Archives for posts with tag: Carlos Beltran

**Written prior to reports in the local New York papers that allege certain unsavory behaviors undertaken by Mr. Sheffield.  Catch the drama from the Daily News here, Newsday here, and because I was tipped off by Metsblog but find lame the Post‘s assertion that “sources” are viable without explaining if it’s the batboy or the guy guarding the door or what, Mr. Cerrone’s reporting on the Post article here.

Yes, yes, citing second and third-hand sources.  I know, I know.  I don’t do this for a living.

If Gary Sheffield truly asked out of the line-up last night to clear his head, that’s one thing.
 
If he asked out of the line-up in order to show Mets management what they’d be missing, then, well, to quote Chad Ochocinco: child, please.
 
Odd, this business of holding out hope for a reclaimed season and understanding that the hope is based purely on the math.  Got a comment on a previous post saying the Mets should pack it in and plan for 2010, but they’d still have to overcome the daunting injury obstacles facing them in 2009.  Planning for 2010 is difficult when you don’t know what kind of shape your shortstop will be in, after missing most of the year.
 
I will now pile on regarding planning for 2010.  I don’t mean it as a piling on of the commenter at all.  I mean to pile on the sentiment, which is held by many.

Perhaps planning for 2010 means shutting certain players down for the year, even if they’re not injured.  But I get the sense you’d have to break Johan Santana’s kneecaps to keep him out, and even then, the man pitched on a bum knee and three days’ rest last year. If you broke his kneecaps, he’d probably pitch and catch.

Omir Santos is auditioning for a job and Brian Schneider is doing the same. Chowdah’s got nothing better to do but work on his swing. And the Mets paid too much money for Luis Castillo to sit him.  Pelfrey and Perez need to figure their business out on the mound. Same with Bobby Parnell, but with a lot more “aw, shucks,” and a lot less, “listen here.”
 
Really, I’d posit that injury has taken the choice out of the Mets’ hands; they HAVE shut down their best players for the year.
 
(This excludes Carlos Beltran, who is still pushing for a return. As I’ve intimated: sheer idiocy, from my vantage point. Even if they were in the hunt, he should be undergoing whatever procedure/regimen is dictated for his injury, and think about getting healthy. Ye gods, man. Do you do EVERYTHING that mole tells you to?)
 
Planning for 2010 may mean attempting a trade. Which they’re doing. But any trade to bring in a backup at short, or a first baseman for next year, or a catcher, or or or–would be highway robbery at the prices the Mets can pay, or ill-advised at the prices they might be asked to pay. Anyone on waivers is on there because they’re not that good or they’re not now worth the salary they’re drawing. Billy Wagner may be one of the scant few that can bring a player of equal value. We’ll find out soon enough.
 
Planning for 2010 may mean playing the organization’s youth. What youth?
 
I’ll be a little less glib, for the sake of killing time on the train now CRAWLING into Canal Street (I write these posts on my phone most days): anyone at triple-A lighting things up would be up. Injury has warranted the call-up of players who were closest to lighting things up. Fernando Martinez is at home, resting comfortably. One could call up a player from double-A, but one could also sign one of the kids heading to Williamsport; I hear the Little League World Series is all about the parties and not about the work, anyway.
 
No, sirs, the Mets are over a barrel and are doing, essentially, what they should be doing. Everyone who should be playing is playing. That they haven’t completely cratered is a testament to the talent on the field, such as it is.
 
Planning for 2010 means more for the fan than the team at this stage. I’m on record as saying that, even without baseball, there are still things like lemonade and barbecues and sunsets. If the team on the field is not worth watching to you, don’t watch. There are precious few days of warmth and beauty to justify spending your time on something that’s only going to prove an aggravation.  They don’t watch in Washington all the time.
 
Maybe Gary Sheffield’s thinking along those lines. Difference is, if he’s on the team, he has to be in uniform unless he’s injured. I suppose the fact that he didn’t go out there last night and tear his Achilles on a ladybug, or a napkin that drifted in from the left field landing, is a testament to his character. As a nod to that strength of person, I will not start a Gary Sheffield Hangnail Watch.
 
But man, either play or fake the hangnail to get out. Don’t be an abscess. That’s not cool.

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.

Alternate verses as titles included:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue;

The Mets lost 11-0 last night.

Goddamn it.

And:

There once was a Met from Nantucket,

who slipped in the shower and was placed on the 60-day DL.

And:

Let us go then, you and I,

where the diamond is spread out against the sky,

like an athlete prostrate upon the trainer’s table…

That last one comes courtesy of T.S. Eliot, a poet of great renown and a whack job late in life. But that’s what happens when you write Cats.  But what happens when you helm a team that can only score three runs over nine innings then only manages two hits the following night?  I don’t know the answer to that question.  Stop asking me.

Chowdah At Foley's.jpg

This was part of the scene on Thursday at Foley’s NY, where Frank Messina, the “Mets Poet” and author of Full Count: The Book Of Mets Poetry, regaled the back room with some verse, delivered in the best Beat tradition, just before the game against Atlanta.
(Links to various characters in this story will follow at the end of this post.  To your left is Chowdah, speaking to Kevin Burkhardt prior to the game’s start.)
I’m fairly new to the art of showing up with camera and note-taking capacity; as I’m not covering a session of the General Assembly or the death of an elected official or even a community board meeting, I find it best to show up, act respectful and casual, and go with the flow.  For a reason unknown to me, I ratchet up my deference whenever I walk into an Irish bar.  I might as well be in dress uniform.
I don’t get it; I’m not generally disrespectful in any other public setting, so it’s not like I’m bringing my game up to par.  But most places will elicit from me a “Thanks, friend,” or an, “I’m fine; how’re YOU doin’, guy?”
But in an Irish bar, I become a halfway-timid collection of curt head-nods, “sirs” and “ma’ams” and “thank-you-most-kindlys.” Stranger still to be this way at Foley’s, which is what ESPN’s set and costume warehouse would look like if the world were suffering under the heel of a massive conspiracy called Organized Sport, arranged and executed by all manner of media.  
Foley’s owner, Shaun Clancy, greeted me and introduced me to Mr. Messina, who made sure I was where he was told the action was going to be.  Before long I was drinking a beer and chowing down on the David Wright Sandwich.  (I recommend it if you like buffalo sauce and bleu cheese dressing.  Otherwise, stay away.)
Frank Messina Reads.jpg
Mr. Messina read perhaps five or six installments.  Most notable was a poem titled “Psycho Chick,” which tells the story of a woman less interested in the game she’s brought to by her date than with causing trouble for the man, in the name of fun.  I’ve never been on the Kiss Cam, but if I were, I’d like it to be without the stigma of having “METS SUCK” written on my forehead in lipstick.
Mr. Messina read to the delight and, on occasion, participation of those there, and afterwards, stuck around for the game, at one point inviting me to join his group.  You can see part of that group seated at the table with the gentleman in the white Mets jersey.  It was a fine way to spend a Thursday evening and eventual Mets loss.  
Howard Johnson Baseball Card.jpg
I sat at the Howard Johnson table, thinking perhaps this would bring some free-swinging mojo to the team.  Sadly, I have no mojo to impart.  Such is the way this season’s going.  In fact, about a block away from the bar I tripped on what I have to think was a rat, and messed up my shoe in the landing or messed up my foot.  Either way, I’m wearing Sperry Top-Siders until further notice, as the thought of walking with any arch support sends shockwaves through my sole.
My thanks to Mr. Messina for his hospitality and gregariousness.  It’s not necessarily uncommon to find such a person or group of persons in New York; what disarms time and again is just how similar our experiences can be, even in a town as large as this.
Additionally, Mr. Messina, my thanks for your patience as I told the story of last year’s Caribbean Night at Shea–a story I always start off by saying, “Let me tell you about the most obnoxious I’ve ever been at a baseball game.”  I’m sure at some point in the lean off-season months I’ll need material, so I’ll save that story for then.  But Thursday night left me eventually so comfortable that I could relate a tale of utter awfulness to a near-complete stranger.  A great little recharge for a guy who sometimes gets so bogged down in the details he neglects to consider the masses he passes daily.
**
They say Sheffield has a cramp.  I believe nothing that comes from the trainer’s room these days.  Nothing.  Day in and out I’ll watch the boys go to war with whomever they have, but in the interstices?  Dead to me.  That whole training crew.  Even if it isn’t their fault.
And that blanket statement will serve as a nice eventual segue to my other point, which I’ll make in a bit. 
I believe it is acceptable to indict a crew for perceived ineptitude.  The stories of J.J. Putz and Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes unfolded like a coffee drip in zero-G.  Those daily updates before their respective shut-downs were sins of omission.  
No, Ray Ramirez isn’t running out to talk to the press every day; that’s not his job.  But if he or anyone on his team are watching this train wreck unfold and not looking within to discover a larger problem, then they’re deluding themselves.  If they are and find their words being distorted by the front o
ffice, they have an obligation to speak up independent of that office, to save their hides.  The Mets are not the Mafia; speaking truth to power will not earn you cement shoes and a trip to the Hudson.  At the worst it’ll earn you a dismissal and a clear conscience, and a subsequent consultation with a civil attorney.
A not-insignificant percentage of this roster has gone down to injury, yet that is not what sticks in my craw.  Injuries happen.  Even a raft of injuries such as what we’ve seen unfold.  The communication of the NATURE of such injuries is what’s GODAWFUL, and plenty fixable.  Damage is being done due to poor internal judgment of the timbre of the wail outside the gates.  It is not noble at this point to hold to the party line and watch that line shift day in and day out.  I’ve quit jobs because management couldn’t communicate effectively its dire straits; both times I was right to have done so.  Both firms are in fairly deep trouble now.
There is a perception held by Mets fans that the training crew is incompetent and the PR team works as a disinformation machine, and that perception does not serve the fans or the club.  If someone in there cares about what they’re doing and can explain what’s going on, they should get out and speak up, and damn the consequences.  Even if what’s going on is nothing save examinations which initially reveal one thing, then later reveal another, and indecisiveness as to handle the situation.  At this point, the silence is what’s deafening.
If you can’t fix the team, fix yourself and be honest about it, and you’ll fix the fans.  Else seek a merge with the Nationals.  They, too, have come to a point where individual troubles have mounted to become a desperate reality, and can’t seem to get out of their own way for the sake of rational, reasoned, professional operation.
Ergo segue:
**
While waiting for Mr. Messina to begin reading, I took out the BlackBerry and read Marty Noble’s mailbag segment on the Mets.com website.  Something I read there continues to bother me.  Link at the end of the post, but here’s what’s pertinent:

One of the comments at the end of one your stories said you’re a Yankees fan. Is that true? How can you be a Yankees fan and write about the Mets?

— Allen S., Jersey City, N.J.

Some place in the past five years, I said or wrote that I was a Yankees fan as a kid. That was true and remains true. I still am a fan of the Yankees of the 1950s and early ’60s. But the “Lone Ranger” was my favorite show then, too. Some things change.

But you don’t have to be a fan of the team you cover. Indeed, you shouldn’t be. Objectivity is critical and impossible if you’re rooting. I’m a fan of good baseball and games with good, writable angles. And yes, a fan of the Mickey Mantle-Whitey Ford-Yogi Berra Yankees. And I have Lone Ranger DVD’s.

No, you don’t have to be a fan of the team you cover.  Objectivity is critical.  Right on those scores.

However, I disagree with Mr. Noble’s statement that one shouldn’t be a fan of the team one covers, and that objectivity is impossible if you’re rooting.  In fact, I disagree vigorously with that.
Rather, one should be a good enough reporter to set personal differences or common interests aside to tell the story objectively.  If you’re a fan; if you’re not a fan.  Humans DO have that capacity.  It doesn’t stop at reporting; it doesn’t stop at one’s profession.
The Wife used to work the butcher counter at Whole Foods.  The Wife’s a strict vegetarian.
A colleague went upstate this past weekend to marry a good friend to a woman who, by all accounts, is a MAJOR harpy.
If I attended a Braves game versus the Cardinals (I have problems with characters on both teams), and the Cardinals had led 11-0 going into the eighth, but the Braves roared back and won the game 12-11 (legitimately; not by Yadier Molina catching Mackey Sasser Syndrome or something), I’d be stoked to have been witness to such a feat.  There’s no joy in the Cardinals’ misfortune there.
If the Mets spit the bit during a game with playoff implications, it is possible to still love the Mets and speak evenly about how they so unabashedly screwed several pooches, a goat, and Acts Three and Four of Rush’s “By Tor & The Snow Dog.”
I’ve stated publicly and on this blog that I’m no Yankees-hater.  Were I around when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn, I’d probably be a Dodgers fan, but how can one not admire the Yankee teams of Mantle and Ford and Berra, before and after the Dodgers split?  
Dislike people who are soundly reported to be of poor character.  Find suspect those whose reputations are on the line yet seem to do nothing to repair them.  Be sure they answer to you in some way, whether through investment or inseparable proximity, or whatever you choose.  But I find it lazy to use one’s job as a reason not to engage in the same reality of interest and passion that most the rest of us share.
I feel as though I should extend this to a discussion of relativism.  We’ll see if I’m still annoyed later.  For now, I think I’ve at least started to make my point.
Let’s go Mets!
*Here come the links.  PLACES, everyone!

Frank Messina’s website is here.  You can buy his book from Amazon.com by going here.  Pick it up, and seek Frank out; he’s a great guy.

Foley’s NY is on 18 West 33rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, and you can see/read more about the place by going here.  If you enjoy a pint and have mild and undiagnosed Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (as I do), you’ll be hard-pressed to find such a busily decorated place in the city.  They’ve got a life-sized cutout of Don Zimmer by the urinals, for chrissakes.  Good thing it’s laminated.

Marty Noble’s Inbox article for Mets.com, from July 16, 2009, can be found here.

Because I’m between items on my agenda this Saturday (the humidity’s calling into question my desire to finally repaint my hallway), I thought I might take time to clean house here, a bit.

Example: I’ve been negligent in responding to comments, which is rude of me.  So, here they are, condensed:

After having the flu the other day, Ryan Church did have a great night last night.

Fernando
Nieve just had a bad night. It is going to happen in a young career, at
least it did not happen against a divisional foe like Philly.

But that is why we play three games series, the Mets just have to buck up and take the other two games.

Should be a great game tonight.

Rays Renegade

That from the owner of Rays Renegade (obviously).  Also, almost two weeks ago.  You can tell because, back then, Ryan Church played for the Mets.

“Pennies make dollars” is what my dad used to tell me, and wins like the one not had in this game are what hurt come late September.  It’s the same as the Phillies winning by 21 runs one night, then losing by one run the next.  The games don’t have to be against a divisional rival to have an impact on the race–and I don’t think Mr. Renegade was implying that–but they matter just as much as saving face and picking up slack a whole game at a time, rather than a half.

And God, is Nieve still kinda crummy.  Carriage, meet pumpkin.  He didn’t embarrass himself last night, but the start he had prior was abysmal.  The thing about Niese–indeed, the thing about the AAAA Mets as a whole this year–is that there seems to be no object lesson in teaching the opposition that they need to press.  With any pitcher not named Santana, the guys in the batter’s box must be thinking, “It’s just a matter of time before I get my pitch to hit.”

That profile photo, Mr. Renegade.  Fantastic.  I’ll need one similar, now.

This comment came the next day, as I tried to will the Mets to a win.  They were two games below .500 then; it only took a week to go five games below.  (That just means they can take them back in a week, too.)  From Susan, at Perfect Pitch:

Good advice. Just hard for them to follow. But here’s hoping!

My tactic? Laughter:

http://perfectpitch.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/07/fowl_play.html

I’m Section 314, by the way…most every single game. Say hello anytime!

Susan

I gave Susan a shout-out when the Mets won, saying we’d done it together.  However, for those trolling for hard luck writing who’ve stumbled onto this Mets blog and don’t know much about Citi Field, here’s something: those with seats in the 500s can’t really go down to see people in the 300s.  Trust me, I’ve tried.  You get a hard time from the ushers who think you’re trying to work a seat upgrade.  It’s more politely handled at Citi Field than it was at Shea, but it’s firm.

So, Susan, I’m sorry I haven’t stopped by.  I try to be a gregarious guy; I try to make strangers friends, because it’s one of the few natural thrills in modern comfortable life.  But I can’t get there from here.  Come by 528 anytime; no one cares if you stop by up there.  Row 6, right across from the start of 529.  

This one from Dillon, of Living The Baseball Life:

Injuries have been the biggest reason for the Mets’ non-success this
season. And yesterday Johan didn’t get a bunch of calls that he should
have gotten.
-Dillon

Amen, and no kidding, Dillon.  Since then, the Mets have lost Fernando Martinez to knee swelling, so the injury bug is spreading to the replacements.  I get the sense that David Wright’s pride is wounded, as well.

As for being a Yankee fan in Beantown… woof.  And I like Boston a lot; I’ve made good money there and have some good friends who still live in the area.  My favorite bar named after a writer (Charles Bukowski) is there, too.  But I can’t imagine not even really being able to see games.  Last time I checked, the cheapest seat for a game at Fenway was more than my total beer consumption on a Flushing night (and that’s not an inconsiderable amount of cabbage).  Perhaps you do better than I.  Good luck to you, sir.

This from mrmetnoel@optonline.net, on Tuesday’s day off:

That was a great article I enjoyed reading it & I agree some Mets gave up way to early still got 80 games left. LETS GO METS

I don’t think there’s necessarily a give-up with players; I meant that there was no game played that day, and that’s why they didn’t lose.  Thanks for the comment.  Let’s hope they don’t give up.

This from birdland of Birdland Blog:

hhahah, you have a very nice blog here. Sorry that the Mets are not in
first this year though. Who knows? Maybe they could make a push and win
the East? Maybe! My blog is birdland blog if you wanna comment! 🙂
-O’s birdland blog

Thanks for the kudos on the blog.  I don’t think we’re yet at the point of desperation.  Certainly they need to get on a good run and hope the Phillies and the Marlins and the Braves run short of steam, and both things happening are quite possible.  However, they both need to happen at once.

**

If the Mets offense can give the opposing pitching reason to be cautious, that’ll go a long way towards re-establishing parity in match-ups.  But veterans can’t catch up to the pitch they know they could hit, and rookies and super-rookies are too impatient to wait for them.  Prime-time stars are left hanging.

This is the long-term result of injuries.  It wasn’t by design.  It wasn’t on purpose.  But it’s what’s happening.  For all the back and forth on whether the trade for Francoeur was bad or good, we’re not addressing the fact that the team approach is incorrect at present.  Strong pitching, yes.  Flaweless defense, yes.  But offense: sit in there and work counts.  Make those games four hours long.  Tire them out on the other side.  Learn what’s coming from the pitcher and how the defense is going to play you in various situations.

If that program is sound, then I don’t know that getting Francoeur is going to help it.  I don’t know that getting young for the sake of getting young is reason enough to make a trade.  If the knock on Omar Minaya is that he prefers older players over younger players, then shouldn’t we be doubly grateful that he didn’t bring in another Hispanic player?  I mean, while we’re perpetuating myths and stereotypes…

Let’s see if bringing back that old chestnut stirs some conversation.

…The opposition may not yet be able to ascribe a narrative to your line-up, in part because they don’t have to: they can pick you off one at a time.  But you, Mets bats, need the team narrative.  Like when Jose Reyes would get on base, steal second, get bunted over (for better or horribly worse) by Luis Castillo, and Carlos Beltran would get him in with an opposite field double.  Then David Wright gets Carlos in with an RBI single.

It’s at this point that Delgado would hit a home run.  But, y’know.  Anyway, that was nice reliving those days.

Fellas, you need a story.  You need to write your movie.  The injuries are Act One.  The swoon is Act Two.  The rise is Act Three.  Work counts to get on base or extend the game and knock the opposing pitcher out.  Once you know that story and can tell it well, the opposition will try and upend that story.  The only way I can see to defending against a team that consistently works at-bats is to throw heat past the rookies and crafty stuff against the veterans.  And the rookies will hit the speed balls while the veterans smack that garbage around the field.

See?  It’s that easy.  Why am I not a manager?

**

David Wright should bat third only in emergencies.  This situation is a crisis.  It’s not an emergency.

Troubles rank in the following order, from least to most dire:

Issue
Problem
Emergency
Crisis
Ragnarok

Crises are prolonged emergency situations.  Problems are solvable in situ; Ragnarok is the destruction of the Gods. Which I guess means that, should we get to Ragnarok, the Wilpons will have to do battle with the evil Norse wolf Fenrir and Jormungand; think they traded those two for Shawn Green.  

Think about it: Ragnarok is to be preceded by three winters with no summers.  I’d say 2007 and 2008 qualify as winters of the nuclear variety.  And it’s pretty cold out in Flushing these days.

I can’t count how many line-ups Jerry Manuel has presented but I’m sure the number rivals the number of games won, if not games played.  But this lefty-righty nonsense has got to stop; these hitters have no margin for error on the bench, and need to learn to hit pitches from right handers and left handers.  Regularity will breed familiarity.  Familiarity is important, as the alternative–mixing and matching on a day-by-day basis–is obviously not working.

David Wright hitting third in a line-up does not give him the opportunity to produce, given the poor hitting usually placed ahead of him.  And look at the man: he desperately wants to produce.  He feels better when he does.  He feels looser.

I don’t have an answer as to how the line-up should be constructed beyond this, because we’ve not seen a consistent line-up, especially since the loss of Beltran.  Can Daniel Murphy be a great hitter in the two-hole?  How do we know?  He doesn’t hit in that position every day.  Can Gary Sheffield be trusted to hit doubles while in the three-hole?  I doubt it, but who’s to say he won’t instead hit a homer?

David Wright needs not the protection of power hitters ahead of him and behind, but the ego boost of contributing to the team offensively and defensively.  Captains need to feel useful.

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.

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. 

Doom, meet Gloom.  Gloom, this is Doom.

Carlos Beltran has been put on the DL with that bone bruise business he felt last month.  He’d said it was painful yesterday as he ran about the base paths and in the field.  This according to MLB.com.

… .

I suppose it’s a good thing that Brian Schneider’s unloaded a couple home runs recently.  Let’s, uh, see if he can keep that going against the Cardinals.

Buh.

The problem with being a finesse team is that you typically need dominant pitching to stay in the game long enough to eke out runs.  But I’ve pointed this out before–the Mets’ starting rotation is:

  1. Johan Santana
  2. Mike Pelfrey
  3. Tim Redding
  4. Livan Hernandez
  5. Fernando Nieve

I repeat:

… .

Fernando Tatis will need to be more patient.  Gary Sheffield will need to pick his spots.  David Wright, at this point, must go fifty for his next fifty.  No pressure.

I’m heartened by Daniel Murphy’s picking up steam.  Word is Angel Pagan will be back at some point soon.  But this line-up’s lying in a burned-out basement, hoping for replacements.  And there are no real viable options out on the block.

So we will no doubt be watching some very interesting or very heartbreaking baseball as we work to the All-Star break.  Here’s hoping the rest of the NL East’s competition is as deadly to them as pursuing a physical activity for the purpose of earning a salary appears to be for the 2009 New York Mets.

If Mike Pelfrey gave David Wright a pep talk at some point
before Wright’s fifth appearance at the plate, it didn’t work. Sometimes
turnabout’s not always fair play, Pelf. If you licked your fingers and worked
the hide as you did it, then double whammy on you.

The Mets dropping one to the Baltimore Orioles (L, 6-4) doesn’t so much bother
me; fill in the usual injury excuses and add the fact that Toronto shook down
Philadelphia for six runs (net), and the fact that the team is three games off
the pace is not terrible to take.

What IS abysmal is to find the team, again, in a favorable bases loaded
position, and grab only one run off a walk-in. As I’ve stated, I’m not a stats
guy, so I don’t know why Fernando Tatis got to jump in instead of Fernando
Martinez, save that he’s shown ability to hit with runners in scoring position
(when he has a regular bench role), and hit two grand slams in a row once upon
a time.  Jerry Manuel makes a lineup change with bases loaded and one out,
and of course there was a double play.  Fine.

Where was David Wright, though? His average before the game suggested that out
of five times at the plate, he’d get almost two hits.  (Perhaps he’d’ve
had to share the second one with Carlos Beltran.) He didn’t work the count
when it appeared that would help. I thought that toss to first base to try and
get out… Nick Markakis? …wasn’t the sharpest.  Is this the case of
“heavy is the head”? Or “just one of those days”?  As
Homer Simpson once wailed: “We always have one good kid and one bad kid.
Why can’t BOTH our kids be good?”

It does feel as though there are only two Mets players on the field on any
given night, and I won’t even mention the pitcher for fear of having to
increase the size of his name in my tag cloud, for consistency’s sake. Let’s
just say that the man’s pitched six games and must, by now, have eighteen
middling, yawning, forgettable no-decisions. I used to call him The
Executioner, because I think I’m clever. Now I think I’ll call him Teflon Tim,
with a heavy dollop of annoyance.

No, let’s say the first player was Daniel Murphy, breaking out of his skid to
bring his average from “SUUUCK” to “suck.” For the home
run, the second guy should be Gary Sheffield. That’s a little cheap, though,
and no offense to Gary. But in 24 Orioles outs, Carlos Beltran had a full third
of them; Alex Cora also made a RIDICULOUS off-balance slurve of a shovel throw
to Castillo to catch Melvin Mora in the bottom of the seventh. Who knows what
kind of lead the Mets also couldn’t have overcome if he hadn’t made that play?
I’d best find it on web gems.  (UPDATE:
it’s #2, behind Brewers’ Bill Hall.  Web
Gems seems to enjoy the hurl from third-to-first; those aren’t all that awesome
to me.  Double plays, crazy throws,
off-balance stuff: those are gems.)

David Wright bats clean-up and goes 0 for 5.  Who gives the captain the
pep talk after that? Probably the guy whose absence everyone (including Keith
Hernandez) seemed to single out yesterday was the impetus for Wright taking a
firmer hand of the reins. A hint: he probably made some after-action notes in
his marble Mead about how the surgeon approached his torn labrum.