Archives for posts with tag: Endy Chavez

A hodgepodge: work is murder today and I’m typing this between bites of a chicken salad sandwich.  I think I’d be typing while eating a chicken salad sandwich even if I made money doing this–in fact, odds are sky-high that I would–but I’d also be hustling to get new information, too: do interviews, crunch stats.  As it stands, all you’ll get from me right now is snark.  Hastily drafted snark.

This from ESPN, on a game between the Colorado Rockies and the St. Louis Cardinals, which caught my eye because the writer employs the term “The Catch,” which is taken, thank you very much:

And at the very least, already taken, already.

In short, Clint Barmes caught a ball, or he didn’t.  But this is what Ryan Spilborghs had to say:

“It was a good play, that’s all it was,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter because the play’s over.”

But did he see the ball hit the ground?

“It’s more fun not to say whether I did or I didn’t,” Spilborghs retorted.

No, jerk-weed, it’s not.  I absolutely guarantee you that if Skip Schumaker hoses you like that to cost you a game, with the Rockies fighting for their playoff lives, you’re screaming bloody murder.  If you’re telling the press that it’s fun not to say whether it did or didn’t, then you’re getting a minor thrill out of an obfuscation of the game.  Not classy. 

Barmes’s language implies he’s trying to be honest without casting doubt on his team’s standing.  What last came out of your mouth doesn’t help him do that.  In fact, it makes me think you’re in need of a Cubs fan beer shower.

There: I’ve gone from Endy Chavez to Clint Barmes to Ryan Spilborghs to Shane Victorino in one sitting.  Checkmate.

I sound irritated not just because I’ve been concatenating in Excel like a fiend all morning, but because I see the writing on the off-season wall and it makes me wish I could unilaterally define blog topics.  I’d be a lot more specific than all this business today about Jerry Manuel.

We can only define Jerry Manuel’s job performance based on the available data, and I don’t even have a full idea of what that data set is, really. 

  1. Is there some organization keeping track of when he gives Luis Castillo the bunt sign and when he doesn’t?  When he asks for a hit-and-run?  These are actual–not rhetorical–questions.  If there is indeed a database for it, send the link over to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.
  2. You can look at the starting line-ups day in and day out.  Ryan Church was MIA until he was gone.  Nick Evans has always been MIA.  Reasons for this are inscrutable, as given.
  3. Management of starters, relievers, and pinch-hitters during games has left little to be desired with me.  At this point, I’m quite accurately prognosticating various levels of defeat as his decisions are made, and at the hands of those decisions.  I don’t work in baseball.  I’m not psychic.  I should not be able to do that.
  4. Additionally, communication is atrocious on injury.  This is not solely Mr. Manuel’s province; I’ve been yelling about this on and off since I started this bad boy.  The injuries are not the issue; telling people what the hell’s going on is the issue.  But he shares the blame for the communication snafus by adding to the noise instead of displaying that he’s trying to get to the bottom of it.  Honestly, now: your star shortstop was danced about for months.  That makes you look like a man out of touch, not one who plays things close to the vest.

I can take reasons 3 and 4 and make a case for letting him go.  But I’m not a fan of reasoning that’s not air-tight (as much as the writing on this blog may point to the converse being true), and much like one can say, “You can’t fire Jerry Manuel after a year of a decimated line-up,” one can also say, “You can’t fire Jerry Manuel because Daniel Murphy can’t execute a hit-and-run, or because Sean Green is all thumbs.”  Quite true.

I’m of a mind, therefore, to not bother with the question at all, as I have no control over whether or not the man is retained, and my reasons for wanting him shipped off seem to boil down to “I can tell you how your Sophie’s Choice will blow up in your face, and why can’t you shoot straight with me about the guys who’ve left you with that choice to begin with?”

But everyone is bothering with the question, so let’s speak to it reasonably.  I believe “should he stay or should he go?” is short-sighted.  But IF he stays or if he goes, what could he do better?  I suggest that question.

I get the similarity, suggesting that the man who seeks teachable moments in defeat seek his own teachable moments, but that doesn’t make the need any less dire.  He can absolutely demand a reasonable communications strategy from all parties with a hand in his players’ availability, or else decry its lack.  Done right, that’s a guy I can get behind. 

He can work on avoiding the maze of “this situation” and “that player” and “in this instance” he gets into when speaking about awful in-game decisions.  That won’t stop the awful in-game decisions, necessarily; yet still I find that when I voice an error, I’m less likely to commit it later.

I don’t know what he can do about fan pressure to give a player a start besides starting him, or telling us all to shut the hell up.  I’m fine with either.

And maybe send someone in there to keep track of when he’s giving the green light to steal a base.  Put that guy in the room with a sabermetrician and make some magic.  I’m absolutely convinced a sabermetrician could shadow me for a week and tell me how best to lose five pounds, get two hours more sleep per night, and avoid screaming children on the subway (these are not necessarily mutually exclusive goals, or an admixture of ends and means).  In short, they’re sorcerers, and that’s awesome.  One of my goals this season is to fully comprehend PECOTA, or die trying.

Working smarter and working harder should be his goal; even without quantitative analysis we can say there’s room for improvement.  But our job, as fans of the Mets and fans of the game, should be to ask smart questions as often as possible.  We shouldn’t lose our passion, but we should make that passion useful.

We describe ourselves often as some of the game’s smartest fans.  But if we enter this off-season asking the same tired things of the same old people, or clamoring for change for the sole reason that novelty will trick us into firm belief of our team’s ability, then we’re merely loud and opinionated.

Game’s started.  Let’s go Mets.

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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.

Woof, Endy.
 
Woof.
 
ACL, MCL, cartilage, all busted, along with the season, and next season’s spring training, at least.
 
That should not be the consequence of playing hard. Playing hard should earn you fame, cheers, and a good night’s sleep. Instead, Endy Chavez gets an indeterminate amount of time on the Mariners’ DL.  Not.  Cool.
 
I’ve seen the replay; can’t really fault Yuniesky Betancourt, either.  He was chasing for it hard; maybe he didn’t hear Endy calling for it… .  It was just nasty luck.
 
The guy could barely hit a lick in ’08 for the Mets, but I love Endy Chavez still. My plan tickets have me entering Citi Field, regularly, through the Left Field gate, and observation as well as a note from Metsblog from way back leads me to believe that the silhouette at the gate is that of The Catch. Spectacular.
 
I attend my Friday games with a Mets fan and a Yankees fan, and they were with each other, at a bar, during Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. The Yankees fan (he’s a SHINING example of one of the good ones; find yourself a Yankees fan who loves baseball so much that he’ll gladly plunk down $300 on fifteen METS games) regularly tells the story of how he believes he blacked out briefly when Endy made The Catch, and as soon as the relay was coming in to first, he was standing on his bar stool.  Cheering his guts out.

I was home, and shaking on my floor, on my knees, fist pumping in the air. My landlord–the octogenarian war veteran living (by choice!  by choice!) in the basement–was shouting as loud as I’d ever heard him. My sister, living with me at the time, came out of her room believing someone had broken in or I’d fallen from the roof.  Neither was the case, but had a thief broken in, we’d’ve stood in front of the TV together and watched the replay on my DVR; had I been watching on my roof and fallen out of excitement, then adrenaline and euphoria would’ve been enough to sustain me while I took in the rest of the game, and walked to Lutheran Medical.
 
I cried in 2006 because of The Catch. I drank HARD after strike three to Beltran, but I cried after The Catch.

The MLB highlights promo that runs at Citi before every game draws my loudest cheers for The Catch. Not the Grand Slam Single or Piazza’s home run at the game post-9/11.  The Catch was one of the greatest grabs in all of sport.  And I’m going back to when the ball was invented. I’m talking centuries here.  

The only way I could be hyperbolic about this is if I were to say that a greater catch has never been made in all of imagination.  I once scaled a sixteen foot-high wall to rob Ryan Howard of a home run, then flung my glove, El Duque-style, at Shane Victorino off second for an unassisted double-play that ended the inning. On my way back to the dugout I flipped off Oliver Perez, who was heading to the mound (in this version, he’s been traded to the Phillies).  That catch was SLIGHTLY better than Endy’s.
 
A knock against my Yankees fan friend is that he repeatedly states that The Catch can’t truly be considered great because the Mets wound up losing that game. Obviously I disagree.

You can’t deny Endy’s spirit, Endy’s hustle. (By no means am I saying he was the only one on that 2006 team that had it.) It’s a great play because, in that moment, the Mets were alive, and the potential for turning the tide, rather than just holding it off, was there.  It was the physical manifestation of that feeling I got when the Mets won games in late September, chugging to the finish line, and DiamondVision showed the crowd one word: “BELIEVE.”

We could believe then because of Endy.  I will continue to believe because of Endy.  I believe he’ll get better, and I hope he still has many playing years ahead of him.