Thursday, June 30, 2005


Mets 5, Phillies 3 (PHI: 40-39; NYM: 39-39, 8 GB)

Despite the ups and downs so far this season (and there really have been a bunch), the Mets are at .500 through June. They went 11-13 in April, 15-13 in May, and finished June 13-13. The Mets have 27 games in July, so a 13-loss month would leave them at 53-52 heading into August. I'd take it. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I just find it interesting that the Mets have lost 13 games in each month so far...if they're going to catch the Nationals, they're going to have to have a better-than-one-game-over-.500 July. I'm not starting to believe in Washington, they've just jumped out to a big enough lead that if they start struggling right now, the Mets still need to play very good ball to catch them.

The Phillies are The Mets took 2 out of 3 from Philadelphia, 8 out of 12 so far this season, and will probably pass the Phillies in the standings this weekend. In so doing, the Mets would be beating up on the Marlins, which I believe they can do, and can thus be in third place for next week's 4-game series in Washington, beginning on the 4th of July. Then the Mets go to Pittsburgh (as does - ROAD TRIP!!), before the All-Star Break.

Pedro Martinez*(asterisk could be gone after the All-Star break) earned the win in the 5-3 win over Philly on Thursday. Pedro* was good, not great, throwing too many pitches in the first couple of innings, so he only lasted six, giving up 2 ER, and striking out 6. He's now 9-2. A decent job by the Mets' relievers, pitching out of jams - Heath Bell, Royce Ring, and Roberto Hernandez, got the Mets to Braden Looper in the ninth, for a very uncharacteristic 1-2-3 inning.

After the Phillies took a 1-0 lead on a Jimmy Rollins homer, Chris Woodward hit a 2-run single to give the Mets the lead in the second inning. In the fourth, the Mets got the rest of their runs. After another Woodward hit, this time a double, the Mets had runners on second and third, and THE GREATEST BALLPLAYER WHO EVER LIVED, Jose Reyes, lined a triple to the wall in center, making it 4-1, then Mike Cameron singled Reyes home, making it 5-1.

Interesting lineups in this one. The Phillies had Kenny Lofton leading off, and Jimmy Rollins hit fifth! for the Phillies. I found that strange. The Mets continue to keep David Wright in the 6th or 7th spot in the order. I just don't understand it. Marlon Anderson hit sixth on Thursday, and Wright 7th! I don't get it. I know Willie Randolph must have a reason he's keeping Wright low in the order, I just haven't heard it yet. Maybe I missed it. But it can't be to take the pressure off Wright anymore...he's such a good hitter. He should be hitting second, in my opinion. Heck - he's producing more than Carlos Beltran* - maybe he should be moved down to 7th in the order.

Interesting note for me. I just realized, as I watched Heath Bell give way to Royce Ring, that the Mets have a young righty-lefty combo coming out of the bullpen with great names - "Ring Bell", "Bell Ring". I call dibs on marketing rights.

A bonus for this game: Ted Robinson wasn't doing the TV coverage. I haven't been watching Wimbledon, and unfortunately I haven't watched much of the Mets lately: I wonder if Robinson is on assignment. Anyway, it was just Fran Healy and Keith Hernandez in the booth. Healy was his usual dopey self, but Hernandez was ON. He was great. First of all, Healy and Hernandez called out Sammy Sosa, saying they were glad the Mets didn't make the Sosa-for-Floyd trade that had been talked about last year. Then they started talking about how thin Sammy Sosa looked...then they mentioned Ivan Rodriguez (hadn't noticed his physical difference), and Ryan Klesko ("like night and day", they said, and I agree) all losing weight. Hernandez said - "You're seeing it all over baseball - it's pretty clear what's going on." Talk about saying it, without really saying it. But there was more from Hernandez: a crowd shot showed a little kid with ice cream all over his face, and they were making fun of the kid, and then at the top of the screen, some dude with a tattoo on his arm walked through the shot, and Hernandez started talking about how ugly the tattoo was. Not as entertaining as I write this. Hernandez also said he loved when fans did the wave at Shea. I must admit, when that place is packed, like it used to be, the wave did look cool. I always thought the players wouldn't like it...but it's nice to hear Hernandez did. I feel like I contributed to something by taking part all those years ago.

Here's part of why Fran Healy is a dink (but a harmless dink - like I've said, I'll take him any day over Robinson). During Wednesday night's game, Cliff Floyd sent a hard grounder through the first/second base hole, but since the Phillies had the shift on, it wasn't a base hit - it was a groundout. Healy says, "That should be illegal!" No it shouldn't, Fran. If you're a good hitter (and not stubborn, like Ted Williams), spray the ball the other way, and get yourself a base hit. Thursday, Floyd dropped a bunt down the third base line against the shift, and got a base hit. Healy didn't talk about how the shift should be illegal when it was exploited.

Also mentioned during the game on Thursday - Mets PR man Jay Horwitz celebrated his 4,000th game with the Mets. That's something. He's awesome...and very funny. He told Matt Laughlin he spilt his 3,400th Coke during the game. The Elias Sports Bureau said Horwitz had seen 2,010 wins, 1988 losses, and 2 ties (I guess games called due to rain and never made up?). Horwitz has had some low times when he's had to represent the Mets to the media (I'm thinking 1993 with Vince Coleman's firecracker, Bret Saberhagen's chloride, and more recently, with Grant Roberts' pot, but there have been many more), but he's also been with them for some good ones. Hernandez said the 1986 Mets all voted to take a cut of their Championship checks to give something to Jay because he wouldn't get a World Series check. I hope Horwitz is around for a while more...he's a Mets establishment.

CARTER COUNT: The minor league baseball website doesn't do the Gulf Coast League much justice...but so far as I can tell, the undefeated season in Hall of Famer Gary Carter's mangerial debut is over. The Gulf Coast Mets are now 5-1, so I can only assume they split their doubleheader with the Nationals today. Still, the Hall of Fame managerial career of Carter is off to a great start.

***We're not going to do a running commentary on whether or not Mike Piazza deserves the starting nod at catcher in the All-Star Game, but I just wanted to point out, first of all, that Piazza got another hit (and was robbed of a second by Kenny Lofton) on Thursday, going 1-for-4. Secondly, I don't think my numbers on Piazza added up to his current numbers. The homers are what I'm talking about...but the average, runs and RBI should be right. I think I confused my doubles and home run columns when I was looking up his stats. The bottom line is that since May 26th, Piazza has been playing very well, and is much more deserving of an All-Star nod than his numbers would indicate. Now, whether or not he deserves that nod over, say, Paul LoDuca or Ramon Hernandez is debatable. But he still has more power than LoDuca, and Hernandez is hurt. So there. Beltran* is another story - he'll be starting in the All-Star Game undeservedly, but I still think he'll finish the year with some good stats. "He's a great second-half player", so they say....

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Phillies 6, Mets 3
(PHI: 40-38, NYM: 38-39; 7.5 GB, pending outcome of Washington's rain delay)

The Mets have an interesting combo in Victor Zambrano and Kaz Ishii. They both battle wildness, but they're both very capable of pitching themselves out of jams. Zambrano won praise for his pitching lately - there have been write-ups about how well he's doing, and how he's progressing, after Tuesday night's win, and people have been comparing him favorably to the year Scott Kazmir has been having...starting to think it might not have been a bad trade. Mike Piazza says Zambrano is wild to catch, because he gets himself into so many jams, but he says it's amazing how he pitches his way out of it.

All this is to set up the fact that "pitching yourself out of jams" is not going to help you play good baseball - because sooner or later, you're going to be just cruising through the first three innings, and then walk the first three batters in the fourth, and then you're going to give up a 2-run single, and a 3-run homer, and your team is going to be down 5-0 before they can manage to get a hit off the opposing pitcher, and then your team is going to lose. That's the long and short of Wednesday night's game, and start, by Kaz Ishii. Ishii did strike out Thome after loading the bases, so he did get himself within a groundball of getting himself out of the jam, but he still walked three straight batters. It's not the first time this season - it had better be the last. This loss is entirely on Ishii.

Changing gears - last night I mentioned my arch-nemesis Kenny Rogers breaking the pinky on his non-throwing hand throwing a hissy fit after a bad outing. Well, another hissy fit followed on Wednesday before the Rangers' game - Rogers attacked cameramen on the field in Arlington. He pushed one guy, then ripped a camera from another guy, threw it to the ground, and kicked it. Apparently, he has a huge temper, and it's becoming more apparent why Rogers couldn't cut it in New York, with the Mets and the Yankees. However, I do NOT remember him showing this much emotion after HE WALKED IN THE WINNING RUN IN THE 1999 NLCS. Probably because that game doesn't reflect in his personal stats.

Interesting fact from the Rangers-Angels series - Vladimir Guerrero has at least one hit in all 30 games he has played against the Texas Rangers. I think that's phenomenal. One more game this series Thursday afternoon in Arlington.

I was reading the Daily News online today, and Bill Madden talked about how the Mets want to be buyers at the (fast-approaching) trade deadline, but they don't really have much of a farm system to deal from. But they should be able to get something for Jae Seo - he won again on Wednesday for (1st place) Norfolk, and is now 6-2. He struck out nine in eight and a third innings, and has a 1.92 ERA since he was sent down on May 5. I'm not saying he's worth a ton - but he's gotta be worth something to somebody.

Let's talk Marlins for a minute: Jack McKeon will miss the next few games because of a death in his family....but that might be a good thing for Florida. Apparently, there is some unrest there - with players tiring of McKeon's old-school ways. Also, there are big-time trade rumors surrounding A.J. Burnett (I had no idea), and the players aren't happy about that at all.

Lastly tonight, I crunched the numbers on Piazza. I drew the line at May 26. To that point, Piazza had been hitting .239, with 4 HR, 10 runs scored, and 10 RBI in 42 games. Since then, he's hitting .316 (.322 before a 1-4 on Wednesday night) with 3 HR, 13 RBI, and 11 runs in 25 games. We'll probably never see the Piazza of old again...but I'll take the Piazza of late.

By the way, the Phillies still don't scare me.

CARTER COUNT: The Gulf Coast Mets had their game against "Washington" suspended in the first inning - they trailed 1-0. Two games on Thursday, putting their perfect record on the line.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Mets 8, Phillies 3 (PHI: 39-38; NYM 38-38, 7 GB)

I've said it so many times, I feel like it's my mantra...but it's not, because then I'd have a very crappy mantra. "The Phillies do not scare me." Here's what scares me: Pedro Martinez* feeling a "twinge" anywhere on his body. Depending on Braden Looper in any situation in life. (Or Armando Benitez.) Clowns and monkeys. The Mets playing at Turner Field. Monkeys dressed like clowns. But not the Philadelphia Phillies. The National League East is tight, and very competitive - but the Mets only have to worry about Washington, Florida, an Atlanta. The Phillies had their run, they're on their way to the cellar. (Incidentally, there's no way the Nationals are going to keep doing what they're doing, but that's another story for another day.)

The Mets improved to 7-3 over the Phillies with their win on Tuesday night at Shea Stadium. The Mets jumped out to the 2-0 lead in the third inning with back-to-back RBI doubles by Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran*. I think both of them really crushed the ball, because ESPN GameCast said the doubles were hit to "deep left" and "deep center", respectively. Unfortunately, I was relegated to following the game on GameCast because I am at Channel 4. What can you do...I have to pay the bills, you know.

Victor Zambrano gave a run back to Philly, but the Mets broke the game open with 4 runs in the fifth, featuring a Beltran* triple, then RBI singles by Mike Piazza, future Hall of Famer David Wright, and "I can't believe the Mets now have" Jose Offerman. Also in the "I can't believe...." category: Brian Daubach added an RBI groundout. (I know I have a lot of Red Sox fans as readers, so I wanted to make them reminisce by including those two names.)

Mike Piazza added a 2-run homer later in the game to effectively put it away - he's really coming on of late - I might crunch some numbers to figure out at which point of the season you have to start counting his stats to see if he deserves the starting nod at catcher for the All-Star team. I'm sure since a certain date (probably earlier this month) his average is over .300 - he's been hitting that well lately. As it is, Piazza's average is up to .267 overall. That's a big climb from where he was.

The bad news - Danny Graves gave up a couple of bombs in mop-up duty. (Bombs being synonymous with homers - I have no way of knowing if they were legitimate "bombs".) He could help the Mets, but he needs to get things figured out - lots of time with Rick Peterson for Graves. That's my recommendation.

Now the words Dave from Brighton has waited nearly two months to hear -time to check the mailbag (there are a number of outdated e-mails, which we might re-visit on a slow day in the future, but we'll start with a very recent one):

"Dear JohnnyMets,

Thanks for returning to cyberspace.

Here's my question. Or a comment, then a question, really.

Doug Mientkiewicz pulled a hammie while in the on-deck circle the
other day, and he's on the 15 day DL. This got me thinking about my
favorite DL stories.

--Mike Remlinger hurt his left (throwing) pinkie adjusting his recliner
in May.
--Sammy Sosa's sneezing fit (sore back) from last season.
--Paxton Crawford (5-1 career record) lying down on a wine glass. I
read a rumor on the Internet that the injury involved a hooker and a
disagreement over Canadian vs US dollars.

What are your favorite DL stories (that don't involve David Wells)?


Dave, you set me up perfectly. I was going to address this today, since my arch-nemesis, Kenny Rogers, missed a start because of a broken bone in his non-pitching hand suffered when he threw a fit in his last start. (Kevin Brown-esque.) And the Mientkiewicz injury might cost the Mets, beause he's the reason Jose Offerman is now back in the major leagues.

But any conversation about stupid baeball injuries begins and ends with John Smoltz. He ironed a shirt - WHILE HE WAS WEARING IT!!! I don't remember if he landed on the DL, or if he even missed a start - but it happened. That's enough. That's the big one...this might be a week-long theme, where I write them down when they come to me. Interesting point about Crawford, incidentally, Dave - thanks for bringing that to our attention.

A big shout-out to Hall of Famer Gary Carter, whose Mets of the Gulf Coast League are off to a 4-0 start. It's a 55-game season, we'll keep you posted on whether or not they stay undefeated. Thus begins our Carter Count.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Mets 6, Yankees 4 (NYM 36-37, 7 GB; NYY 37-36)

Nineteen wins and twenty-two losses later, here we are. Nothing's really changed. Tom Glavine's still horrible, and the Mets are still hovering around .500 (though lately it's been on the wrong side of that number).

But things are starting to look up. Everything went the Mets way on Friday night in the Bronx, as the Mets beat the Yankees, 6-4.

It didn't start well - Pedro Martinez* (the asterisk remains due to Pedro's brush with injury shortly after my last posting) gave up a leadoff homer to Derek Jeter. It was the second inning where the Mets showed what a little aggressive ball can lead to.

The first two batters reached, setting up a sacrifice bunt situation for Doug Mientkiewicz. Mientkiewicz dropped a bunt down the third base line that stayed fair and was perfectly placed, loading the bases, instead of leaving men at first and second. The next batter was Ramon Castro, and he hit a sac fly, tying the game at 1. Then Jose Reyes hit another sac fly - except Bernie Williams dropped it! The Mets took the 2-1 lead, and you knew things were going their way. The Mets added another sac fly in the inning - tying a record. Reyes' was ruled a sac fly, and he reached on the error, in case you were wondering.

Cliff Floyd homered off Mike Mussina in the third inning, after Mussina hit him with a pitch in the first...and Carlos Beltran* (the asterisk remains because I think we all expected a lot more from him at this point) homered in the fifth. 8 of Beltran*'s 9 homers on the season came in games Martinez* has started. Unreal. Beltran* also made a leaping catch against the centerfield wall in the 8th...or maybe it was the 7th.

Pedro* was very good. He gave up two runs in eight innings, striking out 3. Incidentally, it's the lowest strikeout total he's had in a game where he's gone eight innings. Pedro's now 8-2.

Here's the only sore spot of the night - Braden Looper, giving up a 2-run homer, 3 hits, in the ninth inning. It wasn't a save situation, but that's the problem. Anytime it's not a save situation, Looper is a lock to give up at least a run. The joke here would be he's a lock to give up a run in save situations too, but that hasn't been the case lately. Sometimes he makes it exciting, but he's converted 15 of 17 saves on the year. I guess the point is, he just better not cost the Mets a game if he comes in and they're up 4 runs or more.

A sweep of the Yankees would be huge this weekend. Two out of three would still leave the Mets a game under .500. I'll try to keep writing after each of the games. Things should settle down for a little bit these next few weeks.

the newest 4th grade teacher in Sudbury, Massachusetts