Archives for the month of: June, 2009

I used to get carsick fairly frequently.  My father would try and distract me: “Hey, buddy; name your five favorite Star Trek episodes.” 

I didn’t care for the original series back then, and Picard’s gang of intergalactic hustlers had only been running around for one season.  By the third season, we’d gotten rid of the car.

I woke up today wondering what my walkout music would be, if I were a relief pitcher.  Because I have no desire to see Casey McGehee’s name as the first mention of substance on this blog, I thought I’d “open the topic up for discussion.”  What I mean by the quotes is that one has to be a member of MLBlogs to comment, it seems, and I don’t forsee anyone doing that for my little nook.  But if comments come, comments come.

If you believe the Mets season is making you carsick, jump in.  Imagine Gary’s asking Keith.  That’s what I do:

“So if you were a relief pitcher?”

“Whoo, boy… I have a fondness for the classics.  I can’t run out to ‘Thunderstruck’ since J.J. Putz has that… ‘Shut ‘Em Down’ has an appeal.  Hard for the crowd to sing along to.”

“Well, do you want them to sing along, or do you want them to sit in awe of your greatness?”

“Good point, Gary.”

“I think I’d choose something with a slow burn.  ‘Stranglehold,’ maybe.”

“My goodness; I never pegged you as a Ted Nugent fan. …The truck’s telling me that song’s got some bad words in it.”

“‘Shut ‘Em Down’ doesn’t?”

“No way, Gary.  ‘Shut ‘Em Down’ is a clean message that Public Enemy is sending to the masses.  He’s done taking guff.”

“Guff.”

“Uh-huh.”

“…Any bad words in ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys?”

“That word’s worse than the one in ‘Stranglehold,’ Gary!”

“I had no idea you were such a connoisseur of the music of that particular generation.”

“I was upset that I never got to Woodstock.”

“Probably just as well; I hear Aaron Heilman has a permanent lock on ‘Sabotage,’ anyway.”

“…The truck is laughing, Gary.  Good job.”

“Thanks, Keith… And Fernando Tatis grounds out to end the threat.  Top of the sixth coming up; Mets down 5-0 with the heart of the Diamondbacks order coming up.”

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I knew as I was reveling in Casey McGehee’s dropped pop-up that harsh, bitter reality came around the corner.

Despite Fernando Nieve’s complete ineffectiveness, the Mets got to the bottom of the sixth down one run to the Milwaukee Brewers: 3-2.  I can’t tell what was wrong with Nieve, but watching Brian Stokes air mail a couple of intentional walks, I can take a guess at what was wrong with him.  McGehee’s grand slam put the game out of reach.  The Mets came back decently in the top of the ninth, but I have little faith or knowledge of any Brewers bullpen threat save for Trevor Hoffman.  Sure enough, Hoffman threw one pitch to the tying runner at the plate, and that was all she wrote.  L, 10-6.

Ken Macha’s earlobes frighten me.

I was watching the game at a bar with satellite TV.  Here, they showed ESPN on one screen, and SNY on two.  You haven’t lived until you’ve seen baseball a half to full second faster than you’re used to.  I watched Daniel Murphy turn one legitimate double play and one questionable one.  I watched Ryan Church make a bomb of a throw to Schneider to get out Braden Looper.

I watched… Mariano Rivera get his 500th save?  Again?

I know the Mets just played the Yankees.  But the game is over.  Mariano’s nowhere near Wisconsin.  What the hell’s the matter with you people?

I’m going to bed.  Chew on this ’til tomorrow morning, though: David Wright should not be batting third.

Today’s line-up facing the Milwaukee Brewers, as reported by David Lennon of Newsday:

Argenis Reyes – SS
Daniel Murphy – 1B
David Wright – 3B
Gary Sheffield – LF
Ryan Church – RF
Fernando Martinez – CF
Brian Schneider – C
Luis Castillo – 2B
Fernando Nieve – SP

This was yesterday’s line-up (vs. Yankees; L, 4-2):

Daniel Murphy – 1B
Alex Cora – 2B
David Wright – 3B
Gary Sheffield – LF
Fernando Tatis – RF
Fernando Martinez – CF
Brian Schneider – C
Luis Castillo – 2B
Livan Hernandez – P

And the night before last’s (vs. Yankees; L, 5-0):

Alex Cora – SS
Argenis Reyes – 2B
David Wright – 3B
Ryan Church – RF
Gary Sheffield – LF
Daniel Murphy – 1B
Jeremy Reed – CF
Brian Schneider – C
Tim Redding – SP

And the night before that, this was the order (vs. Yankees; L, 9-1):

Luis Castillo – 2B
Alex Cora – SS
David Wright – 3B
Gary Sheffield – LF
Fernando Tatis – RF
Ryan Church – CF
Nick Evans – 1B
Omir Santos – C
Mike Pelfrey – SP

I don’t know that I have a point here.  I’m sure I will after tonight’s game.  You may feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Actually, that’s a lie.  I do have a point.  I’d just prefer not to breathe life into it until after tonight’s game.

I spent the weekend on my couch, a trash can by my side and Gatorade and Ritz crackers at the ready.

But at least I wasn’t at Citi Field.

To tread the line between A Great Deal of Information and Too Much Information, I’ll say that somewhere along the way during Friday night’s game versus the Yankees (L, 9-1), I got whacked with something less-than-good.  My constitution was built by U.S. Steel, but lately it’s been knocked on its heels.  I was no match for a one-two punch of what I believe was an unfortunately undercooked and undeserved green pepper and some stressing news, reporting of which to the masses would certainly cross that aforementioned line.  (It’s not even my news to report; but let’s have good vibes for people who should hopefully get better soon.)

I made it through CC Sabathia’s loss of his no-hitter (praise be to Sheffield), and through an unfortunate bout of foot-in-mouth disease, yelling at a friend for his revealed distaste for people who throw balls back onto the field.

(And let’s get a little basebally here: yes, I know the Cubs fans do that.  But unless the Cubs trademarked it and unless and until it’s banned by Major League Baseball, let people do what they want to do. 

I’m not throwing away a caught ball, but I’ve never caught a ball and I would like to catch a ball.  Others may not care.  It’s their business if they want to throw it back or not.  And just because they do it regularly out in Wrigley Field doesn’t mean Old Man Wrigley made Kenesaw Mountain Landis swear that they’d only do it at Wrigley Field. 

On top of which–and I’d hate to get on the bad side of Cubs fans, whom I dig a great deal–the Cubs haven’t won anything since 1908.  Rather than take this as reason for their deserving of undiluted tradition, I take this as reason for them NOT being deserving of undiluted tradition.

It’s not obnoxious, like playing Neil Diamond during the middle of the eighth inning.  It’s an expression of distaste for the fact that the opposing team has just scored a run or four.  Throw it back if you want.  Just don’t hit any of our outfielders.

There.  Now, had I presented my argument that way, rather than feverishly ranted for ninety seconds, then bellowed in a half-empty stadium that the Cubs could go do something anatomically improbable,  I could have avoided feeling guilty for the rest of the game, and similarly avoided the apology.  I was not a well man.)

I slept about thirty hours this weekend, and it was delightful in hindsight, though waking up soaked through was less-so.  I don’t blame the guy at the sausage stand.  I blame myself.

But I slept, and did not do my duty and watch the balance of the series.  So I missed A.J. Burnett’s ridiculousness and Chien-Ming Wang getting off the schneid.  I went to my default food-poisoned comfort viewing: Six Feet Under and WWII documentaries.  You can’t blame a man who’s on the mend for skipping the Jon Miller And Joe Morgan Show in favor of sleep that doesn’t lead to dreams of Nate Fisher leading the charge through the Ardennes.  I don’t think you can, anyway.

I am now up and about and of middling health.  The Mets are at .500, and two and a half games behind the Phillies.  Both mine and the Mets’ situations are reminiscent of last week at about this time.

I have video of the maelstrom which overtook Citi Field and delayed the game on Friday.  If I deem it worthy, I will post it.  Looked cool on my camera, anyway.

Tonight’s starting line-up, as reported by David Lennon on his Newsday Mets blog:

Castillo – 2b
Cora – ss
Wright – 3b
Sheffield – lf
Tatis – rf
Church – cf
Evans – 1b
Santos – c
Pelfrey – sp

I guess the big deal, besides Ryan Church in center, is that Alex Cora’s been batting lead-off since Ty Cobb was chomping on baby-safe Havanas, and he’s now in the two-hole, moving Luis Castillo up.  Remember when Luis was batting eighth?  What a strange world we live in.

Cora’s 0 for 11 with a walk in the last three games, missing the jump-jive that was Wednesday’s win, and being a no-show in Carpenter’s near-clinic.  I don’t think he’s faultable for Pineiro’s or Carpenter’s dominance; I just suppose Jerry Manuel was tired of seeing no one on and one out.

Should be interesting, this Sheffield-batting-cleanup-after-cortisone, playing-that-tall-left-field-wall-on-inflamed-bursa-sac business.  I can hear Ken Singleton now, extoling the virtues of the DH.

…The DH is one of the most awful moves ever made in sport, by the way.  Just awful.  IF nine players show up for defense, those same nine players should show up for offense.

Sabathia had two homers and 7 RBI last year, in his time in Cleveland and Milwaukee.  51 ABs.  But can he run the bases like Chien-Ming Wang?

Fernando Tatis best get on the stick today, with authority.  There’s something about this game that feels iffy.  Then again, I just devoured a Good Humor Toasted Almond Ice Cream bar in under a minute.  That could be the source.

*Speaking of sources, thanks again to CBS Sports’ MLB Players Page.   

Yes.  Latin this early in the morning, after significant pop culture events conspire to make late-night YouTube hounds of us all. 

There’s no real good video for “Human Nature.”  My friend–of the baseball-learning the other evening–prefers “Man In The Mirror.”  To each their own.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.  After this, therefore because.  Id est (i.e.) gibberish.  But good gibberish.  Gibberish we live with on a daily basis.  I had socks.  You came over.  You left.  Socks are no longer where they were.  Never mind an enterprising soul put them in the wash; you took my socks!

In sport, interesting: the Mets were losing and listless.  Bring up Nick Evans.  Nick Evans drives in the coffin runs of the last two victories over the Cardinals (yesterday’s game: W, 3-2).  The reason the Mets were losing and listless was they didn’t have Nick “The Executioner” Evans.

I like Nick Evans and I love that bat stroke he’s got.  I also remember last year’s Colorado series where he came up and was an RBI-doubles machine, then fell off the proverbial cliff.  Back then, the reason why the Mets were losing and listless was the presence in the line-up of Nick “the Black Hole” Evans.

The Mets could be a lot better if Fernando Tatis wasn’t playing, hitting into double plays.  And then a blooper before Ryan Ludwick, and some decent stuff the night before.

Chris Carpenter takes a no-hitter into the fourth.  Ralph Kiner comes into the booth, and talks about Carpenter’s no-hitter, my roommate says.  Sure enough; no-hitter gone.  Mets with life.  (UPDATE: Brooklyn Met Fan appears to love him some Ralph Kiner.)

I love baseball, but at what I believe is the halfway point in my 2009 Citi Field Splurge Pack, causality is starting to wear me a bit thin.  It makes me want to walk into the park tonight and spout all sorts of nonsense about Pelfrey’s prowess and Sabathia’s lack thereof. 

(If I happen to see him, I will demand that Danny Meyer start pumping some distracting Blue Smoke aroma towards the field earlier than the fourth or fifth inning. …That’s a half-joke about Sabathia being a big guy.)

I’m excited for tonight’s game, as I always am, but I’m already sanguine about a letdown and in that, am anticipating a let down.  They took three of four from the Cardinals and lose to the Yankees.  The reason why they lost to the Yankees was that they took three of four from the Cardinals, and any sub-reason you’d like to assign.  No.  Gibberish.

They’ll lose to the Yankees because they won three of four against the Cardinals–the lesser known *** hoc ergo propter hoc, but the stock in trade of pessimists.  No.  Backwards gibberish.

(UPDATE: MLBlogs Network, I’m trying to keep a PG blog yet I’m citing Latinate phrases.  Is there REALLY a need to censor the Latin?  Can’t we find a censor that will accept contextual conditionals? 

Ugh.

Go here and read what I meant to have displayed.  Giggle like a pre-teen if you must.)

The latter softens the coming blow and the former takes the rest of the sting out of it.  The Mets are not invincible.  They weren’t in any year they played games in October.  But on this Friday morning, post hoc and *** hoc (…Lord, give me the strength…) seem to be defying the laws of physics: negative plus negative does not equal more negative, does not equal zilch.  Negative plus negative equals positive.  Hell. The Mets can take this game.  They can take the series.  They can go on a ten-game winning streak, and play Delgado and J. Reyes off the bench when they come back.  Exciting thoughts.

I have no real clue.  I’m trying to remember if I called Wilson Valdez “Wilmer” the other night.  I know my prospects but I only sort of remember my Joe Cool DFAs.  I haven’t done laundry and my “I’m Calling It Shea” T-shirt could’ve benefited from the Peter Venkman Ghostbusters II treatment: a couple hours hanging outside the window, and it’s fine.  Why am I wearing it?

Because I’m avoiding the object lessons of logical fallacies, as explained by smarmy damned Latin.  It’s come to this.  When I start pulling out my eyelashes and making wishes on them, you’ll know I’ve gone Stratosphere.

Mets vs. Yankees.  Pelfrey vs. Sabathia.  Bring on the voodoo dolls and the gypsy curses.

Do you think, perhaps, Johan Santana watched the offensive juggernaut that was the 2009 New York Mets tonight and wanted to shake each guy by the shoulders as he crossed home plate?  I do.

You tag the fifth starter for as many runs as you can; not that I thought the Cardinals were ceding the game at any point before the seventh.  Not even halfway through the seventh.  At the end of the seventh, perhaps a little ceding.  But you tag #5 for as much as you can, and hope you stay in that rhythm in the event that you face #1 tomorrow.

Man, I hope they stay in rhythm.  Johan is quite possibly the Alpha and Omega, but if I’m going to feel comfortable with him on the mound tomorrow, it’s gonna come by way of him being staked to a tidy five-or-six run lead.  Let him find some of the old magic.  Keep him from feeling stressed.

C’mon, it’s a home game.  He could throw it, ice down, shower, and still make it for drinks at the Met’s roof garden by early dusk.  Let tomorrow be easy.

**

Nick Evans looks like a scared little boy at the plate.  I should check my DVR to see if he had his eyes screwed shut when he gave it a hard ride.

**

Speaking of hard rides (this is a PG-13 blog), I leaped out of my seat on Schneider’s seventh inning two run double.  Had he hit three two-run homers in as many games played, I might have bought a Schneider t-shirt.  Do they even SELL those?

Mets defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0.

I suppose this was possible because it wasn’t technically a rubber game.

My thanks, too, to the TBRays, for the victory over the Phillies.

How ’bout that Fernando Nieve, at 3-0?

More when I’m not basking in the glow of an authentic blowout.

None necessarily to be found during last night’s Mets game (vs. St. Louis Cardinals: L 3-0; leave me alone, numerologists) but one to be found while watching the game with a friend who knows very little about baseball that I don’t tell her.

Joel Pineiro (assume the tilda over the n) doubles.  Because Tony La Russa’s cute as a button, Brendan Ryan bats ninth.

Friend: “Wait, why’s that guy batting ninth?  Doesn’t the pitcher usually bat ninth?”
Me: “Very good.”
Friend: “So why’s he batting ninth, the shortstop guy?”
Me: “Because Tony La Russa’s cute as a button.”

Brendan Ryan bunts.

Friend: “Bunt!  To get the runner to third!”
Me: “Shh shh shh shh shh!”

Livan Hernandez picks up the bunt.  Omir Santos indicates first base.  Livan checks third.  No one there.  Not Joel Pineiro, certainly.  Brendan Ryan makes it safely to first.

Friend: “Wait, why’d he look over at third?  I mean, I know if he went to third, you want him out because he’s closer to home base.”
Me: “Home plate.”
Friend: “Right.  But there was nobody there.  He could’ve gotten the guy out at first.”
Me: “Yes, probably.”
Friend: “And the catcher guy was telling him… well, that sucks.”
Me: “Yes, definitely.”
Friend: “I mean, isn’t this pitcher guy like, crafty, or whatever?  He coulda made it out without a… um, run.”
Me: “Indeed.”
Friend: “Now the pressure’s on everybody.  Seems unfair.”
Me: “Life is rarely, if ever, fair.”

I’m fairly certain that few people watching last night’s game had a similar experience.  And given the awful tidiness of last night’s game, that’s a damn shame.

The hit and run with Livan Hernandez at the plate: que?  Have we regained such faith in Luis Castillo’s bald tires or were we expecting a double play?  Given the way the first five frames went, I guess pressure had to be applied.  But I’d much rather see the Mets try and freeze Yadier Molina with the “top” of the order than the “bottom” (again, I see little distinction at this stage). 

I know you apply the heat when the pot’s on the stove, but to extend a heinous metaphor, Livan went up without a pot holder, or even one of those flexible trivets.

A “trivet,” by the way, is a straight-up plate, or stone, or even piece of high-test textile one uses to protect a table from the heat of a dish or pot.  There.  Now you’ve learned something, too.

When the Mets lose a game and I need to travel from site of game-watching experience back home, I try to find a consolation song to listen to.  Lately, the song I’ve been using is “Agnes, Queen Of Sorrow,” by Bonnie “Prince” Billy (a.k.a. Will Oldham).  Excusing the portion of the song which breathes a reference to the passing of a child, I feel it sums up my experience as a fan in this long lean period.  One verse keeps cycling in my head:

If you wait another day
I will wait a day
If you wait another day
I will wait a day
Every time I think you say
It’s time for us to go our way
I say wait another day

Not getting rid of me that easily, gentlemen.  I seem to have taught a friend who’s admitted to having the memory of a goldfish that you don’t bat the pitcher eighth unless you’re Tony La Russa; you try for a bunt with nobody out and the runner in scoring position; if your catcher tells you first base, you throw to FIRST BASE.  That there’s a moral victory for me.  And I’ll take it.  See youse mugs tonight.

I watched the game last night against the St. Louis Cardinals (W, 6-4) in stages.  The first stage: Upper East Side of Manhattan, where I took notes in my head and quickly forgot them upon watching a plate of fried calamari get confiscated for… what?  Why take the plate away?  There was still food there; I was still eating it.  There was no signal.  I don’t care what you say.

Unbelievable.

The second stage, Brooklyn.  Pacific Standard on Fourth Avenue.  The MOST delicious microbrews.  I took full advantage.  And here now, are the full extent of the notes I took, unedited:

Different Stokes to move the world
Double paly on Pujols
How does castillo beat out that infield hit?
Guy Keith was demo-ing on was Schumaker
Dennys reyes can’t handle Fmart’s bunt
Yadier Molina has farty pants

I suppose he does have farty pants.  Let’s go down the line:

  • I feel like I watched Brian Stokes set up Albert Pujols in slow-motion.  It was satisfying turning to a fellow viewer, sitting to my left, and saying, “Double play.  Coming right now.”  And, sure enough.  Thanks for buying the pint, whoever the hell you are.
  • Hopefully I didn’t say actually say to her, “Double paly on Pujols.”  That would’ve been unfortunate.
  • I don’t know how Castillo beat out that throw for an infield hit.  I also don’t know how Omir Santos went 4 for 4, and I literally don’t know how Daniel Murphy hit that home run.  I was on the subway at that point, hustling to Brooklyn; as yet I’ve not watched the replay. (INSTANT UPDATE: he got a good turn on himself and powered through what appeared to be an unhealthy curve from Todd Wellemeyer.  Nice.)
  • I don’t quite know whether Keith was talking about Skip Schumaker, or Brendan Ryan, or Rick Ankiel, or what.  But I believe his pants were corduroy.  Anyone watching the game on SNY knows what I’m talking about.  The only thing more hilarious than seeing Keith Hernandez out of his chair in demo mode during a broadcast is how serious Ron Darling and Gary Cohen seemed to take it.  Ron was especially close to the danger zone.
  • I do know that Dennys Reyes didn’t look in any shape last night to handle a bunt, and sure enough he didn’t.  Can’t give Fernando Martinez a hit to help his average, but it helped the team, and that was enough.
  • I’ve already commented on Yadier Molina.

Think about the heartburn going into the bottom of the eighth, and think about how the bottom half of the line-up (though with these players, is there a bottom half of the line-up anymore?) manufactured a run:

Luis Castillo: infield single.

Fernando Martinez in for Stokes: bunt between Dennys Reyes and Yadier Molina.

Alex Cora: single up the middle on Dennys Reyes.  No extension on Reyes’s part to catch it because he can’t leave his feet; Cora safe; Luis Castillo scores.  Yadier Molina goes nanners.

The digital zoom on the camera catching the money end of the third base line had Castillo safe.  Molina catches it, Castillo geeks out, and grabs the plate as Molina tries to apply the tag.  It was close, but Castillo was in.

The run gives Frankie Rodriguez wiggle room against the middle of the Cardinals’ order.  Now, the middle of the Cardinals’ order isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but today’s Mets aren’t sure things when it comes to putting out fires.  There was nothing more poetic, by the way, than yesterday’s crash on the RFK Bridge involving trainer Ray Ramirez, Jose Reyes, and a fire truck.  On the day that Carlos Beltran goes on the DL. 

I love a metaphor as much as the next guy, but c’mon.

I guess until Tim Redding loses a game, I can keep calling him Teflon Tim.  Dear Tim Redding: don’t lose any games.  We need them.  Love, Paul.  P.S.: Don’t call me.  Your facial hair is frightening.

**

Oliver Perez pitched in Port St. Luice yesterday.  Against the Charlotte Stone Crabs.

Here’s the recap.

I would review, but… no.  Just… no.

CHARLOTTE.  STONE.  CRABS.