Wednesday, August 17, 2005

MLC Live

Games 118 & 119 - Mets

Mets 6, Pirates 2
Mets 5, Pirates 1
Record: 61-58

Good evening, sports fans, and welcome to another addition of MLC’s in-game commentary. We’re coming to you from Shea Stadium via MLC headquarters, and thanks to a rookie TiVo maneuver, it’s already the bottom of the second inning as I tune in. The score is 1-1 with two down and Ramon Castro at the plate. What can we tell from the 1-1 score? Not much, except that Tom Glavine is off to one of his flying starts again.

Oh, uh, before we get going, the Mets won last night. I have nothing to add; I recorded it, then watched it at the end of a long night of whiskey & go-go, and don't really remember it. Get help, son.

Hey, how about that, Ralph Kiner’s on the mic tonight. A lot of people think I sound like Ralph Kiner. At least a lot of people at the bar where I get loaded. I thought -- nay, hoped that it was just Mr. Kiner and Ted Robinson, but Fran Healy chimed in with that inimitable voice and it’s a full boat in the booth.

They don’t call him the best color man in baseball for nothin’. I tune in for 45 seconds and I’m already stupefied. I can play back this exchange 100 times and I still wouldn’t be able to effectively decipher it. They’re flashing back (the Coors Light "Cold Blast," to cool down the hottest of hitters) to Ramon Castro homering off Josh Fogg last month, relevant because that’s who Castro is facing at the moment and because that was his last long ball. Anyway, away we go:
Fran: He got all of that, he knew it, and he was Cadillacking around the bases.

Ralph: Well, you know what they say about Cadillacs . . . home run hitters drive Cadillacs.

F: I tell you, Ralph Kiner coined that phrase many years ago, and kids in the Little Leagues from that moment on said, “Bunt? Forget bunting, I’m going for the long ball.”

R: That’s where that expression came from – he Cadillacked around the bases.

F: Did it come from that?

R: I doubt that.
And by the grace of God, Ramon Castro is punched out immediately thereafter, ending the inning and the uncomfortable silence that must have been torturous to poor Ted Robinson.

Top 3 now…Glavine strikes out his counterpart. 1 down. This just in: according to Ralph, Gene Mauch (mentioned in the telecast because he skippered the league record 23 consecutive losses that the Royals are endangering) knew the rule book so well that he could take advantage, so baseball changed the rules so he couldn’t. Hmmm. In a related story, Gene Mauch used to be able to defy the laws of physics and be in two places at once, simultaneously impressing the hell out of everyone who ever came in contact with him and establishing precedents for losing ballgames that would last for decades.

Ramon Castro makes a damn fine play on a swinging bunt to gun the runner. I’m thinking Mike Piazza doesn’t even make that play in Strat-o-matic.

A double by Tike Redman with Jason Bay (who I see homered in the first) coming up. Intentional walk. Little spot of trouble, but rookie Brad Eldred pops up. With a Pirates lineup that, like Rob Russell’s wallet, is filled with "little protection," the IBB was the wise move.

Three up, three down for the Mets. Don’t want Glavine cooling down.

Aflac Trivia Question: Who was the last Pirate to lead the league in hits? I’m saying a pre-bloat Bonds. Of course, Robby Alomar used to be up there in hits, and he was a pirate of sorts.

Castro makes another good play on another swinging bunt. Pats on the back for Castro and Glavine. Now Glavine gets an old school not-quite-a-strike for a called strike three. Hey, it’s the Pirates; they haven’t gotten that call since the days of the “BB Gunners.” (Worst nickname in sporting news history, and amazingly, I didn’t come up with it.)

Wow, my ears perked up at this exchange (based on a shot of Tom Glavine’s foot not actually touching the pitching rubber in his wind-up):
Fran: If the Pirates see that on TV in the clubhouse, you know what they’re
going to say? “Make sure he’s in contact with the rubber.

Ted: That’s going to be the title, Ralph, of your next book . . .


. . . Pitchers Cheat.
Ted’s having a rough go of it tonight. The Pirates, too, as they can’t score in the 4th.

Carlos Beltran up now. He walked in the first and scored from first base on a Cliff Floyd single. Wow. He just bunt-singled. That horrible collision may have been just what the doctor ordered (some sick devil-doctor, of course) to get the fans back behind him. Now he steals second . . . easily, and the fans really are behind the guy. Love to hear that.

They’re walking Floyd intentionally with D-W in the circle. This is not a proven formula for success. Billy Beane could explain why. Hell, Mr. Bean could tell you why this is not a good idea.

A wild pitch, followed by a two-run single to left by David “You Guys Need to Listen to Whitney, He's” Wright. 3-1, Metropolitans. This is the third time I’ve scolded my television (well, really the people appearing on it, but let’s face it, I’m admonishing an appliance, in reality) about this particular mistake, and the third time I’ve been backed up by my new favorite player.

Jose Offerman grounds into a textbook double play, one worthy of a terrible pun. He’s not an Offerman we can’t refuse. (Sorry.) Anyway, Offerman just dropped in to see what condition his unconditional release was in, and those three runs I’m sure will hold up, so anything more would just be piling on. Yep.

The Aflac answer: Andy Van Slyke. I was wrong with Bonds . . . and Fran Healy was right – he did walk too much for the hits title, even then. I will now punch myself in the face. Andy Van Slyke was always one of my favorites, if only for his quotes. Look them up.

Ralph actually just told a good story. It was about Honus Wagner, and it began, “He loved to drink beer.” More of these, please, Ralph. We know they’re in there. Pirates go down with a whimper in the 5th.

An ad for the Mets fantasy camp appears, and the gang discusses theories as to why so many fantasy camp participants blow out their knees every year. And the Mets marketing department has its collective head in its collective hands, cringing and cursing. The Mets go down in order in the 6th. I’m not very comfortable with this flimsy two-run lead, just in case anyone’s wondering.

Bucs on first and second with one out. For the record, I was significantly more comfortable when I typed that last paragraph. Popped him up on a 3-2 pitch, now two down. Now an easy grounder to first, and the Mets duck the damage. It’s Throwback Tom Glavine, which is infinitely more appealing to watch than “Throw Back Tom Glavine,” that other guy who misses his spots and whines about QuesTech.

Unbelievable. They’re putting Floyd on again to get to Wright. Will they never learn? Now Lloyd McClendon is bringing in a reliever, and it’s brought to us by Levitra. Swell. Here’s hoping Wright gets good wood on a pitch. It’s a double-switch, and Willie Randolph looks like he’s got a pretty good idea of how it works by now.

Miguel Cairo steals third. Kaz Matsui, welcome to “utility infielder” status. The “futility infielder” joke is screaming to be let loose, but I won’t do it. Not here. Not now.

David Wright walks. Not sure if that counts towards the “I told you so” quotient, but I’m declaring victory in the name of Lesteria. This brings up Jose Offerman, a once-solid pinch-hitter forced into mostly-everyday status, which is akin to Ringo fronting a Beatles gig. Just not what the fans were hoping for. I’m having a nauseating premonition involving the numbers 4, 6, and 3.

Giddyup! No, not GIDP, as I so negatively foresaw – Offerman pulled a single to right, scoring two! Hooray for my stupidity! And this closes the book on the second Floyd IBB; verdict: doubly asinine. The four runs that separate the Mets and Pirates all came after McClendon signaled “4” to his battery, and two of those were plated by Floyd himself.

Ah, there’s the 4-6-3 ball, one batter after I called it. Victor Diaz neutralizes any chance of a big inning in a show of “It’s the Pirates, lay off.”

A stellar fielding play by Hampton Roads’ favorite son (David Wright, not me, but I appreciate you saying so). I’ve praised him enough already, but man. Now Tom Glavine coaxes a double play groundball, and the Pirates are swashbuckled in the seventh.

Willie has decided to leave Glavine in (101 pitches) and let him bat for himself. I’m all for letting the pen rest (especially Roberto Hernandez), but I wouldn’t have done it. Yikes – Glavine laces a foul ball into the seats. I’ve let the matter rest, but I’m still on my soapbox about this: someone’s going to die at a baseball game in the near future because the seats are ever-closer to the action, there is no netting over there, and people don’t pay attention. Here’s hoping it’s a true scumbag who gets it instead of a kid like at the hockey game.

Now Glavine is punched out. Still unsure about him staying in, but I’ll defer to Willie for now. And Jose Reyes is called out on a bang-bang play at first. Oops, and he chucks his helmet a la Sheffield, but he’ll stay in the game because he promptly walked away without further insult. Yankees fans will be incensed that Reyes wasn’t tossed, but the difference, and what the yutzes who led the outcry over Shef’s ejection failed to recognize, is that Sheffield was really thrown out for the helmet-hurl plus a batch of pointed and vulgar obscenities directed at the umpire. If he’d chucked the hat and said, “I respectfully disagree,” it would’ve been a different outcome, but the next time those words spill from Gary Sheffield’s lips will be the first time, along with “I’m very happy with my surroundings,” “I’m appreciative of all my blessings,” and “I was discussing Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling with Ruben Sierra the other day when . . . ”

Another close call at first base as Offerman misses tagging the runner. This time the ump got it right, but two tough plays in a row for him. Jason Bay comes up now with a chance to make this annoyingly interesting. (And make me unfortunately right.)

He doubles. And Glavine is gone without retiring a batter in the eighth. Bring on Aaron Heilman. And a Tums.

Whoa. Heilman just froze the rookie on a wicked strike three. And again to the next guy. He’s on, and when he’s on, he’s a lot of fun to watch. I’m suddenly feeling better. A weak pop to second, and the Mets need just three more outs. Great inning from Heilman.

Ted Robinson makes a reference to the game the Mets blew – totally blew – in Pittsburgh last month, as I take another Tums.

Bottom 8, bases loaded, one out, Offerman up. He drove in two last time up, so why am I still doubting him? Ah, because he swings at pitches that bounce before the plate. Strike three. Nice. And there’s Victor Diaz, humming Dion & the Belmonts’ “The Squanderer” as he jogs down to first after hitting another easy grounder to second.

Braden Looper was warming in the pen, and I was all ready to write why I thought it was a mistake to bring him in with Heilman utterly dealing. Lookee there, Willie and I are on the same page for the first time since . . . I don’t know when. Heilman’s still in.

A shot of Cameron’s jersey hanging in the dugout. Hell yes.

Aaron Heilman runs a full count to all three batters, then gets each of them out on his change-up (two by the strikeout). Ballgame. There was a lot to like in this game. Some of it was Lloyd McClendon’s strong desire to award the Mets free baserunners, but a lot more was the Mets taking care of a subpar team. There have been plenty of Monty Python references popping up on the site this year, mostly as a way of mocking the Mets. This time, though, it’s for a much more positive turn. As I was lamenting the demise of my team last week, they were heard protesting:

“I’m not dead . . . I'm feeling better.”

Of course, I’m probably fooling myself, but for now, I feel happy. 2.5 games out of the wild card. I think I’ll go for a walk.

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