Sunday, May 31, 2009

Like It Never Even Happened

The peculiar, and frankly, great, thing about a baseball season is the incredible amount of games played over its course. People talk about the NBA and NHL seasons being long slogs and those are merely 82 games. And forget the emotional rollercoaster of the NFL season, where none of the 16 games your team plays is too important to overlook, unless you happen to be a Jet fan, like I do.

In baseball, the 162 games means that sometimes, even early in the season, you end up with a lineup where Carlos Beltran is the only recognizable name and you go back to bed because Tim Redding has already given up four runs and Josh Johnson is pitching. Four months from now, it will be like this game never even happened. Even if the Mets miss out on the playoffs by one game, no one will point to this game as the one that got away.

Not to say I'd rather the game didn't happen, because I'm always glad for baseball, especially as the weather heats up and the outdoors become more and more preferable. Anyone watching got to witness not just Fernando Martinez's first major league hit, but his first two. Maybe now Tim Marchman won't want to trade him for Mark DeRosa. Kidding, Tim, kidding!

And give this much to the B-squad: they showed some spark in the ninth when they had the whole night ahead of them to get drunk and chase tail. Bouncing the opposing team's closer always feels good, especially when he comes in to a not quite save situation looking to get some work in. Honestly, did anyone expect to win this game? I don't even think Tim Redding did, but if I were him, I would start practicing human sacrifice or even worse, look into The Secret, anything that will get him to control his fastball, before Nelson Figueroa or Jon Niese punches his ticket to the bullpen or the DL. Not to say he doesn't have time, what with Ollie getting more tendinits, coincidentally right after walking five guys in a Triple A game.

So tomorrow it's John Maine and the A team squad in a game we're back to expecting to win. It would be a 5-1 homestand and if Maine pitches a good game, you can probably finally stop worrying about the rotation and officially pencil it in as a strength. We shall see tomorrow.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Vaya Con Dios, Castro! Viva Santos!

So sure the Mets victory is going to overshadow yet another blockbuster deal the team has made in 2009, but I'd rather talk about Ramon Castro than go over the Mets beating the Marlins. A team that talks about World Series aspirations should do that, especially with the number two starter out there.

Ramon wasn't going to be a Met his whole career or anything, but he still provided some good memories as a prankster (as I was reminded by Jason Fry) and as a hitter. Ramon pushed the 2005 Mets to what was probably their peak, on August 30th against the Phillies. I didn't actually get to see the game, being down in DC I was forced to follow it on the Gameday display while IMing Bushido Brown. It was mostly teeth gnashing (probably) until the incredible happened and Ramon stung Ugeth Urbina for a 3 run shot in the bottom of the 8th. Mets win, 6-4, and "VIVA CASTRO!" messages flowed across the internet. Flew? Zapped? Whatever. It's a shame the Mets ran out of gas after that, because Ramon would be a folk hero if they had managed to make the playoffs.

I think we were all waiting for Ramon to keep doing that, especially after his impressive 2007. Sure he went on the DL, but he still got out there for 52 games and hit the crap out of the ball, allowing Paul Lo Duca a reasonable amount of rest. Even with Brian Schneider coming aboard last year, there was open talk about "Fluff" seizing the starting role. Then he got hurt at the beginning of the season. And then in the middle of the season and the Mets were playing Robinson Cancel and Gustavo Molina and we were all looking around for guns to shoot ourselves with.

And now this year he's been replaced by his non-union Mexican equivalent. Just kidding, Omir Santos is Puerto Rican. And super awesome. Well, we don't know that yet, but something tells me the Mets are hoping he fulfills the Castro prophecy from last year and provides a little punch as opposed to Schneider. Thus far Omir has shown a flair for the dramatic and for run producing, two things this team is going to have to dig around for and grab anywhere they can get it. I don't know how a long season or better scouting reports will affect his hitting, but obviously I hope he keeps hitting like he is. If he finishes the year batting .276, the Mets will have gotten solid production out of their catching.

Which means Brian better watch his ass. It doesn't matter how many meta car commercials he makes because New York literary nerds who are also baseball fans appreciate a cather's RBIs more than his ability to discuss the works of Thomas Pynchon. Though that is a plus.

Oh right, something something Lance Broadway. Whatever, toss him on the pile with Jon Adkins and Jason Vargas.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stange Days

Strange days in Met land. After traipsing through the daisies in early May, the Mets made a brutal slog through a baseball minefield and took pretty heavy casualties. I don't know if a four game losing streak and a ten game road trip are supposed to feel as long and draining for the fans as the players, but the schedule makers took pity and gave them (and us) the Nationals for being such troopers. Sure the schedule makers didn't know for sure the Nationals would be quite this bad, but 2005 and its 81-81 record is a looooong ways away.

The only normal game in the series was the first one, and that's including the home run review call that went against Long Beach native John Lannan. The next night Mets fans were treated to the spectacle (the good kind) of Livan frakking Hernandez being the first Met pitcher to pitch a complete game in 2009. Once again, everyone who predicted that, raise your hands. And you are lying once more.

Then we get Johan Santana striking out eight through three innings before deciding to pitch with his eyes closed or something for one inning. It cost him thought. Not the game, because this is still the Nationals we're talking about here, but his ERA rose to an unsightly 1.77. Hah! This guy is so awesome even when he sucks he does everything right. Just let it sink in that Johan Santana has allowed more than three earned runs just five times since last year's All Star break. Johan also struck out double digit batters for the fourth time this year, something he only did four times last year total. You know, the other day I couldn't remember who was traded for him outside of Carlos Gomez and Kevin Mulvey. God, remember when we had our hopes invested in Kevin Mulvey?

And finally of course, the insanity of Citi Field literally swallowing up a home run. Did Daniel Murphy's home run really leave the field? Someone who scored way better on the physics regents than me (I got a 65, I think, may have been lower) says it was a home run, and since the only other explanation for the trajectory of that baseball is that the Wilpons installed baseball attracting magnets to drag down potential home runs hit by the opposing team and now the magnets are malfunctioning because the stupid Wilpons cheaped out and now the magnets are dragging Met home runs back into the stadium. That is seriously the only other explanation for why the ball would travel like that.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Man Who Left Earth

I don't sit in bars and watch entire baseball games because that shit can get expensive and you can't whoop and holler if no one else is paying attention to the happenings on TV. Well, you can, but everyone just looks at you like you're weird. Still, I stuck around from the second inning on for this game because I wanted to watch a master at his craft. And Chan Ho Park did not disappoint.

Does anyone miss Carlos Gomez? Yeah, thought so. As The Reign of Santana continues its ridiculous domination, I will say with only a little bit of hyperbole that I feel privileged to watch Johan pitch. It's like watching Paul Offit create the Rotavirus vaccine or if there was a real life Rambo, watching him kill a bunch of Washington cops. Or Chinamen. Whichever one you like I guess. In Johan Santana, the Mets have a new dominating, star attraction in their pitching rotation they've been lacking since Pedro Martinez ended his 2005 season.

Oh sure Johan pitched last year too, but there was a feeling out period, that was obvious. You can't argue with his results since the All-Star break last year though, an obscene one loss in 23 starts. It just isn't possible to have a prolonged losing streak when every fifth day you've got a guy who has allowed less earned runs than number of games he's started and has three double digit strikeout games in six starts.

Even the offense again taking a snooze in their non-support of Mr. Wonderful could barely raise my ire. I just wanted to keep watching Santana paint corners and throw ridiculous change-ups that dropped off this plane of reality and made Jayson Werth consider suicide. Hell, I got the feeling Johan walked Chan Ho Park twice just so he could remember what pitching from the stretch was like in case the unfathomable happened and he got in trouble.

The scary thing, if you're not a Met fan, is that April and May are typically Santana's worst months. I don't know what that means for the rest of baseball outside of a lot of soiled drawers every fifth day for players with "Marlins" or "Cubs" or "Padres" sewn across their jerseys, but for Met fans it means more performances that are becoming baseball's version of heroin: soothing and addictive. I missed Seaver and Koosman and Ryan, I was two when the '86 rotation ran roughshod over the league and was a little too young really to form any specific memories about David Cone, but one day when I have kids I can tell them the story of the time Johan Santana struck out ten Phillies en route to having an ERA under one for the entire season. Those damn kids better listen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lake Show? More Like Fake Show


Today I'm taking a guest post on this damn blog. Why, you say? Well, an epic playoff run will get you into all kinds of crazy non-sense, and I'm coming off of an epic playoff win high.

If you are not a Rockets fan, you probably do not understand the depth and complexity of last night's victory. Everything worked perfectly last night, and there ws enough drama to make thi one a masterpiece. The Zen Phil Jackson said after the game that his team didn't play well, but we all know the truth about yesterday's game. Consider:

1) After having trouble with fronting against the Blazers, Yao Ming took it to the Lakers front court. The banging Pau Gasol? Neutralized. Bynum? Foul Trouble. No matter what they threw at Yao, be it double teams, traps, elbows... he took it all and slammed it down their throat. When he was out, Chuck Hayes was containing the centers and picking off rebounds. Since the backup center is out (and by the way, that backup center went down with a major injury in the first series of the playoffs, and he happens to be one of the greatest defensive centers of all time), Hayes' performance was miraculous and spectacular.
2) Aaron Brooks is the fastest man in the NBA. Last night proved it. Even Jordan Farmar looked like Sid Bream out there. Wait until this kid improves and seasons over the next few years.
3) Rick Adelman actually outcoached Jackson. By putting in two small guards in the back court and letting them run wild, the Rockets drove the Lakers freaking bananas last night. Brooks and Lowry were unstoppable. The scheme was brilliant, and hopefully Adelman has a few more tricks up his sleeve. This is a huge problem for Jackson. He has to choose whether to put in Vujacic and kill the size of the team, or let a big guard get smoked by the little back court combo. If Vujacic is managing to contain either one (which he won't because he plays defense like my Grandma), Adelman can slide one of the little guys over and bring in the athletic arl Landry to dominate the middle section of the court.
4) Ron Artest... He looked like T-Mac's offense coupled with the normal, Ron-Ron defense last night. He was everywhere we needed to be.
5) Brent Barry is back, bitches! The old man popped a three pointer early when the Bayou Biys needed some points.
6) Shane Battier's performance was electric. Shane turned Kobe into a volume shooter and still managed to contain the team defense. He was slipping around picks, stripping balls at the waist, swatting errant passes, stealing rebounds... Just unbelievable. When Vuja-bitch fouled him with an obvious flying arm early in the game (the little bastard was trying to swat away a rebound that was already Shane's), Shane came away with a crimson mask worthy of Arturo Gatti. He then proceeded to PROTECT THIS HOUSE. Kobe was 8-22 when Battier guarded him.
7) Finally...

Yao Ming's return after going knee to knee with Kobe was epic. He may not be the best center in NBA history, and he may not have been so injured on that basketball court that he could not play later in the series, but the entire city held its breath while he went to the lockerroom and returned to DOMINATE late. Ming's knee is very close to Schilling's sock.

The difference is, we saw Ming's injury take place...

(It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that Ming)....

BEAT LA.

-Tex

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rain Out Non-Blues

Meche bless the rain out.

I was planning on waking up today and doing some editing while I listened to the game. But as I lay in bed and listened to the telltale signs of raindrops, I had a feeling that there was bad weather in Philly too. My hunch confirmed, I went back to bed and woke up just in time to run to work. If the Mets got an unexpected day off, I figured I could take one from most of, if not all my responsibilities, so another day goes by with my laundry situation at Defcon 1.

The silver lining to the rainout of course was that it made it impossible for the Mets to lose their series against the Phillies. Kidding, kidding, I wasn't that pessimistic about today. I actually thought it was a winnable game with John Maine coming off a solid if not spectacular start and Joe Blanton having a Perez-like season thus far. I've got hope for John Maine, that as he gets more comfortable in his return from surgery he'll regain the form that made him one of the better third starters in the National League. And don't scoff about a third starter, because who doesn't want a decent number three?

Not worrying about the Mets was nice though. This season has involved a lot of anxiety and hand wringing, so maybe a break for both fans and players can lead to a little mental reset and strong showing this week in Atlanta. That's what I hope anyway. Losing to the Phillies in Philadelphia sucks, but I've spent too much time as a baseball fan hating the Braves to ever take a loss to them lightly. The Mets could win the World Series this year and open next season with a loss to the Braves and my blood pressure would spike. It's just the way things are.

Oh, and in other news, The Meche picked up a W today. Way to go, Gil.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oliver

Oliver, I know this game is killing you
Oh, Oliver, your aim ain't true

And to think, I thought I was making a joke last night when I said Oliver Perez was going to give us all nightmares. Shouldn't have had that can of chili before bed. What's that, this afternoon's game was real? Yikes.

I don't think it was a coincidence that "Allison" was playing at the bar while I was watching the Met game, what with its "aim is true" chorus and talk of killing. The killing in this case would be the Mets momentum and fans' braincells from banging their heads against whatever hard surfaces were around when Ollie walked Jamie Moyer with the bases loaded. That entire third inning was brutal to watch, from Ollie throwing five straight balls to watching him get angry at himself, all for naught as he missed badly against Jamie Moyer, who I don't believe has drawn a walk since this guy was pitching.

There was more badness of course. Carlos Beltran grounding into an inning ending double play with first and third in the tenth inning. I didn't see that, but I did see him pop-up on the first goddamn pitch after Luis Castillo worked a lead-off walk in the third inning. Pedro Feliciano and his second straight day of giving up a home run to a big time Philly lefty, and of course Sean "Bad For The Irish" Green walking in the winning run. Which I guess is a fitting end to a game that already saw Met pitching walk in one run.

It still comes down to Ollie though. It's hard enough to win a game against a good team like the Phillies, it becomes damn near impossible to do it when your starting pitcher can't get out of the third inning. The last ditch effort of trying to get him to work last year's magic against the Phillies failed miserably, so here we are. No one has any answers at this point, leaving the scariest answer out there: there is no answer. Everyone follow that? Good. Buffalo seems to be the next place he's going to pitch, but at this point, I don't know that you can call what Oliver Perez is doing pitching.

Oliver, I know this game is killing you
Oh, Oliver, your career is through

Saturday, May 2, 2009

In Case of Emergency, Beat Phillies

All around New York, people are panicking about the Mets. Well, Yankee fans are probably laughing, but I would do the same to them, so I hold no grudge. Despite my previous thoughts on the matter, I'm still not actually that nervous. Sure the bullpen just blew two games in a row before tonight, but the bullpen was going to blow games this year, it just happens. It isn't the failpen until it becomes made of fail, and we'll all know when that time comes.

Still, with things getting tense and talk radio morons advocating idiotic solutions that somehow get discussed on MetsBlog (perhaps more later), this weekend series in Philadelphia looms large, and tonight's game especially seemed ripe for disaster. I don't know how or why it happened, but the Phillies immediately became the new Braves once the Mets dispatched with the old Braves, who are the Braves. I mean, I know the history, I just don't know what terrible baseball curse arose that decreed the Mets need a new rival to not overcome. And when all know what would happen to the Mets when they were hanging on by their fingers and had to face the Braves.

When I turned the game on, I looked up and said, "Oh great, it's 5-0 Mets." Then I looked again and said, "Shit, the bases are loaded for Philly" and preceded to watch Mike Pelfrey do his damndest to cough up the lead. That stupid little parachute, the perfectly executed hit and run, set up because Pelfrey couldn't throw a goddamn strike. I wondered if I'd be able to go back to work after my lunch break.

Of course, Pelfrey got out of the jam, despite falling behind everyone and looking like shit, but in the end, he didn't give it all back. And hell, when I thought the Mets had run themselves out of inning after David Wright's caught stealing, Big Pelf singled off Chad Durbin to make it all better. The best part about that sequence was the SNY cameras cutting to the Philly dugout and catching Chan Ho Park with a look on his face that said "Well I could have done that."

I look in the bix score and see some things I like (Tatis hitting well, Feliciano going an inning and a third, Rollins hitting under .200), some things I don't (Big Pelf walked four and struck out zero, Reyes be slumping) and some things that frankly mystify me (the 2009 Phillies have Chan Ho Park and Miguel Cairo?) So every Met fan can rest easy tonight and dream horrible dreams about what terrible things Oliver Perez will do tomorrow afternoon. Hold your baby tight, because you won't want to be alone for those dreams.