Monday, April 28, 2008

If Fred Wilpon Were Caught Eating Children, Would MetsBlog Note They're High In Protein?

Last night, Gerard at Can't Stop the Bleeding posted a Bob Raissman story alleging that some faceless suit in Metsland strongarmed Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog into pulling down a video of Joe Smith getting into it with some fans in Chicago. Is it true? Well, no one knows for sure I guess since Cerrone hasn't said anything about it, but the video is gone and there's no explanatory post, so take from that what you will.

Not that I mean to pile on Matt, who does excellent work, but one of his links today, Develop Willet's Point, raises my ire just a bit. I'm not ready to call the man behind it a flack for City Hall, but C. McShane (if that is his real name, says the guy named Pulp) is pretty jazzed about Mayor Mike's vision for our fair pit.

But this isn't about McShane and the ugly eminent domain battle that's slowly developing, it's about the things Matt will say as the development moves along. I'm of the opinion that if you link to something without much comment, you endorse the person's thinking on the subject. I know MetsBlog used to be the go to sports blog for Fred Thompson ads and I believe it was part of the Pajamas Media consortium for a time (I will take back this slur if it turns out to be wrong), so for all I know, Matt Cerrone is a pro-business Republican who supports using eminent domain for the greater good and all that. But maybe he isn't. But I do think it's important we know what Matt thinks of the Willet's Point redevelopment plan because it's another test of that independence he promised his readers he would have after the merger with SNY.

Is he going to stick to Wilpon and Co.'s party line that the place is a hopeless garbage pit and has to be razed to the ground? Is he aware of any of the area's history, the city's neglect of it whenever they aren't trying to push its businesses out? Is it telling that he hasn't ever linked to No Land Grab, the anti-Atlantic Yards blog, despite the fact that they've followed the Willet's Point story for longer than Develop Willet's Point, which has been around for all of five days?

As baseball fans, we don't want to deal with these issues, we just want a good bar to go to after the game, and I understand that. But there are people who work at Willet's Point who will more than likely be forgotten by the city, no matter what promises our Billionaire King makes. There's also the matter of affordable housing, the enormous clean up costs involved with the area and the question of whether the whole development will turn into a sweetheart deal with a connected developer that changes the entire neighborhood of Flushing. The people in Willet's Point deserve better than being pushed out just so we can better enjoy a baseball game.

So my apologies Matt, if you aren't playing corporate shill and you really believe that eminent domain is the best way to deal with Willet's Point. I'm sure you understood though that once you signed on that dotted line with SNY, people (read: snarky jerks) would look at your every move and interpret it as the Mets pulling your strings.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

When An International Media Giant Faces Off Against A Bunch Of Self-Righteous Dickheads, We All Lose

Well, I guess everyone but the self-righteous dickheads and their massive circle jerk. I may be late on the OMFG XMAS APE GOT FIRED story, but if anything, that allows me to hate it even more. If you read all the breathless blogging coverage (go here for a roundup), you would think Ape was fired merely for posting a drunk picture of himself and mentioning he worked for the Washington Post. Of course, you would have to be a fucking idiot to believe that, and judging by the plethora of posts stating that these are the facts, the internet is (of course) full of fucking morons. Let's check with the source of all this controversy, hm?

Nevermind the part where Ape mentions being "fucking hammered", what about the first paragraph?
Since we’re getting paid for our dick joke slingery, I thought I’d join the Maj and Ufford in coming out from the shelter of complete anonymity. So, yeah, it kind of sucks out here. Anyway, I’m this guy and I work for this dying medium. I excel at writing about racist shoes and lost dogs. Isn’t that special?
Now, let's review. He called his place of employment a dying medium and proceeded to either trash his own articles or trash the fact that they were assigned to him. You can talk all the shit about your job and carry a "fuck you" attitude around as much as you like, but whenever you do it, you're taking a risk that you'll lose that job you hate so much. I know because it happened to me at my first real job.

Not only that, but whether or not you think Kissing Suzy Kolber is always totally the funniest thing evar or merely alright, it consistently pushes the line of good taste, and more often than not, seems to coast on racial stereotypes and cheerleader pictures. There's smarter football analysis than I could provide in there too, but the Washington Post has no requirement to keep someone employed who authors this dreck on a regular basis.

And yet, in the eyes of the Great Sportsblogging Hivemind, not only is Ape some kind of victim of old tightwads and their buzzkilling ways, but soon the Post will regret this awful mistake. No, seriously. Still don't believe me? Witness the awful cavalcade of comments on a Sports Bog post completely unrelated to football, blogging, or employment standards. I'm not reprinting the KSK monkeys' words here because I feel like doing that will make this blog even dumber than it already is.

Sorry, but I just can't bother to drum up much sympathy for someone who appeared to be trying to get fired in the first place. What really concerns me about this is that the blogosphere apparently can't or won't understand why a newspaper would take offense at this situation. Someone please pull my generation's head out of its collective ass before we start actually running the world. The last thing I need is for 30 years from now to find out the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court moonlights as a Tucker Max-wannabe.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back

Sports have brought me good tidings in the last couple days, so let's take a look at them.
  • Welcome back, Duaner Sanchez. It's rare that a relief pitcher, especially the setup man and not the closer, can have such a huge impact on the fortunes of a team. It might even be ridiculous for me to think Duaner will have a huge impact, but it isn't hard to envision the Mets as much stronger if he's holding down the eighth inning, freeing up Aaron Heilman to suck in the seventh inning and pushing Scott Schoenweis further into oblivion.
  • Welcome back, Mets' home run stroke. The last time this team hit three home runs in a game was last year, and before tonight, that was also the last time Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran cleared the fences. Also encouraging is that Ryan Church continues to pwn lefties, in blatant defiance of everyone who said he would look like a spastic twelve-year-old swinging his stuffed animal against southpaws.
  • Welcome back, good times at Shea. I think I saw one win last year, when I went on the Deadspin field trip and got ketchup all over comment fascist Rob Iracane. That's the only win I can remember anyway. So last night was certainly a joyous occasion thanks to the blowout and the strong performance of prodigal prospect Mike Pelfrey. Hopefully the Mets won't skimp out on the home wins this year and will provide myself and the bloodthirsty jerks of Shea Stadium with many good times.
  • Welcome back, playoff wins at the Garden, another event that hasn't occurred since last year. It almost happened Sunday, but wasn't meant to be. However, the hockey gods wouldn't let the Garden faithful go unsated, giving the good guys not only a win, but a beautiful moment in the budding career of Mark Staal. Beating Marty Brodeur, even an older Brodeur, for a game winning goal in the playoffs is one of those great feelings I'll never get to experience, much like Tex will never know what it's like to really be human (he's half lizard).
  • Welcome back, retarded fucking Yankee/Red Sox apocalypses. The game, which is just about to end, sits with a score of 15-9 Skanks in the top of the ninth. These two teams should just start their own league where they use pitching machines and let the actual talented pitchers on both teams filter out into the rest of the pitching starved baseball world.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

May Your Playoff Beard Grow Long and Tangled


Just look at that man's mustache. A mustache like that says one of four things:

1. I'm here to deliver a pizza...with extra sausage.
2. I'm here to rape your toddler.
3. That's my Camaro over there. You don't want your daughter in it.
4. I'm here to win the Stanley Cup.

Thankfully for the Rangers and their fans, number 4 is the only one we know for sure is true about Ryan Hollweg. 3 is probably true too, and while the other two could be, until that time comes, we'll just assume they aren't.

Despite my burying the Rangers for the second straight year (I really oughta learn from that), the team gelled and picked their game up, shooting from ninth place at the All-Star break to fifth place in the East, and you can't say they didn't work for it. That effort carried over tonight, when they walked into the Devil's garbage dump of a home and put them away 4-1.

It was everything you want from playoff hockey. Every moment was packed with tension, as evidenced by the loud shouting with every Ranger goal. Oh sure, a hockey goal is always reason to celebrate, but watching the playoffs, you're so wound up that you scream almost like a reflex when the good guys score.

There was hitting. Oh was there hitting. Ryan Hollweg was so locked in on hurting a guy in a red sweater that his first hit was against the endboards, but to be fair to him, he probably bruised the boards. Even Nigel Dawes got in on it, though his first attempted hit was mostly him running into a Devil and falling down.

And there were the close calls and the beautiful goaltending. I'll give Marty Brodeur his due, he played a hell of a game, though his brain fart on Ryan Callahan's shorthanded goal seemed out of character. But Henrik Lundqvist played better, and we are all the richer for it. Well, everyone but the Devil fans anyway. The Devils hit three posts, mostly because they don't deserve to score actual goals, but each post was that much more heart stopping.

So on we go to Friday, which was already set to be awesome with the second episode of Battlestar Galactica's new season airing. Now, with a Ranger win, it could turn out to be...double awesome.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

More Like Weakend

Ah crap, that's a Hater Nation joke, isn't it? Ah well, I'm sure NFL Adam won't even notice us in our dark corner of the rarely read section of the blogosphere. It was tough sailing for my favorite team and Our Patron Saint this weekend, with not much silver lining to find anywhere.

Gil kept his walks down Saturday, but the results were not pretty for Our Man in Kansas City. Despite being given a two to nothing lead, Gil couldn't hold it down against a puny Twins lineup. It isn't easy to give up six runs to the Twins, but Gil did it. Proving once again that walks will kill you every time, Gil preceded his home run to Canadian fink Justin Morneau with a walk to that pretty boy catcher Joe Mauer.

No need to worry though folks, I'm sure he'll turn it around. After all, Gil told the KC Star, his stuff was there for a few innings and then things just turned sour. Hell, why am I telling you this when He can?
"The first three innings couldn’t have been any better. My stuff was there. My location was there. Then all of a sudden, I just started making mistakes.”
It's OK Gil, we all make mistakes. It's just that the rest of us have a constitutionally protected right called abortion that allows us pretend our mistakes never happened. But until Roe. v Wade (or for you law geeks out there, the more up to date Casey v. Pennsylvania) is extended to allow major league pitchers to flush away a start or two, you'll have to learn from your mistakes Gil.

Speaking of learning from your mistakes, I would like to recommend the umpiring crew for Saturday's tilt against the Braves take a fucking correspondence course on the rules of baseball. For instance, when a ball hits the ground before it ends up in a glove, it is a live ball and every runner may advance at their leisure. You don't call the batter out, allowing the team on the field to double up the confused runners forcing a bizarre situation in which you reverse your original call, bring the team on defense back onto the field and move everyone up one base. Especially when that means the team that was batting loses out on a run.

Ah well, it's not as if John Maine or Jorge Sosa did anything to help out the Mets' overall effort outside of that one freak play. Plus, while the game was no fun by the end, the first inning allowed me to realize how much I've learned watching baseball all these years. I'm sure no one else remembers it now, but in John Maine's first at bat against Mark Texiera he had two on, one out and a 1-2 count. Maine shot an absolute laser beam of a fastball over the inside corner that had Texiera frozen, but whoever was the home plate ump didn't pull the trigger. Three people knew that at bat wasn't going to go well after that: Maine, Texiera and myself. While it only ended up in a walk (which led to a run), I hearkened back to a scene in Moneyball:
Mecir walks Jeter. Giambi steps in. Mecir immediately attacks the hole in Giambi's swing, the waist-high inside pitch. Screwball after screwball dives over the inside part of the plate. The first is a ball but the second is a strike and Giambi doesn't even think of swinging at either one of them. The count is 1-1. The third pitch, Giambi takes for a ball. The odds shift dangerously toward him. Mecir defies them: another called strike on the inside corner. His fifth pitch should have been his last. It's a thing of beauty; Giambi flinches as it passes him on the inside corner of the plate. Strike three. A cheer erupts in the video room.

The umpire calls it a ball.

It's a terrible call, in a critical situation, bad enough to crack even Paul. "I'm sick of the fucking Yankees getting every call!" he shouts, then, looking for something to swat, settles on the wall. He leaves the video room. Even he doesn't want to watch what happens next: you can't give Jason Giambi four strikes and expect to live to tell about it. Giambi fouls off the next pitch and then drives the seventh pitch he sees into right field for a double, scoring two runs.

OK, so maybe it's not what I've learned so much as I'm a giant dork who remembers Moneyball scenes. The point being, I contend if that stupid ump had made the right call, the whole game changes. Instead, Texiera gets four strikes and the Mets are left holding the bag.

Sunday? I missed the game because I was hungover and doing manual labor Sunday, so all I can say I guess is that there's no shame in not scoring against John Smoltz, but it is there when you can't bloody Atlanta's suspect bullpen. I did get to see an inning when Johan Santana batted, and he looked like one locked in motherfucker up there before he blasted a line drive to right field. It wasn't one of those lucky, swing hard and make contact things either, he was up in the box like he does it three or four times a day. If there's another pitcher out there who can look so good playing both sides of the field, I'd like to know his name.

Ah well, whatever. Bad weekend, but you won't see me panicking on April 7. For Christ's sake, at least wait until the days of the month hit double digits.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hey... Hoffman... I Ain't Heard No Bells...

Even at this early junction of the major league season, a fan starts to shake his head when the team begins to go under. Sure, there are plenty of games to play and no one gives up in the first week, but when you are expected to finish near the bottom of what is possibly the worst division in baseball, it seems like there is extra reason to panic, extra early. That said...

There is only description that can be used to truly capture and portray the heroic, legendary, courageous actions of a bottom of a two out, bottom of the ninth comeback against who many have called the best closer in baseball history. Something along the lines of...

BOOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYYAAAAA, BITCHES!

This game was certainly a little bit different than the first two for the boys from the Bayou City. The Padres took the first two games of the series with spectacular pitching and defense. While the scoreboard was far from blowout proportions, watching those two games felt similar, in a way, to waiting for Goddot, in that the runs... Well, they just weren't coming. Game one of the season was almost painful, as Jake Peavy carved up the Astros lineup in a fashion not unlike Tony Montana's hit on Ravenga, holding them to three hits over seven. To add insult to injury, the San Diego ace managed to rip the Astros ace (and only real remaining starter) Roy "The Wizard" Oswalt for a hit, a walk and two RBIs. Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee managed a combined 0-10. That's ten times that I watched someone from the heart of the order come up only to watch my anticipation succumb to frustration. If it weren't Opening Day, you might have a mass suicide on your hands, compliments of Astro Nation.

Game two of the year was almost as frustrating, though at least the good guys got on the board. Even so, there's something unsatisfying about watching your team score it's first and only run of the season on Michael Bourn's bases loaded RBI walk, especially when the team manages to lose the game 2-1. Consolation included Hunter Pence managing a 2-5 evening and Brandon Backe working a respectable game, even looking for a moment like a number two pitcher instead of an unproven talent returning from Tommy John surgery. Still, the decent but human Chris Young held what is supposed to be a mammoth offense down, doing an impression of a poor man's Peavy. Since that's his job this year, Mission Accomplished for Chris Young.

Finally Game Three was different. The Astros put up a big crooked "1" spot in the first inning. They did it on an error, but a run is a run. They dropped their first bombs of the year on back to back dingers by returning veteran Geoff Blum and Wigginton. Naturally, the Padres came roaring back to go up one with two in the second and two in the third. "El Caballo" Lee single handedly tied the game with a solo shot in the sixth, but the evil, hated Brian Giles helped retake the lead with his second RBI of the game in the very next inning. This frame for from pattern continued in the eighth, as Miggy Tejada put one on the board with a sacrifice fly in the top half, and Giles answered yet again with RBI number three in the bottom half against new closer Jose Valverde.

At this point in the game, the battle was won. Greg Maddux left a bit roughed up, serving out 3 earned runs on three long balls in 6 innings. Yet the Padres still led by one headed into the ninth, and Trevor Hoffman is not usually known for blowing saves.

Hoffman coaxed a grounder out of Wigginton and a fly out from JR Towles, prompting the legendary Milo Hamilton to state his usual, "And the Astros are down to an out."

The man in charge of preventing that out was journeyman Jose Cruz, JR, who made the squad with a fiery Spring in which he batted 9.000 with 150 HR and 786 RBIs. Ok, maybe not that good, but his Spring was still wicked freaking good. Cruz's return has been a story line because he is now playing for his Dad, who has been the first base coach for roughly five seasons.

Cruz managed a clutch walk by laying off the close change ups against Hoffman. Michael Bourn then advanced him to second by nailing one through the right side, putting runners at first and second for the wonderfully talented Pence. Pence smashed one through the right side to tie it and put runners on the corners for Lance "MVC" (Most Valuable Cowboy) Berkman.

Berkman hit the crap out of it, and I fell out of my chair.

Armed with a three run lead and Brad Ausmus at second base(which I still don't understand), Valverde destroyed Kouzmanoff with a strike out and got Alex Gonzalez to fly out to Michael Bourn. Scott Hairston reached on a single, but Valverde blew away Khalil Greene and called it a night. Win Number one is in the books.

It was good to win one, especially by striking with the brutality of the lineup that Ed Wade meant to put together. The bullpen was mediocre, but tonight we'll call that "good enough"; The glass is half full in Houston.

-Tex

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's Officially Baseball Season: Pedro Martinez is Hurt

OK, Now You Can Panic

Shortly after Opening Day in Florida, Tex read the scoreboard upside down and called to console me over the Mets' first loss. "Sorry boss, but hey, 161 left to go." So he was one game and one catastrophe early. However, the point remains the same, even if there are 160 to go. Still, if you think the Mets are going to be the only team to run into the rampaging beast that is the Marlins' bullpen, you're nothing short of an ignorant pissant.

It wasn't easy watching Pedro pull up lame, but I'm not gonna lose sleep over it tonight, nor tomorrow night. Everyone was in some part of their brain prepared for a Pedro injury at any time, and hey, at least he was able to walk off the field on his own. It wasn't easy watching Matt Wise float that change-up over the middle of the plate, but hey, he struck out the first two guys on a couple of absolutely devestating change-ups and Baseball Prospectus predicted he'd give up six home runs this year, so he's got five to go if those wizards of the Compupredictotron are to be proven right.

My prescription for instances like this are to stay away from tabloids and sports talk radio, because those will just get you down. Don't read that Wally Mathews column, and if a co-worker turns on Mike and the Mad Dog, smash the radio in with a bat, then sheepishly explain you thought you saw a wasp on it. Hell, avoid sports blogs if you can (except for this one of course), because until we know what the MRI results are, the wailing and gnashing of teeth will just be too much for the unhardened, naive, Opening Day psyche.

Chin up folks, the bottom hasn't dropped out of this team yet. But if you simply must use the first two games of the season as a gauge for everything that will happen this year, we may as well just hand the division to the Nationals, and be content watching the Braves bullpen give up nine runs a game and wife beatin' Brett Myers fail to make it into the sixth inning. Two steps into the marathon, I'm not panicking. Are you?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's Officially Baseball Season: Gil Meche Is In The House

Lest you think the season debut of The Meche would go unnoticed in these parts, I'm here to report that Gil opened his season, well, a little sketchy. No one here at the Experience is worried however, considering that Gil gave it his all against an absolutely stacked Tigers lineup that's projected to score 1500 runs over the first half of the season. Keeping that in mind, Gil's line of 6 innings, 8 hits, 3 runs, 1 gopher ball, 4 walks and 5 strikeouts isn't too bad, though I would like to see a reduction in walks next time out against the uh...well, whoever it is the Royals are playing next.

Despite his hiccups, Gil showed he was a consummate professional, a real team player. Just take a look at these quotes in the KC Star:
"This win blows away last year’s win. Last year was a game that we had under control the whole time. We weren’t in the driver’s seat today."
That Gil, it's all about the W for the team, not for the individual. Leadership, poise, some other intangible, our man has it all. And he's not such a tough guy that he can't admit some butterflies:
"I’m not going to lie,” he said, “I was pretty freakin’ feeling it this morning as far as nerves. I knew it would be a little tougher pitching in this ballpark than it was last year at home. But once I got out there, it might sound stupid, but I didn’t really feel the pressure. I felt like Verlander had a lot more pressure on his shoulders than I did. Did I have nerves? Yes, I did, but I got out of some early jams that could have been bad situations for us."
I personally will never forget Gil's sterling 2007 debut, when he took all my giggles about 5 years, $55 million and rammed them down my throat with the force of a Type V hurricane. But this did qualify as a quality start and I'm sure we'll see another '07 Opening Day performance out of Gil in the days to come.

If I have any real beefs with yesterday, it's that Gil wasn't quoted on his start by ESPN. Well they can't hide the truth of his greatness forever. I demand ESPN put this man on national television next time he pitches to make it up to the staff here at the Experience and fans of suddenly reasonable contracts the whole world over.

Oh yeah, and the Royals won 5-4 in 10.