Archives for posts with tag: Francisco Rodriguez

Hard not to get excited about a guy caught on national television yelling at Mike Scoscia. 

I’ve watched this video at least four times, and I’d embed it, except MLB.com doesn’t quite have their finger on the pulse of the nation.

“This is mine!  Are you s***ting me?  This is mine!  Scosc’…” [walks off mound, undefinable muttering and cursing].

It doesn’t quite have the outer space, Bo Diddley poetry of “I’m a man!” but I could feel the crush/man-crush** spreading across all strata of Met fandom.

Sure enough, Matt Cerrone of Metsblog addressed the potential Mets love, and caught Ed Leyro of Mets Merized Online backing it up with stats (see the Metsblog post, top third).  Kranepool Society’s on it, too. 

Here’s the Cot’s spreadsheet which includes John Lackey’s due this year; this is the general Cot’s page on the Angels (Lackey’s near-ish the top).  John Lackey’s Baseball-Reference page (sponsored by “Ricky”), and, because I think he’d be a good place to start my advanced stats training, his page on Fan Graphs.

This is what I get: the Mets kinda missed the boat, but word is he wants to play in Texas, anyway.  His bread and butter are named fastball and curveball, and that seems to be rehabilitating the man somewhat, as there’s a hiccup in his 2008 stats. 

Wikipedia has no answer for that hiccup (I’m a fan of Wikipedia), but I’ll keep looking.  Anyone who knows, feel free to give me an email shout.  The entry does mention he got tossed after his first two pitches OF THE SEASON this year.  Why?  Read here, by Lyle Spencer, on the Angels’ MLB website.  Video’s great, too.

See, now? I could’ve had two John Lackey video embeds in one post.  Damn it.

If the man would want to pitch anywhere where fastballs that become fly balls go to die, it’d be Citi Field.  I say this, of course, having only scratched the surface of his stats and having only watched him for two hours and change, commercials excluded. 

A guy entering the midlife of his career might enjoy the protection that Johan Santana provides in the rotation.  That’s what I get from Cerrone’s comments on the man.  Careful there, though, as you now have that third-hand.  That’s how the Spanish-American War got started.

No, it isn’t.

His money years should’ve been ’05, ’06, and certainly ’07, when he went 19-9, and pitched a healthy two hundred twenty-four innings.  If he did “take a discount,” that’s on him. (I’m not trying to kiss Cerrone’s ring over and over; I’m just lazy and in the middle of rushing through breakfast at 1:30p.)  No team should pay crazy money to a guy who, a year ago, was four full wins above replacement below his high.  I don’t care how he bounced back in ’09 or what he shouts to Mr. “Big-Machines-And-Cool-Dials-And-Stuff.-Like-An-Oil-Refinery,-Or-Hydro-Electric-Plant.”  (I will kiss John Swartzwelder’s ring, though.)

I hate to keep beating the same drum, over and over and over again… that’s not true; in this particular case, I enjoy it.  But if the Mets had any shot at giving Lackey what he wanted, it split last year. 

In other words, I know where $31 million of that supposed $80 million could’ve come from.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Here’s Randy Wolf for 2009 on a one-year, $5 million deal.  Here’s Fauxhawk in 2009, at $12 million for the first year of his three year contract.

You’d have to be out of your gourd to roll out a 2010 pitching rotation of:

  • Johan Santana: $21 million;
  • John Lackey: $16 million;
  • Oliver Perez: $12 million;
  • either Mike Pelfrey (free agent) or John Maine (arbitration year): $7 million’s a complete guess; Fauxhawk got $6.5 million in arbitration in 2008;
  • the Willets Point Mystery Bucket (5% curveballs, 5% stolen car parts, 90% chum): estimate unknowable

plus a closer (Frankie Rodriguez) for a little over $12 million. 

For those counting, that’s $45 million, confirmed, committed to pitching; add the pie-in-the-sky Lackey and Pelfrey/Maine numbers and that goes to $68 million.

So. Lackey was a great story; is a great story.  The man, by some measures, appears to be a beast.  I will be waving bye-bye to him, however, and content myself with the memory of last night, laughing so hard through a sneeze that I thought I was having a heart attack.

**Are “man-crushes” confined to men?  I take “man-crush” to mean someone you’re completely engrossed in, but not interested in canoodling with.  This is opposed to a regular crush, which is interchangeable and adds the canoodling.  I’m sure John Lackey’s a stand-up guy, but I doubt he can make pesto like my wife.

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I’ve little to say about yesterday’s loss, except that I didn’t see the thing at all.  I missed Frankie Rodriguez giving up the grand slam, and much like Luis Castillo’s dropped pop-up at Yankee Stadium (“The Play,” I’ve been calling it, for no other reason than I enjoy definite articles and initial caps), I don’t know that I ever want to see it.

I’ll vacillate, I’m sure.  No one who buys a ticket to a Mets game this late in the season doesn’t wonder if he must complete the circle of masochism by exposing himself to all sorts of baseball horror, like Jimmy Fallon’s character in Fever Pitch, sealing himself off in his apartment and watching tape of the end of Game 6 over and over again. 

“…behind the bag, and it gets through Buckner!” 

But for now, I’m excusing myself.  It’s in the past.

Jose Reyes has a torn hamstring, which completes that particular circle and starts a new one.  Won’t be verbally tearing anyone a new anything based on this news; I stated yesterday that we as fans need to start asking the right kind of pointed questions if we want to see changes made with this team.  I’ve no earthly idea what the right kind of question is re: Jose Reyes, and I don’t think I’ll work too hard to think about it today.  Again, excusing myself.

The Times sent Ben Shpigel to cover Jerry Manuel and someone there–whether Shpigel, his editor, or a merciful web tech–gave it the frame of Tuesday’s loss, not yesterday’s.  So they’re ignoring it, too.  Not shirking their responsibility, as they have repeatedly over the past few weeks, but ignoring what is too much pain.  With sardonic humor that makes me want to lie down and take a nap, too: check out the graphic.  “Finally, a Lead In the N.L. East.”  You can’t see it, but I’m making a rude gesture with my finger.

And yes, sure, fine, the Mets gave Mariano Rivera the pitching rubber from his five hundredth save, and I’m coming quickly to the belief that this will become the talking point on ownership ineptitude.  But for my money, the man can take whatever pitching rubbers the Mets want to give them, as long as the Mets learn to beat tough opponents and stomp on turkeys.

It’s the man’s 500th save; the Mets put the Yankees in the position of making it happen, and the game’s long since done.  Let’s not condemn people for trying to be good sports; let’s be smarter, healthier, and more productive with our ire.  Or let’s dump it entirely and go play some ultimate frisbee before it gets too cold out.

Truly, the only problem I have with the USA Today article, besides it being a product of USA Today, is the Pettitte quote:

“You guys haven’t changed from Day 1. Y’all deserve it,” Pettitte said.
“Obviously, we are so proud of y’all. It has been a privilege and an
honor to play alongside of y’all.”

He should’ve said, “Y’all haven’t changed from Day 1,” and cemented his legacy.

Smarter, healthier, more productive: this is my off-season mantra.  I refuse to be, figuratively or in practice, the guy who sits in his room and watches tape of awful play in garbage time, or gets hot and bothered about people doing things which are generally nice. 

There are a whole host of things to batter the Mets for.  Allowing that loss yesterday is something to take to the players.  Jose Reyes’s hamstring is something to take to the trainers, the doctors, and the front office. 

The stuff about the Times is something to take to the Times.  And the pitching rubber thing is something to let go.

Time to seize the day.

guinness.JPG

On Tuesday, Danny Frisella was traded for a Guinness.

Thing about Two Boots hosting Amazin’ Tuesdays is that owner Phil Hartman offers you a free beer if you bring in a Mets baseball card.  Greg Prince of Faith And Fear In Flushing kindly brought in one of his four (four, Mr. Prince?  Really?) Danny Frisellas and cashed it in, in honor of my birthday.

I am now fully ensconced in my late twenties, so beer has more cache than birthday cake, especially considering the day I’d had, and the day that was to come. 

Forget the fact that I’m 0-for-6 on the year when it comes to Mets events outside of the ball park; forget the extended crime that was last night’s ninth inning (vs. Braves, L; 6-5)–and on that note, let’s have Frankie Rodriguez pitch occasionally in game situations, just to see if he can plunk and give up hits during the fifth or sixth inning; I’m talking about struggling with a camera not more than six months old, a computer not more than three months old, and a cable box that won’t cooperate when all I want to do is catch up on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia before the premiere.

Come on, karma.  The Mets are guaranteed a losing season this year.  Haven’t I had enough?

The Mercury-in-retrograde-style hangups (The Wife is a big believer in that planet causing electronics to go goofy bananas) gave me time to think on some of what was said down on Grand Street the other night; make no mistake: the evening was packed with flavor.

phil hartman.JPGThat’s Mr. Hartman, above, extolling the virtues of an odd cocktail, shown below:

the kosher kid.JPGUnlike others I overheard during the evening, I’m avoiding any comment on the ethnic implications of Italian liqueur floating on top of Irish liqueur.  But take that comment to mean the comments were made.

On that note–reporting that things were said while not reporting WHAT was said–I give you Mr. Jeff Pearlman, who spoke third on Tuesday:

jeff pearlman speaks.JPGThat’s Mr. Pearlman (yessir: Mister; sorry that caught you off-guard, but better safe than sorry), standing, with Mr. Prince on the far left, in orange.  In case you’re unaware who Mr. Pearlman is and why he’s talking to a room full of Mets fans, here’s his Wikipedia entry, his website (which holds a link to his blog), and the article on John Rocker that everyone who loves sports and reads must’ve seen at least once.

There you are.  Context.

jeff pearlman and john rocker.JPGMr. Pearlman loves what he does, and that makes him a remarkably engaging speaker.  I like his prep style, too: the man was jotting notes to himself on a bar napkin minutes before he was to address the crowd (he sat to my left).  He’s off-the-cuff, he’s excitable, and he has a penchant for deep tangents that somehow doesn’t get in the way of him finishing a train of thought.

Tangents included:

  • “Always pay for lunch.”

  • Kevin Mitchell and Doc Gooden got into it about the cat incident, and he (Pearlman) watched the discussion unfold.  Actually, you can read all about it at that link.  Never thought I would link to Snopes.com, but there you are.

  • Jay Horwitz is a sweetheart of a guy.

  • The Mets are the ones putting the kibosh on any movie based on The Bad Guys Won, a move I find unfortunate.  It would be tremendous for business.  There’s such a fear of putting out anything that would make the Mets look bad, but we’re in an age where bad isn’t necessarily good, but humanizing, and thus interesting.  There’s a way to do that movie and leave feeling genuinely and positively proud to be a Mets fan.  Just requires a touch of finesse and imagination.

  • The guys who aren’t superstars are the guys with the best stories.

There were some other tangents, too, and that’s how we get out of my own tangent. 

Mr. Pearlman has more on John Rocker, if you can believe it.  Stuff that Rocker asked be off the record, stuff that came to him after the story came out.  Stuff you so badly wish you’d been at Two Boots to hear, because it’s deliciously excellent.  One story in particular which I will be redressing in order to use it as a joke in a screenplay; it’s too perfect.

Another Mets fan and writer, present at the event, wanted to ask why Mr. Pearlman would discuss these off-the-record happenings in an open forum, knowing full well that there are writers present.  He (Mets fan and writer) and I discussed this at length; I thought about it quite a bit more while alternately wondering how it could possibly be so packed at Pacific Standard on a Tuesday night.  Here’s what I came up with:

I don’t know that Pearlman’s mentioning that the stories were off the record when they were told means that they should be off-record when told to a room of folks eating slices of a pizza called “The Pig,” underneath a giant poster of Hubie Brooks. 

I know that while anything involving John Rocker’s ridiculous opinions is funny to me, it may not be funny to others. 

Additionally, I know his nonsense occurred about ten years ago, and whatever Neanderthal ideas he holds close to his heart may be fueled by ire toward the Mets but weren’t crafted by the Mets.  In other words, it’s not like the guy came running out of the bullpen, heard the boos, and thought, “You know what?  I’m gonna become a spitting-mad bigot.”  That’s screwing with the chronology a bit.  But to put it another way, he’s old news.  And not even Mets old news, really.  Just old news.

So it’s funny, like hearing a “Priest, Minister, and Rabbi” joke that ends with no one in that mix looking particularly good.  But I’m not ready to repeat said joke, and I’m not looking to cast aspersions on the guy who told it.  You should be sorry you missed it, though.  Oh, man… classic.

I have a lot more to say on Mr. Pearlman; his notes on what he does and how he does it were of great interest, and again, he was a presence before the crowd.  But I think best to keep that business in my back pocket.  I’ve gone on enough about him, and
I’m not even halfway done here.

jon springer and number 6.JPGJon Springer (above) gave the crowd his compilation of the best Mets to wear the number 6.  A full list can be found at his site, here.  (UPDATE: read the whole piece posted at his Mets By The Numbers site by clicking here.)

I don’t remember that he made the list (why would he), but I have zero recollection of Manny Alexander.  This is important because I took a minor hiatus from baseball in 1996, and came back with an artificial dedication in 1997.  I remember Lance Johnson leaving, and Turk Wendell coming.  My mind is a complete blank on Manny Alexander. 

This should teach the kids out there that if your mind won’t let you think about anything other than a woman who may become your future wife, you should probably just let it run its course.  That I spent any time thinking about some guy I wouldn’t remember at all twelve years later… though I do remember the first Zero bar I ever had.  Funny what sticks and what doesn’t.

metstradamus.JPGIf you don’t know John Coppinger’s work as Metstradamus, you should.  In fact, I’ll be adding his blog to the link list after I’m done with this epic.  He’s the gentleman presiding over the free-wheeling discussion on the 2010 iteration of the Mets in his Todd Zeile pinstripes.  Getting to that discussion means we’re halfway through.  Thanks for sticking around.

discussing the mets.JPGIf the level of discourse held on Tuesday is the level of discourse being held about the Mets in the majority of bars and living rooms, then the Mets as an organization are in fine shape.  I had a meta-moment sitting behind the crowd, realizing just how smart and hard everyone was thinking about a thing that’s that horribly wonderful hybrid between a game and a business.  It was said by Mr. Coppinger and I wholeheartedly agree: the Mets have one of the smartest fan bases in all of sport. 

I’ll exclude myself from that assessment; I don’t wish to toot my own horn, and while I love the game and love the players and fans, I don’t have a head for stats and whenever the Mets make me feel like jumping off a bridge, I take a break.  I think if I were smarter about the Mets, I’d either jump off that bridge, or not even want to jump in the first place.

You know, depending on the height of the bridge, jumping might classify me as a die hard.  But I’m afraid of heights.

That went a little Mitch Hedberg.  I’m sorry.  Someone please feed me a leaf.

But they’re smart.  Smart and opinionated.  Smart and opinionated and mad as all get out.  Goddamn.  Fewer heads were called for at the Bastille.  Turns out I was mad, too; here are my notes, taken on or after I shouted something about mercilessly heckling Gregor Blanco (Mr. Blanco, I sense a meme developing at your expense…)

The organization is incompetent? Without a plan? Reality time: This is a multimillion dollar operation, with a multinational presence. If you think they don’t have “a plan,” then you’re out of your mind. (Stress the ridiculousness of this “rudderless” assessment.)
 
The problem, manufactured or not, is communication. The plan, as it’s called; the injuries; the Bernazard.
 
How much communication is the fan base owed?
 
How much is this locked down by the organization to create family friendly and accessible fare?

Allow me to explain: it was my birthday and I was on my third beer.  Sure, I’d eaten.  But Tommy Hanson was running a clinic down in Atlanta and people were shouting and using the F-word.  How could one NOT get excited?

But allow me to explain further.

springer discusses.JPGSome advocated the ouster of General Manager Omar Minaya, and some went as far to suggest that if Jerry Manuel got the axe, Minaya would be Dead Man Walking.  As a simple “if –> then” premise, I have to agree, and would even go so far as to make it a bi-conditional: if Mr. Minaya goes, Mr. Manuel goes with.

…Here’s my tangent: if you’re talking about somebody’s job security, the least you can do is use a formal prefix.

But if the general manager is let go, who’s to say another GM wouldn’t want their own guy coaching the men on the field, and have their own opinion of the farm system, and make their own changes and have their own plan?  If Mr. Minaya gets the boot in 2010, are the Mets in for another few seasons or more in the tall grass?  Who’s so crazy as to come in after the past three seasons (four if you count 2006) and make any declaration of imminent success?

This was the argument made on Tuesday, not necessarily in favor of keeping the current regime, but in worry that the organization would suffer a far worse fate if it wasn’t kept.

By the way, just because Jon Springer and Jeff Pearlman are featured in this photo doesn’t mean they were arguing this point.  It’s just an action shot.

I have to believe, though, that an organization this large, employing this many people across so many states and in so many countries, with this extensive a public presence, has a plan.  The plan my not be good; it may not be sound as you see it.  Jeff Wilpon may be buying lottery tickets.  I highly doubt he is, though that Mega Millions jackpot a few weeks ago was a doozy.

The problem is not, “The Mets don’t have a plan.”  The problem is actually, “The Mets don’t appear to have a plan; not knowing that plan is infuriating.”

I don’t know what to do about that. 

I’ve mouthed off separately on how poorly I believe the string of injuries to key Mets players was communicated; there, too, I’m sure there was a plan but it was kept close to the vest–not necessarily to keep trade value up, because everybody has to pass a physical–because the goal was not to start a panic.  Frustration is panic’s kissing cousin, and that’s what we got.  The team looked bizarrely inept, and the suggested “crazy like a fox” stance appeared less and less plausible.  Some biting of the bullet and strength in the face of potential panic would’ve gone a long way there.

I think things like Mr. Bernazard’s pulling a Randy Marsh (cartoon, not umpire) would be better handled when the team isn’t falling apart at the joints, but when things snowball, they REALLY snowball.

But I don’t know what to do about a lack of communication about a plan.  This thing is a business, and the same is true throughout baseball: newspaper titans; gum manufacturers; phone companies; rea
l estate barons.  They don’t have to tell us what they intend to do about the lack of a true left fielder, though one can easily assume they think, at the least, that it would be nice to have one.  I’m sure they think, perhaps correctly, that no one would be clamoring about “hearing what the plan is” if the team were cranking out seven- and ten-game winning streaks.

Additionally, I don’t think you can reasonably legitimize what went down at Two Boots by slapping a Mets logo on it and holding regular salons at the Caesar’s Club, or some other sort of thing.  They’d be mobbed, or would cost an arm and a leg to get into and STILL be sort of mobbed, on the thought that any Johnny Crackpot or Sally Gottaplan could wield some influence. 

the crowd at two boots.JPGNo, there must be a level of accountability there that begins with the organization paying employees for their input and hard work.  The product of that relationship shows on the field and in the press.  We know what’s happened on the field, to an extent.  We don’t know why what’s happened in the press has happened in the press, aside from what was relayed; again I’m citing communication of injuries and the Bernazard incident, but also continued questions of lack of “grit.”  And that, reasonably, has colored what we’ve seen on the field.

Again, success is the fastest way to cure dissatisfaction; evincing a belief in imminent success is not enough because of the old “fool me once” trap.  But besides offering the usual bread and circuses: batting helmets brought to you by Harrah’s; awful music videos by teen pop stars; “Everybody Clap Your Hands!”–how does one satisfy a rabid fan base that demands answers to questions one doesn’t want to answer?

…That’s not a rhetorical question.  I’m actually asking it.

If I had the reins, I think I would start by thinking about what I could do to re-frame the questions, so that they’d be ones I WOULD want to answer.  That’s if I cared.  I don’t do the sacred work of the Mets, but in my little bit of the earth I get plenty of questions that are the wrong questions to ask, and spend much of my day re-framing the debate, and educating.

That, and staring at databases.  Seems I do a lot of database work these days.  Not what I signed up for, let me tell you.

I would urge ownership to care about the questions coming up at events like these, if they do not currently.  I wouldn’t urge them to release private data, or put the whammy on their behind-the-scenes moves by telling us how great that Carl Crawford guy is, or some other such thing.  But I would urge some sort of education: not condescension, not lip service; an actual explanation of how the business operates, why it operates in the way that it does, and what questions they think we should be asking.

Truly no idea how to present that conversation, but if they could do that, and do away with the Miley Cyrus music videos at the start of some home games, and turn off the canned noise for an inning a game, AND please the ya-yos by giving away something not branded by Aflac or Premio Sausage–

–That’s right; I called you ya-yos.  I’d prefer the end of ALL giveaways and a reduction in the price of tickets, and have that brought to me by Corporation, Inc.–

…then that’d please all manner of folks.

glee.JPGThis is not an endorsement of a show I find visually arresting but otherwise stultifyingly awful.  I just like to be artsy.

Anyway, more on that to come, I’m sure.  Otherwise, I’d like to offer my thanks again to Greg Prince, who along with his partner-in-crime, Jason Fry, put together these events.  An additional thanks to Mr. Prince for reading about his experience in 1977, and talking with me a bit about blogging, the upcoming off-season, and what Felix Millan brought to the ball club.

Word is Two Boots would like to do more of these in the off-season, and I imagine if that does happen, the discussion will be similar to what was held the other night.  Don’t miss it.  Unless the Mets begin hosting blogger-only press conferences with a rotating cast and a pre-determined subject of discussion, events such as these will be the only place you’ll get to hear intelligent wrangling, however ridiculous you may think the opinions to be.

Ridiculous or not, I’d be so much more worried if people stopped caring.

Thing about a doctor’s orders to “relax” is that one can never be quite sure what form relaxing should take.  There are certain red lines:

  • don’t do anything which would make you want to jump up and down, angrily;
  • don’t do anything which would make you want to put your fist in anything (in anger; settle, children, settle);
  • don’t do anything which would lead to a headache.

Thus I’ve been without significant word from the Mets since Tuesday, when, among other things, Luis Castillo forgot how to put one foot in front of the other and sprained his ankle.  How to keep track?

Check the word on my Mets BlackBerry widget.  Loss, brake, honk.  Loss, brake, honk.  Honk, honk, punch.  Gas, gas, gas.

Occasionally catch a glimpse while stationed at a bar, “relaxing” after a bleak, monochromatic film.  Erase that relaxation by losing a game of pool, then getting schooled in darts, then discussing the finer points of web marketing and audience share.

Glimpse at the back page of tabloid sports sections Squint to see if there happens to be some diagonally-applied Mets-Orange banner across the corner of a full-color photo of Yankee bliss at Boston’s expense. (“Yankee bliss” is not stated with a dash, dollop, or deluge of bitterness; in other remarks, that Okajima guy looks about four years old.)  Determine if banner is positive or negative.  Excise all memory of squinting, so ophthalmologist doesn’t give YOU the stink-eye.

There was little real peace, even when getting word while at a sparsely-attended yet quite fun house party late Saturday night.  The party wrecked all chance of decent sleep that night; against further orders, I took down a twenty-ounce bottle of soda and was wired.

Yes.  I’m that guy.  Beer, liquor, greasy foods, sure.  Caffeine?  Rarely.  Very rarely.

So it came to pass that after a fitful sleep led me to sticky Sunday sun, and The Wife’s desire to have me find some sort of sewer grate or manhole cover or some kind of something with a striped bass on it (for a presentation she’s working on down in North Carolina), and a few episodes of Californication, I found the couch and a blissful nap.

When I came to–one wakes in the fall, rises in the winter, stirs in the spring, but comes to in the summer–the double vision and haloing were, essentially, gone.  Not being one to allow grass to grow under his feet, I switched on the Mets game taking place in San Diego.

Johan was there.  Luis was there.  It was like I’d hit the pause button on Tuesday’s 6th inning, and resumed on Sunday, in a different park, state, and time zone.  Johan went eight, again.  Frankie Rodriguez came in, again.  The Mets were done, again (this time, W; 5-1).

The double-vision and the haloing are still gone and tonight, Pelfrey gets the start against current low-level pain-in-the-neck Doug Davis.  I don’t get a chance to extort a clean bill of health until Wednesday, so my watching is incumbent upon how infuriating the group performance is.

If nothing else, I’m annoyed at the Mets for presenting such a Catch-22: watch them play; perhaps not see well at all for awhile.  Don’t watch them play; see all too clearly that other people care more about pool and darts and the Yankees and shots of something called Cynar than the Mets, and wonder just what is wrong with them.

All that said, I’m skipping my Friday game.  The Wife flies into New York (and LaGuardia, for Christ’s sake) at 6:30p Friday night.  Big bags which say, “Take us home,” and not, “Run into Manhattan, leave us at the office, then pick us up after the game.”  Should’ve planned better.  Hell, should just live in Queens.

More photos as pertains to Tuesday, below, with brief comments. (The eyes… not so much.  There’s some sweet halo action goin’ on.  Ev’rybody done Risen!)

frankie.jpgFirst off, I was negligent in assigning full blame for Tuesday night.  The order is fine, because of the atrocities committed.  Nevertheless, Frankie Rodriguez came on to face the bottom third of the St. Louis order at the top of the ninth, and retired no one he should’ve. 

Is he a public enemy?  No, not yet.  Frankie Rodriguez hasn’t so incredibly blown a hold or a save in the WAYS Sean Green has, and neither he nor Green would have the misplaced aggression to bring in Brian Stokes for ONE PITCH, then Pedro Feliciano to load the bases, then Green to fold faster than Kozmo.com.  All in one damned inning.

red moon.jpgBut there were some serious negative waves going on that night.  A friend of seatmates managed to join us for the game–a serious Mets fan if ever there were, but who somehow found it necessary to tell me to “shut up” whenever I attempted a “Let’s go, Mets!” chant.  Classy, man.  Real classy.

…And not in a loud, obnoxious “shut up,” kind of way.  Dismissive.  Granted, it was not looking good.  But I refuse to apologize for being hopelessly optimistic.

I wouldn’t even mention it if it hadn’t happened more than once.  What moods do you fly into when something so right goes so horribly wrong?  I get unpleasant, but I don’t go snidely fatalistic.

cowbell and big man.jpgCow-Bell Man (left) and Big Man (right) were all smiles throughout, but the woman between them gave another friend a dirty look at the beginning of the game when the Geico Gecko came out to accompany the man tossing the first pitch:

gecko.jpgReaders, no matter how much we may disagree on the issue of first pitches and their backslide into commercialism, let us not lose sight of the fact that on-screen, the Geico Gecko is a cute creature with a delightful accent, and who loves clams. 

In person, the Geico Gecko is a felt-and-velour monstrosity with a sewn-shut mouth and a b.o. that recalls clams left on rocks steaming in the hot Newark sun.  He should be booed, and soundly so.

I have a photo of Gary, Keith, and Ron broadcasting in the booth.  For no other reason than to spend a moment on their general excellence, here it is:

gary, keith, and ron.jpgListen, any game that begins with Rihanna’s “Disturbia” blasting from the PA is destined to be problematic.  But to leave with such a sour taste in the mouth… awful.  Just awful.

Anyway.

**

This report from Doug Miller (himself from MLB.com) does not paint the whole picture regarding Jose Reyes’s injury.  David Lennon’s initial report on his blog does a little better.

But if you’ve been living with this as most ardent followers have, the best I can do is give you the lowdown as presented over the months (MONTHS!) by Metsblog.  As Slick Rick would say, here we go:

May 15th: Reyes has a stiff right calf.

May 18th: Reyes misses three straight games.

May 19th: Reyes misses five straight games; won’t go on the DL.

May 20th: Reyes plays.

May 21st: Reyes is out again; flies to New York.

May 21st: Later that day, we learn Reyes has tendinitis behind the right calf and is day-to-day.

May 26th: Reyes does light running (I do some light running sometimes).

May 31st: Reyes, on DL (since May 26th but retroactive), goes to Port St. Lucie.

June 3rd: As far as Jerry Manuel knows or has been told, Reyes didn’t tear anything.

June 4th: Reyes leaves a rehab game with discomfort in his knee.

June 4th: Now Reyes has a slight tear in his hamstring.

June 5th: Mr. Cerrone’s sources suggest Reyes will be out until after the All-Star Break.

June 5th: Reyes’s treatment goes Innerspace (or, if you prefer, Osmosis Jones).

June 16th: Some with the Mets think it’s gotta be the shoes.

June 20th: Reyes only feels something when he makes sudden movements, thus disqualifying him from spotting Gary Sheffield.

June 22nd: Reyes runs.  No, he doesn’t.

June 23rd: The fire truck incident.

July 1st: Reyes will run the bases in a week.

July 9th: Reyes, having had a cortisone shot, still isn’t running; it’s been over a week.

July 13th: Reyes runs.  For realsies.

July 18th: Reyes doesn’t wanna run.  You can’t make him.

July 21st: At some point, Reyes swung a bat at something called a “baseball.”

July 24th: Reyes will play in a simulated game.

July 28th: Reyes will play in a rehab game soon.  So sayeth the buzz.

July 31st: Setback!

August 3rd: Reyes will do some light running.  I’m out of jokes.

August 4th: Medic!

August 5th: Scar tissue, and inflammation.

My thanks to Mr. Cerrone.  I’m tired.  That took forty minutes to compile.

Tired and angry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reverse the curse!

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

Let’s go Mets!

Save for news that comes in from Mets town, it’s very likely I’ll be packing myself in bubble wrap until Thursday.  I have no use for the All-Star Game this year.  Every Met selected should be carefully wrapped in newsprint and gingerly lowered into a box of Styrofoam peanuts until the Atlanta series.  That’s my belief.

Beltran’s already in that box.  I guess David Wright has an obligation to show himself to be an ironman.  So be it.  As I hear it told, Johan Santana will go but does not expect to pitch.  I’ll bite my tongue about Mets pitchers injuring themselves in non-baseball related activities, such as going out for pizza at 2a in Miami…

I guess that would be more of a concern for Frankie Rodriguez.  Johan Santana doesn’t eat.  He watches Chuck Norris eat and gets his nutrients through the satiation of the universal consciousness.

On the topic of injuries, I’ve been thinking about this lately and wonder if anyone else has: do you think about how bad a player’s hurt when the player indeed is hurt?  I watched Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds try for Wright’s bloop on Saturday night and saw the bad angle his wrist took and how the fall just jammed his arm, there.  Dude fractured his wrist.  If I fractured my wrist, I’d be complaining about it for weeks.  I’d bitch CONSTANTLY.

Think of Carlos Delgado.  Torn labrum?  Bone on bone joint operation?  Spurs?  That’s not minor surgery to have.  How much pain do you think he was in–and forget the “he has to do his job”–and how much do you think he thought about being sixty years old with a plastic hip as opposed to a surgically repaired original?

I absorb the ouchie in the present but afterwards it becomes an abstract issue, this being on the DL.  That stuff’s gotta hurt.  Even with cortisone shots and excellent conditioning and platelet-rich sure sure fine fine… it’s gotta hurt.

Chris Dickerson, replacement for Jay Bruce: back spasms yesterday.  Sheesus.

I could only catch glimpses of the Mets game (against the Reds; W 9-7) yesterday as I made my way to a Bastille Day celebration on Smith Street in Brooklyn.  I should’ve caught the game in whole instead.  With a detention center on Atlantic Avenue just a short few blocks away, revelers contented themselves with skateboarding, sweet Italian sausages and zydeco music.  Nothing French about any of that.  No storming of any jails or hoosegows or clinks or whatever you choose.  Lame.

The Chowdah Watch continues; he went 2 for 5 yesterday.

The Mets are back to three games under .500, still six and a half games behind the Phillies.  This rest will be good.  I’m going to cross my fingers and hope to see a nearly identical line-up three games in a row.

Until then, time to tend to my other starved pursuits, and generally ignore the All-Star circus.  Someone call me if Albert Pujols dons a Superman cape, leaps over Yadier Molina, and dunks a bag of balls into a pitching machine. 

From ESPN’s recap of last night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds (W, 4-0):

Pedro Feliciano worked the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez finished the six-hitter.

Don’t call it a six-hitter.  This is exactly what I was talking about last week.  Calling it a six-hitter sounds dumb.  There were three pitchers.  C’mon. 

Beyond that, I’m resolved in calling Jeff Francoeur “Chowdah.”  Why?  Here:

http://www.hulu.com/edp/http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehulu%2Ecom%2F/embed/VK0pcn0rqvDyuN3F3fO8CA

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. 

I’m 0 for 2 in Mets events that I view away from home, yet away from Citi Field. 

David Wright is 0 for 9 with an RBI in that span, but he gets paid to go to these things (ball games). 

I just spend money at local establishments.

Going Home.jpgAs stated in the previous post, Metstock was yesterday: food, fun, and fans at Two Boots Pizzeria on Grand Street.  I’d already been to every other Two Boots Pizzeria in New York City, so this was a double treat for me.  I can get fired up about pizza. 

For my money, the best pizza around is at Peppino’s on Third Avenue and Seventy-Seventh Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, but in that case I’m a homer, and I appreciate a great neighborhood place.  They actually LOWERED their prices recently, in the wake of the Great Recession.  Who does that?!

…Apparently Phil Rizzuto called; he wants his tangents back.

Fearless Leader.jpgBordering the windows at Two Boots are amazing paintings of New York sports heroes.  This one, of Keith Hernandez, I found quite inspiring.  Later, I’d feel a near-irrepressible urge to fly a Zero into Camden Yards.  But that would have been an inappropriate reaction to the events in the bottom of the ninth inning (L, 5-4), and chances are the Mets will need Aubrey Huff sooner rather than later.

Hubie Doobie Doo.jpgThat poster (behind Pick Me Up Some Mets! blogger Zoe Rice’s head) is amazing, and further example of how this particular Two Boots caters to the clientele.  I will someday come back here and offer them $5,000 for this work of Hubie Brooks art.  They will reject me out of hand.  I will be disappointed.

Readers.jpgReaders at the event were Jon Springer of Mets By The Numbers, Greg Prince of Faith And Fear In Flushing, and Skyhorse editor Mark Weinstein filling in for Stanley Cohen, author of A Magic Summer.

Gratuitous link.

If you read back on the blog, you can probably piece together that I was sentient and ambulatory during the Mets ’86 World Championship, but not so much that I could ever put down recollections of that time or even of the kind Greg Prince has of 1969.  Being a fan of the Mets, as I’ve stated before, is like eating to me.  I don’t remember the dinner I had in late October when I was four.  I’m sure I enjoyed it.  Inductive reasoning would suggest it was pizza; my dad loves it.  But we’re back at pizza again.  I should just fly a fighter jet into myself, and call it a day.

Jon Springer Speaks.jpgMy point is, I sat and drank Brooklyn Lager and marveled at the descriptions of jubilant chaos, after Mr. Springer regaled us with the story of Jeff McKnight, who now has become my favorite goateed Met, if only for the glasses which he wears in his publicity photo (visit Mets By The Numbers and find the “McKnightmare” link at top).  I also ate pizza (why so spicy, Two Boots?  Why?) and watched a game unfold.  It’s heartening to be with a group of fans who will listen as an event goes on in their presence, but will also clap and cheer as an event is televised before them.  Made me wish the Ziegfeld was packed with these folks instead of traffic-beaters the other night, but maybe they understood too well what I spoke about a few days ago: baseball’s played outside.  A stadium or stadium-like atmosphere cannot be replicated in a movie theater; instead one’s options are either to sit in a bar-like place (like the Two Boots on Grand) or at home, or at the damned ball park.  Very well.  I’m sufficiently down on my luck with regard to the Ziggy and gatherings with strangers that I might cut the bar out altogether, and stick with home or Second Home.

But this was fun.

We watched the game and moaned at the Orioles scoring.  We cheered the Mets scoring, as Alex Cora did twice, including this play (after which it got LOUD):

Cora Beats The Tag.jpgThat hazy representation is somewhat purposeful; I don’t want to land on the wrong side of MLB’s or SNY’s boilerplate.  Suffice it to say that’s Alex Cora weaving ’round Matt Wieters, who dropped the off-target Howitzer throw from right.

Greg Prince Reads.jpgHere’s something, and I don’t want to get on the wrong side of anyone’s Ornery or Glance Askance (God, I should’ve been beaten up more in junior high): Mr. Prince (featured, left) has an admittedly funny chapter devoted to Yankees fans, and it’s not complimentary.

I have Yankees fan friends, and Mr. Prince does, certainly, and we all do because they’re everywhere and nearly unavoidable.  (Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, but can she see the South Bronx?  Does she see David Letterman waving from the box seats?  He’s giving you the finger, Sarah, and ninety-nine point nine percent of me is sure you deserve it, with an oh-point-one percent margin of error.)

Many Yankees fans, including my friends–from time to time–are obnoxious.  It does stem from undeserved entitlement; it does speak poorly of the organization, which could perhaps get off its high horse about history and tradition and realize that the schtick, like its last World Series title, is getting old.

But I got the sense that the prevailing attitude last night was to hate the Yankees because they’re the Yankees and that’s just that.  They’ve won championships and feel entitled and Willie Randolph was a drip and that stadium of theirs can just go take a bath and how dare they take David Cone and have him accomplish THAT and oh-for-the-love-of-God-please-make-it-stop.  I am not of the camp that hates the Yankees success as much as he revels in their failures.&
nbsp; My Yankees friends are not like that regarding the Mets, and I have to dismiss any such feeling as a generational thing or misguided adoration of the game.  With respect.

Had the Mets won tonight’s game against Baltimore AND the Yankees had lost, I’d’ve texted my friend currently working up at Tanglewood.  “3-0? To the Nats? Wha’ happen’, Boli didn’t kick in yet?” And he’d’ve probably texted back. “Quiet, son. Remember 15-0, vs. Johan.”  This is rivalry.  When the Yankees are playing the Chicago White Sox, I could give a damn unless someone on the Yankees makes a miraculous play.  I’ll cheer that.  I’m a fan of baseball.  I’m a fan of the baseball I watch in front of me.  (By the way, cannot STAND scoreboard watchers at Mets games who erupt into a “YANKEES SUCK!” cheer when they see the Blue Jays are giving them a thumping.  My response is reflexive at this point: “THEY’RE NOT HERE!”  Atrocious.)

And I’m a fan of New York City.  If New York stands at the top of the baseball world, then the world makes sense.  If the series were between the Padres and the Yankees, I’m rooting for the Yankees.  Not obnoxiously, not with my Mets cap or jersey on.  But I’m at a bar for one of those games, and I’m rooting for the home team.  My opinion is valid, and if you think it misguided, feel free to try and convince me otherwise.  But I loves me gloating rights over another, lesser city (and they’re all lesser cities).  I loves me a parade. La-di-da-di, we like to party. 

Now, if what floats your boat is specifically hating on the Yankees, that’s fine.  I enjoy talking smack about Premio sausage patties (as opposed to the links, which are top notch).  I can lay into Uwe Boll with glee.  I don’t particularly enjoy three-drawer lateral filing cabinets: they’re too tall to make a seat and too short to be useful on any reasonable scale.  But if it’s Yankees hatred because they’re not the Mets and they’re crowding you with their obnoxiousness, chill out.  They’re due for a slide into terminal mediocrity, and the town will clear of the knuckleheads.  Fear not.

Chat With Fans.jpgFans stayed until the game was over, which was heartening.  The place was more crowded than this during the reading, but I suspect this was because there were a number of Skyhorse employees who had come to show their support of the house.  Commendable.  But Pearly McNecklaceson who was sitting beside me and jabbering about how cool it is to be in charge of interns, was it necessary to thwack me with your knock-off bag at EVERY opportunity?  I was wrong: it should be you that gets the fighter jet to the face.

Skyhorse Editor.jpgAll in all, a great time.  Fun to see people, whose words I’d been reading, reading their words.  I was tickled by Ms. Rice’s covering of her eyes as Frankie R. loaded the bases.  Something my sister would do.  And as I left the loss and proceeded down the–I’m sorry–AWFUL-smelling Grand Street, my switch flipped and I was in prep-for-Citi mode (will be in attendance tonight for Fernando Nieve’s tilt against the Toronto Blue Jays). (Update: I must’ve been high when I wrote this, and never mind the fact that I don’t smoke: they played the Rays.)

“Great,” I thought to myself.  “More birds.”  (Update: I probably cared more about getting the joke out than getting the team right.)  Perhaps I felt better recalling that this is still interleague and Andy Sonnanstine would have to bat.  He’s 2-for-8 so far this year.  That HAS to be his high-water mark.

*The only link I didn’t supply is one that I have in the past, to CBS Sports’ MLB Players Page.