Monday, May 30, 2005

I've Got Your Chemistry Right Here

Man, three out of four against the Marlins, a team that beat up on the Mets all last year, and in Miami following a sweep by the Braves, no less. Well played. Taking the fourth game would have been nice, but the good news is that Glavine is returning to form so, along with Pedro and Benson, the Mets have three reliable starters.

Speaking of Pedro, a lot of light was shed on his brilliant outing on Saturday, yet overlooked is the fact both of his last (amazing) starts featured Piazza behind the plate. The back page scribes in New York, desperate to dig up dirt on our loveable 2005 Mets, had been trying to make an issue out of the fact that backup backstop Ramon Castro caught a number of Pedro's starts. There was talk that Pedro didn't care for Piazza and wanted Castro as his personal catcher. There was talk of chemistry, both its presence and its absence. There was talk of Pedro and Ramon getting along really well, going to the movies together and not asking Piazza to join them at Ruth's Chris Steak House on off-days. It's all nonsense; chemistry in baseball is overrated. Give Pedro a glove and he'll hit it, and while Piazza's still not the hitter of old, he is ten times the threat Castro is and a guy you want in the line up whenever possible. Let Pedro's last two outtings--15 innings, one earned run, Piazza behind the dish for both--serve as evidence.

Chemistry in the movies, though, is a different matter. My wife and I just got back from the new Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Creepy guys, or whatever's it's called. It was fantastic, so much better than Lucas' last two efforts (he should consider re-doing those duds with the same fervor he brought to this lastest installment). It was head-to-toe brilliant, except for the romance scenes between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen. They manage to bring out the worst in each other every time they share the screen. And that's saying a lot; Natalie Portman is horrible. She nearly sank New Jersey. She could read the Declaration of Independence and make Jefferson's prose sound like the list of ingredients in a box of Lucky Charms. Kids, it's fine if you don't really love each other, just learn to fake it. We in the audience don't really care whether or not you like each other, just perform as if you do. Maybe they should call Pedro and Piazza and pick up a few pointers.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

5/29 - Marlins 6, Mets 3

Goddamn bullpen Goddamn bullpen Goddamn bullpen Goddamn bullpen Goddamn bullpen Goddamn bullpen Goddamn bullpen Goddamn bullpen Goddamn bullpen Goddamn bullpen.

There, I feel better.

Tom Glavine was robbed yet again by a bullpen implosion. How much must he regret signing with the Mets?

5/28 - Mets 6, Marlins 1

Three in a row? Dontrelle Willis gives up two runs? What in the name of Mookie Wilson is going on? Can we get the broom out today?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

5/27 - Mets 1, Marlins 0

Whatever ailment Pedro Martinez felt in his hip seems to be cured, as the best free agent signing of the past off season once again proved that he's worth every penny. And I'm not just talking about the eight sterling shutout innings he threw or even the incredible curveball that struck out Juan Encarnacion in the seventh inning (which got Encarnacion tossed when he argued with the home plate umpire). It's the way Martinez's joyful personality rubs off on his teammates. These Mets don't mope like they used to. Martinez keeps them loose and laughing and has given this team some positive chemsitry. And it's obvious that when Pedro pitches, his teammates take their games up to a higher level, as if they want to prove that they are worthy of being on the same field. I mean, Mike Piazza even threw out Juan Pierre as he tried to steal second.

Now comes the tough part--the Met killer Dontrelle Willis tonight, Josh Beckett tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2005

5/26 - Mets 12, Marlins 4

Apparently the Mets heard my pleas yesterday, as the offensive came to life with force last night. The triples machine Jose Reyes added two more to his total, Mike Cameron added three more hits and even Doug "Take My Slump, Please" Mientkiewicz drove in a run. Of course, if they couldn't do this against a journeyman starter and a 20-year old rookie reliever, then they should just pack it in.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

5/25 - Braves 3, Mets 0

I didn't get a chance to watch this game at all (damn, what an amazing episode of Lost last night) and after reading about it in the paper, I'm glad I didn't. Another misplay at third? More inability to get runners home from scoring position? Ugh. I hate to say it this early in the season, but tonight's game against the Marlins is a must win, especially since they have a pitcher (Frank Castillo) making an emergency start in the place of A.J. Burnett. This is the game they have to win, especially with Dontrelle Willis and Josh Beckett coming up over the weekend. If they don't win tonight, the Mets might not even have a 1-6 road trip.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

5/24 - Braves 4, Mets 0

Any Mets observer can tell you one thing about last night's game: Tom Glavine has never pitched a better game against his old team. And any Mets observer could still have predicted the outcome of Glavine pitching against the Braves: an excruciating loss. We hear at the Zisk blog have not been kind to Glavine this season, but he deserved to win last night's game, he really did. He worked quickly, kept the hitters off balance and even made a great defensive play, throwing out a runner at the plate. But in the 7th a recent trend raised its ugly head -- David Wright misplayed a ball, costing the Mets a double play. And that became crucial, as the Braves ended up scoring three runs that should have never crossed the plate. The headline in today's New York Times sums it up: "Glavine Is Paying the Price for Taking the Mets' Money."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Readin's Swell: The Mets Literacy Program

David Wright: The past two games have been rough for me. I've made costly errors which have diverted attention from the good things I've done, like when I dove into the stands to catch a foul pop up against the Yankees, or when I golfed a shoestring pitch into deep center for a homerun against the Braves. But that's what happens when things are going bad; people overlook the positives.

Jose Reyes: That's right, David, we know that our miscues will draw criticism from the fans. That's part of the game. What hurts, though, is when our charitable efforts off the field go overlooked. That's why we're taking time to promote Readin's Swell, the Mets' new literacy campaign. Every time a Mets player coughs up a routine ground ball, blows a double play, or walks the opposing pitcher...

David: Like Kaz did last night. Man, I've been messing up lately, but that was fugly.

Jose: Fugly?

David: Yeah, fucking ugly.

Jose: Right, well, anytime we make a monumental mistake we want you, the Mets fans, to turn off the TV in disgust and pick up a book. Last night, for example, after I let that ground ball scoot through my legs, my girlfriend read three chapters in Joe Meno's Tender As Hellfire.

David: How is that anyway?

Jose: She loves it. She really digs Meno's ear for dialogue and his ability to make unbelieveable events seem realistic.

David: My girlfriend's about to start his last book, Hairstyles of the Damned. They should call each other next time a Met botches a key play.

Jose: So remember, Mets fans, even when your team's stinking up the tri-state area...

David:...Readin's swell!

5/23 - Braves 8, Mets 6

I didn't see any of this game (wow Bright Eyes can rock), but the highlights of David Wright freaking out were scary (could this be pressure panic setting in?) and invigorating (so this guy does have some passion, cool) at the same time. With Tom Glavine going tonight against his old team, a line from the Star Wars series comes to mind: "I've got a bad feeling about this."

Monday, May 23, 2005

5/22 - Yankees 5, Mets 3

When we look back on the Mets 2005 season, I hope this isn't game we point to and say, "Yup, that's where the wheels starting coming off." David Wright's and Jose Reyes' errors in the 8th inning that led to the Yanks comeback were two moments in time that could haunt this team. The Mets had this game won behind Pedro's great pitching (so who's the daddy now?), and let it slip away. With a road trip going through Atlanta and Florida this week, it will be interesting to see how the Mets bounce back. It's easy to envision a 1-6 road trip, which makes me want to grab the Pepto.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

5/21 - Mets 7, Yankees 1

Meet Dae Sung Koo, the Randy Johnson killer. The sight of Mr. Koo (which is apparently his nickname on the team, not some crazy phrase Fran Healy made up) getting a double off of the Yankes supposed ace--and then going home when the Yanks' had a brain lock on Jose Reyes' bunt is an image that will stick with me for the rest of the season. The reaction in the dugout to these two plays showed this team is much tighter and has better chemistry than any Mets team in years. And with Pedro going tomorrow, how can you not (for once) be optimistic?

Fire on the Mountain: A Classic Rock Weekend in Syracuse

Allie and I came up to Syracuse for the weekend. Her for a wedding shower, me to hang out with my brother. Today we went downtown. Her to buy a shower gift and me to use a gift certificate (which I exchanged for an Otis Redding boxset. I finally saw his Monterey Pop Festival performance and decided 20 years of procrastination was long enough; it was time to get some Otis in my life. For all of Hendrix's pyrotechnics at Monterey, Otis was the more electrifying performer. And he certainly had the better material. It was interesting to watch Jimi set his six string ablaze, but otherwise that version of "Wild Thing" is remarkably tame.). When I'd finished at the record store I caught up with Allie and my mom. They needed more time to gaze at pewter measuring spoons and ceremic cereal bowls, so I went across the street and found the perfect place: a brew pub with the Mets/Yankees game on and Brooklyn Lager on tap. It was the sixth inning and I was excited to see the Mets up 2-0 against Randy Johnson. In the seventh, I was surprised to see Mets reliever Dae-Sung Koo, in relief of Kris Benson, slap a double to straightaway center, and I was stunned, in that same inning, to see Koo score from second on a bunt attempt by Reyes. It was the most ill-advised move I've seen a Met make all year--the smart move was to stay on third and, with one out, let Cairo or Floyd bring him home--but Koo recklessly shot for the plate and put the Mets up 3-0. (I hesitate to say he was safe because, as the replay showed, Yankee catcher Jorge Posada didn't miss the tag.) Making all of this more ironic is the memory of Koo's first MLB at-bat last week--he looked like a frightened puppy, standing as far from the plate as possible and clearly not even considering a swing of the bat--and realizing after the game, that I'd been listening to the Grateful Dead for over an hour. "Fire on the Mountain," the longest song ever, seem to play the whole time I was there.

5/20 - Yankees 5, Mets 2

Kaz Matsui making a crucial error is something Mets fans are used to this season. But having that followed up by Doug "Glove Is Easier to Spell Than" Mientkiewicz's error that lead to two unearned runs is not a pretty sight. And 79-year old setup man Roberto Hernandez looked even older than his age in gioving up two more runs in the 9th that put a comeback out of reach. Somehow the Yanks always get the breaks in the Subway Series, which always make these games painful to watch.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

5/18 - Mets 10, Reds 6

The sweep was completed today in a game that wasn't even as close as the score above indicates. (Manny Aybar came in for mop-up duty in the 9th and gave up three runs. He should be buried even further in the bullpen--how about as far back as Babylon?) The Reds were horrible in the field, and the Mets took advantage. Tom Glavine was okay on the mound, and Mike Cameron continued his hot play. Most important of all, Mike Piazza went 4-for4, which is hopefully a sign of even better things to come.

But the best part of the day game was listing to Fran Healy talk about Dae Sung Koo. My co-worker Doug pointed out the fact that Healy calls Koo "Mister Koo" every single time he talks about the Korean reliever. Today at my office we cranked up the volume when Koo entered the game, and counted Healy exclaiming "Mister Koo" six times in just two batters the pitcher faced. Incredible. As another co-worker said, "We gotta start doing shots to this." So next week when the Mets are once again on MSG, I think that will be a fine early week drinking game.

And a note to my colleague Mike, responding his earlier entry from today: With the advent of this this thing we call "the Internet," it's rather easy to translate the Japanese paragraph in the 5/17 entry. Heck, I provided a link to the translator. You know, sometimes being a baseball fan does take a little bit of work. Well, except tomorrow requires no writing work with a day off. I do plan to spend that time praying that Pedro's sore hip only pushes him back to Sunday, not to the D.L.

Here come the Yanks...

Walkin', Talkin' Pat Buchanan Blues

My wife had a really long, unpleasant day at work yesterday--nothing unusual, just one of those days--and she came home in the mood to watch Fox's "House." I yielded even though I'd watched the Mets game through the sixth inning and was clinging to the tube as they tried to overcome a 1-0 deficit. She flipped back to the game when I returned to the living room and the Mets were up 2-1 and Looper was closing out the ninth. Great news, but I didn't know how they'd come back, so I did what thousands of Mets fans do every day: I went to the Zisk website to get the scoop. I found the scoop but it was written in Japanese! Oy, dios mio, where's the English version, Steve?

5/17 - Mets 2, Reds 1

Shea's annual Asian Heritage Hight lived up to it's billing, with Japan's Kaz Ishii and Kaz Matsui teaming up to supply the superb pitching and clutch hitting. Therefore, the next paragraph will be in Japanese:

Ishii はD.L. からの彼のリターンによく見、2 つの歩行しか割り当て、大いによりよい制御を殴打地帯のまわりで示す。そしてMatsui は第7 のクラッチのホームランと来、ダグを促す"私が塹壕の彼に弓に私の名字" Mientkiewicz をその後翻訳するために敢えてする。最後の4 日Matsui はたくさんよりよく彼のを離れてうまく行けばブーイングの鳥を取り戻す版を見を始めた。

(If you'd like a translation, go here.)

The Mets other Asian pitcher, Korean lefty Dae Sung Koo, was a surprise pick to come in at the top of the ninth, even with three lefties ready for him to shut down. Closer Braden Looper got the call when Koo got into a jam with runners on second and first, and Looper looked, well, fucking pissed that he was not brought in at the top of the inning. He blew 97 mph pitches past the last two hitters, even getting his opening day nemesis Joe Randa to fly out. Perhaps this little supposed slight will be what finally kicks Looper back into his 2004 form.

Can we get the brooms out today?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

5/16 - Mets 9, Reds 2

Ah, revenge is dish best a pummeling. Who cares that the Yankees will be on the schedule at the end of the week? Obviously Willie Randolph told his team something like this: "Remember how shitty you felt the first three games of the season? Well these are the guys that did it. It's time for some old school Brooklyn payback." This game might as well have been 90 to 2, as the Mets made the Reds look like patsys. Kris Benson was a sharp as he's ever been as a Met; Cliff Floyd launched another bomb; Mike Piazza looked pissed off, and took matters into his own hands by getting a couple of hits; and Kaz Matsui started what one has to hope is a turnaround.

But the best part of the game, by far, was hearing Ralph Kiner in the booth. He was funny (and meant to be funny), had a couple of good observations and generally inserted a bit of chemsitry sorely lacking when just Ted Robinson and Fran Healy call the game themselves. He's on again tonight, so I look forward to watching to hear another great line like this:

"That's the fastest pitch Benson has thrown all night--and it was to first!"

Bless you Ralph, we miss you every day.

Let Your Benson Light Shine, Let It Shine!

Beating the Reds is something the Mets should do every time; the Reds are a train wreck of a club. But there was something very impressive in Kris Benson's outing last night. The Reds can hit and Benson held them to just two runs and pitched into the 8th inning. Almost makes the Mets feel good about last year's Benson-for-Wigginton trade.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Revolving Doors

I missed Sunday's game because of band practice. I've been in bands since I was a teenager, but this is the weirdest band yet. We're called the Lost Locker Combo and the concept is that we're an ensemble--guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, xylophone, dancers (we even lined up a cellist at one point)--that plays high school assemblies, dressing up in school uniforms and singing songs about driver's ed and peer pressure; a punk rock version of Up With People. We've been practicing for about a year and have had 19 people in the band at one time or another. In fact, we've never had the same line up two weeks in a row. When friends ask, "What do you guys sound like?", I have to qualify my answer by starting with, "Well, this week..." Most people who leave say they're too busy to keep coming. Others just disappear. But the specific reasons have been legit. One keyboardist left to have a baby. Our first singer left to move out of town with his girlfriend, who dumped him a month after they moved in together. One guitar player left to run the family florist shop, while another said he couldn't get a ride (even though he lives three blocks from our band leader who always offered rides). Someone else said it was because of the music, but I think the real reason is because I made fun of her scarf. I didn't mean to, but I do have a theory about how scarves are completely wrong for bands--punk or otherwise (see: Stevie Nicks). I feel bad about that, my timing, that is, not my theory. I suppose practice wasn't the right venue for airing that beef.

The ever-changing line-up reminds me of the Mets and their roster shifting--seven pitchers for five starting spots, Kaz or Cairo at second. I'm not really partial to any one Mets line-up, but there are benefits to change when you've dropped five of the last seven.

5/15 - Cardinals 4, Mets 2

Ahh, the soothing sounds of mediocrity. The Mets are back at .500 after yesterday's loss, in which everyone except Mike Cameron looked exceptionally average. With the Reds coming to town for three games, this team better take two out of three. That's because the hottest team in baseball, the New York Yankees, will make their annual pilgrimage to Shea on Friday.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

5/14 - Cardinals 7, Mets 6

Argggh the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen the bullpen!!!!!

(Okay, I feel better now.)

And to be fair, Roberto Hernandez -- the 60 year old set-up man -- can't be the only reliable pitcher all the time. But watching the 8th was excruciating. And hopefully Pedro's start today (four earned runs in 6 innings) is just a blip in an all-star season.

Rubber game tomorrow, with Aaron Heilman trying to prove that he deserves to stay in the rotation when Kaz Ishii returns from the D.L.

Two Home Runs from Cliff Floyd

M-V-P! M-V-P!

5/13 - Mets 2, Cardinals 0

On a Friday the 13th I would have expected a lot of things from the Metropolitians, but not this--seven shutout innings from Tom Glavine? The biggest punching bag on the team this season other than Kaz Matsui? Friday's New York Times had an article that described how Pedro Martinez finally said something to Glavine about how his delivery looked different during this slump. That advice must have really worked for number-47 to shut down the most powerful lineup in the N.L., giving up only four hits and no walks. And after a little mini-slump (2-for-22) Cliff Floyd broke out big time with two solo shots that are both presently headed towards the International Space Station circling our little blue planet.

With Pedro on the mound today, this could be a big confidence boost for the Flushing faithful, who are somehow still over .500.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

So 35 games in, and the Mets season can easily be broken down into categories defined by the best of Sergio Leone's "Spaghetti western" trilogy starring Clint Eastwood--The Good, the Bad and The Ugly. So here's some quotes from the lead characters, and how they apply to the Mets in 2005:

The Good, which was Clint Eastwood's character, The Man With No Name (a-k-a Blondie):
"Two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. We're gonna have to earn it."

That's right Mr. Eastwood -- well, except that Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran signed for much more money than that. But earn it they have. It's obvious to see that every time this team goes out when Martinez pitches, they feel that they're going to win. And the crowd at Shea is electric when he pitches--the dirty old stadium in Flushing feels like it's 2000 again when he racks up a strikeout. And Beltran is quietly putting together another great season, and it's quite possible he's even a better fielder than Mike Cameron.

The Bad, which was Lee van Cleef's character, Angel Eyes: (As he's beating a prisoner) "How your digestion now?"

Um, not so good Lee. You see, Kaz Matsui's batting is bad, even with new contact lenses. Every time he's up, the crowd at Shea is chomping at the bit to boo, just so their stomachs don't get totally filled with bile. Another 35 games like this and fans will be waiting to make sushi out of him.

The Ugly, which was Eli Wallach's character, Tuco: "You never had a rope around your neck. Well, I'm going to tell you something. When that rope starts to pull tight, you can feel the Devil bite your ass."

That's right Eli, the Devil is certainly on the asses of Tom Glavine and Victor Zambrano. For Glavine, if he doesn't turn it around soon, he could be looking at a one way ticket out of town. I wouldn't be surprised to see Omar Minaya find a team to take him on, with the Mets paying much of the rest of his contract. And Zambrano is just begging to be sent down to hell (a.k.a Triple A Norfolk) when Kaz Ishii comes back.

So there you are, the Mets in terms of one of the greatest Westerns ever. The Cards are coming to town--let's hope for at least one win.

Painful Flashbacks and Rumored Assasins

The past two nights felt like trips back to New York baseball circa 2001-2004 with the Mets blowing games they should win and the Yankees coming back to crush another sacrificial lamb up in the Bronx. Very unpleasant stuff. Let's hope a day of regrouping helps because the Cardinals are coming to town and they are hot. While I was on the phone with my brother last night I caught a bit of the Red Birds' comeback against the Dodgers. I still can't believe that line up dropped four straight in the Series last fall.

Has anyone else heard the rumor that Wilpon and Steinbrenner are going 50/50 on a hit man to take out their overpriced dead weight (Glavine and Giambi, respectively), or is that just me?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

5/11 - Cubs 4, Mets 3

Nothing worse than seeing a well pitched game (Victor Zambrano looked a lot better than Kris Benson did except for one inning--even though I still hate Zambrano--and Mark Prior was, well, Mark Prior) come down to two bad bullpens. Dusty Baker (in the 9th) and Willie Randolph (in the 10th) must have been gobbling down lots of antacids watching a lead, and then the game, get thrown away by relievers they don't know if they can fully trust. Maybe the whispers that many relief pitchers were using steroids to help them recover from back-to-back-to-back days of pitching are true? There just seems to be too many games being blown time and time again by the players that live in innings 7 through 9.

Tomorrow is an off day, so we'll take a look at what the first 35 games of the Mets season have brought us, and what to look for over the next 127 games.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

5/10 - Cubs 7, Mets 0

I was amazed to hear on WFAN tonight that this was the first time the Mets have been shutout this year. I had no idea the offense had done that well. I suppose a shutout was unavoidable when the Greg Maddux from 1995 took a time machine to Wrigley Field tonight and decided to pitch in the place of grumpy oldman Maddux of today. When Maddux racks up 10 strikeouts, you know it's not your night.

Speaking of not my night, once again I switched from MSG to the radio when I realized that Keith Hernandez and Fran Healy would be working the middle innings together. They almost make me wish I had been a Time Warner subscriber the past two months, or that wax would magically clog up my ears.

Brewing Up a Cold

I couldn't remember what time last night's game against the Cubs started, and I forgot to press 'mute' when I flipped over to the channel guide. Good times ahead...the good TV Guide people were running a bit about Green Day's American Idiot cd, "the first punk rock opera." C'mon, folks, the Minutemen and Husker Du--who beat Green Day to the punch by 20 years--aren't so obscure that they wouldn't surface in even the most basic of fact-checking exercises. And friends wonder why I don't trust the taste-making nexus of TV Guide/Entertainment Weekly/Rolling Stone when it comes to anything?

I did know when the Brewers games started this past weekend, though. A nasty cold reduced me to couch potato status and while Sudafed erased most of the details, this part stuck with me: Victor Zambrano was the most effective Mets starter of the series-- outpitching Glavine (which Helen Keller could do at this point...and she's been dead for years!) and Pedro--and the Mets still took two out of three.

And, in unrelated news, Rickey Henderson, age 46, is back, having signed with the San Diego Surf Dawgs of the Independent Yet Barely Literate League ("Dawgs"? Keep the first draft ideas to yourselves.) Keep in mind that Rickey made his MLB debut back in 1979. Dude's amazing!

5/9 - Mets 7, Cubs 4

The Mets celebrate their return to Time Warner cable with a solid come from behind win. Mike Piazza seems to be fighting hard to get out of his slump (4 RBI's) and Doug "Pronounce This" Mientkiewicz came through in the clutch again. This is shaping up to be a good road trip.

Monday, May 09, 2005

5/8 - Brewers 5, Mets 4

"Milwaukee, where arteries go to die." -- Howie Rose of WFAN in the 7th inning of the game.

It's always a treat to listen to Howie Rose and Gary Cohen call a Mets game on WFAN, just because they're so damn funny. I caught yesterday's game via my old and almost wore out walkman because I desperately needed to get some laundry done. When Howie Rose said the above line while talking about the culinary choices they had during this road trip, I burst out laughing. And that's when the 12 other Mother's Day losers in the laundromat looked at me as if I'd grown an extra arm out of my torso.

This loss--ending a four game winning streak--highlighted the two biggest weaknesses of the Mets so far this season: Tom Glavine and the bullpen. Glavine once again looked like he was 49 years old on the hill, while the latest bullpen criminal was former Brewer Mike DeJean. On the plus side, Mike Cameron continues his amazing return from the disabled list, with two hits in each of his four games so far. That's certainly silenced the Victor Diaz choir for a while.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

5/7 - Mets 7, Brewers 5

Pedro Martinez pitches, Carlos Beltran homers, Mets win. It's a great combo to see in action every five days or so. It's also good to see Doug "You Can't Use F7 on My Name" Mientkiewicz break out of his slump with a game winning homer.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

5/6 - Mets 7, Brewers 4

I didn't get a chance to see this game, but I knew it was going well when I got a text message from my fellow Mets fan Erik which said, "Piazza is on fire." Those two tape measure shots Piazza hit were sure beautiful to watch this morning on Sportscenter.

Speaking of ESPN, check out this Baseball Tonight "blog." (Ha ha.)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

5/5 - Mets 7, Phillies 5

This was the 2005 Home Opener, Part 2, as the Mets full projected lineup (minus a resting outfielder) was on the field for the first time. Welcome back Kris Benson, welcome back Mike Cameron and welcome back Mike Piazza's swing. Benson looked so-so in almost 5 innings of work, but he still looked a whole lot better than Victor Zambrano has this season. Cameron looked baffled in right field at one point, but he made up for that gaffe by going 2-for-4 with two doubles. And Piazza went 4-for-5 with an impressive looking homer, which hopefully will get him warmed up for their upcoming road trip to Milwaukee and Chicago.

On the negative side of things, why rest Cliff Floyd when he's this hot? If the Mets had lost, I can imagine the tabloids would have been all over Willie Randolph. And once again the bullpen is incredibly suspect. Aaron Heilman did a good job coming in after Benson had hit his pitch count cutoff at 80, but Mike DeJean, oy vey. A home run to Jimmy Rollins? Give me a break.

Cliff Floyd Night

Yes, Steve, it's foolish chant "M.V.P." in May, but it's also a hell of a lot of fun. My buddy Brad, a Phillies fan but otherwise good guy, got me out to my first Mets game of the year and it was near perfect experience.

I suspected the night would go well when I caught the 7 express train out to Shea. (I've been going to Mets games since '93 and I don't recall ever getting an express train before.) I knew the night would go well when, after realizing that I'd forgotten my scorecard, Brad pulled out an extra scorecard. (Revealing that you keep score at a game is akin to admitting that you're into D&D, not the kind of information that you share with everyone.)

And things just kept getting better. Jae Seo opened the game by striking out Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley and racked up seven K's through the fourth. He had a no-hitter into the fifth and gave up only one hit in seven innings. He would have been player of the game if it weren't for Cliff Floyd. Cliff was awesome. He had an RBI-single and a solo homerun, but, to be honest, that's what we expect from him. What's unexpected, or least used to be unexpected, was Cliff's jaw-dropping defense, like his catch against the left field wall in the seventh, robbing Jason Michaels of a potential two-run homer. Like Steve mentioned, Shea went nuts; people annointing Cliff the NL MVP. I was stunned by how loud it got, but what I'll never forget was the hush that fell over the stadium as the scoreboard started the replay. Everyone got quiet as the camera zoomed in on Floyd's face as he backed up toward the wall, the picture of concentration, and then everyone went crazy again when Floyd came down from his perfectly timed leap with the ball.

In between those peaks, the game moved quickly--it was a great game for conversation--and aside from Victor Diaz getting caught in a rundown, the Mets were perfect. Until Blooper (aka Brendan Looper) stumbled into the game to pitch the ninth. Like a kid running around a pool--scissors in one hand, a bottle of rat poison in the other--Looper's become an accident waiting to happen. True to form he coughed up back-to-back homeruns to Chase Utley and Bobby Abreau, and let a comfortable 3-0 game erode into 3-2 nailbitter.

And as I type this after school, the Mets have finished off a 7-5 day game win over the Phillies. That three out of four in the series. Good times.

5/4 - Mets 3, Phillies 2

Jae Seo, you just gave up one hit over seven innings, leading your team to a 3-2 win that was almost blown by a closer (Braden Looper) that has been very shaky this year--so what are you going to do next?

"나는 노퍽등을맞댄 가고 있다!"

(which translates to)

"I'm going back to Norfolk!"

Seo was sent back down to Triple A Norfolk to make room for the 2005 debut of Kris Benson today. One can only hope that Omar Minaya and the front office will realize that Victor Zambrano should have a one way ticket to oblivion, and give Seo a chance to show his improvement this year can stick for real.

Cliff Floyd: 20 games and counting. But come on Shea, even with another homer and stealing a home run away from the Phillies' Jason Michaels, chanting "M.V.P!" in May is stupid.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Zisk Goes to Washington!

When the announcement was made last year that the Montreal Expos would finally be put out of their misery and heading south of the border to our nation's capitol, I knew I had to be there the first time that the Mets played the D.C. whatevers. So I emailed my friend (and former next door neighbor and fellow X-Files and Homicide fanatic) Nancy to see if she was into going to check out some NL ball. See, Nancy is a hardcore Yankee fan, which I don't hold against her. But better yet, she can enjoy a game even if her team isn't playing, so I knew convincing her to go see a team in her backyard would be an easy sell.

So on Friday morning I hopped on Amtrak (and not one of the ones with those nasty brake problems) down to D.C., then grabbed the Metro to her apartment in suburban Maryland to drop off my freebie Mets bag (which contained two seasons of Homicide DVDs for our post game watching) and then rode the Metro back to the refurbished RFK Stadium. It was readily apparent to me that this was not Shea Stadium when 90 minutes before the first pitch the gates to the stadium still weren't open. This was made worse by that fact that we were both starving--and we could smell the delicious sausage and peppers wafting out from the concession stands inside.

When the gates finally opened we were torn between finding out seats and immediately getting the first food we could find. For a brief moment, our curiosity beat out the sound of our stomach grumbling. Planning ahead to get tickets the day they went on sale was a wise choice, as our seats along the first base line were very good. They were they kind of seats where the usher undoes a chain and lets you into the box--and then expects a tip.

Two things amazed me about RFK as a new baseball facility: 1) The staff was extremely friendly. They were so friendly that it started to unnerve me, like it was they were Stepford workers at RFK. 2) The food was damn good. I mean, the sausage and peppers and the hot dogs were bigger than anything I'd ever eaten at Shea or Yankee Stadium. Incredible. I always knew Washington was filled with pork, but this was ridiculous.

As for the actual game, the Mets fans in attendance didn't have much to cheer about in the 5 to 1 loss. Jae Seo was pitching a good game (1-0 with a no hitter in the bottom of the 4th) until Nancy and I had this conversation:

Me: I think we're going to see a pitcher's duel all night. (Livan Hernandez had settled down at that point)
Nancy: Wow, they (the Nationals) really have no hits.
(Crack! Jose Guillen hits a home run 5 seconds later)
Me: Gee, thanks Nancy.

It was a weird game overall--it's not often that a pitcher has 3 hitter going into the 5th, with all three hits solo home runs, and one of them by the opposing pitcher.

Lastly, here was the oddest thing of the entire night: the couple that sat next to me brought a baby, as did the couple in front of me. They got to talking, which when I discovered that one kid was 9 months old, one was 4 months. Um, are these people crazy? Taking children that young to a stadium on a rainy, windy night? (It only sprinkled before the game, thankfully.) Child services should have tackled them leaving RFK.

All in all, a good time was had at RFK, loss notwithstanding. I'm already plotting a trip in September for the pennant race.

5/3 - Phillies 10, Mets 3

This game wasn't even as close as the score indicates. Tom Glavine gave his worst non-Braves start of his Mets career, drawing boos even before three outs were recorded. Someone else besides Pedro Martinez is going to have to step up on the pitching staff if this team is going to crack .500.

On the plus side, Cliff Floyd's hitting streak is up to 18 games, and Jose Reyes got his first walk. I've never seen a stadium so excited for a base-loaded walk in my life. I wonder if it will be another 100 at bats until the next one.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Cold, Rain and Pedro

Since Mike and I have reversed posting style for the past few days, why not one more from me from the analyst side of things: Pedro Martinez's signing is the best move this team has made since trading for Mike Piazza. I was at the rain-drenched Shea last night, and when Pedro walked from the dugout out the bullpen after the 2 hour plus rain delay, the crowd (what was left) erupted like they were 50-thousand strong. This guy gives Mets fans hope every five days. Not many teams can say they have that.

5/2 - Mets - 5, Phillies - 1

Last night was exactly the kind of game the Mets faithful have been praying for since last winter: Pedro shutting down the opposition and Carlos swatting a game-breaking homerun. It was the kind of game that has right-minded thinkers in the Mets Nation (okay, it's more like the Mets Hamlet, but we're working on it) thinking we can leave mediocrity in the rearview mirror and move up to pretty good. I stayed up far too late watching the game (which started over two hours late because of rain delay) and I got what I was waiting for. Pedro was great--just one run in seven innings--and then Carlos broke open a 1-1 game with a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.

There are two things that should not be overlooked, though. One, the Mets tablesetters, Reyes and Matsui, tied the game all by themselves. Reyes singled and then Matsui sent a line drive down the right field line. Going hard and strong all the way, Reyes crashed home with the tying run. Two, the Mets had fun winning. I think it was the top of the sixth when Cliff Floyd made a brilliant sliding catch to end the inning. Pedro was dancing and goofing up a storm as he celebrated. He looked like a fun house mirror reflection (I'm thinking Joe Cocker's reflection for some reason).

And the bullpen held up.

Let us pray.

Monday, May 02, 2005

5/1 - Mets 6, Nationals 3

Well Mike, here's your comeback. Top of the 9th, tied game, and a nice mix of bench players and regulars contributed to a three run rally to snap the four game losing streak. So what streak will we see next when the Phillies come to town today?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

4/30 - Nationals - 5, Mets - 3

The Mets filed a protest following this game--they were ticked when the game was called because of rain and they were denied a chance to hit in the ninth inning--but they filed it for the wrong reason. The real bone of contention should have been the lack of scoring early in the game. Why are the Mets having to come back against the Nationals? The Mrs. and I were out (again at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre, this time to check a great talk show tribute/parody called Bro'in Out) so I missed this one. This loss guarantees that the Mets have lost another series, their second in a row. Help?