Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Games 35 through 38 - Mets

Mets 8, Giants 6
Mets 9, Giants 6
Giants 2, Mets 0
Dodgers 3, Mets 2 (11)
Record: 21-17

It's really hard to know where to begin this morning. Okay, we'll go with the obvious one. Really?? You missed 3rd base?

Here's when you know that as a collective, though you are in first place (until tomorrow) and you make millions of dollars, you should hang your heads for a moment in miserable embarrassment: Nearly every publication that recapped the game has made at least one comparison between your team and the 1962 New York Mets. Oof.

Here's one reason.

"Marvelous Marv" Throneberry: in June of '62, while trying to run down a base runner, he collided while attempting to tag the runner without having the ball. Interference was called, and Chicago then scored four runs. Later in the same game, Throneberry lined a triple down the line but was called out for failing to touch first base.

When Stengel stormed out to protest, the umpire cut him off, informing him that Marv had missed second base, too.

"Well," Stengel replied, "I know he touched third base because he's standing on it."

The baserunning this season has been downright wretched. Was anything actually instructed in Spring Training? I know at this point in their careers, guys shouldn't need extended tutelage to know to slide when there's a close play, but they're not doing it. They consistently do not slide. (Church was picked off when he didn't slide earlier in the game, but the ump blew the call badly.) When they slide, it's head-first (see Cora, Alex AND ligament tear) and never in danger of knocking someone over who's blocking the bag/plate. They take the extra base at all the wrong opportunities. Their game situation savvy is shockingly limited. They are stealing bases at a record clip of late, and yet they seem to know nothing of baserunning. It's staggering.

That said, Church missing third is simply an embarrassing, untimely mistake that -- on rare occasion -- happens. What has ensued is even worse, so says I.
Jerry Manuel:
“Uhh, a guy missed third base. That’s unbelievable. I can’t explain why or how or anything. But, he actually missed the base… To me, it’s just hard to miss third base. I’ve known some guys to miss first, because they’re looking for the ball and misstep, but I have rarely, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a guy miss third base in a situation like that. I don’t know, I don’t have any explanation.”

Why he did not go out to argue the call of Church missing the bag:

“I asked Razor and he said he missed it.”
Failing to stick by your men when they need it most is failing your men. Manuel has never seemed to take to Ryan Church for some reason. Throwing him under the bus sends one message -- you'd better be one of Jerry's guys (Jerry's Kids?) or he's not going to back you when you fuck up. Thanks, dick. I know it was mind-numbingly bad what happened, but you're the manager. You know he's going to get hammered in the press. You stand by him in a show of suppport. Way to go, Jerry. Stand up guy.

And this starts to spread like mildew in a grimy shower. Here's Carlos Beltran's quote about Angel Pagan, who in his eagerness to make a play, did break a cardinal outfield rule but did nothing warranting further embarrassment:
"I called for the ball like six times," Beltran said. "But Pagan stood in the middle and I couldn't put my glove on the ball. On a ball like that, I have priority. If Pagan would have called for that ball, my job is to get out of the way. He's been in center field before, so he knows that when the center fielder calls for the ball, everyone has to get out of the way."
That's it, Carlos. Cover your ass, ensure everyone knows it wasn't your fault, chastise the guy who just got back up here yesterday. Well played.

But then, Jerry did stick up for Pagan:

"Angel, as talented and as quick as he is, he can be underneath a ball and really not know it, because you’re so used to covering that ground, but you’ve got to give way to the center fielder.”

That's the proper way to deflect the criticism. Talk about his merits, spin it positively, let him off the hook. He feels bad enough, he's going to get some abuse in the papers. No need to pile on.

Somewhere in the City of Angels, Ryan Church reads/hears these quotes in succession and delivers a hearty "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" . . .

Hey, uh, Omar? You paying attention here? I understand that sometimes General Managing isn't that easy. You figured this gig was all about constructing a team with virtually limitless payroll (unless you want to give Derek Lowe a fourth year, and then it snaps shut) and kicking back for six months, right? We're sorry, but you might need to actually do some in-season dealing and strategery. It shouldn't be that hard; your predecessors' midseason trades were the stuff of Rob Zombie's daydreams, so the bar is low. But if Jose Reyes is going to miss any more time (please, please, no), Ramon Martinez may not be the answer. (Small sample size, but 0-for-5 with 2 errors is glaring.) And the Delgado situation, while unfortunate and not your fault, has exposed a lack of a true Plan B. Make one. Lickety-split.

You see, Mr. Minaya, they don't just give them fancy Manager of the Year trophies to the guy whose team collects the most W's. That's nice and all, but in these economically unbalanced times, what's more impressive is the fellow who takes a not-so-luxurious situation and applies his managerial skill to will his team to overachieve. They're recognized as people who really did something.

Same goes for GM work. Theo Epstein has excelled in his role because he understands the dynamics of a baseball organization and people in general, but he'd be the first guy to tell you that he's also blessed with a fat payroll and ownership support, and that GM's in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and the like who can manage to break .500 are no less impressive. So now that you have to actually put your mind to this -- your mind, your foresight, your powers of persuasion, and your faith in the baseball minds that surround you -- let's see what you've got. Because the way things are headed, it's like one more quote goes:
See, you may be the biggest thing that ever hit this area, but you're still two-bit outlaws. I never met a soul more affable than you, Butch, or faster than the Kid, but you're still nothing but two-bit outlaws on the dodge. It's over, don't you get that? Your times is over and you're gonna die bloody, and all you can do is choose where.


rob said...

when i first saw this headline, i assumed you were talking about teejay and nick.

Mark said...

Wow...thats a lot of words to say that your favorite team in a sucky sport was extra sucky last night.

Whitney said...

Neither half as numerous nor half as profane as when I was watching it happen.

You guys feel like when Mark and I exchange words it's a scene from Finding Forrester?

Mark said...

You're the man now, dog!