Friday, May 28, 2010


That's not some binary code I'm th rowing at you, that's the line score for the Phillies in their most recent trip to Citi Field. Doesn't look like much, does it?

You never see these kind of things coming, and usually it's a pleasant surprise when they do. Three straight shutouts of the best offensive team in the NL, however, is something else entirely. I don't know where it came from, I don't know how they managed to pull it off, and I sure as hell don't know if they'll keep it up, especially considering this is something they haven't done in 41 seasons.

It takes some luck, yes, and that's what got the shutouts. But it also takes a good deal of skill simply to get the victories. Pelfrey proved that last night by punching his way through the middle innings, protecting a 1-run lead by serving up his specialty: The inning-ending, ground ball double play. Hamels was certainly up to matching him, at least until he ran out of steam in the 7th inning, allowing the Mets to tack on a pair of runs that pretty much iced the game, or at least iced it as much as you can consider a 3-0 lead iced.

In a series like this one, a 3-0 lead was apparently insurmountable. Go figure.

So, the Mets are back, once again, after another one of these rip-roaring homestands where they lost 1 game and won all the others. They're hot again, people are excited again, everything's wonderful in Metville. So long as they don't go to Milwaukee and San Diego and lose 4 of 6. Then everyone's head is on the chopping block once again. Hopefully this time they've gotten hot and will stay hot for a little while longer.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hey, Hey, Hisanori!

So, I think it's time we start gushing over Hisanori Takahashi.

Last night was my 7th game of the season at Citi Field. After 4 quick wins out of the gate, I'd sat through a pair of games where I either froze my ass off while the Mets looked lifeless, or sat comfortably while the Mets looked lifeless. Last night, I sweated out a rather easy Mets victory.

Obviously, I'll take the latter every time.

While Jose Reyes provided much of the sizzle in last night's game, between his 1st HR in well over a season, and his acrobatic leaping catch to end the game, it was Hisanori Takahashi who really provided the thrill, going out and throwing 6 shutout innings for the second time in a row.

Takahashi was near-heroic in his effort against the Yankees, constantly getting in and out of trouble by basically throwing everything he wanted to throw exactly where he wanted to put it. I called him the Anti-Oliver Perez and I think that's quite fitting because not only does he throw strikes, but he seems to almost always keep things under control. The Yankees appeared to always just get close to getting to him. Last night, the Phillies didn't even appear that close. Aside from a bunch of singles and one well-struck double, the Phillies only managed to get two runners on base in the 6th, and of course Takahashi responded by striking out Ryan Howard and getting Jayson Werthless to fly out.

Basically, Takahashi has demonstrated that he knows how to pitch, he knows what he has to work with, he knows when to show what he has and he knows where he needs to put his pitches. How long this success will last, I don't know. But for now, he's the answer in the rotation, I don't think there's any debate about that.

Meanwhile, after the Phillies threatened and were turned away in the 6th, there were the Mets, coming out on offense and basically stopping and demoralizing the Phillies by tacking on 3 more runs and essentially putting the game out of reach. The Mets had been running at will against Joe Blanton all night. After a well-struck double from Wright, Angel Pagan laid down a textbook bunt single and appeared to have taken off for 2nd before Rod Barajas even stepped in the batter's box. Barajas followed with the double to plate both runs, and Reyes came up later and iced the game with a single.

The crowd was alive in a way I haven't felt much at Citi Field, primarily because there was never a reason to. Yes, there were plenty of Phillies fans. No, they didn't have much to talk about, and when they did, it appeared there were plenty of Mets fans shouting them down. In the stairways after the game, the chants were all in our favor, and all over the place. It was the kind of magic I haven't felt since Shea. It's nice. I hope it keeps up. I mean, can they? Think about it. Back-to-back shutouts of the best offense in the league by pitchers named Dickey and Takahashi? Jose Reyes back? Rod Barajas anchoring the offense? What's going on here? I was about to leave this team for dead just 5 days ago. If this is what's going to happen, maybe I should start calling people out more often.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Picking Your Spots

I wonder if it took facing the Yankees, a familiar foe from his Red Sox days, for Jason Bay to finally start to get on one of his hot streaks. After a 4-hit game on Saturday night, Bay finally flipped that power switch and knocked out a pair of HRs, not only aiding the Mets to a game and series win, but also tripling his HR output for the season and (hopefully) signaling that he's finally going to go on one of his tears.

I haven't especially worried about Bay or his slow start, because he really doesn't seem like he's pressing or bothered by any of this. Pressure doesn't seem to wear on him like it does on a few of his teammates. It's as though he knows the hits will come, just be patient and stick with it and the numbers will go up. But he certainly knows when to step it up and get some big hits, and last night proved that.

I still maintain that Bay just makes the Mets feel a little more professional. I wouldn't get down on him at all even if he goes back in the tank, because in the long run, I'm pretty confident that we're going to like this signing. I can see him maybe having a Beltran in '05 season, not quite right, and then coming back the next year and lighting it up. Hell, he could come back in the 2nd half and light it up.

Then, there's Johan Santana, who had a lot to prove himself, given that the last time he took the mound in The Biggest Game In The Galaxy, he got lit up by the Phillies, and the last time he took the mound against the Yankees, he got lit up. But, with the Mets primed to steal this series (one in which they were one stupid error and one key hit away from sweeping, honestly), Johan came out and looked like the Johan we're used to seeing. He was unusually economic with his pitches and he kept the Yankees off balance and off the scoreboard and basically just wagged his finger at everyone as if to say, "Don't write me off just yet..."

This rubber game business has seemed to always be a problem for this particular incarnation of the Mets, so it's particularly important to look at the performances by Santana and Bay last night and see how they stepped it up a little bit when the Mets needed them to. I'm not totally convinced that the Mets are going to go on another hot streak just yet, if they come back on Tuesday against Philly and knock them around, maybe I will be, but if they are, you can look to a game such as last night's as an instance where the Mets best players played their best and basically willed them to victory.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Our Savior!

I think Saturday night's Mets win could fall into the "Holy Crap, they won!" category, primarily because I don't think anyone really figured it would happen.

I think we can thank Mike Pelfrey for that one. In fact, if you're Jerry Manuel and the rest of the coaching staff or the other folks I called out on Friday, you're probably ready to kiss Mike Pelfrey's feet right now. Jason Bay, too, but Pelfrey first, since this is probably the 2nd time this week he's pulled everyone's asses out of the fire. Or has he just been doing it all season. Probably both. Basically, he's been the only pitcher who's gone out every time this season and pitched like it mattered. Even the couple of starts where he wasn't that great, he managed to will his way through it (or he was just undone by his defense).

Last night, he navigated the Yankee lineup masterfully. And not only that, he actually got some early runs to work with, making the task a little easier. Wright and Bay, who have been a couple of the chief culprits of the Mets offensive ineptitude, chipped in with a bunch of hits, and a few key RBIs as well as the Mets built up a 5-1 lead that, try as they might, the bullpen couldn't quite manage to hand back to the Yankees. No, the bullpen hasn't been great lately, but if I were going to point to a primary culprit, it would be their overuse rather than their not being good pitchers (hear that, Jerry!?). The 8th got a little frightening, but fortunately K-Rod was able to come in and stop the Yankees, because another stupid error, or a blooper that fell in for a 3-run 2B seemed imminent.

So, even. No Mets getting swept. No alarm bells throughout the organization, no imminent heads rolling. Not yet, anyway. Now, a chance to win the series if they can pull it together again tonight. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wasting Time

I seem to have a problem, lately, of starting posts, but not finishing them until a substantial amount of time later. It's either I'm tired because I'm working too late and getting up too early, or I'm tired because I sat through a 3 hour, 18 minute crapfest that masqueraded for last night's Mets/Yankees game.

If this is how the Mets are going to come out and start what's probably the make-or-break homestand of the season, then they may as well just start canning people right now, because this was pretty pathetic, both from the players and the manager's standpoint.

Predictably, the Mets went out against the much-maligned Javier Vazquez and made him look brilliant. Vazquez has been having his lunch fed to him on a regular basis all year long. So, of course, he no-hits the Mets into the 5th inning.

On the bright side, Hisanori Takahashi came out and pitched a heroic ballgame. You couldn't help but be a little skeptical, given the recent history of Met spot starters, but Takahashi clearly would have none of that. Not only did he pitch well, not only did he get out of jams, but he THREW STRIKES! It was like watching the anti-Oliver Perez out there. By the 4th inning, he'd thrown about 90% strikes, he only walked one guy in his 6 innings and he got every key out. The argument could have been made to keep him in, but you figured 6 innings was about all he was good for. I wasn't raring to see him navigate the Yankees lineup a 4th time, so pulling him wasn't the wrong move.

The wrong move was who Manuel went to to replace Takahashi.

When I saw that Elmer Dessens was warming up, I hoped it was a mistake. I thought he'd been cut, never to return. But there he was, on the team, starting the 7th inning. I've always felt that Elmer Dessens on the roster was like some bad joke or something. And almost like clockwork, he gave up a hit, Cora made his horrendous and egregious error (funny how Mets 2nd basemen always look their best against the Yankees), and Kevin Russo, with all of 1 Major League hit and 0 RBIs, drove home both runs. And right then and there everyone knew the game was over.

By time the 9th rolled around, most of the Mets fans in the crowd had left. With 2 hits to that point, who could blame them? Fortunately, the Citi Field Subway Series crowd seems much more civil and pleasant to be around than they were at Shea. The transplanted section of Bleacher Bums was nowhere to be found. Not that that made us feel any better. With Rivera in to protect the lead, the final seemed academic. At least until Bay reached out for a 2B that nearly got out, and Ike Davis followed with a rope to the wall in right center (proving the point that Ike Davis owns Mariano Rivera. Owns him!). A glimmer of hope! A chance with Wright at the pl...Oh. He grounded out. Never mind.

Pelfrey tonight, but what does it mean if nobody can get a hit?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spring Cleaning, Revisited

This weekend's Subway Series and the 3 game visit from our friends in Philadelphia is basically Jerry Manuel's last stand. I don't think that's being dramatic at all. If things don't go well, he's going to be fired, and I don't think any Mets fans will complain about it.

There's a sort of sick, sinking feeling that's surrounding the Mets right now, particularly as they continue to go out and make the same stupid mistakes, put forth the same lifeless efforts and come up with the same frustrating losses. It's beginning to become evident that most of the Mets fans who aren't complete idiot lunatics like myself have just become fed up and stopped going to games. I don't think the Mets are even on pace to draw 2,000,000 fans right now, and if you go by people who actually show up to games, 1,000,000 is a dicey proposition.

So, what's the solution? Well, right now, the Manuel death watch has begun to reach Willie Randolph-like proportions. The only difference is that Willie had that quick-talking likability that made everyone overlook the shortcomings until it became painfully obvious that he'd lost the team. But basically, May, 2010 feels an awful lot like May, 2008. While the people's choice to replace him is our beloved Bobby Valentine, it seems like the organizational choice is bland, boring Bob Melvin whose track record in Seattle and Arizona is about as memorable as, say, Mike Cameron's tenure with the Mets: Short, unspectacular and quickly forgotten about.

But it's not just Manuel that's the problem. Dan Warthen needs to go, too. Probably the training and conditioning staff as well. I'm surprised that we don't discuss this more often, but doesn't anyone find it sort of strange that EVERY Mets pitcher has had some strange issue with their velocity dropping? It's not just Maine and Perez, it's EVERYONE! If it's a couple of guys with injury problems, that's one thing. If the entire staff has this issue, the coach needs to do some explaining. Why is Santana now throwing 89-90 instead of 93-94? Why is Niese not throwing his curve? Why can nobody seem to throw Strike 1? And say what you will about Rick Peterson, but who was the pitching coach when Maine and Perez were pitching so well? And who was the pitching coach when it was a tall order to ask the Mets bullpen to get 3 outs without screwing up the game at the end of '08? I can't even give Warthen credit for Mike Pelfrey's resurgence, because I think he just got mentally tougher and learned to trust his stuff as opposed to anything Warthen would have done for him. It's at the point where I cringe when I see him waddling out of the dugout. So you can get rid of him too, I don't think anyone's complaining.

Finally, there's beloved Ho-Jo. Mr. Met, the organizational hero. The only guy who survived the 3:14am massacre in 2008. I thought he should have been fired then, and guess what? He should be fired now, too. Much like it's a little too strange that the entire pitching staff stopped throwing hard and can't throw strikes, it's a little too strange that half the offense seems to have no concept of bat control or situational hitting. Not to mention the fact that Jose Reyes still isn't hitting line drives. I could waste more breath discussing this, but, quite honestly, I don't have the energy. Just get rid of him. I don't care if he was an '86 Met, we can remember him for that forever. HE'S NOT A GOOD HITTING COACH! FIRE THAT ASS!

So, there's the Spring Cleaning for 2010. That might solve a few problems, or at least wake some of the players up. If that doesn't work, then it's time to start getting rid of some of them, too. You hear me, Jeff Francoeur, Luis Castillo, Alex Cora and Gary Matthews, Jr.? You're all next on the hitlist if things don't start to get better. The NL sucks right now and all that needs to be done to keep things interesting is to just hang around on the fringes of the Wildcard race and get hot late in the year. We know this team can get hot in fits and starts. But if they play like this for 3 months, it's not going to make a damn difference come September.

The annoying thing about the way this is playing out is that if the Mets have a good week, everyone stays. Even Omar, who ought to get the axe too if the house is going to be cleared out. Part of me almost wants the Mets to get swept and embarrassed just to expedite the process.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In Spite Of...

I'm not sure, but if I were John Maine, I probably wouldn't be too vocal about my displeasure over being pulled from last night's game. While I admire his determination, there's clearly something wrong with him. In fact, there's something wrong with most of the team.

Things lately have been dissolving into early-2008 around here. Everyone is grousing, people are calling for everyone to be fired, and for all I know this could happen pretty soon if things don't go well this upcoming weekend.

Maine's been particularly putrid lately, and it's sort of been a microcosm of the team. He goes out there and clearly, he's trying, and clearly he wants to do well, and, hell, we all want him to do well, but he's just not right. Optimally, he'd be throwing around 92-93mph, where he was when he was doing so well, but right now 2007 seems like a generation ago, and that time seems like a joy as compared to this dreck. And it's beginning to become a liability. I mean, this guy started off his last start by throwing 12 straight balls. Who does that? Seriously, who does that on the Major League level? That's High School crap. I mean, it's well and good that Warthen and Manuel finally tired of the Oliver Perez shit show and threw him in the bullpen, so let's throw Maine in there as well. Let Takahashi start, he's basically been their caddy for the first 6 weeks anyway.

So, fine. Maine's out, in comes Raul Valdez, part of the mixed bag that the Mets bullpen is, and somehow he throws 5 innings and keeps the Nationals at bay, while they go out and beat up Luis Atilano, who showed the Mets what was what just last week. An encouraging sign since the Mets used to do the exact opposite, but, then again, they saw Livan Hernandez and his heap of crap all the time last season and they couldn't manage much off him last night. Of course, 10-1, a lead that appeared to be windowdressing at the time, got whittled down to 10-7 when that mixed bag bullpen seemed to have a collective attack of 2008-itis. But, they hung on. In spite of themselves.

These victories in spite of themselves are getting all too familiar. I don't like where this is heading. They're starting to become what we thought they were, and that's not a good thing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pulling a Dick-Out

So, it's come to this. Rolling into Washington behind R.A. Dickey. It's almost as promising as when they came in with Brian Lawrence. Yes, Dickey has pitched well in AAA this season, and even threw a perfect game of sorts, but let's face it: Dickey is the consummate 4A guy. Looks great in the Minors, call him up and it's a mixed bag.

I know this may not happen, but I just feel like the situation is rife for Dickey to come in, flutter his knuckleball around and get lit up for 7 runs in 2.2 innings. That's the way things seem to be going for the Mets lately.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Out In The Cold

At the end of the 6th inning of last night's long, frigid affair, El Guapo had had enough.

"I hate to be a dick," he said, "But it's late, and I'm cold, and I have to be up early tomorrow."

And with that, he departed.

I can't say I blame him. In retrospect, I should have gone too. Silly me and my sticking it out to the end, blindly hoping the Mets would do something positive.

Didn't happen. In fact, not much seemed to go positive for the Mets last night in what basically amounted to an eminently forgettable night at Citi Field.

Neither pitcher appeared to be especially sharp. Maine was, well, Maine. He got into and out of all sorts of trouble all night long, but was fortunate to only be scored upon on a pair of HRs in the 3rd inning. His sweaty, 30-pitch 1st inning was matched, however, by Washington's Luis Atilano, one of those pitchers I'd never heard of before the game. Of course, after walking some guys and loading the bases in the 1st, the Mets managed not to score, and you sort of knew right there that the Mets weren't going to win this one. Almost like clockwork, Atilano settled down and started getting the outs he needed to get. The Mets got all sorts of guys on base and managed to screw it up each and every time. This, compounded with the howling wind and ridiculous cold for May 10th left me in a pretty foul mood by time Jason Bay struck out to end the game. Basically, I could sum it up as follows:

Maine Sucked.
The Offense sucked.
The situational hitting sucked.
The bat control sucked.
The weather sucked.
Everything else sucked.

I don't think much more needs to be said on the matter.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blame Everyone Else!

Since Oliver Perez was all too eager to blame the unseasonably cool, windy weather for his putrid performance yesterday, I guess we should just take it easy on him, rather than lambasting him for once again stepping on the mound and vomiting out another gutless performance against the Giants.

It wasn't his fault, really. The Mets came back and had a late lead and Jennry Mejia gave up that late HR to Rowand that would ultimately sink the Mets. I mean, that was the first HR Mejia had allowed all season, and into the teeth of a howling wind that echoed all over NYC. So you know it was probably really tagged.

I mean, let's just cut poor Ollie some slack here. It's difficult for a guy who's been in the Major Leagues since 2002 to prepare himself in such harsh conditions. We should be fortunate that he was able to get 44 of his 98 pitches over for strikes on a day like this. How many of us woke up, felt that cold permeating through our apartments and didn't even want to get out of bed? Let's give Ollie some credit for his stick-to-it-iveness and his guts and guile in taking the ball and giving us his all.

Let's blame David Wright, who struck out 4 times, and then petulantly whined and screamed to the umpire after his last strikeout. I mean, who does he think he is? How dare you question the umpire's judgment. He's had a tough enough day standing around while poor Ollie struggled to find the plate.

For that matter, let's blame the rest of the Mets offense for fighting back from the hole that Ollie had put them in after his courageous performance. I mean, if Ollie gave it his best and walked 10 guys in 3+ innings, how can the Mets offense then show him up by getting some hits and scoring some runs to take him off the hook, and deprive him of that loss that he so richly deserved. I mean, he worked particularly hard for that loss, and now all he has to show for it is a measly no decision.

Perhaps, in the future, we'll take it easier on Oliver Perez. I mean, it's a tough game, and he's a tough guy. It's hard to throw strikes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Catch The Excitement!

I love our Catchers! Always did!

So if it's not Rod Barajas stepping up to save the Mets from imminent peril, we can always look to Henry Blanco to follow suit.

Since I was stuck in my legendary meeting all afternoon on Saturday, I missed the game completely, only being able to have any clue what was going on via periodic text messages from my friend, who is fortunate enough in his life to actually have his Saturdays free more often than not, something that appears to be beyond my realm.

What I missed, it seems, was Johan Santana following in the shoes of Mike Pelfrey and rebounding from a patently awful start in Philadelphia to pitch tolerably well into the 8th inning, the Mets bullpen coughing up the lead, and a Catcher coming up and hitting a walkoff HR, followed by the Mets jumping around like idiots for the second day in a row.

I mentioned it the other day, but Blanco, like Barajas, has really been an unsung hero for the Mets thus far this season. Blanco hasn't done it with the bat quite as often as Barajas, but nonetheless, he's been great behind the plate, particularly with his handling of Mike Pelfrey during his renaissance, and also with his stellar work throwing out would-be basestealers. It's nice to see, particularly considering that Barajas and Blanco seemed to be a step down from Santos and Thole, or even from Schneider and Castro when we looked at them about a month ago. But sometimes, these moves have a way of working out, even if Omar Minaya is somehow prominently involved. Barajas and Blanco, to this point, have made Omir Santos virtually obsolete and have stuck Josh Thole in the minor leagues for the foreseeable future. Nobody could have figured it, nobody could have banked on it, nobody knows how long this is going to last. Right now, who cares? If they're getting the job done and the Mets are winning some games, that's all that matters, right?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Our Turn Now!

I'm starting to like this Barajas fellow.

In spite of the fact that I shortchanged his career-high HR total (seems I missed him hitting 21 with the Rangers in 2005), Barajas just went out and hit a couple more last night, including the Walk-off shot that pulled our asses out of the fire and saved us from another extra-inning affair that could have gotten ugly. You know, like the other two the Mets played this week.

But Barajas stopped the game from getting that far, aided by his multiple-HR compatriot, Ike Davis, who picked a fine evening for his first career Multi-HR game. In fact, for most of the evening, Davis was the story of the night. His first HR, a shot that Howie Rose referred to as "Strawberry-like," scraped off the front of the Pepsi Porch. The second one went to dead center, a part of Citi Field where most Mets haven't been able to hit the ball in the past year plus. Behind Mike Pelfrey, who seemed perfectly fine following his shoulder scare of earlier in the week, the Mets looked to be cruising right along to a victory over the Giants.

Until John Bowker (you know, the great John Bowker) came up against Rodriguez and hit a tying HR that was reminiscent of one of Ike's shots. That sort of took the wind out of everyone's sails. But, fortunately, it was only temporary, thanks to our new savior Rod Barajas in the last of the 9th, who hit a towering shot into that part of Citi Field where it looks like it's going to go out off the bat, but then there's that moment of abject horror where the ball looks like it just hangs there for a little bit, and it's going to end up either clanging off the top of the wall, or worse, falling short and being caught. Even Howie Rose wasn't quite sure where it was going to end up, but it managed to make its way into the seats, ending the game and re-igniting everyone's spirits. Nice to finally have a Walkoff HR in Citi Field, nice to see the Mets jumping around like idiots, nice to finally do the walking off and the idiot jumping than having it done against us.

I hope to see it a few more times this season. Maybe even when I'm present.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2-4 Forever

Didn't we just see this garbage?

At least on Wednesday afternoon, I didn't actually think that some ridiculous Reds retread would come up and hit the Game Winning HR. Which is probably why that's exactly what ended up happening.

These weekday afternoon games are always sort of strange, because instead of sitting in the comfort of my own home, listening to the game in my underwear*, I'm listening to the radio in my office. Usually, this means I've got people calling me, or talking to me, or my boss is yelling for something, or someone needs a cookie, or whatever. Point is, there's usually some kind of distraction going on, so I can't pay the kind of attention I'd like to pay to the matter at hand. Even if there's someone in my office who happens to be a Baseball fan, it usually ends up with some sort of baseball-related discussion that ends up distracting me from the game.

That's not to say that I'm 100% locked in to games when I'm listening at home, but at least when I'm at home, my distractions are caused by my own volition, and not by someone asking me to turn a printer on.

Point is, usually, when the Mets have games like this, and I'm listening in my office, it's sometimes difficult for me to grok what's going on in the game, so things tend to get lost. I knew that Johnny Cueto sort of lost the plate in the 3rd inning, when the Mets scored, and I also knew that Jon Niese was dancing in and out of trouble as per usual. From what I could gather, Niese seemed to be a bit more hittable than usual, but I didn't really notice until he started giving up HRs. I didn't realize until later that he'd given up a whopping 12 hits in his 6 innings of work. Niese has been very good at getting the key outs when he needs them most, but that's bordering ridiculous. 4 runs isn't great, but it seems like he was pretty fortunate to have escaped only allowing the 4.

But, the Mets fought back.

But, as usual, the Mets couldn't get that key hit when one could have tilted the game in their favor.

But, Hisanori Takahashi (the Anti-Ken) pitched magnificently once again, keeping the game tied.

But, Feliciano came in in the 10th, and gave up the leadoff HR to Cabrera, and that was the end of that.

Fittingly, I had no idea who was up, only that I heard "And a high drive..." and some cheers, which is pretty self-explanatory, you don't need to know who hit it, only that it went out in a situation like that.

So, the Mets come back home after yet another 2-4 road trip that seems to have undone a lot of the good will generated by the 9-1 homestand. Is this how the season is going to go?

*Note: I don't always listen to the game in my underwear. It's just good to say that for dramatic effect.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Iron Rod

I was out last night and given a rare opportunity to actually watch the Mets game, and apparently I picked the right night to do so.

I didn't see any of the early part of the game, and when I finally found myself in front of a TV, things seemed to go from bad to worse for the Mets. It started out with Fernando Nieve getting two quick outs, and then giving up two long HRs to Votto and Rolen (who I thought died 4 years ago).

I really know how to pick my spots.

Nonetheless, I stuck around and drifted in and out of attention as the game moved to the 9th. I figured another extra-inning game was imminent until Rod Barajas stepped up and hit one out against Francisco Cordero. A night that had seemed to take a rather frustrating turn had unexpectedly become more palatable, and looked even better when Rodriguez locked up the win shortly thereafter.

Rod Barajas! Who knew? On Opening Day, I didn't even realize he was on the team. I figured it made sense, he seemed to fit in with the slew of Fat Hispanic Catchers the Mets seem to be so fond of (though Barajas is from California, he appears to be of Mexican descent). To that point, I'd only known Barajas as a seldom used backup catcher on the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks that Bob Brenly took a gamble on one night in the World Series and responded with a HR off Mike Mussina. A 34-year old retread, when I mentioned his age to El Guapo, he muttered some words about the Mets that I wouldn't consider family friendly. Then again, this blog isn't family friendly, so let's just paraphrase it to "What the fuck is the matter with this fucking team?" But Barajas came through with a pair of hits, and though he doesn't and hasn't ever hit for an average, he's made his hits count, to this point. Consider this: It's May 5th, and right now, Rod Barajas leads the Mets with his 7 HRs.

I don't know that anyone would have figured Rod Barajas would be leading the Mets in anything this season. But, here he is, and not only that, he's getting some HRs in key spots. Who knows if he'll keep this up; there's also a very good chance that he'll just regress to his usual lousy self, but last year, he did beef up his numbers to a career-high 19 HRs and 71 RBIs, which is perfectly respectable for a Catcher, and certainly more than respectable for Rod Barajas. Numbers like that from him this year would help quite a bit, and make the Mets catching situation, something that was probably more of a joke than a real threat at the outset, one of this season's more pleasant surprises.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


In the 8th inning of last night's game, Angel Pagan led off by popping out. With one out, Luis Castillo slapped a single up the middle. Jose Reyes followed by grounding into a 6-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Right then and there, I knew how the game was going to end. I mentioned it to a friend of mine. I didn't know when, but I just knew it was going to come down to some scrub off the back of the Reds bench coming up and popping a HR to win the game. The scrub of choice I used, in fact, was Joe Randa, who we all know well from Met Screwups of the past. It makes no difference that Randa isn't even in the Major Leagues anymore, it would just be someone like him. Initially, I thought it would be right then and there, in the bottom of the 8th. But Fernando Nieve came in throwing smoke, and Feliciano got out of a jam in the 10th. Nonetheless, the Mets couldn't plate anyone either, so as the game moved later and later into the night, I just hoped it would be over quick. At some point, I think I must have tuned out entirely, because all of a sudden I heard Howie Rose's voice growing excited, but it was a rather despondent excitement, if such a thing is possible. When Howie gets loud and sort of exasperated, you pretty much know all you need to know. I didn't need to know who hit it, I knew it was probably the last person on the Reds I'd expect, and I was right. I didn't even know Laynce Nix was even on the Reds, but there he was, going that little extra mile to beat the Mets, who, I hope, have not fallen into a Philadelphia-induced slumber now that they've lost 3 in a row.

It's interesting how these little ebbs and flows can affect an entire nation of fans. Friday night, Mets fans were walking around with their chests puffed out, ready to take on anyone. Today, we're feeling a little humble and searching for a solution. Tomorrow, who knows? But with Maine pitching, optimism isn't quite abound, even after his strong performance the last time out. This has the makings of one of those stupid 9-6 games, I think...

Monday, May 3, 2010


I suppose the small bit of solace Mets fans can take from this weekend's series in Philadelphia is that we figured we'd probably lose two of three to what is, for all intents and purposes, the best team in the National League.

What's rather frustrating is how these two losses came about on the heels of a dominant victory on Friday night.

See, Friday's game felt like a continuation of the several games the Mets had played before that. Niese did his job getting out of an early jam, settled in and was great. The bats continued to do their job, and after the 8-1 win, the 8th victory in a row, everyone felt on top of the world. The Mets were unstoppable. We were going to beat up the Phillies, and then storm the rest of the league. World Series, here we come!

The weekend was the reality check. We may not be as bad as we thought we were going to be, but we're also not as good as we might look at times either.

I was out most of the afternoon on Saturday, partaking in my usual acts of Civil Disobedience or whatever you choose to call it, and I figured I was in line to miss a good pitcher's duel between Pelfrey and Halladay. Fortunately, I was being sent updates via BlackBerry IM, so I was able to keep up with the happenings. Unfortunately, once the game got to 6-0, the updates stopped because the game wasn't really worth following anymore. It wasn't so much that Pelfrey was bad, but he wasn't helped by some shoddy defense in the process. The Pelfrey skeptics would have a field day with it, oh, here he comes, back to Earth, same lousy Pelfrey, so a good start his next time out against the Giants when the Mets return home would be imperative for him. Just saying. On the other side, Halladay, pitching against the Mets for the first time in as long as I can remember, just settled in and very neatly shoved the bats up the Mets asses. So long, streak, so long, good vibes.

But with Santana going on Sunday night, you figured things would be OK, right? Well, on a steamy, humid night, and what must have been as steamy and humid a night in Philadelphia, Santana just completely melted down, and it was all the fault of Tasti-D-Lite. Here's why: The Mets started off pretty strong, and in the bottom of the 4th, they held a 5-2 lead. I was home and had a jonesing for some Tasti-D, and I was waiting for an opportune moment to go. Utley led off the inning with a double and I figured I'd wait to see how Howard's at-bat turned out before I left. When he flew out, I went out, got my Tasti-D, and came back. I was gone probably about 7 minutes. I got back to my apartment just in time to hear Chase Utley hitting a Home Run to give the Phillies a 10-5 lead. You can only imagine the epithets I was muttering at this point. Goodbye game, goodbye good feelings. The Tasti-D didn't taste quite as good after that.

So, the Mets depart Philadelphia having lost one game in the standings and no longer in 1st place. Santana leaves with an ERA now double what it had been at the outset. Mets fans leave knowing that we're still not quite as good as the Phillies. Time to regroup, as we head to Cincinnati, clear our heads from these beatings and try to get back to winning some games.