Showing posts with label 2007 Mets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2007 Mets. Show all posts

Monday, March 31, 2008

Starting Over

For a ballplayer, the year doesn't end on December 31, but in October. It doesn't begin on January 1, but in April. Next April. Whether we like it or not, the season defines our lives.

-Keith Hernandez
from "If At First..."


I guess some of you might look at the header today and think of the classic 1979 movie with Burt Reynolds and Candice Bergen. In the movie, Reynolds is embroiled in some degree of internal conflict. He'd rather love his new girlfriend (Jill Clayburgh), but can't seem to get his mind past his ex-wife (Bergen), and her attempts to somehow win him back (resulting in Bergen caterwauling for a few minutes in a wholly scarring scene). The movie handles Reynolds' plight with light humor, despite it being a situation that isn't so funny if you happen to go through it yourself.

It seemed to be a similar conflict to one I had at the end of the 2007 Baseball season.

I had, throughout much of the 2007 season, been romantically involved with a woman. The relationship had actually developed during the latter part of the 2006 season, but that's neither here nor there at this point. She wasn't a Mets fan; in fact she wasn't much of a baseball fan, though she did profess an allegiance to the Red Sox since she was from Boston (although she did say she would root for the Mets unless they played the Red Sox in the World Series, which was a definite possibility through much of the season). It seemed that, despite some differences we might have had, we were heading in a positive direction. At least, that was certainly how I felt, and she never had indicated anything to the contrary.

Then, for no particular reason, she suddenly stopped speaking to me. She only e-mailed me after I left a message on her voice mail wondering if she was still alive. This was on August 23rd, after sitting through a rather miserable Mets loss to San Diego. Her message was terse and empty; no real explanation was offered, only repeated apologies. I wrote back, said my peace, and that was that. We haven't spoken since.

In September, the Mets collapsed, rather suddenly. Too many empty explanations were offered. The day after that miserable final afternoon, I received an e-mail that read simply, "Message from the Mets." I'm sure we all received it.

Dear Mets Fan:

All of us at the Mets are bitterly disappointed in failing to achieve our collective goal of building upon last year's success. We did not meet our organization's expectations -- or yours. Everyone at Shea feels the same range of emotions as you -- our loyal fans -- and we know we have let you down. We wanted to thank you for your record-breaking support of our team this year.

Equally important, Ownership will continue its commitment in providing the resources necessary to field a championship team. Omar will be meeting with Ownership shortly to present his plan on addressing our shortcomings so that we can achieve our goal of winning championships in 2008 and beyond.

You deserve better results.

Many thanks again for your re
cord-breaking support.

Mets


The first, last and only thing that went through my mind when I read the e-mail was that it was basically the same damn thing my ex-girlfriend had written to me a month earlier. As if this was going to somehow make me, us, feel better after everything that had happened.

When Keith says that the season defines our lives, it's not just for the players. Sometimes, it's for the fans as well. Yes, many of us go on with our regular, day-to-day lives. We carry on as if nothing has happened. But we carry the season with us. And for the past 6 months, we've had to carry the outcome of those final 17 games on our shoulders. The calendar says 2007 ended on December 31. I was still carrying around the bad feelings, from the Mets, and from my Ex. In New York, Baseball season never really ends. There's just an interim period between games. In that interim, we waited for something to happen. Some sort of sign that this team was actually trying to give us the results they told us we deserved. For most of the winter, it seemed like this promise that Omar and the "Ownership" was nothing but empty words. It wasn't until January 29th that hope finally re-emerged.

Hope coming in the form of this afternoon's starting pitcher.

See, unlike my Ex, the Mets always get back to me. Unlike Burt Reynolds, we always take them back. It's a relationship that is always cathartic, abusive and sometimes beautifully tragic. More often then not, they usually drive me to drink or do things like yell at nuns. But I can't ever turn them away. So for me, Opening Day is about wiping the slate clean on all fronts. Don't forget about last year, but don't continue to be ruled by it.

Today is New Year's Day for Keith Hernandez and the rest of us. Ready to wipe the slate clean and move forward, with a keen eye to the past, and how it can't ever happen again. There's a new attitude, a team that understands its responsibility and knows what it needs to do. They're not going to forget about last year, either.

METS TO THE MOON IN 2008!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

2007 Mets - Your Season Is Gone

I have usually written one of these team capsules each season after the Regular season has ended. I've shared it with a group of friends. This year, you all get to read it.

2007 is undoubtedly going to be looked back on as one of the darkest seasons in Mets history. This team appeared to be unstoppable on paper, and after the first few weeks of the season, they looked to be just that. But something happened, and nobody can really pinpoint when. I've noted that I thought it was Jose Reyes somehow thinking he was Roberto Clemente, and swinging for the fences after Endy's HR against the Yankees. What happened was that this team, supremely talented and justifiably confident, somehow got complacent. They started loafing, and playing unexciting, unmotivated baseball. The wins were boring. The losses were frustrating and frequent. And yet, they remained ahead because the teams behind them played just as poorly. Yes, there were good streaks mixed in, but overall, you knew this team needed a shot in the arm from somewhere. A midseason coaching change didn't solve much of anything. Holes involving personnel were not addressed and not fixed by the trading deadline. Inconsistency still reigned. But they were still in first place. Even after an inexplicable 4-game sweep at the hands of their closest competitors, they rebounded with another hot streak to stretch out their lead. But just as a second straight division title seemed firmly in their grasp, the bottom fell out. Completely and totally. And what ensued was a wholesale failure by the team to accomplish anything. Confidence abandoned them. Complacency reigned. The lead shrank. The pitching, suspect all season, imploded. And before anybody could completely grasp what had happened, the lead was gone, first place was gone, and shockingly, horrifyingly, the entire season slipped away in one final, awful performance, ending with the entire team getting booed off the field and hanging their heads in shame.

An e-mail from the Mets on Monday afternoon offered scant consolation while offering up a perfect summation for the final result of the darkest hour in Mets history.

"You deserve better results."

We certainly do. But history cannot be undone, and we have to carry this with us through what will certainly be a long winter trying to figure out what happened and think about what could have been.

With that said, the ratings for the 2007 Mets:
MANAGER
Willie Randolph - D
Two weeks ago, while the collapse was unfolding, I wrote a pretty scathing post calling for Willie's head. I'm not going to say that my stance has softened at all, but realistically, Willie won't be fired. He's under contract for another 2 seasons, and has already received 100% support from Omar. I don't want to sit here and damn him all to hell, because Omar is right. He is a good manager and has brought this club a long way. But it's inexcusable for him to simply continue to mumble over and over about how "we're gonna win this thing" when all the buttons he pushed down the stretch continually failed him. His stubborn-ness and his refusal to use, or at least try out some of the younger players on the team ended up, I believe, costing him because he burned out several of his arms in the bullpen and was afraid to use the untested ones. I'm not going to go and say that he needs to re-make himself and become fiery and angry, because then he wouldn't be Willie Randolph. But he needs to know what he has to work with, and he needs to be more willing to spread around the workload. And if he is going to be tough with his players in private, he needs to spread it around. He's obviously tough on the younger players. But sometimes, the veterans need to be read the riot act too. His style worked well in 2006. But he needs to have more of a plan when adversity strikes, because it's inevitable during a baseball season. Spouting cliches and repeating yourself doesn't endear yourself to anybody and makes you out to look like a complete idiot.

CATCHERS
Paul LoDuca - C+
LoDuca didn't perform nearly as well all around as he did in 2006. Although I give him credit for having a great September, and for being one of the few players who actually cared and was vocal about the team's problems, not just during the final weeks, but for the entire season. But his defense wasn't quite up to par, and overall, he didn't hit much in the clutch, and contributed a lot of DPs. Plus, he's getting up there in years and once Catchers hit the proverbial wall, they generally don't come back. Free Agent, and odds are, he's not coming back unless the Mets simply have no other options.

Ramon Castro - B-
A pro's pro who has always been an excellent backup. But has also become very injury prone over the last couple of seasons (I can't imagine why, he's in such excellent shape), and back problems can't be good for Catchers. Performed very well offensively when he played, perhaps enough to garner serious talk that he, not LoDuca, should have been the starter. But Castro has proven, over time, that he's not cut out to be a full-time starter, and had he been given that opportunity, that would have likely become evident. Another FA, likely won't be back, which puts the Mets in the unenviable situation of re-building their Catcher position.

Mike DiFelice - B-
Still prickly, still hideous, and yet in the week or so that he had to start, I think he might have hit better than he ever did at any other point in his career. Go figure. Aging career minor leaguer who could very well be back and surprise the hell out of me when they recall him and I realize he's still on the damn team.

Sandy Alomar, Jr.
El Guapo and I were at one of the games he started. What a neat little coincidence!

INFIELD
Carlos Delgado - D
I know Carlos was one of the few people who did open his mouth and voice his displeasure, but in all honesty, action on the field speaks a hell of a lot louder than words, and Carlos did very little as far as that was concerned. I don't know whether it was the offseason wrist surgeries he had, but he not only hit smaller, he also looked smaller (which may be calling the dreaded "S" word into question). The hot streaks were scattered, if best. Signed through next year, and I don't know if he could be dealt. Getting up there in years, too. It's hard to say what he has left, but when you consider what he brought to the team offensively last season, he has to be one of the primary culprits for the team's struggles. Poor situational hitting. Poor at bats. Popping out with runners in scoring position. .238 with men on base, .218 with RISP, .188 with 2 out and RISP. Bad job, bad season.

Luis Castillo - B
I don't know if it was a popular move, since I was pretty much incognito when the deal went down, but I liked the Castillo trade. It cost the Mets pretty much nothing, and it solved one of the things I liked the least about this team, which was the incessant revolving door at 2B. He provided some sharp defense and hit well in the #2 hole, and it always seemed like he was on base. Also one of the few Mets who didn't go down the toilet at the end. Played through some injuries to his knees that had him running Cliff Floyd style. That said, I'd be happy if they brought him back. But then again, I wouldn't be too broken up if they didn't bring him back, provided a more solid option were acquired.

Jose Reyes - D
Here's the main culprit as far as position players are concerned. At the beginning of the season, the comparison was Reyes and Jeter. Now, the comparison is Reyes and Rey Ordonez. I know that Jose had to have worked hard and shown a lot of determination and discipline to put together the kind of complete season he had in 2006, and he gave all of us every reason to think that that would be the norm from him for years to come. And as I've said, maybe it was the Chavez HR and media crush getting in his head, or something else, or just a regression from a 24-year old kid, but he turned back into that young, raw, inexperienced rookie with little polish and little discipline. But more alarming was the poor attitude he seemed to show. The smile was there, but at the wrong moments. Pitches that last year were being driven in the gaps were popped straight up in the air. Ground balls weren't run out. I don't know if Willie ever sat him down and spoke to him, I know he was benched in that one incident in Houston, but instead of teaching him a lesson, it seemed to make things worse. After 2 months in which he looked every bit an MVP candidate, Jose spent the last 4 seasons undoing everything he had put together, as his power dropped and his batting average plummeted. And in that final, awful month, he just didn't show up at all. So disappointing, and so very, very frustrating to watch. We all saw what he could be last year. We know what he can be. I don't know if it's got to be Willie, or Omar, or someone else, but someone needs to go down to the Dominican Republic this offseason, sit down and have a long talk with him about what's going on, and how this can be fixed. When you count on someone like this to carry the load and be the linchpin to the entire team's offense like Reyes is, you simply cannot afford to have him regress the way he did over the final 4 months of the season. It's simply not acceptable. And if he comes back and performs like this again, you can fully expect more widespread booing and Omar shipping his ass out of town.

David Wright - A
Because he cared. Because he pulled himself together after a miserable April and put together one of the most dominant offensive seasons this side of Mike Piazza. Because when nobody else was hitting, he hit. Because he clearly was pained by the team's collapse. Because he never stopped giving his all, even when it seemed like every bit of hope was gone. Because he's truly become the voice and the face of this team, showing the poise, discipline and polish that seems to be beyond Reyes. Because for all the talk and all the hype, this guy is the real deal.

Ruben Gotay - B-
I'm not sold. He was a very nice addition off the bench, and came up with some key hits and filled in nicely in Valentin's stead to a certain point. But for a while, he played over his head. His defense at 2B is subpar, and he's yet another switch hitter who for some reason can't hit lefties at all. I'd bring him back, but only as a bench guy and a spot starter. I think he'd be very valuable in that role.

Jose Valentin - F
As one of our preseason 5 key Mets, Valentin was one (along with the Bullpen) who fell flat on his face and made us look silly. I know I'm repeating myself, but I don't like to be made to look silly. Valentin played poorly, got hurt, came back and played poorly again, and then got hurt again, and was done for the season. Shouldn't be back and hopefully will be cut loose. One of the problems with this team is there are too many creaky old guys in the Valentin mold blocking the playing time for young guys who could be more durable and useful.

Damion Easley - B+
Damion was another one of the creaky old guys, but unlike Valentin, Easley actually played well, coming up with several late, clutch hits, playing a lot of good, heady defense and really filled in well when Valentin initially got hurt. Went on a power streak in mid-May that surprised the heck out of all of us. But when he went down with a sprained ankle in August (an injury that just hurt to watch), that was one of the truly sad moments of the season. Future unknown.

Julio Franco - D
Only because he hit a HR off of Randy Johnson. Little else to speak of otherwise and thankfully was cut at the All Star Break.

Jeff Conine - Whatever.
Brought in because the team needed another 40+ guy after they cut Julio, I guess.

OUTFIELD
Carlos Beltran - B
By now, you know what you're going to get out of Beltran. Beltran is basically a .275 hitter who hits a bunch of HRs because he can go on raging hot streaks. In 2006, Beltran spent most of the season on a hot streak. This year, he was banged up quite a bit, and still managed to put together a solid season overall. But, like several other players on the team, he was a victim of the poor situational hitting that plagued the Mets. He was merely decent with RISP, hitting .277, but driving in 72. But a paltry .224 with 2 outs and RISP. And in between his injuries, he went on a couple of extended streaks where he just didn't hit at all, and it really hurt the team. Carlos is obviously withdrawn and not necessarily the leadership type, but we did get some quotes from him down the stretch, and the fact that he played it out on some severely banged-up legs shows his guts.

Moises Alou - B+
We knew what we were getting into with Alou. We knew he was going to miss time. And we weren't disappointed with what we got when he was on the field. For someone to keep plugging away and plugging away, and put together a 30-game hitting streak that seemed to come out of nowhere is just a testament to what a professional hitter Alou has been. I think the clutch tag might be a bit much (.222 with 2 out and RISP), but he'd certainly be welcome back in my book, especially if it gives Gomez a chance to develop a bit more in the Minors. Then again, he does boil down to another old, creaky guy, similar to...

Shawn Green - B
Gets this high of a grade because we had all given up on him completely before the season began. His power is pretty much gone, but he still came up and hit the ball all over the place in April, and did so again later on in the season, playing in spot starts and filling in at first for Delgado in September. The foot injury he suffered in Florida really undercut his season, and he struggled quite a bit after he came back from that. But overall, considering what we expected out of Green, you have to be pleased with the end results. Which begs the question: Where, exactly, was he that final day, once Willis came out of the game?

Endy Chavez - B-
Bench player supreme, no matter how much everyone loves him and believes he should start every day. Parlayed The Catch into his own bobblehead night. Pulled a hammie and missed a significant chunk of time, and was sorely missed as the sparkplug off the bench. Also hit that notorious HR that ruined Jose Reyes. Should be back and probably will be back.

Lastings Milledge - B
Played well for quite a bit of time, and proved that he's Major League ready. He'll scuffle a little bit, and for some reason is stuck in Willie's doghouse, probably because he's an exciting and excitable young player and for some reason that doesn't jive with him. I have this sick fear that the organization as a whole just doesn't like him and will probably end up dealing him. I seriously hope not. He's going to take his lumps, but I think he's ready to take over the RF position full time, and in a couple of seasons, he'll blossom into a star. So what if he showboats after hitting a HR. Who the hell doesn't?

Carlos Gomez - C+
Flashes of brilliance, flashes of youth. Clearly over matched at times at the plate, and ranged between brilliant and frightening in the outfield. There is quite a bit of obvious talent with Gomez, but he's not quite there yet. He could use more seasoning, but it's not a given that he could handle Major League pitching on a consistent basis. He could be part of a Left Field platoon if Alou doesn't return. Or, he could be a trade chip. Remains to be seen.

Marlon Anderson - A-
Great bench presence who we probably shouldn't have let go after '05. Came back and came up with tons of key hits throughout the second half. If the team as a whole hadn't fallen apart, Anderson would be hailed right now as the unsung hero of the season. Problem is, someone will probably try to give him a job as an everyday player, which he's not really cut out for. I'd have no problem having him back as the key lefty bat on the bench.

Ben Johnson
He played this season. No, seriously, he did! I saw him with my own eyes!

Ricky Ledee
I often feel like whenever a team brings up Ricky Ledee, that is basically tantamount to admitting "WE GIVE UP!"

David Newhan - F
I don't know one positive thing he brought to the club this season. He had an RBI triple once, in a blowout loss. He didn't hit at all otherwise, and proved himself little more than a 4-A guy who happened to get lucky and have a good Spring, which he managed to parlay into far more ink than he ever deserved.

Chip Ambres - A
Had a Game Winning hit! He's Awesome!

(Ok, ok. He got sent back to AAA the next day and wasn't heard from again. But still, that one shining moment made him the talk of the town for a couple of hours)

PITCHERS
Tom Glavine - C-
Before you rip him apart for his last few starts, you have to examine the entire season, which for the most part was good. Glavine had several classic Glavine games over the first several months of the season, counting down to his 300th victory in August. He was pitching well and looking solid, like the Glavine we had slowly but surely come to trust over his 5 seasons here. And then, it all came crashing down at the worst possible time, just like everyone and everything else around him, culminating with the final, epic stinkbomb he threw up on the season's final day. Whether or not this is it for him remains to be seen. I'm sure he wouldn't want to go out like he did. But his reaction, lukewarm and milquetoast, as if it didn't much matter that he failed to show up in the biggest game of the year, certainly soured his relationship with the fans, and has to damage the chances of him being brought back. I don't know too many people who do.

John Maine - A-
Yes, he ranged from uneven to terrible at times in the second half, and he obviously had hit a wall. But given that this was Maine's first full season in the Majors, 15 wins and a 3.91 ERA is pretty damn good. Of course, we all know how good he was in the first half, along with copping Pitcher of the Month awards and garnering serious All-Star credentials. But here's what I like the most about Maine that nobody ever seems to notice. Think about how many times Maine took the ball in a big game. And there were several times. And think about how many times he pitched great in those games, and you'll realize it was most of the time. And when he took the ball in the biggest game of the season, he came through with an outing that was equal to the magnitude of the day. Maine won't ever be an ace, but he'll certainly be a mainstay as a #2-#3 type guy on this team. He comes after hitters and doesn't let up. He pitches with guts and emotion, and is able to learn from his mistakes. He's truly got a good head for pitching, and that counts for a hell of a lot more than one might think.

Oliver Perez - B+
Oliver's season easily mirrored Maine's as far as statistics are concerned. Maine's ERA was a little higher, and Ollie had more walks and Maine more strikeouts. Ollie also took the ball and pitched really well in some key games of his own. But Oliver often got blown up because he has a tendency to get frustrated and lose his concentration. And when he doesn't have his right arm slot, he starts walking guys and getting killed. It's to the point where you can't really be sure which Oliver Perez will show up, but you'll usually know by the 1st or 2nd inning. He's inconsistent and frustrating. But he made some significant strides to right himself and find his proper mechanics, which is a testament to how hard he works and how much he wants to do well. He basically resurrected his career after basically being handed over to the Mets last season. And when he has his good stuff, he flat out dominates.

Orlando Hernandez - B-
When he was good, he was very good, and when he was bad he was horrible. Such was ElDuque, who was exactly who we thought he would be. He had a great start to the season, got hurt, came back, was good, if inconsistent, got hurt again, came back, was terrible, and then sat out some more before coming out of the bullpen. Another one of the old, creaky guys who I could do without, but he does bring some good experience.

Jorge Sosa - B-
Human Yo-Yo. Miserable in Spring Training, and then somehow managed to come out of nowhere and pitch lights out for a month in the starting rotation, even supplanting Pelfrey. Then, the batters caught up to him, and he was eventually moved to the Bullpen, where he pitched well, except for this annoying habit he had of getting absolutely lit up by lefty hitters to the tune of a .326 BAA. Not good. Yet through it all, he was somehow one of the more dependable guys coming out of the bullpen, so long as Willie didn't insistently use him day after day after day until his arm falls off. Perhaps that was part of the problem...

Aaron Heilman - D
The act is getting pretty tired. We know, we know. You want to start. Just remember. You got a pass for Yadier Molina because of the team's offensive failures. But this season, you offered very little in response. I've seen enough. Time to get rid of him.

Mike Pelfrey - C
Made the rotation with a terrific spring, where he showcased a hard, biting sinker that batters could only pound into the ground. Then, when he came to the Majors, it seemed like he panicked, and started getting that sinker up and he got routinely hammered. Mercifully, he got sent down in May, after going 0-5. Made a couple of spot starts later on, before coming out of nowhere to pitch an outstanding game in Atlanta, which could be proof of what he could be. But he was again uneven over the last couple of weeks.

Billy Wagner - B
Basically undid his great, off the charts start to the season by first blowing several saves in a row towards the end of August, where he began to rely on his slider more and more and get hit hard, rather than sticking with the fastball, which is what made his career in the first place. Then got hit with back spasms at the worst possible time, leading to another bullpen meltdown. I don't know what to make of him. Like any closer, he is a complete enigma and I don't know whether or not to trust him at all.

Pedro Feliciano - B
Great all around reliever who was idiotically wasted as a situational lefty most of the time. The idea was that SCHOENEWEIS should have been the situational lefty, and Feliciano was the guy who could be used in the key spot in the late innings and beyond. One of the few relievers who I'd accept to have back.

Pedro Martinez - A
For coming back and showing heart and guts. Something lacking from most of the other pitchers on this team. Also imparted his knowledge on some of the younger pitchers. I know that people seem skeptical about having a 36 year old with a surgically repaired shoulder leading the rotation next season, but let's face it. Pedro is no ordinary 36 year old. Pedro knows how to pitch better than anyone out there, and he can improvise on the spot to get himself out of a jam. Anyone who doubts that can take a look at his last start against the Cardinals. With the team hanging by a thread, Pedro went out there and simply pitched his ass off for 7 innings, doing everything he could do to will his team to victory. And the rest of the team gave him nothing.

Joe Smith - C+
Good at the beginning, but another one who Willie overworked early on and ended up getting knocked around but good for a while. Rested up for a while in AAA and came back strong. Needs to work on stamina and harnessing his slider, but I think he can be OK out of the bullpen.

Philip Humber - Inc.
I was a supporter of giving Humber the one start when he got it. As if nothing else had worked up until that point. What bothered me was that Humber had been allowed to basically rot away in the bullpen with no work, pitching in all of 2 games for 3 innings before the start on September 26th, another victim of Willie's refusal to use the youth around him. If he was going to be used in relief, then use him regularly, otherwise what the hell is the point of having him there at all?! Let's see what he has, especially if the organization speaks so highly of him. There's something to be said with the way the Yankees brought along their young pitchers, specifically Joba Chamberlain, who was a starter, gently groomed for the bullpen for a few weeks in AA ball, and then unleashed as a dominant setup man who could be called upon regularly. If Humber is as talented as we are led to believe, why couldn't something like that be done with him, especially given the state of the bullpen?

Willie Collazo - Inc.
Ditto Humber. If you're not going to use him, why the hell is he even here?

Guillermo Mota - F
You suck. Next.

Aaron Sele - F
You suck. Next.

Scott Schoeneweis - F
You suck. Next.

Brian Lawrence - F
You suck. Next.

Jason Vargas - F
You suck. Next.

Ambiorix Burgos - F
You suck AND you're hurt. Next.

Dave Williams - F
You suck. Next.

Chan Ho Park - F
He's here just to make you all laugh. I was at the Chan Ho Park game. I think that ball Hanley Ramirez hit is still going.

Carlos Muniz - Inc.
Don't know anything about him. Called up as an emergency arm and yet Willie only used him 2 or 3 times.

Jon Adkins
Yawn.

Lino Urdaneta
You suck and you used steroids. And that didn't help you like it helped Mota.

So, where do we go from here? There are a lot of holes that need fixing, and not so much patching as much as real, tangible fixing. I know we're all still stewing. This will take some time to get over. It's a horrible, horrible day and a miserable feeling we all have. I don't know how this team will respond, those who return, next season. El Guapo made a very good point. As much as the players can try to have a short memory about this, the Media, the jackals that they are, won't let them forget. They won't let us forget. This could make us all crazy by the All-Star Break next season. Unless they win. Funny. Winning heals everything.

Coming up Next: Suggestions and Solutions...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Final Indignity


The 2006 season ended in a blink. An instant that was beautifully depressing and sad, and at the same time filled all of us with a great sense of pride and hope for the future.

The 2007 season ended with a sputtering flameout, that was neither prideful nor hopeful, nor gave us any sort of sense that this team was going anywhere in the near future. I showed up to a rollicking House Party at noon, and by 4:45pm, I was leaving a Morgue.

Last month, I listed the 5 worst games I had ever attended. Well, bump them all down, there's a new king.

Perhaps, coming into today's game, we could have some sort of a sense of optimism, following the thrashing on Saturday, and the Phillies going down quietly to Washington. And it certainly seemed optimistic at the outset. But let's face it. This game was over by the National Anthem. Tom Glavine did an outstanding job today. He did an outstanding job of undoing every ounce of Good Will he had built up in his 5 seasons with the Mets by coming out and completely shitting the bed in a fashion that was beyond humiliating. How a Hall of Fame pitcher can come out and completely yak like he did is simply baffling. It was a perfectly miserable bookend to his Mets career, where he successfully managed to get totally blasted in front of a full house in both his first and last Mets starts.

Why, it's a microcosm of this entire season. Simply baffling. It defies belief, description or explanation, which is what none of us have right now, and which this organization certainly has quite a lot to do. It was as if yesterday was the anomaly, and the rest of the past two weeks were the reality of this team. And I said it a few days ago. Lifeless, heartless, and now going home for the winter, where I hope they sit for a long time and think about what they've done. We are now hung with this scarlet letter over our heads for the rest of our lives; this horrible indignity that we have suffered. Not to take anything away from the Phillies. They earned it and they deserve it. They did absolutely everything they needed to do in order to win this thing, and we didn't. We stood there and handed it to them. Congratulations to them.

Whatever anyone has to say, any players, Willie, Omar, Freddie or his idiot manchild Boy-King have to say, I'm not interested. I want my playoff refund as soon as possible, and I am taking the tickets, putting them with today's scorecard and putting them away, in the back of my closet, so that someday I can find them and remember this day, and how we must never be embarrassed like this again.

Zero Hour

So it all comes down to this.

After the Mets resurrected themselves from the ashes in a most impressive display on all fronts, and dragging all their fans in from the ledge, we find ourselves once again dead even with Philly. It all comes down to one afternoon to try to sort out the mess that has been the National League Playoff scenario.

The Mets blasted out of the gate on Saturday, playing fast, loose and free, without a care in the world. The clutch hits and the good at-bats that seemed to have eluded this team for much of the season, and almost entirely over the last two weeks seemed to have melted away, as the Mets poured it on and didn't let up. The game was already out of reach by the 3rd inning, and by the time the bizarre fisticuffs erupted in the 5th, there was little drama left in this laugher of a game.

While you could certainly see that the Marlins were frustrated and tired, and being beaten off the field by the Mets, it was rather odd seeing Miguel Olivo going completely apeshit and charging Jose Reyes off the mound and ultimately close-fisting Sandy Alomar, Jr, touching off a real Bench-Clearing Brawl, the kind the Mets haven't had in quite some time. Sure, there was the Pedro Martinez/Jose Guillen incident last season, and who can forget Dennis Cook/Marvin Benard in 2000, but I don't even know if I can remember the last time the Mets really dusted it up with anyone since the Kevin Foster/Pete Harnisch/Scott Servais brawl way back in 1996 (not to be left out is my personal favorite, the Pat Combs/Doc Gooden/John Kruk/Strawberry/Mackey Sasser fight in 1990).

Instead, the crowd at Shea got to sit back and watch John Maine mow down batter after batter in what was by far and away his best outing of the season. True, Maine has been uneven this season, and at times was downright hideous, especially through much of the second half. But the Mets turned to him today, when they needed it the most, and Maine delivered with a performance as clutch as the day itself. If this all works out for the Mets in the end, Maine's outing today could live on for a long time in Mets lore as one of the most dominant big game performances in team history (right up there with Bobby Jones or Al Leiter).

But, while the 13-0 thrashing was certainly welcomed by all, and certainly much needed for all of us who have suffered the slings and arrows and indignities of the last two weeks, where the Mets for the most part looked lifeless and hopeless, it would have meant very little in the larger scheme of things unless things worked out right in Philadelphia. And the Nationals helped the Mets out bigtime, as Matt Chico threw shutout ball into the 7th, and the Nationals Bullpen was able to get out of a jam, and escape with a 4-2 victory to knock the Phillies back into a tie, setting up what will certainly be a wild Sunday.

I'll be there today. I had figured I would wait until the game ended today to see if I would go, but by the time the Mets had gone up 8-0, I figured it was pretty safe to go ahead and get a ticket. Good thing, too, since by the time the Philly game ended, the game was sold out. Shea is going to be rocking today, guaranteed, from start to finish. And we won't need those silly little hankies they give out in Philly, either (with that said, watch them hand out rally towels today).

But let's keep it all in perspective. This still isn't over. The Mets are going up against a Marlins team that has little to play for, but they are facing one tough cookie in Dontrelle Willis, who has always been hard on the Mets. Tom Glavine is battle tested, and has proven time and again to be a big game pitcher. But the Mets really have to come out with the same chip on their shoulder that Lastings Milledge spoke about after the game Saturday. Get ahead and keep the foot on the gas, don't let up until the game is over. Because a loss, and it's all moot, and all the bad feelings, and the snide remarks and the collapse is still there. Philly has a tough matchup of their own, with ageless Jamie Moyer taking the mound for them. And that's not even taking into account the Wildcard scenarios, and San Diego and Colorado, and lord knows who else could pop into the picture.


It all comes down to one day to sort it all out. I'll be at Shea, with 55,776 of my closest friends. We're behind the Mets 100%, just like we've always been. We're prepared for arrogant hope or desperate shame. Whatever happens, we just have to close our eyes, hope for the best, and take that leap...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shame! Shame! Throw Yourself Away!

Long time coming
It seemed to get me by
Long time coming
It seemed to satisfy
You longed to taste the shame
That everybody tries

Shame shame throw yourself away
Give me little bits of more than I can take
If it sits upon your tongue or naked in your eyes
Give me little bits of more than I can try
Throw yourself away
Throw yourself away
Throw yourself awaaaaaaaaay!

-Soundgarden




If the header doesn't say anything more, then the following ought to:

During the course of Friday night's game, I...


...Called El Guapo the "Jose Reyes of Bloggers" and challenged him to a fight...


...Attempted to eat a Martini Glass after the 3rd inning...

...Ate a lemon rind after Matt freakin Treanor hit a HR into the Yadier-Zone...


...Prepared myself for admission to the Betty Ford Clinic or the Richard Nixon Library or some shit by the end of the 6th...


...Threatened to hurl myself off the 59th Street Bridge by the end of the night.

If this doesn't speak volumes of the state of the Mets right now, nothing ever will.

Now, with that said, I must now hold my head over a toilet and vomit my guts out.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Agony and The Agony


In 2006, the Mets ran away with their division, playing out games with guts and heart, and giving all of us the feeling that no game was un-winnable.

In 2007, there has been no guts, no heart, and now no victories. And we as fans are looking at a monumental collapse of epic proportions that is about to see its final, awful chapter unfold this weekend, with no sense that anything will be able to reverse it.

I suppose you could say that the collapse has been recent, but in actuality, this has been going on since June. You could pinpoint it, I suppose, with the Home Run hit by Endy Chavez against the Yankees on May 18th. Endy hit this HR, and got a lot of well deserved ink because of it, as it aided the Mets to a victory. But for some reason, this may have gotten in the head of Jose Reyes, because ever since then, his swing has been so cocked-up, as though he is suddenly trying to uppercut the ball and hit more Home Runs, when he should swing flat and hit line drives. Now, he's foul tipping balls, popping them up, or missing them completely. Jose no hit, no runners on base for Carlos, Carlos, David et.al to drive in.

But this season long collapse has gone largely un-noticed, aside from the odd, snide remarks here and there because they were winning games, here and there, and there seemingly were just idle threats from Atlanta and Philadelphia, who we figured would fade soon enough, once we really got going.

We never got going. Atlanta and Philly hung around. No improvements were made at the trading deadline. Why not? We're still in first.

But then, all of a sudden, Philly kicked our asses. And they got hot. And we stayed flat. And the pitching faltered. And the offense sputtered. And the lead shrank. And now, the panic has set in, but it's too late.

Now, the articles are coming out, and everything about the glaring shortcomings of this team are coming to the forefront. And all we get is a manager who can do nothing more than mumble to himself after yet another loss in which the team looked lifeless and hopeless.

I've been kicking around the idea of going to all the remaining games, because I feel completely helpless and frustrated just sitting there while all this is going on. I may, I may not. I wonder how much I feel like paying for the privilege of watching my team fall apart. But I went last night. I subjected myself to it. I felt nervous all day. It got worse as I got to the ballpark. Whatever the crowd was announced at, I assure you Shea was only about half full. Nervous, but mostly in good spirits. The crowd was behind the Mets, 100%. Trying in any way we could to will this team to victory. And Pedro answered the bell, allowing 3 runs over 7 heroic innings.

He was the only one who bothered to show up.

I can't really make too much more sense of it. I guess it can best be explained in the following series of text messages to El Guapo:

7:25pm: It is a small crowd but they are trying to will the Mets through this while Philly is stampeding. I feel sick.

7:30pm: They look so tight.

7:55pm: Whatever this team has left needs to come out now. Down 3 and Philly up 6. I'm too upset to speak right now.

8:25pm: OH MY FUCKING GOD WHEN DO WE GET A BREAK?

8:52pm: This is a truly heroic effort from Pedro. He has energized the crowd but the offense has taken us right out of it.

9:13pm: Remember how I felt last year during Game 7? That's about how I feel right now.

9:25pm: Do they want this anymore?

9:35pm: Well, that might not have been the worst game I've ever been to, but it's certainly the most depressing.

9:52pm: Mets fans can smile like they mean it.

What's left? I don't know. Something tells me that I should save the money I would have spent on a ticket to tonight's game and spend that money instead on several alcoholic beverages, which I will consume at Ballclub HQ, East Village Bureau while watching the game on TV...

...If I don't have to put a bag over my head first.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Congratulations.

So, for 8 innings last night, it seemed like the Mets had failed to show up for the biggest game of the year (and at this point in time, every game is the biggest game of the year). They couldn't field, they hit into double plays every time there was a man on base, Glavine was horrendous, there were fielding mistakes, mental mistakes and the team looked lifeless and staring at yet another total embarrassment at the hands of the hideous Nationals. How bad was this game? El Guapo and I were exchanging text messages throughout:

El Guapo: Last 6 games, here we go. Make sure you have some booze handy.
Mets2Moon: I'm shooting heroin right now.
El Guapo: Probably a good idea.

El Guapo: Let's see how many runners in scoring position we can strand in one game.
Mets2Moon: How about how many times we can no-show the biggest game of the year.

El Guapo: 2 big blown chances at the plate and failing to cover 2nd in the 7th. That's the ballgame.
Mets2Moon: Here comes the DP. I want to die.
El Guapo: Phils lost. So that's something.
Mets2Moon: Whoopee.

It was so bad that at some point I stopped paying attention to Howie and Tom and forgot what inning it was. When Delgado hit into the DP to end the 8th, I thought the game was over.

Then, of course, they woke up in the last half of the 9th and made the final score look like something somewhat respectable. But in typical 2007 Mets fashion, the rally was a day late and a dollar short and now we can only think about the whatifs in the game.

I guess we can take solace in the fact that Atlanta stuck it to Philly last night, rallying to win even after blowing a 4 run lead of their own, thanks to HRs from Mark Teixeira (just a handsome, strapping young man) and Larry (perhaps the first thing he has ever done in his career that was helpful to the Mets). The cheers and the tomahawk chops at Shea after the final score was posted were clearly audible over the radio. Of course, we should not turn a blind eye to Atlanta; they're still on the fringes of this race, although 4 games out with 5 to play is about as fringe as it gets. But we have to root for them now. I wholeheartedly admit this. It's like pouring sand down my throat, but dammit, we have to root for the fucking Braves.

But while Brave victories over Philadelphia are nice, and helpful to the cause, it would better (and much less cathartic) if the Mets could actually show up for one of these very important games. Tonight will be a mystery of epic proportions, as Philip Humber finally is given a chance to show us what he's got. You know, Philip Humber, he of being buried in the back of the bullpen by Willie despite the fact that he's one of the organization's top prospects? He of the 3 innings pitched in the last month? Yeah, him. You remember Humber, right (That's Humber, not Humbert)? I have high hopes for Humber, although I wish his first start was in a game that wasn't so pressure-packed. Especially considering that if something goes badly, the bullpen parade of Mota, Schoeneweis, Feliciano, Heilman, Grumpy, Dopey and Bashful are sure to be summoned, and in rapid succession.

Tony Paige on WFAN read an open letter to Humber last night, asking for 8 or 9 innings, 1 run and no walks. We can dream, can't we?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Heart Attack

After the Mets came away with the victory in what was a classic Heart Attack game on Sunday afternoon (and for a perfect definition of what a Heart Attack game is, I give you this example), things looked good. Philly had lost, the lead was back to 2 1/2, and it seemed like, after 3 straight victories to close out the weekend in Florida, the Mets finally had this thing under control. The clinching would come, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.

But more than that, the key performances were coming from some unlikely places. Joe Smith, Aaron Sele and Scott Schoeneweis were the unsung heroes, as well as Mota chipping in with some key outs in between big hits from usual suspects Alou, Delgado and Wright. Yes, Heilman was terrible. Yes, Wagner was rusty. But the victories over the weekend looked like the signal that the worst was over for the Mets. Now, back home to cruise.

We should have known it wasn't going to be that easy.

Coming home, where the Mets have not played well at all this season, playing a Nationals team that ran them through the wringer last week (and did the same to Philadelphia over the weekend), the Mets came home and fell flat on their faces, in a performance that seemed to hearken back to a number of bad habits and bad times. Pelfrey was wild, Mota was terrible, Reyes couldn't hit a line drive and the Mets just got killed, shrinking the division lead and ensuring the Phillies one more day of life in this ridiculously extended race for the division.

Merely a hiccup, we all hope, although a very good, and really fucking frightening point was made by Greg over at Faith and Fear: Just when it seems like the offense is clicking, and able to overcome the poor performances out of the bullpen, the offense suddenly grinds to a halt and then the bullpen starts pitching well, leading to a lot of those miserable, frustrating 3-1 losses that the Mets seemed to play for pretty much the entire month of June. And as we have seen, it is absolutely essential for the Mets to hit if they are going to contend for the Denslow Cup.

Maybe I'm nuts. Maybe the Nationals are just that frisky, and Manny Acta is just really cranked up to be the spoiler (much like Bobby Cox is fixing to do in Philadelphia). Maybe they just ran into Matt Chico on one of his best nights. Maybe it will all turn back to the good side tomorrow. Once again, this season has just completely baffled me as far as what to expect. All I know is that now, a potential clincher can't come any earlier than Thursday. Or, the Mets hold on first place can last as far as Thursday. One or the other.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shut Up, Tim McCarver

It's no secret that Tim McCarver is an annoying blowhard who has somehow managed to make a career out of pontificating and hammering the most obvious facts into our heads over and over again until we're ready to scream. It was bad enough that we were subjected to him all afternoon Saturday on the FOX telecast, alongside Chaz Bonnifusco or whatever the name of the guy announcing was. I rarely watch games on TV, for what it's worth, but it being Saturday, Yom Kippur afternoon and me being home, and the game being of paramount importance. I put the game on. I'm usually pretty good at shutting the announcers out when I have to, but it seemed like McCarver was all too giddy to remind us about the struggles of the Mets bullpen, and how poorly they've played over the past 10 days. He only managed to make mention of this about once every half inning. But by the 9th inning, I was a little surprised he didn't wave an Aaron Heilman voodoo doll in front of the cameras. He did everything short of scream out loud, "THE METS BULLPEN MIGHT BLOW IT! THE METS BULLPEN MIGHT BLOW IT!" and really did nothing except make all of us crazy for 15 minutes despite the fact that Heilman ran into a minor annoyance in the 9th, working with a 6-run lead.

Tim, we all know the story. We've been watching the last week or so. We don't need to be reminded about it over and over again, while we're trying to enjoy our first easy victory in over a week. Do us all a favor and SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Now that I'm done pontificating (and tearing my hair out at the Nationals for essentially handing the Phillies another victory), yes, we're all back in from the ledge for the moment, after the Mets have finally been able to wake up and string together two good, solid victories over the leaky Marlins and their hideous team defense. Rather than folding their tents and declaring themselves all cursed following the meltdown in Miami on Thurdsay night, the Mets grew some balls, caught some breaks and did what they were supposed to do: Beat the Lousy Team. And then do the same thing the next day.

It's always helpful when the Mets are finally able to catch a few breaks. Friday night was a prime example of the Mets finally catching these breaks and cashing in on them. After 2 innings, we were all ready to jump off of the ledge. Down 3-0, Pedro looking bad, Marlins getting dink hit after dink hit, and running around blowing their kazoos. But then, suddenly, they were the ones looking like the inexperienced last-place team. Miguel Cabrera, all world at the plate, showed us his set of stone hands, and Mike Jacobs, former farmhand, flashed us his pair as well, as the Mets very quickly tied the game. Then it was Pedro, getting himself into a bases loaded jam, and then just as quickly getting himself out of it, in typical Pedro style, mixing his pitches, throwing from different arm angles and thoroughly baffling Cody Ross, then just curveballing Olivio to death for the 3rd out.

And just when it looked like the Marlins were going to get out of their own jam, it was Scott Olsen, the sometimes drunken, sometimes surly, usually frustrated malcontent pitcher, sweating like a punctured waterbed (one of the moments I would have not wanted to see in Eye-Popping HD), walking Reyes, failing to throw a 3rd strike to Wright, throwing a tantrum on the mound, and then giving up a 2-run single to Beltran to incinerate the game entirely. Again, his defense didn't help him, but when a pitcher can get rattled like that, it becomes increasingly easier to jump on him, and the Mets did that, just when they needed it most.

Then came the scare (Beltran's frightening landing on Hermida's drive in the 5th), the rain (pushing the game later and later into the evening) and the rest of the game ending up being mostly uneventful if you look at it on paper, and completely and totally hair-raising if you stayed up for it. First, it was Mota, coming in after the delay, much to the dismay of us all, and miraculously tossing 2 shutout innings, allowing 1 hit. Then, it was Feliciano, usually reliable, giving up 2 runs in the 8th. And then, Scott Schoeneweis. Scott Schoeneweis! Schoeneweis, who, unlike fellow Semite Shawn Green did not elect to take Yom Kippur off, pulled the double-miracle, coming in, striking out Hermida to end the 8th, and then going 1-2-3 in the 9th, with 2 more strikeouts and picking up the save.

Scott Schoeneweis picked up a Save! When did you ever think something like that would happen?!

So, with all the good vibes flowing through the clubhouse as the game ended around 1AM Saturday Morning, even the Philly victory couldn't bring us down. But the real question was could they keep it up. With Perez pitching on Saturday, the question was once again raised, as it always is when Oliver Perez goes to the mound.

Which Oliver Perez will show up?

Big Game Oliver Perez showed up on Saturday. And maybe he should just be Big Game Oliver Perez on a full time basis, because it seems like every time he takes the mound in a high-stakes game, Ollie comes up big. He did it against the Yankees. He did it against Atlanta. He did it last October. And he did it again on Saturday, throwing strikes, hitting his spots and basically looking unhittable from the outset.

Not only did Oliver not walk anybody over his 8 masterful innings, he provided his own bridge to the 9th inning, allowing the overtaxed, overstressed and generally overdone Bullpen to rest and relax. Ollie, Ramon Castro and the rest of the offense did everything they needed to do in order to ensure a nice, easy victory, despite what Tim McCarver would have had all of us believe.

And some Kudos...

...To Carlos Beltran, who, after banging up his knee in that ridiculous triangle, on the rubber warning track in Center Field, came back, not 100%, and played it out on Saturday when a lesser player might have sat the game out. Anyone who wants to malign Beltran for some subpar performances (and I include myself in this group) can look at this game and know that you can't ever doubt his heart.

...To Carlos Delgado, who came back after missing 2 weeks (and he was sorely missed; despite his subpar year, he does add that element of fear to the lineup, as well as protection for the batters around him) and chipped in with a few hits, and a truly monstrous HR on Friday night that salted the game away.

...To Moises Alou, who officially broke the Mets Hitting Streak record (although Wright still holds the multiple-season record), passing Hubie Brooks and Mike Piazza on Friday night, and extending his streak on Saturday.

So, everything seems much calmer for the moment, although the Mets are certainly not out of the woods yet. But if they can continue to string these victories together, the good vibes will continue to permeate. It's clear that Philadelphia is not going to go away that easy. Even though they match up against Atlanta next week, and you know Atlanta will play them tough (Hudson and Smoltz are scheduled to pitch in that series), but take nothing for granted. I can certainly be called two-faced for going back and forth as the Mets ebb and flow through the season, but in reality, isn't it just an expression of how all of us feel at any given moment in a long season? When it was bad, it looked pretty hopeless. Now, it's not as bad, but we're still not where we need to be. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Right now, the onus is on you, John Maine. Keep focused, keep your head, keep in control. Just like Ollie did on Saturday, it's up to you to do the same on Sunday.

Magic Number: 7.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dreams Aren't What They Used To Be

Hope for the Mets is now Hopeless.

-Steve Somers

I'm again speechless. There are no more words to be said after yet another completely perpelxing, befuddling and completely unacceptable loss that the Mets have put forth tonight in Florida.

IT seems like, in a season where the Mets have pretty much loafed their way through the entire summer, it's all fallen apart on them at the worst possible time. I don't know if I'm repeating myself, or repeating things I've been writing all Summer long. I don't know. I'm just at a loss. Totally deflated, frustrated, depressed all at once. It almost seems as if the Mets just don't want it anymore. The way these losses are piling up, and how they continue to happen in the most confounding ways imaginable...How can anyone make sense of this? How can the players? How can Willie? What the hell is going on here?

Who can you blame, after the Marlins put forth a 21-hit attack, battering the Mets within and without for 10 innings, seeing the Mets lead early, fall behind, pull off a miraculous comeback and seemingly have the game well in hand in the 9th before turning around and handing the game right back to the Marlins, all while the Phillies pecked and scraped their way back against the same Nationals that the Mets just couldn't beat just a few days ago (El Guapo will kill me for just writing the longest run-on sentence in history, and quite honestly, I don't give a flying fuck).

I have the feeling that any Mets fan who doesn't drink has just been driven to do so. How on earth Willie couldn't allow Feliciano to at least try to get through the 9th inning is beyond me. Even if Cabrera hit one to the moon at that point, it's still a 1-run lead. But he continued to go to Jorge Sosa, who gutted it out heroically for 2 innings on Wednesday night, and for some reason stuck with him despite the fact that he was obviously gassed. I know the other options weren't exactly palatable, and while Dave Williams and Aaron Sele wouldn't have calmed any of us anymore, I wonder what, exactly, Willie is waiting for with Philip Humber? I know he's young and inexperienced, but in the biggest game of the year, if he's going to go to Joe Smith, and if Jorge Sosa is obviously totally spent, why not give this kid a shot and see what he has? WOULD THAT KILL YOU? HUH?!?

When it appeared that Marlon Anderson had perhaps come up with the biggest hit of the season, that was the high of highs. Text messages were flying in in celebration. And it was all too soon, and the joy all too fleeting. Is there a reason for optimism? Is there any reason to continue to believe in this team when they just keep turning around and stabbing us in the back? I felt awfully low last season, when everything came crashing down on October 19th, and I wanted to believe that this team would remember that and have it spur them on to greater things. But it seems like they can't even get out of their own way. If the collapse continues and we, as fans, are left to face the offseason with this great indignity, it will probably be the greatest disappointment in Mets History.

As a rule, El Guapo and I will always attend the final home game of the season. We may have to boycott if this continues. I feel like I'm in an abusive relationship where she continues to suck me in with the sweet talk and the great moments, and yet she always ends up leaving me flat. Kind of like my ex-girlfriend, the Phillies fan.

Is there any reason for optimism?

Well, one.

I harken back to one such September pennant race in which the Mets fell completely flat and lost 7 games in a row to Atlanta and Philadelphia, squandering a sizable lead in the Wild Card race and seemingly dooming them to another season of obscurity.

In one such loss, the Mets trailed Philadelphia 3-2 in the top of the 9th. They had the bases loaded with one out, and Rickey Henderson came to the plate. A simple fly ball, or a chopper he could beat out would have easily tied the game. A hit certainly would have given the Mets the lead.

Henderson swung at the first pitch and hit a one-hop shot right at the second baseman. Easy double play. Game over.

And yet somehow, someway, the Mets were able to rebound and win 4 of their last 5 games, coming back from the dead to force a Wild Card Play-in game, which they won, and rode the momentum all the way to the NLCS.

Right now, we're all praying that somehow, the Mets can summon that juice and pull themselves out of this mess.

If only...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nice Job, Guys


I suppose whatever I could say right now could very well have already been said the last time the Phillies indignantly swept the Mets and thoroughly embarrassed them in the process.

I'm really at a loss right now because it looked like the Mets had turned a corner and were finally ready to march into the Playoffs after a completely ass-backwards regular season. But it appears I'm mistaken. After another three games in which they looked like they were the last place team and the Phillies were the first place team, the Mets now, once again, have to turn it all around and reclaim their division lead, which has shrunk to 3 1/2.

How does a team with championship aspirations manage to get themselves completely humiliated again and again by their closest division rival? It's bad enough that they were swept in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, but now they've allowed the Phillies to march into Shea and sweep them TWICE IN A ROW! This is now 6 straight losses at Shea and 8 overall. And it's completely baffling and totally unacceptable.

I'm not sure what the problem is. All signs right now point to the Bullpen, and that's the obvious choice right now, considering they had huge hands in the pissing away of all 3 games this weekend. But while Heilman, Sosa, Mota et. al. are all worthy of the blame they receive, what's lost is that while the Phillies were doing things like getting hits and driving in runs with runners in scoring position, the Mets were grounding into double plays and getting sacrifice flies from their cleanup hitter. On Sunday, the pitching matchup featured a guy with an ERA in the mid 3s, and a guy with an ERA in the mid 6s. And guess who came out of it looking worse? It's not Oliver Perez's fault that his offense didn't back him up, and certainly not his fault that his teammates also forgot how to field.

The bitch of it is that with 2 weeks left, Philly is probably going to go out and get killed by St. Louis. The Mets right now seem to be the only team they can beat! Of course, the Mets are headed into their final stretch of the season, with 14 games against mostly dregs. It would be nice if the Mets could get their shit together and wallop them good and proper, but I don't know if I can count on that right now. Coming into another must-win game, with ElDuque clearly ailing (and my feelings that he is now the one who should go to the pen in the postseason—if there is a postseason—is another post for another time), rather than giving the ball to someone who might actually throw a good game (Pelfrey), or someone deserving of a shot just so we can see what he has (Humber), the Mets are once again announcing their presence as a World Championship Contender by sending the almighty Brian Lawrence to the mound tonight in Washington. Good God, what the hell is going on with this team!?

Magic Number: Still 11.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Out For More Blood

After a particularly nasty blowout loss on Tuesday evening that featured El Duque not having anything and getting whacked all over the ballpark, the Mets were able to rebound with a nice, albeit hair-raising victory on Wednesday that served to win them another series from Atlanta, and ship the Braves off to those nice, pretty Atlanta area Golf Courses. Fittingly, on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, it would be Shawn Green coming through with the big hit to give the Mets a victory that was nearly frittered away at the mostly incapable hands of Guillermo Mota, who really has shown that he deserves no part of a Postseason game whatsoever. True, it didn't help that he came into a tight spot created by Feliciano, and he almost got out of the inning when Francoeur (who has officially solidified his spot on the list of "Braves I Really Hate") foul tipped one that LoDuca couldn't hang on to, before getting the game-tying hit.

But it was Green who was able to save the day, blow the Shofar and drive home the winning run. I noted on Monday night that Green has had an exceptional career record against the Braves (his record against Smoltz has been well-noted), and his strong showing on Monday and Wednesday nights only served to further his credentials.

I know that Green has pretty much fallen out of favor, mostly with the fans, and that's not undeserved as he really is merely a shell of the player he once was, but, looking back, Green has really made his hits count. True, he was absolutely miserable for about 3 months following a red hot April and early May, and the foot injury he suffered in Florida really derailed his season, but lately, he's rebounded. It's been quiet, a single here, an RBI there, and no real power to speak of, but he's performed admirably, and I have a feeling, and it may just be gas, but I have a feeling that he's going to come through in a key spot come October. Call me crazy.

Meanwhile...

The blowout loss on Tuesday night was rendered meaningless, and tonight proved more of the same in regard to our friends in Philadelphia, as the Colorado Rockies whipped them good and proper on Tuesday night and did the same on Wednesday night. I know before the season I maligned the Rockies as an unidentifiable obscurity, but they kicked the Mets asses back in July, and now they're doing the same to the Phillies in Philadelphia.

Have I told any of you how much I love Matt Holliday? I mean, he's a one-man Wrecking crew right now, and probably the first, last and only reason the Rockies are mysteriously tied with Philadelphia in the race for the Wildcard right now. Holliday homered twice on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, and if the Rockies somehow find themselves even closer and perhaps even winning the Wildcard (and they're only 2 1/2 games out right now), Holliday could become the odds on favorite for NL MVP, this despite the fact that most of the nation may not have any idea who the hell he is. Well, he's showing you, and in case you missed it, the Rockies are miraculously hanging around here.

So, Philly and Colorado have one more game coming tonight, and the Phillies really need to win it, else they come into New York on Friday night, with a team that is itching for some revenge after the nasty 4-game disaster at the end of August, and a team that has been red hot ever since they left Philadelphia, and ready to put them down and out and sew up the division and knock them out of the Wildcard race at the same time. I wanted blood against Atlanta, and I want more blood with Philly coming in. I know it won't happen, but part of me really wants Glavine to come out on Friday night and put his first pitch right under Jimmy Rollins' chin. This Philly team just has this air of being a little too cocky and a little too comfortable at times. Pat Burrell needs to get flipped in this series too. Not hit, just flipped, buzzed, whatever you want to call it. Just let them know. The Mets are here. We're watching, and we mean business.

Magic Number: 11.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Out For Blood


With a pair of Ballclub Nights at Shea coming up tonight and tomorrow, I had this faint hope that somehow Pedro would be held back an extra day and start tonight's game against Atlanta. I had no such luck on that front, however El Guapo and I will get the return of El Duque tomorrow evening.

With Atlanta coming into town reeling, and the Mets primed to pull away in the East, these next six games will pretty much tell us everything we need to know. Should the Mets continue their strong play, the race for the Division could very well be put to bed by the end of the day on Sunday. The Mets are rolling right now, having posted sweeps in two of their last 3 series. Atlanta seems to have gone in the other direction since the Mets put them on the mat in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. Another series like this, and the Braves should be buried completely.

It's no secret that we at The Ballclub cannot stand the Braves, and want them to suffer the indignities that they had inflicted on us so many times in the past. As the final games of the two seven-packs we purchased before the season fall tonight and tomorrow evening, we are licking our chops. We want blood. We want to see them fall and fall hard. We want to wipe that smug grin off of Andro Jones' face. We want Larry to go home and put his Falcons shit on. We want to eat Bobby Cox's children!

OK, maybe that's a little much. But while it would be great to sweep the Braves and kick them in the nuts, 2 of 3 is all that is needed. Just keep playing well, and Just keep Winning.

Magic Number: 15.