Thursday, July 30, 2009


Games 99 & 100 - Red Sox

A's 9, Red Sox 8 (11)
A's 8, Red Sox 6
Record: 58-42

I was prepared to spend a few free lazy afternoon moments lamenting a pair of losses against a mediocre Oakland squad, and offering a measured, wholly rational prognosis for the rest of the season (the ceiling for the current roster is the AL Wild Card, after which point anything is possible, though I think the Yankees are a better team).

Then, the New York Times intervened in a most unexpected and thoroughly unwelcome manner, reporting that David Ortiz is among the 100+ major leaguers that tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Unexpected may be a bit strong, actually. But unwelcome isn't strong enough.

I've written in the past that an Ortiz PED report would be the one that drove me over the edge. I probably meant it, too. Today, I found it extremely sad, but far, far less shocking than less-jaded me would have. Had this occurred in 2005, I'd have spent months defending the honor of the 2004 World Champions. Now, I think we all know that squad had its' share of drug cheats. Just like every other team from the late 80s to the present.

I'm sure Ortiz will deny it, like all of them do, and toss off some half-hearted joke about red beans and rice. This time I won't believe it. Not because Papi's decline as a player is convienently correspondent with MLB's stepped-up enforcement, necessarily, though that's an inescapable truth. But because they all cheated. Even the ones who didn't, even the media, even ownership and management. They all cheated because it put butts in seats and dollars in the till - the ultimate measure of success in our world.

So dies the last tiny shred of my baseball innocence. I'm far less depressed than I expected I'd be. Turns out my hypocrisy is deeper than I'd thought, or at least my love of baseball - warts, 'roids and all - trumps my disdain for most of its practitioners.

Quickly, then, fuck 'em all. And c'mon, Jon Lester. This team needs a win.

Send in the Clowns

Games 95 through 99 - Mets

Astros 5, Mets 4
Mets 10, Astros 3
Mets 8, Astros 3
Mets 7, Rockies 3
Mets 4, Rockies 0
Record: 48-51

In baseball, as in life, sometimes you have to bottom out before you can begin the slow crawl into recovery.

Did the Mets bottom out this week? Seven games under .500, yet another PR debacle, one firing with more being predicted, with the deals of the past making the trade deadline utterly inconsequential? If it's not rock bottom, we're at least in the same zip code here.

And out of nowhere, the Metmen rattle off four in a row for the first time since May. Huh.

One quick, tangential note on the Tony "Slash and" Bernazard quagmire and resultant press conference spasm . . .

To the legions of members of the media coming to the defense of . . . a member of the media: please step away from the soapbox and take Adam Rubin off the crucifix. As much as Omar Minaya's blurty tirade was misdirected and confusing, the multiple accounts indicating that Rubin's reporting was overblown and incendiary (perhaps consistently so) explains the lumping of Mr. Rubin in with the other self-serving media types we learned about in entomology. This sad, stupid situation seems to have enough associated blame to hand out to a number of people. Over at the Wheelhouse (the blog, not the crap shout-fest on SNY), Jerry listed the few folks who'd be spared his axe when it came to giving the Mets a much-needed enema. No sportswriters -- in fact, no media people outside the SNY broadcast booth -- would be spared.

Enough about that, but here's the thing: I have actually gotten to enjoy the last few nights of Metball, and if one more hideous, public embarassment was what it took, send in the clowns and let's see more humiliation.

Editor's Note: The casual mixing of metaphors is often forgivable, but dear lord... to incorporate the use of an axe into the administering of enema is beyond cringeworthy, it's like watching the New York Mets run the bases. My apologies.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Games 95 through 98 - Red Sox

Red Sox 3, Orioles 1
Red Sox 7, Orioles 2
Orioles 6, Red Sox 2
Red Sox 8, A's 3
Record: 58-40

I'm on Cape Cod, staring out at ocean as the tide recedes over the Brewster Flats, and I'm still cranking out more content than the rest of Team MLC combined. This, friends, is not the Golden Era for our little blog.

Short version: Orioles, good for what ails a team. Smoltz, frustrated (and -ing). Lester, stud. Beckett, stud. Bard, stud. Offense, finally. Beach, great.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bad to the Bone

Game 94 - Red Sox

Rangers 3, Red Sox 1
Record: 55-39

Since the All-Star break, the Boston Red Sox are 1-5, having plated a total of 13 runs. The Sox' batsmen have recorded a robust .192/.252./.285 line, good for a .537 OPS. To put things in perspective, Reggie Willits has a .542 OPS. Darin Erstad's is .541. Matt Cain's OPS is .539. San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain. He's a pitcher. THE BOSTON RED SOX HAVE FIELDED AN ENTIRE LINEUP OF MATT CAINS SINCE THE ALL-STAR BREAK.



Games 88 through 94 - Mets

Braves 5, Mets 3
Braves 11, Mets 0
Mets 5, Braves 1
Braves 7, Mets 1
Mets 6, Nationals 2
Nationals 4, Mets 0
Nationals 3, Mets 1
Record: 44-50

Every day seems to sink the squad a little lower than the day before. Every day the news -- ranging from updates in severity of injuries to Jerry Springer-style reportings about loose cannon members of the organization -- gets worse. And yet there are 68 games left to play.

I'm not going to make it to Citi Field this year. Early this season I was dead sure I'd arrange with cousins and brother-in-law to meet up and hit at least one game, maybe more. What a waste of time and money that would be at this point. I'll pay 8 bucks for box seats to the Norfolk Tides . . . and then lament my investment into the Extra Innings package while I watch nearly every Mets game. It's still the Mets, and it's been dark comedy this season. Dark, uncomfortable, depressing tragi-comedy.

Last night's starting lineup:

A Pagan CF
L Castillo 2B
D Murphy 1B
D Wright 3B
J Francoeur RF
C Sullivan LF
A Berroa SS
B Schneider C
M Pelfrey P

How do you even make fun of that? Worth mentioning that Luis Castillo was quickly supplanted by Fernandogidp Tatisgidp after he argued a pretty clear bobble in the field and was tossed.

Losing 2 of 3 to the Nats . . . wow. Getting shut out by the Nats Tuesday night . . . yikes. Shoulda been shut out by the Nats last night again except for a run plated on a Mets-like idiotic throwing error . . . oh, my.

Much of the Township is getting lynch-mob-like, which is to be expected. But these aren't the Mets. They're stand-ins. It's the touring version of Phantom of the Opera, the one featuring Horatio Sanz and Elizabeth Berkley. When it sucks, you look at the cast and there's not a moment of wondering why. You just wish you could have gotten to see the real deal and wonder how much better that would've been.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Not at the table, Carlos..."

Games 48-93: Yankees

Yankees 3, Indians 1
Yankees 10, Indians 5
Indians 5, Yankees 4
Yankees 5, Indians 2
Yankees 12, Rangers 3
Rangers 4, Yankees 2
Yankees 8, Rangers 6
Rays 9, Yankees 7
Yankees 4, Rays 3
Yankees 5, Rays 3
Red Sox 7, Yankees 0
Red Sox 6, Yankees 5
Red Sox 4, Yankees 3
Yankees 9, Mets 8
Mets 6, Yankees 2
Yankees 15, Mets 0
Yankees 5, Nationals 3
Nationals 3, Yankees 2
Nationals 3, Yankees 0
Yankees 5, Marlins 1
Marlins 2, Yankees 1
Marlins 6, Yankees 5
Braves 4, Yankees 0
Yankees 8, Braves 4
Yankees 11, Braves 7
Yankees 9, Mets 1
Yankees 5, Mets 0
Yankees 4, Mets 2
Yankees 8, Mariners 5
Yankees 4, Mariners 2
Mariners 8, Yankees 4
Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2
Yankees 6, Blue Jays 5 (12)
Yankees 10, Blue Jays 8
Blue Jays 7, Yankees 6
Yankees 10, Twins 2
Yankees 4, Twins 3
Yankees 6, Twins 4
Angels 10, Yankees 6
Angels 14, Yankees 8
Angels 5, Yankees 4

Yankees 5, Tigers 3
Yankees 2, Tigers 1
Yankees 2, Tigers 1
Yankees 2, Orioles 1
Yankees 6, Orioles 4

Record: 56-37

Well then, I'd say we're all caught up...and look at that, los Jankees están en el primer lugar. Muy bien. And it appears their afternoon is going quite well today too....sweeeeeet. But wait, I just saw rob say they were the best team in the league. Either reverse psychology on the midget's part, or acknowlegdement of a Yankee pitching staff and lineup that is absolutely in sync (bye bye bye) right now. Either way, my neglect of MLC ends now. I am back, and the nonsensical pop culture references and useless utubes are coming with me. It's good to be back boys.


Games 92 & 93 - Red Sox

Rangers 6, Red Sox 3
Rangers 4, Red Sox 1
Record: 55-38

And here you were thinking I'd come in this joint all throwin' shit around and breaking stuff. I can't possibly imagine what would have led you to believe that. Me, all mild-mannered and even-keeled.

In truth, the breaking-stuff option crossed my mind a few times over the past several days. The Sox haven't hit in weeks, and the ball's bouncing every which way but theirs of late. A realistic assessment of their roster right now in comparison with those of Tampa and New York yields at best a draw, and at worst, a show in an event where only win and place matter - especially on offense.

But it's still July, for chrissakes. Ranting and raving might make me feel good (and it has in the past, Lord knows), but it doesn't amount to much other than a few additional points of blood pressure. And judging from the way our elected representatives are trying their damnedest to continue to place insurance company profits over public health, a rise in blood pressure can't bode well. I digress.

I wouldn't call myself optimistic, per se. Just temporally realistic. I think there's at least an even chance the Yankees are the best team in the league right now. I think there's an equally likely chance that things will change, and quickly, by trade, injury, and simply reveral of fortune.

So for the first time in a while, roll the balls out, let 'em play. We'll see what happens.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back in Time

Games 89 through 91 - Red Sox

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1
Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 2
Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 1
Record: 55-36

On the one hand, losing 2 of 3 to Toronto while the Yankees sweep the Tigers really isn't the most auspicious beginning to the second "half" of the season. On the other, I'm still recovering from 4 days (and 3 nights, more importantly) spent in the company of various rakes, scoundrels, and roustabouts hard by the Carolina coast, and my indifference is matched only by my grogginess.

Noted with some concern: the continuing lack of offensive prowess shown by the Sox.

Monday, July 13, 2009

See How We Are

Games 86 & 87 - Mets

Mets 4, Reds 0
Mets 9, Reds 7
Record: 42-45

These last two games before the Break are merely a handful of sawdust sprinkled on the puddle of classroom barf that was the first 85 games of the season. In the ever-so-slightest of ways, it reduces a little of the stench and unsightliness, but let's face facts: there's no mistaking what's under there, and the teacher says it may be some time before the janitor can actually clean up this mess.

Recently the SportsGuy had an podcast with one of his Yankee-loving friends. After making half-hearted analyses on the nature of the acrimony between Mets fans and Yankees fans (as if on cue, SG's buddy brought up "26 championships" and how that invariably makes Mets fans so bitter . . . this being the irony Alanis Morissette should've sung about), they launched into a topic of mild interest: are the Mets the new Red Sox?

As much as the Mets' recent disasters can't possibly match up to 86 years of heartbreak, the acuteness of the torturous undoings and the collective mindset of Mets Township that now expects the debacle before presuming any victory does ring some bells with Sox fans. A fan base whose faith in the team now "officially" hovers around 30% (that's generous) and whose M.O. has become "what next?" . . . but also a team that consistently answers that question with "well, since you asked . . ." It's familiar ground for rooters of the Olde Towne Team.

And such is the metamorphosis (no pun intended) since we began this endeavor in 2003. It's like when Elaine became George. I have become a sad sack Sox fan. It's not a question of whether this will be the year, only how low and embarrassing we'll sink. Or how heartbreakingly close we can come. The good news is that it seems like we will have a 7-game World Series loss or two somewhere in the coming years, and you'd not expect that level of competence give the bungling currently in every aspect of this organization.

In other good news, when the NL blows the All-Star Game, it means the Dodgers or Phillies won't have home-field advantage, which is fine by most of us. So there's that.

Royal Oil

Games 86 through 88 - Red Sox

Red Sox 1, Royals 1
Red Sox 15, Royals 9
Red Sox 6, Royals 0
Record: 54-34

There may be a better way to enter the All-Star Break than a three-game Sox winning streak coupled with a three-game Yankee losing streak (Amy Adams is likely involved, if there is), but I'll certainly take the real-world scenario that played out this weekend.

Jon Lester and Josh Beckett took turns gunslinging, dropping 17 innings of 7-hit, 0-run starting pitching on the Royals. Lester, in particular, carried the team to victory as his mates stumbled around offensively against Brian Bannister. The lefty channeled Kurt Russell's Wyatt Earp in Tombstone's payoff gun battle, wading into hostile fire and refusing to surrender. Dustin Pedroia's 8th-inning double finally made Lester a winner. Beckett's performance was even better, though it lacked the drama of a scoreless late-game battle.

The recently-maligned bats even showed up on Saturday and Sunday, as if chagrined by Lester's one-man (two, if you count Papelbon's devastating stuff on Friday) effort. And they needed to, as the middle part of the bullpen gave another incendiary (in the bad way) performance on Saturday. After John Smoltz delivered his best outing, staking the Sox to a 9-1 lead after 5 innings, Justin Masterson and Manny Delcarmen allowed 5 runs in the 6th, and were on their way to giving up more in the 7th before Daniel Bard snuffed a rally. Then, Bard himself gave up 2 more in the 8th to make a certain laugher far less funny.

And now an All-Star Break that's sure to be far less nerve-wracking than it looked like it might have been a few short days ago, followed by 4 days on the beach and a whole lot of ignoring baseball for me. Angst, my friend, I'll catch up with you in a few weeks.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Good Times Roll

Game 85 - Mets

Reds 3, Mets 0
Record: 40-45

Bronson Arroyo had been getting lit up like a Christmas tree for weeks.

B Arroyo
(W, 9-8)

The Mets face Johnny Cueto tonight. Cueto was absolutely torched by the Phillies last time out (9 ER in 2/3 inning). I will be fairly stunned if he doesn't throw a shutout against the Mets.

In other news to file under Things That Make Me Loathe This Team, the Mets traded one of my favorite guys on the team -- Ryan Church -- for a player I have never been able to stomach since his arrival in the bigs -- the Braves' Jeff Francoeur. I can't imagine that there will be enough upside in this deal (Francoeur has a rocket arm, but Church's was damn good; Francoeur swings at everything, which should endear him to David Wright) to make me come around on him.

Frankly, there just seems to be no way that Omar Minaya out-thunk Frank Wren. Not in Strat-o-matic, not in Connect Four, and certainly not in major league baseball.

To Rob's point below, I am earning the unbridled revelry I will exhibit when the Mets win the World Series in 2034.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Games 84 & 85 - Red Sox

Red Sox 5, A's 4
Royals 8, Red Sox 6
Record: 51-34

I really want to amp up the righteous indignation, but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to generate any emotion that's not theatrically enhanced. (Cue Jon Lovitz: "I'm ACTING!") The Sox are 3-4 at home against Seattle, Oakland, and Kansas City. The Yankees have crawled back into a flat-footed tie with the Sox atop the division (and the league). The bullpen blew another one last night. The offense is hitting below .250 over the last month. Aaron Bates and Mark Kotsay are starting at first.

And I'm sitting here struggling to tip the outrage scale at anything above mild annoyance.

I feel bad about it, really. The Mets, bless their feeble hearts, are an abject train wreck. I can see how Whitney might be getting worn down by having to watch that mess every night. I don't have any excuses.

All I have, really, is a growing, nagging realization: My name is Rob, and I'm spoiled by the Sox' success.

The malady doesn't affect me during games; in the moment, I'm every bit the irrational adolescent I've always been. But I don't carry the losses with me into the next day, and the next, like I used to. You can see it in the mailed-in offerings here at MLC of late. Go back to 2003 and 2004 and compare. There were times when the agony was laughably palpable. Hell, Aaron Boone ruined about a month for me.

As with most things, the Yankees are at the root of this new evil. Several times in the past week alone, Yankee-fan friends were meek, deferential even, during Sox/Yanks banter. In the past, I could always count on a "26" or a "Bucky Dent". Now, though, there's a wistful quality to my pinstriped pals' trash talking. Almost makes me feel sorry for them, mourning the loss of their swagger.

Almost. Suck it up, you ninnies. I need you to be assholes again. My angst is depending on it.

I Would Be Sad

Games 83 & 84 - Mets

Mets 5, Dodgers 4
Dodgers 11, Mets 2
Record: 40-44

For the first time that I can remember, I TiVoed the Mets game and deleted it before watching even one pitch. I inadvertently caught the score when it was 11-2 in the 8th. What would be the point of watching?

Mets vs. Reds tonight. July 10, and the Reds have a better record than the Mets. To borrow from Annie Savoy, this is the damnedest season I've ever seen. And not in a good way.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Something to Say

Game 83 - Red Sox

Red Sox 5, A's 2
Record: 50-33

More accurately, nothing to say. Sox take an early lead against a struggling young pitcher. Josh Beckett keeps the A's at bay. Sox bullpen does its job. One of 162, and a relatively unmemorable one at that.

And damn, but the Yankees are looming.

Jesus, Etc.

Game 82 - Mets

Dodgers 8, Mets 0
Record: 39-43

Good to see the Mets kicking off the latter 81 of the 2009 season the same way they closed out -- and played much of -- the former . . . like dipshits.

The Mets book-ended the Dodgers' eight runs with bases-loaded walks. Add Mike Pelfrey and Brian Stokes to the long, stupidly long list of Mets' pitchers who've walked in runs. After Stokes' walk -- his third in a row -- in the eighth, Gary Cohen groaned, "The wheels have come completely off." Pity he wasn't just talking about this one game.

Of course we lament, curse, and mock the pitching and defense that allowed eight runs (and really, let's hold the defense a tad accountable yet again, as the sure-elbowed Luis Castillo's throwing error made sure once again that R≠ER in the box score). But although there is ample fodder to trash the starting rotation, the pen, the defense, and the managing decisions that give other teams (and fans) the runs . . .

. . . let's take a moment to salute the band of flailing incompetents holding bats for the New York Mets these days, shall we?

The Mets have now scored three runs the their last four games.

The Mets have not scored a run in 22 innings.

As Ronnie pointed out last night, the Mets have plated 39 runs in the last 14 games, not quite 3 a game. Not good. That 20 of them came in two games and the other 19 runs came in the remaining 12 games is just awful. About a run-and-a-half per outing -- for half a month. Yikes.

David Wright is now in a 6-for-46, 0-for-his-last-16 slump. Again! Dee-Dub's season has been as bipolar as any I have ever heard of, with the highest of highs in the hottest of hot streaks and the lowest of lows in the crappiest of crap skids. Get him some lithium, stat. Just . . . wow.

I could go on, but I won't. Ollie Perez returns tonight, but I'm kind of burned out on fireworks after the 4th. So I'm going to watch some rock and/or roll with Rob instead.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Games 74 through 80 - Phillies

Braves 5, Phils 4
Braves 11, Phils 1
Braves 5, Phils 2
Phils 7, Mets 2
Phils 4, Mets 1
Phils 2, Mets 0
Phils 22, Reds 1

Record 43 wins, 37 losses - 1st place, 2 games ahead of Florida

Going into Monday night's opener of a four game set with the Redlegs, the Phillies had the second smallest run differential of all the division leaders in MLB. The were only 19 runs better than their opponents (Detroit was +16.) Today the Phillies' run differential is outdone only by the two best teams in baseball - the BoSox and Dodgers. What's that about lies, damn lies and statistics?

My powers of prognostication around these parts are legendary. I predict the Phils score only 4 more runs the remainder of the Reds series and proceed to limp to the All Star break barely above .500. Of course, I won't be disappointed should they play like men, dominate the mediocre Reds and Buccos and cruise into St. Lou next week at 47 and 39 but something tells me the mini-emergence from our June swoon will be rectified. I expect a long, painful, mediocre march to October. The '73 Mets are in trouble.

On a bright note, Hamels went 7 and walked none surrendering squat. Of course, we don't know if that was the result of the shock and awe style run support he enjoyed in the 10 run Phillies' first. Let's wait and see if Colbert is ready to start pitching like a #1.

News from the J-Roll watch: Jimmie went 3 for 4 last night - his fourth multi-hit game since returning from exile a week ago. Nice work Jimmie.

Here's a scary series of numbers:

.167 (YIKES!)

Them's Jimmie's monthly battin' averages. He's up to a cumulative .224 with an OBP of .276. At this stage, I will gladly take a .260 average with an OBP of .310 by season's end if he throws in about 12 more home runs and keeps playing his usual steady defense (only 3 errors in 75 games thus far.)

Oh, about that All-Star game - four first basemen? Really Charlie? 4? Look, I get that Ryan Howard's a great kid, a fan favorite, a St. Louis boy who made good and that nobody has produced more runs than the big lummox these past 3 years. Still, his OPS is .840 due largely to his paltry 30 walks and resultant unslugger-like .325 OBP. Surely there are some other infielders worthy of selection. Let's hope Howard doesn't have to play shortstop late in the game. He's to be commended for adhering to the Jared Subway diet and his hard work on improving his defense to the tune of only 4 errors so far. Still...

A Sort of Homecoming

Game 82 - Red Sox

A's 6, Red Sox 0
Record: 49-33

Returning to the self-referential well once again, I commend to you the words I wrote on July 31, 2004 after the trade that eventually played a major role in turning the Sox into World Series Champions.
...with all that said, all the logic expended, I still am so very
disappointed to see Nomar leave Boston. I lied a few days ago - he's my all-time
favorite Sox player, and even though I should know better, I held out hope that
he'd be on the field when the Sox finally won a title. I love the way he plays
the game - gracefully, powerfully, grittily, all-out-all-the-time. I love his
name, for Chrissakes. I love that he never seemed to be the stereotypical
superstar, that he was quiet, reserved, introspective. I love that he's better
than Derek Jeter, and that I could always shout a Yankee fan into submission
because I knew the numbers that proved it.

I'm 34 years-old, well past the age of hero-worship. I understand that
baseball is a business and that I basically root for the laundry. I do. And even
though that's true, I will feel very conflicted when the Chicago Cubs take the
field tomorrow and this big-nosed guy with an athletic gait bounds out of the
dugout, kicking the toes of his spikes into the turf, number 5 across his
pinstriped back as he sprints to his familar position on an unfamiliar diamond.
I've never had a second-favorite team before, but odds are about even that I'll
own a Cubs hat before I post again. They'll never be the Red Sox, but, then
again, they've got Nomar.
The prodigal designated hitter-cum-shortstop returned to Fenway last night for the first time as an opponent, wearing the garish green and yellow of the Oakland A's. And the home fans did us all proud, standing in unison for a 70-second ovation in honor and memory of No. 5's too-brief, transcendent time in Boston. He never won a title in Boston, but he was the first guy since the mid-80s that let any of us believe that such a thing was possible. I could try to convince myself otherwise, but he's still my favorite player.

As for the action on the field, well, Nomar got a standing ovation. Did I mention that? The Sox inexplicably fell to 6-12 on the season against the mediocre AL West, laying their bats down in quiet submission to world-beating lefty Brett Anderson (I think his name is Brett - if the Sox aren't gonna make an effort, then neither shall I).

A combination of work and evening leisure pursuits has kept me at some length from the Sox over the past few weeks, but what I've seen hasn't been very good. I confess to some lingering surprise at how a team that seems now to be unable to hit (no starter with a better than .300 average, as limited as that stat may be, and a whole lot of slumping bats), inconsistent on the mound, and indifferent in the field remains in possession of the American League's best record. I can say with some certainty that they won't hold it for long if something doesn't change.

I suppose one of the many charms of baseball is the near-certainty that slumps will both happen and end. Understanding that truth and liking the Sox' current scuffling are not the same thing.

Stuck in the Middle with You

Games 78 through 81 - Mets

Mets 9, Pirates 8 (10)
Phillies 7, Mets 2
Phillies 4, Mets 1
Phillies 2, Mets 0
Record: 39-42

39-42 at the halfway point. Ugh.

That the Mets have sunk to their worst mid-season record since . . . close your eyes and shudder when I say it . . . 2003 . . . is bad. That they are only four games better than that collection of no-talent assclowns is just frightening. This is where we are? Really?

Reading the post I pieced together at the All-Star Break in 2003, it doesn't feel fair to make such comparisons between these two ballclubs. That was six years ago but feels like eons longer. Somehow in 2009 I'm writing about similarities to that putrid squad and not the '86 or '00 teams? How is that possible?

Here's how. Through 81 games . . .

Carlos Delgado: 26 games
Jose Reyes: 36 games
Carlos Beltran: 62 games
John Maine: 11 starts

Oliver Perez: 5 (horrible, awful) starts
J.J. Putz: 29 games, 5.22 ERA (pitching hurt or hurt from pitching like crap?)
Sean Green: 5.00 ERA & Bobby Parnell: 4.88 ERA (Marion Barry wasn't set up as badly as the '09 Mets)
Tim Redding: 9 starts, 6.99 ERA

Daniel Murphy: 76 games, .665 OPS (ah, Gilded Boy)
Fernando Tatis: 58 games, .707 OPS (mighty big swing for .707)
Alex Cora: 54 games, .684 OPS (better than his OPS, but still)
Fernando Martinez: 29 games, .517 OPS (making Alex Escobar feel better)
Jeremy Reed: 65 games, .652 OPS (not numbers you want from a corner outfielder)
Ramon Martinez: 12 games, .396 OPS (I thought you got .400 for signing your name?)
Argenis Reyes: 6 games, .237 OPS (not numbers you want from a middle reliever)
Luis Castillo: 70 games, .701 OPS (.878 in April, .610 in June)


David "Golden Boy" Wright: 80 games, .884 OPS, 84 K's (high BA keeping the heat off his K total, though his average did drop 40 points in the last three weeks)

And then there's the defense. 55 errors (the '99 Mets had 68 all year, remember), including some of the most wretched we've seen in years. Not just embarrassing, but outcome-changing, momentum-shifting, game-losing errors. Lots of them. Egads.


So here's what we know. As of today the Mets have $69,643,682 worth of ballplayers on the disabled list. 69 million dollars in 2009 salary sitting on the shelf. More than the entire payroll of nine MLB teams. With the Mets paying Sheffield just the minimum, I'm reasonably sure (I don't feel like doing more math) it's more salary on the DL than on the active roster. Crippling.

I'm not sure any manager could do significantly better than Jerry Manuel in this predicament. Maybe Jack McKeon. Maybe John McGraw. Maybe Morris Buttermaker. Maybe nobody.

. . . which speaks to . . .

Organizational Depth. We've talked about this before; there is none with the New York Mets. Zero. Less than zero. Omar Minaya put all his money on concentrated OJ, and when the orange crop report came out, he (along with Mortimer & Randolph Wilpon) lost his shirt. This team was clearly not built to withstand injuries. Whether this was the right approach or not is a debate whose ultimate answer may determine whether Mr. Minaya has gainful employment in 2010.

The consequences, however, are more severe for those of us still dwelling in Mets Township. (Where real estate has rarely been cheaper!) We're left to watch -- and yes, we'll watch -- half a season of this tripe.

Yeah, they're only 4.5 out. Yeah, the Phillies stink and are ripe for someone to smack that smarmy smirk off their mugs. (The 22-1 beating they put on Cincy last night notwithstanding.) Division sucks. If we can get a few guys back . . . yeah, yeah, yeah.

75-87, fourth place. "The Lost Season."

Jerry is fired.

Omar is fired.

Yankee fans snicker. (And somehow work "26 championships" into the conversation, insecure douchebuckles that they are.)

And I owe Rob lots of beer.

Are you ready for some football?

Dodgers come to town tonight. You know what that means . . . bad news for the Dodgers. Let's Go Mets. Hey, it's half-hearted, but it's better than nothing.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Walking on Sunshine

Games 79 through 81 - Red Sox

Mariners 7, Red Sox 6 (11)
Mariners 3, Red Sox 2
Red Sox 8, Mariners 4
Record: 49-32

Two things happened on Sunday to completely change the tenor of this post. And woebetide the gentle people in MLCville if they hadn't, because losing two in a row at home to Seattle is unacceptable in normal circumstances, and downright grumpy-making with the Yankees bearing down with malice aforethought.

The first, and least important, of these two things was a scuffling, nervous, late-won triumph over the M's, with a 5-run 7th securing a game that was very much in doubt. Jon Lester pitched just okay against one of the league's worst offenses, but okay won the day as the slumping Dustin Pedroia singled, doubled, and homered and Mark Kotsay drove in a pair with a bases-loaded single the secure the victory.

Far more satisfying to this long-time fan was 42 year-old Tim Wakefield's selection to his first American League All-Star team. Let's get the argument out of the way: on merit, Wake's 10-3, 4.30 (1.35 WHIP) line isn't deserving of a spot on the 2009 team. Kevin Millwood, among others, has a pretty decent case to get the nod over the knuckleballer.

We're talking about an exhibition, though, even as the game technically 'counts'. There's a place in exhibition games for recognizing achievement over a full career, and for rewarding a baseball lifetime of humility and team-first attitude. As hard as this may be to fathom, Wake may yet end up as the winningest pitcher in Red Sox history. His 174 wins trail Roger Clemens and Cy Young, deadlocked at 192, and his arm shows no sign of tiring - he's topped 180 innings pitched in 5 of the last 6 seasons and on pace to do it again in 2009. With all that, though, his legacy in Boston will be one of selfless dedication to team and community. And if the AL All-Star team leaves a little something to be desired in recognition of that dedication, that's fine with me.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Oh Canada

Game 78 - Red Sox

Red Sox 6, Orioles 5 (11)
Record: 48-30

Let it be noted for the record that honorary Canadian Julio Lugo, he of the thick skin and thin skillset, singled home the game-winning run in the top of the 11th inning to provide the Sox with an improbably glorious Canada Day victory.

Let it further be noted that actual Canadian Jason Bay, he of the milquetoast mien and (formerly) formidable bat, went 0 for 5 with 5 strikeouts to honor his nation's day of celebration. For, um, Canadian stuff.

Less than 24 hours removed from one of the worst losses this jaded correspondent can recall, the Sox stared down the barrel of a dismal getaway day result. Josh Beckett lost his big game mojo, the offense sputtered and wheezed, and the gleeful Camdenites entered the 9th inning with a 4-run cushion. A Youkilis blast and Baldelli single later (in addition to some patience and a little assist from Blue) the Sox sent the game to extra innings. And with Daniel Bard, Ramon Ramirez, and Jonathan Papelbon aggressively scrubbing away the reminders of Tuesday's bullpen implosion and whitewashing the Oriole offense, 'twas only a matter of time before the Sox plated the winner.

Off-day today as the M's head to Beantown, and the entire bullpen, Bay, Mike Lowell, and Terry Francona's gall bladder offer collective thanks to MLB's scheduling gnomes for the helper.

Joy Division

Game 77 - Mets

Mets 1, Brewers 0
Record: 38-39

Had to have this one. It wasn't pretty (12 Mets K's, 1 run on 5 hits), but it's a win.

David Wright was initially given the day off but was later penciled in; our friends over at Metsblog praised Jerry for the presence of mind to keep Dee-Dub in the lineup. Dave rewarded them with an 0-for-4, 3K, 12th-error-of-the-season day. Oh, well. It came in a win.

3rd place, 2 games out of 1st. Thank goodness for the Phillies' inexplicable season. The Phils are perched atop the (crap) division . . . on pace for an 84-win season. (In other news, Rob is already making his room in his fridge for Case Bet winnings.) The NL East title won't be worth the banner it's printed on for whoever wins it, but it's still an entry into the postseason, so the Mets should ignore their record, ignore the trail of wreckage behind them, and ignore the denizens of the Township who continually point out their flaws. Look, the team fairly well sucks right now, but might I remind you that the 2006 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals were a fairly cruddy team, too. Anything can happen.

(Except the Nationals winning it. There is nothing in the entire universe that could make that happen.)

Crappy-go-lucky . . . that's what we're shooting for in Flushing in 2009.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair

Games 76 & 77 - Red Sox

Red Sox 4, Orioles 0
Orioles 11, Red Sox 10
Record: 47-30

It was funny at first. When Justin Masterson retired Felix Pie on a routine grounder to second to end the 6th inning, he walked off the mound and into the Sox dugout, followed by nearly all of his teammates. Thing is, Pie's out was only the second of the inning. Belly laughs ensued from Sox players and fans alike, as the good guys led, 9-1, and Masterson returned to the mound to polish off Nick Markakis on 3 pitches.

In retrospect, the Sox' mental lapse - an unusual one for this team - was portentous evidence that the squad had already checked out of a game they had won. The next 2 innings proved it, as the Orioles turned 13 hits into 10 runs against the league's best bullpen and completed the greatest comeback in their formerly-great (note: we're contractually committed to taking gratuitous shots at the Angelos-era Orioles) franchise's history. As I noted to my MLC colleagues, the entire thing had sort of a freight-train inevitability to it.

It also ruined my evening, which is really the most important element of the whole sordid deal.

I'm willing to file this one into the 'Stuff* Happens' (*Hi, Mom!) folder and be done with it, just as soon as Josh Beckett takes the mound this afternoon and lathers, rinses, repeats the lingering dandruff of regret right out of the Sox. But given the fact that the AL East boasts perhaps the 3 best teams in the entire major leagues, even single games in June matter. Let's hope this one doesn't come back to sting.