Monday, June 23, 2008


The weekend series in Colorado was nice, there's no denying that, and overall the Mets as a team are playing a more inspired, motivated brand of baseball since the regime change some 7 days ago.

But right now, the Mets trail baseball's worst team, record-wise, 5-0 in the 5th inning with their ace on the hill.

I'm not gonna sit here and sweat the fact that they're losing to the Mariners; that is what it is, any team can lose to any other team, and will do so frequently over the course of a long season, but the issue is Johan Santana, who is looking a lot shakier than someone deserving the moniker "best pitcher in baseball" should look.

Santana, coming into tonight's game in which he and the Mets are now trailing 5-1, is 7-5, while the team is 9-6 in games he has started. That ain't dominant, and while I don't generally give much credence to a pitcher's win-loss totals, much of that being based on luck, a pitcher of his supposed caliber should be winning more games, period.

His ERA is respectable at 3.04, his WHIP not terrible, due to the low number of walks he issues, at 1.21.

On the flipside, he is allowing nearly a hit per inning, and has just given up his 14th HR of the season, a Grand Slam hit by Felix Hernandez on the first pitch he saw, which oh by the way was the first home run a Mariners pitcher has ever hit. That number of home runs surrendered is good for 9th in the NL, and all but one of the pitchers above him in that category pitch in Philly, Cincinnati, Colorado or Houston. In case that doesn't mean anything to you, those 4 cities' baseball teams play home games in ballparks only slightly larger than the bed on my pickup truck.

I understand his pattern in the past, and am hopeful that it will follow this season as well: he generally comes out of the gate sluggishly, and then goes on an absolute tear for the rest of the season, particularly midsummer. Thing is, the season is nearly, incredibly, half over, and now's about the time that that absolute tear should get going. I though that Keith (or Ron, I'm not 100% sure who said it) nailed it on the head during tonight's broadcast when he talked about the time for theatre; tonight was supposed to be the night that Johan's dominance reared its head, but not quite.

I'm not gonna call for Johan's head here. I don't think he doesn't care, and I don't care how much money he makes. I'm sure anyone would happily accept that contract.

Nor am I gonna start questioning the deal to acquire him. Anyone, anytime, anywhere, makes that deal, end of story.

But if this team has a run in them, he needs to go out and be that guy, that's all there is to it, and Saturday against the Yankees would be a hell of a time to get on a roll.

Hey, if this were fantasy baseball, the Mets would be winning, the runs being unearned.

Now let's go beat the piss out of the Starbucks Mermen the rest of this series.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dan Warthen is My Hero.

Continuing on the headline for my last post, things are, simply put, surreal.

Dan Warthen is our pitching coach. There isn't a single picture of Dan Warthen on the internet, not that I could find, nor does he have a Wikipedia entry. And there he was, in the dugout 2 nights in a row, walking out to the mound and saying something to a couple of pitchers. Whether it was, "work him offspeed on the outer edge" or "hi, I'm Dan, your pitching coach", I'm not sure, but hey. I swear that for whatever reason, my buddy and I laughed hysterically for about 10 straight minutes when SNY kept cutting to him in the dugout, partially because he's a little funny looking, and partially from being punchdrunk by the sudden disappearance of familiarity, replaced with a couple old people.

And where is HoJo in all of this? I swear I haven't heard his named uttered, not once, while meanwhile the entire coaching staff has been uprooted, via firing, promotion of demotion. I haven't seen him, either. Is he hiding?

Wednesday night was iffy, but Wednesday day was iffy, and it just followed. Lackey pitched well, Johan didn't, it is what it is, but they win, and win so improbably I still don't really buy it, on Thursday: a late-inning comeback?! Against K-Rod??!! It truly was a nice win, for a team that has been woefully lacking in comebacks of any sort. Walking into the 9th, while I cursed myself for losing sleep to watch another west coast loss, the Met offense had to face a closer who hadn't blown a save in 25 attempts, whose slider doesn't deserve to be called a slider because it transcends sliding, the same Met offense that has negated my need for a barber, and they got to him, tie ballgame! Then I start thinking, of course, they do this, and they blow it, perfect. But Damion Easley, Mr. 2 Legit 2 Quit himself, steps up and yaks one. I can't believe it.

Oliver Perez needs to invest in some kind of a "get out of inning free" card.

Great to see David Wright start to come around, and can we stop bashing Delgado yet, who has quietly been in '06 form for a little while now?

And with that win they've won a couple series in a row, and have improved to 6-2 against the AL, which regardless of what people were saying about the NL catching up, is clearly still the superior league. Point is, the New York Mets can hang with the best teams in the game when they play their best baseball. Nights like 5 of the last 8 nights reinforce my confidence in that statement, and maybe, just maybe, they're starting to play their best. Is it Jerry Manuel and co? I don't know; maybe they broke out of their hole on Sunday and Willie or no Willie they'll be hot from here on out, or maybe they won't, Willie or no Willie.

I've seen/heard/read a lot of initial similar reactions to the new regime. Seems like a lot of folks want to anoint Jerry Manuel as the savior after one extra-inning win, which is really indicative of how starved we've been, but let's give this thing some time before we judge it one way or another. They're good, and he might be good. If he is good, then there's a chance those characters can get it together and make a run yet. ('03 Marlins, Torbor fired, McKeon comes in, anyone?)

Out to Denver, where thankfully it's only June, not Rocktober.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


My assumption is that no one is reading this, seeing as I've completely s**t the bed as far as blogging goes for a couple of months now. To be fair, I've been relocated from my home in NY down the chop-country, ATL, GA, started a new job packed full of hours, and moved into a new house with an infant, so getting the time to write can be tough, even though I've kept watching all of the games, no matter what.

That being said, I've been waiting for the right moment to kick things off again, and I just can't keep my mouth shut about this, so let the floodgates open, I shall blog again.

To tell you the truth, I may be in the minority, but I really didn't want to see Willie go, and I find the whole thing to be rather sad. Perhaps it's sentimentality rather than reason speaking, but to me this was Willie's team, and that feeling has only been intensified with him now suddenly gone, something I found out about, by the way, at about 6:45am as I pulled into work with a phone call from my father in NY. Having gone to bed with a 4-3 Met lead in the 5th, I almost assumed they would blow it, the way things have been going, and when I woke up and checked the boxscore on my phone I was very pleased, and got a little wave of optimism. Then the phone call, and all day all I could think was, damn.

To me, Willie Randolph represents the man at the helm of the ship when this franchise rocketed back to relevance in a way unseen since the '80's, and I'm not forgetting 1999-2000. The way he guided that team in '05 and '06 was really perfect, he was the right man for the job, and a bad finish to 2007 plus a third of '08 isn't enough to cancel that out. The core of the great '06 team is still here, and more than anything, all of us Met fans really just want that team back, or something like it. That was his team. This feels like his team. I just don't think he deserved to get the boot mid-season.

Plus, I genuinely like him, and if you saw the brief initial interview with Willie as he left the hotel in Anaheim, I don't know how you could call it anything but downright heartbreaking.

Maybe this just feels like the end of an era that once seemed like an empire that would never die; Willie, David, Jose, Pedro, Wags and the Carloses looked like a sure dynasty, and while many of the members of that list may yet see glory, it is now set in stone that things will never happen they way we thought and hoped they would. Jerry Manuel may go on to win us a bundle of championships, and I'm sure that would be as sweet as anything, but for now, things are just off; we were naive in '06 to think that it would all just keep going, the way sports are today, and this is reality. It's the day you and your highschool sweetheart realize you're both going to college.

And I don't want to get in to whether Willie motivated Reyes enough, whether he double-switched appropriately, or any of that. I just feel how I do.

But anyway...
In spite of all that, I'm not quite on board with every sportswriter and their respective mothers with the perception that the Mets handled the whole thing in a "gutless", "classless", "cruel" or "amateur" way. The list could go on, and they're dumping it all on. Initially I thought about it that way, but I actually bought Omar's logic in the press conference, particularly because he seemed very sincere. I can see how he would want him out at the very instant the decision is made for a variety of reason: the risk of leaks, which Omar pounded home a lot, the risk of a manager who nows he's done managing a game, and really, I can see the problem with the mere idea of allowing someone who you've resolved to fire to manage a ballgame. Did the whole thing drag out a bit too publicly over the last couple of weeks? Yes. But to be fair, Omar seemed to take his shots for that, and it is New York. If the thing had been approached the same way in Atlanta, no one would have blinked an eye, which is why it's tough to compare organizations in that way.

I though Omar was pretty darn direct today, and I give him credit for it. I don't think it was all handled splendidly, and obviously I don't agree with the decision at its base, but I'm not gonna linger on the 3:15et/12:15pt am issue.

And whether I think his predecessor should be gone or not, I really liked Jerry Manuel in his portion of the press conference, and apparently, based on what I've read in the various online forums, most Met fans agree with me. I thought he seemed very intelligent, very personable, and most impressively very smooth and comfortable in what was a very uncomfortable situation. His resume isn't incredible, but neither was Joe Torre's, or Terry Francona's. Who knows?

I do agree that if you're gonna bag Willie, someone with a different angle had better come in, but I don't see the whole Manuel is just Willie version 2.0 thing. Why? Because he's a nice, calm, black guy? (And trust me, I'm not playing any race card, I'd be the last person on earth to get PC on you) That's silly; Jerry Manuel struck me as having a very different presence from Willie Randolph, and from what he said, he has a different approach to the subtleties of managing a baseball team.

To sum it all up, I moved 1000 miles away form home, I'm sorry I dissapeared from the blog, I'm sorry Willie's gone, I hope I'm wrong about that, I don't think Omar's evil, I like Manuel even though I wanted Willie to stay, and I hope I'm right about him.

Now go beat the Angels. Let's Go Mets. Geez.