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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

His Big Game

Shhh! Don't say anything!

Every time He has a big game, everybody comes out and proclaims The Slump over. We say He's finished adjusting to New York, He's found his swing, He's put it all together. The Slump is gone, and in it's place The Streak now rises like a phoenix from the ashes. Yes, The Streak we've been waiting for is no longer right around the corner, but here and now! There will be much rejoicing and choruses of angels as He'll hit twenty-two homeruns and drive in fifty runs and have twenty-nine multi-hit games from here on out, propeling the Mets to a twenty game win streak and locking up the playoffs by mid-September.

And, much like a skittish deer, He hears the clammering, turns tail, and runs into the woods... only to be lost for another two weeks.

So much like a David Wright at-bat, let's learn from our past mistakes, and adjust. Let's just not say anything. Don't cheer any louder. Don't write about it. Don't talk about it. Oh, we don't have to forget about it, but let's have it be our little/big secret. Acknowledge it with a wink or a head nod to other Mets fans in the street, but don't dare mention His name, and certainly not his game last night. Don't risk the streak, the run, or the playoffs. Just sit back, and let Him do his thing.

Because if there's ever a time for him to start doing His thing, it's right now. With Miguel "That .295 Ain't My Batting Average" Cairo hitting in the second spot for the forseeable future and Cliff Floyd swinging the bat as well as I could right now, the Mets are in desperate need of Him stepping up. We all know He's got the big contract, the big lineup spot, and the pressure of an entire New York City fanbase. And the result of this has been Him skying flyballs and fouling off strike twos like He's getting paid to do it. So, let's do our part to keep the pressure off.

Until he does for it a second consecutive game. Then all bets are off.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Creative Solutions

Dear Mr. Wilpon,

I am a diehard New York Met fan. I currently run the Mets blog Chuck 'n' Duck, as well as being a contributor to another Mets website, MetsGeek.com, so you know I come at this situation with the best of intentions. While watching the Mets thoroughly trounce the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second consecutive night, I came across an interesting idea as how to get the Mets into the playoffs, consistently, for many years.

Move the Mets to Arizona.

Look, I realize that some Mets fans may be upset by this move off the bat. Both the New York Giants, as well as your boyhood team the Brooklyn Dodgers, left under poor circumstances for monetary reasons and both teams should not be admired for what they did. I do not, however, propose a move for the financial betterment. I propose it for the right reasons, namely winning. If the Mets were to play at Bank One Ballpark for the remainder of the season -- as well as for future years -- we could reasonably expect a nightly performance of 10+ runs. Also, Tom Glavine could be penciled in for his third Cy Young, David Wright would hit around .800, and Mike Jacobs could be counted on for something, roughly, around two hundred homeruns and two hundred walks. (These numbers may be an over/understatement, I'm not very good in math).

Of course a move to Arizona would also mean a move to the National League West. While game times would be hell on the fanbase at first, I'm sure that with time we could all learn to function on five to six hours a sleep nightly for the good of the franchise. And, let me tell you, a move to the NL West definitely is good for the franchise. I'm not sure if you were aware of this or not, but with the Mets now 66-60 they would be in first place by six games, instead of in last by five. This would all but guarantee us a playoff berth this season, and many more down the line -- especially once we steal Ramon Hernandez from the Padres, our new fierce rivals. Let those smug San Dieogoites (San Diegons?) deal with that for the years of misery they didn't put us through.

In conclusion, Mr. Wilpon, a move to the West is a move for the best. Your team is just bursting with future MVPs, Cy Youngs and Rookies of the Year once a move to Phoenix takes place.

Here's a website for you to peruse, http://phoenix.about.com/od/relocation/, it'll give you all the information you need about making the jump to the great state of Arizona. Also, I don't really know much about the whole ownership of the Diamondbacks, but if I recall correctly, doesn't Billy Crystal have something to do with it? I'm sure Mr. Crystal would love the opportunity to move back to New York, so you should probably get him on your side first and then have him slowly sway the rest of the guys. Though, that's just my two cents, this is your call all the way.

Just make me one promise -- let's not go purple and green.


Your friend,
Andrew Hintz

**

Big thanks to all who linked yesterday. Came this close to hitting 1,000.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Don Pedro

Finally, the true story of how Willie Randolph came around to giving Mike Jacobs some playing time -- it was all Pedro Martinez's doing.

According to Scott Lauber, that is. Check it out:

Jacobs survived another day without being returned to the minors, and Pedro Martinez may be partially responsible.

After homering in his first major league at-bat Sunday, Jacobs was informed he may be sent to Triple-A. Martinez overheard and voiced a complaint with Mets' brass. Jacobs stayed with the team, started the next two games at first base and was spared a demotion Tuesday when the Mets designated reliever Danny Graves for assignment.

The move paid off for the Mets when he homered Tuesday night at Arizona.

"It's just not right," Martinez told the New York Daily News. "It could frustrate a kid when you have a top prospect like that and you bring him up and he hits a three-run homer that puts us back in the game and you send him back down. As a person that's been there, it's frustrating."

Luckily for all of you, I have access to the Mets security cameras, and was able to transcribe how this all came about for your reading pleasure.


The Night of the 9-8 Win

Pedro Martinez sits behind a desk in his office in the Mets locker room, a kitten sprawled out across his lap. As Pedro stares off into the distance, Jose Reyes comes to the door.


"Godfather, he's not on the list, but Mike Jacobs wants to see you."

Pedro looks up at him, inquisitively.

"Is this -- is this necessary?"

Jose shrugs as Pedro waves him on. Mike Jacobs bows and sits on Pedro's desk.

"Mr. Martinez... less than a week ago Mike Piazza goes down because of a broken bone in his hand. Omar's stumped, he doesn't know what to do. He wants to call up Mike DiFelice, but he knows the fanbase would revolt if they bring him up over me. So Omar calls me up only Willie Randolph sits me on the bench, and I've just sat there... for days! Rotting away, really. I mean, Willie even sends Miguel Cairo out to warm up the pitcher between innings. Oh, Godfather, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do.

Mike Jacobs begins to cry. Pedro, enraged, jumps to his feet and slaps him about the face.

"You can act like a man! What's the matter with you? Is this how you turned out? A Binghamton finocchio that cries like with a woman? What can I do?! What can I do?! What is that nonsense? Ridiculous. *sigh* You've kept up with your practicing of first base?"

Jacobs wipes his eyes.


"Sure I did."

Pedro nods approvingly.

"Good. Cause a young catcher who can't play first base can never be a real Met. You look terrible. I want you to eat. I want you to rest a while. And tomorrow this Randolph bigshot's gonna give you what you want."

Mike Jacobs sighs.

"It's too late. They send me down for DiFelice tomorrow."

Pedro wags his extremely long finger.

"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse. Now you just go outside and enjoy yourself, and forget about all this nonsense. I want you to leave it all to me."


Later That Evening

Jose Reyes sits at a dinner table with Willie Randolph. Reyes leans back in his chair, and lays a lineup card on the table.

"So, you see, Pedro wants you to give Mike Jacobs some playing time. It doesn't matter when in the game, or what position he plays, but he'd appreciate it if he saw some playing time tomorrow."

Willie shakes his head vigorously.

"I respect that; just tell him he should ask me anything else. But this is one favor I can't give
him."

Reyes shakes his head in return.

"He doesn't ask a second favor once he's been refused the first, understood?"

Willie stands up, upset.

"You don't understand, Mike Jacobs never gets in that lineup. First base is perfect for him;
it'll make him a big star. And I'm gonna run all the youth out of the organization, and let me tell you why. The Yankees have done it this way for years! It's all about the veteran presence! Authority! You can't just go around slotting in youth all willy-nilly wherever you want! We're making Mike DiFelice one of the organization's most valuable catchers. For months we've had him under training in Norfolk. Catching, throwing, hitting lessons. We've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on him. He's gonna be a big catcher! And let me be even more frank, just to show you that I'm not a hard-hearted man, and it's not all dollars and cents. If he doesn't work out, we're gonna sign Alberto Castillo for the league minimum! And he'll be my catcher/first basemen! If Mike Jacobs plays, then he'll hit for big numbers, and then I'm gonna look ridiculous! And a man in my position can't afford to be made to look ridiculous! Now you get the hell outta here! And if that gumbah tries any rough stuff, you tell him I ain't no Terry Francona! Yeah, I heard that story!"


The Next Day

Randolph awakens, and rolls over to find himself in a pool of blood. He kicks the sheets off and finds Alberto Castillo's severed head in his bed.

"AHHHH! AHHH! AHHHHHH!"


The End.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Art of Optimism

Here's the thing about being optimistic: it's painful as hell.

Especially for me, you see, because I'm an incredibly competitive person. If I get into something, I really want to be the best at it, and this carries over to the sporting aspect of my life. It's why, if I wasn't born into being a Mets/Knicks/Giants/Islanders fan, I'd more than likely be a Yankees/Lakers/Patriots/Reg Wings fan. I'd be blogging about Randy Johnson's four homerun game as we speak. And I'm honest enough to admit that. I just happen to like when the things I follow dominate.

And that's why these past few years have been especially agonizing. Sure, I've got guys like David Wright and Eli Manning to fall back on. But for the most part my teams have done awful and/or been poorly mismanaged. It hurts.

So, when these teams start to do little things where I think they're putting it back together, it makes it even worse to watch it fall apart. Continually. And that's exactly what the Mets have been doing to me.

Of course, I just can't quit. While I've seen many fans declaring that they've dropped out of the season on here or MetsGeek or on a messageboard or two, I would never be able to do it. It's just not in me. Of course, it would probably be the best thing I can do. I'm sure the little kids that play outside my house could do without the obscenities floating from my living room window daily. I'm sure my heart could do without going into palpatations every time Miguel Cairo skies one to rightfield (I mean, honestly, how many times do you need to do that until you realize it ain't working for you, Miggy?). And I'm sure my girlfriend could do without me telling her, "Horrible. The Mets suck." everytime she asks how my day was.

And ever day I'm beginning to find that these last few years have actually been easy on me. After a certain point -- like say, June -- I had no illusions of what the Mets could accomplish. They weren't going anywhere, and every win was gravy -- unless they started winning too much, thus pushing down their slot for next year's draft. Then I was unhappy.

But this is a different team. It's a team that really, honestly could succeed, but seems to just not want to. They're confident enough in their abilities that, to a man, they have no problem saying this is a good team and should be in the middle of it in September -- yet, they're not talented enough to go on a consistent winning streak. They're confident enough to get mad when they strike out on three pitches or ground into a double play -- yet, they're not talented enough to not do that daily. They're confident enough to play "Willie Ball" -- yet, they're not talented enough to win games by doing so.

It's like a puppy that keeps peeing on the rug. You can yell and scream and make empty threats, but in the end it's pretty much up to the dog to figure the whole thing out on it's own. This is where we are. With the Mets headed to Arizona and California to play seven games against two awful teams, there's that optimism of mine picking up again. Telling me that the Mets could be very legitimate if they do well here. Remembering that they get the Phillies after that series, the Wild Card leading Phillies, the Phillies the Mets have gone 10-4 against this year. And that after that it's a slew of NL East teams that if the Mets were to rip apart they could almost guarantee a playoff berth.

That optimism of mine, that will feel like a punch in the face if the Mets blow it yet again.

So don't blow it once again, all right? I may be twenty years old, but my heart's going on seventy because of you guys.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

There's No I in DL

Maybe Carlos Beltran should be on the DL right now.

Maybe he should have been on the DL for the majority of the season.

Maybe yesterday, when given the option of having surgery and taking two weeks off to heal, he should have taken it.

But none of those things happened.

And I'm proud as hell to have Carlos Beltran play for my team.

With the team across town always dealing with stories about steroids and questionable injuries and in-fighting, it's a breath of fresh air to have a guy like Carlos on our team. He may not be hitting anywhere near what we expected him to, and he may pull the ball or pop up the first pitch he sees too much. But this is a guy who realizes the Mets still have a shot at that Wild Card, and while he's still relatively healthy and able to play, he's going to give all he's got.

And he's not going to subject us to nine to twelve more games of Gerald Williams in centerfield.

And for that as well, Carlos, I thank you.

Now, who sees a streak coming on?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Where's My Movement?

You knew the second Antonio Perez hit the ball, that not only was the no-hitter over, but that the Mets had lost the game, and probably their hopes of a playoff berth. That's just the kind of season it's continuing to be for the Mets.

But since I'm an optimistic guy, I look at this as the crossroads for the season. The Mets definitely aren't taking the NL East, and they're more than likely not winning the Wild Card. But there's no reason why they can't play some good games from here on out.

Over at MetsGeek, Matt has posted a list of ten things the Mets ought to do before the season is over, and beyond. While I agree with the majority of them, one thing stuck out above all else: where's all the youth?

The Mets are an interesting situation, because they have a chance to end up with a respectable record. It's not out of the realm of possibility that they could have a fifteen win improvement from last season, something they could constantly tout over the offseason to prospective free agents, prospective ticket holders, and prospective Mets Network clients. But instead of going the unknown and exciting route of calling up guys like Heath Bell, Blake McGinley and Royce Ring they instead stick with the ever boring and ever predictible (and it ain't the good kind of predictible) route of Jose Santiago, Danny Graves and Mr. Koo.

Instead of Anderson Hernandez, we get Miguel Cairo, Marlon Anderson and Kaz Matsui at second base. (Side note: Cairo cleared waivers, and the Mets really ought to try and turn him into a helpful minor leaguer before he hits the free agent market and re-signs with the Yankees). Instead of Prentice Redman or Angel Pagan, we get to watch Gerald Williams on a daily basis. It almost seems, from a fan's perspective, that the Mets would rather hinder their chances of success by employing sub par veterans than daring to trust unproven guys who may prove to be far more successful.

But, this is truly a case where the Mets have got nothing to lose. So, why not shake things up a bit, and not let the product get so... very... painfully... stale? Mets fans have suffered through Augusts of horrendous bullpen pitching and old men taking up the majority of at-bats for the past three seasons, and it didn't work. Why not just throw everything we've got out there, and see who may play a role next season? Give Mike Jacobs some at-bats, see if Chase Lambin could hit some at the big league level, let Met fans see the power of Steve Colyer's explosive fastball, or throw Tim Hamulack and let's see if he can replicate his success against major league hitters. Or, you could even do the wacky, big money, big press thing and call up Lastings Milledge and/or Yusmeiro Petit. Even if these guys fail, they've been given a shot, something most of them have never had.

I'd wager that most Mets fans would rather see a 2003 Jeff Duncan over a 2005 Gerald Williams any day of the week.

At least Duncan could have caught that freakin' ball.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ramblings of a Jaded Fan

This has got to be the most painfully inconsistent ballclub I have ever watched.

Key word: Painfully.

It's 1:00 AM, so I don't know if the Mets will go on to win tonight (they more than likely will not), but I just can't watch this club. It's as though they are unable to catch a break, and even more as though they refuse to take one when given to them. This game was very winnable, and they've blown it, flat out. If, years from now, historians want to know what the 2005 New York Mets season was, it was this in a nutshell. Pitcher struggles early, offense bails him out, pitcher struggles late, relief blows it. For all the talk about how the bullpen isn't so bad, the fact remains there is not one reliever on this team you can place faith in. There's no Mariano Rivera or Billy Wagner that you can give the ball and know the game'll be all right.

If the Mets do anything this offseason, they need to fix that. You don't need a dominant relief corps, but you need one guy that you can feel all right handing the ball to. And that is something the Mets haven't had in a long, long, loooonnng time -- if ever.

So, do yourself a favor, Omar. Don't worry about Manny Ramirez, a guy who will eventually wind up a Met, regardless. And don't worry about guys like Paul Konerko or Lyle Overbay, players who will be around when you're ready.

Worry about Billy Wagner. Worry about BJ Ryan. Heck, even Bob Wickman and Eddie Guardado may be available. Do something to fix the most glaring weakness on this ballclub.

So I don't have to leave the game in the seventh inning anymore.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Yipes

All right, I guess I'll be the first to ask it: what's up with Pedro?

Coming into the season, nobody expected Pedro to be Pedro of 2000 (18-6, 1.74), were holding out hopes for Pedro of 1998 (19-7, 2.89), but were expecting Pedro of 2004 (16-9, 3.90). And while Pedro has been more than what we expected, and earlier on was more than we had hoped, the guy's been having some troubles on the mound lately.

Obviously, for any other pitcher, these problems would be real nice outings. But for a guy making a little over ten million and holding the expectations of a tremendous start every outing, the guy has been struggling over the past month and finds his ERA an even 3.00 after his last poor performance.

His fastball hasn't topped ninety-one in what seems to be six weeks, his location has been hit and miss, and he's been throwing a lot of pitches per inning. So, what to expect?

Pedro's on pace to throw 232 innings this season, a number he hasn't reached since 1998, seven years ago. And for a guy with a history of injuries and getting a tired arm, perhaps it's time to start working in an idea I suggested a while back: a six man rotation.

With Jae Seo pitching very well, and Steve Trachsel looking to make a return, it's a move that might not be so out of the question. In the words of Uncle Rico, Pedro's "a tender little guy", and he always seems to pitch much better with the most rest he can afford. While both Benson and Tom Glavine like to stay on turn, both have pitched fine when given extra rest this season. Meanwhile, giving some extra time to Victor Zambrano and a recovering Steve Trachsel may be the best thing for both of them. And Jae Seo, if he keeps up what he's done thus far this season, wouldn't be much of a downgrade from any of the aforementioned starters.

The move isn't giving up on the postseason, and in fact is a move to try and help those chances. A healthy and rested Pedro Martinez is far better than a tired one any day of the week (or week and a half, in this case). If Pedro's got many more five runs in five innings days ahead of him, it may be the right move to make.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

To check out the Upcoming Series for the San Diego Padres, click here.

Ice'll be back with a brand new invention in a few days.

(Translation: I'm posting something new on Thursday. It's got nothing to do with Gerald Williams.)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Just When I Think I'm Out...

In the movie High Fidelity, John Cusack is making a mixtape for a woman he's met, just days after he gets back into a relationship with his ex-girlfriend. Trying to figure out why he can't just stay faithful and be happy with his station in life, he looks at the tape in frustration and yells, "WHEN WILL THIS END?!"

Welcome to my life with the New York Mets.

Weekly you can find me doing the same thing, struggling between happiness, restlessness, pain, annoyance, indecision, depression and anger. A veritable cocktail of struggling emotions caused by a bunch of millionaires dressed in uniforms with the ability (or oftentimes inability) to play a game.

The years 1999 and 2000 were wonderful ones. The Bobby Jones one-hitter, the Mike Hampton trade, Olerud's single, Todd Pratt's homerun, Al Leiter's two-hit one game playoff, the Grand Slam Single, Timo Perez coming out of nowhere, Rick Wilkins flying out to center, the Best Infield Ever, Benny Agbayani's game winning hit, Who Let the Dogs Out, and the list goes on and on and on. And, of course, when you look back on the moments like these, you get pumped. I still have Z100's "Who Let the Mets Out?" on my Winamp, to remind me of a far better time.

My problem is this: the Mets just aren't doing that this year. I think everybody outside of Dayn Perry (who just won't give up on the dream, for some reason) thinks this team has no chance. And yet, somebody keeps forgetting to let the Mets know. Because, just when you're ready to throw your hands up in frustration and give up, something like tonight happens. The Mets are suddenly four games out of the wild card, Ishii's out of the rotation, the offense is finally, y'know, hitting and pitchers are giving the Mets a shot.

So, what's a guy to do? Or, more importantly, a Mets fan to do? Do you get all wrapped up in it, and go along for the ride one more time? Or do you give into that pessimistic little bugger that lives inside you that lets you know it'll all be fruitless in the end.

Maybe Jae Seo will let us know tonight.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Oh, Willie

A Conversation That Completely Sums Up the Mets 2005 Season
Starring Andrew and Roger


"Didn't Roberto Hernandez pitch two innings yesterday?"

"Yep."

"And didn't he give up a game-tying homerun?"

"Yes."

"And isn't he like, seventy-four years old?"

"Yeah."

"Hmm. This sounds like a good idea."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Optimism?

In the immortal words of Christopher Walken: "Wow! Wowwie wow wow!"

If the Mets can do that with Carlos Beltran hitting like Carlos Baerga (0-6? 0-6?!) then who knows what the rest of the season holds. I continue to believe that the teams ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card are more talented teams overall (with the obvious exception of the Washington Nationals), but the Mets have a nice upcoming schedule. Behold, if you will:

Three against the 54-52 Chicago Cubs (27-26 on the road) at home. 1-2
Three against the 52-54 San Diego Padres (30-23 at home) at Petco. 1-2
Three against the 48-58 L.A. Dodgers (26-27 at home) at Dodger Stadium. 2-1
Three against the 45-62 Pittsburgh Pirates (21-34 on the road) at home. 3-0
Three against the 56-50 Washington Nationals (24-31 on the road) at home. 2-1
Four against the 52-56 Arizona Diamondbacks (25-29 at home) at Bank One. 3-1
Three against the 45-59 San Francisco Giants (22-30 at home) at SBC. 2-1

The Mets are playing five of their next seven series against teams under .500. And with the Nationals playing the Astros, Rockies and Phillies at home during the time between now and then, there stands a solid chance they'll be under .500 by mid-August as well.

Not only are all these teams under .500, but -- with the exception of the Padres -- the Mets are playing games where the odds are in their favor. It's entirely possible the Mets could go 14-8 in these series on a cold streak. If the Mets can finally get hot (Douggie went 2-3 again tonight and Cameron's en fuego), there's no telling what to expect.

Maybe the Mets aren't out of it just yet.

Though, Beltran, if you could even start hitting like Carlos Guillen, that'd be much appreciated.