Archives for posts with tag: Josh Thole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mr met.jpg
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Amusing:

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis mine.  Click here for the full read.

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

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

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

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

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

“Their season is over.”

“It’s not over.”

“What are you talking about?  They’re out of it.”

“They’re not out of it.”

“Paul, they’re out of it.”

“They haven’t been mathematically eliminated.”

“…Yes, that’s true…

deserted stands.jpg…they haven’t been mathematically eliminated.”

Whether due to the weather or the emptiness of the ball park or the fact that I rode home alone the whole way–7 train to N train to R train–I felt pretty damned surly all last night and into the wee hours today.  My usual Mets batterymate was also not in attendance.  So the balance was shifted towards Yankee fans, with his seat taken by the girlfriend of the third member of our usual party.

It’s either too early or I’m too disinterested in rehashing the thought to make that clear.  Suffice it to say I sat next to two people who could give a damn about the game, and so I felt like a third wheel most of the time.  I didn’t know one could spend $300 on six months’ worth of a fan experience and still feel like a third wheel.

Maybe I just needed a second set of ribs.

deserted shake shack.jpgI walked up to the Blue Smoke counter and ordered, and so was in and out of the center field concourse within two minutes.  This is dangerous; if Mets games are to be this poorly-attended from here on out, I’ll need to do my damnedest to fill up before the game and stick to the beer, which is considerably less expensive.  Speaking of:

t-shirts 01.jpgThat’s the one that just makes me look like a goob’.  THIS one:

t-shirts 02.jpgShould please The Wife no end.

“Please to note”: I don’t know any of their names.  I’m not even kidding.  I have no clue.  We’re all dressed alike; we all enjoy beer.  That’s all I need to know, really.

They have a Facebook page.  I don’t have a Facebook anything, so I can’t check this.

Last night’s game against the Marlins (L; 4-2) leaves five or six nails left for the coffin, depending on your perspective; either you nail the coffin in five and bury, or you seal the coffin with the sixth and burial is incidental.

What’s been running through my head, though, besides wild ideas of how the Mets can save themselves from a losing season (think their competition turning into reverse vampires that can’t play night games and thus have to forfeit), is some light calculus on just what kind of record makes, generally, a playoff-bound team.

Example of what I mean:

  • in one hundred sixty-two (162) games,
  • a team can alternate wins and losses for seventy-six (76) games,
  • earning them a record of 38-38,
  • then run off a ten-game winning streak,
  • earning them a record of 48-38,
  • then return to alternating wins and losses for seventy-six games,
  • coming out of the season with a record of 86-76.

The 2008 Mets had a ten-game winning streak and ended with a record of 89-73.  Look where that got them.

“Dominance,” at least of a division as currently woeful as the NL East, would be a record of 96-66.  Which would be like:

  • staring down the barrel of 162 games,
  • alternating wins and losses for 44 games (22-22),
  • breaking off a ten-game winning streak (32-22),
  • alternating again for 44 games (54-44),
  • managing another ten game winning streak (64-44),
  • alternating AGAIN for 44 games (86-66),
  • then wrapping up with a final ten-gamer (96-66).

My point with all this nonsense?  Baseball is MUCH harder than it looks. 

Take a ball most people can fit decently within the palm of their hand. 

Try and hit it with a wooden bat as it’s hurled at you really fast. 

Then, if you hit it, try and make it three hundred sixty feet back to where you started, without anyone taking that ball and tagging you with it, which is entirely possible unless you manage to whack that thing safely out of bounds, which, if you ask Angel Pagan after last night, must take something like nine offerings to Ba’al and a carton of smokes to whomever decides where the fences should be.

Now get nine guys together who can do this over the course of three hours, almost every day, for six months.

Make sure they don’t get hurt, or if they do, that you have someone good enough to replace them.

And do it well enough to win as much as you lose, except for those instances wherein you play a team so bad or so not on their game that you can manage to steal a few.  Have as many of those instances as you possibly can.

Do all this well enough to do it over again when it starts to get really cold, except with more scrutiny, increased pressure to perform, and absurdly late start times (because it’s SO important to cater to people who would gladly watch at 7p or are upset that you’re preempting their programming anyway).

And do this with the expectation that, win or lose, if you got this far you’d better come back better, faster, and stronger, else some numbskull–raising my hand here–will label you forever a bum, who has no business doing any of the above.

I’m not saying it’s not worth it; I’m not saying these guys don’t get paid to do just this job.  I’m just saying, like one stops to really notice a bed of tulips on the first warm afternoon or really appreciates sleeping in their bed after a long day of work or really gets how good a perfectly charred burger tastes, it’s REALLY hard.

And that Carlos Beltran worked hard to get back to this life, in the face of not-yet-mathematically-impossible odds…

beltran in the lineup.jpg…that earns some REAL appreciation from me.

Even if he did go 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

betran prepping.jpgbeltran timing.jpg

beltran citi at the plate.jpg
Pictures of David Wright’s hitlessness are unavailable, due to the author’s desire not to screw up this stiff-upper-lip thing he’s got going on.  Hell, I’ve even got a sarcastic shot of Brian Stokes’s winning “Pitcher Of The Month,” but I’m not even in the mood.

I’m in the mood to watch Josh Thole stalk away from the plate in slow-motion after tagging out Dan Uggla.  I could watch that plenty.

Speaking of Uggla: in front of us last night sat a couple who seemed fairly even-tempered, until it was learned that the duo’s better half was combining her rabid hatred of Dan Uggla (which I enjoyed and stoked) with surreptitiously scrap-booking a Mets Program Guide and furiously doodling on a green-and-black Marlins cap (which I guess was promotional).

Now, Dan Uggla’s crimes against the National League are the stuff of legend: three errors, three strikeouts and a ground-into-double-play during an All-Star Game that the NL could’ve won if he’d’ve gotten his head together.  But it was as if she’d left an evil spirit after her departure.  The air felt colder in that seat.

Or, to quote and summarize from my friends, who were closer to her: “Yo, that girl was bats*** CRAZY.”  Fair enough.

I’ve little else to say, so I’ll leave with this:

a new board.jpg…which is the Mets Out-Of-Town Scoreboard.  Usually there’s some ad on the far left.  Last time I was there, it was an ad for MLB Network.  However:

a new board enhanced.jpgI believe this is the last of the game-action screens to go up.  Either that, or they’re planning for the next time a team scores twenty runs and the general board is not up to the task.  Either way, if it’s to someone’s benefit, I’m for it.

Next game for me is September 18th; I may try and stick a visit to the Bronx somewhere between that and October 2nd, versus the Astros, but I’ve been trying like hell to get out to Chicago all year, and if it’s between the Miracle Mile and River Avenue, I’m picking the Miracle Mile.

Adios, adieu, and away.

I imagine working on a post during the off-season will be much like trying to work on a post this morning.  It’s cold.  It’s dark.  The next room over, friends who freelance are in their fourth hour of drinking bourbon and working on their indie-rock-acoustic version of “Down By The River.”  And I don’t have much to say.

I’m excited for Josh Thole’s call-up like I was excited back when I still had magazine subscriptions and they showed at my door.  I’ll watch for his first hit and his first home run and when he strikes out in consecutive plate appearances for the first time, I’ll certainly head for the back pages and read as deep as I can into his stats.  But I’ll need something on the order of New York‘s Eliot Spitzer cover–post-scandal–to snap me back into focus.

Really, my deepest regret is that I probably won’t see Carlos Delgado play again in a Mets uniform.  It could happen, yes.  But I haven’t heard Word One since his oblique strain during his rehab. 

Makes me recall wistfully that I figured Carlos Delgado to reach five hundred home runs faster than Gary Sheffield.  Then I watched Gary Sheffield hit his five hundredth home run.

More and more, I think myself the Mets Angel of Death; I got excited, despite my constant harangue, about Carlos Beltran playing rehab out at Keyspan Park with the Cyclones, and began a quick think about how I might get to tonight’s game.  Then I recalled how I was in the stands when Angel Pagan hurt himself in his rehab assignment last year.

Proximity may not be a factor, and it needn’t even be a direct interest or direct suggestion of greatness or misery: I was watching the Houston-Minnesota preseason game with a roommate when we heard Chris Berman (you should refuse to call him “Boomer,” as I refuse) report Andy Pettitte’s perfect game in the sixth.  We switched to that game.  In the seventh, with one out…

Roommate: “Can you commit an error and still have a perfect game?”

Two outs.

Me: “No.  The game has to be perfect.  Twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down.” (In my head) “God, baseball’s an odd sport.  Nine innings, three outs per inning, twenty-seven the minimum number of hitters faced.  Ten innings and forty or fifty as a minimum: that satisfies a need for round numbers.”

The ball then ate up Jerry Hairston, Jr.  Man on.

Roommate: “But he can still get the no-hitter.”
Me: “As long as they score that ball an error.”

They do, and the next ball gets past Hairston for a hit.

Roommate: “Well, so much for that.”

I think in the off-season I’ll work on some back up plans: how to blather in the absence of blatherable material.  My mother likes the old saw about not saying anything when there’s nothing to say.  I once sat her down for ten minutes and told her why I thought that was an irresponsible thing for a creative person to do.

Besides, it’s September.  I love September.  Labor Day’s a mandatory barbecue day.  My birthday’s on the 15th.  I was hired to this no-longer-new job last year on the 22nd, and with it came money to pay bills and go to games.  And it’s cooler.  I love sweaters.  They make me look svelte.

David Wright comes back tonight, and so there’ll be something to talk about at the end of the day, surely.  That gives me enough reason to not bring my poison or voodoo or whatever it is to Coney Island and Carlos Beltran’s knees.  I’ll stretch the material like any good writer might do.

However, word is we’re closing early Friday.  If there’s any chance of seeing Beltran play on Labor Day weekend, I am there.