Chuck 'n' Duck

"I'm a very optimistic person. When you're optimistic, the good opportunities, good fortune, good everything will come with it." - Jae Seo Chuck 'n' Duck: the New York Mets from an Eternal Optimist's P.O.V.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tom Horrific

Two days ago Don Burke, noticing that Ramon Castro seemed to be taking over as Pedro's personal catcher, opened up his Mets Notebook with the quote "If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck chances are it is a duck". Whether Ramon Castro is now Pedro's catcher or not is something to be discussed another time, but right now I have to take umbrage with that age old line. Because, you see, there's a pitcher on the Mets that looks like Tom Glavine, and talks like Tom Glavine, but it sure as hell ain't Tom Glavine.

I don't know what happened between 2002, when Tom Glavine was 18-11 with a 2.96 ERA, and now, but somewhere along the lines something very horrible happened.

You see, I watched yesterday's game in the hopes that things would be different. Everyone has a painful baseball moment in their lives, and Mets fans will always remember that absolutely brutal 1999 NLCS. And seeing that Brian Jordan, Andruw Jones and Eddie Perez were all in the same lineup yesterday, I almost got up and left right then and there. But I stayed. I stayed in the hopes that this is where it would all come together, that Glavine could pitch like he did in the third game of that 1999 NLCS, where he shut down the Mets offense all night. He would show the Braves that they are no longer his Daddy, and he would become the dependable number two the Mets so badly need. It would start here, with the Braves, the source of all Mets misery, and it would continue through the season. The Braves couldn't possibly continue on this reign of terror forever.

And yet they did. Tom Glavine was hit, and he was hit hard. And it was truly painful to watch (and I didn't even watch all of it, as I left in the fifth). Glavine looked lost. He sported a look Mets fans haven't seen since Armando Benitez -- an "I'm Going to Hurt My Neck Whipping Around to Watch This" expression on his face. And you couldn't help but think to yourself, this is our number two? This guy? This man, who is only 142 innings away from another year at eight million dollars is the second stopper in the rotation?

Perhaps I'm overreacting. Every player has a pitcher he can't hit, a hitter he can't get out, or a team that he can't stomach. Sadly, it seems that Glavine's is in our division and will see him another two or three times this season.

On the plus side, it can't get much worse from here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Kaz MatBOOi

I don't know if this carried over to the TV or radio broadcasts, but when Miguel Cairo was brought in to pinch hit for Ramon Castro it was like a scene out of a movie. He walked out of the dugout and the place went berserk. "Eye of the Tiger" was playing on the loud speaker, doves were released from the upper deck, fireworks exploded and a chorus of angels sang as the heavens opened up and shone down upon him.

Honestly, I've never seen a guy get cheered so much for the simple fact that he's not somebody else.

I feel horrible for Kaz Matsui right now. I know he's making several millions of dollars, and that these things inevitably come with signing on in New York (heck, even Jeter and Mariano Rivera have been booed over the past two years), but it's getting to be a little ridiculous. Matsui was getting booed for swinging at a pitch yesterday. Not a strike three, not even a strike two, but simply swinging at the first pitch and missing. He got booed for not turning an unturnable double play. He got booed for being called back to the dugout.

And what has he done to bring this on himself? Did he get a DUI and bring shame on the organization? Did he get caught shooting steroids? Cheat on his wife? Print counterfeit money? Steal 101 dalmation puppies to make a fur coat? No, he's hitting .262 and is having trouble getting to balls at a position he's never played before.

Don't get me wrong, the defensive side of K-Mat's spectrum absolutely kills me. I wince every... single... time a ball is hit to him (as my family and girlfriend will attest to). And when he does botch that routine groundball, I'm just as irate as everyone else. But it's three weeks into the season and he's learning second on the fly. Let's at least give him another month to prove he's not the second-coming of Roberto Alomar 2002.

Although, I gotta say this, the bunting needs to stop. Not altogether, but for right now, it'd be best to take that trick out of the rotation. Bust it out sometime in June, that's fine, but for right now let's stick with the straight hitting. Thanks.

Here's hoping the Kaz Matsui Surge to .315/20/100 starts tonight.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Francis Xavier Healy

I've heard numerous people say they mute Mets telecasts and simply listen to the radio when they have the option of watching the game. And while several Mets announcers have driven me to attempt this over the years, it seems that my TV is about three seconds behind my radio, which means I know what is coming before it takes place in front of my eyes. So while this isn't fun anyway, even if the Mets are winning it makes it absolutely brutal to sit through Braden Looper blowing it in the ninth when you just experienced him giving up the homerun through the radio. Therefore, I have no choice but to stick with "San Francisco" Ted Robinson and the eternal Fran Healy.

But, seriously Fran, what broadcasting school did you attend that told you that it's not a broadcast unless you fill every single, solitary moment of time with anything and everything you think of? In case you're without the benefit of seeing Mets games, here's an example to show you what you're missing (this may not have actually happened):


"Okay, here comes the big man, Mike Piazza! He's already got two knocks in tonight's game, and you gotta love his swing. He started off the season a little slow, but all Piazza needs right now is a little CUNfidence at the plate. He'll get hot and he'll be all right. Looks at a first pitch strike, right there, 0 and 1 on the big man.

*camera shot of a man in the crowd*

Hey, look at that, a guy with a mustache! I must say, I've always liked mustaches but whenever I try to grow one in it comes out patchy and lopsided. Not like my broadcast partner Keith Hernandez's here, Piazza takes another pitch, a ball, right one the corner, one and one now. How long have you had that mustache Keith, a long time, huh?"

"Yes, Fran, a little over thirty years."

"Wonderful! You know who else had a mustache? Rollie Fingers. That was some stache, though, the way he twirled that in the ends. You know, I never could get a hit off Fingers, probably was too busy staring at that mustache!"

*camera shot to Willie Randolph in the dugout*

"Willie Randolph, too, he's got one! In fact, if you're a Met, that's all you're allowed to have now is mustaches, no facial hair below the lip, that's the law Willie put down. Some players had problems with that new rule. In fact, some fans had problems with that rule too, but I don't have a problem with it at all. Piazza takes another ball, so he's the counts two and one on him. I think it makes the guys look more professional and, like I mentioned earlier, I just like mustaches. Not many guys decided to go with the mustache look. Roberto Hernandez has got one. Manny Aybar. Felix Heredia had one, as well. Must be a bullpen thing, I guess, AND OH BOY, PIAZZA RIPS IT DOWN THE MIDDLE! Andruw Jones over to pick it up and Piazza with a real hard hit single down the middle! This place is really rahkin' tonight!"


End scene.

Seriously though, I don't know what I would do without the insane and unintelligible ramblings of Fran Healy nightly. While I'm sure the vast majority of MLB broadcasters have the guy beat when it comes down to insightful baseball commentary, Fran Healy has to score higher than all of them combined on the "Unintentional Comedy Scale". So thank you, Fran Healy, for making Mets broadcasts such a pleasure over the lean years of this ballclub.

And yes, I am writing this to avoid talking about John Smoltz and how much I think he's going to own this team tomorrow.

**

I've cut and added some blogs from the sidebar, to keep it from getting to "Always Amazin'" lengths. If yours isn't up there, let me know. And if I cut yours and you expect to be returning, let me know as well, and I'll throw it back up there.

**

EDIT: Be sure to check out Matt Cerrone's Call to Arms over at MetsBlog. Having Tivo, I still get the Mets games on TV and therefore haven't had any real reason to address it here. But for those of you who have been unable to see the Mets play on a regular basis, here's your chance to do something about it. Matt's got you very well covered on the situation, like always, so make sure you see this.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A Letter to Victor Zambrano

Victor Zambrano,

You know I love you, buddy. Watching your games it seems to me you have the heart and you undoubtedly have the stuff. In fact, there were many times yesterday that you threw pitches and I went "Wow, look at that movement" or "Man, that is some breaking ball."

Although it's not the reason I write to you today, I did want to mention something I picked up on while watching the game yesterday: you seem to have this funny tick where sometimes you throw pitches, and they're just slightly nowhere in the vicinity of the plate. I don't know what that's all about, so you might want to have that checked out. Or, even better, how about instead of having Piazza set up on the corner of the plate, you just throw the ball right smack down the middle? That way, maybe the ball will then be on the corner of the plate? I only bring this up because it seems that how you've been doing it over the past couple years hasn't been working too well (208 BB's in 270 innings does not an ace make).

Anyway, to get to the point, I read this quote today, and it disturbed me a bit: "I'm happy with myself coming from eight months without throwing in the bullpen or games or anything like that, and now I feel pretty good. I'm 100 percent, and that's the most important thing right now. I know I'm healthy and I can pitch. Games like [Sunday's] I don't worry about."

It's just that if I gave up seven earned runs, even if Manny Aybar was responsible for a couple of those, I know I'd be worried. And, in case you forgot, that's exactly what you did yesterday. It worries me a bit that your idea of "one hundred percent" is nine hits and three walks in five innings. If this is true, I have to admit I liked you a lot better when your elbow was falling off your arm.

But, really the problem is this: I was the only guy to not call for Duquette's head when you were traded for Scott Kazmir. Everybody else was hooting and hollering, and I just kind of stood and watched and told everybody to relax. Of course, now Scott's gone on to put up roughly the same numbers at a lower price and a younger age, and it just so happens that a lot of people actually remember my original stance.

This situation is, of course, kinda out of my hands now because I can't make Scott Kazmir pitch worse and I can't seem to get you to pitch any better (and trust me, I've tried). So, I ask you today, for the love of all that is holy, quit making me look like a moron. I'd really appreciate that.


Thanks!
Andrew

P.S. If you see Rick Peterson, maybe you could ask him if he could spare that ten minutes he was talking about nine months ago. Just for kicks.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Claim Withdrawn

Every once in a while, I find something that triggers a new thought process in my mind when it comes to baseball. Example: Coming into the season, I figured Kris Benson was going to be no great shakes. Then I find out he's watching Pedro's bullpen sessions and learning that he doesn't have to be so fine with his pitches when he's got a guy up two strikes, and next thing I know I think the guy's going to be just a great pitcher (whenever's he healthy of course).

Now two days ago, on Mets Geek, I wrote that the Mets should go 2-1 in the series with the Nationals, because Livan Hernandez owns the Mets. Then, I read this from Mets.com:

The club has been treated to surprisingly good performances from Aaron Heilman on April 15 and Jae Seo on Saturday. Zambrano, who has better stuff and more experience than either Heilman or Seo, will look to surprise the Nationals, who've yet to see the right-hander's wicked stuff.

And with that, I'm sold. Never being much of a stats guy, I don't know what Victor's numbers are against teams he's facing for the first time versus teams he's faced multiple times, or even where to look for such a thing. But seeing what I've seen in the past out of other pitchers, I know that when guys see nasty stuff for the first time they tend to have trouble with it. And while Zamby may be the most inconsistent starter in the National League, his stuff is right up there as well. So, with that, I withdraw my claim.

Do it up, Victor. Go for the sweep.

And if you want to strike out fourteen guys while doing it, just for kicks, more power to you.

**

Edit: My withdraw is withdrawn. In fact, I take back anything and everything I've ever said about Victor Zambrano. The guy is just awful. Throw a $#@%!ing strike once in awhile, huh?!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Keep it Going!

So, as The Padres really can't match his control of the situation. It's just not enough that a guy owns a home here and likes the weather. The next-closest thing San Diego has to an everyday major league catcher is George Kottaras at high Single-A, but he might not be ready until 2007. And there are those who covet Hernandez and will pay above market value, notably Mets General Manager Omar Minaya, who has the fiscal discipline of Imelda Marcos at a blowout sale of Prada shoes.

Hernandez is just a perfect, all-around fit for the Mets. He calls a tremendous game, is a terrific defensive catcher, and can even hit the ball -- a combination that a Mets catcher hasn't had in a long, long while. As Jake Peavy said: "I can't give you words to describe how valuable he is. Nobody wants him signed more than I do . . . This guy has to be a mainstay of our organization. If we want to get where we want to be, guys like Ramon have to be here."

Hey, last I checked, the Mets want to win too.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Things To See

All right, well so much for Aaron Heilman becoming the next David Cone. Heilman showed up with a far less menacing determination than exhibited in his last start, and relied way too much on his average fastball over the course of the night. We'll see what happens in his next start, which he will almost certainly get, as Kris Benson is still at least two weeks away.


Meanwhile...
Things I'd Like to See In Today's Start:
*Al Leiter gets rocked for eight earned runs in two and a thirds innings.

I'm glad Al got his nice homecoming start. He did his job, showed the Mets what they were missing, and he got some cheers. Now, it's time for him to show Marlins fans why we were so quick to let him go. I want to see some walks, I want to see some nineteen pitch at-bats, and I want to see some eight Mets up at-bat innings.

*Victor Diaz goes a day without making me embarassed.
I love the guy, as I've made abundantly clear. I've got the jersey, I sponsor the website, and he's one of the few Mets I'd still follow if he ever left the team. But Victor's "Stand and Stare" at what he thought was a homerun that ended up being a triple, still could have been an inside-the-parker if Victor busted it out of the box. If Eric Valent wasn't hitting like Jorge Toca right now, something tells me Victor would be starting on the bench tomorrow.

*Beltran remembers how to hit for extra bases
It's not that I'm not worried or anything. I know Beltran has his hot-and-cold streaks, and that there will come a time this season when he's going to hit eight homeruns and fourteen RBI in forty-six at-bats. But I think we can all agree that it'd be nice to see Beltran hit at least a double. No better time to get that hot streak started then the present. Especially with RFK Stadium looming on the horizon.

*Jose Reyes takes a walk.
I'm not asking for two or three. I'm just looking for one, to remind me that he's capable of taking four pitches. Aggressiveness is fine, but even Vladimir Guerrero walked thirty-eight times last year of his own volition.

*Pedro pitches the first no-hitter in Mets history.
Hey, it's not too much to ask.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Who Is Aaron Heilman?

Every once in awhile, there are baseball players who come out of nowhere to become success stories. Names that come to mind immediately are Melvin Mora and Johan Santana, players who weren't regarded all that highly, bounced around for awhile, and then found success along with reliable playing time. These players stories are always nice because unless you're a hardcore baseball fan, you'd never heard of them until they starting doing well.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are players expected to succeed that just never do. Again, names that come to mind immediately are Todd Van Poppel and Brien Taylor. Guys who had huge expectations placed on them, and just never found the success that seemed so assured. Sometimes, these players bounce back to find success in their careers (Paul Wilson, for example) but those who have are far outweighed by those who have not.

Tonight, we get a chance to watch Aaron Heilman, at twenty-six years old, decide where his destiny lies. Written off by almost everyone, Heilman bounced back last Friday to pitch one of the most unbelievable games in Met history. Not because it was a one hitter, or a complete game shutout, but simply because that it was pitched by Aaron Heilman. I still have the game Tivo'ed, and still find myself going back to it days later to watch an inning or so. Sporting a new, funky delivery and a game face not seen since the days of Nolan Ryan, I see the same thing everytime: Heilman looked like a new man, and pitched one hell of a ball game.

The question, of course, is if it's possible for him to do it again. Has Heilman broken through? Has he re-discovered his stuff? Can he turn his entire career around, under the scrutinizing eye of New York no less? It'd be a great thing to see. To tune into Baseball Tonight one night in June, and see Peter Gammons and Harold Reynolds trying to figure out where this dorky looking pitcher from Logansport, Indiana came from.

Same team, same lineup, same result? We all find out tonight.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Unbelievable Tale of Tom Glavine

Question of the Day: Is Tom Glavine a Met?

Obviously, yes, he's employed by the Mets and a member of the Mets rotation. But, just as A-Rod isn't really a Yankee or Al Leiter is really not a Marlin, is Tom Glavine still a Brave, or has he made the transition? (And this is asking for right now, not over the course of his career, where he will obviously always be seen as a Brave.)

We've had two full seasons to warm up to the idea of Glavine. His first year was pretty lousy, but his second was a solid overall season, and he represented the Mets at the All-Star Game. And not an Armando Benitez "I'm Here Because the Rest of My Team is Awful" representation, but a true representative of the New York Mets, there based on his own merits alongside Mike Piazza. And lest we not forget the complete game shutout one hitter, one of but a few bright spots in the 2004 season.

So, is Glavine a Met?

My personal take is yes. Has he pitched to the best of his abilities for this team? No. But the guy has been through a lot. He came to the Mets by way of trickery and deceit, thinking (like all of us) that the Mets were on their way to success. And, oh yeah, that ridiculous four year deal. But still, the guy was just looking for his 300th win and an easy ride into retirement. Instead the Mets have handed him injuries, horrible offense, porous defense, a hideous bullpen, false teeth, a ton of no decisions, and Roger Cedeno.

So why does this make him a Met? Because Tom Glavine is us. He is the player representation of the entire New York Mets fanbase. We signed on long term, looking for a winner, and were given nothing to work with. He's suffered as many painful, tear-your-hair-out, atrocious indignities as any one of us. For this, I feel Tommy's pain. I've been there. I know what it's like to have Mo Vaugn attempt to pick a Jorge Velandia low throw at first base. I know how it feels to see your up the middle defense consist of Jay Bell, Joe McEwing and Roger Cedeno. I know how it hurts to have your lead be protected by the one-two-three punch of John Franco, Mike Stanton and Armando Benitez. I've lived through these moments just as Tom Glavine has as well.

Of course, Tom Glavine is a Met. He's the most Met of all.

I wish nothing but the best for Tom. And I hope he gives Florida hell today. And he will, as long as the umpire calls his questionable pitches for strikes. And he just may, as it's been that kind of season for the Mets thus far. I'm hoping it works out for Tom the way it's working out for us.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Wha?

Seriously, what the hell did I just see?

Did Aaron Heilman just deliver?

I don't know about you guys, but I feel downright giddy. I've always had faith in Aaron's stuff, but I never had faith in his psyche. Now, for one glorious night, both delievered.

Way to go, Aaron.

In the immortal words of Jack Buck, "I don't believe what I just saw."
I'm going to be pretty busy this weekend, so I won't have much new content up around here, though I do take a look at the upcoming Marlins pitchers over at MetsGeek.

Who else is going to the Pedro/Leiter showdown? If you do go, keep your eye open for the "FREE HEATH BELL" signs. The majority of MetsGeek will be heading down to Shea for the game, and we'll be fighting for the cause. Feel free to make your own, and come along!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Reversing Course

All right, I've changed my mind.

Yesterday, I said that if the Mets could stand up against Roger Clemens and take a win, it would show us what to expect from the Mets. But I'm now realizing that's not true. The Mets, although they've been pretty lousy the past few years, seem to have a pretty good record when it comes to those top pitchers. People will make a huge deal about upcoming series with the Randy Johnsons or the Roger Clemenses, but it's usually the Zach Days and the Ron Villones of the baseball world that always trip up the Mets. Small Sample Size Case in point: the Mets won games against John Smoltz, Andy Pettite and now Roger Clemens, yet were readily handled by John Thomson, Paul Wilson and Aaron Harang. Solid pitchers, certainly, but none of them you would consider taking in the first fifteen rounds of your fantasy draft.

So, really, what this comes down to is defeating the pitchers you're supposed to beat. It's what has made the Yankees so good over the years -- they hit the pitchers that they're supposed to hit.

Brandon Backe is one of "those" guys. His stuff is decent and he's a serviceable four or five starter. But the Mets lineup, the way it is composed (especially if Cliff Floyd is back tomorrow), should beat Brandon Backe. This, I've decided, is the true test of the season. Can the Mets, coming off back to back to back wins, against big pitchers, beat up on a guy with lesser stuff?

Speaking of Cliff, if we can take anything from yesterday's exciting as all hell win, it's the fact that the Mets really need him in the lineup. The guy is hitting, hitting lefties along with righties, and he's hitting well. Mike Piazza is quickly becoming an automatic out, but this fact is covered up with Floyd hitting directly behind him and usually keeping the rally going. Mientkiewicz is a fine hitter, but he's no five guy.

For the love of God, Cliff, stay healthy for just a little longer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Roger Clemens Punch-Out!!

Like most people around my age group, I grew up playing Nintendo. And while the sporting game industry back then pales in comparison to what is offered these days, Nintendo originally had the greatest and still the most beloved sports games available. Who could forget RBI Baseball, Tecmo Bowl, or my personal favorite -- Mike Tyson's Punch-Out? In Punch-Out, you were Little Mac, and you worked your way up the ranks of the professional boxing world. You started off with the easier guys, like any video game, and then the fighters got progressively harder.

The end, of course, was the worst. After going through all the fighters, some more than once, you ended up with the deadly one-two-three punch: Mr. Sandman, Super Macho Man (who was actually easier to beat than Mr. Sandman) and then, if you made it this far, you were utterly obliterated by Mike Tyson and had to do it all over again (my family never sprung for Game Genie).

This reminded me a lot of the situation the Mets face right now. Sunday, John Smoltz came with his absolute best stuff, and the Mets somehow were able to beat him. Fifteen strikeouts, seven hits and no earned runs through seven innings was erased with a Carlos Beltran slam to rightfield. It wasn't pretty, but the Mets took it.

Monday, Andy Pettite is a little less unhittable but still laid the Mets down through five innings. But bloop hits and aggressive running sent him down for the count as well. The Mets now, after a long, boring, disappointing opening to the season, have cobbled together an unlikely winning streak. The fans have faith, have hope, are excited. And then comes our Mike Tyson.

The scariest part of Punch-Out was when the Tyson screen opened. Every boxer had a little taunt underneath their picture ranging anywhere from "Make it quick... I want to retire!" to "I'll give you a TKO from Tokyo!" But Tyson's was the most intimidating, and foreshadowed exactly what was about to happen: "I'm strong. You're weak. I'm going to destroy you. Any questions?"

I'm pretty sure if Roger Clemens came out of the locker room to deliver the message before today's game, there probably wouldn't be much disagreement (and it'd make for a hilarious SportsCenter). You see, Clemens happens to be the Mets personal Mike Tyson. I know the guy is 3-5 against them lifetime, and I know he got hit pretty hard in the "Shawn Estes" game. But no can deny the guy is still one of the most dominant starters in baseball, or the fact that in his last start against the Mets was a powerful seven inning stretch of two hits and ten K's. And this time, Brad Lidge is available at the end of it.

This is a big game for the Mets. This is their first "Little Mac" game. If they can upend Clemens tonight, this could speak volumes about what to expect out of a healthy ballclub for the rest of the season. The offense has seemed to start clicking over the past couple games, and the rotation's early returns have been promising (and will be even better the quicker Kris Benson can return). All it takes is a few big wins to get a team to gel, and the Mets appear to be well on that way.

Now, if Roger Clemens winks before he throws a fastball like Mike Tyson winked before he clobbered the crap out of you, the Mets may be in business.

Monday, April 11, 2005

My Day at Shea and John Franco

I didn't boo John Franco today.

But I definitely did not cheer him, either.

The problem in baseball today is that guys get away with the things they did, simply because they move on to another team. Was John Franco a Met for fourteen seasons? Absolutely. But is that all it takes to be remembered in a fond light? Am I supposed to forget that this guy blew save after save, game after game, stayed on long after he should have retired, took up roster spots that could have been given to better, younger players for five or six seasons? Am I supposed to forget that he was one of the "player GMs", had a hand in the major moves that the Mets made, was a reason -- whether or not it was a big role or small role is yet to be determined -- why the Mets had been so awful these past four years? Am I supposed to forget that he gave Mets tickets to the mafia? Or that he terrorized Rick Reed for years because he crossed the union line during the strike to help pay for his mother's operation? And for God's sake, am I supposed to forget 1998?

The fact is John Franco was just never that great. He acted like he was Barry Bonds, but when he was at his best he pitched like he was Jeff Reardon (and when he was at his worst he pitched like Felix Heredia). He was good for a time, but he was never anything spectacular, and he certainly wasn't any good at all in his last years with the team. And add that to the fact that numerous former members of the organization (Bobby Valentine, Bobby Ojeda, even Nelson Doubleday) spoke out about the way Franco acted after they left the team, and I'm left with the perception that if Franco was born in California he'd be one of the most vilified Mets of all time.

Is Franco a good guy? Absolutely. Did he do a lot of good for this city, with his numerous charitable acts and donations? Certainly. And if there's a New Yorker Hall of Fame (and there may well be one), then by all means put him in there. But if we are talking strictly his career as a Met, then Franco did a lot more bad than good in my eyes, and there's no reason not to boo him for doing so.

That being said, the Mets won. It was one of the better games I've ever been to (definitely Top 5), and there was energy for the first time in years.


Highlights of the Game:
Jose Reyes' Barehanded Catch: The first play I've ever seen in person that prompted people around me to go, "Holy crap, did he just do that? I think he did... I couldn't tell, but I'm pretty sure he did." Just a tremendous play. If Jose Reyes turns out to be Rey Ordonez with the ability to hit, we've got a shortstop for the next fifteen years.

Roberto Hernandez Shuts 'Em Down: Eric from Amazin' Avenue will back me up on this, I'm the only guy this side of Rick Peterson who had faith in Hernandez from the beginning of Spring Training. Why in the hell Willie brought in Aybar for that second inning, I'll never have any idea. And because my seat was right by the bullpen, I know that Roberto Hernandez was warming up immediately after Aybar took the mound in the seventh, so Hernandez was ready to go to start the eighth. But Hernandez came in, and shut down the hitters one, two, three, with a strikeout and everything. Roberto's relearned how to pitch, and may just be the only dependable arm the Mets have in the bullpen this year (Looper, possibly, as well).

Pedro Chant: With the batter's eye broken, the Mets cameramen were looking for something to fill the time with. The fans were getting restless, as nothing was being explained to us, and the players were all milling around doing nothing. So, what do you do in a situation like this? Go to Pedro. They put the camera on Pedro, who did his goofy pointing fingers thing, and everyone went nuts. Pedro got the biggest ovation of the day, and the guy didn't even play in the game. That's a special player.

And, hey, the Mets won. John Franco did what he did for us all those years and promptly gave up two runs in five pitches, Victor Diaz took two walks, Kaz Matsui is almost hitting .270, and Doug Mientkiewicz is my new favorite Met. This season might be interesting after all.

Opening Day

Who else is going to Opening Day? Unable to find anyone to go to actually attend Opening Day with (the sad life of a Mets fan), I purcahsed a single, lone ticket and will be making the trek to Shea Stadium today. How many of you think that Tom Glavine will come at the Astros with a John Smoltz-like vengeance, looking to redeem himself in the eyes of Mets fans everywhere after his embarassing start against the Reds?

Yeah, me neither.

The good thing is the Astros lineup is really, pretty lousy. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell are still the big hitters. Still. With Berkman out, and Beltran a Met. I'm hoping that the Mets really have their way with the Astros pitching staff, and even with Clemens starting, that's a possibility. Especially with their bullpen -- which consists of Chad Harville, Brandon Duckworth, Russ Springer, Dan Wheeler, and our old friend John Franco. How about blowing Clemens' win, for old time's sake, Johnny?

So, it's Tommy Glavine against Andy Pettitte, a battle of high ERA'ed, low strikeout, ace lefty pitchers. Let's hope the Mets lineup used yesterday's two innings of wonder and amazement to figure out how to, you know, hit with runners in scoring position, and that it was all a glorious sign of things to come.

2-5, here we come!

Or, of course, 1-6 and unadulterated booing and mockery from the stands.

Either way it'll be a blast!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Yay

In lieu of an actual post, I'd just like to sum up my feelings right now, in picture form:

title or description

Friday, April 08, 2005

Top Ten

Top Ten Commonly Heard Phrases During the 2005 Mets Season
Censored to Keep this Site Family Friendly


10. "Why the $%&%$ is Kaz Matsui still hitting second?!"

9. "What the ^%$@#@% ARE YOU SWINGING AT?!"

8. "MOTHERR $&%$^#ER!"

7. "WILL YOU TAKE A ^t$#^#ING PITCH! STOP %@#%@ING SWINGING AT THAT %#@%!"

6. "OH MY... I... DAHHH... FRIFFERRR... GAHHHH... %#@% YOU!"

5. "I CAN NOT %#^$#ING BELIEVE HE DID NOT CATCH THAT ^#$&#$ING BALL!"

4. "HOW THE @%#@%@ WAS THAT NOT A STRIKE?!"

3. (Inhuman noises followed by the throwing of remote control, TV Guide, pillow, etc.)

2. "All right, here we go, this is where they turn it around..."

1. "Oh, I just &%$#ing give up."

**

It's time for a lineup change. The Mets are getting hits, they're just getting them at the wrong time. I propose this:

Reyes
Mientkiewicz
Wright
Beltran
Piazza
Floyd
Matsui
Diaz

In a perfect world, I'd really want Beltran hitting second with Mientkiewicz batting third and Wright hitting fourth, but that won't ever happen in this lifetime. But this order gives the Mets the best chance of scoring runs.

Of course, I expect the same order we saw tonight for tomorrow's game. Maybe Diaz gets to play right, and maybe Cairo will take second base. Other than that, more of the same.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Mojo Risin'

If you haven't been able to tell by my blog recently, I overreact a lot when the Mets lose. And, to add onto that, it's just been not all that amusing to write about the Mets with the way they've played of late.

But I've figured out how to change all of that!

You see, everybody has a little routine for when they watch their sports team. Jim Breuer had a whole spiel devoted to it about watching the Mets in '86, and how he used to give the opposing hitters the "Devil Horns" because it worked the first time he did it. He claimed the entire Bill Buckner ball through the legs was because of him, and why not? I'm sure we all have our moments where a position switch either won the Mets the game or cost them a late inning rally. I imagine that everybody has something they do, that they fell upon, when watching their team. Personally, when I watch the Mets, I have to figure out what the right voodoo mojo karma is in order to keep the Mets winning. Sometimes it depends on where I'm sitting, how I'm positioned, how I'm wearing my hat, if I'm wearing my hat, what TV I watch it on, etc. Last year during a three game winning streak, I watched every pitch the Mets threw in the reflection of the window because Tom Glavine struck a guy out when I accidently did that. I kid you not. This season, though, it's been pretty tough. The usual standby -- hat on, sitting on the couch, upstairs televison -- has done nothing for me. I've moved around, worn different hats, nothing has worked.

But then, thanks to a message board, I realized that I hadn't shaved in three days. Since the start of the season! It makes so much sense now. So, if the Mets win tomorrow, you'll know I've set the course of the Mets right. Of course, don't stop doing what you're doing either. The Mets need all the help they can get at this point.

Anyways, last time I predicted what a Victor Zambrano start would hold, I was spot on. So, I'm going to predict, once again, what Zambrano will do tomorrow: seven innings pitched, four hits, five walks, nine K's. Or what I actually think will happen: four innings pitched, seven earned runs, four walks, seven K's.

But I'm the optimist blog. So go for the first one.

Yawn.

I'm not going to do anything crazy and drastic. I'm not going to proclaim this season over, or say the Mets should fire Willie Randolph, or say they should start trading away all the veterans for prospects (all these things I've seen or heard over the past two days).

But I'd be lying if I said this wasn't the most absolutely boring stretch of games the Mets have played in a long, looooong time.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I Hate Chuck Meriwether

Boston.com: During the World Series, Varitek went to the mound with Derek Lowe pitching to give himself a chance to calm down. Varitek was convinced that Chuck Meriwether, the plate umpire, had blown an obvious strike three on Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. "I told Derek, `I need a minute here,' " Varitek said.

Redbird Nation: With runners on first and third and one out, Jose Lima ran into a bunted ball in fair play. That's a dead ball and out #1. Except Meriwether and his crew missed the play entirely and called everyone safe when Matheny threw late trying to get the trail runner at second (and according to Bernie Miklasz, the umps may have blown that call too).

Yahoo Sports: Right after first base umpire Chuck Meriwether called Rodriguez safe on a close play, Bucknor signaled interference on Guillen and an automatic double play, ending the game.

BravesBeat.com: Now it would be something else altogether if Maddux and/or Glavine got the outside half and the opposing hurler did not. And yes, that has been known to happen a time or two in the past. But today? Even Houston fans have to admit home plate umpire Chuck Meriwether gave the calls to both sides, or damn close to it.

Always Amazin': New York lost a run in the first inning on a blown call by plate umpire Chuck Meriwether, who ruled that Jason Phillips was out on a tag by catcher (and former Met, for about 12 seconds) Gary Bennett. Replays showed that Phillips may have actually gotten a piece of the plate with both feet before Bennett placed the tag on.


My point? If the Mets lose this game, it's because Chuck Meriwether pretty obviously can not call a Major League game. How this moron is still employed is beyond me.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Knocked for a Looper

After the just delightful loss the Mets took yesterday, I went to peruse the message boards around the internet to see if there was anything anybody was saying that I'd find funny in my time of need. Instead of people cracking jokes, it was more of the same:

"This is the same old Mets."

Well, really, it isn't. Pedro was lights out. Beltran has given us what the Mets have needed since 2000 -- another bat to depend upon. Reyes was healthy and running. Cliff Floyd hit the ball, and once in a clutch situation. If this were the old Mets, we'd have been down six runs in the fifth. Pedro would have given up eight runs and walked four. Reyes would have pulled up running into second because his hamstring exploded rounding first. Beltran would have been the second coming of Roger Cedeno.

You can take away from this game the fact that the Mets were running on all cylinders up until Braden Looper decided to play softball. The offense was working, Pedro was definitely working, even the bullpen was working. I'm not feeling as down on Aybar as everybody else is, as I think he pitched a solid inning of work, especially if Beltran made that catch that skipped off his glove. Mr. Koo was unhittable (and apparently uncatchable, as well). It was a game full of optimisim until Loop came in.

To be honest, I just don't trust Braden Looper. It could be the fact that during my bulk years of watching the Mets, their closers have been John Franco and Armando Benitez. As a guy who's watched his team's closers blow games for the past twelve years of his life, it's hard to fathom that there are actually guys out there who can close out games, and be dependable at it. But the Eric Gagnes and Mariano Riveras are few and far between, and Jim Duquette decided to take a flyer on the hopes that Looper would put it together in New York. And while he did up until a point, from mid-August on last season he was extremely hittable and undependable. That carried into the spring, and apparently into the season.

Eric Karabell, who runs a fantasy blog on ESPN, tried to calm fans concerns with Braden Looper: Look, is Looper one of the top closers in the game? No, of course not. There's a reason the Mets were in trade talks for Ugueth Urbina (who also gave up a homer today), and it's because many believe Looper should be a setup man. But, for now, he's a closer, and still a top-20 closer.

A top twenty closer? Maybe in any other walk of life being a top twenty something may be swell, but there's only thirty closers in baseball. And some of those guys names are Brandon Lyon and Mike Adams. Saying a guy is a Top 20 closer is like saying a guy is a Top 80 outfielder. It really doesn't mean much. So the fact remains that Looper is just not the lock that the Mets need at the end of an already shaky bullpen.

If Looper keeps this up, and I'm personally of the mind that he will, the Mets are going to need to go out of the organization to find somebody who can shut down games. There's two guys that are considered to be "Top" closers that could be free agents next offseason -- Billy Wagner and Mariano Rivera. Both will not be available for trade to the Mets this season, and both are more than likely not coming to the Mets next offseason anyways. So, it's up to Omar to work that magic at this point. Let Willie run Braden out there for a couple weeks or a month, and see what he has left in the tank. And if not, it may be time to give TB a call for Danys Baez. Or maybe we can trade the farm for Brad Lidge? Or perhaps we can just use our ninth pick overall to draft the next Huston Street.

But something will more than likely need to be done. The Mets did a lot of things differently this offseason. Let's try and change a twelve year run of shaky closers while we're at it.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Brutal. Absolutely brutal.

Today!

It really starts today. In like fourteen hours, Pedro Martinez will take the mound in an official Mets uniform and throw a pitch.

It's strange really. It's strange to think of Pedro and Beltran as Mets. To me, they're more like those Japanese ballplayers that come to Spring Training in America. They practice with the team, play a couple games, get a few at-bats, and then are gone. I kept expecting once spring training finished that Pedro would thank us for the opportunity and head back to Boston. It's strange to think of these new players as Mets, and Mets for some time.

That'll all end today, of course. Official games mean official stats, and Pedro and Beltran will be in the record book with NYM next to their names. And even more, we'll start the first of hopefully many seasons with David Wright at third, and a healthy Jose Reyes at short.

It really starts today. And I'm pumped.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Wacky Bullpen Madness

Okay, so here's the deal: Heath Bell isn't making the bullpen. I'm a little upset over that, but because he's the official pitcher of MetsGeek and not Chuck 'n' Duck, I can deal.

What I will not be able to deal with is if the Mets try and move Ginter to AAA, only to have him claimed by another team, for the sole purpose of keeping Felix Heredia on the active roster. Quite frankly, Ginter is a solid pitcher, did show some promise last year, and is a nice backup plan in case Benson's "minor injury" starts resembling Steve Trachsel's "minor injury". And to lose that guy because the Mets aren't willing to take a 1.85 million dollar hit to the pocket is ridiculous. The Mets have spent 196 million dollars this offseason to try and win. Hurting their chances considerably over an extra 1.85 doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Look, Bell's demotion is a letdown. He's one of our own, a guy we've watched come through the system without any kind of fanfare, he's always posted nice numbers, and his personal story makes just about any baseball fan want to root for him. But, sadly, he got rocked last night when he needed to pitch well. So don't let anybody fool you into thinking spring training numbers don't mean anything.Regardless, if the Mets bullpen pitches the way it has this spring -- and Felix Heredia is not on this team -- then the Mets have an unspectacularly solid bullpen.

The guys who'll make the bullpen (not counting locks Looper and DeJean), and their spring numbers:

Aybar - 9 games, 1-0, 1.54 ERA, 11.2 IP - 2 ER - 11/1 K/BB

Matthews - 10 games, 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 13.1 IP - 4 ER - 6/1

Mr. Koo - 9 games, 0-1, 2.84 ERA, 12.2 IP -4 ER - 12/4

Ginter - 5 games, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 14.0 IP - 0 ER - 10/4

Hernandez - 10 games, 0-0, 3.27 ERA, 11.0 IP - 4 ER - 4/2


Those guys did their jobs, and put up their numbers. Do some of them have less than promising numbers out of the bullpen in previous experiences? Absolutely. But so did Jose Mesa and Antonio Alfonseca and even our own Braden Looper at points in their careers. Just as OFF said a couple days ago, relievers are fickle by nature. One season they're unstoppable, and the next their fastballs resemble Mr. Met's head. And, really, at this point, there's no turning back. The Mets bullpen is what it is. It's probably not the best bullpen that could be put together with the options the Mets have (Bell would have to be in it), but there's a chance it'll do it's job and do it well. All we can do now is hope that Omar's found one or two (or even three) diamonds in the rough.

Except for Felix Heredia. He still needs to go.