Saturday, February 27, 2010

Squatting Towards Oblivion

My goodness, I know I made that joke about my work habits when I started this season preview but I never thought it would be this bad. Then again, I haven't had a moment to myself since that wonderful day about a week ago. Since then, I've wrested a bocce ball court away from a couple bors and ruled it (semi-)benevolently, worked two consecutive fourteen hours days on a movie set, visited our nation's capital and got lost in a mile high snow drift. Meanwhile, the Mets took a proactive, solution oriented approach to catcher and brought in a candidate with experience and more importantly, a slugger who hit nineteen home runs last year. Not to mention...hahaha, just kidding. Rod Barajas, you guys! (PS: Fuck off, Klosterman) Not to worry though, we've got an All-World backup in Henry Blanco, who's old enough to have seen all the world's history. Get it? Laughing yet? You should be, because otherwise you'll be crying.

Just a little bit of crying though. There wasn't too much out there in catcher land, and despite Tim Marchman's strong case for Bengie Molina, I can't say I'm shedding any tears at the idea of the Mets missing out on having a 36 year old catcher on the hook for 6 million clams next year. Oh sure they could have hired Xe Services, mounted a daring night time raid and stolen Victor Martinez away from the Red Sox, but considering those goons are a little too trigger happy they'd probably end up capping Jonathon Papelbon and the Mets would end up having to forfeit a couple future first round draft picks. Plus we all know the Wilpons would probably just cheap out and hire those jerks what with the vodka ass shooters.

Realistically, the Mets' probable platoon doesn't put them any worse off than most teams when it comes to catcher, which is an improvement somehow on last year. Last year was bad enough that I started rooting for Brian Schneider to hit under .200, just to have something to remember him by. Omir Santos was passable and Josh Thole was rushed and Robinson Cancel ended up on the roster AGAIN, so when you look at it that way, a platoon of Barajas and Blanco, Esq. doesn't seem horrible. It just seems terribly average, a little above average provided Barajas is able to match what he put up last year.

After all, Barajas hit 19 home runs and drove in 71 last year, he's only 34 and only 5 years removed from his best season, so the odds of him repeating last year's output can be found between Paul Shirley taking a gig as a spokesman for the International Red Cross and the House passing the Senate health care bill tomorrow. Wait, he's surprised he couldn't find a job? Jesus, this recession has made us all crazy. Knowing that, I will reiterate my belief that we can still expect better production than last year from catcher. Just not that much.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Like The Saying Goes: 80% Is Better Than None At All So Shut The Fuck Up You Godamn Whiner

Because I've got nothing else to do, I'm starting a Mets season preview, position by position. Yay! I'm going around the diamond beginning with the starting pitchers (yay?) and if my work habits are any indication, will be done with the thing sometime around June, just in time for Bobby Valentine to replace Jerry Manuel.

So anyway, pitchers. Can't live with'em, can't just replace them with machines that throw hellish 98 mile per hour sliders. Not yet, anyhow, which means Met fans have to choose one of the following:
  • Rationality: Johan Santana is the only thing going for this group but he's also awesome so the team will be worth watching every fifth day.
  • Hope: One of the young Met pitchers (Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver!) who wandered in the wilderness last year will put it back together and the Mets will have a decent 1-2 punch.
  • Optimism: A second pitcher from that group will put together a season that's a little better than average thus giving the Mets the same kind of rotation most of the league has.
  • Irrational optimism: Pelfrey, Maine and Oliver! all have repeats of their best seasons*. Comes with a free copy of Dow 36,000.
It's barely even worth talking about Johan Santana, because he says he's healthy and can get back to his natural release point and if that's what says, I'll believe it. In a way, I have to, because despite the fact that he could still dominate while he was hurting, if he isn't healthy the Mets don't have a season, nor much of a future. But I won't panic, because it's not like the guy had Tommy John surgery, he got bone chips removed. It's the other yutzes I'm worried about.
  • Mike Pelfrey: Want to know what will be good for Mike Pelfrey? The left side of the infield with the continuing emergence of David Wright as a good defender and the return of Jose Reyes to shortstop, replacing future first ballot Bautista High School Wall of Famer Alex Cora. What won't be good for Mike Pelfrey is the right side of the infield with Daniel Murphy and Luis "Oldboy" Castillo playing what can only charitably be described as first and second base. The only way those two could be more dangerous for Pelfrey is if they actually planted land mines around the mound. My only hope is that lefties get so pull crazy on him trying to hit to Murphy or Castillo that they just roll over the ball and tap out weak grounders. FUN FACT: In three of his four professional seasons, Mike Pelfrey has had n unsightly 5+ ERA!
  • Oliver!: I think a better thing for the Mets to do with Oliver! than expect him to pitch well would be to put a blindfold on him before he goes out there and then have him let loose. See, it's psychological warfare, just daring the batter to step in there and possibly catch a fastball to the dome. And even though he whined about the blast shield being down, being blindfolded helped Luke Skywalker become a Jedi, so, you know, this system does have a history of positive results. Anyway, Oliver! can't possibly be as bad as he was last year. FUN FACT: That is something Mets fans will be telling ourselves for at least one more spring! ANOTHER FUN FACT: "Jedi" is a proper noun!
  • John Maine: The forgotten man, mostly because he embodied more of the hurt side of the team than the awful side last year. The worst you can say about John Maine is that you don't trust him to ever be healthy again, which is bad, but even with his severely weakened shoulder or whatever it is he had he was just below league average. Just below average would have been miraculous on last year's Met squad and maybe they could have won 80 games instead of 70. Yipes. Of the group of three, I think it's most reasonable to expect something from Maine, a flyball/strikeout pitcher in a huge ballpark. FUN FACT: There was another John Maine in the Mets' system in 1970! He was terrible!
So if you've been paying attention at all, you'll notice something is missing here. If you haven't noticed, go ahead and count how many starters I went through above and then think about how many starters are usually in a rotation in the modern era. So am I pushing the idea that the Mets should kick it old school and go with a four man rotation? God no, the thought of Mike Pelfrey getting the yips in 40 starts instead of 32 is nightmare inducing.

If the Mets aren't going to a four man rotation, then only one thing is possible: they had so much fun not having a fifth starter last year, they're going to do it all again! In a race that's impossible to handicap, the likes of Nelson Figueroa, Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, Sandy Koufax, Weff Jilpon and Hisanori Takahashi will compete this spring to be the guy Met fans wish was Joel Piniero. All of these players have various weaknesses (we don't know if Niese still has a hamstring, Jilpon is obviously just Jeff Wilpon in a Kenny Powers mullet wig) but the most interesting one is Takahashi, who is described as a Tom Glavine type, which obviously means he can most relied upon to give up seven runs in one-third of an inning against barely MLB-grade competition when his team needs him the most. Hachachachacha!

It's gonna be a long season.

*Best seasons with the Metropolitans, that is. Anyone who thinks Oliver! is going to repeat his 2004 season, ever, is beyond help.

My Star-Studded Reunion Anniversary Knicks/Rangers Mid-Season Review Spectacular: In 2D!

Knicks: F

Rangers: F-

Goodnight everybody!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Least Wonderful Time of the Year

I was sitting in the breakroom at Food Jerk (a wholly owned subsidiary of Cerberus Capital) today, or maybe it was yesterday, all the days kind of run together, when one of my bosses threw down the sports section of the paper and whined that this was the worst sports period of the year. No football, baseball not quite started, all we have is mid-season basketball and hockey. Desperate as always to disagree with a superior, I looked for a way that he was wrong, but I couldn't. I couldn't, and this is coming from someone who likes hockey and basketball. All I've got right now are snarky reviews of Valentine's Day and hoping that it flops and oh my gods the movie is playing fucking everywhere. It doesn't have to be this way. About sports I mean, I guess Valentine's Day is just unavoidable.

It is this way though, because the only fun to be had watching any team in the tri-state area is watching the Nets flop around the court, and even that's depressing because anyone with half a brain realizes that in the near future, the Nets will be flopping around Brooklyn in an eminent domain-enabled, poorly thought out mess of a stadium filled with bandwagon fans who are desperate for a piece of apparel with "Brooklyn" on it and don't seem to realize there's a motherfucking Brooklyn Industries storefront a mile away.

Of course, maybe there would be something for those dummies to cheer about in midtown if the Knicks or the Rangers were competently run. What's the latest on the Knicks, aside from their plummet out of the first round sacrifice to the Cavs playoff race reaching terminal velocity? Oh, only that they blew a 15 point lead at home to a team with four wins on the road. The Sacramento Kings have been bad in a way that leads to non-entity status for the past few years, unlike the Knicks who have been circus bad. And yet here we are, with the Times running a kind of sad, kind of weirdly brilliant "analysis" after said loss to the Kings that concludes that Knicks...have no talent. The casual fan might think that the Knicks have perhaps a person on their team that's good at basketball, but Howard Beck shows us that three of the four highest paid players on the team can't even crack the goddamn starting lineup. (For shits and giggles, the fourth player in that equation plays maybe 20 minutes a game) And they want to pick up injured and unhappy Tracy McGrady! Whee!

The Rangers on the other hand, have one of the most talented players in all of hockey in Marion Gaborik, which sounds like a good thing. Yet when I came home last night I almost threw up on my keyboard when I saw he was scratched with a "lacerated knee". Yipes! Sure this puking business might seem like a tad much, but I know a poorly kept secret about the Rangers: everyone else is terrible! The second highest goal scorer on the team has scored less than half the goals as Gaborik and if the Knicks downward spiral is at terminal velocity, the Ranger has reached escape velocity. Please note I am not a physicist and I have no idea if my analogies have made sense, I'm just that angry.

And there's still the Mets, who were so bad last year Tim Marchman refuses to do a position-by-position breakdown of them this year. Maybe I'll do it. Here's a preview: Everyone gets an F!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How About Watching a Future Hall Of Famer Today?

I'm not actually a big football fan, but I will be watching tonight to see one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Sad but true, Peyton has reached a level of utter absurdity.

It reminds me of watching the old high school tapes of NBA players. You know, these games you can find on the internet with professionals utterly obliterating a variety of teams with a nasty collection of dunks, crossovers, three-pointers, and no-look passes? I can imagine what the shots of the stands must look like... mothers crying and stuff as their son gets viciously jammed on by some grown man-child. Kevin Garnett's old footage is him in a 6 foot 9 high school frame, hanging on a rim and screaming ferociously while give poor trembling high school students lay on the ground beneath the hoop. ("Give Kevin the and 1, ref").

As good as Manning is, I'm not talking about watching him tonight on the big screen at the local pub. No, I have a different name to drop for you: Sam McGuffie

I teach high school students on a regular basis, so I hear the smatterings and rumors that go on in their everyday lives. That's how I found out about this kid.

This guy is made to play football. Watch this freaking kid and remember his name. I would list for you all of the intricacies of the dips, dives, hurdles, leaps, spins, stiff arms, and sprints that this sucker serves up for every poor, star-crossed defense that comes his way, but I recommend you watch for yourself...