Friday, July 18, 2003

Game 94 - Mets

Braves 3, Mets 2
Record: 40-54

Mark DeRosa's piece of garbage check-swing dribbler to second brought home the game-winning run in the bottom of the 9th. Unlucky loss? Not really, as John Franco got one of four batters out in the inning, and walked Rafael Furcal to send Vinny Castilla 90 feet from victory, allowing for all sorts of contact to score the runner. Franco is without a doubt one of the great Mets of the era and should be heralded accordingly; that said, he probably should not be given the reins too many more times with the game on the line. The second half of this season is a very difficult one for Franco to enjoy the twilight of his career, and that is unfortunate, but this is essentially a three-month pre-spring training, for all intents and purposes. It's an even better proving ground for the young players, as, unlike the spring sessions, the other team is really trying to win. And what with a world of talent to evaluate before next April, it's time to give the kids their shot.

Of course, this isn't to say play only rookies; Franco, like the other veterans, has earned the right to play as much as anyone. But with a slew of young relievers in New York, Norfolk, Binghamton, and other locales, I'd like to see if they can shut down the powerhouse Braves in a game like this. Franco, for all of his successes, has found his truncated '03 season to be full of achievements of all the wrong kinds (giving up formerly rare HRs to lefties, a surprising lack of control, etc.).

One of the young players who is starting to impress is outfielder Jeff Duncan. In addition to an early .412 clip at the plate, he has great quickness. Last night he exhibited his wheels in going from first to third on a single to left so quickly that LF Chipper Jones was left to watch and throw meekly to second base behind him. These little moments are the best and brightest spots of dark days.

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