was over. You weren't sure whether it would take 8 and a half innings via a Ryan Ludwick home run, or 24 innings after Blake Hawksworth no-hits them for nine innings after Tony La Russa says he's not available, but eventually the Mets were going to be toast. That I was happy the game wrapped up promptly so that I could catch the Sharks/Avalanche game is a distressing sign on my part.

In a related story, the lineup probably isn't going to feature Catalanotto in the clean-up spot much longer as the club is doing the deed and bringing up Ike Davis. Something tells me that the Mets actually wanted to keep Davis down and let him dominate AAA for a little while longer. But that the sorry state of first base combined with the desperation of the front office and coaching staff to keep their jobs has expedited the process. I'll admit it. The recent rushing of prospects has made me gun shy about bringing these guys up too soon. But at least Davis is a college product and he's 23. And by all accounts he's projected in that "very good to special" category. I hate that Chris Carter is never going to get a chance with the Mets, which means that the Billy Wagner trade is now officially botched forever dooming Carter to Val Pascucci status unless they can now find a trade partner for him. But if Ike Davis is ready, then this is the move to make ... even if it is for the wrong reasons.

If ... he's ready.

Ike Davis: "The Stimulus"

Now as long as Davis isn't brought up to fall victim to a straight platoon with Fernando Tatis or a Snoop Manuel quadruple switch, he'll be fine.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jake And The Bat Man

I guess it was unreasonable to designate Mike Jacobs for assignment immediately after flying out against a middle infielder during last night's "Ulti-Met Classic" (maybe only for the pitchers). But apparently the Mets and I are on the same wavelength (and if that doesn't scare the hell out of you, then I don't know what will) as Jacobs has been designated for assignment. That assignment: learn how to raise his batting average against middle infielders (or: BAAM!).

Tobi Stoner gets the call as he'll probably be called on for extensive duty out of the pen with just about everyone needing a rest (Tom Gorman's arm got tired just watching that game.) Perhaps Snoop is comfortable with Alex Cora backing up Fernando Tatis at first base after Cora's dive into the stands last night (and if that doesn't scare the hell out of you, then I truly don't know what will). Or perhaps ...

Perhaps after Stoner returns to Buffalo there will be a spot for the Animal, Chris Carter ... especially if the Mets still want to be cautious with Ike Davis, which I would have no problem with. To me, Carter's presence on the roster allows you to treat Davis with kid gloves. We know Ike's time is coming. He deserves every chance to be prepared so when he does hit the majors, he hits the majors to stay.

And Carter deserves a chance to be a Met. Tomorrow. Make it happen.

Supersize Me

Very few baseball games exist that can turn me into a laughing hyena, an angry pyromaniac, and a babbling idiot. Most games accomplish one of the three. Some may hit two of those emotions. Rarely the hat trick. But a 20-inning game just about did it.

Top 1:

Who, exactly, is Jamie Garcia?

Bottom 1:

Skip Schumaker doubles, and there are Nyjer Morgan flashbacks. But Santana settles down and goes through the middle of the order in good shape.

Top 3:

Another 1-2-3 inning. Noticed that former Met Gary Bennett turns 38.

Top 4:

Still nothing against Garcia. Jason Bay's average plummeting faster than the stock market.

Top 5:

Crap, we're about to be no-hit by Jamie Garcia. No no-hitters in 48 seasons and we're going to have the deed done to us by Jamie Garcia. Laughter commences at the mere thought.

Bottom 5:

Here I start to think that Johan Santana is going to get screwed somehow. He's pitching too well. Somebody is going to blow it for him.

Top 6:

Hey, a hit! It's a Christmas Miracle!!!

Bottom 6:

Santana knifes through the middle of the order. So much for Pujols' success against Johan.

Top 7:

Jason Bay flies out to deep right. That ball must have been knocked down by the volcanic ash.

Top 10:

It's mentioned to me that a team that holds Albert Pujols and company to zilch through nine innings deserves to win. I mention that a team that gets one hit off Jamie Garcia for seven innings deserves to lose.

That must be why they call me Mr. Sunshine.

Bottom 10:

Alex Cora comes in for his third ever appearance at first base, and saves the day by making a leaping catch into the stands with the bases loaded and two outs. City of St. Louis groans, then thinks "Hey, Sam Bradford is going to need a receiver."

Top 11:

You know in the good ol' days, the Mets have torched the likes of Mitchell Boggs. Now, Boggs reminds us that even 2008 is a long ways away, as he gets the Mets down rather easily. Oh, and Corporal, you're not helping.

Bottom 11:

1-2-3 inning. Gary Bennett turns 42.

Top 12:

Ubaldo Jimenez finishes up his no-hitter against the Braves. One no-hitter in 18 years for Colorado. None in 48 for the Mets. This can't be a good omen.

Bottom 12:

How many bodies would have flown off the bridge if the Mets walked Albert Pujols to get to the pitcher, and Jason Motte beats them with a base hit?

Top 13:

John Maine runs for Rod Barajas. Thankfully, he didn't leave a trail of puke behind.

Top 14:

Blake Hawksworth comes in to pitch. I still think he's a Harvey Birdman character. He strikes out Mike Jacobs. Chris Carter hit .414 in the spring. Just thought I'd bring that up.

Bottom 14:

Once again, Pujols is walked for the pitchers' spot. My heart, once again in my throat as my brain thinks "This is it. Blake Hawksworth is going to win the game for the Cardinals and then waltz back into the romance novel he came from." Thankfully, disaster is avoided.

Top 15:

1-2-3 inning. Jon Niese pinch hits, actually has a good stroke going for him ... well, relative to the rest of the team, anyway.

The Mets now have four hits in fifteen innings. Gary Bennett turns 44.

Bottom 15:

Jenrry Mejia comes into the game and gets through the 15th without soiling himself. Nice to see a rookie make strides.

Top 16:

Mike Jacobs gets the first sacrifice bunt in his life. I look out the window to make sure there are no pigs with wings.

Bottom 16:

La Russa burns his last position player, and Ryan Ludwick burns a chance to win by Paganing himself out of the inning between third and home.

Top 17:

The Canadiens/Capitals game, which started at 7:00, and goes to overtime, ends. This game, which puts me closer to hell with every inning, lives on.

Bottom 17:

Raul Valdez comes into the game. Surely, this has to be it. This has to be the game. Okay, I'm prepared. Just make the death quick and painless, would ya?

Death won't come. Valdez actually has a curveball tonight.

Top 18:

La Russa's trying to give the Mets the game. Felipe Lopez, who hit a grannie to beat the Mets on Friday, is on the hill on Saturday. And he's throwing slop. But the only hit the Mets get is by Valdez (who Lopez hit the grannie off of ... irony), who's thrown out trying to go to second on a bad throw. Up until this point, I am thinking that there's I'm not going to be too upset if the Mets drop this game. Now, now that the Mets can't muster up a simple rally off a position player, that's out the window.

Mike Jacobs flies out to end the inning off of Lopez, who gets through the 18th scoreless. Proof that there's no justice in the world: Jacobs wasn't released before he hit the dugout.

Bottom 18:

I run outside with a glove and a ball because all the junk I've been told about how baseball is a hard game, and how there's no way in the world a regular joe could strike out a major league hitter is blown to bits. If Felipe Lopez can set the Mets down meekly, surely there's hope for me. I'm officially in training.

By the end of the 18th, however, I've blown out my arm. Prevention and Recovery my ass.

Top 19:

"Hey Dave, check this ... I'm going to put a center fielder in to pitch, and put a pitcher in left field. If this works, I'm going to be the greatest f***ing genius of all time! THE GREATEST, I say!" -Tony La Russa

I make up my mind that if the Mets go two innings without scoring a run off two different position players, I would take a torch to Citi Field. There would be no more Shake Shack, no more Beers of the World, and the only delicacy in the outfield would be Charred Home Run Apple. It would all be gone and the Mets would have to finish out the season playing their games in the Ebbets Field apartment complex. Then the Wilpon's dream will truly come true. However, lives are spared as the Mets score the first run of the game against La Russa's plan to have a pitcher play the outfield and an outfielder pitch, which was almost as good a plan as double switching Matt Holliday out of the game ensuring that Pujols would see nothing but walks in front of whatever pitcher has to bat (Editor's update: Okay, Tony gets a pass on that since Holliday was still sick). They still can't get a clean hit off of a position player, but at least Luis Castillo lays down a beautiful sacrifice bunt. Nice that the Mets can execute fundamentals with a center fielder on the mound.

Bottom 19:

In fairness to Frankie Rodriguez, he probably threw about 100 pitches in the bullpen warming up, sitting down. Warming up, sitting down.

That said, the Mets all star closer gave up the same amount of runs as the position player did in the top of the inning, by giving up the tying run on a Yadier Molina base hit. The fact that Frankie warmed up seventeen times didn't help fade away the Aaron Heilman flashbacks. At the end of the inning, Frankie points to the sky, as per custom. Why would he do this?

Because he was thanking the Good Lord that Ryan Ludwick was thrown out stealing second ... and that I couldn't possibly fly to St. Louis and set fire to his jockstrap with him in it.

Top 20:

Pagan reaches on an infield single, and Jacobs hits the first ball out of the infield off a position player. I still want him cut.

Jose Reyes hits a sac fly to give the Mets the lead again. A sac fly ... off Joe Mather. Not a hit ... a sac fly. Reyes, 0 for 7, is now being considered for 10th in the lineup. Jeff Francoeur disagrees.

Bottom 20:

Mike Pelfrey volunteers to come into the game, and after a quick two-out rally, the Mets finally end this and come away with a 2-1 win. That's two runs, off two position players, on three lousy hits off of them. And people wonder why Met fans are so bitter. Imagine if the Mets had lost ... where would this have ranked on the all-time gut wrenching loss list? Top ten? Top five? And how is it that this may wind up being the wackiest game you've ever seen in your life, and the one player on the roster that had nothing to do with it was Oliver Perez? Now that's irony.

At the end of the game, Gary Bennett turned 50.

And Omar Minaya signed him to a three year deal.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

This One Cuts Deep

This is what happens when Raul Valdez's glass slipper breaks.

Well now the season is truly underway, isn't it? Now that the Mets have had their first true kick in the stomach, we're now officially wading waist deep into the season. There's no turning back to shore now. It's onward to the ocean floor without a life raft.

For me, I think we're now starting to see how a front office and a manager can lose ballgames. Omar Minaya, bless his heart, having been hamstrung by ownership's budget, couldn't bring in a quality lefty for the bullpen to complement Pedro Feliciano. Instead, he borrows one from the Mexican league. Nobody, not even Gary Cohen had heard of Raul Valdez when he made his spring training debut in mid-March. Despite that fact, he made the Mets roster ... which tells you something about how easy it must have been to make the roster.

But when you keep relying on Mexican league castoffs when your ace bullpen lefty looks like death, you're going to get burned more often than you should in a 162 game season. You aren't going to be burned all time time, but in a league where the difference in talent can come down to a few pitches here and there (like the one Valdez threw to Felipe Lopez for the deciding grand slam), you will be burned enough times to make the difference between being in contention for a wild-card spot, and battling the Nationals for fourth place. This is why the Phillies can survive injuries to Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge and go 8-2, while the Mets have Raul Valdez.

Also, when you consistently rely on the likes of Mike Jacobs and Fernando Tatis, you will be burned. But when Jacobs is placed higher in the order than the white hot Jeff Francoeur by the manager, then there's plenty of flame to go around. Jacobs ended the Mets' first inning rally with a strikeout with Frenchy on deck. Then, with Dennys Reyes coming in to face Jacobs in the all important eighth inning rally, Tatis comes up to pinch hit and he strikes out. The alternative would have been Frenchy batting in that spot and facing the righty, Blake Hawksworth.

(Wait a second ... Blake Hawksworth??? Come on. That's not a real person. That was the name of a villian in "Spenser: For Hire". Or Joan Collins' love interest in "Dynasty". Or a Peter Griffin muse in "Family Guy". I mean, are the Mets this bad that they can't muster up a rally against a fictional character???)

Now don't get me wrong. Ultimately, it's players who win or lose ballgames. I believed it when Willie Randolph was making questionable moves/non-moves with the bullpen, and I believe it now. But the people in charge aren't helping any. Friday night was proof.

The shame of it all was that the good Oliver Perez actually showed up to the ballpark tonight. We haven't seen Good Ollie for a long time! For all we know Good Ollie was on a Himalayan expedition since 2008. And this is how he gets treated upon his return? He'll never come back after this. He was shaky in the first couple of innings (walking the immortal Allen Craig in the first inning with first base open and some guy named Pujols on deck had me inventing new curse words) but finished brilliantly. Oliver Perez did this.

And yet, the fruit of his labor was the pumpkin that Raul Valdez's limousine turned into before midnight could cast it's shadow on St. Louis. It was so bad that I wanted to vomit voluntarily ... but there wasn't an 11-year-old in the immediate area so I passed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Lot Is Empty

Hey, what's missing from this picture?

Oh yeah, Mike Pelfrey.

Last season he had an outing so bad he felt he needed to go Grete Waitz around the Coors Field parking lot. Today, all he needed was a victory lap after going seven shutout innings giving up five hits and walking ... none. Mike Pelfrey is now 2-0, and I fear he's going to have to go undefeated to give the Mets a chance at the playoffs. He's off to a fine, fine start. Victory laps for everyone.

And outside of Luis Castillo stealing second base while Jose Reyes was retreating to the same base (fundamental much, guys?), there was really not much to complain about. I could wax poetic on how 5-0 could have easily been 10-0, but I'm not a poet, and I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth. 5-0 is mighty nice. And 3-6 is much better than 2-7, so I'll save my complaints for another day. Can't waste them all in April, right? Besides, Oliver Perez faces Albert Pujols tomorrow. I have a feeling the complaint box will be full.


I don't know why Fernando Tatis is on this team.

I think he's finished.

If I became the GM of the Mets, move one is to present Tatis with a gold watch and a donation to his church (not Ryan Church), and send him on his merry way.

All of that said, I would still rather have Tatis in the hole to pinch hit against Manny Corpas than to inexplicably have him pinch run for Mike Jacobs as the winning run.

I'm not one to dissect in-game moves a whole bunch, and I know it didn't have a whole lot to do with the outcome of the game. But if somebody can tell me what Gangsta was thinking on this one, I'd love to for you to tell me. Is Tatis that much faster than Jacobs to justify wasting his bat off the bench to pinch run for Jacobs, and forcing Alex Cora to bat against Randy Flores? And why did Snoop wait until the count was 2-2 on Rod Barajas to make that change? Did he just watch Rocky II where Mickey waited until the 15th round to switch Balboa back to southpaw?

Worst case scenario: Cora is announced as the pinch hitter for Ryota Igarashi, Jim Tracy brings in Flores to face Cora, Tatis pinch hits for Cora, Flores intentionally walks Tatis, and Corporal faces Flores or whatever righty Tracy wants to bring in with the bases loaded. And you still leave Jacobs in the game because all the lefties have been burned with Franklin Morales having been used.

Or hell, Tatis doesn't even have to pinch hit for Cora, as Cora is actually a decent hitter against lefties (.273 lifetime, .292 in 2009). But why back yourself into that corner? Why not give yourself options? Why expose your queen when your rooks are still in play?

(Editor's note: I suck at chess, so that analogy probably made no sense to you chess aficionados. I apologize in advance.)

Instead, Snoop tries to gain three tenths of a second by pinch running Tatis, and Alex Cora lines out meekly to second base, and the Mets lose because Jenrry Mejia hyperventilates at his first close game situation and gives up a tenth inning bomb to Chris Ianetta. Oh, and a late inning comeback goes down the drain as the Mets fall to 2-6. Yeah, that worked out well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I ... Hate ... Everything About You

I knew it was a bad sign when Brian Bannister, who was a Met many moons ago, turned in a dazzling start for the Royals today while the Mets have been struggling to find starters who could give any sort of consistant effort. If John Maine had turned in an acceptable effort, there would have been no need to invoke Bannister's name (or image).

Instead, Maine gives up eight runs in three innings en route (or is that rout) to an 11-3 loss in Denver ... and I start to long for pitchers from a bygone era.

After the game, Maine said that he "hates everything about himself." (And you thought it was just the fans who are self-loathing.) Forget his starting spot being in jeopardy, Maine sounds like somebody that could use a lesson in how to love himself again ... in the minor leagues.

Bobby Jones did it.

Steve Trachsel did it.

Both came out of it for the better. If Maine's delivery is in fact all over the place, then he needs to go somewhere and figure it out. A little scary since he recently came off a period of time that was invented for "figuring it out" (you know this as "spring training"). But in this, the most important April road trip in the history of April road trips, the Mets can't afford to let him figure it out against the Rockies, Albert Pujols, Howard and Utley, or the '79 Pirates.

Maine is going so bad that not only did Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez take calls from fans during the game who are wondering if the team needs to see a sports psychologist, but Keith is telling the masses "not to think too much", while using words like "primordial" which causes the fans to think too much about what that word actually means. When you come up with a performance which causes Keith to contradict himself in the same sentence, then it's time for some minor league rehab of the mental variety.

(And maybe Luis Castillo could use some mental health time too after going nuclear in the dugout after being nailed trying to stretch a single to a double in the sixth ... I mean, seriously now. Talk all you want about the fans losing their minds in the second week of the season but for Greg Smith's sake you have John Maine who hates himself, and Castillo who is throwing tantrums and it's April 13th! Who, exactly, are the crazy ones here?)

Monday, April 12, 2010

King Cranky

Johan Santana losses are like twice the size of a normal loss. That's the burden that Santana carries on this team, much like the burden that Henrik Lundqvist perpetually carries for the New York Rangers. As a goalie for a team that is scoring challenged, chances are that if King Henrik isn't spectacular, the Rangers lose. Unfortunately there are too many nights where King Henrik is spectacular, but the Rangers still lose. Sunday's winner take all for the playoffs, unfortunately, was a prime example.

For Johan Santana, it might be worse. At lease Lundqvist can start 85% of his team's games and win 35 games a year. If Johan could win 35 games a year maybe Met fans wouldn't worry so much. But he can't. And now that he's suffered a strange loss against the Washington Nationals, we know that we aren't going to see him again until Friday or Saturday. And coming off a loss heading into a series against a playoff team on the road and throwing John Maine, Jon Niese, and Mike Pelfrey at the Rockies, Sunday's loss hurts more.

Santana wasn't spectacular on Sunday. The surprise wasn't that Johan gave up a long ball, the surprise was the road to that homer, which was a triple to Nyjer Morgan and two walks. Santana is prone to the long ball early in the season, but usually they're solo shots. Though I suppose that if Felix Hernandez can hit a grand slam off Santana then Josh Willingham certainly can.

But when Santana isn't spectacular, and certainly when he shorts out in the first inning, it had to deflate the team. On the one hand, it could be correct to say that Santana could have had one of those Lundqvist games today where he was spectacular and they still would have lost because the Mets couldn't get a good shot at Livan Hernandez. But is it? Could Johan's freaky first have deflated the Mets to the point where the entire lineup pressed at the plate against Livan's slow pitch softball stuff?

And that brings me to another point, if Snoop Manuel was right in saying that the team was "unprepared" to hit Livan Hernandez, a guy that most of this lineup played with last season, then that's on Snoop and his coaches. If, however, Bob Ojeda was correct on the postgame show in saying that the Mets were in fact prepared but were simply pressing too much against Livan, who was clearly taking advantage of that, then that begs the following question: What the hell game is Snoop watching???

The Rangers?

And for the lack of a segue that works, let me say this: If Willie Harris wants to flatter himself and think that Frankie Rodriguez plunked him in the ninth inning because he made a game saving catch on Saturday, then let him do so. But if he's going to bark at Frankie for a pitch that hit his arm in an area that was just off the inner half, then he deserves whatever he gets.

Yes, I'm crawling back into "Baseball needs to be more like it was in the 80's" mode, so pay close attention: If I'm Frankie, I go one step further than simply saying "f**k you" to Harris a couple of times, and put one right in Nyjer Morgan's back after that. Willie wants to bitch and moan? Give him something to bitch and moan about. Now, I know what you're going to say: "Oh Metstradamus that's extreme! Nyjer Morgan didn't do anything!" Or: "What if Morgan charges the mound and Frankie hurts his arm?" Or: "What if the Nats retaliate and David Wright gets hit in the head again?" Valid points. I'm not Frankie Rodriguez. I don't have to be concerned with my long term health put in the hands of doctors who will probably have their recommendations squashed by ownership. All of your responses are logical, and I'm not.

But screw it. I'm sick and tired of players like Willie Harris thinking that they have latitude to hang over the plate and then be big mouths when they get hit because they're on the right side of the scoreboard. I'm tired of the "he dominated you, get over it" mentality. There are idiots on either side of the scoreboard. And maybe if Willie Harris sees Morgan take a fastball in the middle of the number one on his back, maybe he isn't going to be so quick to open his mouth when the moment doesn't call for it like Brian Bruney did (that Jacobs home run, couldn't have happened to a nicer guy ... Maybe the mere sight of Bruney was the thing that sparked Frankie to react the way he did.) What's the worst that can happen? Teams hate the Mets? Like that isn't already the case. Or Frankie Rodriguez gets suspended for the next three games? So what? Like he's going to get a save chance in Colorado anyway at this rate.

And yet, I also tire of trying to convince people that the Mets need to return to some vigilante justice just once in their lives. It's a losing battle. Everyone is everyone's friend these days, and everybody just wants to run their mouths instead of charging the mound or sending a message like Bob Gibson used to do because nobody wants to be fined. It's the way of the world and I'll just have to be happy with Frankie throwing a couple of f-bombs instead of a beanball and go on my merry, cranky way.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Hate Becomes Slightly More Rational

The streamers were hung, the hors d'oeuvres were on the table, and the guests had arrived. The only question would be this: Who would ruin Jose Reyes' welcome home party by sitting on the cake?

I thought it would be Oliver Perez.

But even though he gave up four runs and walked four in five and 2/3 innings, there was just enough (and I mean juuuuuust enough) to like from Cousin Oliver today, which means either he had some legitimate good moments or my standards have gotten way too low. In either case, it was enough to convince me not to call for Perez to be traded to Saskatchewan for a rogue moose until his next start.

No, the party pooper was Tyler Clippard, who has given me no reason to cease my irrational hate for him by throwing three shutout innings and striking out seven (!) Mets in the process in relief. And you wondered why Citi Field has been so windy lately. You had three innings worth of breezes courtesy of Clippard, who is clearly an alien sent by a far away galaxy to gain secrets on the Mets and piss me off in the process. We'll know this is true when Clippard will have trouble striking out seven batters the rest of the season against the rest of the league.

Then there's Willie Harris, who once again made a game ending web gem ... this time off a Rod Barajas line drive with two outs and the bases loaded that was so unexpected even Gary Cohen had Chip Caray'd the call to a base hit before it landed in Harris' glove. That would be the same Willie Harris who was only in the game because Ryan Zimmerman got hurt. See how when other teams have injuries they have players who step up but when the Mets had injuries they trotted out Ramon Martinez? And would now be a bad time to remind you, courtesy of Cohen and co. on Friday night, that the manager who convinced a young second baseman named Willie Harris to learn the outfield and be more versatile was Snoop Manuel back when both were with the White Sox?

Yes, it's true. Basically, Snoop's been ruining my life even before he moved to my city. What's next, Snoop? You want to teach him to play goaltender so he can hop on the Acela and suit up for the Flyers after the ballgame is done? Because that would be quite gangsta.

So while you may believe in comebacks, I believe in Willie Harris flushing my hopes and dreams down the toilet after Tyler Clippard urinates on them. Again. All while Willy Taveras and his four RBI's laugh at me ... and Rob Dibble accuses me of going to Canada for blood running.

Hey, I believe what I see.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

They're Not Power Guys

So, which one is Canseco and which one is McGwire? I can't tell.

I guess this is what Snoop meant when he said "they're not power guys but they can hit the ball out of the ballpark." I guess that means that Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas aren't "power guys". But perhaps they now qualify as being "hot at the same time", making Snoop a smart man and a good manager as both Frenchy and Roddy (let's work on a nick name for our catcher, shall we) hit two bombs to ice an 8-2 win over the Nationals, proving once and for all that it's not the ballpark at all.

(All right, except for maybe David Wright, who was in his home run trot on a ball that hit the wall in left field and really should learn to haul ass out of the box until the ball lands in somebody's beer. I mean, didn't training with "The Situation" teach him anything besides how to hit somebody in the stomach with a bat? Okay, off the soapbox.)

The development that not only tastes good but is good for you is Mike Pelfrey's line, a stress relieving two runs in six innings. Four walks? A bit much. But not if you could have two runs in six innings every time out. We all could use Pelfrey to blossom into the number two starter we're not sure he'll ever be. I myself could use Pelfrey to prove me right for once in my life. I suspect we'll get our answer either way by the end of this season. My vote is for yes, but what do I know?

Friday, April 09, 2010

The More Things Change ...

A fresh new injury.

Not one but two updates on Jose Reyes.

The Mets batting average with runners in scoring position.

All present and accounted for in the SNY Mets Post Game Report sponsored by whoever the heck is sponsoring that show these days (KFC? Arpielle Equipment? Slap Chop?), and Geico Sports Night following the Mets 3-1 loss to the Marlins. It's eerie how we all want to move on from 2009, yet it wafts over you like the stench of rancid meat.

Surely after two games where a Mets offense that has the ability to make Nate Robertson look like a superstar could only muster 13 hits in 18 innings and scored seven runs mainly on the strength of the other team's weakness, Snoop Manuel, Gangsta, would have a plan for his hitters to become more productive. Maybe a change in the batting order. Maybe some extra hitting. Maybe a barbecue at Howard Johnson's house. No ...
"We need a couple guys hot at the same time." -Jerry Manuel
That's it? That's the grand plan? Hope? Pray? Plead to a higher power? I thought that was our job as fans. But no, that's the manager's grand plan. One day, that plan will work. And yeah, I know the manager can lead a horse to the plate but can't make him hit. But the problem is that Omar Minaya already passed the buck to him when at the onset of free agency, he basically said that it was up to the coaches to make the players that are already on the roster better (translated: I have no money or prayer to get anyone so you're on your own). And now, the manager's way of "making the players better" is crossing his fingers and toes and wishing upon the one star he could see through the pollution. There's nobody left to pass the buck to.

But that was nothing compared to this post game gem regarding the bottom of the lineup:
"They're not power guys but they can hit the ball out of the ballpark."
What? I don't know what that even means!!! Who exactly did he just describe ... Rod Barajas? Luis Castillo?

Al Pedrique?

Oh well. At least Jon Niese came up with a quality start, so maybe Snoop will stop being concerned about the rotation for two or three hours before the next one takes the mound. You know ... the one that isn't a hard thrower but can throw the ball hard.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

There's A Lot Of Money In It

David Wright is not only a world class baseball player, but he's also a savvy businessman. He's making crazy money off of his Vitamin Water endorsement deal after negotiating a percentage rather than a flat fee. David Wright is smart.

Michael Sorrentino is a former "exotic dancer" with a sensitive side. I suppose that takes a talent which was too tempting for MTV to pass up when casting Jersey Shore. I don't know what else he's known for besides throwing a first pitch at a Mets game in Port St. Lucie.

Wright and Sorrentino have now come together to convince you to try to ingest healthier fluids.

Coming soon: The viral video in which Snooki teaches Fernando Tatis proper base running techniques.

Friendly Reminders And Bird Poop

I'm not here to push the panic button. Not on April 8th. But know that it's always close by.

It's close by because of the reminders we received on April 7th.

Reminder number one: John Maine is your second starter.

You know, maybe John Lackey wouldn't have come to New York even if Omar Minaya/Jeff Wilpon did give him the hard sell. Most likely, it was Boston or bust for Lackey regardless of what Minaya came with. I understand this, trust me. But when I see Maine reach the 60 pitch count in the third inning with only about half of the chucks being strikes while checking the scoreboard and seeing that Lackey is twirling six shutout innings against the Yankees, I want to do my Maine imitation and puke.

Reminder number two: Jenrry Mejia is twenty years old.

He's not ready. He's not ready. He's not ready. I'll hold to that like a warm blanket. But if even he is ready ... are sixth inning appearances down by three runs what we have to look forward to? Is this why Snoop and Omar rushed him and his 97 mph fastball? To get hit hard by the bottom of the Marlins lineup to mop up after the latest starting pitching fiasco?

Reminder number three: Sean Green is no Chad Bradford.

Chad Bradford went through 62 innings in 2006 only giving up one home run as a Met. Of course it was a walk-off, but that's a small detail. Sean Green's Chad Bradford imitation only needed two batters to give up his first home run of the season. Yeah, this submariney thing is going to work out just fine.

Reminder number four: Sometimes, irony is not your friend.

Snoop liked Hisanori Takahashi because he threw strikes. What does he do in his major league debut in the tenth inning? Go 2-0 on Wes Helms, of course. Then goes 2-1 on a batter who's trying to bunt Wes Helms over before taking the loss in the tenth. Even when the Mets do the right thing, the dice come up snake eyes.

And even when the Mets shake off a wild pitch that results in the third out of the seventh inning while David Wright was up with the bases loaded (on a questionable baserunning play by Fernando Tatis, it should be noted for posterity) to come back and tie the game in the eighth, the Mets roll craps. Think about this: the team wasted a Jeff Francoeur walk during the eighth inning rally after being down 0-2. A Jeff Francoeur walk!!! His second of the season! Although I have to tell you, Frenchy walking is kinda reminiscent of an acid trip.

Yeah, kinda like that.

Maybe Frenchy has two walks because he finally realized that they do, in fact, put your OBP on the scoreboard.

Hey, whatever works.

Speaking of working, here's something that's not working: that bird misting thing they're trying.
Bird Doctor was contacted by Citi Field as a proactive measure to prevent birds such as pigeons from taking up residence in the new stadium. Installing the new Bird Control Misting system will help keep maintenance costs down, while maintaining the overall appearance and cleanliness of the stadium. Maintenance costs can soar if weekly cleanup of bird droppings is required; bird droppings are unsightly and can transmit disease.
Umm, well check out what diseases I saw transmitted tonight (besides the ones I contracted from watching the ten inning debacle) ...

Y'know it's not like the Mets don't have enough problems with the human doctors ... the bird doctors aren't going to cooperate either?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Nellie The Phillie

Who knows how useful Nelson Figueroa will be to the Phillies now that they've claimed him off waivers. I don't think anybody will pretend that Figueroa is immediately going to go 10-2 and start the All-Star game.

But to me, you can put it on guaranteed lock that the night the Mets are one game away from elimination, the Phillies will be on the schedule. And Nellie will start that game. And he'll summon every lord of baseball available in heaven to conjure up the greatest start of his career. And then he'll sign autographs for every one of the 43,647 in attendance in Philadelphia. And meanwhile, back in Queens, there will be a torch and a pitchfork for every Figueroa autograph signed that night at Omar Minaya's door demanding his head.

Melodramatic? Probably. But did ya think last April that Pedro Martinez was going to be the chosen one to deliver the final blow to the Mets last season? Did ya? Because you know ... deep down you know ... that if the Mets are going to be eliminated this season, they will do so in the most twisted plot available to them. Whatever puts the biggest smile on John Kruk's face, that'll be the open flame to burn the Mets. It's that simple.

Nelson Figueroa, hero to those young and old during his time in New York, now carries that flame. For Philadelphia.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Fine Day For A Dog And An Underdog

Yes Virginia, you can take your disguises off your dog. No longer will your dog, your neighbor, your friends and loved ones need to wear disguises in public. It's 2010, so you can proudly wear your Mets gear in public again. And many people sure as hell did at Opening Day.

I miss Opening Day. I miss being there. Used to be that I'd go every season, or almost every season. 2010 marked the first time I'd been at the opener in nine seasons, and obviously my first one at Citi Field. I'll say this for the new barn, it's certainly been Metsmerized.

Yes, of all the new banners hanging outside the place, George Foster made the cut ... probably the only recognition of those late 70's/early 80's unis you'll see. But the fact that you see it shows you that on some level, the Mets care a little more about your fan experience than they used to.

Oh, and the blue paint on the stairwells helped too. Makes you wonder what was so hard about thinking of all this (along with the official dedication of the Adam Dunn Bridge, which is now the William Shea Bridge) last year. But hey, late really is better than never.

But back to Opening Day, I miss it. You know what I miss the most? I miss the fact that only on Opening Day can you hear the fans' visceral reaction that has been pent up since the beginning of October. For example, if you're the Mets' physical therapist, you can live 364 days of the year in anonymity. But on Opening Day, there's nowhere to hide. You've gotta toe the line like the rest of 'em and hear what the fans really think of you. In most places, fans may forget about all the injuries, but not here. Here, in Flushing, the physical therapist gets booed with an intensity only surpassed by the boos that Oliver Perez received.

What, you thought we forgot about last season? Nope, not until that first pitch was thrown for a strike by Johan Santana. After that, it was all good. And you knew it would be with Santana throwing darts for six innings and David Wright finally figuring out which part of the ballpark he needed to aim at for maximum production, or as Gary Cohen called it: "Utley's Corner" (why Gary, why?), Jason Bay pulled a Rock of the Westies and debuted at the top of his game, and the Marlins failing to navigate a harsh wind that made the field look like a National Geographic special on the mating habits of hot dog wrappers and other assorted garbage. Poor Frenchy looked like he was in a scene from District 9 in the Mo's Zone, which is probably a valley of dustmites by now. Hell I got hit with windblown beer and a half full bag of pretzels. I thought Alex Cora was going to blow away.

(Editor's note: On this beautiful Monday, I learned that left field can be just as much a sun field as right field ... but only on one side of your face. Must be that creative geometry Dave Howard talks about all the time. Only having red around one eye makes a sunbathing fan look like "Phantom of the Ballpark". So buyer beware, and bring some sunblock.)

Obligatory analysis of Snoop Manuel, the bad: How do you have your star free agent acquisition bat behind a guy who wasn't even a lock to make the roster a week ago (Mike Jacobs)? That'll be a disaster at some point. The good (at least for this game): Leaving Fernando Nieve in for the eighth inning after pitching a very good seventh inning. Somehow, I don't think Snoop is sold on Ryota Igarashi for the eighth inning ... at least not an eighth inning during a Johan start. No, not the time you want to debut a guy who struggled during the spring. So well played on that one, Snoop. But as the physical therapist learned, you can't hide forever.

So the underdog version of the Mets are 1-0, and tied for first place. But for this team, Opening Day is merely the ascension of the roller coaster. Wednesday night is Non-Johan Opening Day, so hold on to your hats.

The ride begins.

Monday, April 05, 2010

If We Die, We Die

So what if the middle of the rotation is made up of question marks and silly putty.

So what if the bullpen wasn't cemented until the last spring training game.

So what if Mike Jacobs, who wasn't a lock for the Opening Day roster a week ago is now the cleanup hitter.

So what if Jenrry Mejia is merely the latest prospect rushed through the system despite the decree that things were going to be different 'round here.

So what if outside of Jason Bay the team is still same ol' same ol'.

So what if Snoop Manuel is still the manager.

So what if Omar Minaya is still the GM.

So what if the Wilpons still grip this team like a vice drenched in flop sweat and shame.

Baseball season is here.

And here's how I look at it: Unless the top-level talent performs above and beyond their best performances so as to cover up the mistakes of the rest of the rosters ... unless the newfound clubhouse chemistry really makes the difference between winning and losing ... unless Oliver Perez forgets he's Oliver Perez ... it's most likely going to be a tough grind of a season. I emphasize "most likely" because anything can happen. We learned this last season.

But why stress? Why worry about all that now? It's Opening Day. The Mets are tied for first. They're serving lasagna bolognese at Citi Field. Life is good.

As far as the season goes, I believe it was Alex Cora who told Dustin Pedroia the following when Pedroia was experiencing some flight fright:
"If we die, we die."
Most likely, this season will have casualties. Maybe Minaya. Maybe Manuel. Maybe both. Maybe our collective sanity. Who knows? But make no mistake: The lowered expectations that this team has will make all the bitching, moaning, and complaining fun again.

There will be bitching.

There will be moaning.

There will be complaining.

That's all I can guarantee for 2010. Win total? I had 91 last season and was only off by about twenty. So I'm staying away from picking a number. Instead, I'm going all Range Game and saying that this team could go anywhere from 78-86 wins. I'm counting on a full season from Jose Reyes, a bounce back season from David Wright, a nice season from Jason Bay, and Johan Santana being the 2008 Johan Santana.

I'm not counting on Oliver Perez doing anything. I'm not counting on Jenrry Mejia to fool hitters past a month. I'm not counting on Sean Green to turn into Chad Bradford.

Everything else, I can only hope for. I hope Jeff Francoeur keeps smiling, keeps hitting, and keeps his K's to a minimum. I hope Mike Jacobs can return to the production of his Florida days. I hope that Carlos Beltran's return means something more than a two month audition for a playoff team that plays somewhere other than Flushing. I'm hoping Ike Davis and Fernando Martinez tear up Buffalo until September. I'm hoping that Bobby Parnell learns a cutter. I'm hoping Ryota Igarashi puts spring behind him. I'm hoping Mike Pelfrey bounces back like I think he will. I'm hoping Hisanori Takahashi is nothing like Ken Takahashi. I'm hoping John Maine keeps his puking to a minimum. I'm hoping Jon Niese grows up. I'm hoping Angel Pagan remembers how to get from first to home. I'm hoping Gary Matthews Jr. is slightly more than adequate. I'm hoping Frank Catalanotto was as good an idea now as he would have been five years ago. I'm hoping Pedro Feliciano continues to strike out Ryan Howard and Chase Utley with regularity. I'm hoping Frankie Rodriguez doesn't give up another grand slam to Justin Maxwell. I hope we see Chris Carter. I hope we see Daniel Murphy. I hope Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco are as defensively able as advertised. I hope those two knock some sense into the pitching staff.

Yes, I have a lot of hope this season.

But if we die, we die. As long as we die big.

And if we die, I hope somebody brings punch to the Apology Day party I'm throwing.