Cardinals 6, Mets 4
Ah, the newness and freshness of springtime. Still stretching out and finding yourself in the embryonic stages of the baseball life cycle. Deep breaths of fresh air and the not-quite-dead-yet optimism of a new season.
Hoo, boy, is Jerry Manuel lucky these aren't the dog days of summer. He'd be doing a lot of updating on Monster.com today.
I'm not knee-jerkishly calling for Manuel's firing because of one game. One hideous, poorly played, head-in-their-Clavins winnable loss of a game. Much like shaving your head when you're going bald, I'm not sure it's a great idea, but I'd understand it. Jerry's just lucky he doesn't work for a certain unnamed owner whose name rhymes with Swine-tenor.
Where to begin? Omar's Choice, Oliver Perez, couldn't find the plate with a trail of bread crumbs and a series of Clue® cards, but he managed four scoreless. Then given a 4-0 lead (and remembering his allergy to lead), he couldn't get through the fifth inning, coughing it up.
Well, almost. Up 4-3 with the sacks juiced, the Mets called upon Casey Fossum to lead them out of the jam. Casey Fossum, lauded in yesteryear by my cohort across the aisle. Actually, yesteryear goes as far back as May 2003, when Rob wrote:
"Casey Fossum, clap clap clapclapclap."Reasons for hope! If not hope, the expectation that this wouldn't happen:
Pitch 1: Ball
Pitch 2: Ball
Pitch 3: Ball
Pitch 4: Ball
. . . and I don't have the energy to describe in colorful language just how north, south, and wide of the zone these four pitches were.
4 to 4. Casey Fossum, catchthe, catchtheclap.
Then there's the fielding. Daniel Murphy, once described by at least one overeager blogger as "Golden Boy II", made another costly gaffe in left field -- one that directly led to the game-winning run. Now, one thing that might separate me from my fellow blogsmen and blogswomen is that I have been in precisely the preacarious position that the Murph found himself last night. Well-hit ball directly at you in left -- often described as the toughest ball to read, and it's exactly right. And I remember at least once that I charged in a few steps, only to realize what a pea had been struck. And I remember once in particular that I slipped on wet grass when I hit the brakes and landed flat on my back, a la young Daniel-san. I've been there, Danny Boy.
The thing is, it was softball. So the other thing is, we had four outfielders. The even other thing is, my good friend Cliff was playing left-center and had been playing alongside me for many moons, and he knew my tendencies, so he was on his horse from the crack of the bat. And he caught that ball, saving my ass.
Carlos Beltran, hamstrung by the fact that it was big league, big park baseball and too far away to save his comrade, did not catch that ball. I'm not sure he even ran in that direction; I don't remember. Teamsmanship doesn't seem to be one of this club's strong suits, as evidenced in . . .
~ segue ~
. . . baserunning! It was the topper on this night. Daniel-san was picked off in the 1st inning, a frame in which the Mets would eventually notch a few 2-out hits and plate a run. Ugh. Picked off by? Yadier Molina. Now punting into my groin, Carl Birdsong.
Several innings later, Murphy was waved home into an easy out by 3B coach Razor Shines. Razor's been pretty Bic-like thus far this year. His name is lots of fun, but here's hoping he doesn't seem quite so disposable as he does right now.
And then, the doozy. 8th inning, tie game, flyout to right, Beltran tags and advances, but the throw gets away. Razor sends him home, and Beltran races home, where there's a close play. Does he take out Molina so that millions of us could live vicariously through him and feel our bitterness melt away? No! Does he slide to avoid the tag! No! Does he run home, step on Molina's foot which is blocking the bag, get tagged out, and job back to the dugout??
Yeah. That's what he did.
Where was the on-deck batter? Animatedly flopping to the ground to indicate to Beltran that he should slide? No, apparently not. That's not what we do, so say the Mets. It was all fairly inexcusable. It's still spring, but Spring Training ended weeks ago. Come on.
And there it went. Leaked away like Beer 17 in a stadium urinal. This JV style of play is going undo Mr. Manuel if it continues. On the plus side, I have lots more to say when it happens! Enjoy!