Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Hokey Pokey

Games 103 through 107 - Phillies

Mets 3, Phillies 1
Braves 8, Phillies2*
Phillies 10, Braves 9
Philllies 12, Braves 10
Phillies 2, Nats 1
Phillies 8, Nats 5*
Record: 58 wins, 49 losses. First place 1/2 game ahead of NYM

Nick is in.

Rob is out.

TJ is in.

Whitney is out.

Let us shake ourselves, turn around and discover what it is truly, all about.

Rob, may I offer you a completely different perspective on the trade deadline? One from the place where nothing ever happens? You see, July 31st means nothing to Philadelphia. We may end up picking up a middle inning left handed specialist. We might pick up a pinch hitter. What we will not do is make the little scrolling news bar on ESPN. In case you wondering, I am feeling a little irrelevant. I bet if I tuned in right now, in addition to the subject headings 'NL' and 'AL' and of course 'Favre", there is one for 'Manny.' How cool would it be to read that we took on Manny for So Taguchi and Geoff Jenkins while having to pay only 25% of the last two month's salary?!
That's not what I want to talk about anyway. So if you all don't mind, I plan on whistling the day away until 4:00PM EST without checking the wire.

What I wanted to discuss is the really great races the four of us find our clubs in. For Rob and TJ, it's business as usual but for the Whit-ster and me, this is starting to look like a real rivalry. We have noted here before that despite being in the same division since divisional play was created some 39 years ago, the two clubs have rarely competed for the NL East crown at the same time. In fact, it's happened only once - last year, much to Whit's regret. They have finished 1-2 a few other times but each time the teams were separated by 10+ games so they were hardly "races" in any reasonable sense.

This bobbing ahead and falling back is quite fun if at times annoying. The blog picked a great year to expand and, apparently invited the right people! Now if we can just find some goofy Marlins nut job and some deranged Rays head case to join in the fray.

* I was in attendance at CBP and Nationals Park respectively.

A Farewell to Arms (Bats, Really)

Games 108 & 109 - Red Sox

Angels 6, Red Sox 2
Angels 9, Red Sox 2
Record: 61-48

Yesterday's loss to the Angels was beyond dreadful in all manner of ways. So bad, in fact, that in the middle of the 6th inning's 3-error, 5-run self-immolation, I gave up. My viewing pleasure for the remainder of the evening: the final 20 entries in VH1's Top 100 Teen Stars of All-Time. Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe went 1-2, in case you were wondering.

This Sox team displays for all the world the depressing stench of a 3rd-place ballclub. And so we wait for the next 4 hours to see if Jason Bay assumes the historic mantle of Red Sox leftfielder, remembering that a scant 4 years ago a Sox club smelled a lot like this one does at the trade deadline, right until another institution - a cornerstone, even - got dealt away in a trade that felt a whole bunch at the time like addition by subtraction.

That season turned out okay, as it happened.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Distraction

Games 104 through 107 - Red Sox

Yankees 1, Red Sox 0
Yankees 10, Red Sox 3
Red Sox 9, Yankees 2
Angels 7, Red Sox 5
Record: 61-46

The long knives are out here in New England, the voices of the villagers in full hue and cry in fulfillment of the annual ritual revolving around Manny Ramirez, The Boston Globe, and the boredom of the 162-game season. For me, it's a simple equation: can anyone available to the Sox help the team win more right now than our enigmatic goofball leftfielder?

No? Well, then, pencil Ramirez in the 4 hole and live with it.

Okay, back to the beach, then. It's 82 degrees, sunny, and clear here in Brewster, the tide is all the way out, and this beer isn't gonna drink itself.

Oh, and the rest of you guys wearing blue hats with a red B - just because most of us are distracted by this Manny stuff doesn't mean we aren't paying attention to the eggs you're laying.

It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it.

Games 86 - 105: Yankees

Red Sox 7, Yankees 0
Red Sox 6, Yankees 4
Yankees 2, Red Sox 1
Yankees 5, Red Sox 4 (10)
Yankees 5, Rays 0
Yankees 2, Rays 1 (10)
Pirates 4, Yankees 2
Blue Jays 5, Yankees 0
Yankees 9, Blue Jays 4
Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1
Yankees 7, A's 1
Yankees 4, A's 3 (12)
Yankees 2, A's 1
Yankees 12, Twins 4
Yankees 8, Twins 2
Yankees 5, Twins 1
Yankees 1, Red Sox 0
Yankees 10, Red Sox 3
Red Sox 9, Yankees 2
Orioles 13, Yankees 4

Record: 58-47

Who wants an orange whip? Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips.

I bet you thought I'd never be back. Or hoped. Who knows. Well, you get me briefly today, as I'm headed to the airport right now, off to Chicago for work shit. And once I return, perhaps I can grasp this concept of daily posting...not sure, but I'll give it a shot. And maybe rob will go on his third vacation in a month.

The new Oldsmobiles are in early this year!

My boys recently had that impressive 8 game winning streak, but my excitement with the club's play has been tempered slightly by the 9-2 and 13-4 beatings the last two games (especially losing to the Orioles as home last night. What the fuck fellas?). Whatever, who am I to complain...the Yankees are right back in this thing, and I really like the Nady and Marte pick-ups for four minor leaguers, only one of which might be good (Jose "You say Tabate, I say" Tabata). Hell, go grab Jarrod Washburn if you only have to pick up his tab...I give you permission.

Illinois Nazis. I hate Illinois Nazis.

I like to see a little scuffling from rob's club, and I really like seeing Manny be a complete distraction. Keep it up pal. And maybe it's just me, but all that Tampa talk sure has died down (even though I fully recognize their place above my boys in the standings).

This is definitely Lower Wacker Drive. If my estimations are correct, we should be very close to the Honorable Richard J. Daley Plaza.

I'll be there in a few hours. Love that town.

Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke.

Color me impressed with the pitching these last 20 games or so. I honestly didn't think the pitching staff as currently constituted had it in them. Andy HGH, Joba, Moose (except last night), Aruban Fatty Pants...all have been solid. Hell, I can't even get mad at Kyle Farnsworth right now, though I'm sure if I had more time I could find a reason.

Disco pants and haircuts...Yeah, lots of space in this mall.

The offense: Let Posada shut it down for the year. That's why you traded for Nady, right? Let Jose of the Flying Molina clan catch...at least he can throw a guy out now and again. Release Richie Sexson in a week if he continues to struggle against lefties, since that was the only supposed reason you signed him. Slap Melky Cabrera across the face with a white glove, duel-style...or trade him. I could care less at this point. Make up stories about Rodriguez, or at least leak real stories to the NY tabloids about his off-field exploits...for some reason he plays better with all that shit going on. Rest Derek Jeter up a few days between now and late August, even a DJ-slurper like myself realizes he is struggling mightily in the field and even at the plate.

How much for the little girl? How much for the women?

Carry on my wayward sons. There'll be peace while TJ's gone. And a lot less profanity.

Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail us now.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sea Smoke and Low Tide

Game 103 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Mariners 3 (12)

Record: 60-43


I'm passing through the belly of the beast today, stopping in Central New Jersey this evening on my way to the Promised Land of Cape Cod for a week amongst my fellow travelers in the epicenter of Red Sox Nation. As TJ points out elsewhere, it seems the Sox and Yankees begin a series in Fenway this evening. And as I pointed out to him, I'm a bit concerned with the Sox on a number of levels.

Fortunately for me, the salty seaside air and tidal flats of Brewster, MA are nearly the equal of a long weekend in Nags Head, NC for completely dissolving any iota of concern for the day to day grind - baseball, work, or other. And if you're thinking that it sure seems like I've been using a lot of vacation days lately, take a number, pal.

And even while I'm on vacation, I'll still probably churn out more posts than TJ and Whitney, combined.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lost


Game 102 - Phillies


Mets 3, Phils 1

Record: 54 - 48 - 2nd place (for at least 28 hours or so) 1 game behind NYM


I got nothin'.


Really, I don't.


You can keep on reading but all I'm gonna do is prattle on about how I got nothin'.


Actually, I just contradicted myself. I cannot very well prattle on if I got nothin', can I? Well then, I will borrow someone else's material then.


If you are still reading, you deserve this (credit goes to the Montgomery County, MD Dept. of Environmental Protection):



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Easy CompostingComposting is a simple, natural process. There is no need to purchase special activators or fertilizers to make the materials in your composter break down. This document contains basic strategies for making compost "happen."
Getting Started: Composting Basics [pdf]Putting Your Soil to the Test [pdf] Healthy soil is the single most important ingredient for successful lawns, yards, and gardens. Unfortunately, it is the one element generally overlooked by homeowners as they head into their neighborhood garden center, hell-bent on beating some pest or jazzing up the green in their grass. The simple fact is that healthy soil produces healthy plants. Period. Anything done to improve the yard or garden which does not consider the needs of the soil is a waste of time — and potentially damaging both to the soil and to the community of plants it supports.
Worm Composting [pdf]In schools, offices, and homes around the country, people are learning to recycle food scraps like apple cores, banana peels, and coffee grounds into a valuable /garden fertilizer using worms.

Welcome Back, Kotter

Game 101 & 102 - Mets

Mets 6, Phillies 3
Mets 3, Phillies 1

Record: 55-47

To those of you on the Metropolitans' roster who heeded my stern but impassioned badgering, strapped it on, and contributed in meangingful ways as the Mets snatched sole possession of first place in the relatively woeful NL East (not relative to the NL West, where winning records are clearly verboten) . . . to you fellas:

You're welcome.

To my brother in blogging, Nicholas, who both questioned the ability of these Metmen and scoffed at the notion of my ability to get into their noggins -- all while admirably assessing his own team's pitfalls and predicting some sort of tumble:

I told you so. (And you told me so.)

And a few other transmissions from this pocket of MLC . . .

To Billy Wagner:

Welcome back. (Now please don't say anything to the press about the Phils and jinx us all.)

To Ollie Perez and John Maine:

Welcome back. (Now please pretend you're throwing against Phillie hitters from here on out.)

To Gabe Kotter:

Welcome back. (Your dreams were your ticket out.)

To Aaron Heilman:

Welcome back. (To the win column. Been a while.)

To Carlos Delgado:

Welcome back. (To professional hitter status. Been an even longer while.)

To Gabe Kotter:

Welcome back. (To that same old place you laughed about.)

To the New York Mets:

Welcome back. (To 1st Place. Maybe treat it a little more valuably than you did last September.)

Well the names have all changed since I hung around (Nick Evans, Robinson Cancel, Pedro Felicianothankyou, Brian Stokes, Ruddy Lugo), but those dreams have remained and they're turned around. Who'd have thought they'd lead me (who'd have thought they'd lead me) back here where they need me (here where they need me)? Yeah, they tease me a lot, 'cause they got me on the spot.

Welcome back.

The Not Ready for Prime Time Players


Game 101 - Phillies


Mets 6, Phils 3

Record 54 wins, 47 losses - tied for first place with NYM, one game ahead of FLA


Folks in Allentown have reason to cheer. The local economy is likely to get a boost as Bret Myers demonstrated last night that he is clearly destined to spend the season with the local Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Not since Billy Joel lamented the decline of Big Coal has the region had any reason to feel optimistic. This could be a boon if marketed properly. "Come see a bona fide former MLB All-Star and Opening Day pitcher! First 3,000 fans sporting bushy mustaches will receive a discombobulated Bret Myers bobblehead.


Oh, lest we forget, the mighty, mighty Phillies offense, replete with slugger after slugger, managed only 6 hits and 3 runs vs. John Maine. No disrespect for John Maine but the dude has been struggling against the likes of San Francisco, Colorado, Arizona, Atlanta and LA. He hadn't made it out of the 5th inning since 4 starts ago. Maine's stats, to be fair are actually fairly decent by today's standards (9-7, 4.20.) However, take the Phillies out of the calculus and you are looking at a 6-7 pitcher. Whit will agree I am sure, that the Mets were expecting bigger things from Maine. Well, there are only 6 games left between these two squads so you gotta believe he has a puncher's chance of picking up double digit wins at least by virtue of 5 wins vs. the Phils. I guess that's progress.


Today's businessman's special features the immortal Jamie Moyer vs. the indomitable Oliver Perez. Oliver, like Maine is not having a stellar season but he's doing alright 6-6, 4.36.) Against the Phils though, he is 2-0, 0.00 in 3 starts! Again, take the Phils out and this dude is 4-6 with an ERA of 5.24!


Oh well, at least we won't be 3 games back after today 's matinee and we do get to go back to the Bank for 3 vs. Atlanta whom we've already beaten 8 of 9 games this year. That short home stand will be followed by an arduous trek down 95 to take on the lowly Nats (Curly Joe.) The Mets next 6 are vs. the Cards and the Fish so there is room to wiggle here.


Rob-


Your naked appetite for a cat fight is embarrassing. Just cut it out.


Whit -


I love you in spite of the Mets. Isn't that true love?


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance

Game 100 - Mets

Phillies 8, Mets 6
Record: 53-47

You know, at some point, the Mets are going to get sick of letting the Phillies do this to them. At some point they're going to dedicate themselves to knocking those goofy smiles off the faces of the Phightins. At some point the manager, hitters, fielders, starters, relievers, even the base coaches and Mr. Met will all be on the same page and stop handing winnable losses to craptacular ne'er-do-wells like the Philadelphia Phillies.

Look, people, the city of Philadelphia hasn't won anything of merit in 25 years. The Arena Bowl is coming up, and the Philadelphia Soul is playing to give the Brotherly Lovers a serious uptick in the "thrill of victory" department. Why do you, Metmen, seem to want to reverse that glorious tradition single-handedly?

Isn't enough that's you've singularly resuscitated that doofus Pat Burrell's career not once but three times? Then you have to utterly propel them into the postseason last year? (Kudos to the flash-in-the-pan Rockies for dispatching this band of losers summarily like the Mets should've.) Now you've got to hand out smiles to every Pennsyltuckian this side of State College with another pants-wetting after a Santana start? Come on now.

I can only hope you plan to repeat the last series against these arseclowns -- you know, with a 10-game win-streak following a series-opening, Santana-started, blown-lead loss to the Philthies. In the meantime, sack up, stop letting them nancy-dance around like giggly half-a-sissies after you give the game away (Luis Aguayo, Wendell Kim has a few words for you), and develop a shoulder-chip, pronto.

That is all.

Escape From New York

Game 100 - Phillies

Phils 8, Metros 6
Record: 54 wins, 46 losses - First place, 1 game ahead of NYM & FLA


OK, I freely admit that the title of the post is better suited for the end of the series but I may not get to use it if I wait any longer as this club is maddeningly afraid of prolonged bouts with success. It is appropriate however because the Phils' last two victories against their despised nemesis to the north were highly unlikely results because they came when Mets' ace Johan Santana started. Alas, poor Johan was done in yet again by a faltering pen. If there is anything one can say about the Phillies that is tried and true, it is that they are a resilient bunch. This trait can be quite cute as in the case of last night at Shea but over the long haul of a season or several seasons, it's quite annoying. You cannot help but wonder exactly where the plate discipline and crafty hitting was for the past month when it suddenly popped up last night as Duaner Sanchez took the hill staked to a 3 run save situation. Single, single, single, fielder's choice, double, double, RBI ground out. Where the hell has that been? I loved it.


I talked earlier in the season about the sheepishness that overcomes me when this club is successful. Well, there is nothing to make me feel sheepish about the 9th inning last night. I am sure Whit will be quick to point out that Billy Wags would likely have mowed the Phils down in order but I am not so sure. Something about that guy brings out the best in the Phightins. No sir, last night was about demonstrating patience and poise. Up until the 9th, the Phils were anything but those two things. It was another typical sleepwalk against a great pitcher. The kind of pitcher the boys will have to face in probably 3 of the 5 games in the NLDS if they should nudge ahead of the Mets and Marlins at the finish line. In horribly predictable fashion, they could generate very little offense. This of course, had an adverse affect on the starter du jour - in last night's case, the newly acquired Joe Blanton. Joe Blanton is an inning eater apparently. It appears Joe Blanton will also be availing himself of all the fine delectables at The Bank. I can envision him unwrapping the aluminum foil from one of Tony Luke's offerings - the fat drizzling down his chin an onto his pinstripes.


The thing is, if the Phils can offer up a little patience at the plate as they did last night and couple it with starters who can keep the game in hand until the final 3 innings, things will be alright. I am still a doubter and surely this Mets club won't fold so easily so let's hang on and see what happens.


In a Dry Season

Games 101 & 102 – Red Sox

Red Sox 4, Mariners 0
Red Sox 4, Mariners 2
Record: 59-43


Lemme get this out of the way quickly so our Mets and Phillies bloggers can weigh in on last night’s barnburner in Shea. Yeah, I don’t think Whitney will say much, either.

I go through this disconnected phase every year around this time. It’s usually predicated by my annual trip to Nags Head with the lads, and it usually lasts about 2 weeks. This year, it’s exacerbated by the fact that the Sox are on the West Coast.

So I know Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched pretty well, the bullpen didn’t fuck anything up, and the offense did just enough to win. Okay. Great.

Now let’s hear about those Mets.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Games 97 through 99 - Phillies

Phils 4, Marlins 2
Marlins 9, Phils 5
Marlins 3, Phils 2 (11 inn.)

Record 53 wins, 46 losses, tied for first with NYM

Well, it finally happened. Someone in the Phillies organization has finally acknowledged what I believe is the glaringly obvious reason this team can't make the necessary push to separate themselves from the very ordinary pack that is the NL Least. From today's Philly.com:

Sitting behind a desk in the visiting manager's office at Dolphin Stadium,
Manuel flicked a few jabs at his team's offense, then delivered a haymaker.
"Our situational hitting is absolutely terrible," he said. "Absolutely off the chart, really."A double absolute. That's how bad these last two days in Florida were. The Phils went 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine in Saturday's 9-5 loss. Yesterday, they went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base.

"It's going to be hard for us to win" if situational hitting does not improve, Manuel said. "[On Saturday], we hit all those balls down to third base in one inning - absolutely bad hitting. I'm not trying to hurt anybody's feelings, but if I do, if I'm
talking about you, that's good. I mean to be talking about you. "We hit enough. We talk enough [about situational hitting]. We've got to get it done. A lot of it is me. It's up to me to make us try to get it done. "Accountability is fine, but if you don't execute, something's wrong."

Well Charlie, you get no argument from me. Perhaps maybe, just maybe the front office can pull of the whopper trade of the summer and get Matt Holiday from the Rocks. Then, and perhaps only then, will this team be able to press for consistent scoring night after night instead of the monotonous pattern of feast or famine (lately, only the latter.)

The Prince of Tides

Games 98 through 100 – Red Sox

Angels 11, Red Sox 3
Angels 4, Red Sox 2
Angels 5, Red Sox 3
Record: 57-43


Balance. It’s a magical thing. And since I spent the better part of the last 4 days tuned to the rhythms of the Nags Head, NC surf, my friends’ laughter, and the gentle clink of ice in a highball glass filled with Jameson, it’s fair to say that it would take a lot more than a trio of shoddy performances by the Red Sox to ruin my mood.

Though they sure seem to be trying.

At present, this team does not appear to be a very good one. Its flaws are many and its standout performances on either side of the ball (if I may appropriate a football cliché) are few (Dustin Pedroia and Tim Wakefield – you’re both excused). Fortunately for me, I’ve only got to make it through 4 more workdays before I get to repeat the whole restorative process for a week on Cape Cod.

If I show up here on August 4 with a similar rasher of rationalization, the final 2 months of the season may not be pretty.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Everybody Poops

J.D. Drew, All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. And, since "this time, it counts!", bringer of the first game of the 2008 World Series to Fenway Park. Or Tropicana Field. Or U.S. Cellular Field. Whatever.

Off for 4 days of gallivanting about the Outer Banks. Back with insightfully pithy banter on Monday.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Games 91 through 96 - Phillies

Red Birds 2, Phils 0
Phils 4, Red Birds 2
Phils 4 Red Birds 1
Phils 6, D'backs 5
D'backs 10, Phils 4
Phils 6, D' backs 3

All Star Break Record: 52 wins, 44 losses - 1/2 game ahead of New York

Thanks to the classy gentlemen here at MLC for the prayers and sentiment. I will keep you apprised of Mr. Cub's health.

Now, it's back to baseball!

I have tried to remain ever the optimist as long as I saw rational evidence for hope. The baseball season is so quirky, so full of events that contradict conventional wisdom and so fully loaded with statistics that bear little resemblance to the win/loss record that it really does give everyone hope. Perhaps not if you follow the KC Royals - there really is no hope there - but certainly every team can point to their reasons for hope. If not for the immediate future, then certainly for next year. The All Star Break is the time you hope your team recharges its batteries (Rays?) or systematically develops amnesia after a lousy first half (Tigers?). It's also the time where underperforming contenders can make a run (Mets, Yanks?) or overextended pretenders start to run out of our old friend Mo (Marlins?).

The Phillies have to look at themselves as being very, very fortunate that they are still in first place. It's very easy to sit back and wonder what happened to the club since they were a season high 13 games over .500 back in early June. I think it's more realistic to accept that even the better clubs have 30 game clips where they come up short just as this club has (13-17.) Only the truly exceptional ball clubs coast from April through September without getting stuck in the mud.

This is not to downplay this club's very real weaknesses. The starting pitching needs to get back to eating innings and keeping the score close as they did for the first 60 games. For this to happen, either Brett Myers has to step up (not necessarily a stretch) or Adam Eaton needs to find that short lived groove he had for during May (probably not likely.) Otherwise, its back to the waiver wire and trade deadline for yet another pickup of a B grade pitcher. It seems to have worked for this club in the recent past. The late Cory Lidle went 5 and 2 in 10 starts back in 2004. In 2006, Jamie Moyer went 5 and 2 in 8 starts. In 2007, it was Kyle Loshe coming over to make 11 starts going 3 -0. With the team winning every game he pitched. There are some intriguing names out there on this year's B list but none is more intriguing than the human inning eating machine - Livan Hernandez.

Of course, even if the Phils get to the postseason, they still will have to address their anemic offense when facing pitchers who register a pulse. For that to happen, Jimmy needs to get rollin'. The team is much to reliant upon the 3 run home run at this stage. For Ryan Howard, it has been feast or famine. The guy has 84 RBI with a .235 average. Right now, Jimmy's OBP is quite similar to last year .340 vs. .344 but he has missed 24 games and is currently on pace to only score 78 runs with 160 hits and 54 walks. Compare to last season when his numbers were an astronomical 139 runs, 212 hits and 49 walks in a 162 game season. The other X factor is of course, Jimmy's partner in crime Shane Victorino. Shane is having statistically almost replicating 2007 but now he is the everyday center fielder replacing the departed Aaron Rowand who of course, put together a contract year last year which priced him out of town. That might be the difference in this club offensively right now. They have had this propensity to have droughts before as anyone who was awake long enough to witness their boring exit from the NLDS last fall can attest. However, it seems a bit more acute this season and the only solution can be for the Jimmy and Shane Duo to pick it up a little. Feasible? Perhaps.

Hopefully the boys will go home and get some rest since Major League baseball has no use for Ryan Howard and his 28 home runs/84 RBI mucking up the "Home Run Derby. Clearly JC Romero and Chad Durbin have no place at the all star game ahead of Carlos Marmol and his microscopic 4.13 ERA. Pat Burrell is delusional if he thinks his .979 OPS, 23 HR and 57 RBI is more worthy than the numbers put up by the legendary cast of Ryan Ludwick, Nate McLouth, Alfphonso SorryAsshole and Corey "Sunglasses and Night" Hart. Finally, how can Cole Hamels quibble with the selection of Aaron Cook and the Beach Boys own Brian Wilson? Everyone knows how easy it is to pitch in Citizens Bank Park. That 3.15 ERA is adjustable to 4.15 anywhere else. 126 K's in 142 IP is a waste of pitches. We will hope Chase is chased by Uggla in the 3rd inning and that Lidge will not be used in what will once again be an American League romp. So what if it costs us home field in October. We can beat the Sox in Fenway!
Mr. Cub

I am just back from a weekend spent with family up in Western PA where we attended the wedding of my oldest niece. The event was not exactly taken from the script of the Deer Hunter but you could still feel that vibe just by reading the scorecard er, wedding program. Lots of consonants interspersed by an occasional interloping vowel. The menu was the typical fare of stuffed cabbage, potatoes, green beans, fried chicken and rigatoni. The latter two items are attributable to the American and Italian influences in the region. When I eat this food, I begin to understand what Chinese folks are talking about when they say we don't have authentic Chinese food in America. 100 years after the wave of immigration from Central and Eastern Europe and what was once authentic Slavic cuisine (those two words seem uncomfortable next to each other) has morphed into a not so reasonable facsimile. The highlight of course, besides the thick Southwestern Pennsylvanian accents (aka the Yinzer accent) was something called the bridal dance. It's a great idea where the bride fleeces the wedding goer of all his/her small and sometimes not-so-small paper currency in exchange for a 3.5 second dance, a shot of whiskey and/or a piece of wedding cake. Prospective dancers combat this crass reach into their billfolds by tying the paper currency into impossibly tight knots that would earn a Boy Scout his badge.
It was a great time indeed and it's occasions like this that remind me of what a fantastic childhood I had growing up in a region that bears little resemblance to the high tech, urban jungle in which I now exist.
While I was home.....I got to spend some QT with Mr. Cub. My apologies to Ernie Banks, Harry Caray, Ryne Sandberg or even the once beloved Sammy Sosa. My father is celebrating his 70th anniversary as a Cub fan. He was recently diagnosed with stage 3 larynx cancer for which he undergoes surgery in two days. He is 85 years old and has been a heavy smoker for 65 of those years so as far as cancer diagnoses go, this wasn't exactly a shocker. Mr. Cub also has a mild case of dementia which has resulted in the sad fact that I haven't had a conversation with him containing any original content in at least 5 years. It has saddened me that effectively, there can be no real mutual growth in our relationship but this weekend, I learned something. What I learned was that now is the time for the relationship to grow on my end not altogether unsimilar to how it was for him during the early stages of my life. It's time for me to bear a little suffering and a minimal amount of sacrifice. I sat and listened to Mr. Cub share a few stories on Friday evening. One was an account of "Sad Sam" Jones' no-hitter against the Pirates in the late '50's or early '60's. Another was my father's enduring shame that he rooted against Roger Maris. He found out a few years later in a Croatian American periodical that Rajah was a fellow Croat. Finally, Mr. Cub recounted the famous (if you are a supporter of the Monsters of the Midway) shellacking of the the Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship by a score of 73-0. I have heard each of these stories at least 100 times, perhaps more. I bore their telling patiently but I never enjoyed the experience. Friday was different. I wanted to hear some more. I could have sat there until dawn if his weary frail body would've let him. I suppose it has always been true that each time I hear one of his stories it could be the last time but now it is certain. He will lose his larynx in this operation and even if he survives, I have heard the last of his voice.
I am asking our denizens, if they are spiritually inclined, to say a little prayer for Mr. Cub. I don't ask that he be given any more days than he's due. Lord knows, he is on borrowed time. I just ask that whatever comes his and my family's way, that we possess the courage and dignity to bear it and to be thankful for all the wonder and beauty we have already enjoyed because Mr. Cub was our dad.

Beach Blondes

Games 95 through 97 – Red Sox

Orioles 7, Red Sox 3
Red Sox 12, Orioles 1
Red Sox 2, Orioles 1
Record: 57-40


I figured the Sox would cut into the Rays’ AL East lead in due time, but I sure didn’t expect it to happen this quickly. The Sox’ 5-1 homestand and the Rays’ untimely 7-game losing streak combined to put the good guys in first place at the All-Star break for the 4th straight season. And Phil Gramm thinks we’re in a mental recession. Pshaw – I’m pleased as punch.

Quite a few noteworthy happenings in the weekend prior to the break, not the least of which is Papi’s return to the field. Of course, that return will be happening in Pawtucket and Portland in the short term, but he’s projected back in the Sox’ lineup on July 25, just in time for yet another Sox/Yankees series.

Julio Lugo’s quadriceps injury resolved for the near term the question of how to handle his increasingly egregious lack of competence in the field and at the plate (and, for good measure, on the basepaths, just to pile on). Jed Lowrie, SoSH’s current darling, will play short until Lugo returns (and Good Lord willing, Lowrie’ll Lou Gehrig Lugo’s Wally Pipp).

Clay Buchholz returned to the bigs on Friday night, and while he looked awful in the first inning (looking as nervous as a teenager taking the sheriff’s daughter to prom, and admitting as much later), he settled in to pitch effectively for the next 5. He took the loss, but his return is a promising portent.

Despite combining for only 3 runs yesterday, the Sox and Orioles put 30 runners on base in the game (14 hits, 14 walks, and 1 hit batsman each), making for a far too nerve-wracking affair. Or, as I like to call it, just another Daisuke Matsuzaka start. The wracking of the nerves continued unabated right to the final out, as the O’s plated their only run on a 2-strike, 2-out 9th-inning single by Aubrey Huff, and left the tying run on 3rd as Melvin Mora’s spinning liner found its way into Dustin Pedroia’s sure glove. The only levity came courtesy of Sean Casey, who was gunned at second after hitting the ball off the wall in the 7th after nearly suffering the same fate in the 4th. Quoth the ever-sardonic Terry Francona, “"God, is he slow." Added the mirthful Papi, “We're going to have our first base coach get a rope, so when he goes by first base, he can pull [Casey] back."

Three days off, the Sox are in first, and Whitney and I are poised to jet (car, actually) our way to the Outer Banks for our annual exercise in liver-pickling and glory day reliving. Summertime, and the living’s easy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Highway to Heaven


Three of us cannot stomach much about the New York Yankees franchise, but I think we all get that Bobby Murcer, by all accounts, was a human being of supreme quality.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Look Homeward, Angel

Games 93 & 94 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Twins 5
Red Sox 18, Twins 5
Record: 55-39

As careful readers of this space know, I'm an irrational believer in the power of karma and superstition, but even my credulity was tested during the final 2 games of the Sox' sweep of the heretofore red-hot Twins.

I spent the last 2 days on Cape Cod as we said our final farewells to my grandfather. Tuesday's come-from-behind win was gravy compared to the fact that I got to watch it in the company of an extended family that hadn't been in the same room together in 15 some-odd years.

Yesterday, though, is when things started getting weird. First, my father read John Masefield's poem, Sea Fever (below) at the memorial service in honor of my grandfather's love of the ocean and sailing. Midway through the poem, a brisk wind perked up, a breeze about which sailors write longing odes. It was enough to make the hair on a non-believer's arms stand up and take notice.

One of my most vivid Sox-related memories regarding my grandparents came back during my early youth, on an evening when my parents were struggling to get me to go to bed. In the process, they made a bargain: I'd go to bed as soon as the Sox were done taking their turn to bat. 7 runs and 45 minutes later, I gladly scampered off to sleep as the winner of that particular deal.

Back to yesterday, then, as the Sox managed to plate exactly 7 runs (for the first time this season) in the 7th inning to turn a close battle into a much-needed laugher. I see what you're up to Grandpa, and I like it. Now, if we could talk about that Powerball number.

Sea Fever, by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Running Down a Dream

Game 90 - Phillies

Mess 10, Phils 9

Record: 48 wins, 42 losses

Muck the Fets!

What do you want? Something a little more erudite? Sorry. Ain't gonna happen.

Once again, this team (Phils, of course) cannot get into overdrive. I am tired of finding something positive from another lost series. Fact is, we lost 3 of 4 at home to a club that is going nowhere this year. 2 and 2 with losses to Maine and Johan I can rationalize. 1 and 3 with the lone victory on the night Johann pitched? Sorry, I am perplexed.

Just before the All Star break it is clear to me that the NL is pretty mediocre top to bottom and still there is no way anyone from the NL East is going to make any waves past the NLDS. Maybe the NL should revamp the pennant chase this year. Let's set up a round robin playoff with the Cubs, Cards and the reloaded Brewers. Call it BratFest '09 and have some fun!

If any of you peckers tries to tell me to hold on or mutters something about the season being a marathon, I swear I'll....

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Confusion

Game 93 - Red Sox

Red Sox 1, Twins 0

Record: 53-39


I'm not quite sure, but I think I just watched the Red Sox win a 1-run game on the strength of 7+ innings from Daisuke Matsuzaka, a clutch hit with a man in scoring position and scoreless, high-leverage pitching from the bullpen. I'd say I think I'm hallucinating (there is wine involved), but I'm fairly sure the Triumvirate of Aggressive Ineptitude went a combined 1-for-10, so this must have actually happened.

All right, all right, all right.

Under the Boardwalk

Games 80 through 89 - Philllies

5 wins, 5 losses (Hey! I was on vacation!)

Record: 48 wins, 41 losses

I am back from the Delaware shore and not a moment too soon. It’s not that I am married to this fabulous career of mine – in fact, I am not sure exactly what it is that I do. It is that I am first and foremost a creature of habit. All that loungin’ about drinking import beers and smoking Cohiba knockoffs whilst frittering away one sunny day after another doing things I really don’t enjoy like going to the beach and to Funland with the kiddies have made me long for the drab and dreary confines of my office. At precisely 9:14 today, the morning coffee resumed its reliable and effective stimulation of the lower regions of my digestive system and just like that I’M BACK BABEEEEE!

Now about those phinicky Phils – not much has changed. Still can’t hit good pitching (witness the effort vs. Johan on the 4th) and prone to inexplicable droughts vs. bad pitching (witness the effort turned in against Oliver Perez yesterday.) In between , they hammer their way through mediocre pitching frivolously piling on unnecessary runs in unsightly blowouts. Someone please figure out how many home runs these boys have after building 8 run leads. (8 is an arbitrarily obtained number I realize but it probably safely enough “up there” in terms of a safe lead these days.) Concerning those blowouts, I can’t even enjoy them. I am drawn to the clouds despite the overwhelming sunshine. When I see a score of 13-2, my gut instinct is to suggest that it was a waste of offense at best and at worst, a temptation for the boys to foolishly buy into the notion that they are world beaters. I suppose that is because the inevitably follow up those efforts with anemic production the next day.

While I was out, someone asked me about Mr. Myers being demoted to Allentown. Well, to paraphrase Billy Joel, “it’s getting very hard to stayyyyy-ay-ay-ay with Bret Myers.” It appears he never “mentally” accepted his return to the rotation whatever that means. Bunch of psychobabble bullshit if you ask me. It’s simple Bret. Take the f**king ball every 5th day and chuck. The rules are the same. 4 balls are a walk. 3 strikes are an out. 3 outs are an inning. Freaking moron! If it makes you feel better, just pretend each inning is the 9th. What an ass! I will waste no more on this knucklehead except to posit that were it not for his inexcusable collapse, this ball club would be comfortably ahead of the pack right now instead of treading water atop a moribund collection of heavily flawed clubs.

What else is there? Oh, allow me to be the anti-Baby Boss for a moment. I hate the American League! OK? I don’t have any use for interleague play. It’s unfair, unbalanced and un-American! You don’t have to consort with anybody from the other league. That’s in the Constitution! I say we rid ourselves of this unholy experiment to drum up more $$$ for the coffers of Bud’s buds. Nothing good has come of this for my phair phranchise. (You know, somewhere along the line, I think I promised not to do that ‘ph’ thing. Oh well, I am pheeling it right now so I will use it to your detriment with no apologies.) Interleague play benefits only the Yanks, Mets, Cubs and White Sox and any NL team owner that hosts the Yanks and Red Sox. I guarantee you no one in Philly is clamoring for the Twins to come to town in ’09! Dump it now. It’s stupid. The American League is stupid. Blogging is stupid too!

OK, I feel better now.

Now then, here’s hoping the Phils can salvage game 4 against the listless Mess and get ready for a grueling week before the break (Cards & D’Backs for six at The Bank.)

Whit – you will enjoy no fomenting over the results of game 2 and 3. I have summarily expelled them from memory. Well almost. That outing verses Oliver Perez is stuck in my esophagus like an undercooked bacon wrapped scallop.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Games 86 through 88 - Mets

Phillies 3, Mets 2
Mets 9, Phillies 4
Mets 4, Phillies 2 (12 inn.)
Record: 44-44

In a pattern that's come to be all too familiar, my brother-in-law Patrick and I chose to take in the gutpunch of a game in this highly-anticipated series. After that, I sat blissfully unware of the goings-on the next two games . . . when they won in exciting fashion twice. (You might recall that he and I attended Game 7 of the NLCS two years ago. Ugh.)

As with that fateful night at Shea, everything about the night worked to perfection -- except the final result. We had a pair of free tickets, seats in the lower deck, car service to and from the game, a voucher for several free beers at a bar beforehand, and a snoot full when we entered the stadium. We were somehow flanked by Mets fans in our row, we had Johan Santana on the hill, and a recent call-up (whom the Mets had crushed once before) going for the Phils. When the rain begain to fall we were just a few rows under the overhang, dry and content. Not bad.

Then there was the game. The Mets notched a pair of runs in the 5th, when they should have had many more. Mr. Clutch, Carlos Beltran, whiffed to kill the inning, of course. Santana was something to behold, however, and we felt pretty good heading down the stretch. Our mistake.

A combination of a couple of shortcomings undid the Mets and their paltry lead. First, Jerry Manuel had decided to sit Ryan Church, have Endy Chavez play right, and start the unheralded Chris Aguila in left. Questionable at best. Church has been hitting lefties like never before in his career this year. And when Aguila hesitated, squirmed, paused, and ultimately let Jayson Werth's 370-foot single drop in front of him, that's when we really wondered about the decision.

David Wright wondered, too, with 10-second glares towards LF between pitches -- not once but twice. His long look at the rookie confirmed for us that this was a ball Endy catches jogging, not even sprinting and diving. Naturally, it came back to hurt the Mets.

The other piece of this equation is Santana. Statistically, he's been super-solid this year for the Metros, and watching him throw supports the numbers. But there always seems to be some slight letdown that lets the air out of his good work. On some nights it's a flukey homer to a scrub. (Felix Hernandez's grand slam comes to mind.) On this night it was the dire need to retire either Ryan Howard or Pat Burrell to preserve the lead, and he couldn't do either. With it on the line, he fell just slightly short. Blame Chris Aguila all you want -- and we did through the next several Bud aluminum bottles -- but Johan Santana wasn't guiltless.

Later, almost as if scripted, the Mets went down in order to set up a bottom of the 9th that would send the Phillie Phaithful home happy and nearly sully our otherwise excellent evening. Duaner Sanchez battled but gave up hits ahead in the count, and that was that. Victorino, walk-off, blah blah blah.

And then the real fun began, watching the Phillies fans gloat after a win. It was like watching a fish ride a bicycle, what with nobody in the realm of Philadelphia fandom all that acclimated to celebrating victory. Not one but two separate Phils fans gave Patrick the fake-high-five-psyche (one was a fake fist bump) in the bar after the game. Others dropped unfunny insults in earshot. Then, in a weird form of ragging us for supporting the Mets (and bravely wearing Mets caps and shirts), two Phils fans -- wait for it -- bought us beers. Ah, but there was a catch. We asked for Buds, and they bought us Miller Lites! Patrick even overheard one of the duo cackling and telling the other he'd done it on purpose. Alrighty then. And so we wowed the two Philly cheesechicks that they were hitting on with our supreme Metness until they turned their attention away from them and onto us. And then we left. (We're cool like that.)

See, until Philly gets a couple of championships under their belts, their mild affairs with success will always be more awkward than Benjamin Braddock with Mrs. Robinson. And just as funny to the viewer.

Anyway, the Mets blew the game, and led us to once again point out their many flaws over the last few beers of the night. If they couldn't win Santana vs. Happ, why would we expect anything from the other match-ups in the series?

And then I went to Cape Cod, didn't see a pitch, and the Mets pulled out two thrilling victories. Such is life. And there's zero complaining from this corner.

Holy Fire

Games 88 through 91 – Red Sox

Red Sox 7, Yankees 0
Red Sox 6, Yankees 4
Yankees 2, Red Sox 1
Yankees 5, Red Sox 4
Record: 52-39


The movable object combined with the stoppable force this weekend to present Exhibits A and B in the People’s Case Against the Boston Red Sox 2008 Postseason Chances.

Last night, the soft, ticklish underbelly of the Boston pitching staff required a mere 2 batters to completely unwind (yet another) very solid effort by Tim Wakefield, as Javier Lopez allowed a single to Jorge Posada and a roped triple to Robinson Cano to turn a 4-2 game into a deadlocked affair. Then, after the Sox failed to scratch in the 9th and 10th innings, the bullpen’s rank contagion reached Jonathan Papelbon, who allowed a 2-out, 2-strike game-winning single to the immortal Brett Gardner. The Boston Pops 4th of July fireworks display has nothing on the Sox bullpen for sheer incendiary power.

Saturday afternoon’s defeat was perhaps even more galling, while every bit as revealing of the Sox’ weaknesses. After failing to dent the Yankee pitching staff through 8 innings, the Sox whipsawed the great Mariano Rivera to the tune of 2 hits, a walk, and a hit batsman to open the bottom of the 9th. When the dust settled, Boston had the bases loaded, nobody out, and the tying run a mere 90 feet from home. And the bottom of the order lined up to face Rivera.

K, popup, K – a near palindrome, a bad breakfast menu, and the so, so predictable result of Coco Crisp, Jason Varitek, and Julio Lugo batting with the game on the line. Varitek’s 15 for his last 114 (!), a slump so bad that even a nighttime romp with Divine may not be enough to escape it. Lugo’s .153 average with runners in scoring position is the single worst such mark in the American League. Coco, well, he just picked a bad time to be lumped in with the other two – and his ineffectual wave at Rivera’s final pitch was nothing so much as a white flag.

And now these abide: faith, love and hope. And of these three…wait, wrong book. These actually abide: the bullpen and the bottom of the batting order, and of these two – cripes, of these two are seasons wrecked.

Say what you will about the Sox, they’re at least an entertainingly inept bunch at the moment. (Inept is perhaps too strong a word, but measured, sane discourse isn’t our strong suit.) Last night’s loss marks the Sox’ 14th consecutive loss in 1-run road contests. In their recent 3-7 skid, they’ve dropped 6 games by a single run. The clinical sabremetricians in the audience will tell us that 1-run games are effectively a function of luck, and that such things generally return to the mean over time. The aggrieved Chicken Littles in our midst beg to differ, pointing to the 6-headed firestarter in the bullpen as the chief culprit.

Meanwhile, Tampa is 5 games out in front, and despite the fact that we have a lotta ball leftTM, without a functional bullpen and at least a mediocre 7-9 in the batting order, those 5 games might as well be 15. In Theo We Trust, then, ‘cause the other options don’t seem all that appealing.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Charmed

Game 85 - Mets

Mets 11, Cardinals 1
Record: 42-43

TWIB Notes: Mike Pelfrey threw another brilliant game tonight . . . Cardinals pitcher Mitchell Boggs did not (6 IP, 10 H, 11 R, 6 BB, 2 K, 1 HR) . . . Jose Reyes hit his 62nd career triple tonight, a three-run one no less. It tied him with the venerable Mookie Wilson for all-time triples by a Met. He could also catch the Mookster in stolen bases this year . . . That's probably the only other such milestone for the Mets this year, though it would be nice if David Wright could hit 11 more taters and displace Todd Hundley in the all-time Mets Top 5 HR list. Such an eyesore . . . Ryan "Under the Milky Way" Church continues to get it done and be one of the reasons we're still paying close attention . . . same goes for Endy . . . somebody get me a #10 Mets t-shirt . . . Dee-Dub tweaked his back ducking under a scorching line drive while leading off first. . . fingers crossed . . . Luis Castillo went on the DL today. The sun rose in the east today, too . . . Chris "Two Shots At" Aguila came up from New Orleans. He was joined by Argenis Reyes, to whom I say "That's gonna cause a little confusion. Mind if we call you Bruce to keep it clear?" Howls of derisive laughter . . .

. . . Significantly, the Mets take on the Phillies of Philthadelphia tomorrow evening at 7:00 pm. More significantly, it's the fourth of July (so says John Doe) and Johan Santana takes the hill in the first contest of a key four-game series. Most significantly, my brother-in-law and I will be there. Can't wait to immerse myself in the Philly fan warmth.

Hey, I remember you. Where have you been? Bathroom.

Games 77 - 85: Yankees

Pirates 12, Yankees 5
Yankees 10, Pirates 0
Mets 15, Yankees 6
Yankees 9, Mets 0
Yankees 3, Mets 2
Mets 3, Yankees 1
Rangers 2, Yankees 1
Rangers 3, Yankees 2
Yankees 18, Rangers 7

Record: 45-40

Happy July 4th folks.

I've got rob beat. I could care even less about this Sox/Yanks series.**

Be back in two weeks with useless banter.

God Bless America.

**rob you owe me a case when Jankees win this series.

Golf in the Kingdom

Game 87 - Red Sox

Rays 7, Red Sox 6
Record: 50-37


I was full of spit and vinegar last night after the Sox' bullpen gacked away yet another game. Then, the Lord of Perspective took me to the golf course this morning, ordered me a dazzling blue sky and a handful of Guinness, and my righteous anger at the Sox during their worst stretch of the season was dulled to the point where all I can muster is a rueful:

Motherfucker.

I can't remember being less excited for a Yankees' series.

Lost

Game 84 - Mets

Cardinals 8, Mets 7

Record: 41-43


Live and learn.

The Mets sank into a hole almost immediately last night, thanks to Pedro Martinez's early ineffectiveness. The boys went down a 4-spot in the first when Pedro left a few balls over the plate, including one Troy Glaus hammered for a 3-run job. Those pitches weren't the only thing being described as "over" in the Mets Township chatter. Pedro, we hardly knew ye.

I cracked open a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon to spur on the visiting Metmen, and unsurprisingly, it worked. The Mets tallied three runs in the 3rd (bench Damion Easley at your own peril, Jerry Manuel), and then the skies opened up. I redoubled my efforts on the drinking and waited out what was a fairly brief rain delay.

Pedro actually came out sharper after the hiatus. Reason for hope, quickly dashed when Rick Ankiel launched a bomb to right. As an aside, I love the Rick Ankiel story -- his is one our alter egos at Gheorghe would mightily endorse -- but the portal where he becomes the next Pat Burrell to the Mets is where I draw the line on rooting for the opposition. Enough.

In the 7th, however, the Metropolitans did what they've started to do just a tad more lately, put together a little rally and come from behind. A two-run Delgado base-knock off another comeback story, Mark Mulder (This week's ABC AfterSchool Special: the 2008 St. Louis Cardinals), and a sac fly made it 7-5, Mets.

And that was it. My work was done. I was beat from a long day of work and a few beers, and didn't you read how the Met pen was now water-tight? Off to bed, TiVoing the conclusion for this morning's enjoyment.

Ah, yes. This morning's enjoyment. The new breakfast cereal, Kellogg's Punts-to-the-Groin, ushered in the day's events for me. An Aaron Heilman bump and a Pedro Feliciano spike made it 7-7 in the eighth. Of note was Feliciano allowing Chris Duncan to tie the game on the first pitch he threw last night.

Now, let's pause and acknowledge Pedro Feliciano (Est. 2002), the Met with the longest tenure of any on the roster with a montage of old quotes from the pages here at MLC:
  • "Feliciano, for his part, pitched just the 8th but handed out singles like it was his bachelor party, allowing four runs to score."
  • "By the time Pedro Feliciano 'relieved' (if you will) Wheeler in the seventh . . ."
  • "Feliciano came on and did his best 'When in Colorado . . .' rendition. After getting the heart of the lineup out routinely, he issued walks and meatballs to the bottom of the order, and two more came across for the Rockies, making it 6-4. These guys are pitching in key spots but are more suited for mop-up than Hong Kong Phooey. Is this the best the Mets can throw out there?"
  • Enter Pedro 'Feliz Navidad' Feliciano, as in 'I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas by tossing you a meatball for you to clear the bases with a double.' Nice relief. It's like taking a Tums and realizing you swallowed a sand burr."
  • "Feliciano, after delivering all three of his inherited runners safely home, walked a batter and induced a fly-out before getting the hook."
  • "Had I not already known this game was in the 14th inning, I couldn't have been more unwavering in my belief that Feliciano would screw it up. One batter faced, one walk. Thanks for playing."
  • "Pedreadful Feliciano looked to undo all of the good that TG did in his six-plus frames of work."
  • "Then Feliciano hits Prince Fielder and Mota throws a meatball to Bill Hall, who ground-rules Tom Glavine out of his 300th win."
  • "When Pedro Feliciano allowed yet another inherited runner to score in the 8th, he not only tarnished John Maine's rock-steady performance, but he allowed the demons to start knocking at the door of our collective psyche. It's the kind of thing to start me drinking. More. And nobody needs that."
  • "Pedro Feliciano, Joe Smith, and Scott Schoeneweis (walked into a bar?) surrendered eight runs over the final pair of frames in a scene not seen since the days of Dan Wheeler's Blanket Party Bingo."
Of course, I have extremely selectively chosen to highlight his worst-of moments when there were plenty of workmanlike holds in between, but where's the fun in that? I've just never had all that much confidence in this Pedro.

With the "Pair o' Peters" ultimately responsible for the 7 runs the Cards scored, the bottom of the ninth went another direction. Carlos "Cheese" Muniz recorded two outs and had a 3-2 count before Troy Glaus bookended an otherwise nice Met performance with his second home run. Lovely.

And yet with plenty of blame to go around, I blame myself for going to bed. Shame on me.

Live and learn.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Green Eggs and Ham

Game 86 - Red Sox

Rays 3, Red Sox 1
Record: 50-36

I do not like this team in slump.
I do not like losing in a dump.
I do not like the Rays in first.
I do not like ballpark wurst.

I do not like wasting Wake.
I do not like when Manny doesn't rake.
I do not like men left on base.
I do not like second place.

I do not like popups and whiffs.
I do not like Tek hitting like a stiff.
I do not like offensive woes.
I do not like Lugo's twinkletoes.

I do not like things in the Trop.
I do not like sweeps nor mops.
I do not like these nosiree.
Win tonight, or more rhymes from me.

Entertainment Tonight

Game 83 - Mets

Mets 7, Cardinals 4
Record: 41-42

Last night was a Best of '08 lineup, according to my tastes. There's no accounting for taste, of course, but I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of what I saw.

Ryan Church was back out there for the Mets -- and hitting lowball doubles again. (Sorry, the joke about my hitting the highball doubles doesn't really fit, as I was throwing back Bud longnecks. I'll work on it.) Endy Chavez was in left -- re-affirming himself as one of my favorite Mets over the last few years. When he gets some playing time, I really feel like he's a Reyes Lite -- less immediate upside, but exciting on both sides of the ball. And Damion Easley was at second, supplanting the increasingly frustrating Luis Castillo.

Ramon Castro behind the dish -- and more significantly at the plate -- kind of made the difference last night. Yeah, Schneider isn't firing balls into centerfield, but he's also not driving the ball to the gap that often, either.

A tandem of Gary and Keith in the booth filled out the evening nicely. No offense, Ronnie. Keith back in St. Louis is always going to entertain for obvious reasons, even when he calls them the "Metsies."

Tony Armas Jr. . . serviceable. And that's all you need when you get this lineup. And by "this lineup," make no mistake, I mean the one with the out-of-nowhere raking Carlos Delgado, the resurgent power stroke David Wright, the water-tight bullpen (including holds by leakers like Heilman and Feliciano), and nearly flawless defense. It remains to be seen how frequently this lineup fills my evening viewing, but I know I'll be tuning in tonight in hopes of a repeat performance.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Tortoise and the Hare

Game 85 – Red Sox

Devil Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Record: 50-35

Every morning after a Sox game, I scan the blogosphere to take the temperature of the assembled wackadoos and compare it to my own. I hit SoSH, Joy of Sox, Surviving Grady, and one or two others, seeking validation in numbers. Or at least seeking to waste 15-20 minutes.

Most seasons, a middling stretch like the one in which the Sox are currently enmeshed would be cause for great gnashing of teeth and self-flagellation from the faithful. This year, though, the Soxnoscenti are mourning the loss of Hazel Mae, promoting books, quibbling about Jacoby Ellsbury’s slump, and bemoaning Manny’s off-field behavior. In short, doing everything but panicking about the team’s chances.

The team seems to have the same vibe – a laissez faire, let it be backbeat supported by the notion that when the time comes, all they need to do is turn on the jets, concentrate for a few weeks, and they’ll coast into the postseason. That’s a dangerous game, boys and girls, played and lost by better teams than this one.

Monty Python's Flying Circus

Games 78 through 82 - Mets

Mets 15, Yankees 6

Yankees 9, Mets 0

Yankees 3, Mets 2

Mets 3, Yankees 1

Cardinals 7, Mets 1

Record: 40-42



"When the great scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game."
-- Grantland Rice


"Crappy. The Mets played crappy. Oh, and they lost."
-- The Great Scorer


So the Mets are now an unspectacular 6-7 since Willie Randolph was ousted and Jerry Manuel took the helm. "Lotta ball left," as my little friend in red socks might say, but there's not much in recent outings to make me look the fool for declaring the managerial change ultimately worthless a few weeks back.

Last night was a perfect storm of ineptitude. John Maine "just didn't have it," as Keith put it, the Metbats were frustratingly quiet, and the glovework . . . yikes. Memo to Luis Castillo: if your OPS remains conspicuously under .700, we really need you not to be making bad errors to let runs score. (Yes, we recycled this memo from "Memo to Doug Mientkiewicz" a few years back.)

Andy Phillips is on the Mets' roster (though supposedly demoted after last night) and Tony Armas Jr. is starting for our boys tonight. Yeah, that sounds about right. The Mets are still just 3.5 games out of first place, even as their Wild Card chances should be buried by the Break. Could be worse. Stay tuned.