Friday, July 16, 2004

Game 88 - Mets
"All Bunched Up" in the NL East
Mets 3, Phillies 2 (11)
Record: 45-43
The above quote refers to Art Howe's assessment of the current standings, as well as how I would describe myself when he refuses to yank a bleeding pitcher.  Here's a glance at the division:
TEAM             W  L   GB
Atlanta           46 42    -
Philadelphia  46 42    -
New York      45 43  1.0
Florida           45 43  1.0
Montreal       31 57  15.0
Four of these teams belong together, one of these teams just doesn't belong.  Sorry, Mes Amis, but you'll have to wait until next year, when you'll be playing in Monterrey, or San Juan, or Las Vegas, or somewhere that makes a lot of sense.  Quick question: how will I be able to find out the scores of the N.Y. Mets @ Las Vegas Expos game if what happens there, stays there?  Seriously, is that really the self-promoting slogan of an entire city that MLB wants involved with its precious game?  Just asking.
With four teams within a game of the top spot, this is getting fun.  There is always one eye on the results of the NL East opponents, anyway, but now it's tense throughout.  Now Florida plays the mighty Pirates (maybe they'll get swept, too), the Braves face Montreal, and the Mets have three more against the Phils.   No cakewalk out of the gate here, but they started well enough last night.
Once again Solid Steve Trachsel lived up to the nickname I just gave him right now, making but one mistake (a 2-run bomb to Bobby Abreu) while adding an RBI single of his own (which Pat Burrell allowed to bounce as part of his community service to atone for his his batting assault on the Mets for years).  With the game tied at 2 in the 11th (thank you, relief corps), Phightin' reliever Roberto Hernandez loaded them, bringing up Ty "Breaker" Wigginton.   Ty got Wiggy wit' it (just awful), meaning he hit a sharp grounder that Hernandez tried to barehand.  Hernandez, a poor man's Jose Mesa (a moniker which should automatically demote its descriptee to AA), knocked it down, then scooped it and flung it halfway home and then into Mike Lieberthal's chest protector.  Vance Wilson scooted by, tagged the plate, and ended the game.
Sure, a tater or even a line shot to end the game might've announced the Mets' presence with authority, to borrow from Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, but scrappy, patient, and lucky got them the same amount of wins this night.  Learning to win the close games is an oft-blathered but no less crucial element of contention.   And what with the division neck and neck throughout (minus one), that will be increasingly significant to remaining in it.
A few thoughts on the division:
The Phils are pressing.  It's Larry Bowa Severance Watch time again.
The Braves are surging.  This is the team the Mets least wanted in the mix.
The Marlins are fading.  The Mets don't play well against them, but everyone else will.
The Mets are overachieving.  Still due for a letdown, but don't tell them that.
A few thoughts, stream-of-consciousness:
Scott Erickson starts tonight for the first time since injuring himself during warm-ups in the first week of the season.  Prediction? Pain . . . The New York Post had a blurb about how the Mets are not interested in recently bumped Mariner and ex-Met John Olerud, who plays the same position as Mike Piazza.  You think?  Brilliant research.  Next up: the Mets are definitely not looking for a new designated hitter . . . Randy Johnson is also probably headed somewhere other than Queens, if anywhere.  Rob's earlier post eschewing the acquisition of a high-priced big name struck a chord with me.  To cross over Coach Dale, "My team's on the field."

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