Monday, July 31, 2006

Oh Atlanta

Games 102 through 104 – Mets

Mets 6, Braves 4
Mets 11, Braves 3
Mets 10, Braves 6
Record: 63-41

Beating the Braves isn't going to lose its appeal any time soon, that's for damn sure.

My brother-in-law called me Friday evening to vent a little about Pedro looking shaky and a lot about some of the comments the Braves had made prior to the series. While Marcus Giles’ and Jeff Francoeur’s comments weren’t extremely incendiary, they were just a little too proud for a team that was barely scaring .500 coming into the weekend. To insinuate that the Mets were still looking over their shoulders at the Braves – well, it might have been true for the fans, since we’ve been here all along as the Braves have won one division title after another, but it’s probably far from reality for the Mets themselves. Perhaps they were concerned about the Braves, just enough to concentrate heavily on sweeping the Braves in three games.

And that they did, sending Atlanta careening down to 15 games back in the NL East and 10th place in the Wild Card race. For the young Bravos who told reporters that they weren’t resigned to caring about the Wild Card standings, they’re vindicated – now they aren’t even included on a short list of WC contenders, anyway. I have to say, the fun of the “stinkin’ Braves” living up to their moniker hasn’t diminished one iota as this season has worn on. It will be a long, long time before they can evoke any pity in me.

Carlos Beltran has quietly but steadily emerged as the NL MVP. He’s been everything that the New York press and fan base foolishly expected to materialize in 2005; that they abruptly moved on some time ago to fixate on Golden Boy David Wright and NYC crosshairs-resident Alex Rodriguez has helped Beltran have his extraordinary season void of extra hassle. Keep it up, folks. Walk away. Nothing to see here.

Hear me now and believe me later: Willie Randolph’s reluctance to yank pitchers will undoubtedly cost the team down the stretch. It’s as if, as a former longtime player, he doesn’t want to show up any pitcher by pulling a starter before his requisite “quality start” tenure or a reliever before his inning is up. Tom Glavine was getting peppered on Saturday, again, and once again Willie looked to be posing for a portrait when the time came for a change. By my calculations, there’s an ever-present 2 to 5 batter lag between when the free world recognizes a pitcher needs removing and when he actually walks the green mile. This very often converts into 2 to 5 extra hits or walks, producing several runs. Sometimes it proves costly; sometimes, like Saturday, it does not. In late September and/or October, it probably will.

Time to sit back and wait for the trade deadline to pass so that all of the rumors can be forgotten or confirmed to our delight or dismay. Stay tuned.

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