Archives for the month of: July, 2009

It’s 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh.  Fernando Tatis, showing signs of life, belts a homer off the “Super Guarantee” sign in left field, after watching one sail over his head just a few minutes earlier.

Daniel Murphy flies out to right.  Angel Berroa?  Left.  Omir Santos?  He chops a double; it tails past where we can’t see and he’s in, easily.

You can’t believe you’ve just spent five minutes of your life cheering for the likes of Fernando Tatis, Daniel Murphy, Angel Berroa, and Omir Santos.  That’s like cheering for Robin Duke, Brad Hall, Tim Kazurinsky, and Joe Piscopo.

Jeremy Reed comes in to pinch hit for Brian Stokes, who should’ve been in for Jon Niese after Tatis made that amazing grab in the top of the seventh.  Then Matt Daley gets pulled for Franklin Morales.  So Reed gets pulled for (wait for it)… Robinson Cancel.

The staggering corpse of Robinson Cancel.

You just don’t do that.

You also don’t risk an entire upcoming season to play at less than one hundred percent, Carlos Beltran.  What in the world do you know and we don’t?  Are the prophecies true?  Should I start buying bottled water and digging a cave out of a limestone cliff?  If that’s so, then shouldn’t the prospect of making the playoffs seem not unreachable, but unimportant?  We know you’re a badass.  Don’t be a hero.

Nothin’ makes sense no more.  I’m going to try for the Blue Smoke line tonight.  Comfort food, baby.  Comfort.  Food.

*I’m not a mope.  I know the Mets took three of four from the Rockies, and I should be grateful.  But… Robinson Cancel?  ROBINSON.  CANCEL.  He’s the fifth Beatle!

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I have not flat-out made some of these statements, though I may have made insinuations, “jokes,” or the like.  Here we go, in no particular order:

  1. Chowdah makes a poor addition to the Mets: he’s been with the club for fewer than twenty-one days and has 16 RBI.  He’s been no-hit three times in those fifteen games, all gut-wrenching, hat-eating losses for the team as a whole.
  2. Cory Sullivan is less interesting than Cuby & the Blizzards: he is slightly more interesting than Cuby & the Blizzards.  I would have to pay for Cuby & the Blizzards entertainment.  Cory Sullivan’s salary is listed as $0.  Yes, I’m employing some fuzzy math.  But let’s see Cuby connect for a triple against Juan Rincon.
  3. It’s hard to hit triples off Juan Rincon: this one’s brand-new.  But the guy’s got a 6.20 ERA.  I’m trying to square myself on the fly, here.
  4. Luis Castillo is a creature of ill-repute: the man’s just doubled-up on fatherhood, and he’s headed to the park for Game Two of the doubleheader.  That along with his gaudy OBP makes him okay.  Not $24-million-over-four-years-okay, but okay.  I’m sorry I threatened to run to the field and assault you for showing bunt this past Memorial Day.
  5. Tim Redding is Teflon: this is just housekeeping; he hasn’t been Teflon in some time (Ian Stewart double-plays to keep the shutout intact notwithstanding).
  6. David Wright should not bat third: I’m not so much wrong about this as the line-up’s been good enough to provide some protection, thus making the point moot.  The team is running on several cylinders at present.  Daniel Murphy remains a semi-beast.  Luis Castillo is, as mentioned, not a horrible man.  And given that Chowdah looks and smiles a bit like David Wright and is hitting in the five-hole, maybe pitchers are just confusing the two.
  7. The Mets should look into acquiring Doug Davis: I don’t recall if I made mention of this on the blog, or to people within shouting distance.  But Mr. Davis hasn’t been any great shakes, and his salary leaves a bit to be desired given what seems to be dangling out there now.
  8. And 9. And 10. The Mets bench cannot afford to be so short as to only hold four players, let alone three: According to Jerry Manuel, Livan Hernandez took batting practice yesterday just in case he’d be called on to pinch-hit.  Why the hell not?

Note that I’ve been wrong about these things thus far.  I could be proven right.  But I’d love to be proven wrong about my negatives and right about my positives.  I’d be the happiest wrong guy in New York.

Game Two starts in a little under three hours.  Your line-up, as reported by Metsblog (sorry, Mr. Cerrone, for cribbing off your paper; I’m in a pinch and can’t find it elsewhere):

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jeff Francouer, RF
Fernando Tatis, LF
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Angel Berroa, SS
Omir Santos, C
Jon Niese, SP

I’ll be sleeping off this headache after the game, then at tomorrow’s game against the Diamondbacks. 

Let’s go Mets!

And the boys aren’t doing too bad for themselves, either.  4-0, bottom 2nd.  Johan up with Angel Berroa on third due to a fielding error.

…And now Johan is out.  Just one out, though.

That’s about all I can follow, as I’m swamped.  But it’s been fun chatting with the electronic ether.  Let’s go Mets!

These are the thoughts I have when the Mets are rained out and the Yankees are playing under a dome.

I’ve been gone for awhile.  I cannot be blamed.  I worked nine straight days.  Sure, this was the view from my hotel room for the last two:
beach.jpg
But by no means was it all fun and games.  Those who may know me may know I enjoy a bit of a tune-up when the workday ends.  The proceedings made need for a bottle of Scotch.  I usually abstain from any liquor I can’t see through during summer months.  I made an exception, and a serious dent was put in the thing as I watched the only ball game available to me: Dodgers-Cardinals (on Monday, STL over LAD 6-1).
So if the three of you who read were torn up over the lack of material, know that I was torn up as well.  Mets game via BlackBerry.  Reading up on the Minaya-Bernazard-Rubin nonsense while riding NJ Transit back to civilization.  Falling asleep just after the blown call that had Castillo safe on Tuesday (against Colorado; W 4-0).  Painting my hallway today–TODAY, of all days, where the heat and humidity drenched me repeatedly.  Good thing it’s just latex paint.
At any rate.  Back.  Stretch run.  Sparkle, sparkle.  I geared up for the Mets game but switched it over to the Yankees game after the rain-out for a number of reasons:
  • I was starved for baseball that bore ANY connection to New York.
  • I’d already watched The Ruins, which a friend DEMANDED I DVR and watch.  Wrong call, Sheriff.  Movie was well-done, but lame.  I take my horror schlocky with two sugars.
  • It was raining hard, so going out was not an option.  It’s still raining.  Going out is absolutely not an option.
  • There was almost nothing else on.  The exception was KVC: Komodo Vs. Cobra, co-starring a pre-Tell Me You Love Me Michelle Borth.  But I missed this being on until the near-end.
  • I’d read on the Post‘s website that the Rays might trade Carl Crawford and Scott Kazmir.
I start salivating when I start thinking about competent left fielders.  It’s been far too long for the Mets.  Carl Crawford was 2-for-4 tonight, notching a triple off Brian Bruney and scoring from there on Evan Longoria’s home run in the ninth.
As for Kazmir… well, Maine doesn’t look like he’s long for this season.  You should know how I feel about Perez.  Kazmir’s still young and his performance in ’09 will dim the salary lights a little.  Santana-Kazmir-Pelfrey-Niese-Perez.  I can live with that.   A bit lefty-dominated, but that can be solved by jettisoning Oliver Perez.
I’m just sayin’.
But competent fielding and hitting in left?  Delightful.  Forgive me if I don’t want to bet the farm on Cory Sullivan.  Or Gary Sheffield.  Don’t hurt yourself trying to remember the last full-time Mets left fielder.  Christ, Trot Nixon played outfield for the Mets last year.  That’s not a joke.
Counting on Carlos Beltran, who, according to reports filtered through Metsblog is working out despite the bone bruise on his mole knee not being healed, seems chancy to me.  Chowdah has thus far proven himself.  I have been saying my mea culpas and will shout them if he becomes the beast he was in a past life.  But counting on that, and Sullivan, and a not-quite-100% Beltran to patrol center at Citi Field, and trying to make a run for it, is asking for trouble.  Nick Evans was the Mets’ starting left fielder during the last game of the 2008 season.  Endy Chavez replaced him, for defense.
The last good guy out there was Moises Alou, and he wasn’t even legitimately good.  Just lightning-in-a-bottle, astound-you-with-that-batting-stance good.  Crawford-Beltran-Chowdah, with Pagan off the bench, makes me feel a hell of a lot better.
One hopes the symptoms of foot-in-mouth include remorse, humility, and visible shakes yet exclude inability-to-get-on-the-horn, and Omar Minaya can do just that and get a guy.  Crawford isn’t the best left fielder in the world, but he’s a damn sight better than what’s out there right now.
No offense, Mr. Sullivan.  I want you to know, however, sir, that the following “Cory”/”Corey”s have more interesting Wikipedia pages:
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and prove me wrong.  I will gladly add berating you to my list of venal sins if you show me up.

I am told that this is the sound a car engine makes when it’s about to fall out.

My mind has not so much been wandering as it’s been speed-jogging through vast wastes of half-remembered things I’ve done and things I’ve seen.  This could either be the result of an unusually busy time at work or an extended stroke. 

If it’s a stroke, I have to hand it to my neurons, who’ve sought to bring me back to the days when I watched The Naked Gun 2 1/2 every other day for nearly a year.  I left the house Thursday singing the film’s version of “Besame Mucho.”  That brought me to O.J. Simpson, who, if you recall, had a supporting role in each of the Naked Gun movies before the… unpleasantness.

Where were you when O.J. Simpson and Al Cowlings were “fleeing” the authorities in the white Ford Bronco?  I was in a van myself: a brown Chevy, owned by a family friend who was driving a group of guys up to a house in Sullivan County, NY, to build a deck.  My father went; I came along.  I was in sixth grade.  Sat on a milk crate in the back, with the tools.  Bob, another Bob (but we called him Robert to distinguish), Frank, my dad, and me.  Up the highway from Brooklyn in a two-seat Chevy van.  And we followed the news via radio (we left the city at 7p).

Lest you think this post a less-than-tasteful rehash of the Simpson trial, I’ll have you know that I was annoyed that we were listening to the coverage of a low-speed car chase, the whup-whup of helicopters only enjoyable when WATCHING ON TELEVISION.  No, I wanted to listen to the Mets game.  They were playing the Marlins that night out at Dolphin/Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Pro Player again/Dolphin/LandShark Stadium, and I had the fool notion that this would be Pete Smith’s chance to shine.  Nevermind that he was already 3-6 on the year.  Also, I’d rarely listened to baseball in the car, and being there with “the guys” made me think we’d be “the guys” riding up and listening to the game.

But these guys, to a man, are jokers and wise guys, and there was not much fun to be had in baseball that year.  And certainly not with the Mets.  In the Mets’ defense, they walked off the job just three games below .500.  Our current crop of Mets are seven below, which is chilly even in the dog days of summer.

See what I did there, with the double meaning?

As it turned out, however, it wouldn’t matter what we were listening to.  When we broke out of getaway traffic, Bob hit the gas to make up for lost time.  Thirty-five miles an hour.  Forty.  Forty-five… what’s that hum?  Fifty… Dad, something doesn’t feel right here.  Fifty-five… it’s not a hum; it’s a rattling.  Is something shaking loose back there?

Sixty: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAP!  The thing shook like a gallon can of Benjamin Moore in the auto-mixer.  But we weren’t going to drive forty-five miles an hour up to the house; we’d get there in the middle of the night (and “middle of the night” reminds me that Billy Joel’s “River Of Dreams” came out that year; what the hell is going on with me?).

So we dealt with it.  Robert got car sick.  My dad was hoarse from laughing so hard.  Bob, ever the even keel, went on like nothing was wrong.  He even waved at the people passing us, most of whom, I’m told, were laughing and pointing.

We got to the place around eleven, which is about when O.J. was taken to jail and well after the Mets had lost; Retrosheet tells me the game was played in a tidy 2 1/2 (see?) hours.  They’d fallen to 30-36.  There were no highlights worth watching, but I had to wait until the next day to find that out, because TV was wall-to-wall lurid that night.  My father said, “Eh.  They’re gonna strike anyway.”

His biggest concern, and frankly mine as well, was whether we’d make it back at the end of the trip with our respective fillings still in our heads.

There.  I’ve just told you a more interesting story than last night’s game (vs. Astros, L; 5-4), which I watched via fast-forward recap, mildly hungover from a colleague’s housewarming the night before.  I caught a glimpse of Gary Sheffield in one of the freeze frames, and thought about how, fifteen years ago, I thought he’d be a remarkable improvement over Joe Orsulak.

Why the hell do I remember now that I thought fifteen years ago that Sheffield would be an improvement over Orsulak?  Why do I get the feeling that if Sheffield didn’t have his endless cramp, he’d be batting third now, just like he did then?  Why are the Mets a van that rattles like the Rapture’s coming whenever you need them to go the speed limit?

Again, I am told this is the sound a car engine makes when it’s about to fall out.

I’m locked in the death throes of a staff retreat until Tuesday evening.  And then I go to a seminar on retirement planning.  Until then, and after, let’s go Mets!  Trading deadline’s coming; avoid cheap gas.

*I know I’d said that I’d write something on Bernazard, but it’s been rather busy.  Besides, the thing’s been talked to death already.  Fire him or trade out one of the T-shirt launches for a regular mid-inning fight between him and Batdad.  That’s essentially my opinion.

Hey, remember this guy?

reyes photo.jpgYeah, you do. 

No sooner than after I re-sized that image and wondered what was going on with Jose did I come upon this report from Ben Shpigel at The New York Times, and that paired with this makes me wish I could catch the next plane to Florida.  If you don’t believe in click-throughs, this for me is the money callout:

“This is really the first day that I feel like I’ve made a lot of
progress in everything I did on the field,” Reyes said. “Taking ground
balls, very good. Hitting from both sides, very good. When I run now,
I’m able to pick my knee up higher. Before, I felt like I was running
with one leg.”

Con respeto, Jose: I think “running with one leg” is called “hopping.”

Two Boots Pizzeria (now Tavern) down on Grand Street is starting to grow on me.  I met the owner, Phil Hartman, prior to the “Amazin’ Tuesdays” event and the concurrent Mets-Nationals game (L, 4-0), and he seemed like a swell guy.  A swell guy who can push a mean cocktail.  A swell guy who knew from the get that the rumors about Roy Halladay were just that.

A swell guy who sure likes his baseball cards.  They grow on his walls like kudzu.

baseball cards.jpgI question the reasoning behind placing Luis Castillo within the Bob Ojeda/Doug Flynn/Ron Darling trio; I can’t imagine what a conversation between those four would be like. 

Swap out Doug Flynn for Lenny Dykstra, and I think you have the makings of a brawl or an odd stoner comedy.

If you then swap out Ron Darling for Mookie Wilson, you’ve got the cast of Police Academy 9.

Which brings me to this: I tell anyone who’ll listen to me that Doug Flynn was actually Steve Guttenberg in disguise.  No one ever listens.  Ever.  I believe this baseball card confirms my suspicions, and I hereby demand a Senate select committee be organized to investigate the subject. 

Or, at the very least, for someone to listen to my “Doug Flynn Is Steve Guttenberg, Goddamn It” Theory.  It fits.  It ALL fits.

Last night’s event, hosted by the aforementioned Hartman, Faith and Fear in Flushing‘s Greg Prince, and Mets By The Numberss Jon Springer, sported a line-up that held infinitely more interest than the line-up presented by Jerry Manuel for the Mets tussle with the Nats.  Greg Prince read selections from his book and his blog; Jon Springer walked us through Tom Seaver’s (eventual) signing with the Mets; Paul Lukas of Uni Watch had the sadistic thrill of giving us a quiz on Mets uniform history; Matt Silverman (co-author of Shea Good-bye) came bearing costume props.

By comparison, no two Mets got back-to-back hits.  Omir Santos went hitless through three at-bats and six pitches.  Chowdah dropped a decently-easy flyout.  Oliver Perez walked six and hit Nyjer Morgan, and gave up four earned runs, yet in an example of why I should pack my bags and move to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, managed to LOWER his ERA a few ticks (7.99 before the game to 7.68 after).  I mean, I think I just heard my brain make a squelching sound.  That can’t be good.  It just can’t.

phil hartman.jpgMr. Hartman, above, speaking to the crowd which was a bit restive, honestly.  I blame it on a child’s massive birthday party jammed into a few booths in the unseen foreground.  

Mr. Hartman made it known that every Two Boots is a Mets safe harbor.  That’s for your edification; when I need to hide away as a Mets fan, I run out to New Haven, CT.  It’s been my observation that few people there seem to care about baseball.

greg prince reads.jpg

Greg Prince’s first selection prepped the crowd for the rest of the night’s direct baseball experience: some fans, when faced with daunting odds and dispiriting conditions, watch for the simple reason that “there’s no use giving up now.”  
What a statement.  A bizarre oxymoron of a paradox, that when applied to the current Mets season seems to cry out for a force majeure abbreviation of the year: vacant Citi Field hit by meteor; the sudden and utter bankrupting of the Mets holding company, leaving their employees unpaid until such a time as a Kirk Kerkorian-type comes in to mop up the remnants like a slice of white bread on a Thanksgiving dinner plate; a plague of locusts.  Any of these would be unwelcome occurrences.  But certainly spectacular in their uniqueness.  As I’ve said, the Mets in their current state are in Crisis.  But it ain’t Ragnarok.

Mr. Prince would read a few more times in the interstices–and for those unfamiliar with his ability to paint a picture with words, I highly recommend his blog and his book–but as the evening wore on it saw the arrival of other faces:

jon springer speaks.jpgJon Springer’s treatise on Tom Seaver’s Mets Eightfold Path was quite thorough.  I was halfway through a slice of pizza and so I had to look it up myself later.  But what YOU can do is either write to Mr. Springer through his website (he seems like an approachable fellow); visit Tom Seaver’s Wikipedia page, or pick up Mets By The Numbers or Peter Golenbock’s Amazin’: The Miraculous History Of New York’s Most Beloved Baseball Team.  

However, if you’re going to drill through Wikipedia’s sources and pick up the Golenbock book, pick it up in a library.  Why?  Here.  Getting Tom Seaver’s full name INCORRECT is INEXCUSABLE.  And if your editor made the change, what are you doing not catching something like that?
Lord.  Anyway, any way you can get this story without me making a hash of a retread on a shingle. Essentially, it’s a wonder how the Mets’ most legendary pitcher and one of the premiere pitchers of the game came to them literally through luck of multiple draws.

springer and lukas.jpgSpringer then introduced Paul Lukas, of Uni Watch, who proceeded to hand out sheets of paper.  Quiz time.

Now, I went to Bennington College, and Bennington regularly cranks out professionals who break into a flop sweat whenever quizzes, tests, or full-on exams are in the offing.  The school is home to the narrative evaluation, which is hell on anyone who decides they’ve had enough lack of structure and splits for a school with, you know, grades.

So I can’t stand quizzes.  I let paper pass me by and listened.  My guess is I could’ve answered five or six of the questions, based not on observation but inference and intuition.

Observation: no Met has worn number 98.  Not that I’ve seen, anyway.
Inference and intuition: I don’t recall well the second verse of “Meet The Mets,” but I figure “All the fans are true to the orange and blue” is a lyric, while “when they suit up to play, the other team runs away” is more than likely not.  Teams are not often in the habit of running away from the Mets.
You can find the quiz at Mr. Lukas’s blog here.  He will post answers tomorrow, but tonight you can see the winners there.
lukas's stirrups.jpg
And hell, while I’m linking to every other webpage in existence, read thoughts from one of the winners over at the blog Mets Police.
…Almost makes me wonder if the Mets have a higher ratio of blogging fans to fans who don’t blog than any other sub-.500 club.
(By the by, I spoke with Mr. Lukas at the end of the event, and he was kind enough to pose with his ’70s era Mets stirrups, which you can see on your right, there.  I’m just about done with society if stirrups make any sort of pop-culture comeback (were they ever in? My sister seems to think so), but I’m all for team pride, however it manifests itself.
Besides which, he seemed to accept my reasoning for wearing black Mets paraphrenalia, i.e. I’m a messy eater.  So there’s that.  General fealty paid to a man whose attention to detail simultaneously awes and deflates me.  Fantastic.
Speaking of Mets paraphrenalia…)
Matt Silverman wound up the night with an extended passage from his book, co-authored by Keith Hernandez.  Now, I didn’t notice this last night, but in going over my photos from the event, I found something delightfully shocking.  Ready for more pictures?  Are you even answering these questions aloud as you read?  Am I that hard up for comic material?  It never ends.
matt silverman.jpg
Ignore the dude in the lower right-hand corner, who looks as though he’s posing for a freeze frame in the title sequence for Boston Public.  Focus on Matt Silverman’s shirt.
Magnify, and enhance!
matt silverman's shirt.jpg
Yes.  Matt Silverman owns a Mets tropical leisure shirt.  And to boot, it looks as though it’s been worn lovingly over the course of several years; unless they come like that.
Mr. Silverman cemented his legend of cool when, upon quoting Keith Hernandez’s recollection of shooting his epic episode of Seinfeld, he pulled out the coup de grace:
matt as keith.jpg
Keith Hernandez mustache.  Brilliant.
I haven’t read Shea Goodbye, but I have an interminable Sunday at Newark Airport ahead of me, and I’m done with A Fan’s Notes, which, again, has very little to do with sports and nothing to do with Mets baseball, having been written before the Mets had ever put together a winning season.  I think it’s up next.
All in all, though, a great time, despite the fact that I am now 0-4 at Mets events outside the confines of a ball park.  The next event is scheduled for late August, and I imagine I’ll be there.  The September event is to be held on my birthday, and I can’t say as I’ll be in any decent shape to attend.  However, if that night’s honored guests should include any former Met, or Steve Guttenberg, I’ll be there, too.
But you, dear reader, have no excuse.  Unless you live outside the Greater New York metropolitan area.  Or you’re not necessarily a Mets fan.  Or you’re in jail, or visiting your sick grandmother, or have an insanely hot date planned that night.
In those instances and those instances ALONE, missing these events is acceptable.

Uh… what?!

More on this, last night’s event at Two Boots, and last night’s non-event down in D.C., when I find some time later this afternoon and when I get over my initial shock that’s come from reading this.

I didn’t know Tony Bernazard had a Randy Marsh impression.  I really didn’t:

http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:southparkstudios.com:104437

A roommate of mine (while The Wife’s in extended grad school mode, I keep the house stocked with rent-paying professionals) lived a good portion of his life in a part of West Virginia which is on the extreme fringes of commuting distance from D.C.  He is aware of the Nationals’ existence.

I work for an organization which has an office in the District of Columbia.  I also enjoy giant foam representations of our monument-worthy presidents.  I hear they’ve taken on Beatle-like significance: Washington is John; Lincoln Paul; Jefferson George.  Roosevelt is Ringo.

As the eighth inning began, we mused on the possibility of going down to see a game.

Me: My God. It’s deserted out there.
Roommate: Truth.
Me: I wonder how much tickets are.
Roommate: It’s a new ball park.  But I wonder if they’d care if you bought seats in the nosebleeds and moved down.
Me: I’d think they’d want to do that for safety’s sake.  Cut the security squad down, but keep everyone together.  It’s not safe to wander the upper deck of Nationals Park alone at night.

There, but for the grace of God, go the New York Mets.

No sooner did our conversation devolve into serious derision of the Nationals and their plight did Nick Johnson drop a single into left, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Adam Dunn.  Shut me up but quick.

However, Daniel Murphy hit to both sides of the field today.  He scored runs.  Hell, he even made an error, just to keep things interesting and Mets-like.  And with Dunn at the plate and Feliciano on the mound, he was the key to turning a 3-6-1 double play. 

Daniel Murphy: beast.  Daydream of cheap field level seats in a different ball park: untainted.  Sean Green threw seven pitches to rid the Mets of Cristian Guzman and, most importantly, Ronnie Belliard on third.  I’m almost willing to let Sean Green out of the doghouse (see walking-in of run in May, while I watch, on vacation, via jacuzzi).

Frankie Rodriguez closed it out, but not before Chowdah hit his first Mets home run to rob the man of his save opportunity.  I think Frankie’s just glad to be getting regular work.

Tickets are not severely discounted, but they’re not bad.  We’ll see.

Tomorrow sees the arrival of the first Amazin’ Tuesday, hosted by Two Boots of Grand Street and Faith And Fear In Flushing/Mets By The Numbers.  Details here.  I will be there, with full knowledge that I am now 0-3 at organized Mets events not held in a ball park.

Reverse the curse!

Lord, I’m tired.  If any readers are interested in attending, I will be the exhausted-looking chap with the David Wright T-shirt and the lager in his hands.  But Paul Lukas of Uni Watch will be there.  That goatee he’s got means he’s a fun guy.

Let’s go Mets!

Those asterisks are my own. 

Anyone see 28 Days Later?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Bike messenger wakes from a coma to find London and, indeed, most of England, taken over by fast-moving zombie-like creatures.  If you saw I Am Legend, you saw the conceit yanked to an unfortunate computer-generated extreme; this Danny Boyle movie of which I speak does proper service to fear.  Though it was a shame to see the German Shepherd succumb in Will Smith’s vehicle (they are not two movies with the same plot; just similar-ish symptoms to a vague disease).

The problem I have with both films is I find it hard to believe that anyone THAT sick can move THAT fast, regardless if they have issues with ultraviolet light.  When I see guys go down, they move fairly slow.  Sometimes, they need carts to help them out.  Not intimidating.

The list of currently disabled Mets (or, if you prefer, Mets with disabilities):

  • John Maine
  • J.J. Putz
  • Billy Wagner
  • Carlos Delgado
  • Ramon Martinez
  • Jose Reyes
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Fernando Martinez

Add to that Gary Sheffield, who is day-to-day, and Fernando Nieve, who will be day-to-day, then placed on the DL once they find enough change to load up the MRI machine and stick him in there.

I’ve already excoriated the Mets front office with playing fast and loose with either their facts or their process of information gathering or their responsibility to level with the fans.  At this point, the training staff will need to book a crew from the HBO documentary set and give them unfettered, twenty-four hour access to the training room, the Hospital For Special Surgery, and any vehichle used to transport injured Mets across our local bridges and highways.

When David Wright wakes up from his daily coma, though, he doesn’t find terminally-ill position players given superhuman strength through dint of their virus.  Even if he did, I don’t believe Jerry Manuel to have the talent to persuade crazed neo-zombies to properly settle under a pop-up and catch with two hands. 

Luis Castillo has that going for him: he’s better than a neo-zombie.  But I kid Castillo, whose hitting streak is still alive.  Double-digits or bust, Luis. …Wait.  No.  No bust.  Do not bust.  Far too much busting lately.

So no open review of the Mets training staff is going to help the guys on the field.  But as no help seems to be imminent for the guys on the field, I do not withdraw my demand to get something of the sort.  The real hard work for the Mets is keeping confidence for this year in the face of long odds so that more confidence is not lost in the fan base next year.

I will gladly sit in cushy field level seats, don’t get me wrong; if fan confidence takes a nosedive then I expect I’ll be able to buy tickets for sixty bucks and take in the game within earshot of David Wright.  But if the fan base deserts, there may be scant money to get players in the house that will bring fans back that will give the Mets a chance at the postseason that will bring fans back the year after.  See what I’m saying?  Of course you do.

So aside from still trying to make a run this year–and as I’ve lived through a team losing a seven-game lead with seventeen to play, I’m not discounting such a run in the opposite direction or even interested in calling the hypothetical a miracle–the Mets have a responsibility to weigh actions to make next year a better one.  This is a tough thing to do.  But not impossible.

However, that job’s being botched by injuries and the treatment of injuries.  It seems even David, our bike messenger awakened to find a horror shop of pain and abject misery, has settled on injuries and plowing through those injuries as this year’s story.  Jerry Manuel’s joking out of turn about it (find it on Metsblog here and the Daily News here and… well, where have you been?) cements the point.  This is the story.

Mets, your job: control the story.  At this point in D.C. politics, an injury czar would’ve been appointed.

It may be that, as declared by frantic writing on the church wall, “the end is extremely ******* nigh,” and it may be that the only thing to do is to survive and plot and plan for escape.  But this movie’s gettin’ real dull without the cavalry.  Let’s just hope the season doesn’t follow 28 Days Later too closely.  I’d hate to think that Omar Minaya has Carlos Beltran chained up somewhere.

Given Beltran’s angry despondence over his knee, though, it may be wise for him to be so chained, for Mr. Minaya’s protection.

Some time ago I was given a book to read by a colleague.  The book is titled A Fan’s Notes, and its author, Frederick Exley, does a remarkable job of barely speaking about sport in the two-hundred seventy pages I’ve read thus far.  (I write like a fiend, work a full-time job, and watch baseball.  Time rarely presents itself for reading anything but the paper while cooking or in the W.C.) 

Really, the book is a memoir, detailing the author’s institutionalization during the mid and late ’50s.  Conformity issues.  I don’t imagine being lent the book was meant to send a message of any sort.

When Exley does speak of sport, he speaks of the Frank Gifford New York football Giants.  He speaks of getting far too fired up about them, about clapping grown men repeatedly on the back, on jumping and screaming and praying and slapping his hand on the bar.

That was me yesterday afternoon.  I became the living embodiment (Mistah Exley–he dead) of Frederick Exley.  I was in a safe place to be such a Loopy Lou–Pacific Standard on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn–but goddamn.  I need to calm down.

Others, however, seemed to feel differently, because I put on quite a show during the top of the ninth:

Alex Cora singled off Manny Acosta.  I clapped hard and whacked my knuckle against my wedding ring, letting out a sharp, “Nnnneeeeowwww!” which amused everyone and no one at once.  Angel Berroa hit for Brian Stokes and sacrificed to get Cora to second.  I stood on the support rungs of my stool and beat the bar with my fist.  Chuckles abounded.  The small crowd there that afternoon had decided it would be best to laugh at me than wait so they could laugh with me.  There is little to laugh about when watching the Mets these days–at least with anything more than gallows humor.

When Pagan ripped that ball past Martin Prado and out to right, I had fully intended to punch the air in excitement. 

However, my face got in the way.

I didn’t stop screaming, “Go, go, go!” though I felt a sharp pain in my cheekbone and my glasses were now nowhere to be found.  Turned out that in the excitement and scoring of the insurance run, I’d punched them off my face with such ferocity that they flew off and behind my head, dropping to the floor behind me and causing one of the lenses to pop out of its half-wire frame.  I also sliced the top of my right index finger.  I could photograph this, but I think I’m going to pass.  Respectfully.

When I gathered myself in time for the next batter–the eyewear being crucial in actually SEEING what’s onscreen–I had a flashback to the old “poking the eyes” bit that the Stooges pulled.  I didn’t think my day would get wackier.  Then Castillo executed the best suicide squeeze I’ve seen in my admittedly limited history of witnessing suicide squeezes.  I can count them on one now scarred hand.

As Acosta prepared for David Wright, I muttered a barely audible, “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.”

**

Speaking of David Wright: the Braves seemed to have it all worked out for him yesterday.  Walk the poor *bugger.  Here’s how that strategy panned out (ordered by plate appearance):

  1. top of first, two out, 0-0: intentionally walked; Chowdah grounds out.
  2. top of fourth, no one out, 0-0: strikeout.  Given that he led off the inning, it was an acceptable deviation from the plan.
  3. top of sixth, one out, Castillo on second, 0-0: intentionally walked.  Chowdah reaches on an infield single to load the bases.  Jeremy Reed walks (unintentionally), scoring the lead run.  Wright would then score on a Santos sacrifice.
  4. top of eighth, no one out, 2-0: Wright singles, then steals.  Nothing really comes of the inning; he’s stranded at third.
  5. top of ninth, two out, Murphy on second after a walk and a steal: intentionally walked.  Chowdah would then get Murphy in on an RBI-single.

I don’t believe the strategy of intentionally walking David Wright, even given the state of the team at present, will bear much fruit.  Or, if it’s to be done, perhaps best to do so only if there are outs and no one on.

The Mets may be bloodied and bruised, and jokes abound about their not-ready-for-prime time players.  But don’t treat them like they absolutely don’t know what they’re doing.

**

Sheffield left Friday with a cramp.  Now it’s a tweaked hamstring.  Sure it is.

*I had a different “b” word in place there, but apparently the MLB censor drones believe it unfit for mass consumption.  Very well.  Lame.  But very well.