no closer? *cues up yakety sax*

August 6, 2008

Oh, Heilman. Heilman, buddy. I wonder if you’re being trotted out there to no doubt fail as penance for some assorted undisclosed crimes against humanity that are only privy to the Mets front office and coaching staff. NO ONE wants to see you in a close situation anymore, and walking the lead-off batter on four pitches certainly won’t help your cause with the fans. A three-run homer to a man named Jody sucks too, but that kind of thing has come to be part and parcel to a Heilman appearance.

Certainly Heilman should have had a better fate had Argenis Reyes actually tried for that bloop single, and then later turned a coulda-woulda-shoulda double play, but a batter later we saw a four-run belt-loosening fresh-glass-of-water-ahhhh lead turn into a rocking-in-the-fetal-position one-run nailbiter. Thankfully Joe Smith and Scott Schoeneweis got the final two outs, Show earning the save and saying, “Me getting a save is about as much of a highlight as I ate the 1,000th cheesesteak served in the away clubhouse in Philadelphia this year. That’s about what it’s like. Right guy in the right place. Lucky.” That’s pretty good, Schoeny, especially considering your post-game interview with Ed Coleman was about the most incoherent, mumbled, pause-filled atrocity I’ve heard from an athlete in quite some time.

Not that it matters, but I also got a nice mild vindication for my previous post, where I stated that I was excited to see what these young kids could do for the team. Not that I think they’re the answer, certainly–way too early for that–but as a fan I can’t help but be sucked in by young blood. Daniel Murphy not only continued his Endy impersonation but also rapped a double for his first Major League RBI. He also worked two walks, which is probably even more impressive. Previous to that, Argenis Reyes had also worked a walk to get the rally started. Nick “I only get a hit every coupla weeks” Evans also hit a double, and two errors allowed Beltran to score what turned out to be the pivotal run. Now, if only we’d seen Eddie Kunz in the ninth, then the rooks would’ve been all accounted for (I’m not counting Carlos Muniz, because boy has he been lousy lately). It would have been nice for Kunz to make his first appearance at Shea, especially afforded a four-run lead; if he got in trouble then give him the quick hook. He certainly couldn’t have done worse than Heilman.

Lost amid the Benny Hill bullpen was a nice performance by Mike Pelfrey, who worked 6 2/3 for his team-leading 10th win, as well as a perfect 1 1/3 by Pedro Feliciano, probably the best I’ve seen him all season. Pelf and Pedro deserve kudos for theoretically giving the bullpen some rest, before Heilman went up there and gave a man named Jody a marshmallow while singing “Kumbaya.”

Oh, and there’s this:

CAN YOU HEAR THE MUTHAFUCKIN DRUMS?!?!?!??!?!?!!!!

Where the hell would the Mets be without Fernando Tatis? That’s not rhetorical, either; Howie Rose asked the same question last night, and if you think to the troubles the Mets have had both in the outfield and with their offense (the first, oh, five innings last night were downright anorexic), Fernando continues to show us his Tatis, hitting game-changing homers or coming up with clutch RBIs exactly when the Mets need them most. I am unable to recall how many times this season Tatis has been the hero of the game, because every few days or so it seems he’s the one–not Beltran, not Reyes, not Wright; sometimes Delgado–who’s making the big play.

I hope the man never stops drinking his Gatorade.

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the mets are so bo derek

July 18, 2008

I had this whole visual joke all ready to go but then I see that Metstradamus has beaten me to the punch. LOL@me.

Last night’s game was a rollercoaster, equal parts excruciating, exciting, disappointing, hilarious, and ultimately deeply satisfying.

But I won’t call it surprising. Not after these ten games. I’m not surprised by the fight back we witnessed last night. I’m not surprised by Fernando Tatis anymore, because now it seems that the only time he ever gets a hit is when someone’s on base, waiting to get driven in. I’m not surprised that Carlos Delgado is resembling an honest-to-God Major League hitter again, because he’s been taking his walks like a patient man and waiting for a meatball to smoke, which he inevitably does. I’m not surprised by David Wright’s heroics, because when Argenis Reyes singled in the top of the ninth I nonchalantly thought, “Well a third two-run homer would get us back in business,” and then instantly I heard the ball ricocheting off his bat, Wayne Hagin’s voice soaring with it and optimism and my pumped fist as it went over the wall. And I’m not surprised the succession of hard hits by Beltran, Easley, Delgado, and Tatis, because over the past ten games we’ve seen this team get on these runs, stringing together hits for a big inning, moving the line along like automatic assembly to craft something so lovely and satisfying like a four-run ninth, tenth win in a row, and a tie for first place.

Not surprised by the pitching either, sorry to say. Not surprised by Santana’s terrible start; it figures the one time the Mets actually score oodles of runs during a game he pitches it’d be after he was knocked out in the fourth. He’s had his dominant-looking performances here and there this season, but usually they’ve been spoiled by lack of offense and/or bullpen meltdown. I’m not sure I’ve been wholly satisfied with Santana since the first game of the season, and I expect that to change soon enough. It’s enough that Pelfrey has started to look the stud. But you could sense Santana’s troubles a-brewin’ during that second inning when the Reds loaded the bases. He just didn’t have it, and a few innings later–afforded a 2-0 lead thanks to Delgado–it all went down the tubes real fast.

The bullpen’s 19 1/3 scoreless innings streak had to end sometime, and after Muniz relieved Santana and Feliciano relieved Muniz, it was looking pretty good. You’d of course have to think that any runs given up by the bullpen would eventually–according to recent history at least–happen with a combination of Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoeneweis, which is exactly what happened, despite their recent efficacy. The troubling part about it was Heilman, as fantastically good over the past month and a half as he was bad during the first two months, getting two quick outs in the inning, only to give up a double, intentional walk, and another walk. Smart move by Jerry Manuel to bring in Schoeneweis, who’s been great at inducing ground balls but, if my memory is correct, not-so-great at stranding inherited runners. Enter bases-clearing double. Thankfully for them, Sanchez pitched a scoreless eighth and the offense would work its magic.

And what to say about Wagner? Sure, I was feeling a little shaky considering his All-Star appearance, but after Encarnacion popped up on the first pitch I remembered, “Wags only blows it against the Phillies!” (insert wah-wah horns). At any rate, nice to see an easy 1-2-3 deal-sealing after the offense’s tremendous comeback in the top of the inning.

So many heroes last night, from big (Delgado) to small (the other Reyes), but with a two-out, 2 RBI single to cut the score to 5-4, and then to tie the score at 8 in the ninth, player of the game has to be David Wright. And of course, let us gaze upon his bounteous beauty:

Let’s go Mets. Turn it up to 11.


SHOW US YOUR TATIS

July 10, 2008

Huh? Why? Oh, a 4 RBI game, coming up with the big hits like he has been lately? Oh, OKAY THEN.

Entering today’s game he had a .462 average with RISP. Which is just bonkersnuts. This isn’t going to last, surely, but it’s lovely to see someone who’s fought so hard to get back into the game contributing when needed. Especially considering Moises A-who? is BREAKING NEWS SHOCKER INJURED AGAIN DID YOU HEAR OH NO!

In other news, the sun will set in the west tonight.


a big PHEW in philly

July 6, 2008

A phenomenal game by the Mets in Philly tonight that could have turned like so many bust-ups have over the past thirteen months or so. A solo Beltran home run and–oddly–a second consecutive gem by Oliver Perez saw the Mets with a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Duaner Sanchez would get the first out and allow the next two batters on base, bringing up Pedro Feliciano to face lefty Ryan Howard.

And then the rains came (what is this, Wimbledon?…More on that tomorrow, likely, not that you care all that much!).

That incessant downpour and interminable delay served to make me hope that somehow it would continue long into the night, calling the game in the Mets’ favor. Forgive the pessimism, but we have surely witnessed too many bullpen meltdowns in Philly to have much faith in Feliciano (who has been struggling for what seems like all season) against Howard. And we all had hours and hours to fret over that match-up.

And then Howard strikes out.

And then it looks pretty good as the Mets sratch out another run in the top of the ninth, leading the way for Billy Wagner. Our closer. Our All-Star. It’s the bottom of the Phillies’ order, and he’s supposed to mow them down, right? Game over, no?

NO. Not for Wags against Philly. How many games has he blown against Philly in the last year? There goes a game-tying two run bomb, the miraculous Phillies having been down to their last strike. Of course. Dejafuckingvu. We almost need a moratorium against a crucial appearance for Billy Wagner against the Phillies. Maybe we can give that spot to Joe Smith against Philly.

But first things first: a big fucking thank you to Fernando Tatis, tonight’s game-winning hero, answering Jayson Werth’s two-run bomb with a two-run bomb of his own, putting the Mets up 4-2 in the twelfth. This would allow Smith, who had pitched an inning and a third, to end the top of the twelfth with one of the most lousy at-bats known to mankind (he at least fouled off a pitch?) and pitch the bottom of the frame.

And boy, did Smith MAN UP. In his two and a third, with Tony Armas the only available option in the bullpen, Smith had to face big lefties in Chase Utley and Howard, along with switch-hitter Jimmy Rollins. Smith + lefties = trouble. But holy God, was it a true grit performance, allowing one hit in his appearance (to Rollins), and deservedly earning the win tonight. I think we saw a young man grow up tonight.

Of course, due to his age, he has to carry that Hello Kitty backpack to the bullpen. “Hello Smitty” indeed. Maybe Smitty can lend it to Wagner for a while. That’d be some poetic justice.


OH MY GOD

May 28, 2008

The Mets won two games in a row? WHAT?!

A winning streak? BUH?

A come-from-behind win…in extra innings? SHLUH?!

And for the first time in weeks, a real team effort tonight. I missed what turned out to be about half of the game as I was having an amazing all you can eat mussels dinner at Petite Abeille with Stan and his delightful ladyfriend, the Reese Witherspoon Doppelganger. I got home in time to hear Scott Schoeneweis throw what’s becoming an astonishingly routinely easy inning and hear the score as 5-4 Marlins. Immediately I’m all GROOOOAAANNNNN OLLIE. I check the box score and see how those runs happened to be (Luis Castillo hit a home run? WHU?!) and then crack open a beer and think, “All right, let’s do this.” Optimism? Why, I haven’t been optimistic since the Yankees series!

Endy’s game-tying home run. Excellent bullpen performance (the Amezega homer off Duaner notwithstanding…and hey, even then I still thought, “We can get that back.” Talk about optimism). And a beautiful finish, with Fernando Tatis clobbering the walk-off hit in yet another productive night.

I won’t say this is the turning point, and I won’t say this is momentum, but this is as good a time as any to start building towards something close to this team’s potential. Baby steps, sure. But who doesn’t cheer on when the baby begins to waddle?

Now, bring on my hated Dodgers. I will be there on Saturday. To watch, yet again, Mike Pelfrey pitch. Man, can I for once see a different starting pitcher?!

***

Time for some curt shilling: I will be reading this Friday night at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church on the Bowery. This is my first reading in roughly two years. If you find yourself with nothing to do and feel compelled to listen to some tortured pyscho-sexual violence mixed with some gallows humor, come on by! Info here.