Monday, July 7, 2008
Maybe This Weight Was A Gift...
Sometime around 10pm Saturday night, when Brian Schneider's well-struck double had landed, Delgado and Marlon Anderson had scored, and somehow, someway, the Mets had come back from a game they probably shouldn't have trailed, but did, to take the lead, a voice emerged from my radio, and probably echoed throughout all of New York, and all of Mets Nation, wherever it may reach.
"FINALLY!" yelled the voice.
That voice belonged to Howie Rose, and it punctuated the first of three rather unlikely performances by three unlikely players for the Mets in Philadelphia this weeekend. When the dust cleared, the Mets won on Saturday going away, and again in Sunday's ridiculously extended game, and could just have easily won Friday's game as well.
Then again, the Mets could have very easily lost all three of these games in Philadelphia.
It's a testament to both teams and their fan bases. Listening to WFAN on Friday afternoon, and an interview with a Philadelphia beat writer, there's not a great deal of confidence in the Phillies from among their own fans. They have a loaded lineup, but they've been going through a widespread slump, the starting pitching has been spotty, inconsistent to the point that their supposed Ace, Brett Myers, was sent to the Minors to get his head together, and just when it looked as though they were going to pull away from the rest of the division, they played some AL teams and fell flat on their faces.
The complaints in Philly seem an awful lot like the complaints of Mets fans, where we have good starting pitching, a shaky bullpen, and an underperforming lineup that boasts some of the worst situational hitters in Baseball.
The real attraction when these two teams meet, however, is the fabled warring factions. Although I didn't see any major fistfights breaking out in the stands, it's always interesting to hop over to The 700 Level and see what the good folks there have to say. Mmhmm, Example A, Example B, Example C. Nope, no surprises here.
What was surprising was the result of Friday night's game, which, given the current state of affairs with the Mets, probably served notice to all of us that this was going to be a very long weekend. Santana did what he needed to do, but once again got a pathetic amount of run support from the Mets continually stagnant offense, and he departed a tie game in the 9th inning, when it was debatable whether or not he should have pitched the 9th after only 95 pitches. It's academic. Bash Santana all you want, but you're going after the wrong guy. He showed up. The rest of the team, you know, the team that's supposed to provide him with adequate run support? They apparently were still in St. Louis. After being mostly shut down by Muppet-faced Rookie J.A. Happ and Chad Durbin, the Mets spit the game up in the 9th when the Phillies did what they seem to do what they always do against the Mets: Score runs with 2 outs. Bah. This time, the culprit was one of my favorites: Puny little Shane Victorino. I hate this guy. I really hate this guy, almost as much as I hate Matt Diaz or Jeff Francoeur. I swear to God, this guy should be leading the Kiddie Clown Parade at a McDonalds in Upstate New York instead of being a Major League ballplayer. I think his At Bat Music is a Kazoo Calliope. I get erections bigger than this fucking guy, and here he is, getting his little game winning hit and getting pounded to pieces, and here we go again. This had all the makings of another 4-game Philadelphia washout and an early Football season.
Saturday appeared to be playing out much the same way. Maine was solid, if uneven through the early part of the game. He was staked to a 3-run lead, which of course he couldn't hold, because, first, he went and hit Victorino. I can't say I blame Maine for doing that, because I look at Victorino and want to throw things at him too, but doing it during the middle of a Major League Baseball game might not be a good idea, particularly when the Phillies have quality hitters like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hitting behind him, and when Utley walked and Howard flicked his wrists, the game was, rather quickly, tied. Maine subsequently went back to business, at least until his arm cramped up and he had to leave. By that point, I was listening to the game with half an ear; I figured it was only a matter of time before the Phillies scored another one of their ridiculous runs, probably on an error by Reyes and an infield hit from Victorino.
It turned out not to be Victorino driving in that go ahead run in the 7th. It was the equally annoying Jayson Werth, or, as he should be more familiarly known, Spiezio-Lite. Werth singled home a run off Feliciano and the rally would have continued had he not gotten himself thrown out taking an extra base on a missed cutoff throw.
So, I figure that's that. Little do I know.
I went back to tuning the game out to the point where I didn't even know who was pitching, and I wasn't aware that Easley and Delgado had singled. In fact, I wasn't even aware that anyone was on base until Gordon's wild pitch scored Easley with the tying run. If Schneider's subsequent 2-out double was the uprising, then this wild pitch was the awakening. This was probably the turning point of the entire weekend. And Finally, FINALLY, the Mets got up off the mat and fought back. Energized from their rally in the 8th, the Mets tacked on enough runs in the 9th that the Grounds crew in Philly thought it would be funny to make up a rain delay, pulling the tarp on and off a dry field and serving to do nothing but make everyone sit around for an extra 18 minutes. So, as it would turn out, the rest of the game was academic, but on the good side.
That's right. What the hell do I know?
This brought us to Sunday's game, which started off as a taut pitchers duel, and Oliver Perez picking up where he left off last weekend, hurling zeros at Philadelphia for 7 innings and looking rather dominant in the process. The Mets offense picked up where they left off, picking up 9 hits and scoring only 1 run.
Then the rains came.
Then the rains continued.
Then I was making dinner.
Then, it was 7:20 or so and I clicked on channel 11 to see if maybe they'd finally called the game like they should have, and sure enough, they're still playing, and Heilman is on and nearly making me choke on my steak and then getting out of the jam.
Then, the game turned into the same kind of Ionesco farce that I had attended last month. It wasn't even Wagner's nearly-predictable blown save that made me think so. It started with Carlos Beltran picking up David Wright and knocking in the tack-on run that proved to be vital mere minutes later. Wagner came in and gave up a leadoff single to, who else, Shane Victorino. He then got the next 2 outs before Spiezio-lite hit the tying HR, a bomb of Mark Reynolds proportions into that Steroid Field jet stream. Perfect. It's just a matter of time before Schoeneweis or Smith or whoever the Mets have left gives up that monstrous HR to Ryan Howard, and the Mets snatch defeat from the jaws of victory yet again.
In the 10th, Schoeneweis came in and struck out Howard and Jenkins.
In the 11th, Joe Smith got Werth and Utley to fly out.
In the 12th, Fernando Tatis hit a 2-run HR off Chad Durbin.
Yeah, Fernando Tatis. Come the 12th inning, the man's unstoppable. He hit a shot that, similar to Werth's HR in the 9th, appeared to be little more than a high fly ball that got caught up in that ridiculous Steroid Field jet stream and carried into the center field seats.
FINALLY! A break for the Mets, a chance to win a game that appeared lost. This was the second unlikely performance for the Mets this weekend, and it proved to be just as critical as Schneider's, since it proved that, once again, the Mets aren't going to fold their tents just yet. You could tell, when Tatis returned to the dugout, and got three emphatic high-fives from Jose Reyes, that they're all there, even if they don't always appear to be.
Then, it was Joe Smith, the final unlikely hero of the weekend, capping off a gutty, 2.1 inning performance by navigating his way through Rollins, Howard and Jenkins, before making a nifty barehanded play on a slow roller by Pedro Feliz, the kind of roller that, in another time, in another place, Smith either wouldn't have been able to pick up cleanly, or would have thrown away. Instead, Smith picked it up and threw his best strike of the evening, capping off the Mets second straight victory in Philadelphia, and second straight victory that featured them getting pushed around and pushed around, until finally, FINALLY, they pushed back.
One more in Philly, tonight. With feeling.