Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Throwing Up All Over Themselves

Games 153 through 157 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Orioles 3
Red Sox 4, Orioles 3
Red Sox 9, Orioles 3
Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 1
Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 5

Record: 92-65 - tied for 1st AL East & Wild Card

From the silver lining department, SoSH posted Pandemonium67 notes "The last time the Sox looked this shitty, they came back and won the next 8". True enough, but very small consolation as the Sox seem to be preparing to slip quietly into next season, trailing 7-1 to the Blue Jays in the top of the 5th inning on their way to losing 2 of the first 3 games of a home series against a team that's playing out the string. I can't shake the notion that the Sox have hit the wall, finally undone by the cumulative impact of untimely injuries, lack of depth, and post-championship hangover. Fuckers have taken 10 pitches to make the last 5 outs - really gutty performance.

This is the final week of the Federal fiscal year, which 2 very different things to your hosts here at MLC. For Whitney, proud U.S. Government employee, it means that he gets to spend the week gallivanting to New York and San Francisco, frantically spending as many of your tax dollars as possible in an end-of-year spending spree designed to convince Congressional budget staff that his agency needs the same funding level next year. For me, a humble sales exec for a government contractor, it means that I spend the week scrambling like mad to collect the funds thrown off by people like Whitney. Either way, despite the excitement afoot in the season's last week, don't expect to hear a whole lot from either of us this week.

I've got another, much more bittersweet excuse for my forthcoming absence. I'm flying to Boston on Friday to spend the weekend with my ailing grandfather, who is in the hospital with congenital heart failure. Bampa is the epitome of a stoic New Englander, his only concession to his condition a grudging "Well, Rob, I've felt better". He's also a huge Sox fan, watching nearly every game with my grandmother - those of you that read this blog last year will remember him as the one who stayed up for the final out of the World Series, even as his son - my dad - couldn't bear to watch.

I'm very much looking forward to watching Saturday's Sox/Yankees game with Bampa, even if the hospital staff probably isn't, as the Sox are probably the single greatest bond between us. My family, though close, is not particularly demonstrative about our feelings - except about the Sox. Yaz, El Tiante, the Spaceman, Mike Greenwell, the Rocket, and now Papi, Manny, and Johnny - those guys are almost proxies for our family's love for each other. Whit lost his baseball-loving grandfather this year, and eloquently recounted how the game brought them together. It was the same for me, and I feel very fortunate to have this chance to share at least 1 more game with mine.

And for what it's worth, Kevin Millar is a worthless sack of elephant puke. I'm sure my grandfather would agree, although probably a bit less colorfully.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Surprisingly Chipper (Not That Jackelope in the Peach State)

Game 151 through 152 - Mets

Mets 5, Marlins 4
Marlins 2, Mets 1
Mets 5, Nationals 2 (10)
Mets 5, Nationals 2
Record: 77-77

With the win against Washington last night, the Mets have now won their last three series -- against not only division rivals but teams fighting for their playoff lives. (If you think Atlanta wasn't soiling themselves when the Phightins crawled back to within four games, you're giving them too much credit.) Alas, as Pat Benatar crooned as she, too, was fading into the twilight of her season in the sun, it's a little too little, it's a little too late.

The Mets flanked a wretched 3-15 season-stopper between 128 games of 8-over-.500 ball and their recent 6-2 spurt. As they finish the 2005 campaign in irrelevance once again, there will be plenty of opportunities to pick out what-ifs among that three-week trip to the infirmary. Fingers will be pointed, obscenities will be typed sans asterisks or special characters, and the overriding feeling will be "what a shame." For the moment, however, let's keep things on the upturn. And no, I'm not drunk. Thanks for asking.

First of all, let's appreciate this recent last-gasp return to winning ways. These aren't easy ballgames, and the Mets are pulling through in ways they'd forgotten for a month. These guys scattered their early schedule with dramatic losable wins, and Friday night as I sat at RFK with my MLC cohort, we saw the prototypical New York Mets '05 win -- blow it, deflate me, win it, elate me. There are more what-ifs in that Carlos Beltran blast to right than I'd care to rehash, but if perhaps we could see more of that spark from him in '06, there's even more reason to believe.

More importantly than this small dosage of moral victory in the 2005 tube of disappointment ointment is the Misery Loves Company case bet. For the unfamiliar/uninterested, Rob bet that the Red Sox would win 98 games this season. With eight games remaining, they have 90. Looks like he may fall a sliver shy of that goal. Meanwhile, as it's documented within the annals of this blog, I projected 81 wins for the Mets but was made to feel a sandbagger by Rob and Mets fans alike. I caved, and posted 85. As the Metropolitans sit at even-steven 77-77 with those eight contests to play, I feel vindicated. And extremely gelatinous in the spinal department. A man's got to know his team's limitations, Clint once told me, and dammit, I do. Anyway, all that really matters is that the 13-game predicted differential is precisely where we sit with just over a week to go -- with a case of winner's choice beer on the line. Stay tuned, people. This could be fun to watch -- the undercard to Rob Russell's explosion if the Sox take a tumble to the dreaded Yanks.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Mumble, Stumble, Bump

Games 150 through 152 - Red Sox

Devil Rays 8, Red Sox 7
Red Sox 15, Devil Rays 2
Devil Rays 7, Red Sox 4

Record: 88-74, 1 GB NYY, 1.5 GB CLE- Wild Card

The Red Sox had a terrific chance to run away with the American League East this season and settle the final score remaining from the last 6 years. Through a combination of injuries, miserable pitching, suddenly less-than-timely hitting, and a Yankee resurgence, they now find themselves on the outside looking in.

Y'know, there is a silver lining here, or at least a glimmer of a modicum of a sliver of a reason for optimism. The Sox are living, breathing proof of the baseball's unique nature, of the game's ability to radically change its terms from one day to the next. The Sox are less than a full calendar year removed from the most startling transformation in sports history - an 8-game winning streak on the heels of the most putrid of 3-game losing streaks. More than half the current roster was present for that transformation. And that, kids, is what I'm hanging my faded, perfectly-fitted Red Sox hat on.

Because the objective facts aren't pretty, not with the Sox now turning over their bullpen fate to Mike Timlin and 3 fuzzy-cheeked lads with fewer career appearances combined than Timlin's made this season. Not with the Yankees getting 7 games against the Blue Jays and Orioles (and if the O's show some sack this weekend against the Sox after humbly submitting to the Yankees in 4 straight this week, so help me God I'm driving to Charm City and personally jamming Peter Angelos' head in an unflushed toilet) and the Indians getting a healthy dose of Kansas City. Not with injuries mandating important roles for Adam Hyzdu and Alex Cora. Not with Edgar Renteria making a late run at the all-time error record but making up for it by swinging a Patek-ian bat. Not with one hot bat in the lineup and 8 hit-or-miss-and-miss-and-miss compatriots.

10 games to play, with the last 3 against the Yankees. I suppose if you'd told me that the Sox would play the entire season without a healthy Foulke or Schilling, I'd take 1 game out with 10 to play. Now though, after leading the league for the better part of the season, failing to make the playoffs would be a particularly bitter pill to swallow. And I'm having a hard time coming up with an especially optimistic line on the next 10 days.

Were this any year prior to 2004, the angst pouring from this and dozens of other Soxbloggers' keyboards would have been thicker than the plaque coating Whitney's arteries. Now, though, while I'm highly agitated and more than a little disappointed, and will grow increasingly so if the Sox complete their slow fade into oblivion, the pain will be muted by the still fresh-enough memories of last October. And I can't help but wonder if the Sox themselves are subconsciously thinking the same thing.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I Can't Bear to Watch

These motherfuckers are going to blow this season. Motherfucker.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Famishus Vulgaris

Games 140 through 150 - Mets

Cardinals 5, Mets 0
Cardinals 3, Mets 2
Cardinals 4, Mets 2
Mets 7, Cardinals 2
Nationals 4, Mets 2
Nationals 6, Mets 3
Nationals 6, Mets 5 (10)
Mets 4, Braves 0
Braves 7, Mets 4
Mets 4, Braves 1
Mets 3, Marlins 2 (12)
Record: 74-76

Let’s go back to the very beginning and review. An ill-conceived plan, amazing in hindsight that it was ever formulated, which results in a free-fall to the bottom. Next go-around, we see a seemingly better-crafted strategy, one with more promise but one which only prolongs the inevitable – a longer, harder, more painful plunge and crash. Third time around, the scheme seems imminently workable, the pieces are in order – though they’ve cost a bundle to acquire – and success actually seems within reach; alas, despite the fanfare, the result is once again merely an extension of the temporary reprieve from the same excruciating outcome: a momentous plummet of epic proportions. Sad, wryly funny, and at times, tediously predictable.

Yes, that’s right, this is the saga of the last three seasons of the New York Mets. Now go back and read that first paragraph once again, and see if someone else comes to mind.

You guessed it . . . it’s also the continuing tale of Wile E. Coyote. To a tee, for crying out loud. Holy hell. That I’ve typed half a zillion words chronicling the baseball equivalent of the most redundantly pathetic of all Looney Tunes characters has me ready to check myself into the wackjob warehouse for a few weeks. Honestly, the way the Mets are tumbling (now 4-14 in September, perennially the Mets’ cruelest month ), you look at their recent schedule and you can see the coyote sailing down the ravine with that distinct, declining whistle . . . and at Game 162, that familiar thud.

Well, I could go into more detail, but honestly, why bother? Oh, right, because if this project is ever to be taken seriously, I should treat it with a degree of professionalism and perseverance even as the folks I’m discussing are playing with all the grit of a second-term president’s final weeks in office. Not bloody likely. Those of you who endured MLC ’04 probably remember being disappointed (or elated, depending upon which scribe here at the Department of Misery you exclusively tune in to read) by September Met posts that were rare, pointless, and decidedly bitter, like some kind of Metric System for America convention. Clearly, this month’s worth of entries is a walk down memory lane for you people, and in an atypical sentence void of sarcasm, I really am sorry for that.

There will be time in the next 12 days and beyond to look back on the highs and lows of the 2005 season, but right now I’m too busy watching the latest contraption from Acme malfunction as the poor coyote descends towards his impending doom at the bottom of the canyon, all while the road runner looks on bemusedly while doing the Tomahawk Chop.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Old Time Hockey

In the midst of a thoroughly depressing evening - the Sox are trailing, 5-4, to the Devil Rays after David Wells gave up 10 hits in 2 2/3 - a ray of hope for the future. Rookie righthander Craig Hansen made his major league debut less than 2 months after being signed in July. Hansen set the Rays down in order, striking out 2 and inducing a weak pop to short. Between Hansen, Jonathan Papelbon, and Manny Delcarmen, all of whom made their debuts this season, the Sox have some killer arms ready to go...for next season.

On the other side of the coin, Alex Cora and Adam Hyzdu are both in the lineup at the moment after Cora replaced Tony Graffanino. That's a recipe for sitting home for the postseason.

And Papelbon just gave up a 2-run homer.

I'm gonna sign off here before things get really ugly.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Being Eddie Vedder

Games 138 through 149 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Angels 3

Angels 3, Red Sox 0
Yankees 8, Red Sox 4
Red Sox 9, Yankees 2
Yankees 1, Red Sox 0
Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5
Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 3
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
A's 6, Red Sox 2
Red Sox 3, A's 2
Red Sox 2, A's 1
A's 12, Red Sox 3

Record: 87-72, 1 1/2 games ahead of NYY

Like Pearl Jam sang, and in stark contraposition to my recent activity level in this space, I'm still alive. And like the Red Sox, just barely.

I'm just barely alive because I spent a week in Cape Cod with Whitney and his family. Those of you that know Whitney, even a little, know that a week in his presence is marked by the following things: alcohol, drinking, staying up way too late, lots of food, and more alcohol, followed by drinking. By way of illustration, we spent last night in Highland Park, NJ as we made our way home from the Cape. At 2:00 AM or so, after roughly 15 cheap American beers each at the Corner Tavern we found ourselves at Giovanelli's, a glorified grease truck with spectacularly good late night eats. Being of modest size and appetite, I went conservative, rolling with a slice of pizza. Whitney, not so much. The gastronomic savant took down a Fat Cat (a sub with hamburger patties, fries - on the sandwich, cheese and assorted other grease) and a Fat Blunt (a cheesesteak with egg, cheese, fries - again, on the sandwich, and assorted other grease) in one fairly quick sitting.

As a result of the week of excess, my synapses are firing about as quickly as Doug Mirabelli on the basepaths. Even so, I feel quite certain that I could think circles around the assorted trogolodytes that staff Boston's sports radio outlet, WEEI. I had the pleasure (and by pleasure, I mean abject misfortune) of listening to the collection of bitter, self-important circle jerks at various junctures while on the Cape. I've heard a lot of sports radio, and I understand the limitations of the medium, but I've not ever heard such unfathomably unredeeming dreck. The collection of assholes that man the Boston sports airwaves seem to - nay, do take glee in the bad, the ugly, the misfortunes of others. And they stand in such distinct contrast to...

...the Boston Globe Sports section, which I've praised before in this space. Still, this week served as a reminder that the Globe still publishes the best sports in print news. 3-4 columns on the Sox after every game (columns, not beat reports) is the norm, and only the beginning of the most comprehensive coverage of the athletic world. Bostonians are truly spoiled in that regard.

Bob Ryan, one of the Globe's elder statesmen, made a very important and accurate point about the Sox early in the week. (And shame on you for wondering if I was ever going to get around to the nominal subject of this blog.) Ryan noted that a team's record was a historical record of their performance to date, not necessarily a reflection of the state of said team's affairs at this moment. And in the case of the Sox, the team that took the field today against Oakland bares only a passing resemblance to the one that hung up that 87-61 record.

The Sox are stumbling badly down the stretch, the result of indifferent starting pitching and suddenly impotent bats, both caused largely by significant and important injuries. Johnny Damon's nursing a painful shoulder injury, which renders him unable to throw the ball - not that it would be easy to tell any difference from his normal feminine hurling style. Damon's injury is made worse by Gabe Kapler's season-ending achilles rupture, because it leaves the Sox without an effective backup in centerfield. I'm sure Alejandro Machado is a nice kid, but I'd rather pour coffee on my groin than see him get meaningful September at-bats. Kapler's loss also means more Kevin Millar as Trot Nixon's platoon partner, which means 3 weeks of standard-setting ineptitude in right-field. In addition to Damon and Kapler, the much-noted injuries to Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke, and Wade Miller remain unresolved in large measure: Schilling's been gamely working through his recovery, but he's been ineffective. Foulke pitched 2 innings in today's blowout loss, a measure of the Sox' confidence in his ability at the moment.

Even the guys that are healthy have been ineffective, perhaps because the Sox are in the middle of a 30 games in 30 days stretch. Jason Varitek has posted a .361 OPS in September, gamely gutting out the end of a long season, but stinking up the yard nonetheless. Trot Nixon's September OPS is .534, with 4 RBI. Manny Ramirez went 19 days between homers, and has an .812 OPS this month - decent, but not Mannyesque. The banged-up Damon has seen his batting average slip from .341 in mid-August to .318 now, and only scored 4 runs this month. On the mound, Matt Clement's stellar first half has given way to 18 earned runs over 22 innings in 4 September starts, capped by today's 1 1/3 inning, 7 earned run effort.

And even with that litany of woe, the Sox remain 1 1/2 games up on the Yankees after today's action - and many thanks to the Blue Jays for holding on against New York. Tim Wakefield, Mike Timlin, and David Ortiz have quite simply been carrying the Sox for the past 3 weeks. Timlin's given up 2 earned runs in his last 12 appearances. Wake has been an inning-eating stud in his last 4 starts, with 2 complete games (and a 9-inning appearance that didn't count as a complete game because the contest went extras) and 34 quality innings pitched. That he only has a 2-1 mark in that span is certainly not his fault.

Nor is it the fault of Big Papi, who will finish no worse than 2nd in the AL MVP voting. Papi is slugging .690 this month, with 7 HR and 14 RBI in 18 games. He's swatted game-winning, or game-changing blasts in several of the Sox' victories in September, and is the sole real source of offense for the once-vaunted Sox - all due respect to Tony Graffanino and Kevin Millar, who've both had solid months. I now expect Ortiz to hit the ball out of the park in every clutch situation - a feeling that no other player has ever given me. I just wonder whether 1 Papi is enough to drag this limping lineup into the postseason - and fear the answer to that unworded question.

But here's the thing (admit it, you've been camping out in line for tickets to that long-lost show), this team has proven over the past 3 years that it thrives on nothing so much as adversity. They've had prosperity nearly all season long, using their healthy lineup and good-enough pitching to set the pace in the AL East since June. They've had that prosperity, and not taken advantage of it, kicking away games here and there to mediocre opponents (losing 2 of 3 to Kansas City, for example) and letting the Yankees stick around.

I've not made any pronouncements about this squad, because I haven't had the same gut instinct about them that I had at various times over the last 2 seasons. No "all-in" moment, or Era of Positivity instant of clarity. So here goes: I think the 2005 Sox will summon their inner idiocy with their backs against the wall, and close out the season in style. Regular season, anyway. We've seen clear evidence over the past 2 years of the randomness of the post-season, so the Sox have as good a chance in that crapshoot as anyone - if they can get there. It says here that they will.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Far, Far Away . . .

That describes the Mets from their goal of postseason play, as well as me from my normal life. I'm currently lounging about on lovely Cape Cod with my MLC cohort, knee deep in good beer and bad kids. It's alternately extremely relaxing and fairly hectic (see the latter part of that last sentence), but it's certainly a nice break from watching the Metropolitans' recent nosedive. We'll be back on Monday with fresh outlook on stale material. You can't wait, we know.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ya Gotta Believe It's Over

Game 139 - Mets

Braves 4, Mets 3 (10)
Record: 70-69

The folks in the Mets blogosphere are nearly unanimously sounding the death knell for the 2005 New York Mets. I set one foot on that wagon as I was cursing Braden "I'll Have a Blown Save and a . . . Blown Save" Looper last night, but I stepped back off before the wheels started rolling. With 23 games to play, it's not over. I simply won't accept that we're already into the denouement. I don't want the feeling of September contention to evaporate this quickly, and though I'm clearly fooling only myself, and just slightly at that, I'm keeping a shred of hope alive.

Last night was painful for many, many reasons, but losing that way to that team just kills me. It only makes me hope for bad things on the Braves and the toolshed they call a fan base. Another division title is already in hand; now we just have to wait and see exactly what form their premature ejection from the postseason takes. The ill I wish on that franchise and everything surrounding it frightens me.

Though the closing credits may have started to roll last night, I'll persevere; for one thing, it just got very interesting in the annual Case Bet, as the Red Sox currently sit 12.5 games better than the Mets. If you recall, Rob predicted 98 wins for his Sox, while I initially saw 81 for the Mets but was strong-armed by know-nothing dimwits into registering an 85. That's a 13-game buffer, and I may be just one night away from sliding into the wrong side of that wager. Advance notice for next year, by the way: I will be predicting 48 wins for the '06 Mets.

And here's a strange phenomenon: East Coast Agony and Flushing Local jump-started their sites a couple days apart in late August after a large amount of time away, and the 'sphere is all the better for it. Since they've returned to the blogfold, however, the Mets are 1-7 and 2-9, respectively. They've got to be feeling like "I came back for this?"

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Dropping In, Coming Out

Games 135 through 137 - Red Sox

Red Sox 5, Orioles 1
White Sox 5, Red Sox 3
Red Sox 3, Angels 2
Record: 81-56

Traveling for work this week, so just taking a brief moment to let you know that I've gone gay for David Ortiz. I mean, what other options do I have? The guy is Adonis, Hercules, and Superman all wrapped up into one lovable package. He's simply the greatest big-moment hitter of my lifetime.

And I mean gay from a purely platonic perspective. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Things In Rear View Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Game 138 - Mets

Braves 3, Mets 1
Record: 70-68

In 138 games so far this season, I've seen few quite so start-to-finish excruciating as this one. In your handy-dandy MLC glossary, the definition of "winnable loss" reads, "See Game 138, Mets at Braves. That winnable loss took my ulcer from the size of a penny to the size of Penny Marshall."

The Mets were sneaky-terrible during this contest. A box score won't necessarily give away the awfulness of how they executed -- or rather how they failed to execute. Rotten eggs sometimes look fine from a safe distance, and this certainly was one of those. Observe:

1. The Braves scored their first run on what should've, could've, and would've been an inning ending 6-4-3 double play, had not Kaz Matsui bobbled the transfer and held the ball. Just when you thought you'd never come around on Miguel Cairo again.

2. Doug Mientkiewicz got robbed of a home run when it bounced off the top of the wall and came back into play. Bad luck. But it was a leadoff double. Then Ramon Castro didn't even try to take the ball the other way, failed to advance him, and Minky was later stranded at third. Bad baseball.

3. Matsui tripled with one out. Two batters later, Clifford Floyd defied his statistical history and managed to ground into a double play to squander yet another opportunity.

4. Rafael Furcal reached on a swinging bunt; Castro left his crouch like an obese octogenarian on a pair of reconstructed knees who just woke up from a nap. Furcal is quick as all get-out, but anything remotely cat-like from the catcher's spot gets him. Hell, Cat Stevens gets him. Naturally, Furcal ended up scoring on a sac fly; the Braves manufacture runs against the league’s best pitchers, while the Mets rack up extra-base hits with fewer than two outs and scheme, plot, and connive ways to somehow keep them from scoring.

5. The Mets “scratched across” exactly one run after having runners on second and third with one out. Holy hell. This team couldn’t manufacture mud with a bucket of dirt and a bucket of water.

6. The Braves scored a run from second base on a dribbler to the mound. I don’t even know what to say about that. There wasn't even an error, unless you consider the fundamental, elementary, Fielding 101 mental error that Pedro and his band of muted infield gnomes committed.

7. The Mets notched another pinch-hit when Jose Offerman singled for the departing Pedro. Then Jose Reyes grounded into an inning-ending double play. The chances of he and Floyd doing it in one game are slightly worse than one team winning its division 14 straight times.

8. New York tallied 13 total bases and scored one run on a groundout. You have to really try to accomplish something like that.

9. They caught John Smoltz on a less-than-stellar night, and they did nothing about it. It's like the time Rob's girlfriend told him she wanted a hot 3-way, so he brought her back a melted three-cheese sandwich. Regrets . . . they're not just for clinic waiting rooms any more.

10. If you've done your math, that's three preventable Atlanta runs, so even if the Mets hadn't played any better than their "squanderlust" style of offense, they could have managed a victory. They did enough to win, yet they never really even threatened to take this one.

About the saddest thing you could say about the way the New York Mets played tonight was that if you played this game and any of the four Chicago losses in the 1919 World Series back-to-back, you'd be hard-pressed not think this game was the one where a team was tanking it. It's all starting to slip away; I guess I'm still pleased that it's September and not July or August that it's happening, but right now, "pleased" isn't something escaping from my lips too comfortably.

Pedro vs. Smoltzie, Baseball vs. Reality

Games 134 through 137 - Mets
Marlins 4, Mets 2
Marlins 5, Mets 4
Mets 7, Marlins 1
Braves 4, Mets 2
Record: 70-67

It's time to stop the bleeding, gents, and tonight's marquee match-up would be just the right setting to create some momentum in a different direction -- and by different, I mean any direction other than the free-falling southward direction in which the Mets are currently plummeting. Pedro Martinez goes tonight in Atlanta against John Smoltz with the franchise needing him to be the go-to guy they paid for last winter. If there's a sense of déjà vu creeping into your conscious about now, it's not surprising.

Back on April 10, the Mets were lying prostrate after having taken it in the prostate for the first (I just typo-ed that word "fist" and chuckled audibly at the context; school's back in session and it's 5th-Grade Humor Day at MLC) five games of the season. The Mets media and particularly the Township were collectively calling for Pedro to step in and save us from 0-162, or at least 0-6. That's precisely what he did, topping a spectacular John Smoltz outing in Atlanta with a brilliant complete game victory. It sparked a true turn-around, a six-game winning streak to follow the skid. The Bat-signal has again been illuminated, and that's the Pedro we need to save the day once more.

The problem is, of course, that it won't be that easy. Although Smoltz has allowed four and a half runs per nine since August 1 and has suffered from a stiff neck of late, he's still generally the same stud pitcher he's always been, and he's always capable of stymieing the Mets. Meanwhile, as Mike at (the hemi-resurrected, at last) ECA notes, Pedro's been off a bit in his last couple of starts. Nothing you can see in the box score, but it's something you could tell by watching those games. Missing his spots, walking guys, just being a wee bit un-Pedro-ish.

This is a call for the real Pedro Martinez, the ace, the Hall of Fame candidate, the guy with the swagger and the grin and the goofy gesturing. We're looking for the guy whose fastball defies the limitations of that slim frame and slender arm, whose command is pinpoint, and whose artistry and valor soar along with the importance of the moment. With Pedro, hyperbole is always in excess, so let's cue the INXS: Petey, . . . Need You Tonight.

* * *

Just a few words in response to Rob's sentiments below. He's obviously right, and most of our attention should be directed towards a pressing and real crisis; still, what I do know of tragedy is that dwelling on it can buckle your knees after a while, and that every person, no matter how strong, needs a break from the sad realities of life at certain times. Sports provide those breaks in reality; though the mass media would add elements of melodrama and heavy-handedness to a simple game result, episodes like last week's in New Orleans shed all the night we need to rediscover sports as the children's games that they are. The enjoyment of these games while countless Americans are losing lives, homes, and hope isn't sacrilege, to me; it's a necessary outlet for people searching for a moment of levity in a world of gravity.

Sports -- especially baseball -- and their coverage -- especially here at Misery Loves Company -- are entertainment, despite all of the business headaches, clubhouse histrionics, and human stories behind them. While you can take the perspective gained by widespread tragedy and temporarily discard sports as relatively meaningless, I prefer to apply that perspective toward the pursuit of a slice of something purely amusing, carved out between waves of sadder and sadder reports emanating from CNN's reporting desk. MLC has churned out its faux pearls of wisdom throughout wars, natural disasters, and times of deep mourning. Even if this work doesn't provide one iota of fleeting solace for its readers, I can assure you that it does so for its writer.

Though the New Orleans dwellers I'm closest with are safely away from the wreckage, anyone who knows me knows that the Crescent City has had a lock on my heart since the first time I went there almost ten years ago to the day that the hurricane blew through. The people there and the places around town have come to mean more to me than most would surmise, and I can only hope against hope for as speedy and complete a return to its previous form as possible. In the meantime, I'll be writing about the Mets and keeping my fingers crossed. (And using the excuse that it takes twice as long to type that way when my posts are tardy.)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Different Kind of Perspective

Games 131 through 133 - Red Sox

Red Sox 7, Devil Rays 6
Red Sox 7, Devil Rays 4
Orioles 7, Red Sox 3
Record: 78-55

This place is generally a reality-free zone, guided by the whims - and whimsy - of 2 very immature (though strikingly handsome and intellectually superior) baseball fans. In that way, it's a reflection of most of our lives, actually. Over the last week or so, though, our version of misery's taken a distant back seat to the very real and heartbreaking misery along the Gulf Coast.

I'm not going to waste a lot of words on this topic, mostly because too many people are spilling too many words on it already. Suffice it to say that the Sox haven't been at the forefront of my mind this week - I've watched parts of each of the last 3 games, but I've found it hard to turn away from hurricane coverage. For what it's worth, when Anderson Cooper turns in his microphone 40 years from now, the pure humanity he's shown this week in his reporting will be the memory that leads the retrospectives.

Back on the horse here soon with lots to discuss, but it just doesn't feel right to celebrate recreation right now. I remember how baseball served to inspire the nation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and I hope that it can play a small role again now.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Cogito Ergo Sum Imbecilius

Games 132 & 133 - Mets

Phillies 8, Mets 2
Phillies 3, Mets 1
Record: 69-64

I think many more things than I know, as this site shows.
I think the Mets are worth following.
I think they are a good team.
I think they maybe a great one before it's all over.

I think this blog entertains the masses, and by "the masses" I mean the two people writing it.
I think there are a lot of people with as much time and will to write about inane subjects as I have, or almost.
I think the people we meet on the Internet are generally who they purport to be. Sometimes I wish they weren't.
I think the boys at East Coast Agony celebrated another fine season of work by flying to Bermuda, canoeing on a Scottish lake, or snowshoeing in the Himalayas.
I think that I should write about the Mets for a living, but nobody else does.
I think I now know where I'm retiring someday, and that's a comfort.

I think the walk-off homer is exciting, but nothing beats the ninth inning, two-out, game-deciding play at the plate. It's why we nod our heads in approval at Joe Carter but marvel at Sid Bream, even if we loathe the Atlanta Braves.
I think I loathe the New York Yankees more than I do the Braves, and I'm not quite sure how that happened.
I think Braves fans take an inordinate amount of flack for their tepid support of such a dominant franchise. I think it's inordinate, but not inappropriate.

I think that if a new kind of steroid came out, or perhaps some illegal procedure were developed (like in that feeble movie Rookie of the Year), wherein baseball player's arms grew to superhuman strength, resulting not only in sheer pitching dominance but in the elimination of stolen bases, taking the extra base, and most infield singles, and run scoring dried up to the point of soccer scores, Bud and the brain trust would so obviously come down like the Iron Curtain on the violators, but since the reality is just a preposterous glut of home runs and scoring in general, which draws more casual fans to the park, and after all, baseball is a business, they think it's best merely to pay lip service to combating the utter skew and inevitable taint that steroids are infusing into the lifeblood of the sport and leave well enough alone.
I think I'm rooting for science to create that super-arm scenario.
I think run-on sentences are the truest sign of having a whole lot of important things to get out in a hurry, and acceptable in certain blogtype situations.

I think I think a veritable cornucopia of things, but I don't need to share them all right now. In due time, young grasshopper. All in due time.

I think many, many things, but there is one thing I know.

I know that when I commend them for their solid play and see sunshine on the horizon, the New York Mets immediately and surely play baseball like a band of rogue clowns on mescaline.

And I think that fairly well chaps my backside.