Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bang and Blame

Game 105 – Mets

Marlins 6, Mets 5
Record: 63-42

I must be a Billy Wagner apologist. Wags was so obviously the dog of this game, and yet my frustration over this winnable loss seems scattered over a handful of culpable parties. Interesting, if only to me.

Relatively speaking, Billy Wagner has given away leads like he was Shelley “The Machine” Levene. When he’s on, he’s the Wagner Power Painter, blowing batters away while brush-stroking the corners. When he’s not, his fastball becomes as overtly complex as Jackson Pollock’s minimalist works (say, White Paint on White Canvas), and the result becomes one of Pollock’s bizarre splatter pieces. Such was the case last night, as Josh brought down the Willinghammer with a pinch-hit, two-run game-terminator. An ugly finish to an ugly game, but Willingham has been on fire lately, and these things happen in the course of a season.

Meanwhile, I have a dose of probably misguided venom for Lastings Milledge. I don’t know what it is about this young phenom, but he’s been a burr in my saddle for a few weeks now. Maybe it’s the swagger he displays and ego he voices. Maybe it’s subconscious resentment because he’s here instead of Barry Zito or Jason Schmidt. (It’s a quick leap from critical to hypocritical for me.) Or Xavier Nady. Maybe it’s because he gave my old friend Jake the lousiest interview in recent memory. I just don’t know.

Whatever it is, he didn’t have enough of a stockpile of good will with this half of MLC, LLC to misjudge the very first ball hit at him, turning a third out into a rally-enabling single. Honestly, the Marlins announcers are know-nothings of the highest order, but they were seriously denigrating Milledge’s outfield skills to the point of laughter or pity. This guy is a centerfielder by trade, but rarely does that translate into a complete inability to man the corner slots. But this is a thorough overemphasis of a minor gaffe that only cost the Mets a run. Even though the final deficit was that one run, it’s clearly unfair to single Milledge out after the event we’ll call What Billy Did, but that’s where my ire instinctively went.

Oh, there and Mike Pelfrey, not for giving up a tater to Hanley Ramirez but a run-scoring double to the opposing pitcher, and Carlos Delgado for his slow lean on the double that got by him – has he made a very good defensive play in three months?

But ultimately, it’s just one game blown, so the need to determine blame isn’t even on the radar. It’s noteworthy, however, that when Rob (once again) sighs with somber resignation about his Red Sox, they pull off another inspired victory, while when I settle into my comfort zone, the Mets demonstrate that they can drop any contest to any putrid team at any time. Remember, the key to knowing everything is knowing that you know nothing. Or something like that.

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