Monday, August 22, 2005

A Fine Night for the Old TG

Games 122 through 124 – Mets

Mets 9, Nationals 8 (10)
Nationals 7, Mets 4
Mets 4, Diamondbacks 1
Record: 64-60

It’s good to have my cohort back in action – good to get caught up on the Sox, good to get reminded of who won the World Series last year, and besides, as any of you who read the last post or two of mine can tell, a two wheeled-cart missing a wheel tends to go in circles.

Looks like I picked the wrong night to stop covering Met games (in my best McCroskey voice). After detailing the soccer match – minus the grown men rolling around in fake anguish after near-miss trippings – Friday night, I watched but failed to chronicle Saturday night’s romp turned debacle turned redemption. There were roughly 37 things about which I’d have commented, and it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t recording my thoughts, for the sake of you young kids out there. I’m often prone to profane hyperbole when the bottom is falling out, but time has given me a chance to cool down and issue what I consider to me a more thoughtful and level-headed statement on that game: Danny Graves is the worst fucking pitcher to ever throw a baseball 60'6". The Mets’ pen had that look of the night crew on the Titanic, with Graves, “Goodybe, Mister” Koo, and Braden Looper all glancing around like “Somebody’d better go wake up Captain Willie.” Brian Schneider’s fly ball needed just two more feet of lift to give Washington that win, and by the grace of Shea it just missed. Seriously, in Philadelphia that ball’s in the parking lot. Give them, and by them I mean the consistently heroic Chris Woodward, credit for snatching the win out of the jaws of utter humiliation.

We’ll gloss over Sunday, much like the Mets did. With Victor Zambrano possibly on the verge of a demotion or a downgrade, Kris Benson had an outing as if to say, “Hey, my trade wasn’t so great, either!” Everyone was pounding the ball off Benson, and he only managed 2/3 of an inning; granted, it was the longest 2/3 of an inning the Mets have been on the field all season, but still. I knew he was cooked when he couldn’t even retire the one spot at the bottom of the Nats’ order which you always consider an automatic out, Cristian Guzman’s spot. (Nor could he get the pitcher out.) It was ugly early, and while those words bring back a lot of good memories for my blogging partner, it was no fun for me on Sunday.

Now three games out of the wild card, the Mets head off to the land of good sinuses and bad baseball, Arizona. The D-Backs are another team the Metropolitans should beat, and yes, the so-called logic that all of this talent should be resulting in more wins than losses seems more fallible by the day, but I’m stubborn like that. The Mets are old and sick and Dad’s starting to make some calls to that farm where the Mets can go and live happily instead of here with us, but they’re not leaving just yet. RESURGENCE. That’s going to be the new word of the New York Mets very soon, but you heard it here first. It’s a word I want to see in blogs and beats anywhere the locals bleed Met colors. (And not just in ways like, “There’s been a real resurgence of Kaz Matsui-bashing since he came off the DL.” I want in the good way, daggone it.)

Speaking of “The Door” Matsui, he’s back in the starting lineup tonight. Hitting #2. That’s just a slap in the face to the D-Backs, and we’ll see if they use it as bulletin board material to get themselves fired up.

The lineup does include something to make the Township smile; call-up Mike Jacobs, who homered in his first major league at-bat yesterday, is in the starting lineup at first base. We’re smiling because the kid is a breath of fresh air at a position that’s been rife with stale, stank winds for quite a while. Of course, we could be smiling because when your best option at a power position is a AA player, you just nod your head, smile and ignore the dull, throbbing pain at the base of your skull.

Brandon Webb is throwing for AZ tonight, and apparently that information is brought to us by Ricoh. Remember folks, when you’re done using their printer toner, be sure to throw your spent cartridges in Ricoh tubs. And there goes half our audience.

Former New York/Boston/decent player Tony Clark is at first base for the D-Backs, and he snags Reyes’ sharp grounder on the first pitch (shocker) for a 3U start to the game. Somewhere Rob Russell cackles in the distance. Next up is the aforetrashed Matsui, who Ted Robinson proclaims has “entered the Cedeño zone” at Shea, and that’s a great phrase. I may start using that at work for employees in bad standing with us obnoxious management types.

Matsui doubles into the corner. Baseball is a stupid game.

Beltran walks, Floyd doubles. 2-0, and that’s how it stands after the top of the inning. Glavine has as much run support as he has seen in plenty of starts. Throw strikes, Tom.

Glavine walks the first batter. Why do I do that?

It took 29 minutes from the start of the telecast, but they just showed a clip of the Diamondbacks winning the World Series in 2001. Didn’t see that coming, did you? It was actually interesting to see Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling buddying up and hoisting the trophy. How times have changed since then; from teammates and a powerful 1-2 combo to just two guys I wish would go away for a while.

Tony Clark’s numbers on the year so far: 96 games, .323/22/68 with a .370 OBP. Did anyone on the east coast know he was back from the crap heap? You know any team that could use a 1B with those numbers? Glavine’s walk doesn’t come back to haunt him, though. 2-0 after one.

The Mets go down in order in the second, but they start off the bottom of the inning with a fantastic scoop by Jacobs at first to save a more fantastic diving stop play by David Wright. Holy hell. I could watch that play a few times. 2-0 after two.

Beltran walks again, steals second, and takes third on a ball in the dirt. His quad must be doing much better, as his baserunning is definitely starting to resume the form of the guy they signed last winter. The power numbers are still off, but you have to feel they’ll come, and in the meantime, he’s helping this team get more dangerous on the paths by the day. Nothing doing, though. 2-0 after three.

Victor Diaz becomes the first strikeout victim for Webb. If it sounds like the announcers are pronouncing his name “Victor D.H.,” it’s because they are. He just had a lost weekend in right field like some of my weekends in New Orleans. The kid can hit, but when you could describe your outfield instincts as “pensive,” you end up costing your team out there. Now here's Mike DiFelice, giving Ramon Castro a day off and giving Mike Piazza a chance to look fast by comparison. Troy Glaus lost the ball inside his uniform, felt himself up, found the ball, and threw DiFelice out by ten steps.

Matsui looked awkward but made his first play cleanly; he booted the second one but recovered in time to get the out. I predict the next one hits a retiree in the chest. 2-0 after four.

Whoa. Jose Reyes just hit a bomb to right. Three-zip. Not that we want him swinging for it, but man, that’s just gravy. Now Beltran is in a race with the pitcher to touch first, and he definitely seems to have pulled off when it looked like (a) Webb had the out by a step, and (b) a collision might ensue. Anyone who blames him hasn’t broken their face in the last few weeks.

Glavine has allowed one hit and no runs through five innings. I believe right now he is about nine innings from having his option for next year kick in. I may just have jinxed one of these outcomes. 3-0 after five.

1st and 3rd, nobody out, and the Mets don’t score. Mike Jacobs grounded into an inning-ending double-play, and Omar Minaya is seen typing for flights to southeastern Virginia and/or upstate New York. (Steve Trachsel is going to be called up tomorrow, and somebody’s going down; because they haven’t figured out what to do with Trachsel, i.e., they can’t think of a way to tell Victor Zambrano to pack his bags, there’s a decent chance a position players hits the road, and Jacobs is the likely candidate.)

Fran Healy just called Jose Reyes “one of those Wyld Stallyns.” That’s probably not how he intended to spell it, but that’s how Bill, Ted, and I are typing it. It gets a little uncomfortable when Fran drools all over Reyes, describing his physique in overly admiring detail and mentioning twice that Jose is “still feeling himself in this league.” It’s a nice break from Ted Robinson fawning over Mike Jacobs’ “beautiful swing” several times per at-bat, I guess. It’s Uncomfortable Compliment Night at FSN New York. 3-0 after six.

The Mets do nothing in the seventh, while the DB’s start their half of the frame off with a pair of singles. Tying run at the plate, just like that. Glavine is starting to miss his spots just a bit. 6-4-3, right in my face. Shawn Green plates the run with a double, and the Mets’ bullpen starts to loom like a storm cloud in the distance. A nubber to first ends the inning. Choppy sentences. Misdirection. Fun. 3-1 after seven.

Six up, six down, punctuated with another Jacobs scoop that Jose Offerman would be retrieving out of the dugout. 3-1 after eight. This was a damn fine outing by Tom Glavine, and for the last leg of the sprint, he hands the baton to . . . Rerun. Braden Looper warming in the pen.

Victor DH hits a rocket into the second deck in left field, recreating the three-run lead. If only the Mets could eke across another run so that it wouldn’t be a save opportunity and their “best” reliever wouldn’t have to come in the game, I’d feel much safer. Now Willie bats Glavine, meaning:

1. They aren’t interested in adding to the lead.
2. Glavine will stay in, rather than hand over the reins.
3. I just spoke well of Glavine’s outing before it was complete, thereby putting the hex on him. Oh, I am fortune’s fool.

Royce Clayton singles to lead off, ending Glavine’s game. And Rerun gets the baton after all. What’s happening??

Oh, and Victor DH was replaced by Gerald Williams. For some reason I’m reminded of when my wife had a mole removed for cosmetic purposes, but the surgery left an ugly scar. Don’t know why that comes to mind.

Looper’s numbers have been ghastly against lefties this year. He’s looking at facing Luis Gonzalez, Tony Clark, and maybe Shawn Green from the left, with just the power-hitting Troy Glaus from the right. Situational Willie, they call him.

5-4-3, and we’re one out from Willie Randolph being right and Mets Township saying he was just lucky yet again. I haven’t been the biggest fan of the way Mr. Randolph has run things thus far, most notably in his bullpen management, but if you give free agents and rookies that first year to get acclimated, and even New York fans sometimes do, I think you give the greenhorn manager the same bye. And those of us who think we have all the answers need only roll out the Strat-o-matic to see how confounded this game can be, and that’s without the intense spotlight, salary issues, and off-the-field dramas. Just a thought, going against the grain as usual.

Flyout to center (after a walk), and the Mets win, 4-1. Tom Glavine gets it done, evening his record at 10-10. All is well in the Township for another 24 hours. With a quarter of the season still unplayed, the Mets are perched just out of media focus, waiting . . . waiting . . . biding their time and regrouping for the you-know-what. Say it with me: Resurgence.

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