Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Actually Looking Like a Real Team

...By guest blogger Jeff D...

I attended last night's game with the hope that Santana would step up and dominate a game for us when we were down. What surprised me was not Santana's performance, but the performance of the rest of the team. As soon as the line up was announced I started to feel a little better. Willie Randolph actually MANAGED. He inserted a righty loaded line up against a young, left handed, power pitcher. Normally, we wouldn't expect this from our manager. But not only was it insightful, it also paid off. All five runs batted in came from right-handed bench players. Easley had a nice piece of situational hitting to drive in the first run with a sacrifice fly. Fernando Tatis and Ramon Castro both had 2 runs batted in.

I must also give credit where it is due and commend Luis Castillo for a nice stop up the middle (nabbing the lead runner in what could have turned into a big inning for the Marlins). Although he still looks like a mess at the plate, it was a great stop and a huge out. Reyes started the Mets off early with a double to lead off the game, which extended his 12 game hitting streak and his streak of 27 straight games on base. Beltran made a terrific catch on a ball that may have changed the whole complexion of the game if it had dropped, but he still seems to be pressing at the plate - even in favorable counts.

All in all, the team played well. Aside from Reyes' gaffe and Johan's brief bout with wildness, it was a crisp performance. Johan pitched well even though he was behind in the count most of the time, coming up with a big strike out of Uggla to end the
seventh, after two wild pitches and an error by Reyes. He also
contributed offensively with a double, his 4th of the year - wow.
When we turned it over to the pen, it was like a flashback to
2006. Sanchez came in and did a great job, getting the last out on a K with a filthy change in his scoreless eighth. In the 9th, Wagner came in and was lights out -striking out two.

This was the definition of a team win. The bench players contributed with timely hits, and players who still aren't performing at the plate didn't bring those struggles out with them on defense. Aside from Beltran's nice catch and Castillo's diving stop, nothing was spectacular. It was a well played game from start to finish by a team that is more than capable of putting that exact same product on the field every night. One would hope that the team realizes this too. It's time for them to start hitting their stride and it's time to put together a nice streak. If the Mets can do that, the bitter taste from these early season struggles will be gone in a flash.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What Being A Fan Means

I turned last night's game off in the 7th inning, and every 5 minutes I felt like a crackhead fighting the urge to flip it back on. I didn't flip it back on until the Bottom of the 9th. I watched Endy Chavez ground out and turned it right back off. It's true that this season is going terribly wrong. It's true that most of the venom being displayed by the fans isn't misguided. And it's true that last night I looked around my house and felt like getting up and smashing each piece of Mets memorabilia I own. Their play is making me sick, the manager looks like he's sick, but I'm a fan. A die-hard fan. And so are the rest of you.

When the Mets lost last night, I had no intention of going to the game tonight. But when I woke up, it was a new day. Santana is on the mound. It's 10 bucks to sit in the bleachers, and pretty cheap to sit in the upper deck. I want to go, I really do. I'm sure there are lots of other fans who are feeling dejected, fans who have no desire to go. We can't become like them. We need to go tonight. We need to attempt to infuse some positive energy into a ship that looks like it's sinking. It's a nice May day, which will turn into a nice night for a game.

Watching this season has felt like a second job, felt less fun than any season I've watched - ever. Let's get back to enjoying baseball. Let's go tonight, grab a dog and a beer and cheer on our team. Let's sit directly behind Nick Evans and encourage the kid. Let's stand and cheer instead of sitting on our hands or booing. Let's go out to the ballgame tonight.

Monday, May 26, 2008

InGame Thought: Why Willie, Why?

The Mets are slowly driving me insane. Every loss ruins my mood, and then my day or night. They're making me fight with my girlfriend. They're making me physically ill. Tonight, they're currently losing 6-3, and it's of the vomit inducing variety. They're making errors, failing to hit with runners in scoring position, not breaking in on balls hit by the Marlins. Nick Evans hits a ball 409 feet, and it gets caught. Brian Schneider KNOCKS MIKE JACOBS OVER with a grounder, and he records an out. The Marlins scored their first 2 runs on broken bat doubles, and their next 3 on a blooper that should've been caught. The combination really is vomit inducing.

With all that said, the person who epitomizes this nonsense is Luis Castillo. How many days, weeks or months will it take for Willie Randolph to realize that he is not the number 2 hitter? He wasn't the number 2 hitter at the beginning of the year. Randolph replaced him with Church, the Mets won 5 games in a row, and Randolph then went ahead and put him right back there (and watched the Mets go on a losing streak). I understand that Church and Alou are out right now, but Castillo should still not be anywhere near the 2 hole. Put Endy Chavez there. Put Nick Evans there. Put anyone there. Just not Luis Castillo.

All the man does is KILL RALLIES. He kills them early in the game, and he kills them late in the game. He kills them by popping out, striking out and by grounding into so many double plays that my head is starting to spin.

The Mets had a rally going on Saturday night in Colorado, and Castillo promptly hit into a double play.

The Mets had something going yesterday in Colorado, and Castillo slapped the ball right at the pitcher - who started the double play.

The Mets had a chance 10 minutes ago, with runners on 1st and 2nd, and Castillo slapped into ANOTHER double play.

A couple of games before that, the Mets had a chance with the bases loaded, and Castillo couldn't even put the ball in play and bring a run home.

So I ask again, why the hell is he still hitting 2nd?

He can't hit the ball into the outfield.

He can't get runners in from 3rd with less than 2 outs.

He hits into double plays more often than anyone on the roster.

He's lost his speed.

Why, Willie, Why?

His presence is crippling this team every single day. How long will it take for a change to be made? At this rate, fans will be projectile vomiting onto the field before, during and after each one of his atrocious slap-happy at bats.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Observations from a Debacle

I haven't posted in a while due to a host of idiotic reasons, so I thought the best way to get back into the swing of things would be to do this:

Below are thoughts that went through my head (and that I subsequently jotted down), while watching the Mets against the Braves tonight. Instead of having the sound on the TV - and subjecting myself to Tomahawk Chop chants after infield hits with 2 outs in the 2nd inning - I instead listened to 3 beatles albums as I took the game in. I started with Please Please Me, then went to Beatles For Sale, and closed with Revolver. By the time I was done (and the Mets were done), I felt like eating a bag of mushrooms and running around the neighborhood. But I digress...

Top of the 1st-

-I realize that even 1st pitch strikes to Reyes in the top of the 1st inning perturb me.

Top of the 2nd-

- Luis Castillo batting 8th means having two 9 spots with horrendous hitting pitchers back to back (cue ass out strike out by Castillo with runners on 2nd and 3rd). Awesome timing. Castillo is starting to remind me of Al Leiter, but with less power.

Bottom of the 2nd-

-Carlos Delgado is like Roger Dorn, without the golfing skills and hot wife. "What do you want me to do, dive for it?" Mind you, I thought about this when a grounder wasn't even hit near him. Just the sight of him is enough to conjure up these thoughts.

-I've never seen Mike Pelfrey get this many swings and misses - ever. His fastball is consistently in the mid 90's with great location.

-Gregor Blanco (who just K'd looking), should stop arguing and instead go ask his parents where the last letter of his name went.

-Luis Castillo has no bat, diminishing range, and is now lolipopping his throws to 1st base. Not cool....

Top of the 3rd-

-Leadoff single for Jose (is uppercut Reyes gone)?

-Before I could even come up with something to say after the Mets took a 1-0 lead, Beltran grounded into a 4-6-3 DP.

Bottom of the 3rd-

-Pelfrey is being an animal (as he K's Infante for the 1st out).

-And just as Pelfrey is dropping heat on the Braves, there goes Moises Alou to drop heat in the clubhouse. Lovely.

-At this point with all the various ailments, freak concussions, diarrhea in the middle of games, sick parents....I wouldn't be surprised if Jose Reyes dropped his glove, unzipped his skin and Gene Shalit popped out.

-Thanks for the double clutch Luis. Way to earn that money! Luis Castillo, wow.

-Right after Luis Castillo fails to end the inning, there goes a rocket over Endy's head. It is now Luis Castillo/Braves 2, Mets 1.

-The curse of the in-game diarrhea...Marlon Anderson with the awful misplay, Luis Castillo/Braves 3, Mets 1. Just what in the hell was Marlon Anderson doing?

Top of the 4th-

I've made it through Please Please Me and Beatles For Sale, and am immersed in Revolver. For the record, "Love You To" by George Harrison started before the Mets came to bat in the Top of the 4th, and ended after they had already made 3 outs. The song is 2 minutes and 52 seconds long.

Now going with the "Love You To" theme, a musical interlude.....

................"Each Mets at bat goes so fast, I turn around it's passed"...................

Bottom of the 4th-

-There goes a blooper right over Luis Castillo's head for a single. No attempt to dive or stretch. If it was legal, I'd kidnap him and chain him to a parking meter.

Top of the 5th-

-I can't hear the Giuseppe Franco commercial, and it's breaking my heart.

-Mark Tex slides and backhands Pelfrey's sharp grounder and records the out. It's nice watching a 1st baseman that tries.

-Reyes has been on base all 3 times, and the Mets have 1 run. Bad combo.

Bottom of the 5th-

-4 to 1 Braves as Chipper takes Pelfrey out to dead center to open the inning. I'm starting to lose my mind.

-Here's a grounder down the RF line, and an error by Endy Chavez. I am without speech.

....And with that, the in-game blogging is over. If the Mets come back to win, we can all read this and laugh about how bleak the situation was. Does anyone really expect that to happen?

Monday, May 12, 2008

InGame Thought - Why Burn Duaner?

The Nats are up 10 to 3. They took advantage of errors, walks and hit batsmen early on and took advantage of Jorge Sosa's ineptitude in the top of the 6th. Jorge Sosa is the long man, the mop up man, a horrendous excuse for a pitcher - all of those aptly describe him. At this point the game is pretty much done. The smart move would've been to double switch Sosa into the game (removing Alou for Chavez) in order for Sosa to mop this game up. We know Willie Randolph isn't smart, though, but after he failed to double switch he still had one other way to keep Sosa in and rest the other guys in the pen.

After Sosa was torched, he simply could've let him hit with one out in the bottom of the 6th and the Mets down by 7 runs. Instead, he elected to pull him for a pinch hitter and proceeded to put Duaner Sanchez into a game that is out of reach. Why? The move is puzzling, especially with the recent doubleheader and the doubleheader the Mets have coming up next Monday in Atlanta. Why does Willie Randolph refuse to double switch, and why does he burn his better relievers in games that aren't close? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop? We may never know....

Digging Through Selective Journalism (Santana Edition)

I came home yesterday from playing ball, sat down with my sandwich from the deli and opened the Sunday Daily News. There was all the usual nonsense, magazines and of course shooting from the Lip by Mike Lupica. Then I happened upon an article.......... by John Harper and stopped to read it. It began:

On a day when he didn't have much brilliance, Johan Santana showed just enough toughness to get by, thanks largely to signs of life from Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. And since toughness is what the Mets seem to need most these days, maybe that's more important than throwing a gem.
Then again, in the long run this team is going to need more than six innings a start out of its ace to even think about going to a World Series. And so, much like the enigmatic Mets themselves, it's hard to know just what to make of Santana in his new digs so far.
Is he the $139 million savior, as touted, for a team in search of a killer instinct, or something less?

After reading the opening, I paused. The first paragraph didn't bother me nearly as much as the second (we all know that negativity and being critical sells more than anything else). But the second paragraph basically lumps Santana's season so far in with the Mets' - and the Mets' season has been slightly better than Mediocre. Santana has been almost in line with his career averages, and considering that Santana is a notoriously slow starter (with a career April ERA above 4.00), is now really the time for this type of article?

The article continues:

So far Santana has been good, not great. He's 4-2 and the Mets have blown a couple of potential wins for him, but in his last three starts he has gone six, six, and 5-2/3 innings, respectively, largely because of high pitch counts.

The part that gets me is the "last 3 starts" angle. Has it gotten to the point where we question the productivity of arguably the best pitcher in baseball who happens to be in a new league, playing for a team in the largest city in the world, in front of fans who booed him in his first start at home, on such a miniscule sample size? Seems to me that we have. Harper of course failed to note that over his first 5 starts, Santana went 7 innings four times and 6.2 innings once. He failed to note what I already alluded to - the fact that Santana is a notoriously slow starter. But why let perspective and facts get in the way of a story?

Towards the conclusion of his article, Harper alluded to Santana's velocity, even using the famous unnamed scout to back up his claims:

That changeup is what has made Santana one of the best pitchers in baseball, and it seems he needs it more than ever now that his fastball is usually in the 90-92 mph range, as opposed to 93-95 a couple of years ago.
"He hit 93 once today," said a National League scout at Shea, "but I had him around 90-91 on average, which is down a little from its peak. He still has a good fastball, and he's always needed his changeup to be one to dominate. He just has a little less margin for error now."

Let's look at the end of that 2nd line where it says "now that his fastball is usually in the 90-92 mph range." Harper bounces off of that line into the one by the scout to give off the impression that from now until his career ends, Santana's fastball will sit around 90-91, which is both inaccurate and reckless. If Santana had lost the ability to consistently throw 93-95, one would think that a couple of other news outlets might've picked up on that.

Either way, we've reached the point where it's safe to question and criticize a pitcher who's on pace to go 17-9 with 222 K's, a BAA of .226 and a 1.11 WHIP, and claim that after 1 so-so start in early May that he's lost the life on his fastball.

I can't wait to see the articles that pop up after Billy Wagner allows his first earned run of the year.....

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mets Fans

As we wait around to see when/if this game will be played tonight, and continuing with the theme of die-hard fan pride, here's something I wrote to pass the time......

Being a Mets fan in New York means you’re in the minority whether you’re white or black, male or female.
Being a Mets fan will cause heartache.
Being a Mets fan is a test of ones will.
To be a Mets fan is to have eternal hope, whatever the circumstances.
Being a Mets fan will drain you mentally, physically, and emotionally.
If a purple stadium is your thing, the Mets are the team for you.
If you don’t mind broken seats with bird shit on them, you bleed ORANGE and BLUE and love Shea too.
Being a Mets fan is an act of defiance.
Mets fans are the ones that know New York is a National League Town that’s currently tripping on Acid.
If your Grandfather was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan who converted to the Mets after they left, you’re a Mets fan.
Mets fans believe in miracles but know how to cope with disasters.
If you’re a Mets fan, the Tomahawk Chop makes you feel like throwing up.
If you’re a Mets fan, you can do without the Irish tenor Ronan Tynan singing during the 7th inning stretch.
Mets fans would much rather hear Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Worst 17-15 Start in History

Jose Reyes is being compared to Rey Ordonez. Aaron Heilman is getting the Guillermo Mota treatment. Johan Santana was booed off the field by a small chorus of imbeciles after his first Shea Stadium start. If you were a Mets fan who missed the first 32 games of the season, came home today and put on WFAN (and heard the critiquing of the team) you would've probably assumed that the Mets were something like 12-20. You would think that the team is suffering from afflictions that cannot be cured. You'd be wrong.

Let's examine two main points that have been regurgitated during this fan/media freak out and take a few things into consideration:

1. The Mets' offense is putrid: It's true that the Mets are near the bottom of the NL in most of the major offensive categories, but it's also true that they have played the least amount of games -32- in the Majors (every other team has played between 33 and 36). We also need to take into account the fact that aside from the opening 6 game road trip and the recent 6 game swing through Arizona and L.A., the Mets have played all of their games in cold weather cities (including at home in one of the worst pitchers ballparks in baseball). Let's also realize that the Mets have caught nearly every teams' top 2 pitchers so far this season. The Mets were without Moises Alou until recently, Carlos Beltran has done virtually nothing so far, and Jose Reyes has been maddeningly inconsistent. Still, the team is somehow 17-15. If you think that Beltran is a .220 hitter, that Jose Reyes has peaked at 24, and that David Wright will hit .265 this year, maybe you're right to be worried about the offense. Something tells me, though, that those guys will hit.

2. The fans have turned on the team: I've been to 5 games so far this year, and I will admit that I've never seen this much vitriol this early in the season. What's important to note, though, is that most of said vitriol has been coming out of the mouths of casual fans. If you want to take the pulse of the fanbase, go to sites like or or read what Cerrone and his cronies have to say over at Metsblog. You can't usually take an accurate pulse of this team's fanbase by observing the behavior of casual fans at Shea Stadium. If you see a guy booing at Shea that looks like he belongs in Yankee Stadium corporate seats (hint: he'll be wearing a belt bag circa 1989, sitting with his wife whose skin looks like it's sliding off of her skeleton, and he'll be the guy that remains in his seat instead of standing to cheer when the Mets are scoring) pay him no mind. Since the 2006 season began, I've seen an influx of these types at Shea. They're at the game to pass judgment and have knee-jerk reactions. They boo, turn to who they're with, and then laugh at the scene they're causing. These people aren't die-hards, and they're not speaking for all of us. If you want to see the team's die-hards and get a gist of how they feel, head out to Shea on a Tuesday night against the Nats (where there's a 2 hour rain delay) and observe the fans that are left after that delay. Those are the die-hards. And die-hards don't boo Ace's who are making their first start at Shea, they don't boo relievers before they've thrown a pitch (unless it's Mota or Armando Benitez) and they don't boo Carlos Beltran for grounding out to 2nd base. Idiots do. If you're one of those idiots, stay home.

Let's all take a deep breath. Willie Randolph's lack of knowledge is beyond repair, but the Mets of 2008 can win in spite of him. Give them a chance to heat up with the weather.


Ramon Castro is coming back and he's bringing his mascot sized head with him.