My 96-year old grandmother has dementia. It's not especially funny when you think about it. Her short term memory is pretty much non-existent. She'll recognize people, like my father or my Aunts. However, the last time I saw her, she looked at me funny and asked if I was another son she had forgotten about. My father had to jog her memory.
I wonder if the Mets behave in a similar fashion.
Once again, the Mets somehow managed to come back from what's supposed to be a monumental, crushing, psychologically scarring defeat and win the next day as if they've completely forgotten that such a thing had ever happened to them. The clutch hitting and solid pitching returned and the Mets turned right around and erased an early 3-1 deficit.
At the center of the action was, once again, Carlos Delgado. After being given up for dead two months into the season, Delgado has resurrected his season and his career. It's pretty easy to see where the Mets turned their season around, and it happens to be around the same time that Delgado started hitting again. the obvious springboard would have been the 9-RBI game against the Yankees, and since then, Delgado has 58 RBIs in his last 56 games. Before the season, I would have considered the Mets fortunate to get 30 HRs and 90 RBIs for the season. Delgado's already reached those numbers with a month to go. It's like another person. This turnaround for Delgado has been so dramatic and has elevated the team so many times that all of a sudden, Delgado's become a dark horse candidate for the MVP.
Who the hell would have thought that on June 15th?
Thursday, August 28, 2008
My 96-year old grandmother has dementia. It's not especially funny when you think about it. Her short term memory is pretty much non-existent. She'll recognize people, like my father or my Aunts. However, the last time I saw her, she looked at me funny and asked if I was another son she had forgotten about. My father had to jog her memory.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I'm not done.
My Postgame rant was short circuited by my overt hatred for #8 in the whatever the hell the color Philly wears, but nonetheless, there's more you can say about the events of early this morning or last night or whenever. I think my point was fairly clear, but in case it got lost in the virtual screaming and swearing, here it is again.
Last night's game proved what the general consensus in the league is: You can't take the Mets seriously, and you can always beat them if you catch them at the right moment. And last night was a prime example. The Makeup against Pittsburgh. The games in July vs. Philly. They've done it all season long, and they did it last year too. It's the sign of a team that has no guts, no heart and no Killer Instinct. Last year, it was exploited to the point of embarrassment. Teams that fall behind against good teams, and I mean GOOD teams, like, say, the Angels, when they fall behind, they know the game's over. The Angels will outhit you, bury you, and if it's close, they bring in guys like Shields and Francisco Rodriguez and get the fucking job done. End of story (Yes, I know). A team like the Pirates would piss their pants and go cry for their mommy. But not against the Mets. Teams always play against the Mets until the last out, because they don't respect the Mets, and the Mets will, every so often, spit it up like last night, and this lets teams, be they good, bad or whatever, that you'd better always play hard against the Mets, because if you can knock their starter out in the 5th or 6th, there's no guarantee that they can piece together the rest of the game. And this happens over and over and over and it's costing the Mets games, and big games against their chief rival, and ruining the confidence and the sanity of their fans, who, after the way this season has gone, can't tell up from down anymore.
To make matters worse, the Mets bullpen actually didn't pitch a bad game last night, if you cherry pick the guys you saw. Sanchez, Ayala and Schoeneweis were the ones who got tagged, in case you missed it. But then you have the chief whipping boy, Heilman, and his 9.90 ERA for August come in and throw 3 scoreless, albeit sweaty, innings. This bullpen is schizophrenic. You don't know who's going to show up! Is it the good Heilman, or the Heilman who walks 2 guys and gives up a 3-run HR? Is it the good Schoeneweis, or the Schoeneweis who gives up a leadoff triple? And this changes on a day-to-day basis. There's two starters right now who have proven themselves as bonafide innings eaters, and one of them is pushing a limit he's never been pushed to before. But can you blame Manuel for pushing him further? Consider the alternative!
Santana tonight, and if you don't think this is the biggest start he's made all season, well, then the Mets have already pushed you over the edge. The rest of us are pretty close to it.
What would a late August trip to Philadelphia be without another ridiculous game against that stupid team in that stupid ballpark where our own stupid team somehow manages to hand it over?
It's not the Bullpen this game, although it did take quite a bit of work to blow a 7-0 lead. They can only take some of the credit. I'm putting this one squarely on the shoulders of the stupid offense and their inability to stretch out the lead. The Mets failed to score a run after the 4th inning, which has been a trademark when this team has shown its inept side. While the Box Score will show you that they only left 9 men on base, the fact that the Mets managed to hit into 3 double plays that completely undercut rallies that could have put the game away will likely be lost. The fans and the media will write about how the bullpen blew it again, but, really, how much can you blame them? This is the same thing that happened to the Mets in the game against Pittsburgh 3 weeks ago, same thing against Philly in July at Shea. They don't put the game away, they let the other team hang around, and in this stupid little bandbox and this stupid little team with their F)* $(&$^(&$^&q&^%(@$ PUNY LITTLE PIECE OF SHIT SHANE MOTHERFUCKING VICTORINI AND THEY BLOW IT AGAIN! I HATE THIS SHIT! I HATE THAT GUY! GODDAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!
Perhaps I should stop now and go to sleep. But how the hell can you go to sleep after a game like this? The only solace is that the Mets seem to throw up stinkers like this every so often, and they can, indeed, rebound. But can they? I've lost the ability to think about these things so clearly anymore.
Monday, August 25, 2008
It was pretty imperative that the Mets win tonight, particularly with a 2-game showdown in Philadelphia looming tomorrow night.
The Mets will throw Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana the next two nights, two games at the front end of an 8-game road trip of near-massive importance, in their final trip to Philadelphia and Steroid Field 2 this season. The Phillies have, once again, caught fire, and are currently right up the Mets asses following the completion of their revenge sweep of the LA Dodgers (and who would have thought Manny would go silent in Philly? I would have bet on him belting a HR off of the head of Ashburn's statue). But I digress. With the Mets reeling a bit after a pair of pretty ugly losses to the lowly Astros in which they couldn't do much of anything right, the Mets turned to one particular hot hand to right the ship.
That would be Mike Pelfrey. And once again, Pelfrey delivered a big time performance for the Mets.
The Guap and I were in attendance tonight, for the kind of game that's always a joy to watch. Pelfrey clearly had his great stuff, and that was evident after he zipped through the mostly punchless Astros lineup on 6 pitches in the 1st inning. Carlos Delgado hit a 3-run HR that took a rather unseemly and confusing bounce off the top of the wall, or was it the foul pole? And the drama had, for the most part, evaporated from the evening. The game moved along at a brisk pace, through 4 innings by 8:15 and through 7 innings by 9pm.
I think I've said enough extolling the virtues of Mike Pelfrey's sudden rise to prominence over the course of this Summer, but it really was a joy watching him pitch, particularly on this night. Going a little deeper into the Box Score, you'll see that aside from not drawing any walks, the Astros didn't get a runner past 2nd base until Geoff Blum doubled in the 5th inning, and didn't get a runner to 2nd until David Newhan, clearly out for revenge this weekend, doubled in a pinch-hitting appearance in the 9th (and was welcomed by me booing loudly). If Pelfrey was great against Colorado and Superb against Atlanta, tonight he was flat-out Dominant. It seemed as though every pitch went exactly where he needed it to go, and it served to set up the following pitch. The Slider set up the Sinker, the Sinker set up the Fastball, and so on and so forth, and as the evening progressed, it wasn't a matter of whether or not the Mets would win, but would Pelfrey follow up his first Complete Game with his first Shutout. He'd ultimately fall one out short (there was nothing Delgado could do on Wigginton's smash, although had it been hit directly to him, the potential of a 3-6 tag DP at 2nd base was a definite possibility), but you can't take anything away from him. If anything, he might have been winded from his quick trip around the bases after a walk and a subsequent Reyes triple in the 8th inning. This, in particular, might have been the pyrrhic moment of the night. El Guapo and I weren't particularly pleased that he walked and had to run the bases. He certainly showed his wheels as he motored around to score, but that was a close play, and I'm not sure what would have been worse, Pelfrey having to slide into the plate, or Pelfrey running right into a tag at home. But, the throw was late, and Pelfrey managed to score standing.
Pelfrey's strong performance is even more encouraging considering the state of the Mets pitching. The bullpen struggles have been well-documented. Now, John Maine is sidelined again, status unclear. Pelfrey's ability to go deeper into games, and even finish them as he's now been able to do, will only serve to keep the bullpen fresh and rested for those nights when they're needed the most. Someone was up and throwing in the 9th when Pelfrey got into a little trouble, but with a big lead, and Pelfrey having thrown under little to no stress throughout the game, there was little argument over whether or not he should have finished things off. And he did, in a tidy 108 pitches.
It was, in fact, such a good night, that even the giant D-Bag sitting next to me, who loudly spouted bad baseball cliches, screamed that David Wright sucked after he grounded out to end the 5th, hogged the armrest, bumped into me no less than 10 times and did a silly little dance during Lazy Mary all in an effort to bag a really unattractive girl couldn't put a damper on things. They left, of course, in the 8th inning. What great fans.
You don't leave a game when your team's newest emerging star is potentially working on his first career complete game shutout. Even if he falls short, you stick it out to the end.
At least, when you're as insane as I am.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Unless there is some unforseen change in plans, at least for me, last night was the final Mets/Braves tilt I will attend at Shea Stadium.
And if this is the case, well, that's one hell of a way to go out.
Things seemed to begin all wrong last night. For starters, Pedro Martinez did the exact same thing last night that he had done in the last game I attended. I was running somewhat late to the game and I was just barely settling into my seat, UR6U9, when Yunel Escobar popped the first pitch of the game into the bleachers. "Are you fucking kidding me?" I thought. "Two games in a row?!"
It was quite fortunate that the rest of the game did not unfold in similar fashion to that Wednesday against San Diego 2 weeks ago, when not much went right for the Mets. In fact, for the most part, this played out as the sort of game that a good team will figure out a way to win. This is what the Mets managed to do.
Last season, Will Ohman gets to the bag in time and receives Martin Prado's throw in stride to get Delgado and end the 7th.
Last season, Omar Infante makes a brilliant sliding catch on Delgado's sinking liner and doubles Wright off 2nd base with ease in the 9th.
In 2008, these things don't happen.
I don't know whether its a different attitude or a heightened sense of urgency, but even when this game appeared to be slipping away, I felt rather confident throughout that the Mets would win. I can't say that this is a feeling that will hold true throughout the remainder of the season, but for the way the Mets have been pulling games out, and for the way that they have, at least lately, been beating the teams that they're supposed to be beating, even with the state of the Bullpen, the Mets have been inspiring a healthy amount of confidence.
Think about the manner in which they put together their rallies.
In the bottom of the 1st, Jose Reyes poked an 87-hopper up the middle. Yunel Escobar dives, but can't come up with the ball. It's a hit for Reyes. 2 outs later, with the infield shifted for Delgado, Carlos hits a high chopper up the middle. Hampton leaps but can't reach it. Escobar again makes a desperate dive, but he can't get it either. It's a hit to score Reyes and tie the game 1-1.
In the bottom of the 3rd, there's 2 outs and Wright on 3rd with Delgado at the plate. Delgado hits a hard grounder in a similar spot, perhaps a bit further to the right. Kelly Johnson, one of those annoying little guys in the Keith Lockhart mode, dives, but it's just beyond his reach. It's another seeing-eye RBI single for Delgado. Both times, if you're following, with 2 outs.
In the 7th inning, it's again Delgado at the plate, with 2 outs, and the Mets now trailing by a run, after Pedro's plot to pitch around Larry went awry in the 6th. Nick Evans is on 2nd and Carlos Beltran is on 1st, after the Braves pitched around Beltran and brought in the lefty Ohman to pitch to Delgado, a move that did not work on Tuesday night. Delgado hits a hard grounder to the right side. This time, it does not have eyes. Martin "The Devil Wore" Prado (apologies for the Bermanism) dove and came up with the ball. But he's now on the ground, well off the base. Delgado is chugging down the line. Will Ohman, for some reason, was standing on the mound watching. By time he breaks, it's clear that this is going to be close. Ohman appears to have a step, perhaps, on Delgado, but he's still waiting for the throw from Prado...which is slightly behind him, bouncing off his glove and trickling away as Evans scampers home with the tying run.
The positive vibes continued in the 8th inning, even if the offense did not. Pedro, who rebounded after his first pitch problem and actually pitched a solid game, emerged for the 8th inning, and why not? He'd only thrown 99 pitches to that point, and if Manuel is going to squeeze as many innings as possible out of his starters, more power to him. But Escobar clearly had his number, as he had also started the Atlanta rally in the 6th, and kicked off the 8th with a clean single up the middle that nobody could dive for. Out went one Pedro, in came another, and Feliciano managed to get Mark Kotsay to drop a miserable bunt about a foot in front of home plate, which Castro turned into a most unorthodox 2-6-4 DP. Feliciano followed by getting himself into a bit of trouble, walking Larry and giving up a hit to McCann before departing for Luis Ayala. Omar Infante, he who ended the 7th inning with a small jib at a fan. He who would hit a screamer out to Center Field, one that appeared ticketed over the head of Carlos Beltran. Expletives were flying out of the mouths of everyone within earshot, until Beltran managed to reach up and snag the ball, ending the threat.
The Mets didn't do much in their half of the 8th, but for a dropped popup by Larry, which only served to make the evening that much better for everyone in attendance.
With the game still tied, moving to the 9th, I was thinking extra innings. Given my history, I think I was well-justified. Still, I thought, it would be fitting if Nick Evans popped one out to lead off the 9th, or perhaps if David Wright did that instead.
But nooooo. If my 21 years attending games at Shea Stadium has taught me anything, it's that you really can't ever expect a game like this to end the way you think it's going to end. That would mean that Wright would double with 1 out, after working back from 0-2 to 3-2, and Atlanta would intentionally walk Carlos Beltran just as the magical F went up next to the Washington/Philadelphia game. A Spanish gentleman in front of me tapped me and started yelling, "LOOK! LOOK AT WASHINGTON! LOOK AT WASHINGTON!"
So, right. Walk Beltran to pitch to the guy who's 4 for 4. So Delgado hits a sharp liner to left that off the bat looks like it's going to drop in. I see Wright taking off and motoring towards 3rd. I see Omar Infante closing on the ball, and...uh oh...He's going to catch the bastard, and Wright is basically standing on 3rd. Instant disaster. So Infante starts to slide, and the next thing I know, the ball's on the ground, and Wright is all of a sudden reversing course and dashing for home, making a graceful dive and getting pounded by a mob of Mets at the plate. This is how it would end. A hit that's almost a double play that turns into a hit. A sweep of the team that has, arguably, caused the Mets the most grief over the past 10 years. A somewhat satisfying sore throat for me this morning. I was in such a good mood after the game that it didn't even bother me that some woman snuck through the turnstile on my Metrocard Swipe (and I use an unlimited), or that I had to stand on the 7 train back into Manhattan.
Good teams are supposed to win games like this, and right now, the Mets are playing like a good team. Last season, they were supposedly a good team and they didn't play as such. People who like to reference the end of last season as a "collapse" like to ignore the larger picture, that which would show you that the Mets played like that all season. It just caught up with them at the worst time. They've played in similar fashion this season, too, and there's a lot of baseball left in this season. But they haven't played like that very much lately.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I have to give a big time shoutout to Brooklyn Met Fan, whose innocuous nickname for Mike Pelfrey has turned into a rallying cry for this team over the past 2 1/2 months, as Mike Pelfrey has gone from a potential journeyman into the potential ace we thought he'd be. I got one of those shirts. It makes its debut next Monday night against Houston.
This metamorphosis continued tonight, as Big Pelf pistolwhipped Gregor Blanco and the rest of the Braves en route to his first Major League Complete Game, a feat which he might have been due in a couple of other instances earlier this season, but finally nailed down tonight.
It has been a remarkable turnaround for Pelfrey, and perhaps the biggest "lost" story for the Mets this season. In early June, Pelfrey was, I believe, 1-6 and on the fast track to the Minor Leagues, future unknown. But since that point, Pelfrey has gone 11-2, and more often than not, he's just been flat out dominant. I even went so far as to snag him off the waiver wire in my Fantasy League after the Arizona game, and took a couple of snide remarks about how "It won't last." Well, now I'm the one laughing. Pelfrey should be laughing too. This season to this point has turned into his own personal coming out party, and he's picked up the slack for guys like Maine and Pedro, who have been injured and/or inconsistent for most of the season.
In the two outings I referenced earlier, Pelfrey had had the opportunity to put it all together for himself, and not only finish off the game, but finish off a shutout of his opponent as well. Against Arizona, in the now-legendary game of June 11th, Pelfrey started the 9th inning with a 3-run lead, having thrown 109 pitches, and with Wagner throwing, he would certainly be done at the onset of trouble. Stephen Drew singled on the 2nd pitch of the inning, and that was it for Pelfrey. Although I had a heated argument with El Guapo about whether this was the right move, it was moot. Wagner was coming in. And by the time Wagner was done, Pelfrey's shutout and victory had vanished over the left field wall, a standout performance that was long forgotten by the end of the night.
The second such outing was about a month later, on July 13th against the Rockies. I was at this game as well, one of the Sunday Night Spectacles on the eve of the All-Star Break. Tonight, it wasn't the bullpen faltering, it was his inability to put away Colorado's #8 hitter, Omar Quintanilla, that forced Pelfrey to run his pitch count up to 119 by the end of the 8th inning, making it wholly impractical for him to run out for the 9th, even though Colorado really hadn't made much of a peep against him.
So, we arrive at tonight, when Pelfrey finally put together that complete effort, mixing his pitches well, keeping men off base, keeping the damage to a minimum, and most importantly, keeping his pitch count manageable, to the point that Pelfrey began the 9th inning having thrown 97 pitches, a number that would almost certainly mean he would get the shot to finish the deal. Yes, the bullpen was ready. Yes, he fell behind Larry 3-0, but he rebounded to freeze him on a pretty straight fastball, and followed up by getting McCann and Kotsay to pop out to left, and that was that. Mike Pelfrey, welcome to the big time. You held the line and save the bullpen for the evening. Congratulations. Hopefully, this is a feat oft-repeated down the stretch this season.
3 Complete Games in the past month? 2 CGs this week?? What the hell is going on here?!?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
With the pregame news that Billy Wagner's elbow is beginning to resemble the physical structure of a bowl of oatmeal, the Mets took the field knowing that if they were going to remain afloat, they needed to help out their starters. Not so much by the bullpen getting key outs, but by the team getting clutch hits, something that the Mets only seem to be able to do in fits and starts.
Which is why it was particularly gratifying when Carlos Delgado clanged one off the window box with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th inning. Not only was it a hit that gave the Mets the lead in a most important game (and let's face it, every game is most important at this point), it was a hit with the bases loaded, something that has not been the Mets specialty. After a 6-game winning streak that saw the Mets offense post a mighty 2 for 23 with men in scoring position (and we already discussed the real reason for said streak), it was pretty easy to feel ominous when Atlanta took a late 3-2 lead on Tuesday night. It appeared to be the kind of game that the Mets played earlier this season. You know, the kind of game where the starter throws well, gives up 3 runs in 7 innings, leaves trailing 3-2, the Mets get men on base in the 7th, 8th and 9th, maybe even men on 3rd with less than 2 outs, and then Damion Easley hits into a DP, or Carlos Beltran pops up, or Carlos Delgado strikes out. Then, Aaron Heilman goes and gives up a 2-run HR in the top of the 9th and the game, for all intents and purposes, is out of reach.
But, sometimes, the Mets manage to get these things right. Through all the flaws, and the by-the-book nature of Jerry Manuel, the Mets do sometimes come through when they have to, and last night was one such situation. After they got a pair of walks and Beltran reached on an infield single, the stage was ripe for Delgado to pull the ball right into the shift for a 6-5-3 DP to end the inning. But nooooooooooo! Instead, Delgado cracked it off the wall, scoring Chavez and Wright to give the Mets the lead! Miracle of Miracles! Cue the Benny Agbayani song!
If that wasn't enough, the Mets then proceeded to pile it on. Rather than hitting into his requisite 6-4-3 DP, Easley instead singled home another 2 runs to put the game out of reach. Even Scott Schoeneweis couldn't blow this one, and with things being what they are, Scott Schoeneweis may very well have more opportunities to close out games over the next couple of months. Tonight, he succeeded in a non-save situation, closing out a steely 7-3 win with relative ease.
At least for tonight, the moves all worked. The Bullpen kept the game in reach, and the bats came up with the necessary hits. It often seems like the planets have to align in order for that to happen.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
On Friday night, Mike Pelfrey threw seven shutout innings.
On Saturday night, Pedro Martinez pitched seven innings and allowed 1 run.
On Sunday afternoon, Johan Santana threw a masterful Complete Game Shutout, the first such effort by a Mets pitcher this season.
On Monday afternoon, John Maine threw five shutout innings.
The Mets won 3 of these 4 games against the lowly Pirates, however had things broken one way or another, the Mets could have very easily lost 3 of 4. This is because of a bullpen that's been justifiably maligned, and how it has managed to keep the opponent, no matter how paltry, in the game.
But let's not concern ourselves too much with the problems this team has. We'd be here all day. Right now, it's the starters who have been carrying the load for the Mets. During last month's 10-game winning streak, and again during the 6-game streak on this past road trip, it was the starting pitchers that set the tone. The offense helped by scoring early, but only in one instance did they follow up the early with often, and generally, it was 1 or 2 runs that a pitcher was working with on any given day to get through the rest of the game. And they all responded.
This was accomplished against the dregs, Washington and Pittsburgh. The quality of competition increases somewhat this week with Atlanta and Houston, the latter of which swept the Mets barely 3 weeks ago, and the former who swept the Mets 3 months ago. My, how things have changed since then. Both teams are sagging, their seasons about given up. But it's up to the starters, beginning with Oliver Perez tonight, to continue the trend. There's a week of this before the road trip from Hell next week, to Philadelphia, Florida and Milwaukee.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
As I was drifting off to sleep, I was awakened by a bit of midnight lightning, thanks to the WFAN update. I guess it was actually closer to 1AM lightning, but either way, I'll take it. The only thing I can say right now is "Thanks, Beautiful."
(By the way, look at the hops on Larry Bowa in that picture. You think he doesn't enjoy beating Philly?)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The Mets cruised to a rare laugher on Wednesday night, blasting the Nationals 12-0 in a game that was never much in doubt. At the crux of the Mets performance was another solid game from the Mets newest, and perhaps most surprising Pop Hero.
Daniel Murphy continued what has been a brilliant beginning to his Major League career with another 3-hit game, which included an RBI single in the middle of the Mets 8-run 3rd inning and a 2-run HR in the 5th inning, which capped the night's scoring.
After the game, Murphy made a brief appearance on WFAN with Steve Somers. The rather humble and understated Murphy has been a sparkplug ever since he arrived in the Majors a mere 12 days ago, but he's quickly won the fans over with his play. He's displayed patience and persistence at the plate, something that had been lacking as a whole from the Mets offense. Although his defense has had some holes in it, it's easy to forgive him, particularly considering the fact that Murphy, a 3rd Baseman by trade, has been learning Left Field on the fly. But perhaps most impressive is how well the 23-year old has taken his early success in stride. Nothing's gone to his head, and this was quite evident as he spoke with Somers, a little more than 30 minutes ago. Speaking from the clubhouse, Murphy had to cut his interview short, he had to leave to catch the team bus. "Rookies aren't allowed to be late," he told Somers. Unlike some more heady, flashy players, Murphy understands and clearly takes pride and enjoyment in his status with the team. Dare I say it, he knows his place. He's the kind of player who wasn't even on the radar of Mets fans at the outset this season, but here he is, and if the first two weeks of his career are any indication, he's here to stay. Put to rest the cries for another corner outfielder. Raul Ibanez, your services are not necessary.
The phenomenon that is Daniel Murphy began in his first game, where he was immediately thrown into the starting lineup after being recalled from Binghamton and made what at the time looked to be a game saving grab in the tiny left field corner in Houston, which he turned into a lightning-like double play. Three nights later, he was right in the thick of the Mets 6-5 victory over San Diego, netting his first Major League RBI late in the game, a run that turned out to be the difference in the game. The following night, it was his first triple that kicked off his first 3-hit game, generating the lone bit of excitement in an otherwise forgettable Mets effort. Two hits and an RBI the next afternoon. Another 2 hits the following night. Stepping to the plate as a Pinch-Hitter and whacking his first Major League HR off a lefty pitcher the following night. And all of a sudden, he closes his first week in the Majors with a .500 batting average, a curtain call, and instant celebrity among Mets fans. And it's continued since then, up to tonight, and perhaps beyond that.
Moreso than the hits, it's been the manner in which they've come that impresses the most. Murphy, perhaps better than some of the established veterans in the lineup, seems to have a good feel for the strike zone. He's been able to work counts and wait for his pitch. He's played unafraid to take an extra base or even lay down a bunt to try to spark a rally. It's been refreshing to watch him out there, a good break from the monotony of the Marlon Andersons of the world.
Beginners luck? Perhaps. But he's been the biggest sparkplug the Mets have had since, perhaps, Benny Agbayani came up in May of 1999 and started cracking HRs all over the place. Murphy has become a folk hero of similar status, albeit not of similar girth. He has become the leader of this youth movement that the Mets have undertaken over the past few weeks, and he's got everyone behind him.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I sort of get the feeling that the Mets won tonight's game in spite of themselves. Like many of the games before this, the Mets appeared to play in a fog, only scoring a few runs and somehow hanging on when the Nationals must have forgotten who they were playing in the 9th, and the Closer du Jour Pedro Feliciano retired the side in order to close out a rather nerve-wracking 4-3 victory.
This would be the kind of game the Mets would win, wouldn't it? When their ace doesn't have it, spits a 2-0, first inning lead right back. When Carlos Beltran comes up with a hit with 2 out and a man in scoring position for the first time since the Kennedy Administration. When a guy who has what I believe to be a career batting average of .176 hits a game-tying HR. When the Mets score the winning run when THE OTHER TEAM'S BULLPEN FUCKED IT UP! It figures that the only way the Mets would win a game like this would be because a guy got hit in the head, and debatable so. The way things have gone lately, a reversal of the call wouldn't have been much of a surprise. But, miracle of miracles, the call stood, the run scored, and the Mets bullpen actually held the lead.
The threat of a starter, Maine, Perez or Pelfrey, having to go to the Bullpen to save the team's soul might not have been an actual threat so much as a motivational tactic. Maybe it worked. Then again, even monkeys fall from trees. Any one of those three guys has to be feeling the heat right now. The state of the bullpen is in such flux that they all ought to feel as though they need to throw 8 innings every time out, and hope they have enough of a lead that the 9th inning can cobble itself together. It seems like that's what happened tonight.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Well, the Mets do it again.
With the Pirates in town, the Mets kick off this fly-by-nite game by looking like the team they should be and ended it by looking like the team they are. Sure, the scrutiny for this vomit job will fall on the shoulders of Sanchez, Heilman and Schmegeggie or whoever the hell else was out there, but while we're at it, let's give a little credit as well to David Wright, who came up big early and small late, Fernando Tatis, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado for failing to put this game out of reach when they had the chance to, and allowing the lousy Pirates to stick around and stick around and come back and win a game that the Mets should have, by all rights, scored 15 runs and just buried the suckers.
Instead, we're the suckers, because we continue to believe the charade.
The fans will vent, and, again, they'll blame the bullpen, and they're not wrong. But the problems are greater than that. They don't get hits when they need to, the Manager plays everything too close to the vest, and there's no killer instinct. Sometimes, you go in and play a team and you bow down, sort of like what the Angels did to the Yankees over the weekend. Not the Mets. Every team comes to play against the Mets. There's no killer instinct. Everyone knows that the Mets will get lazy and give games away. They should have pummeled Florida last weekend, but no. They barely won Saturday and got hammered Sunday because of stupid moves and stupid play. And they spit it up again today. It's disgusting. I'm about to go on a Chris Russo-level rampage. This team can't beat the teams they're supposed to beat. They play down to the level of every stupid team. Now, they get 7 games against Washington and Pittsburgh. A good team would go 6-1. The Mets, if everything they display holds true, stand a very good chance of going 1-6! WHY WASTE OUR TIME! EVERY SINGLE YEAR I GET MYSELF JUICED UP FOR THIS STUPID TEAM AND THEY SPIT IT UP EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!!
Excuse me, I have to go slam my head into my desk a few more times.
Friday, August 8, 2008
So, it's come to this. The Mets have now been turned into a team that will only win if someone can come up with a big hit to bail out the bullpen. Either that or the team scores 12 runs, but something tells me that's not happening too often.
The whole Closer-By-Committee thing was pretty bad in the first place, but after 3 games of having it in action, it's pretty clear how ridiculous and potentially embarrassing it really is. Tuesday, Aaron Heilman couldn't do it, but Scott Schoeneweis yanked his ass out of the fire. Wednesday, the Mets apparently did their bullpen a favor by not scoring enough runs to create a save situation (although Eddie Kunz allowed his 1st HR as a pro, thereby making a daunting 1-run deficit an insurmountable 2-run deficit). Yesterday, it was Tuesday in reverse. Schoeneweis came in and got one of the three necessary outs before Dirty Carrots Gerut struck. So, Heilman came in to clean up the mess. But, miracle of miracles, the game was only tied, and so when David Wright came up and hit his first-ever Walk-Off HR, he not only won a game that the Mets once again tried their damnedest to lose, he also saved his bullpen from another day of getting ripped a new asshole.
But let's be honest. The boxscore says that the winning pitcher was Aaron Heilman. But I think David Wright should get the win for yesterday's game. Aaron Heilman didn't do anything particularly special other than his job for two batters. Why should he be the one rewarded with a win? I say give the win to Wright. He's the one who actually stepped up and did something, getting what is, for the Mets, an ultra-rare clutch, run-scoring, 2-out hit.
I'm sure Red Foley, wherever he is, would agree with me.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I tried really hard to stay positive at last night's game. At the outset, I heard El Guapo say something to me about Dirty Carrots. At least, I thought he was talking about Dirty Carrots. Turns out, he was talking about Jody Gerut, who somehow has come back after years of injury and inconsistency and found a spot in the Padres outfield. Apparently I've just gone deaf.
Gerut then stepped into the batters box and promptly whacked the first pitch of the game over the fence.
"Stupid Dirty Carrots," was all I could say in response.
Even after Gerut's blast, I stayed positive. Even after Brian Giles teed off and hit the ball halfway up the scoreboard, I said the Mets were still in it.
They were never really in it. Even when they were in it, and the game was tied, they weren't really in it.
The game, for the most part, was one of those forgettable, sleepy midweek affairs that seem to make up a large chunk of the games I attend. Those weekday nights where nothing exceptional happens during the game, and the Mets usually put forth an uninspired effort and lose the game.
If there was but one positive, and there would only be one positive out of a game like this, it would be Daniel Murphy, who seemed to be the only guy playing with some kind of urgency, pinging a triple down the first base line in the 1st, laying down a nifty bunt and nearly beating it out in the 3rd, driving home the tying run in the 5th, and coming up with a couple of nice defensive plays in left. Is there anything this guy can't do?
He can't will his team to victory. Despite outhitting the lowly Padres 9-6 (and 9-4 after the first 3 batters of the game), the Mets could do very little to make those hits count. Wright fell asleep on the bases in the 5th, bungled a grounder that could have ended the inning in the 7th, Delgado and Beltran have stopped hitting, and that all added up to a mostly forgettable 4-2 loss that was punctuated by, of all things, El Guapo and I being subjected to a woman changing her baby's dirty diaper in plain sight, 2 rows in front of us in the 9th inning. That pretty much served as the perfect capper to a perfect stinker of a ballgame.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
One game into the experiment, and I already don't like this closer by committee business.
I suppose it's the Mets only true option for the next couple of weeks, with Wagner on the DL. That's one thing in and of itself. But considering what happened the last time the Mets went into a game, and Wagner wasn't available, and the Mets had to cobble together the 9th inning with a random hodgepodge of the seedy underbelly of their bullpen, we have very good reason to be frightened.
Tonight, the Mets were able to stop the bleeding by shoving some heavy towels at a wound that was beginning to gush. Two weeks ago, they weren't so lucky. Those towels are only effective some of the time. Lord only knows what these next two weeks will hold.
Simple logic would dictate that one of these guys, someone out of the Smith, Schoeneweis, Heilman, Sanchez, Feliciano, Kunz, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo bunch ought to catch the hot hand and emerge as the replacement for Wagner, but, really, can you trust any of these guys to do so? I laid it all out before the season began: This bullpen was already a spotty bunch of guys who might get the job done, but they also were going to make us all insane before the season was over. Wagner was the sure thing, but I laid this shot out as well: He's aging and he's tempestuous. And now he's hurt.
So, the first shot went to Heilman. And Heilman did his very best to show us that he wasn't anywhere close to worthy of the task. True, he wasn't helped by Beltran pulling up on Luis Rodriguez's single, but he didn't help himself by walking Nick (Don't call me Todd) Hundley and helped himself even less by laying the ball on a tee for Gerut to hit it out. Fortunately, the Mets still had the lead, and Manuel was able to mercifully remove Heilman from the game and let Smith and Schoeneweis finish the job.
Yeah, this closer by committee thing looks great already. 3 guys to get through 1 inning. I love it. What's tonight's combo going to be? Sanchez, Smith and Kunz? Franco, Sisk and Guetterman? Henry, DiPoto and Donne Wall? I have a bad feeling about this. Wagner might have been erratic and he certainly blew more than his share of saves this season. But, at the very least, he gave us some semblance of stability at the end of a game, after navigating through some scary innings. Now, these guys have to finish off games? I don't like where this is going.
I hope Pedro has a 7.2 inning effort in him tonight.
(Props if you're able to catch the reference I dropped with today's header. There's a link to a previous post in here that should make it a dead giveaway.)
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
It's very easy to attack the Mets and Omar Minaya for their inactivity during the rush to the Trading Deadline last Thursday, particularly considering how little the Dodgers gave up to land Manny Ramirez, who, let's face it, is the ultimate rent-a-player with his impending Free Agent Payday this offseason.
With the Mets languishing without a bonafide corner outfielder and a bullpen that appears more frightening than the latest Will Ferrell movie, Omar is certainly taking it on the chin right now. This is a double-edged sword. Yes, Omar wants to keep his prospects with the team. There's a general unwillingness to deal guys like Fernando Martinez, Mike Carp, Eddie Kunz and Jonathon Niese within the organization. Omar was adamant. Martinez wasn't going anywhere, for Ibanez, Bay, Nady or Manny, and that was the guy everyone wanted. So, in the end, no deal was done.
What it means is, basically, the Mets are going to go to war with kids over the next two months. Fans who were screaming for the team to get younger, you're getting your wish. Expect guys like Kunz, Niese, Nick Evans and Daniel Murphy to see a lot of burn for the Mets down the stretch. This is how it's going to be. It's counterproductive, as fans, to continue to whine and complain that the Mets could have had Manny for a pair of prospects when that was basically going against everything the club is trying to do, and everything we've been calling for the club to do. In fact, if things had broken one way or another in June, the Mets could easily be playing out the string as a 4th place team with these guys, and nobody would be complaining (except for the fact that this team that was supposed to contend would be out of it).
This division is a 3-team race, and it's 3 teams that are full of holes and lacking in consistency. Two of them made deals to bring in...middling pitchers.
So, why not Eddie Kunz? Why not Daniel Murphy? Why not Jonathon Niese? I've always been a big proponent of youth; these kids aren't going to be any worse than some of the guys we've been trotting out there to this point. Let them show us something. It's better than more games with Schoeneweis or Heilman or whoever spitting it up, or Endy Chavez looking overmatched in a key at bat.
Monday, August 4, 2008
With my show having opened this weekend, my weekend was, predictably, tied up and I didn't get to see much. That being said, I see I missed absolutely nothing, short of the Mets flipping the calendar and instead of flipping to August, they flipped to June. The problems that plagued the Mets throughout the early period of this season seem to have returned en masse. The situational hitting vanished, the bullpen repeatedly shit the bed, and Ho-Jo stood there in his sunglasses and looked sharp.
San Diego is coming in this week, featuring the same pu-pu platter of pitchers that the Mets were unable to beat earlier this season. I'll be in attendance on Wednesday night. This series ought to be a good barometer of just how far, if at all, the Mets have come.
I'd write more, but, in all honesty, I'm dead ass tired and in need of a nap, and besides, haven't I made enough snide remarks and stabbing jokes at the Mets expense for one season?