Archives for posts with tag: Oliver Perez

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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Letters.  I get letters. I get half a dozen letters.
 
Letters:

**These have been sanitized and edited, lightly, to keep my head from blowing off. There’s such a thing as a difference between a plural and a possessive, folks. 

If you’d like, email me at omniality [at] gmail [dot] com.
 

“Like your idea about the Mets Museum, but it’s just too small. 200,
300 people? That park holds THOUSANDS. Space is too small and they’ll
never do it. Even if, I could just see them ****ing it up like
everything else.”

 
Think I should work backward here:
 

  • I don’t grant the premise that the Mets **** up everything.

  • They either will or they won’t. I think space is the least of the concerns with the idea. Harder still is the thought that they’d be into putting together the workforce to produce these segments, to say nothing about handing over some editorial control to these guys.

  • Putting this together would appear to require a sea change in the way the ownership and management thinks about the team. It’s hard to put yourself in the position of teaching tool, showing your team’s great plays even if they came in a loss.  That’s before wrangling together all the permissions and partnerships.  That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s worth it; that just means it’d be hard. Shouldn’t shy away from hard, though.

  • I think the viewing rooms should hold two to three hundred in aggregate. The museum itself (adding the Hall Of Fame stuff to it) could hold a hundred or a couple hundred more. I’ll take a look at the spot I posited again, but that was really just a general suggestion of where to put it, if on the current property.  I don’t think you want it any bigger than four hundred; that becomes a bear to evacuate in case of emergency. Additionally, people should be coming to see the game, not the museum. This should be a novelty.

 
There were a couple of other emails that fell into the same general category.  In fact, two were nearly identical:
 

“They’ll never go for it. Too expensive and Madoff Madeoff-ha-with too much of their $$.”

 
That Madoff/Madeoff thing is getting old. Guy’s in prison; it’s done.
 
But given what could be made on DVD compilations of the sets (“Watch May’s Mets Museum Series from the comfort of your own home! Only $15.99!”), and the uptick in concessions sales you’d see by getting people to the park a couple hours earlier, I think the trade-off is worthwhile.
 
What we’re really talking about is a way to get more people to the park, increase revenue and develop new streams of it, and changing the way people perceive ownership/management when it comes to handling the Mets’ image.
 
I’m not saying it’ll ever happen. I’m just saying it’s more interesting for me to think about than trying to gin up trade ideas. Not that I don’t do that, either. And on that note:
 

“Why don’t you ever talk about what the Mets need for next year? Your guys are in for a world of hurt”

 
Quickly? Left fielder, righty off the bench. Second, third starters. A way to get rid of Fauxhawk’s (Oliver Perez’s) contract. A legitimate first baseman. A quality backup infielder that’s SPEEDY.
 
A time machine for Fernando Tatis. A deal with the devil to lock Luis Castillo into his 2009 form. A cage in which to lock Sean Green whenever he’s been bad. A clue as to what to do with Bobby Parnell.
 
That’s for starters.
 
I think I mention it subtly. I don’t have their ear, and I don’t know diddly about what’s out there save for what I read on ESPN and MLB and various Mets blogs that suggest trade ideas. I’m trying to be original. Last time I ham-handedly thought a big trade was in the offing, I thought the move for Chowdah was the first step to getting Roy Halladay.
 
THAT… was incorrect.  And speaking of Chowdah:
 

“Like the blog! Good writing. Who the hell is Chowdah?”

 
Chowdah is Jeff Francoeur. Somewhere on this site is a clip from an episode of The Simpsons where Diamond Joe Quimby’s nephew berates a French waiter.
 
“Say it, Frenchy! Say ‘Chowdah’!”
 
And speaking of that:
 

“Ur a moron.”

True, but not for the reasons you may think, and not for anything listed above.

I once tried to get a friend to eat a sandwich that was just two slices of white bread and a huge honkin’ schmear of vegemite.  He said he would but we never got around to arranging a date and time to do this.  So, one lonely night, I decided I would.  And I did. And I nearly died.
 
Yet another shining example of why The Wife should wrap up grad school as soon as possible: I’m liable to kill myself if she’s away much longer.
 
I’m out to the game tonight, to catch the Mets playing the Washington Nationals in what I’m sure will be dubbed “The Blind Leading The Blind Bowl.” Seeing as how my camera is once again responding to external stimuli, but my laptop is now literally held together by duct tape, I can’t promise pictures and a recap right away.

But as the Mets are now only getting the AP and second-stringer treatment from the Times, perhaps everyone’s bar for coverage has been set a little lower.
 
Let’s go Mets!

The Mets say Johan and Fauxhawk are both to undergo surgery tomorrow, at the Hospital For Special Surgery.  Catch the MLB report here.

I’m not a praying man, but as Johan’s surgery is to involve removing bone chips from the elbow, and Perez’s surgery is to involve removing scar tissue from the knee, I will pray that Drs. Altchek and Coleman don’t somehow confuse the two.  Nurses, please indicate their respective appropriate operational areas with an iodine-based dye.

And, because at the heart of most blogs is a relentless desire to repackage someone else’s creative ability, and because I couldn’t resist:

http://www.hulu.com/embed/idKySgduSG7qaTbI-5S6Mg

Three balls to Pedro Martinez after two three-run homers, and he was pulled mid-count.

And now he’s gone for the year. (Linked to Metsblog because as fantabulous news as this is, I can’t seem to find it elsewhere as of 3:47p.  Also, why am I eating lunch at 3:47p?)

(UPDATE: Click here for MLB.com’s coverage; I imagine Mr. DiComo’s article will be updated with news and reaction as it comes in, so refresh or bump up my returning page views and come back here occasionally.)

“The Mets expect Perez to be ready for Spring Training.”  He wasn’t ready for Spring Training 2009; besides there being no World Baseball Classic; what makes them think 2010 will be any different?

::Sigh.:: So long, Fauxhawk.  Glad I won’t have to project whether I’ll see you again at the ball park this season.

First, a bit of business: I’ll be at Two Boots Tavern tonight for the second installment of Faith And Fear In Flushing’s “Amazin’ Tuesdays” series.  If you enjoy feedback loops, click here; Mr. Prince not only gives you a rundown of who’ll be there and how you can get a free beer, but he’s also been kind enough to link to my reviews of the first Amazin’ Tuesday and the earlier “Metstock.”

Those of you who are in the area are probably going to be eating pizza and drinking beer anyway.  You should do so on Grand Street.  If you do, say hello.  I will not buy you a beer, unless you buy me one, but somewhat tangentially, I’m not contagious anymore and indeed, my head is quite nearly clear of congestion at this point.  That alone should throw the proverbial wheel hard in the direction of approachably genial.

So, yes, Amazin’ Tuesday.  Two Boots Tavern.  What I like to do from the Upper East Side is take a Lexington express train down to Union Square, transfer to the local, and transfer at Bleecker to a Sixth Avenue express.  Three trains, yet the ride somehow takes about fifteen minutes.  I’m somewhat attention-deficient, so the movement keeps me upbeat.

Starts at seven.  Go.

Now then: I wrote this post on August 12th, about the new Rawlings S100 batting helmet (use your back button to return).

On August 17th, I wrote this post hoping that Johan Santana wouldn’t suffer at my bony, cloak-wearing hand.  Not “hands,” as the other is busy wielding a scythe.

However, he’s now with Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital For Special Surgery.  I meant to take a spin by there and see if there’d been anything laid at the foundation.  Perhaps it’s just enough that someone spent last night behind the gates somehow, clad in black and holding a single thorny rose.

Billy Wagner will probably not accept a trade to the Red Sox because he wants to be a closer, and Jonathan Papelbon already jigs-it-up for the Fenway folk.  I think his particular brand of hard luck (and ours) will be at the negotiating table.

Luis Castillo’s taken his lumps already.  Chowdah’s got the ligament issue (and Chowdah didn’t even show until July).  Sheffield’s got his/has his/will get his; I can’t keep straight what’s bothering that guy anymore.  But at least he’s gone out there.  This is good.

Schneider’s a ghost already; predicting his doom would probably only RAISE his batting average.

If you’ve seen a Star Wars or an Indiana Jones movie–or even Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (which, if you enjoy a ruthlessly bloodthirsty matinee, I recommend)–you’re familiar with something called “The Wilhelm Scream.”  It’s reserved for the death of cannon fodder: a foot soldier who you KNOW is going to go down in a hail of whatever fired by whomever our hero is.

If you do a search for NPR Wilhelm Scream, you’ll come across the On The Media transcript for an interview on said scream.  Read (and listen? I don’t have the player) here.

The Mets are not the bad guys, though they’ve been made out to be.  But at this point, all the Mets have are redshirts: guys who really should be faceless.

(“Three balls to Pedro Martinez after two three-run homers, and he was pulled mid-count.”)

I can’t, therefore, try my hand at predicting the next Met injury because, to the extent that the guys out there are pretty much all the same redshirt, it doesn’t matter.  Luke and Leia are going to manage to swing onto the other side of the bridge; Indy will get the better of Belloq.  Good guys or bad, that’s the script.

This is obviously not their year.  As I’ve stated several times now, one should watch Mets baseball if Mets baseball is still fun.  I will still watch, because it allows me time to decompress.  And I enjoy a win whenever they do.  Besides, after baseball comes football, but after football comes a whole lotta nothing.

However, while I will not predict the downfall of another Metropolitan, once my voice fully recovers, I will be practicing my “AIIIEEEEEEE!!!”

**I’ve been pulled from tonight’s game, by the way, in favor of Nelson Figueroa.

Specifically, any one of the genus of Picoraviridae that knocked me out this weekend.

In short, I had a cold.

I have the worst colds because I suffer the shortest colds.  For me, they’re the upper respiratory equivalent of ripping a Band-Aid off in a single yank.  Or the baseball equivalent of turning a triple play.

Or the Perez equivalent of getting yanked mid-count.

I honestly have never seen that happen.  To any pitcher.  Granted, there wasn’t television available in the dorm rooms at Bennington College, so I missed a significant chunk of live Mets mediocrity.  I had to settle for reading about it online. (Remember what the Mets website looked like in 2001?  Neither do I.)  But in my time of watching Mets baseball, I don’t recall a pitcher getting pulled out mid-count.

Hell, it’s to the point where I’ve been telling people not-in-the-baseball-know that you can’t take a pitcher out mid-count unless he’s injured.  My God, was I wrong about that.  Now I have to go back and tell people I’m a moron.  They knew this already; still… embarrassing.

So now I’ve gotta find out when the last time was that such a thing happened.  I will email various fine folks; I will scour the Intertubes.  I may ask people at Two Boots tomorrow, if I’m not still hacking up a lung.

Which I don’t think I will be.  Colds for me are done after a couple days; most I see suffering colds suffer them for a week or two.  Not me.  Something knocks me off my horse, I loll about in the dirt for a bit, I’m asked if I want some aspirin or cough suppressant and say no; I hallucinate in the middle of the night that Ron Livingston is going to blow me out into space; I sneeze like a maniac for four hours; I get right back on.

By the by, you may ask: why am I more interested in the history of pitchers removed mid-count than the eviscerating of Oliver Perez for his terrible performance?  The answer: if this is indeed the rarity I think it is, I have him to thank for giving me a thumbnail answer to anyone’s assertion that he’s any sort of good.

Someone: “Oliver Perez is throwing some heat tonight.”
Me: “Three balls to Pedro Martinez after two three-run homers, and he was pulled mid-count.”

Someone: “Wow, that was amazing!  You see Ollie get out of that jam?”
Me: “Three balls to Pedro Martinez after two three-run homers, and he was pulled mid-count.”

Someone: “Oliver Perez sure can climb into a car without hitting his head on the roof.”
Me:  “Three balls to Pedro Martinez after two three-run homers, and he was pulled mid-count.”

The Mets have had some BAD players in their time.  But this guy feels like he’s worse than New York Mets bad.  I don’t know what that would be, but it’s out there.

Mets wrap it up in just about an hour against the Phillies.  Bobby Parnell squares off against Cliff Lee, and I hear the Phillies are spotting the Mets four runs before the game even begins.  Will not, I hear, affect Cliff Lee’s ERA.

Lest you think I’m a curmudgeon, know that I’ve watched this video at least a dozen times since yesterday.  The best part is when Victorino throws up his hands.

Heh, heh, heh.

**Written prior to reports in the local New York papers that allege certain unsavory behaviors undertaken by Mr. Sheffield.  Catch the drama from the Daily News here, Newsday here, and because I was tipped off by Metsblog but find lame the Post‘s assertion that “sources” are viable without explaining if it’s the batboy or the guy guarding the door or what, Mr. Cerrone’s reporting on the Post article here.

Yes, yes, citing second and third-hand sources.  I know, I know.  I don’t do this for a living.

If Gary Sheffield truly asked out of the line-up last night to clear his head, that’s one thing.
 
If he asked out of the line-up in order to show Mets management what they’d be missing, then, well, to quote Chad Ochocinco: child, please.
 
Odd, this business of holding out hope for a reclaimed season and understanding that the hope is based purely on the math.  Got a comment on a previous post saying the Mets should pack it in and plan for 2010, but they’d still have to overcome the daunting injury obstacles facing them in 2009.  Planning for 2010 is difficult when you don’t know what kind of shape your shortstop will be in, after missing most of the year.
 
I will now pile on regarding planning for 2010.  I don’t mean it as a piling on of the commenter at all.  I mean to pile on the sentiment, which is held by many.

Perhaps planning for 2010 means shutting certain players down for the year, even if they’re not injured.  But I get the sense you’d have to break Johan Santana’s kneecaps to keep him out, and even then, the man pitched on a bum knee and three days’ rest last year. If you broke his kneecaps, he’d probably pitch and catch.

Omir Santos is auditioning for a job and Brian Schneider is doing the same. Chowdah’s got nothing better to do but work on his swing. And the Mets paid too much money for Luis Castillo to sit him.  Pelfrey and Perez need to figure their business out on the mound. Same with Bobby Parnell, but with a lot more “aw, shucks,” and a lot less, “listen here.”
 
Really, I’d posit that injury has taken the choice out of the Mets’ hands; they HAVE shut down their best players for the year.
 
(This excludes Carlos Beltran, who is still pushing for a return. As I’ve intimated: sheer idiocy, from my vantage point. Even if they were in the hunt, he should be undergoing whatever procedure/regimen is dictated for his injury, and think about getting healthy. Ye gods, man. Do you do EVERYTHING that mole tells you to?)
 
Planning for 2010 may mean attempting a trade. Which they’re doing. But any trade to bring in a backup at short, or a first baseman for next year, or a catcher, or or or–would be highway robbery at the prices the Mets can pay, or ill-advised at the prices they might be asked to pay. Anyone on waivers is on there because they’re not that good or they’re not now worth the salary they’re drawing. Billy Wagner may be one of the scant few that can bring a player of equal value. We’ll find out soon enough.
 
Planning for 2010 may mean playing the organization’s youth. What youth?
 
I’ll be a little less glib, for the sake of killing time on the train now CRAWLING into Canal Street (I write these posts on my phone most days): anyone at triple-A lighting things up would be up. Injury has warranted the call-up of players who were closest to lighting things up. Fernando Martinez is at home, resting comfortably. One could call up a player from double-A, but one could also sign one of the kids heading to Williamsport; I hear the Little League World Series is all about the parties and not about the work, anyway.
 
No, sirs, the Mets are over a barrel and are doing, essentially, what they should be doing. Everyone who should be playing is playing. That they haven’t completely cratered is a testament to the talent on the field, such as it is.
 
Planning for 2010 means more for the fan than the team at this stage. I’m on record as saying that, even without baseball, there are still things like lemonade and barbecues and sunsets. If the team on the field is not worth watching to you, don’t watch. There are precious few days of warmth and beauty to justify spending your time on something that’s only going to prove an aggravation.  They don’t watch in Washington all the time.
 
Maybe Gary Sheffield’s thinking along those lines. Difference is, if he’s on the team, he has to be in uniform unless he’s injured. I suppose the fact that he didn’t go out there last night and tear his Achilles on a ladybug, or a napkin that drifted in from the left field landing, is a testament to his character. As a nod to that strength of person, I will not start a Gary Sheffield Hangnail Watch.
 
But man, either play or fake the hangnail to get out. Don’t be an abscess. That’s not cool.

“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.

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.

So he walked six and gave up the same number of hits, yet struck out seven, yet YET escaped with one run.  And the Mets avoided the sweep against the Diamondbacks (W; 6-4).  That’s supposed to be positive?

He threw 5 1/3 innings and 111 pitches.  Sean Green, for all the good he’d do the next day, threw 19.  Feliciano 17.  Stokes 13. 

You know what that’s like, telling me Oliver Perez was not terrible?  That’s like telling me the unemployment rate ticked down slightly in July and wholly ignoring the fact that the rate does not reflect the number of people who’ve given up looking for work

Yes, I’m on his case.  But I’m on his case because I don’t think he’s a good pitcher, and using this start to tell me (middle of page) the man relishes pitching with men on base (doghouse, Omir Santos–doghouse) and that he’s showing signs of, if not greatness, then at least usability, ticks me off.

Bad contract.  BAD.

And while I’m on the subject of Sean Green, an open letter to the man:

Paul Vargas
Section Five Twenty-Eight
http://omniality.mlblogs.com

August 13, 2009

Sean Green
New York Metropolitans Baseball Club @ Citi Field
Roosevelt Avenue
Flushing, NY 11368-1699

Dear Mr. Green,

STOP.  HITTING.  BATTERS.

Regards,
Paul Vargas

enclosures: one (1) photo of me, shaking my fist angrily.
cc: Omar Minaya, General Manager
Jerry Manuel, Manager
Nelson Figueroa

**

Separately: Section Five Twenty-Eight endorses loud booing, heckling, and other non-physical forms of abuse at people who roundly deserve it.  Shane Victorino?  Roundly deserving.  Throwing an elbow at a player while deeming yourself and your team as the vaunted overlords of taste and class makes you deserving of my invectives.  Hell, you could just be there and the opposition, and deserving of a li’l sumthin’.  See: Gregor Blanco, 2008.

But should I ever be within shouting distance of Victorino (he’s not getting a Mister), he’s getting the deluxe treatment.  ‘Cause he’s a no-account whiner on top of his dirty tricks and vindictive showboating and general attention-paid-to-anything-but-baseball-so-the-spotlight-is-on-him-as-often-as-possible.  Boo, Shane Victorino.  Boo.

No, trolls, I am not discounting skills.  Plenty of wastes of time have remarkable skills.  Karl Rove is a genius, for example.

Knowing, as I’m sure readers do, where this is going, I should say that while I condone certain violent acts when appropriate, and enjoy petty vandalism when the results are not permanent or costly to reverse (this excludes grafitti and scratchitti), I don’t know that I condone Victorino’s beer shower.

You can see it, if you haven’t (I watched it live at a bar and nearly choked on my grilled chicken sandwich) by clicking here.  I suffered for that link, by the way: that level of red, applied to Phillies or not, burns the crap out of my corneas.

I don’t condone it because it makes the Cubbies look bad, and I bear no animus toward the Cubbies; I don’t condone it because it looks cheap in the face of an eleven-run deficit; I don’t condone it because it’s a waste of beer. 

To paraphrase Chris Rock: if you are one of the fortunate few on this earth to get your hands on a beer, drink the s**t out of it.

All that said, you gotta admit that from that angle, past the ball-catch on the wall, and with such an oddly-shaped projectile: it was one hell of a shot.**

Way to file the complaint, by the way, Shane-o.  “We’ll get the guy”?  Slow down, McGruff.  Chicago PD will get the guy.

**For the record, I’ve been doused with beer, whiskey, pillow feathers, and shaving cream.  I’ve also been sprayed with a fire extinguisher, been shoved down a flight of stairs (that was in good humor), and swung into a concrete wall, suffering a light concussion (that too, with best intentions).  In all occasions, I was able to find at least one aspect of my behavior I could’ve changed that would have kept me dry and/or uninjured.