Archives for posts with tag: Daniel Murphy

Some quite random and disorganized thoughts while I enjoy a quiet hour alone, undisturbed, and with some whiskey a friend today called “proddy garbage” (it’s Bushmill’s, and I’m drinking it because it was cheap and the only thing left in the liquor store on Christmas Eve):

–Jason Bay can hit home runs.  It’s proven he can hit home runs.  I don’t know how many home runs he’ll hit in 2010 for the Mets, if all goes well and he DOES sign, but as of yesterday the Mets didn’t have a guy in left field who could hit home runs.  Now it seems as though they might.

Good.

–Sixteen million dollars is a lot of money.  Sixty-six million dollars is a lot of money.  Eighty million dollars is a lot of money.  The interest earned on a three-month CD purchased at $16 million could retire my debt, my parents’ debt, and leave money for season tickets.

–I should come up with a novel way to make seven thousand dollars.  Like that guy who traded up from a paperclip and wound up with a house.

–Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” might be underrated.

–Humble Pie’s version of “I Can’t Stand The Rain” is mesmerizing.

–What kind of season will 2010 be if Jose Reyes clocks in 2007 numbers, and David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Bay manage to hit one hundred homers between them?

–Oliver Perez is still a Met.  Goddamn it.

–I’m glad I was back-breakingly equivocal about free agent pitchers.  Lackey?  Gone.  Halladay?  Gone.  Marquis?  Gone.  Garland? …Hold on… Nope, still free.

–I’ve been away QUITE awhile.  Next year, I purposefully go dark in the off-season so as to avoid the guilt of dropping off the planet.

–I need to know more people in high finance.  Honestly.  If anyone out there lives in the New York City area, has three to five years of managerial experience in the realm of finance and administration, and is interested in a non-profit career, email me.  Great pay, better benefits.  And you get me as an underling.  Exciting, nay?  Email me at omniality@gmail.com.  This is one hundred percent legit. 

Think of how cool it’d be that we have that going for us.  “How’d you find your new gig, [Director of Finance and Admin]?” “I was reading a blog about the Mets, and I was intrigued.”

–I’m a desperate, desperate man.  And we just started the search yesterday.  Christ.

–The Mets are still missing massive production from first base.  There was a time when Beltran and Wright were chasing 30/30 seasons, Moises Alou seemed to have found an endless supply of cartoon spinach, Jose Reyes was stealing underwear without taking off peoples’ pants, AND Carlos Delgado was crushing the ball to a reasonable degree.

Can Daniel Murphy manage twenty-four home runs in a season?  Can Jason Bay manage more than thirteen, and an OPS over .900 at once?

–Can Jason Bay stay healthy enough to play at least 150 games?

–Jason Bay’s not one of those outfielders that doesn’t give a damn about pesky things like stats, is he?  I mean, not like the guy out in right.

–I miss shouting, “Hit the ball, Chowdah!” at Jeff Francoeur.  Baseball’s been gone far too long.

–Even so, you wouldn’t catch me out at Citi Field tonight on a bet.  It’s FREEZING out.  And I know from freezing.

–No; Jason Bay’s a solid guy.  His numbers last year are quite solid.  An all-star, for Chrissakes. 

–That voting for all-stars is beyond reproach, too.  Also the plural isn’t “hanging chads.”  It’s “hanging chad.”

–Most people named Chad seem to be cruisin’ for a hangin’.

**

Credit where it’s due: the format of this post is inspired by “Jenna Is Awkward”‘s blog, The Art Of Awkward, which is refreshed most every Wednesday with a stream-of-consciousness assault on the rude, the oblivious, the downright creepy, and the obnoxiously entitled.  She also enjoys alcohol and keeps clear of children, and that speaks to me.  Furthermore, she’s a Mets fan.  Give her all the traffic you can by going to http://artofawkward.com.

The Wife is in town until the 12th, and as I may have suggested, I’m a little inundated with work that’s not Mets-related.  As much as I hoped I could get back to a normal schedule, I don’t really see that happening for awhile.  I will post as often as I can, but that will be really sporadic.  Fortunately, the forecast calls for things to ease up right around the start of the season.

So as Mets business heats up and I spend more time in front of the television or at games, I’ll post more.  Have yourselves a safe and great new year.  Pray for Oliver Perez, and by extension the Mets, in 2010.

Cheers.

Advertisements

The exercise was to visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts
website, take a look at each position need, and determine who’s worth
spending time and energy on.  The assumption here is that
everyone who’s on the Mets’ case for having deep pockets and a shallow
farm pool are correct, and that it would be better to spend money than
trade prospects.

Better Know A First Baseman: Chad Tracy

There should be a term of art for guys like Tracy in the off-season.  Something like “ripcord.”

Tracy has been regressing since 2006, when he was off his career high for homers but managed an slight increase in doubles and, as one thing follows the other, RBIs.

How bad was Chad Tracy last year?  He managed a .695 OPS: that’s a .306 OBP and a heart-stopping .389 SLG.  He was part of a merry go-round last year that included Josh Whitesell and Tony Clark–and I lost track of Tony Clark when I started making my own lunches (that includes his stint with the Mets in 2003).  He stole one base in 2009, upping his career total to ELEVEN.  Delgado managed to steal three when he was 29.

The Mets have no business picking up this Chad Tracy.

However, Tracy’s three years removed from a full year’s workload.  He’s spent his entire playing career in Arizona.  And at his worst, he’s still good for more runs than Nomar Garciaparra.

He’s a ripcord guy.  If the Mets lock in a star left-fielder and manage to pick up another stud pitcher, yet botch the first-base need and find Daniel Murphy’s decided to drop baseball for champion figure skating (there’s an image), you see about what it would take to give Tracy a shot.

He’s younger than most.  He’ll definitely be cheaper than most, not just because it’ll only cost cash to get him, but because he screwed the pooch so magnificently on $4.75 million this year.  Additionally, he’s been what I’m sure can be more craftily described as “not injury-averse”; most recently, he was hampered by a right oblique strain.  Fan-tastic.  I’ve heard that before.

Maybe he needs a change of scenery.  Maybe he needs a wee dose of the HoJo.  Maybe he needs a team to need him. 

Maybe none of these things should matter to a team with a giant payroll, abused fan base, and tortured expectations.

But the man plays third and left, and once upon a time, he was more than serviceable.  If the above ripcord scenario happens, and if he plays any sort of winter ball or is willing to come in for just a look in February and March, I say the Mets check to see if payment due exceeds accounts received.

Yes, I’m closing with a Janis Ian reference.  I’m married; I don’t gotta prove nothin’.

The exercise was to visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts
website, take a look at each position need, and determine who’s worth
spending time and energy on.  The assumption here is that
everyone who’s on the Mets’ case for having deep pockets and a shallow
farm pool are correct, and that it would be better to spend money than
trade prospects.

Better Know A First Baseman: Adam LaRoche

You know, here at Sports Night, we get a lot of mail. Most of it goes something like this: ‘Casey, Dan, you two obviously know a lot about sports. But what can you tell us about legendary Italian song stylist Tony Orlando?’ Well, you should know that Tony Orlando is not Italian, and if you guessed that the man was of Latin decent, you’d be incorrect as well. Mr Tony Orlando hails from Greece, and we thought you should know that.”

Dan Rydell, Sports Night, “The Head Coach, Dinner And The Morning Mail”


David Adam LaRoche is Mexican.  I did not know that.

LaRoche played for three teams last year: the Pirates, the Red Sox, and the Braves, and in a spot of misfortune for the Sox, went 5-for-19 in Boston, prompting Paperbacknovel.com to sponsor Adam’s Baseball Reference page by writing the following:

“Only a pawn in the Red Sox game. What a screw up by Boy Genius Theo Epstein — trading LaRoche for Casey Kotchman. LaRoche finishes with a bang-up end of season for Atlanta — one of their key hitters down the stretch, while Kotchman was a dud.”

(Odd thing about LaRoche’s year: he had twelve home runs, forty RBIs, and a triple for Pittsburgh.  Upon returning to Atlanta, he notched twelve home runs, forty RBIs, and a triple.

No, it doesn’t mean much.  It’s just weird, is all.)

I gotta think LaRoche wouldn’t be too happy to note the vitriol on a page bearing his stats, even if it’s not directed at him.  Comments captured by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic, after Carlos Beltran got his Jimmy Rollins-on, show that LaRoche will call a man out for disrespecting him.

Of course, Beltran rarely says things he doesn’t mean, so he doubled down the following day (as captured by the Adam Rubin of the Daily News).

As unnecessary as the dust-up was, Rodriguez-Bruney it wasn’t.  And if Adam LaRoche could manage to work as a Met, I’m sure he and Beltran would have their talk and that’d be the end of that.  Would it make sense to even bother? 

LaRoche’s fielding is defense was above reproach in 2009, after a less-than-exemplary 2008 that saw six ground- or fly-ball errors out of eight total (between Luis Castillo and The Ole! Kid Daniel Murphy, such things cannot be ignored).

But this is about production.  And without trying to predict a trend, LaRoche has consistently performed better than the league average in OPS.  After a breakout 2006, the lefty’s found some consistency in home run hitting, naturally slamming right-handed pitching at a rate of three-to-one.  Assuming the sky doesn’t fall on the man or he doesn’t hit Renaissance II: Electric Boogaloo, one can assume a 25-home run, 85-RBI season.  For comparison, joyous days were when Beltran and David Wright were pushing for 30/100 seasons.  That happened, if you recall.  Two men on the Mets combined for more than a handful of home runs.

LaRoche’s value would be more apparent on a team looking to “get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in,” as is so annoyingly presented as the Mets’ bread-and-butter.  Last year, he drove in the runner from third with less than two out fifty-three percent of the time in 34 opportunities.  By comparison, Russell Branyan did it forty-six percent of the time in 2009 in a similar number (35) of opportunities.  Carlos Delgado did it fifty-eight percent of the time in 2008, with 43 chances.

By the way, feel me on this annoyance with “get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in,” I plead with you.  It’s remarkable, exciting baseball, but holding it up as a recipe for success is like me declaring I’ll come out on top this year because I’ve decided to wear pants full-time.  It’s the same thing with the curveball drill held at Mets 2009 Spring Training.  Of course they should be able to hit curveballs.  Of course they should be able to drive runners in.  That’s the job description.  They should also be able to knock tomato cans out of the game by taking meatballs served and whacking the bean out of the house.

(As of this writing, it’s 3a and I find my dinner left me wanting.)

So he’s gotta crush it.  He’s gotta crush it against the Braves and Marlins (who are righty-heavy), the Phillies (who are not), and the Nationals (who knows at this point).

My question is whether he’ll do it at less than $7 million a year, which is what he earned in 2009 as he bounced about.  My guess is no, seeing as how he’s a competent thirty year-old first-baseman who’s had all of a slight hamstring issue and a sore back in five years of service.  He’s not setting the world on fire, but players have signed for more and brought less.

Any multi-year deal for LaRoche at $7 million or more per is where I get off the bus.  Daniel Murphy reached somewhat near LaRoche’s RBI total in a hideous year for him and the Mets in general, and managed to drive runners in at about the same (two points higher) percentage.  And I get the idea that Murphy will spend at least some of the peanuts he’ll earn next year upgrading the stereo on his ’02 Honda Civic.

The above might all sound schizophrenic, but here it is in abstract: Adam LaRoche is not a bad guy.  He speaks his mind and goes where he’s told, and seems to be settling into a good life as a slightly above-average producer and defender at first base.  He’ll make some team looking for a solid citizen very happy someday soon. 

If he should happen to fall to the Mets, and be somewhat desperate, and that power production is supplemented elsewhere in the Mets line-up, AND the Mets decide to rid themselves of Murphy or don’t think he’s ready, worse things could happen than signing him.  But not for years and years, as looks like might happen elsewhere, and not at money that could be spent on trying to cash in on Delgado one last time, or roll the dice with Branyan.

He’s also not Greek, like Tony Orlando is (actually just of Greek descent).  But that’s beside the point.

The exercise was to visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts
website, take a look at each position need, and determine who’s worth
spending time and energy on.  The assumption here is that
everyone who’s on the Mets’ case for having deep pockets and a shallow
farm pool are correct, and that it would be better to spend money than
trade prospects.

Better Know A First Baseman: Carlos Delgado

The clock’s ticking on Carlos Delgado and the Mets to talk exclusively.  He filed for free agency on November 5th, and the Mets alone can talk to him until the 20th, after which it’s open season.

Carlos Delgado on the Mets is really only a matter for discussion the way I think bringing back Cliff Floyd should be a matter for discussion.  There’s a heartfelt desire to see the man succeed in a Mets uniform before passing him on to others. 

I recall watching Delgado smack a home run into right in one of my first games of 2009 and shouting something about how he’d hit his five hundredth homer as a Met before Gary Sheffield ever did.  Of course, Gary Sheffield then hit his 500th homer and everyone (myself included) jumped around like maniacs.

Medical science and Delgado’s determination could be two reasons to trust that he’d come back and be a beast of a hitter.  Getting jobbed by one’s own relentless pursuit of work, then getting jobbed by one’s desire to get back to relentlessly pursuing work, isn’t a disqualifier in many fields.  This country’s simultaneously raised a generation of workaholics and a generation of slackers.  It’s significantly more difficult for athletes, but the system’s set up such that a man like Delgado can tear a labrum on Tuesday, have it surgically repaired Thursday, be home by Saturday and rehabbing by Monday.  All while earning a guaranteed paycheck.  The system’s built for speed.  If he looks good, if he says he’s good, if he’s willing to play and willing to kill it, then by all means, let him try.

Rarely does the “grit” or “passion” (or, as I’ve happily had to reference previously,”grission“) argument come with some tangible measure of the quality.  The success of rehab from injury is one such tangible measure.  Duaner Sanchez arrives at Mets camp with more rolls than a bakery dumpster at midnight: he didn’t work hard enough.  Angel Pagan fires a bullet from left-center right on the heels from a return after shoulder surgery, or throws his body into the wall to make a well-timed grab: that guy’s got guts.

Science has provided the tools with which one can determine the amount of scar tissue surrounding an injury, and the muscle lost and regained; we can measure a man’s capacity to run and jump and throw. The rest we leave to their mental state. Can they still throw on target?  Can they still see the ball?  How fast are their reflexes, really, when the chips are down?

It would take me months to recover from hip surgery, and even when I had my full physical capacity I wouldn’t be capable of hitting the broad side of a barn, and being without my glasses for a full week now has proved that I am just absolutely blind.  Until he pulled that oblique, Delgado was still looking to come back to the Mets in 2009.  That’s surgery in May, return in late August.  Three months?  The man is a god.

A god who pulls muscles, but still a god.

The difference between Delgado at this stage and Cliff Floyd at this stage is straight-up production.  Delgado’s been a consistent home run hitter throughout his career, discounting the portion of 2007 that was Willie Randolph-ized.  He rakes and he walks a decent amount, to boot.

And his off-field problems are not, in fact, problems: he’s got opinions regarding the world he’s asked to interact with.  Good.  Before and after baseball, there’s a world going on, and if he can be unconscious on the field, he can be conscious off it.  The man’s a stellar humanitarian and philanthropist.

This is a man to whom giving money to produce should not be a hardship.  He’s not turning the cash into Champagne and pouring it slowly on buxom women in bikinis, who are fresh from a lap in his middle-finger shaped pool; he’s giving toys to kids and supplying equipment to help doctors in Puerto Rico make effective diagnoses.

I have to think he understands the level at which baseball is a business, and a supremely cutthroat one at that.  To continue doing what he feels he has an obligation to do, he’s traded on his body, and in 2009, his body crapped out on him.  The last thing I would ever question is the man’s resolve. 

It must be a simple logic path in his head: come back, prove I’m healthy, prove I can still produce, make more money next year, consistently produce, repeat until my body just can’t anymore.

Any reasonable effort should be made to accommodate a man this determined and this accomplished.  I’m not saying the Mets should finance Carlos Delgado’s slate of causes for the sake of doing so.  But if he’s okay with coming back on an Abreu-’09-style deal: one year at $5 million, I take a real hard look at it, because even if he’s half the man he was, he’s an upgrade over the failsafe option. 

Add incentives: $500,000 bonus if he remains healthy through the trading deadline; $1.25 million if he hits his 500th home run as a Met–again, before the trading deadline.  He can succeed as a Met, move on to be a DH for a team on the bubble, and set himself up to be a high-priced assassin in 2011.  Good for everybody.

Daniel Murphy, as fun and gifted a guy as he is and could be, has a half-year in the tank to give to Carlos Delgado, in the event it all falls to that.  Re-signing Delgado means the pressure would be on to find a young star left-fielder, but that should be Job One anyway.

I think there’s still something there, and yes, I’m making the grission argument.  But it’s grission somewhat quantified, and grission for a purpose.

…I think I just talked myself into Carlos Delgado for 2010, which I wasn’t really expecting I’d do.  At the least, I think I’ve added another person to The Jim Plummer List; anything I read that dismissed Delgado as an option out-of-hand will now probably make me quite angry. 

But when does anything NOT make me angry these days?  I woke up with my pillows thrown across the room, for no other reason than at 2a, I’d decided there were too many pillows on the damn bed.

I’m going to ramble, spitball, and generalize.  Bad ways to start a post-2009 entry.  But I have very general, very nebulous things on the mind.

If you’re desperate for the punch line, scroll down until you see, in bold, “This brings us back to the banana peel.”  But I’m no short-order cook, and this is a long boil, so read it all for full flavor.

I’m hungry.

As is often the case, I’ll start with the Times, which I keep swearing I’ll stop reading for baseball purposes, but can’t seem to get away:

“Back to the 2009 Yankees: they are quite likable as a group. The
players are, anyway. Their owners and top management are all too often
defined by haughtiness, greed and entitlement. In that sense, the
Yankees embody New York, where hauteur, avarice and entitlement are
hardly unknown. The Mets are almost polar opposites. Their fans know in
their bones that even when things seem to be going well, someone is sure to throw a banana peel in their path
.”

Emphasis mine; find the piece here, written by Clyde Haberman.

I don’t want to be that kind of fan, though I know sometimes I can be.  I know plenty of Mets fans who are, and they range from the remarkably astute and articulate to the “could you perhaps try breathing with your nose and NOT your mouth?”

But perhaps more importantly, I would like to no longer be perceived as that kind of fan.  I’ve written on a few occasions (do your own search on “fandom;” too lazy this morning to dig for links, and you might enjoy sifting) about the schism between Mets and Yankees fans, the level of entitlement, of perceived entitlement, and how I conduct my business as one who enjoys baseball.

I don’t grant the premise that to be a Mets fan means to be long-suffering, though many have suffered greatly.  I don’t recall on any occasion, after scanning my ticket for entry, being handed a promotional cross to bear, sponsored by Church’s Chicken.

Yes, there’s a Church’s Chicken franchise in New York City.  It’s on the corner of 44th and Eighth.

I thought, and to an extent still do think, that right thought will lead to right action, which will lead to right perception.  And while I batter the Buddha to my own baseball aims, I see that I’m going to have remarkable trouble making baseball friends this way, or managing not to sound like a know-it-all, or a smarmy sort of patzer, peddling his nonsense to people who are genuinely distressed, getting them to think positively until something bigger bursts their bubble.  Misery and company, you see. 

And someone with such a profound dislike of Sean Green and a fear that he may, somehow, return, should not be butchering Eastern religion so that he may get everyone off the page of “Woe is me,” or “This bites,” and onto the page of “We forgive you, Mets organization, but we have a list of grievances we’d like to file, in a collectively calm and reasoned manner.”

Lots of talk yesterday from Mets leaders reviewed by Mets bloggers, which, unless Will Leitch has scooped my idea to use Metsblog as a resource once more, you can find:

–here (Jerry Manuel at Citi Field; Michael Baron, why the long face? Who hurt you?);

–here (Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon from Citi Field);

–here (Messrs. Minaya and Wilpon on WFAN; read this while watching Monday Night Football. Green Bay, you embarrassed yourselves);

–here (germane to recent one-sided conversations I’ve had);

–and here.

There is little to find remarkably newsworthy in the conferences and interviews held.  Note that I did not state there was remarkably little to find newsworthy.  A subtle yet important difference.

Luis Alicea, first base coach, is out.  Sandy Alomar, bench coach, shifts about if he wants, or else splits.  Razor Shines, third base coach, stays pending re-assignment.  Dan Warthen stays.  Howard Johnson stays.  Jerry Manuel stays.  Omar Minaya stays. 

Payroll unaffected by Bernie Madoff’s criminality, but maybe Mr. Minaya will find some cost savings.  There will be more Mets imagery in the ball park next year.  There will be a prominent Mets museum (I’m now nearly convinced this will be over by that massively empty space behind center; just give me my museum as video academy and I’ll ride into the sunset).

Daniel Murphy will get better.  Oliver Perez (Fauxhawk) will have a good year again.  Injuries plagued the team.  Johan’s feeling great.

That’s the gist.

It is news that they came out and said these things.  But none of these things rise to the level of bombshell, and the presentation–I have to point out Caryn Rose’s excoriation, posted on her blog, as a prime example of “Yoikes”–left a bit to be desired.

I’m not trying to pull punches here.  I don’t feel as angry about this as others do because my expectations of upper management are different.  To an extent, my expectations are lower, but that’s mainly with with regard to their notes regarding the product on the field. 

And no, I can’t believe I wrote that either, but my observation in 2009 revealed to me baseball players who are fundamentally unsound and prone to injury.  Those grievances I take to the manager and the trainers.  I don’t expect Messrs. Minaya or Wilpon to break the matter down for me like I’m watching MLB Roundtripper or Baseball Tonight or SNY’s SportsNite. 

Instead, I expect them to have some idea of what they’re doing when they retain Jerry Manuel, who is responsible for the product on the field, as presented to him by the general manager.  Here we have the first of what will be many points in this off-season where I stop to suggest a question I believe should be asked.  (That was almost a sentence.  As I said: rambling.)

If the reason given to keep Jerry Manuel on was because his performance this year could not be adequately judged, and 2010 will provide the opportunity for a more balanced assessment:

  • was it argued–when discussing his larger body of work–that the product on the field this year could have avoided some of the errors in performance that sometimes led directly to losses, and if so, what was the outcome of that line of discussion? and,

  • is there a plan in place to re-evaluate matters if the 2010 Mets experience the same level of physical breakdown?

There’s more news in the answer of those questions than in simply saying he’ll be back because 2009 was atrocious and as such not appropriate for evaluation. 

It’s also easy to perceive a contradiction in describing the year as “unacceptable.” By not defining a root cause beyond injury yet retaining the training staff, you’ve either ignored or eliminated injury as a cause.  No one hears about reviewing training protocols or warm-ups or weight training.  They hear “unacceptable” and they want something equally stark done about it right just now. 

My concern is that no one in the Mets organization’s said Word One about what happens if these players, or other players, break down again, even with revised protocols and regimens.

On the whole, the conferences themselves seemed a way of quelling debate among fans and the media that was sure to grow coarser if silence followed Sunday.  Where senior management failed was in properly framing the debate prior to heading out there. 

Now, much like with the communication of injuries over the course of the season, I could ask whether failing to frame the debate was intentional or accidental; whether the goal was always to get the media and the blogosphere–don’t know why I separate them, but there you go–spinning its wheels while working privately to fix matters, or whether the fall-out from the conferences and the interview was unexpected.  At this point, the evidence
indicates the latter.

However, it could also be that the thought of the aftermath never occurs, or seems secondary to the work that needs to be done to pull together a champion organization.  The thought on the latter here would be that if the team were winning and winning convincingly, there’d be little to grouse about: “Yes, Mets fans, we hear you.  But if we kept worrying about trying to get to the end of this hamster wheel you call frank and honest discourse about this team we own, we wouldn’t be focused on getting you a team that could make the postseason and win on a regular basis, thus slowing down said hamster wheel.”

This brings us back to the banana peel.

The 2009 season was a fine illustration of just how many ways that banana peel can come at the Mets fan, and if you grab the average one at a party and ask them just what they think about Tony Bernazard, or the terrible onslaught of injuries, or a bases-loaded walk issued to a rival with their own boorish, loudmouthed fans, that Mets fan is going to feel just awful.

If nothing else sticks from this post; if nothing else has an impact that can make it to someone who can make a difference about it, let it be this: the 2009 season, with all of its horror and histrionics, has made a good number of fans embarrassed to be fans.

That word “embarrassed” is overused, too, but consider what it means: people have invested time and money in an entertainment product, and now they are open to abuse about that product.  These are not people who work for the Mets.  These are not shareholders.  All they did was hook onto a team.  And right now they feel like garbage.

For whatever reason they might feel like garbage, that they feel so is a tremendous problem–one that not a #2 pitcher, a left fielder, a catcher, or any back-up shortstop will fix. 

Winning might soothe it, until the next time the GM makes headlines by calling out a local reporter, or a manager makes comments about a guy’s twin concussions, or an executive vice president of business operations tries to parse the definition of “obstructed,” and makes a hash of it.  Then that fan is back to defending his team at the bar or at work or at the gym.

Lord, I cannot stress how important it is to grasp this concept.  Crawl into it, sleep in it, walk around with it for a couple of days: people spent lots of money to have fun, and instead they’re working to avoid feeling AWFUL.

Who the hell wants to do that?  Who wants to do MORE work? They’re not paid in tickets; the free hot dog came and went, and only with purchase to the game.  It’s horrible

I’ve advocated taking a break from the Mets when taking a break from them is warranted.  There are many other fantastic things with which to occupy your time.  I feel bad in that my entertainment is gone for six months, and the future does not look promising for extending next year beyond the obligatory.  But the angry people matter, too.  The ones anticipating the banana peels matter a great deal, and there is certainly no hope for them beyond praying for a good team.

The cheapest, easiest, most responsible thing that can be done to make the life of the average Mets fan a little easier is to get hard and expansive control of the message.  Take the discipline of the Bush Administration and coat liberally with the grassroots embrace of technology and expansiveness of applicable detail of the Obama Administration, and come out with a communications arm that’s capable of taking some of the heat off the fans that act as the team’s ambassadors.

I’ll say again: of the things on the 2010 To-Do List, it’s gotta be the cheapest, easiest, most responsible thing.  Don’t need an open door policy; don’t need to give away the Colonel’s secret recipe (I obviously could stand for some fried chicken).

But what must be done is put in place a structure by which the daily slings and arrows can be taken gracefully, and fans’ opinions considered and given voice, so that when seasons like 2009 happen again–and let’s hope baseball and the Mets last long enough so that we can see what it’s like to have a successful dynasty followed by the inevitable lean years–the team is prepared.

Be prepared.  Don’t bundle and announce and assert and bungle, like yesterday.  Finding an effective press secretary isn’t like trying to find a power bat for first.  The market is over-saturated.  Grab someone good and experienced and unemployed, and get cracking.

The alternative is seeing the fan base slip as one generation passes into the other, and that’d spell disaster in the long term.  Plan for decades; reap the rewards now.

That’s it; that’s all I’ve got on that.

crowd sky.jpgThe thing about The Wife attending grad school in the South is that whenever she comes up for a week-long break, weekday mornings are a bear. This may be too saccharine for a blog about the Mets, but I find it exceedingly difficult to WANT to get out of bed and go to work, and do all the things that take place via muscle memory on any given Monday.

Difficult, too, is the day after the end of Baseball I Truly Care About. They’ve been rough the past couple of years. This one’s worse, somehow, despite the profound lack of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I want to throw on jeans and a t-shirt, get some people together, and play some ball (by the by, the David Wright GQ photo won in Steelers-like fashion, surviving a late surge from Santana’s soulful warm-up shot, in the battle for off-season profile pic).
 
This year, with the end of the season occurring one week later and her vacation one week earlier, I’ve been hit with a double-barrel shot of I Don’t Wanna Go.  But go I do, riding on the local train as I type to vision loss on a tiny screen.
 
I think I’d be happier if I were on my way to Citi Field; I’d also be happier if The Wife were done with grad school and she were somehow gainfully employed in marine matters up here, up North. Today is a red-letter day in “dang.”
 
There are bright spots in memory. Yesterday was gorgeous.
 baseball sky.jpgI can’t recall the last beautiful day I spent at the park, and that’s partly a function of all the night games I managed to go to this year, and partly a function of the awful weather that the city’s been saddled with.
 
Also can’t recall the last time Alex Anthony, the Mets’ P.A. announcer, had to tell me about a pitching accomplishment.

fig pitch 01.jpgfig pitch 02.jpgfig pitch 03.jpg1010 WINS’s sportscaster called it this way at 7:45a: “Mets end their season with a sweep of the Astros, winning 4-0 on a good start by Nelson Figueroa.”
 
fig pitch 04.jpgIn fact, Figueroa threw the first complete game shutout in Citi Field history, a fact that would’ve explained away my surprise at seeing him come up to bat in the bottom of the eighth. I just kept looking at the pitch count and thinking, “He’s thrown for a million years and that arm hasn’t quit yet. If he gets lucky in the ninth, I doubt he goes much past 120.” He threw 113 pitches to dispatch with the Astros.
 
fig dugout.jpgYesterday’s game was also a demonstration of the style of play the park “was built for”: hits in the gaps; speed on the base paths.  Hassling pitchers.  In the bottom of the fourth with Beltran on third, Jeremy Reed walked on ten pitches; Josh Thole grabbed his single to score the run on nine. 

thole bat 01.jpgthole bat 02.jpgthole bat 03.jpgthole bat 04.jpgthole bat 05.jpgthole bat 06.jpgThat’s nineteen pitches over the course of two batters, accounting for nearly twenty-five percent of Wilton Lopez’s final total on the day.  Good work.  More next year, please.

Still would’ve enjoyed it if Pagan had hit for the cycle.  Regardless, a masterful effort offensively and defensively for the man.
 
In the past two years, Pagan and Figueroa have shown themselves to be two good soldiers. In the afterglow of a great effort, a win on the last day of the season, and a jolt of immediate nostalgia for this ragtag group of intergalactic rebels–which, given the season record, one could call criminally psychotic–I had Pagan penciled in as the opening day left fielder, and Figueroa as the fifth starter.
 
Then I woke up.

thole crouch.jpgThese guys–a lot of the guys on the Mets–are good soldiers. But the good soldiers have to be the last line of defense on any game in which the elite squad’s either put the game away or have been put away themselves.

last line.jpgPagan and Figueroa are not a foundation on which to build. 

Neither are Thole or Murphy or Santos or Parnell, or Misch or Evans.  Not yet, at the very, very least.

Neither are Maine or Pelfrey or Chowdah, as much as it pains me to say about Maine and Pelfrey, and as much of a soft spot I have now for the right fielder.

They’re who you use to clear wate
r out of the foundation when all you can do is wait for the morning, when the river’s receded.  How’s THAT for an overextended metaphor?
 
Truly, the next Mets team that comes to Flushing with championship aspirations must be a team that can soundly batter, not merely play good and close. All Mets starters should be eminently capable of throwing complete game shut-outs. I want a threat for the cycle at least once a homestand.  I want 30/30 seasons from my center fielder, third baseman, AND shortstop.
 
I want my wife to finish grad school and move back to New York. I want to work for/around/in/about baseball.  I want to write screenplays. I want a nutritious breakfast.
 
end of year crowd.jpgAny and everything is possible, save for a Mets no-hitter; I was convinced I’d see that this season as karmic recompense for the siege on the team’s health, and was denied it.  Today the Mets begin working on getting me what I want. The cruel fact of life is that, in order to get what I want, I have to get up and go to work. Gotta be a good soldier.
 
fan sign.jpgI like my job; I like the people there. But it sure isn’t baseball.
 
**
 
Section Five Twenty-Eight won’t shut down for the post- or off-season; there will certainly be fewer photos, but I’m certain that without necessarily having to apply the artifice of baseball to my random pandemic twiddlepoopings, the posts will be fluid reads.
 
That said, I do watch as much as I can of the post-season. I said I wouldn’t declare those loyalties until the teams were decided, and Minnesota has made it impossible for me to do that today. I’ll definitely be watching their game on Tuesday, as well as watching/reading/listening to any developments on the Mets front.
 
I imagine that much of my Mets commentary in the fall and winter months will be focused on dissecting the dissection of various team moves; I’m hot on this “we should be responsible fans” kick. If you’re new here I strongly urge you to visit the folks I’ve linked to in the blog roll on the right; I find that together they present a fine and balanced picture, easily understood and always fun to debate.
 
Let’s go Mets in 2010!

mr met.jpg

So after fifteen games of screaming for Section Five Twenty-Eight, and chugging more beers than should be anatomically possible, Mets security chose the top of the eighth on Friday to have a conversation about Big Man’s antics, and the top of the ninth–with the score 7-1, mind you, to try and remove him from the premises.
 
You gotta be kidding me.
 
Fortunately, Big Man’s either a silver-tongued devil or the crew came to its senses, because he was allowed to stay. 

end of plan.jpg
They may have assumed that leaving him to witness Sean Green’s performance would be punishment enough, but to everyone’s abject shock, Green pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
 
walk off.jpgCongratulations, Sean, you’ve graduated. Way to pitch to contact against a swing-happy basement-dwelling team that’s not your own.  Now kindly leave the stage, and never come back, you miserable… So and so. You miserable so-and-so.

the blase family.jpg

Friday night felt like the last day of school, from the slap-happy vendors, to the single folks with roving eyes, to those in the stands taking last pictures with their plan mates. If for no reason than this kind of camaraderie, there’s logic behind re-upping for next year. 
 
citi end of game.jpgRegardless (or “regahdless,” as it came out of my mouth late), there’s got to be hope for the next season of Mets baseball. If Chowdah can learn to pick up the ball better out of the glove, and Murphy can find a solid stroke, and some protection can be found for Wright and Beltran in the line-up, then the Mets will only have pitching and defense to worry about.
 
My hat’s off to John Maine, who pitched seven very solid innings in front of a crowd of dozens. I am truly excited for today, and Lord, was I not excited for Friday night.
 
Let’s go Mets!

Amusing:

I’m sure most Mets fans who troll the internet for some small speck of daylight have already seen Adam Rubin’s coverage of this year’s rookie hazing.  If you haven’t, click here.  Omir Santos is waaay too excited to be dressed up as the Boy Wonder.

Additionally, check out Jay Horwitz’s expression behind the tall-walking, stiff-upper-lip-having Ken Takahashi:

takahashi.JPGI’d be confused, too, Mr. Horwitz.

Now then: I point you to a snippet of Marty Noble’s coverage of yesterday’s game against the Marlins (W; 4-0). 

“Bobby Parnell was dressed as Goldilocks, though there is no record of
her having worn a beard and shades. Lance Broadway was a nurse. Josh
Thole wore long ears that stood erect; he was a Playboy bunny. Nick
Evans was Minnie Mouse — round ears, white polka dots on red and his
own street shoes
. Tobi Stoner was a maid. Forty-year-old rookie Ken
Takahasi was a snake charmer with a boa. And Omir Santos was Robin…”

Emphasis mine.  Click here for the full read.

Now find the read from Rubin on who’s pictured in the hazing shot (it’s in the comments):

“left
to right, it’s Lance Broadway [check], Bobby Parnell [check], Tobi Stoner [check], physical
therapist John Zajac [extra], Daniel Murphy [extra], Josh Thole [check], with Omir Santos [check] in
front.”

Everybody who’s mentioned got a photo.  We even got some extras thrown in for good measure (John Zajac?).  What we don’t have is any confirmation that Nick Evans was dressed up as Minnie Mouse.

I’m thoroughly uninterested in seeing Nick Evans in cartoon mouse drag, but you have to admit it’s funny. First, the man can’t seem to buy a plate appearance, and now even cross-dressing and aping a completely different species can’t get him a humiliating photo. 

Perhaps the Mets sent him down to Triple-A Orlando and purchased Goofy’s contract.

The game has started out in Flushing, but I’m in the middle of waiting for some nonsense to wrap up at work.  So while I do, allow me to conduct a bit of business:

The Mets’ inaugural season at Citi Field is coming to a close and with it any lasting joy in wearing the “I’m Calling It Shea” T-shirt as a sign of impish protest.  While I love it both as a quality clothing item, its somewhat esoteric message, and its ability to make me instant friends with people at bars, I’ve come to think that announcing that via my profile pic in 2010 would be like making Kanye-storming-the-stage jokes sometime after the next forty-eight hours.

(My favorite one of those was, “Yo, Ernie Anastos, I’m really happy for ya, and I’ma let you finish, but Bill O’Reilly had one of the best F-bomb drops of all time!” …A local New York anchor dropped the F-bomb.  Search “Ernie Anastos chicken”; you’ll find it.)

I need a new profile pic–at least for the off-season–and it came to me while reading about various votes for Mets MVP that I should try for some similar audience participation.  Not for Mets MVP; I think that’s a bit silly this season, though I respect a desire for continuity by those who’ve been at it awhile.

Instead, I’m going to see if we can’t all speak to my lesser angels of grand delusion, and open up a vote on which Mets star I should try emulating in an off-season pic.

Here’s how this will work: 

  • I’m going to put up two photos each of Johan Santana, John Maine, Daniel Murphy, and David Wright.

  • You email me at omniality [at] gmail [dot] com and tell me which one you like.  

  • I will work between the end of the Mets regular season and November 1 to reproduce the image with me in the starring role (some will be easier than others).  Why those four?  I can make my hair do what’s required for those four.

  • Unless I’m taken to task or sued or ripped apart by wolves or whatever, the image will stay up until the 2010 season begins. 

There.  Isn’t that more fun than choosing between a shut-down Johan Santana, an achy John Maine, an ineffective Daniel Murphy, or a concussed David Wright?

Never mind.

Onward!

**Photos found through Google Image Search, all third-hand.  If there is a deep need for credit on one or more photos, I’ll be more than happy to kill myself trying to find the originals.

Santana A:

profilesantana1.jpgSantana B:

profilesantana2.jpg
Maine A:

profilemaine1.jpgMaine B:

profilemaine2.jpgMurphy A:

profilemurphy1.jpgMurphy B:

profilemurphy2.jpgWright A:

profilewright1.jpgWright B (he’s the one on the left):

profilewright2.jpg
There you are.  Voting is open through October 4th.  Send your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

Let’s go Mets!

Labor Day is nearing its end.  Time to get back to work.

coney island.jpg

There’s a large part of Coney Island that can be called a hole, and that’s being charitable.  When my mother would take My Sister and I out to Astroland Park on too-warm summer weekdays, my father out working, I would try my best to enjoy it, but even then there was a seediness I could not abide.  The water in the flume ride reeked of oil; the bumper cars squealed and shrieked.  I couldn’t escape the feeling that the adults around were having a lot more fun than I was.  Maybe not so for my mother, who toted us about.  But the wacky ones on the dilapidated boardwalk: sure.
the dock.jpg
These days, there’s a patina of theme park on all the elements that make Coney Island a disagreeable, damned place. Feel the grime in the air as you use a restroom!  Chuckle at the locals, surly to the point of assault!  Wander through the urban desert which lies just beyond Surf Avenue!  And live to tell the tale!
This crystallized for me on Friday.  And it felt good to feel right about what opinion I’d formulated while being splattered with gear grease from the Cyclone.  The place is a dump.  Let people keep their homes, and don’t wreck the view of the ocean.  Besides that, take it down.  Raze it.  Salt the earth so nothing so obscene grows again.
Don’t know why I’m so belligerent about it; I had fun doing what I’d set out to do: drink beer, eat hot dogs, watch sailboats, and cheer on Carlos Beltran.  I guess I’m still not over that Jerry Koosman thing.  Ugh.  
I want to put my fist through a door every time I think about it.
No, I’m not drunk.  Last I was drunk, I was at a bar on the Lower East Side, watching a fifth NYU co-ed try to stay on a mechanical bull.  Add that place to the list of what should be scrubbed from history.  (By the by: there, no one knew who the hell Jerry Koosman was, either.  Pay your taxes, kids.)
All right, enough.  Carlos.

beltran in the field.jpgbeltran throwing.jpg

beltran to the dugout.jpg
Watching major league players in rehab stints is relatively new to me.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I watched Angel Pagan play last year, but then I considered him a bench player, and quite young.  He’s still grade-A bench player material, and still quite young.  Beltran took it easy.  I didn’t see him sprint, really.  He jogged carefully to the dugout; he jogged carefully to the outfield.  Best thing he did during the game was move a runner over in the first.
beltran hits.jpg
That’s him running out from the box, stage right.  Beltran went 0-for-3 and the Cyclones lost, 8-2, victims of a seven-run seventh and a pre-game collective reading of Dr. Seuss’s Go, Dog. Go! 
I don’t know; that kind of thing would unman me prior to playing an adrenaline-fueled game.
keyspan board.jpg
Those with the means to take in a Cyclones game during their playoff run should do so; it’s a fun park and the team is not half-bad.  I’m slammed with work and the boys out in Flushing, myself, but now that I know they’ve done away with the nutso sound effects following every visitor gaffe (SPROING!!! CLUNK!!!), I no longer have to worry about lapsing into a decibel-heavy Thompson-esque hallucination.  They DID keep the hot dog race.
are those beans.jpg
Brought a colleague from work to the game, who wasn’t paying attention until roughly this moment, and asked, honestly: “Are those supposed to be beans?”
I’d like to point out the Lowell Spinners third baseman, Michael Almanzar, whose expression you can’t see but who must’ve had money on the gig, as his attention is obviously directed at the hot dog runners.  Ketchup was sucking hind Relish until a beat before the end, when somehow it found a burst of speed and took the race.  Fix.
beltran swings.jpg
Word is Beltran will be back for the game on Tuesday against the Marlins.  Same word has John Maine in action on Sunday in Philadelphia.  Roger Rubin (any relation to Adam?) reports Gary Sheffield and Carlos Delgado are probably done for the year.
beltran about to swing.jpg
I’m most concerned about Beltran.  It was fun to have Sheffield while it lasted; it’s sad to think I’ll most likely never see Carlos Delgado in a Mets uniform again.  
Maine is out to sea.  I’ve no idea what to make of shoulder pain, except that I imagine it hurts worse when trying to throw a ball at ninety miles an hour.  It hurt
s when I sleep on mine for nine hours.
Perhaps it’s not about the machismo, this business of Beltran coming back for increasingly irrelevant games in September.  What the press has reported him saying–he’s a baseball player; he has to play because he knows nothing else–may come closer to it.
I wonder if it’s about needing to get that sense of anticipation back, that instinct that doubtless takes over when the pitch is thrown and a millisecond of fear gives way to more milliseconds of action.  That’s what I always considered to be at the core of getting one’s “timing” back.  To an extent, perhaps all that is the same as the reason given: he’s a baseball player.  He has to play if he can play.  The alternative–NOT playing–can be counted on to extend that millisecond of fear.  It must worry a man like hell to have such a livelihood taken away.
So very well, Mr. Beltran.  You want to play baseball? I’ll keep my mouth shut and hope for the best.  Produce, though, man: stand tall in the batter’s box and swing at pitches you can hit.  Do NOT challenge that bone bruise for supremacy; it knows no logic, it seems, and in Citi Field, there be some damned dragons.
**
lounging.jpg
A grab-bag of notes (that image is the view I had from The Frying Pan on Friday; the end of baseball season means new shoes that I don’t have to worry about getting shelled, and I’m excited for that because these are starting to hurt like a mother):
  • David Wright ditched the Rawlings S100. He said it was an uncomfortable fit.  While some may ream him for this, I’m willing to take that at face value.  I watched the guy take hacks with it and it looked like it was sliding every which way.  
The helmet is supposed to make things safer for him; his protective gear rattling around on his melon doesn’t achieve that goal.
No excuse for getting the kinks worked out during the off-season, though.  I expect to see it and laugh all over again during Spring Training.
I miss the ’80s.  If Keith Hernandez had determined the better part of valor was to wear that helmet, and he got razzed hard for it, he’d’ve probably flipped some guys off.  I don’t see David doing that, nice guy that he is.
  • Greg Prince of Faith And Fear In Flushing wrote about the lack of Mets coverage in The New York Times.  His piece mentions Sunday’s paper, in a way that’s almost Fred Exley-esque.  But Mr. Prince, if you’re reading this: they’ve been quite late in posting material to the website, and this has been the case since at least last week.  Usually game recaps post within two hours of a victory.  All last week, they were coming in late morning/early afternoon-ish.  I would leave a comment on your site, but my browsers are wonkifying your comments module.  I would send you an email, but I’m afraid of what else lurks in that inbox.  My BlackBerry’s been blinking at me for days.
  • Speaking of the Faith And Fear folks: there’s another Amazin’ Tuesday event being held on September 15th at the Two Boots on Grand Street in Manhattan.  Though it’s my birthday and I’m winless at Mets events outside Flushing and my own living room and favorite bars, I’ve decided the Fates owe me one, so I will be there.  Jon Springer of Mets By The Numbers (see right blogroll for a link to his site) spilled the beans about who’s going to be there, and confirmation by Mr. Prince has only whetted my appetite.  I think it’s going to be a really fun night run by some quite engaging, and level-headed writers.  Plan to be there, if at all possible.  You are not obliged to say hello to me, or join me for post-game birthday karaoke.
  • Daniel Murphy was a double short of the cycle yesterday against the Cubs (W; 4-2).  He’s got nine home runs this season (eight + one: Subway sign-aided).  He’s committed, focused, and not a horrible embarrassment on the field.  If the Mets are destined to wander in the wilderness for a couple more years, and he maintains a level of competence, there’s no earthly reason to ship the man off.  Keep him within the organization.  At present, he’s at least deserving of a nickname more imaginative than Murph, and what we shout at him from the upper deck would be wildly inappropriate for consistent use.
  • I finished watching the first season of Commander In Chief.  Glad they changed the opening theme, which was bordering on plagiarism.  Shocked at the overuse of firing as plot device.  If the Mackenzie Allen Administration were a ball club, there’d be no NOBs on their uniforms.
  • There are some old posts that need some tweaking.  Less than a handful.  If you’ve found this blog and have been working to catch up, and notice an error, my bad.  They’ll be fixed Thursday night.
  • There’s this continued business of a Mets Hall Of Fame been discussed in and around the intertubes.  I had an idea from way back that, if time permits this week, I will attempt to explain cogently.  I’d planned to write about it in the off-season, but I feel inspired.
  • Nathan’s is delicious.  Mmm… nitrates.
nathan's.jpg
I will be at the park tomorrow for Mets-Marlins.  This game will be a Tim Redding joint, featuring more likely than not the return of Carlos Beltran, and hopefully the purchase of my very own Section Five Twenty-Eight T-shirt, which will be much appreciated, as I never washed my jersey after that last monsoon, and it reeks of urban rain and desperation.
Hope your Labor Day was fun and safe.  Time to kick it into gear for the stretch run.  Yes… the stretch run.
Let’s go Mets!