Monday, April 26, 2004

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say

With the Mets battling as they are (which is to say, in a rather formulaic fashion these days, as Jeff "Mr. Roboto" Wilpon has instructed his family's team to produce runs in the amounts of either one or zero, in homage to the beloved binary that is his first and dearest tongue), I've opted to register my disapproval by writing with the same passion and consistency my Mets have brought to the field. There are, as you're probably aware, no new developments in the ongoing story of their mediocrity. In fact, the Mets have been losing by way of injuries and dreadful hitting in spite of good starting pitching for some time now; my sympathies go out to the newspaper writers who are forced to play soul-sucking daily games of Mets Mad-Libs:

__________ (AAAA middle infielder) has emerged as Art Howe's latest favorite for his __________ (adjective, rhymes with, means, crappy) play and tendency to leave everything on the field. "__________ (AAAA middle infielder) really battles out there," Howe said, "He just gives __________ (number > 100) percent out there, day in, day out."

Howe added, "Once we get __________ (injury-plagued offensive star) back in this lineup, I think we'll be fine. It's just a matter of him knowing his body and not coming back until he feels he is ready." __________ (injury-plagued offensive star) has said recently that he feels his __________ (noun, muscle) is only back to about __________ (number < 70) percent, and the possibility of a significant setback in the coming weeks has not been ruled out.

Any sign of a promising surge by the Mets has been derailed by a series of nagging injuries to key performers. Just yesterday, for instance, __________ (disappointing pitching prospect) reportedly tweaked his __________ (nonessential organ) while __________ (verb ending in -ing, bodily function) in front of a classroom full of preschoolers. His prognosis is not good, and it appears he will join the rest of the Mets in being shut down for the rest of what has been to this point a very __________ (adjective, euphemism for shitty) season.

I'd apologize for my lack of anything fresh or original to say about the Mets, but that presupposes the existence of something fresh or original about the team, a possibility I'm not quite willing to concede after such a small number of games have been played. I'll leave you with a story about my new favorite NL East third baseman, instead. A friend of mine had very good seats at Shea during the Expos series, located even with the third base bag and only a couple rows off the field. Tony Batista, he of the unorthodox torso-gyration powered batting stance, was hearing it from the lively Shea crowd all night long. My friend didn't relay the insults showered upon the new Expo, but I figure it's obvious that they were taunting him about the likelihood either Kaz Matsui or Mike Cameron will absolutely destroy him in strikeouts this season. Either way, they were screaming at him nonstop when he was in the field, to the point where Batista actually took time from outplaying the Mets to cast long, flat looks at his hecklers. At the end of the game, as he was walking off the field, they poured it on thick, and he paused and looked up. Stared directly at his tormentors. "Ok. Hang on a second," he said, and after holding the look for a beat, dashed into the dugout. What was he going for, they wondered? Was he running away? Getting security? Grabbing a bat so he could model his odd stance before crushing their heads in?

Batista emerged with a box of balls, walked over to his antagonists, and tossed them each a baseball, making a point of singling out the most vocal among them. Smiling.

Needless to say, their jeers turned to cheers, and they left Shea happy.

Maybe sometime soon, it'll be the hometown players putting smiles on fans' faces. But don't hold your breath. As of this writing, there's no timetable for __________ (injury-plagued offensive star)'s return.

Sunday, April 25, 2004


Actually, Bellhorn hit 27 home runs last year, not 37. Man, why didn't someone tell me? Now I look like an idiot.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Yay, Pedro schooled the worst hitters in baseball!

Record: 8-5

Whoops, sorry about that previous post folks! It would appear that marginally talented blogger and Walt Whitman fan Ed Cosette from Bambino's Curse broke into ECA World Headquarters at some point and made a post posing as me! I don't know how he got in here, or how he found the time without interrupting his obviously rich social life, but rest assured Mike is foregoing his Babylon 5 marathons and Hentai gaming until he's beefed up security here at East Coast Agony.

So yeah, taking 3/4 from the Yankees was certainly good, but before Red Sox Nation starts jumping up and down declaring the Evil Empire dead, let's remember our results from the first series against our no good neighbors over the past few years:

2001: Took series 3 games to 1 (remember Manny's awesome single through Rivera's legs?)
2002: Took series 3 games to 1 (Darren Oliver was the winning pitcher in the first game? I don't remember that. Maybe my brain won't allow me to grasp that as a concept)
2003: Only a 3 game series this time, Yankees took it 2 games to 1

Early season success against the Yanks doesn't appear to factor much into our overall record against them, as they've won the season series all three of those years. It was good that it was our backup crew, complete with THIRD string first baseman David McCarty starting (because Terry Francona has the same brain chemistry imbalance as cliff divers and snake tamers that makes him secretely hope he dies from doing his job poorly) was able to get the job done, but the be fair this isn't the same Yankees group we'll be seeing in September. Every single starter for them looked AWFUL, especially Rodriguez, who apparently played in a division where no one throws breaking balls. A few other random notes:

  • Mark Bellhorn should be starting over Pokey Reese every single day D-Lowe is not on the mound. He has an amazing batting eye and has shown he can hit for power (20 homers could be a lucky break, 37 homers however denotes SOME skill is obviously there) and has an incredible batting eye. Of course, for some reason he was being pitched to as if he were Barry Bonds with men at second and third in a tie game, but anything is better than seeing Pokey failing to check his swing at a ball thrown at his head, or seeing him panic and swing when the pitcher throws over to first.

  • Kevin Brown has the most evil sinker I've ever seen in my life. It's just as heavy as D-Lowe's, but easily 4-5 MPH faster. I still am fully confident he'll get hurt before the All Star break, however

  • When Torre is wearing those sunglasses, he's sleeping. I don't care how often people have already made this joke, I SAW his head start to droop forward and he was drooling a little. Without Crazy Zimmer there to whisper sweet nothings in his ear, I think it's even harder for Joe to sit and concentrate on staying awake so he doesn't enter the bittersweet fantasy dream world where his nose doesn't resemble Mr. Potato Head's.

  • As far today's game, the only thing that matters is that we won. And, Pedro was good. However, the news isn't all good. The Blue Jays are stuck in the worst collective offensive rut since the 2001 Mets, so both his "good" games coming against them doesn't suddenly mean he's out of danger. Also, and I know velocity is overrated, he was really reaching back on the two occasions I saw him throw over 90. In the past few years, 90-91 is what he threw at comfortable, and when he reached back he could hit 94-96. This all pales in comparison to the 97-00 golden years when he literally threw 98 MPH on every single fastball, but regardless I don't think he can repeat the last few year's success with that kind of heat. Also, Carlos Tosca had this to say:
    "He doesn't appear to be throwing as hard, and his arm angle seems to be lower," Tosca said. "He's pitching at around 88, 89 and I've seen 93, 94 with his arm slot higher." Tosca thinks Martinez has lowered his arm angle because he might be hurt. "Obviously, something has gone on which would make him think that that's what's best for him."
    Maybe he's just annoyed because we swiped Scott Cassidy from them in exchange for a book of car wash coupons, or he's just trying to rile the Sox fans, but either way it's still something to worry about. A start against New York and Texas will be better indicators of whether Pedro's going to be okay, or a constant source of torment. He gave up two runs in 7 innings though, which should be taken at face value. One of the runs wasn't even earned, and the other one had something to do with Johnny D screaming "Caveman Powers Activate! Form of: Badly Misplayed Turf Bounce!!" out in center field.

    Here's hoping this is the last "I'm worried about Pedro" post for awhile, I've been neglecting my Mike bashing lately because of them.

    Yankees bashing and Jays trashing

    Wow, taking 3/4 from the Empire was quite a feat! Of course, with how they performed, the Yankees players could be compared to Stormtroopers very easily. Seriously, Stormtroopers sucked totally. I always wondered what kind of "rigorous" training regimen they went through before they were issued their totally useless plastic armor and totally giant blaster rifle. I mean, you would think a giant Empire would be capable of fielding a reasonably competent fighting force, ESPECIALLY their totally elite units. Did you ever notice that, in the first and third movies it was either the elite guard of The Death Star or Endor and they were still totally useless. I just totally don't get it!

    - Ed

    Tuesday, April 20, 2004

    The Plate Discipline of a Marital Spat

    Expos 2, Mets 1
    Record: 6-7

    I was listening to Michael Kay's radio show a few days ago when he had Al Leiter on. They chatted mostly about Al's hitting, as he'd recently slugged a double into right-center against the Braves, rousing Andruw Jones from a trance via which he was receiving Lucifer's latest command. Kay asked our man why he was usually such a terrible batter, since he's obviously a great athlete, prompting Al to remark that a lot of pitchers just aren't very good athletes. He dropped a line about a former teammate of his (Matt Franco, maybe?) who used to mock him by wrapping a cutter grip around a baseball and muttering, "Thank you, God" over and over, obviously implying that it's all Al's got. Leiter went on to complain about the complexity of running the bases, saying he enjoyed getting the rare hit, but it was really too much trouble to deal with all the different situations out on the basepaths and that he'd prefer to just take his hacks and focus on his pitching. There is one feat with the bat that he'd still like to accomplish, however: hitting a homer. He said he dreams about it.

    He should have no trouble visualizing baseballs sailing out of the park tonight, as his primary reliever David Weathers served one up to Jose Vidro, ruining Leiter's seven-inning, one-run outing and breaking a 1-1 tie.

    Is "reliever" a misnomer for these guys, or what? I'm of a mind to call them all closers, as they've got a remarkable ability to shut the door on any chance of our starters earning a victory.

    Leiter went deep into the game, working with uncharacteristic economy at a 15 pitch/inning clip. His 0.52 ERA is impressive despite two starts againt the hapless 'Spos. It's our offense that's troubling me now, as I sink back into my chair after watching Eric "Mr. Clutch" Valent whiff looking on three called strikes from Rocky Biddle. Rocky Biddle, folks. The man is shakier than a faultline and our bottom of the 9th trio of Piazza, Cameron, and the aforementioned superhero only squeezed six pitches out of him. I'm a fan of the Expos young pitching, and while Zach Day looked good today he was certainly aided by Matsui, Cameron, and particularly Wigginton swinging often and early. You can't blame this slump on an injury-depleted roster; I think a lack of patience is the problem lately.

    If our "closers" keep doing their "jobs" so admirably, I just might experience a sudden lack of patience myself.

    Sunday, April 18, 2004

    Weakly Update

    Record: 5-7, 4th in the division, 3 GB

    If you've come to our site in the past week, it may appear that I've been uncharacteristically cruel and left you at Kyle's mercy. After a little tech support, replete with the requisite cringing at my comrade's obsession with the caps lock key, I've figured out the problem. It seems Blogger scripts examined the posts I'd written for this past week, and after spying phrases like "starting pitching solid", "bullpen a nightmare", and "anemic hitting from substitutes" mistakenly assumed I was writing about last year's Mets and dated the posts accordingly.

    At year's start our offense was lively and interesting -- now it's boring and unproductive. I shudder to think of what it might be looking like right now if the Duke hadn't picked up Kaz and Cameron. We could be seeing:


    And I suppose, aside from Chipper "Role Model" Jones injuring himself (probably craning his neck at another man's wife in the stands), the silver lining of this plodding black cloud is that we've seen this offense be productive and have something to look forward to. Namely:


    Not quite a Murderer's Row (though with Garcia in there, anything's possible), yet I'm still looking forward to the five games or so that these fine eight will all play together at some point this season.

    Our starters have certainly been doing their jobs well. Glavine has looked like an ace and along with several quality starts has given us his first scowl from the dugout as the shaky bullpen costs him a win. Trachsel settled down and pitched well independent of the comfort provided by any run support whatsover -- he's obviously used to such treatment. Leiter, still my favorite player on the team, seems like he'll be good for five innings at an economical pace of three hundred pitches per start. I'm not worried about Tyler Yates' rocky last start, considering I caught the beginning of it on TV and turned it off because I was positive the game would be called. There was really no reason for the Mets to let Yates pitch, as the rain was falling faster than Piazza's average and he'd already endured a wait of an hour or so after warming up. The weather was truly the worst I've ever seen major league baseball played in. It occurred to me after the terrible performance was in the books that anyone who checked the box score the next day would have no clue about the mitigating circumstances. Years from now, Rob Neyer will write an article in which he cites Tyler Yates' ERA in his first five starts as an indication that Mets young pitchers were rushed to the majors -- and no one will remember that on that night it was raining cats, dogs, and the cat-dog hybrids Rick Peterson's Biomechanical Science Lab will by then be churning out. Long live subjective analysis.

    I think I've already written everything that needs to be said about the bullpen so far. Until Franco and company factor in a victory bigger than the morning game of dominoes down at the home, I think I'll let their playing do the talking.

    Despite all of this, I'm not really pessimistic, mostly thanks to Kaley from Flushing Local putting things in perspective. .500 is what I'm realistically shooting for, but I've been tearing my hair out over these losses as if I hadn't expected them to happen half the time. Now it's time to relax, dial down the agony, and maybe enjoy some of the abundant great Mets writing online. Max at Mets Forever is the newest member of the corps: the many, the ashamed, the Mets Bloggers.

    Saturday, April 17, 2004

    Thoughts concerning Scooter the talking baseball


    Friday, April 16, 2004

    Things I Like About the Mets Bullpen

    Put down the gun and pull up a chair at the perspective table

    Record: 4-4 (.500. Again. Dammit)
    Two more games not worth talking about. I'm not sure who circulated a memo telling the Sox that a "W" counts twice if it takes you more than 9 innings to get it, but someone needs to inform my poor team that it was just a cruel prank. 3/8 of our games have now gone into extra innings, we've played the equivalent of an extra game. The fact that 2 of those games were losses does NOTHING for my current mood. My dorm hall currently has a crack in the wall that suspiciously resembles the mangled, wretched mass that was once my foot. The Sox win was nice, however to be honest it's kinda of ridiculous that Ortiz had to win it for us in the 11th like that when the team had SO many oppurtunities to score before that.

    The second game I'm going to ignore after the fifth inning for my own sanity. I'd LIKE to be able to convince myself that somehow our charter planes got mixed up and we accidently sent the PawSox up against the Baltimore Steamroller, but there's only one inneffective, curly haired Dominican starter named Pedro Martinez out there, and he plays for us. After last night's debacle his stats currently look like this:

    1-1, 4.58 ERA, 3 chins

    Pedro just looked AWFUL. What was most galling (other than his 88MPH fastball that he hit exactly twice, slurvy breaking ball, and irritating double chin) was that his changeup occasionally was sick. Like your old bike that you still ride, held together mostly by rust, but with the little bit of chrome that catches the sunlight occasionally and you go "Wow, this used to be a really nice bike. And I'm really, really poor". Pedro shows the odd flash of brilliance and it's so hard to not think maybe he's gotten over the hump. At least, it is until he serves up a home run on a pitch that could be mistaken for a throw back to the umpire for a new ball.

    There's a few things I really wasn't prepared to deal with after this long. One is currently being behind my worthless cohort's Mets. I'd love to play the injury card here, but the Mets also have a signifigant number of people out with a puzzling assortment of inuries.

    I had also hoped that the Sox would have solved their Orioles weakness over the offeason, but that's obviously not the case. Last year, if I recall, we barely squeaked out a .500 record against them. I'd check that, but it's a Friday afternoon and I just got in from making 5 errors in one inning during a whiffleball game and numbers anger me right now.

    I'm also not ready to be playing the Yankees. For a in-depth explanation as to why today should rank up there with your wedding, high school graduation, and 21st birthday all rolled into one, please check here. Or here. Or here. If that's not something you'd find interesting, and you'd prefer to hear a mediocre Sox blogger rant about baffling subjects such as cream cheese, power lines, or this latest gem
    I did not know there was such a thing as a Red Sox lunchbox. That is totally cool. Be sure to visit Bryan's LunchBoxPad site. It's totally cool. Bryan, if you have a pic of that box, please give a URL of where we can see it online or send me a jpg and I'll toss it up here. Meanwhile, check out this Pelé lunch box from 1975. Man, that's awesome.
    then feel free to check out Ed Cosette's confusingly popular Bambino's Curse. It's totally cool!

    Anyways, so far this isn't exactly the picture perfect opening to the Sox season. However, it's only 8 games played so far. Maybe in another 6, when we're 1/10 of the way through the season, I'll feel a little bit better jumping to rash conclusions. Till then, I'll be happy with a split series this weekend against the most hated of all baseball teams, the Yankees. Look forward to that post later. Till then, I'm assuming someday Mike will post again.

    Monday, April 12, 2004

    ICU Gotta Believe

    Nagging injuries mar the end of an otherwise enjoyable opening week

    Record: 4-3, 2nd in division, 1.5 GB

    The important issues:

  • Nearly every preview of the 2004 Mets season contained a line like the following: The Mets have a chance to improve to .500 this year, but only if sluggers Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza stay healthy. Legion Commander Cornelius suffered an injury of the sort that only a truly professional athlete can when he severely sprained a muscle on a routine run to first base. I have a knack for turning on the TV set and flipping to the Mets just as a player is about to get injured -- I saw Reyes pull up lame jogging to third seconds after I tuned in to that fateful Spring Training game -- yet I’m mystified at the nonchalance with which our Amazin’s have been destroying their bodies. Floyd was really hurting by the time he lugged himself to the bag, and stayed doubled over for several minutes, wincing in a fashion reminiscent of Nancy Kerrigan’s Oscar-worthy "Why, Why" monologue. Folks, he was running out a grounder. He was running pretty hard, but not at full tilt. Similarly, Reyes slid into second, jogged down to third, and still hasn’t recovered from the painful experience of running the bases at the Major League level. Kaz Matsui fielded a grounder in Spring Training and ended up getting stitches. Karim Garcia, who has showed surprising speed on the basepaths and agility in the outfield, caught a ball with two hands and lost a fingernail. What have the Mets done that they should suffer such ignominious injuries? Is their play respectable enough now that the baseball gods have decreed the requisite embarrassment must come from another source? Somewhere, John Rocker sits in a trailer in front of a rabbit-eared television that shows nothing but static, his once useful hands busy sticking pins into bobblehead dolls.

    Without Floyd and Reyes the Mets are not only a less successful, but considerably less interesting team to watch. Health is our biggest concern right now, and while I’m worried about it because I can’t see any way for it to be improved, I’m not exactly ready to call up Johnny Damon to administer Last Rites. It’s too early. We’ll field our full lineup in a couple of weeks.

  • Some very old men (in baseball years) stand to see significant playing time, but only if the playing time ventures close enough within the range of their fading eyesight. Mike Stanton, John Franco, and David Weathers are old pitchers playing for a team with no great chance to contend, in an organization stocked with young pitchers, at a position in relief that is the easiest to replace. They are making significant money to do it, too -- $7.6 million in 2004 (courtesy Dugout Dollars). They are not pitching well. On a more uplifting note, their young replacements Orber Moreno and Grant Roberts are really doing quite -- actually, they’re not pitching very well either. At least the closer we’re wasting another $3 million on really is exceeding his mediocre billing in three short appearances.

  • On the other hand, our starting pitching is looking good. Glavine hasn’t exploded, which to be honest is really all I was hoping for. His 1.38 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in two starts are encouraging, but I think he’d be better off slipping umpires 50s as long as he’s hitting them on the radar gun. Tyler Yates had a quality start against a bad team in the Expos, and it’s a measure of the shallowness of our starting pitching that people are still saying it was brilliant days later. I think starting will be one of our strengths again, though I doubt our bullpen will be able to support them by pitching through arthritis and the fatigue of day games after Bingo nights.

  • Our offense, however, has been incredibly fun to watch. Kaz Matsui has made the Battle of Two Matsuis an afterthought this week, as he has emerged as the dominant AAAA superstar now playing in the Majors. I’ve been most surprised by his patience at the plate, as his slap-hitting approach looked ugly in Spring Training and still has occasionally this past week. It seems he’s two different people at the plate: one fellow who is concentrating on putting the pitch where he wants it, and is so focused on making contact with the ball he is committed to swinging at everything; and another who is willing to take pitches and shows excellent strike zone judgment, hits the fat pitches without trying to flip them into left field, and looks like a great leadoff hitter. Piazza has been his usual self, which is difficult to describe to someone who doesn’t watch him hit regularly. To use an applicable baseball cliche, the ball "jumps off his bat", as Mike usually hits fastballs and hits them with such power they’re only a blur and nearly into the outfield by the time the in play cameras get around to covering them. Floyd has a similar ability to crush bad pitches, but I think his range at the plate is just a tad more limited. Jason Phillips is another hitter who has surprised me with his patience at the plate; I knew he didn’t strike out very much, but he seems to have an even better eye than I’d thought. I only wish he ran faster than a Commodore 64 so that we could bat him up higher in the lineup. Phillips and Piazza must be two of the slowest players in the league, if not the game, and I’d almost definitely put some money on a for-charity race between the two catchers and a fully-loaded river barge. Karim Garcia and Shane Spencer have performed admirably in their platoon, which lasted an entire week before being dismantled. Hopefully we’ll see it in action again soon. I’ve said it before, but it needs to be emphasized: Karim may look like a juice-fat Jason Giambi’s little brother, but he runs like Guillermo Mota.

  • We’re a .500 ballclub, in my mind, and that’s OK because we’re a lot more fun to watch this year. We’re speedy, athletic, and powerful to this point, which makes any horrendous collapses by the bullpen easier to stomach. Injuries are our Achilles heel (sorry, Cliff, everyone). Eric Valent hit a home run after taking over for Floyd, and that’s a nice story, but I liked him better last year when he called himself Jeff Duncan. My quiet, undercurrent optimism dies a little with every at bat by a AAA non-prospect who will not be with the team when it becomes a winner, but it’s going to take a lot of those to bring me down when we’ve got a better record than the Yankees and Braves.

    Tied with Boston currently, too, although I’m not throwing that gauntlet down for another couple of weeks.

    Sunday, April 11, 2004

    I still hate Bobby Jones

    Record: 3-3 (Yay! .500! Take that Yankees!)

    Yesterday's game bears very little mentioning. I mean, seriously, a 13 inning marathon, followed by a 4 hour delay at the airport because the charter plane had a landing gear gnome infestation, followed by most everyone on the team getting 1-3 hours of sleep? That was just one weird catastrophe on top of another. You can't do anything well on an hour of sleep, just look at Mike's posts. Bronson Arroyo, the one Sox player who DID get to bed at a decent hour due to coming home to Boston the day before, looked, well, decent. Kid has a passable cut fastball but difficulty getting his breaking ball called for a strike. Also, he has not shook his minor league track record of giving up about 10 million hits a game. Consider him a lite lite lite version of Andy Pettite. The loss of that game by a score of 10-5 was pretty discouraging, made worse by a Mets friend and a Cubs friend watching THEIR worthless ~80 win teams persevere in extra innings, but I didn't put too much stock in it.

    Before I tackle today's game, I'd just like ask in a public forum "What the fuck is up with NESN?" First of all, I know money has to come in from somewhere, but I really have to disagree with their "50-20-20-10" advertisement ratio. By that I mean

  • 50% Foxwoods commercials, complete with the jingle that makes me want to saw off my genitals with rusty dental tools that are also on fire. If you've never heard what I'm talking about, you're lucky. If you have, you know what I'm talking about.

  • 20% semi-retarded Dunkin Donuts commercial with Curt Schilling learning how to say phrases like "wicked hahd" and "pitching in the pahk" from a tape, until a janitor who looks like the type to cheerfully molest children from time to time says "Nah, Curt, you can't do it like dat"

  • 20% exceptionally retarded Ford commercials, where Curt Schilling is trying to hitchhike from Arizona to Fenway Park. A Dodge and a Chevy offer to pick him up and Curt politely refuses. A Ford truck stops and Curt grabs a ride, commenting that he needs a ride to go "break an 86 year old curse"

  • 10% local businesses, whose commercials are so bad that they are vaguely enjoyable. I don't think anything can beat the "Who knew?" Mason's commercial from last year, but who knows? The year is young

  • NESN's got some other problems, including a horrible, horrible red color scheme, a new studio desk with a giant glowing blue, I dunno, disk thing on their desk, and Jim Rice opening his mouth on several different occasions. And where the hell is Bob Rodgers?

    But enough about that, how about talking about today's awesome game?. I must admit that I came into this game feeling about as confident as Mike would asking out a human female. Look at this friggin' lineup:

    C Crespo CF
    B Mueller 3B
    D Ortiz DH
    M Ramirez LF
    K Millar 1B
    J Varitek C
    G Kapler RF
    M Bellhorn 2B
    P Reese SS

    Goddamn. That's the worst lineup I've seen us Trot out since 2002. (Get it? Trot Out? Let's see you write better, assclown) However, to my shock, the game went tremendously. Crespo can play center field and even got on base three times (due more to running down the line to beat out grounders more than any real skill). Gabe Kapler can't hit for crap, but he did make a GREAT play in right field. Pedro looked good, his offspeed stuff was very good, including a curve ball that fooled quite a few hitters. His velocity was even worse this time though, he never topped 90. That doesn't really matter when you can go 7.2 innings and strike out 7 guys, though.

    The offense scored 4 runs, but still worries the heck out of me. All the runs came from homers. The 2002 Sox hit some homers too, the problem is that when you can't hit anything but them you get a very inconsistent offense. I don't want the same "score 10 runs in 2 games, score 4 for the next 5" crap we had a few years ago. Mueller, Reese, Varitek, et al are all hitting below the batting average I'd like to see. But, it's still early. We won, the Yankees lost. We just have to limp through May and hope Nomar and Nixon come back hitting well.

    Saturday, April 10, 2004

    Puerto Rico, Rum Capital of the World

    Game 4: Mets 3, Expos 2
    Record: 2-2

    After limping out of Atlanta like Cliff Floyd after a walk from the on deck circle to the batter’s box, the Mets flew their devastating game to Puerto Rico. Fran Healy opened with a lazily meandering anecdote about an anecdote (my favorite kind; his too) about Hiram Bithorn, the Expos’ stadium’s namesake, who may or may not be the first Puerto Rican major league baseball player. The story was something about him drinking rum in the dugout between innings, and quite naturally turned my otherwise wholesome search for a refreshing beverage during tonight’s game into a frantic, spice rack overturning search for cooking sherry after our stellar relief corps blew Tyler Yates’ impressive first major league start.

    Things turned out alright in the end, of course, thanks to a combination of very old and very young talent: Zeile struck a double, and Moreno was our only reliever who didn’t cause my stomach to turn over. Yates himself was impressive as advertised -- his heat was hot, yes, but his slider really broke and was unhittable when thrown inside to left-handed hitters.

    Our defense continues to trouble me, particularly at second and third base. I’m a big Ty Wigginton fan, so it’s been tough for me to accept that he has the range of a spitball shot through a cracked straw. His first step is neither quick nor long, and he seems disinclined to dive, favoring an Alex Rodriguez-esque feeble bend from the waist. When he does lay himself out, he may knock down the ball, but he doesn’t seem to able to come up with it, or even to regain his feet by the time the hitter is on first and making fun of Jason Phillips’ goggles. Matsui for that matter doesn’t seem to have incredible range, as I’ve watched several balls hit in the hole that neither of them had much of a chance on. I can’t complain much about Gutierrez, as I know he’s just a stopgap replacement for Reyes, yet the gap he covers is incredibly tiny and the only stopping he does usually happens after he lets a slow roller dribble into the outfield. Jason Phillips has handled the routine grounders cleanly and has handled Wigginton’s errant throws with polish; I’m pleasantly surprised at his development from awkward-but-successful last year to somewhat confident this season.

    More thoughts to come this weekend with a week in review, but all I can say now is get Reyes in the lineup and Seo in the rotation as soon as possible.

    Friday, April 09, 2004

    I hate Bobby Jones

    Record: 2-2

    FUCK. Bobby Jones is officially making me swear. He's the most worthless man on the face of the planet. He has no intrinsic value whatsoever, the only way he could serve a purpose is to be melted down into his component materials and used to insulate low income housing. Here is a short list of things Jones is suited for:

  • Police Lineup Stand-In

  • Anchor

  • Hollowed out human duffel bag

  • Ballast

  • Euthanizing agent for elderly Sox fan

  • I just want to know one fucking thing. How exactly does one go about walking 4 people in one inning? In a short relief role, no less? Like, how? It can't be that difficult to throw a small sphere in a fairly generous zone extending from the hitters knees to their ribs. It just can't. Walking one person, fine. Two people, hmm. Three people, you suck. FOUR PEOPLE? WITH THE BASES FUCKING LOADED YOU CAN'T PLACE THE BALL SPECIFICALLY ENOUGH? You don't nibble the goddamn corners with the bases loaded because walking someone is the exact same thing as giving up a grand slam in that situation. YOU FUCKING RETARD JONES THIS ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE.

    This would have been easier to stomach if it'd been Timlin or Williamson. Those guys are integral parts of our bullpen who will fix a lot more situations than they will fuck up. Jones, on the other hand, is a worthless 32 year old retread pitcher who has no velocity, no control, no future in the major leagues, and no talent whatsoever. He made the team because everyone else going for the lefty specialist role sucked, except for Hamuylack who got sent to AAA because Francona was obviously extremely impressed with Jone's high 80's fastball, lack of a decent breaking pitches, and, I dunno, bling bling maybe.

    To be honest, our offense should have scored more runs than 2, the rest of our bullpen was flawless, and there was quite a bit of rain happening towards the end. I don't care. Pitchers who walk 4 batters in one inning in the bottom of the 13th inning against the home team neither deserve to live happy lives nor pitch in the big leagues. My only hope is that in 20 years I am walking through Boston and I see Bobby Jones trawling for tricks next to the Charles River at 3 AM. Hopefully crying while doing so.

    It's entirely too early in the season for these kinds of games. Fix the problem Red Sox, and fix it quick. I'm going to go take shots of bleach with some people until I forget this whole thing. Or die, preferably.

    Thursday, April 08, 2004

    Baseball is Ugly and I Hate It

    Game Two: Braves 18, Mets 10
    Record: 1-1

    The Amazin's returned to earth yesterday...or did they? This game was horrific after Trachsel melted down, but I didn't find myself reminded of last year's painful season for several reasons. Our offense is alive and well, scoring seventeen runs in two games against the Braves' best two starters. Our defense, still absent Reyes, wasn't horrible -- that's a big difference, in my mind, as after watching last season's performance I still cringe on routine plays and find a goose egg in the errors column a remarkable feat. We lost wholly on a terrible pitching performance by Trachsel and Roberts, and not just a terrible performance, but an historically terrible one. Eleven runs in one inning doesn't happen very often, and I don't expect this to be a representative start. As it's more the exception than the rule (anything can be at this point, right?) I have no problem chalking this one up to early season jitters or technical difficulties, and like any of Kyle's few dates, ignoring the glaring deficiencies and trying desperately to focus on the positive.

    I'm greatly encouraged by Piazza seeing some garbage time action at first, by Phillips and Matsui continuing to get on base, and by Cornelius Floyd ending his stint of ill luck and crushing balls where fielders weren't. Now I put my vast reservoir of faith and prayer behind our dubious fifth starter Scott Erickson as he goes against the inimitable John Thomson. You've got to love the Braves' rotation, at least, when it's composed of guys even we wouldn't touch.

    Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    Lowe ain't so shabby either

    Record: 2-1

    Well not much to discuss concerning today's game. Damon got 5 hits which was crazy, he hit all of them to the opposite field off of pitchers who were too stupid to stop pitching him away though. Also he stole a base with the score 7-1, which doesn't do much for the Sox image but did wonders for my fantasy team. Damon also had a SICK catch in dead center field to take a home run away from David Segui. A few other notes:

    * Bobby Jones sucks. His first pitch was a fastball grooved over the plate at 88 MPH which Larry Bigbie promptly deposited into the bleachers. Loser.

    * Lowe looked sharp for being on the road, although he gave up a lot of flyball outs which indicates he might not be in form yet.

    * Ortiz also looked good, laying off some close pitches to work a walk and CRUSHING a ball to left field. I'm starting to think he could duplicate last season.

    Some other news that Sox fans might find vaguely interesting. The Indians and Twins (who apparently REALLY like playing baseball) were in the 15th inning last night. Twins are at home, bases loaded, and their soon to be hero walks up to the plate. Who is this imposing figure? Why, it's Jose Offerman of course! I quickly checked and saw Offerman had already doubled his previous plate appearance, so I disregarded the inning as done already, seeing how Offerman had already used up his alloted hits for the month, when lo and behold he singles up the middle.

    Adjectives fail me when trying to describe just how awful Offerman was last year. A Duquette signing in every sense the man was. His signing went like this:
    Dan Duquette: Let's see, we need yet another second baseman to start the season. I say we find the biggest flash in the pan we can possibly find. Whappity whap whap diggity!

    Random Lackey: Hmmm...we could go with someone in the system...

    Duquette: Never! I need to seem like I'm trying to fix this train wreck of a team! Toot toot toot!

    Random Lackey: Dan, are you all right? You've seemed a little different ever since you fell asleep in the bathtub.

    Duquette: Jose Offerman stole 45 bases in a contract year? SIX MILLION PER, GET ME HIS AGENT!!

    Random Lackey: He's fine
    The only thing about the Offerman signing that didn't piss me off was the fact that by the time we released him, everyone hated him so much that no one in the front office told him. He eventually learned of his fate from a reporter asking how he felt about being thrown off the team. Offerman, I kid you not, broke into tears and ran cursing from the room. Classic.

    Pedro and Francona settled their differences concerning the whole "Pedro ditching the game early" incident from the Season Opener, although honestly it's a bit early for it to have been a big deal. Francona's reasoning is that because Pedro didn't feel like showing up on time to camp, he missed the sheet of paper handed out that said things like "No leaving the game early" and "Pants first, THEN shoes". I like seeing Francona cover for one of Pedro's supreme screw-ups, now Pedro owes Francona for not making his life a living hell.

    P.S. Oh and if this post didn't make you laugh, check out the recap of the Mets game. Mike's sure as hell not going to mention it.

    P.P.S. I don't care what he did today, Clemens is still fat.

    Want to Watch Baseball Online?

    The fellows over at U.S.S. Mariner clued me in to this great deal, and as the information is now off their front page, I thought I'd pass it along to you.

    I've always been intrigued by the idea of MLB TV, an online service from that lets you watch games from around the country in Windows Media Player or Real Player. It's pretty expensive (without the loophole that's just been discovered) at $14.95 a month, and I had questions about the quality of the broadcasts as well. Gameday Audio is a neat service that gives you the radio broadcasts -- if you throw that into the MLB TV mix you get MLB All Access for $19.95 a month. That's still a good bit of cash, and I probably wouldn't be willing to spend $90 or $120 bucks for the season even if the quality were stellar.

    Enter the loophole, or option three on this page. Tucked away at the bottom of the advertisement is a statement reading: "MSN Premium Subscribers get MLB All Access with your subscription". MSN Premium sounds like it would be a service in and of itself, so it's probably in excess of the $19.95 monthly they're charging for MLB All Access alone, right?

    Surprisingly, that is not true. Here's what MSN Premium is:

    $9.95 a month
    * Virus Guard and Firewall from McAfee Security
    * Some home and learning resource nonsense from MS Money and Encarta
    * Multimedia photo story-telling tools (I have no idea)
    * Up to 11 customizable accounts (of something, I'm sure)

    and MLB All Access.

    Items marked with * are crap and do not have to be installed on your computer to make this offer work. They send you a CD in the mail, if you want, or you can download them. The main thing is that you are able to use MLB All Access right away, independently of any MS nonsense.

    So $9.95 a month, coming out to $60 bucks for the season. That's a lot better than the deals, but still a little pricey. That's not quite tempting enough for me to bite on.

    The next part of the offer mystifies me as to how is making any money off of this whatsover. They cut the price in half by offering three months free.

    So, to recap: $30 bucks to watch nearly every major league game, even archived ones once they're finished, or to watch them in condensed form (just the highlights) or even a customized highlight film of the at bats of players you select (no one here plays fantasy baseball, do they?). I fired up a game the minute after I signed on, and the quality was excellent on my cable connection. Last night while checking game scores, I saw that Minnesota and Cleveland were locked in an extra innings battle, so before I went to bed I opened up the MLB TV window and enjoyed a couple innings.

    I don't know how long this stupid, stupid deal will be around, but if you're interested in shelling out just a little bit of cash (they bill monthly, I'm pretty sure) to watch nearly unlimited baseball, I'd check it out. I know this is a pretty hokey advertisement, but this one, unlike my dream of Kaz' perfect OBP continuing, isn't too good to be true.

    If you're interested, join here.

    Tuesday, April 06, 2004

    Baseball is Beautiful

    Game One -- Mets 7, Braves 2

    There’s no better place to start than the beginning. Kaz Matsui had not hit well this Spring, and what’s more, had looked bad doing it. You’ve likely seen his swing in split-screen slo-mo juxtaposed with Ichiro’s, but the results of our import’s slap hitting style hadn’t yet done the comparison justice. His propensity for missing the ball was perhaps the only aspect of his performance that lived up to his pre-Majors billing, and his strikeouts had given rise to speculation that he was not long for leading off.

    Enter Russ Ortiz. The twenty-one game winner takes the hill for the Braves amidst the muted buzz of unrelated conversation that signals the start of the baseball season in Atlanta. Ortiz, no doubt aware of Matsui’s struggles, throws his first pitch with all the fearlessness of a first pitch, intending to groove one over, get ahead, get things started.

    His objectives are quickly accomplished: Matsui grooves one over the center field wall, gets the Mets ahead, and initiates Kazmania with a perfect first at bat.

    If homering in his first at bat is all Kaz does, his day is a success, but he goes on an absolute tear against Leo Mazzone’s crack team of cast offs.

    Three at bats, three hits: his leadoff home run, and two neatly struck doubles. Strikeouts? Zero. Two walks, though; one intentional.

    Kaz was brilliant against our most hated opponent, whether that meant anything to him or not. In fact, the only way it could’ve been sweeter is if he had been able to play champion of the new Mets against Maddux or Glavine. As it was, Glavine pitched well but not remarkably so, and we were treated to the next best thing.

    Beyond an irresistible surge in confidence, what I took from the season opener was a sense of relief. Piazza homered, putting him one closer to the record for catchers and ending any nagging questions about his ability to hit for power. Glavine, with the aid of an improved and enthusiastic defense, defeated his former team and (temporarily at least) shut the mouths of Mets fandom. Mike Cameron encapsulated his career in a day, hitting .250 with a walk, a stolen base, and a couple of runs, and added solid and exciting play in the outfield (including leaping over the wall and coming close to robbing Marcus Giles of a home run early). Jason Phillips showed that his short season last year was no fluke, as if we needed more proof that he can rake and get on base. Ty Wigginton didn’t have a great day at the plate despite working a crucial walk and earning an RBI for his patience, but he took his time playing the field and made quality throws across the diamond. David Weathers looked very sharp in his first outing, throwing 91-92 MPH when he needed to and dominating his opponents. Braden Looper likewise showcased his trademark velocity, and his one inning stint was marked by bats exploding, jagged wood spinning out all over the infield, and him calmly handling his position with the composure under duress I find to be a refreshing attribute in a Mets closer. (Meanwhile, Armando Benitez recorded a classic Benitez-style save: a strikeout, a couple of hits, one of which was a home run. The Marlins have a better chance to repeat as champions than he does to throw a 1-2-3 inning.)

    We didn’t just beat the Braves; we crushed them. I would say we embarrassed them, but there were plenty of shots of Andruw Jones grabbing his crotch and smiling to himself for no good reason, which reminded me that it’s difficult to embarrass someone who has no shame. Maybe having one’s hand down one’s pants is a gesture of submission in Jones’ native Curacao ("I’d rather play with myself than against you" is a popular island saying), but cultural absurdities aside, I was especially happy with him being held hitless. May the conciliatory hookers he and Larry Wayne purchased after the game give their illegitimate children horrible nicknames.

    On any given day, any team can beat any other team. Look at the Devil Rays, capitalizing on the karma of Mike Mussina bashing the trip to Japan by defeating the Yankees twice. Or the Tigers, doing their damnedest to draw attention away from their miserable rotation by tearing the cover off the ball. I know Opening Day doesn’t mean a thing, but after sitting through last year’s "contest", I think it’s a good sign that we didn’t have a repeat. At the very least, it allowed me to put off writing a post titled "Things I Like About the Mets in 2004" followed by ten blank lines. I may have to bust that out tomorrow, but at least now it’ll be ten blank lines followed by a string of ellipses leading to a link to this post, and to the fearless prediction of my all-knowing, ever-loving gut that we’ll be...

    ...playing meaningful games in September.

    (What? It’s one game. It’ll take at least one more trouncing of the Braves before I become highly irrational and start forecasting wild card contention.)

    Curt Schilling A-Okay #1 Son

    Sox won 4-1 today, with great pitching by all the newly acquired pieces (6 IP 1 ER 7K for Schilling, 1-2-3 save for Foulke) and timely hitting, including a homer by Kevin Millar. However, that's all you really need to know, as a far more entertaining and insane post by Mike is upcoming, possibly utilizing words such as "maybe" "meaningful" and "you can't prove it WON'T happen". Let's watch, shall we?

    More to Come

    But first, an excerpt from a short piece in today's Daily News:

    Kazuo Matsui also makes his Mets debut today, and Art Howe preached patience with the Japanese shortstop at the plate. "What I expect is solid defense," Howe said.

    Matsui recalled his first at-bat for the Seibu Lions in 1995, a base hit that scored a run. He will lead off tonight's game, making an RBI difficult, but not impossible. Told through an interpreter he could duplicate the RBI feat with a leadoff homer, he said in perfect English: "No chance."
    Mets exceeding expectations would be a story I'd like to write this year.

    Monday, April 05, 2004

    Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean...

    All right it's 1 AM and I've had a few hours to calm down and write a little more rationally. Luckily I have awesome and supportive friends and neighbors to help me realize that the world is not ending. For example, while I was outside screaming and wailing and punching the water fountain, my friend Rocky commented "Hey, the Sox have the worst record in baseball now!" Thanks big guy. By the way, people are talking about you being gay, man. Just thought you should know.

    So now that I've come down a bit (from the ledge I was standing on threatening to jump from! heh heh heh, I'm priceless) it's time to remember a few things.

    It was colder than Mike's love life today. Like 40 degrees. NO ONE throws hard in that kind of weather, it's almost impossible to get loose. So perhaps Pedro's inability to throw harder than Mike's IQ is merely a byproduct of that. Also, Pedro is no stranger to getting shelled on the occasional opening day start. In 2002 he gave up like 5 earned runs against Toronto and rebounded to win 20 games. Also Baltimore has given him fits in the past, such as the worst start of his career, which happened to be last year against them. (which I also happened to sacrifice everything but my left testicle to go see. Thanks Pedro!) Baltimore is a good offensive team, they're going to score 6-7 runs quite a few times. I explicity remember last year Tommy Glavine got absolutely rocked in his opening day start and mentioned that he had "no feel whatsoever" for his changeup, and the cold weather was what was responsible for his horrible start, not an eroding skill set. And see, look how he turned out!

    So it was OUR hitting then that killed us. But, in this case, it was stranded runners. Sure, stranded runners are frustrating, especially 14 of them. Nobody likes to be stuck at third base (except for Mike, who'd love to even get past 1st base on of these days with a real live girl) but the fact that we had 16 baserunners indicates some offensive output. Bill-Mill had 3 hits, Kapler 2, Manny's starting the season hot with 3 hits... We can't get unlucky like that very often.

    One good example of how Nomar hurts us is the fact that Pokey Reese, God bless him and his bunting with 2 men in scoring position, is going to get pinch hit for a couple of times. However, that leaves us with a gaping hole at shortstop afterward, as Cesar Crespo proved by throwing in the dirt 5 feet in front of Millar later in the game. Hopefully this is not a situation I'll be seeing too often.

    Also I was unfairly harsh at Francona. Personally, I might have had Embree warming up a little earlier, as Timlin was obviously useless. Pokey Reese MUST have been bunting on his own, there's no way Francona would actually instruct him to do something like that with two men on. And as for putting on the shift with Palmeiro up with men in scoring position, well... I'm just going to give him a mulligan on that one. He won't be doing it again. You get one, Francona. One.

    Here's looking forward to Tuesday, where hopefully you'll see a happier Sox entry along with a Mets entry resembling my first one today. (Kaz Matsui went 0-5 WHAT'S WRONG WITH HIM??????)

    Sunday, April 04, 2004

    Welcome to the worst record in baseball

    Reasons to become a Mariners Fan

    Don't let the title fool you, this isn't Mike. I spent an entire day getting myself pumped up for this game, including but not limited to listening to Van Halen's "Higher and Higher" and that song "Final Countdown". I watched the pre-game show which explained that the Sox are invulnerable because our front three starting pitchers are robots made of solid gold with flesh and blood draped over it to allow for time travel. All the hype in the world couldn't change some very basic facts however:

  • Pedro fucking sucked. SUCKED. There's no nice way to say it. He hit above 90 MPH maybe three times (can't tell because NESN decided to pay Don Orsillos salary for the next five years rather than to buy a radar gun) and might have done better if 5 balls suddenly equaled a walk instead of 4. Doubtful though. He only gave up 2 ER, but of course the unearned run was off his own horribly misthrown ball. I think the only way to truly express how much Pedro sucked is to simply bash my head into the keyboard. Hold on. jui8kuji8kk. There. I feel better now. Oh and I could have hit a home run off that ball Pedro served up, never mind Javy Lopez.

  • Want to see three honest to goodness earned runs? Look no further than Mike Timlin. I have nothing more to say

  • 14 runners left on base and two run-allowing errors are a greeeeat start for Terry Francona. Granted he wasn't batting or fielding, but I still hate him for this. Just like I hate everything right now.

  • That's about all I got. I had planned on writing a good entry, but, eh.

    Saturday, April 03, 2004

    Scraps on the Eve of the Feast

    I made token reference in my last post to Milton Bradley, the snarling, headstrong outfielder whose antics and presumable unwillingness to say darn instead of damn got him kicked off the Indians this week. There’s speculation running around that the Mets have a chance of landing him and are at least interested in doing so (way down at the bottom of this article by Kevin Czerwinski). I remember the first time I came across his memorable name, as it flashed up as the next batter on’s Gamecast. If you haven’t used it, Gamecast is an admirable substitute for a televised game when you’re nowhere near a television -- even if you can’t see anything, that lack is mitigated by your inability to hear Joe Morgan expounding on the dearth of good second basemen these days. Anyhow, I saw Milton Bradley printed on my screen as the new batter, and laughed at his name, wondering if he was a real player or the product of an intern’s boredom.

    Then, in the box where the play by play was recorded by Ernest Hemingway’s grandson (R. Cedeno caught stealing second, J. Gonzalez leaves game with injury, After a while J. Posada left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain), the outcome of his at bat was grudgingly emphasized with italics.

    M. Bradley ejected.

    The sparse medium told me nothing of the circumstances, but judging by his history (with which I am now better acquainted) I think it’s safe to assume he charged the mound or spit on someone. That’s his style.

    Why would I want a player like that on the Mets? Two reasons, one more compelling than the other. The first is that he’s an excellent player, with an OPS over .900 in an admittedly injury-shortened season last year. He takes a walk, he steals bases, he hits for power and average, and is good defensively. The second reason is that he’s an interesting character.

    This article by Alan Schwarz (thanks to the U.S.S. Mariner writers for helping me find it again) is a must-read, whether we acquire Bradley or not. I’ll give you a hint of where he’s coming from:

    Milton Bradley wasn't there when his mother looked down the barrel of a .38 and told her would-be assassin to stick it. But he might as well have been, because as far as he's concerned, the world has been pointing a gun at him every second of every day. The coaches who tested him, the gangs who beat him, the umpires who screwed him, the fans who cursed him, the agent who robbed him, the father who shamed him ... in his mind, Milton Bradley has been under fire ever since he put on a baseball uniform.


    Bradley has risen from a youth in Long Beach, Calif., that helps explain, well, what his problem is. For all the board-game jokes about his name, the way he got it isn't one. Charlina Rector dated a man named Milton Bradley in the late 1970s but says she broke off their engagement because she claims he was hooked on cocaine. When she gave birth to their son in April 1978, she was still unconscious when Bradley filled out the birth certificate without her permission. He wanted a Junior, and made damn sure he got one.
    I’m not saying Bradley isn’t a jerk, because it sure looks like he is. I’m not saying he’s got reasons that make being a jerk OK, either; just that his history is intriguing, and as Alan writes, helps explain why he does what he does. He’s deeper than his baseball skills, and he’d make writing a blog about a potential 90-loss team a lot more fun.

    According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Owner: What shall we call this paper? Editor-in-chief: The Cleveland Chronicle? Owner: Plain Dealer it is!), the Indians aren’t looking to trade Bradley for someone who would play for the team right now. We’ve been stockpiling fireballing nowhere men for months, now. It’s time to turn them into something useful.

    In other news, Roger Cedeno is now a St. Louis Cardinal, and the Mets have yet another backup catcher. I’m glad our former resident speed demon is getting out of town, because he didn’t have a place here anymore. Kaz Matsui has filled his role of subpar leadoff hitter admirably so far, and the stories about Cedeno being a good guy and not allowing his family to see him play because of the jeers of the fans made me almost too compassionate to mock him. Here’s hoping he does well over there, and doesn’t get caught speeding on the way out of town -- although I don’t think anyone would blame him if he did.

    Friday, April 02, 2004

    April Fools

    I’ve yawned, bleary-eyed, through two games that were supposed to mark the start of the season but instead pinpointed the end of my patience with Spring Training. Stumbling to work after watching the Yankees begin to falter in the first game of 2004, I expected to be rewarded for my early rise. Instead of rumblings about Mike "You mean they don’t cook the fish?" Mussina, the predominant catchphrase of the day was "well, 161-1 ain’t bad". At six in the morning with no coffee and surrounded by Yankees fans, I was unable to discern how earnest their projections were. 161-1 ain’t bad. Smiling, laughing, expecting A-Rod to star and Jeter to return to whatever it is he briefly was – these abhorrent Yanks fans made me realize just how low my confidence in the Mets has sunk recently, and how little I’m looking forward to another horrible season.

    Make no mistake about it: last year was horrible to watch. The baseball was fundamentally sloppy, the players were embarrassing off the field, and our best players (please allow me the undeserved qualifier) were injured more often than not. There’s only one way to derive enjoyment from following a laughingstock, and that’s serving up a Mo Vaughn-sized platter of self-deprecating jokes (See what I mean?). Laughing at the latest Amazin’ catastrophe was barely enough for me to maintain some level of enthusiasm for my favorite sport, comparable to a Bleacher Creature being limited to only four beers an inning. I watched other teams when I could, sure, and followed the pennant races, but you don’t get the same thrill witnessing achievements made by other teams. I watched the Mets mainly for comic relief.

    Enter Jose Reyes and Jae Seo. I started really following Seo after I was lazily listening to Healy or some other announcer droning on about his innings-without-a-walk streak. There was a moment tucked in there where he stopped half-heartedly flirting with the strike zone and completely took it to opposing batters. I saw it and I was hooked -- good young pitching, basically out of nowhere? Why shouldn’t I have cause for optimism? Even if he faltered, he was young, he was part of the future. It could all be worked out.

    Reyes was hyped so much that even a skeptic like me couldn’t wait for him to come in and make our season interesting again. In the beginning, of course, he fit right in with the rest of the club, sucking in a complementary albeit not complimentary fashion. Then he figured things out. Look, if Reyes were your standard slow, big hit, big strikeout outfielder, I wouldn’t have cared about him. But he was a fast, lithe kid playing at one of the flashiest spots on the field, and like Kyle pondering the only way he’ll get a date, had a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it. When he injured himself, I didn’t much mind, having already seen everything I thought I needed. He’d be great next year, Seo would be more consistent, and the Mets would be interesting to watch as a baseball team.

    We got Cameron to improve our defense, and I liked Mike, goofy grin and throwback jersey battles with Cliff Floyd quite withstanding. Kazuo Matsui showed up, threw out an "I love New York", dyed his hair the color of Tsuyoshi Shinjo’s wristbands, and won me over on potential alone. Rick Peterson signed on, our pitching depth ballooned, and my stupid, stupid expectations soared.

    Here’s why they’ve been shot down to earth:

  • I guess management has decided that there’s no hope of playing meaningful games in September, so they decided to pretend Spring Training mattered and
    demoted Jae Seo
    after a rocky tuneup. As he was one of our only success stories last year, and likely our best pitcher, I have no idea what Duquette and the gang is thinking. He is being replaced by (take your pick) Scott Erickson or Tyler Yates, our new fifth and fourth starters respectively. Yates pitched well in 14 innings in Spring Training. Scott Erickson is with Lisa Guerrero. Those are their qualifications, as far as I can tell. You’re going to tell me the job market is slim?

    I would pay money specifically to see Jae Seo pitch. My hope is that Peterson has seen something he needs to correct, and for some reason thinks it would be easier to do at the minor league level. This decision is flat out stupid, to the point where mocking it is difficult because there is no logical base to turn on its head.

  • Reyes is a walking (hobbling?) injury risk. I don’t mind him not playing to potential or having a learning curve season where he regresses in a fashion sensible to expect from a 20-year-old phenom. I can’t, however, abide watching a team rendered unwatchable by injuries. You can draw some humor from a Pat Burrell season for a little while, but there’s nothing really funny or interesting about substituted players sucking.

    He joins Piazza and Floyd (and maybe Matsui with his nagging and apparently uncharacteristic ailments) on the list of Mets I am certain will miss a significant amount of time this season. I like Joe McEwing as a radio-show host and all around good guy, and Vance Wilson as a backup backstop, but I’m not spending any of my hard-earned money to see them starting baseball games. I fear I’ll be seeing an awful lot of them on TV this season, though.

  • Our defense stinks. Our pitching doesn’t strike guys out, so we need good fielders. We don’t have them, from what I’ve seen in ST – and hey, if that was a significant enough sample to determine two slots in the rotation, it’s good enough to tell Duquette that his pitching and defense first philosophy is missing a cornerstone.

  • Injuries, our potentially best pitcher in the minors, and another year of watching Piazza whipping baseballs with the accuracy of dandelion fluff borne aloft by a hurricane -- I'm dreading it, right now.

    But hey, if we manage to send Erickson to the Indians for complete headcase Milton Bradley, my optimism might be restored. We wouldn't contend for respectability, but you might say we'd have a monopoly on off the field hilarity.