Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Game 111 - Mets

Mets 7, Astros 3
Record: 53-58

Wouldn't it be nice if this solid, impressive win were somehow critical in a pennant race? Of course, Houston is in an even worse boat (one whose 2004 voyage has proven Lusitania-like) than the Mets, as they have similarly bottomed out but with much loftier expectations. Now they're not just tape-measure distance from contention -- they're dropping bad games to the New York Mets. They're on their second manager, they've squandered high-priced talent (including mid-season rental Carlos Beltran), and cast-off Richard Hidalgo has out-produced his former mates in the Houston OF by a long shot. Not a good time to be from Houston. (Hush, now, that's just not nice.)

Steve "Back On" Trachsel issued his prototypical 7 IP, 3 ER line, and David Wright provided the fireworks with a towering bomb, but the seven runs -- six of them unanswered after trailing, 3-1 -- were thoroughly a team effort, as the ten hits were nearly evenly dispersed. Every position player had a hit except Jason Phillips (who did ground into a 6-4-3 rally killer, though -- Vance, how's the melon doing?), and every one of them had either a ribbie or a run scored. Mike DeJean continued his metamorphic alteration since arriving from the Charm City, firing another pair of scoreless innings to drop his ERA under 2.00. Even more impressive, the Mets played nine innings of defense with nary an error. (Baby steps don't boot the grounder, baby steps don't throw it into the stands.) All in all, it was a fine, complete effort. Not that it means much when you're 10 GB in August, but we'll take a night like this ten times out of ten. (Actually, if that happened . . .)

The result of this game, trivial as it was, was overshadowed by the news that Tom Glavine was in a taxi accident en route from LaGuardia to Shea. Glavine had his two front teeth knocked out and suffered some minor cuts in his mouth, which is relatively fortunate. We all know what that cab ride can be like in traffic, and like me, Whistlin' Tom probably didn't adhere to the cautions of Tony Bennett or the Rockettes and buckle up. Freak injuries the Mets need like a hole in their head. Glavine will miss today's start, meaning Matt Ginter "Of Our Discontent" gets a spot start versus Roy Oswalt, who's been unhittable of late. Well, maybe I'll just re-run the previous paragraph tomorrow in a display of revisionist history. In truth, though, we just hope Glavine is okay. Word out of Queens is that this Christmas he will not be asking for his two front teeth, instead requesting "some friggin' run support" and maybe "a defense that knows its ass from a hole in its glove." Fair enough.

In other parts of the baseball universe, the Baltimore Orioles have won eight in a row. Though the O's are hosed, much like the Metropolitans, their win streak has meaning for several reasons. First, they're doing it against wild card contenders, playing the spoiler to perfection -- much to Boston's delight. Second, they're showing promise for a better tomorrow, and giving me something semi-palatable to watch. And third, they're coming back from the dead in my case-bet on 75 wins. At 54-57, I need them to go just 21-28 in their final 49 to propel me to cold, crisp, full-bodied, golden victory. Not sure yet, but if I win, I think I'll go with something Baltimorean, maybe Degroen's or even Natty Bo. But I won't count any chickens just yet -- this is a franchise just a couple of years removed from a stunning 4-32 finish over its last 36.

Elsewhere in the AL East, the crosstown Yankees hit a tiny speed bump yesterday against the Rangers when Kevin Brown was clobbered, but they're rolling along without even the blur of a Red Sox squad in the rear-view. The Yanks may well win 100 games without a .300-hitting regular. Already at 71-41, their lineup features Hideki Matsui at .302 and Gary Sheffield at .295. All of the others are below .290. They have only Kevin Brown below 4.00 in the ERA department for regular starters, and one or two more outings like yesterday's may change that. I wail on about the Yankees' unfair advantage ad inifinitum, but they're well-managed, they're clutch, and they play well as a unit -- rallying at the plate, maximizing baserunners, and excelling in the field. Damn Yankees. I think I'm supposed to mutter something about "payroll" here.

And on a final note, ESPN continued its dead horse brutalization last night (something we here at MLC never, ever do!). They aired its list of the last 25 years' biggest "chokes," and when the Angels of the '86 ALCS appeared at #5, you just knew what was destined for yet another dredging up. Actually, it's not really dredging if you keep it just below the surface to whip out every couple of weeks to torture Sox fans. In this particular case, if you concede that the list itself is warranted, then you'll probably go along with the Game 6 giveaway as a necessary inclusion -- and a justified number 1. What was odd, however, was that though inexplicable choices like Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield's ear off made their way into the list, the 1978 Red Sox collapse was nowhere to be found. And don't give ESPN credit for not wanting to pile on, as the Cubs, Angels, Chris-Webber-led teams, and Greg Norman each were graced with multiple mentions. If you're going to be the bastard and highlight people's plummets, do it right.

Anyway, this wouldn't be fresh for an MLC column (we've bludgeoned the programmers there before for this indulgence), except that the Game 6 montage featured a couple of interview clips from Bill Simmons, a.k.a. the [Boston] Sports Guy. I've read his hilarious but sad takes on the Game 6 debacle, but I'd never heard his voice before, and all I can say is I can finally rest knowing what happened to Wyatt from Weird Science. Holy cow -- I guess he does have the last laugh over Anthony Michael Hall now after all. Anyone who can get me a clip of SG saying "Gary here was just takin' a shit" gets big bucks from me.

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