Archives for posts with tag: Jerry Manuel

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.

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No mailbag today; emails mainly about Ken Takahashi’s alteration of his rookie costume (from three different folks; didn’t know y’all spent so much time staring at Ken Takahashi’s legs), and votes on the off-season profile pic.  Santana B makes a late surge.  Someone also made an impassioned plea for a humorous Nick Evans pic.  No write-ins means no write-ins, and the payoff would require too many steps.  But if I can do it where the laughter’s immediate and it’s not so expensive, I’m there as a one-off.  To vote on what my off-season profile pic will be, check out the rules and options here and email your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

But in the second half of my post on Wednesday, I wrote:

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.

I was hoping someone would get out in front of this business with a good and crunchy–I don’t know why “crunchy” sounds good to me there–article about how to a proper mathematical analysis on a manager’s ability.  And while it doesn’t claim to have all the statistical answers, Eric Simon’s post today on Amazin’ Avenue is some good work.  Read read read.

Again, and I think the caveats in the article come a bit too late, it does not claim to have a stats-based mien in toto.  But the heart-rather-than-head arguments made aren’t made with the histrionics that can cloud debate, and the attempt to analyze objectively is at least made.  I think it’s a good start.

Going to the game tonight, and will return to find The Wife at home for the first time since mid-August.  So I’ll see youse guys later.

Let’s go Mets!  Perfect October record coming up!

**

Goddamn.  I don’t even think I can call shenanigans:

Things we can take from this:

  • Metsblog is indeed comprehensive.  Love Cerrone or hate him–I think he does great work but needs a steady and fast copy editor–he’s got his finger on the pulse.

  • Jose Reyes’s injury travails shall be the stuff of legend.

  • This blog is remarkably unpopular.

  • I was right to let my subscription to New York magazine lapse.

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.

Readers of this blog should know that I enjoy TV like I enjoy complex carbohydrates.  It soothes me, it entertains me.  I hope to make a living writing for it someday soon.

So I reach for it whenever I need to be re-grounded.  Tonight, as I hope the seventh inning of tonight’s game against the Marlins has finally ended, I need re-grounding badly.

I have no words for Sean Green, or Jerry Manuel and his decision to take out Pedro Feliciano FOR Sean Green, except the following, which I’ve borrowed from a 30 Rock episode. 

“I could feel that it was time. Time for a new beginning. And I knew
that this was possible only through a cleansing fire. It would all have
to burn. The [batting helmets], the [line-up cards]: all of it would dance
in the warm mouth of my fire. And a new, better, wonderful me would
rise from the ashes like a phoenix.  Behold: the splendor of my beginning!”

This is all you’re getting tonight; I’m so angry I nearly demolished my desk chair.

Instead, I’m going to bed.  I’m a man in my late twenties on a clear Friday night and I’m going to bed. 

Fire.  Cleansing fire.

I enjoyed Fernando Tatis for a couple of years.  I really did.

But he’s now been responsible, too many times, for taking a game I wanted to watch and stomping all over it.

There was the streak of grounding into double plays back when he was playing regularly and there was still something to play for.  Now that games are played primarily for instructional purposes and out of contractual obligation, he’s killing that desire with pop ups and single out grounders: rally-wounders; at this point just as bad as rally-killers.

But think about my point for a moment: I work a long day.  I write and edit on my way into work, I spend all day pulled in nine different directions, I write and edit on my way back from work.  I sit down to ENJOY A 2009 METS GAME.  No pressure, all wistful thinking about the wistful thoughts I’ll have in less than two weeks.  Do you understand just what kind of personality and energy it takes to sit down AT THIS POINT and expect to ENJOY a game this season?

Exactly.

And then the Mets put runners in scoring position on some heads-up play.

And then I see Fernando Tatis, and Gary, Keith, and Ron are already talking about what I already know: that Tatis is a strange choice to pinch-hit in this position, given Jair Jurrjens minor struggles against lefties during the night and his relative facility with righties.

(David Wright’s ears and his four hitless at-bats are burning.  If Chowdah ever listened, his ears would be burning, too.)

There’s a shot of Jerry Manuel, there’s a one-pitch at-bat, there’s Cory Sullivan, and then there’s the eighth inning.

Fernando “Grand-Slams” Tatis.  I wonder if Mr. Manuel believes that Fernando Tatis works from muscle memory obtained a decade ago.  I’m here to say that the man, undeniably, does not.

Allow me to crib from one of King Of The Hill‘s few truly twisted and ingenious episodes, “Plastic White Female”:

Paul: You’re just using Tatis as a crutch.

Jerry Manuel: He’s not a crutch, Paul. He’s someone I’ve come to rely on to help
me through life.

And then I cut Fernando Tatis’s batting helmet in half with a table saw.

The only true joy that came out of this game was watching Nelson Figueroa’s increasing levels of “You gotta be kidding me,” as he faced Jair Jurrjens at the plate in his last batter. Jurrjens fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch, only to finally ground out to Figueroa.  When Figueroa trotted the tag to Jurrjens personally, I laughed so hard that I think I made a little water.

Also, for those who couldn’t hip to the broadcast tonight: head out to Sag Harbor.  Find Paradise Restaurant on Main Street.  Ask for Howie, and tell him Keith Hernandez sent you.  Best revelation of random fact since I learned that HBO Boxing’s ringside scorer Harold Lederman doubles as a pharmacist somewhere in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The world is a strange, strange place.

Anyway. Ten games left.  Fernando Tatis, I will not feel bad if you find your way to another team next season.  Time to relieve the Mets of the crutch.

**For those who want to vote on what my off-season profile pic will be, check out the rules and options here and email your choice to omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.

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.

I now know for a fact that I’ve seen Tim Redding swing a bat.  I made it a point to sit down tonight and watch him.  Still, you could put a gun to my head and I wouldn’t remember them.  That wire brush on his chin is mesmerizing.

Land Shark Stadium was DESERTED. Wow.

Sean Green is STILL throwing not to Omir Santos, but to the Marlins cheerleaders–they have cheerleaders–out along the first base side.

Finally: when Murphy hit that ground rule double, Jerry Manuel came out to discuss the possibility (it wasn’t) that the ball had hit the scoreboard (it hit the reserve stands past the wall) and was still in play (no chance). 

Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez discussed the conversation; as it broke up, Keith had these words:

Keith: “And of course, [first base umpire] Angel Hernandez has to come over and stick his snout into it.”

[Emphasis Keith’s.]

Silence for several moments, possibly due to Gary’s slamming of the mute button to laugh uproariously, or bite his fist to avoid same. 

Then, as the graphic appears below the current game score:

Keith (disgruntled): “These are the umpires.”

Wikipedia has basic coverage of whatever Angel Hernandez’s problem is.  There’s an old Augusta Chronicle article that doesn’t make him a mortal lock for Swine Of The Century, but for all his subsequent atrocities, it’s always good to read about how Piazza manhandled the man. 

And Greg Prince at Faith And Fear In Flushing has a bit from back in late May that mentions Angel Hernandez, and is always good for a laugh.  (My thanks for the linkback to coverage of Tuesday, Mr. Prince.  Quite appreciated.)

God bless ya, Keith.  You tell it like it is.  I have a special hard place in my heart for Brian Runge, but Angel Hernandez is a classic bile-magnet.

“And where the hell were you?”
“Sorry, T; the highway was jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive.”
“What, are you a comedian now?”

The Sopranos, “Long-Term Parking”

 
Lots of injury seen yesterday:

  • Martin Prado comes out of the game with a headache;
  • Oliver Perez tweaks his knee on a cover attempt at first;
  • Derek Lowe gets hit on his glove hand trying to cover a hit up the middle;
  • Anderson Hernandez goes down trying to cover second;
  • Larry Jones goes hitless and hurts his pride;
  • Jerry Manuel discusses the mess that was Ryan Church’s 2008 concussion and, as my junior high band teacher used to say, steps on his joint;
  • Ryan Church does less than Larry Jones, and hurts his team’s playoff chances;
  • someone (I’ve no idea who) slips on the slick rotunda floor and is taken to an ambulance on a stretcher.

 
Each of these points should be addressed before moving forward. I choose to do so in reverse order.
 
First: that floor in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda is a menace. It’s lovely and eye-catching and leads the fan to inserts detailing Mr. Robinson’s nine core values, but it’s slippery when DRY. And last night saw two sure signs of the Apocalypse: the current Mets line-up notching ten hits against the $60 million man, and a resultant flash thunderstorm. There was an easy quarter-inch of rain on the ground and no sign of decent drainage.  Put that on the list for off-season adjustments. 

Also add the completion of whatever this:

construction.jpg…is supposed to be, far west of the bullpen gate. (For orientation purposes, the window on the far right looks out onto the parking lot behind center field and, across the water, LaGuardia Airport.)  Restaurant with thirty-foot ceilings? Mets museum? What up?
 
Next: Ryan Church had three ground-outs last night before striking out to end the game, leaving him 0-for-4 on the night.

I’m in the camp that believes Ryan Church’s concussions were handled poorly by the Mets–and I’ll get to my thinking in a moment–but in the Land of Put Up Or Shut Up (which is just across the border from Bring It, Turkey and shares a river with Yo Mama), Chachi was a beggar.  Shame. He was afforded rounds of  applause for each at bat.  Had his output matched Chowdah’s and had the Mets still come out with the win, I’d’ve been cool with it.
 
Next: I don’t think Jerry Manuel had a leg to stand on in discussing the dueling concussion experiences of Ryan Church and David Wright. Hell, Mr. Manuel, Chachi had TWO of them, and in both instances he was playing hard, and in one, he was playing hard during SPRING TRAINING.
 
A man who plays like that is going to want to go out there until he can’t anymore. It’s management’s job to protect him. But Chachi’s situation was less complex than the chest-thumping war cries between man and other man.  He’d suffered TWO CONCUSSIONS within three months.  If you sprain your ankle twice in three months, you take it easier.  If your right fielder knocks around his BRAIN twice in three months, you put the man on the DL.

I can’t believe I’ll pick a mild pun off the rack, but guys: it wasn’t like it was brain surgery.  It’s common sense.  Don’t listen to what the man says.  He’s not Superman.  His body slid, semi-conscious, past second base after hitting Yunel Escobar’s knee.  I was watching as it happened and I grabbed my OWN head.

Furthermore, what does bringing all this up AGAIN get you but more aggravation and a series of day-job writers thinking your organization is rife with either incompetence or bullheadedness, from the trainers to the management to the press office?  It’s the communications equivalent of intentionally walking a batter to get to the pitcher’s spot: you’ve only bought yourself more trouble.

Next: I’m awed and humbled that the derisive “Laaaaarry! Laaaaarry!” chant made it across the alley.  This is the first Mets-Braves game I’ve been to all year, and hearing it made me feel truly, TRULY at home.  No louder was it than when Omir Santos grounded to third on a fielder’s choice, and Jones bobbled it or couldn’t get a grip on it or was doing Chowdah a favor or what, and the ninth run scored.

I didn’t get a shot of it, but it appeared Larry gave a defeated shrug at the end of the play.  Delightful.

He and Church were 0-for-8 on the night.  That’s about as historic as a ten-hit Met inning, considering the team’s status at present.

Next: Anderson Hernandez.

anderson hernandez injury.jpg
I’d just gotten through talking about how Jose Reyes, Ramon Martinez, and Alex Cora were on the DL, and how it would behoove Anderson Hernandez to watch himself.  And down he went.

It was about at this point during the game that, aside from derisive tomahawk chops and exhortations for the free-swinging to stop in the later innings, I decided to keep my fool mouth shut.

(For the record, I also called Adam LaRoche’s solo home run.  The Wife can confirm that one, too. 

Listen, I don’t report these things because I’m an ego-maniacal train wreck.  I report these things because I find them scary.  Though as my seatmate Mike reminded me, “Calling a home run off Oliver Perez is like calling the sun’s rise in the East tomorrow morning.”  Fair enough.

By the way, have you seen The Wife?  Here she is:

the field.jpg

That’s her head on the left.)

Next: Derek Lowe.

derek lowe injury.jpg

Someone shouted “Rub some dirt on it!” 

Probably would’ve helped, but here’s the video as captured by SNY, and the quote as caught by ESPN:

“That had nothing to do with it,” Lowe said, referring to his pinkie. “I was under every single ball flat.”

Very well, Mr. Lowe.  You had a crappy night and your defense up the middle left a bit to be desired.  I thank you for adding ten hits in an inning to my list of Mets History Witnessed, which includes Santana’s One Hundredth Win and Sheffield’s Five Hundredth Homer.  Cheers.

Next: Oliver Perez.

perez card.jpgC’mon, guy.  Do you HAVE to look so goofy?  Shouldn’t your hands be folded on a desk with a large vinyl reproduction of a library-scape hanging behind you?  Perhaps with “2009” in white-on-black hanging upper left?  Criminy.

To be fair, he walked only one ba
tter, and struck out four, and the Matt Diaz pitch looked from above to be a mistake, and I claim responsibility for the LaRoche home run.  My question, really, is whether he was pulled after 78 pitches because of the tweak his knee got in the fourth inning, or because runners were starting to get on again as of said fourth.

I’m guessing a bit of Column A and a bit of Column B.

I will get off his case only enough to say he hustled to cover first, and he had me beat on the number of walks he issued.  Whether his stuff was better than the Braves’ or whether the Braves were godawful… hell, how subjective IS this sport, anyway?

Here’s how subjective, both in amount and true nature: I was all ready to take a look at Derek Lowe’s record and Oliver Perez’s record, set them side by side, with no-decisions factored, and figure out just where the truth lay on who would be the better Met.  But the Braves have not had NEARLY the spades of injury trouble the Mets have had.  They’ve not had the same schedule.  Hell, from what I see on his game log, he’s made each of his starts.  Perez hasn’t.  How do you reasonably compare the two without major question?

The only anecdotal way I know is this: from what I’ve seen, Derek Lowe throws first-pitch strikes.  Oliver Perez oftentimes does not.  It has been my experience that pitchers who throw first-pitch strikes get into less trouble, and last longer in games, than those who do not.  Those who do not leave us with men named Elmer Dessens, and the ridiculous tactic of berating said Elmers for the purpose of reverse-psychology-derived gains.

That’s all I’ve got.

Lastly: Martin Prado–what’s going on with Martin Prado?  I haven’t checked that had because, well, it’s Martin Prado and I care about Martin Prado just about as well as I can throw Martin Prado, which is to say not all that much.  I care in that he’s a fellow human being and I don’t wish him any particular harm, but no one on the internet-box can tell me what his deal is with these headaches.  Anyone know?  Swine flu?  The bends?  Restaurant?  Mets museum?  What up?

Yes, lots of injury last night.  Lots of potential for injury.  We ran like hell for the Chernobyl-style stairwells from the Promenade overhang; we shoved past rubberneckers on the stairs in the rotunda; we ran like hell from the rotunda to the subway entrance, which was a SEAL-type operation in an of itself (I got to tell someone I “broke left” when running the after-action report). 

leaving citi.jpgYou know it’s bad when the best I can do for my post-victory photo of the park is a runaway shot from the 7 Super-Express, above.

Hell, Big Man was in rare form and got a T-shirt for his ad-hoc mascot trouble:

section 528 t-shirt.jpgAs I’ve said in the past: great for branding.  Keep that liver running, my friend.

But a tremendous afternoon and evening at the park.  I’m almost sad I can’t head out tonight, but I’m bloody exhausted, and I think I hurt my shoulder, having run full-bore into a man wearing a “Texas Longhorns” T-shirt while trying for cover.  He did indeed apologize.

As for me, I’m scheduled for a side session on Friday.

Took the morning off, and now have just about forty minutes left before I have to head out.  

Fortunately, I spent about eight hours at the ball park yesterday and managed to grab some interesting photos that have little to do with the true joys of last night.  
So, yeah.  Flickr can go take a bath; here are shots from yesterday afternoon’s batting practice. Fred Wilpon, Omar Minaya, and Billy Wagner make an appearance at the end:
daniel murphy.jpg
I’m Daniel Murphy, and I stand in the infield with my arms slightly akimbo.
mike pelfrey.jpg
Mike Pelfrey walks on stilts.
pedro feliciano.jpg
Absence of a mole confirms this is, in fact, Pedro Feliciano and not Carlos Beltran.
jerry manuel.jpg
This is ALSO not Carlos Beltran.
And now, the Wilpon series:
fred wilpon.jpg
fred wilpon signs.jpg
fred wilpon waves.jpg
wilpon and wagner.jpg
wilpon minaya and wagner.jpg
wagner and minaya.jpg
wilpon and minaya.jpg
More to come on last night’s game, which started with polka music and only got more bizarre from there.

THIS guy:

Cora Star-Ledger.jpgGod, I’ve been holding that in all night. 

My thanks to the Newark Star-Ledger for the photo.

There is little to say about last night’s game save that I have no proof that I completely called the sixth inning (but I did), and Andy Green worked a walk in his first Met at-bat (it’s true; I saw it and the papers back me up). 

Discussing the loss of Alex Cora’s grit and passion–I think the cool kids are calling it “grission”–would be more disheartening than discussing the plodding game management and shoddy pitching.  So as the cool kids used to say, I won’t go there.

Except that the Mets have lost Jose Reyes, Alex Cora, and Ramon Martinez to injury this year.  I have a feeling that if Wilson Valdez had even sniffed serviceability, he’d’ve gone down with a sinus infection.  And now I understand why Anderson Hernandez takes big, wild hacks at balls outside the strike zone.  If I had that kind of target on my back, I’d be swinging at pitches even if they’d decided to walk me.

Speaking of intentional walks: I’d like to go on record as stating that I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot.

Actually, scratch that.  I feel like making a list:

  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up a rookie pitcher who’s been out virtually the entire year, and had already matched his highest number of innings pitched;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot with fewer than two outs;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot with fewer than two outs and runners at second and third;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot for a team that’s still in the thick of a hunt for a playoff spot with a chance to break the game open;
  • I HATE the intentional walk to bring up the pitcher’s spot when your team’s 3-1 hole might as well be a 5-1, 6-1, 7-1, 8-1, 9-1, or, hell, 10-1 hole.

The San Francisco Giants’ bench is not as awful as the New York Mets’ bench.  Walk Edgar Renteria to face Nate Schierholtz?  If Jerry Manuel thought Bruce Bochy was going to let Joe Martinez bat with the bases loaded, one out, and a chance to break the game wide-open, he’s out of his mind.

I only bring it up because I generally hate the intentional walk as a tactic, and because, as I said, I called it.  If The Wife were a notary public, I’d’ve jotted the sequence down on my take-out napkin:

  • intentional walk to Renteria;
  • Giants sub Martinez for pinch-hitter;
  • Livan Hernandez attempts to induce the double play; pinch-hitter scores two;
  • Hernandez taken out for Elmer Dessens;
  • Dessens allows an RBI out;
  • Dessens gets out of the inning.

She’d’ve given it a seal; I’d’ve mailed it to myself in the past (I moonlight as a Timecop), and maybe saved myself a bit more grief.  But there comes to be a saturation point with grief, after which one can wring most of it out, but it’s still damp.  And that’s what I am, presently: damp with grief.

There’s an image.

I’m not saying I can manage in the major leagues.  I’m saying if I can guess that progression, and know it’ll end badly, and it happens anyway, then Mr. Manuel is not as crafty as I thought he was before the game began.  And I wasn’t high on him before the game began.

Don’t intentionally walk a guy when the next guy up will, more likely than not, be a man whose batting average is thirty points higher, and when the whole team is playing for something.  If this is it, if you believe your season is done, if you’re packing it in, have your tomato can of a starting pitcher GO AFTER EVERY GUY IN THE ORDER.  That’d be “grission” for you.  Ugh.

And now, in a replay of what I was lucky to miss because it happened in another state, the Mets face the Atlanta Braves, and Oliver Perez squares off against Derek Lowe. 

I’ll make it clear in case I haven’t: I have no time for Oliver Perez.  None.  That I’ve paid money for this experience cheeses me off all the more.  I’m setting the over/under on walks tonight at five and taking the over.

I’ll be getting there early, to boot; The Wife has never seen the new park and she and I will be walking all over it.  Bloating from too much beer and box frites today; photos and highlights to come tomorrow.

Let’s go Mets! (Right?  We still say that, cool or not?  “Let’s go Mets”?  Sure.  Let’s go Mets.)

**Word came via comment from Matthew Peaslee over at The Pittsburgh Peas that Section Five Twenty-Eight is the most recent “Featured Blog” on the MLBlogs home page, and to quote a Hungarian friend with short Achilles tendons, that pleases me much.

If you’ve somehow found your way to this pit of misery and despair, please check out Mr. Peaslee’s blog.  As for Mr. Peaslee himself, if he’s reading: I’ve got a short but packed day, but will email you specific thanks and thoughts later.  Cheers.