Saturday, September 30, 2006


I've got all these thoughts swimming in my head that I haven't had a chance to write down. Being a Saturday of a 3-day weekend, and with 2 days left in the regular season, I figured this was as good a time as any to get the thoughts out there.

I'm not too upset about this Pedro Martinez* situation (see why I put asterisks up? See?). Honest to goodness, I don't think he's the difference-maker everyone makes him out to be. I got a little riled up last week when Dave in Brighton brought up the prospect of Steve Trachsel pitching instead of Pedro*, but that's because he brought Trachsel into the equation. I honestly feel better about Orlando Hernandez in Game 1 of the playoffs than Pedro*. Pedro* hasn't been effective for the Mets since May. They've done great this entire season without him. I know the post-season is about pitching more than hitting - but the Mets' might not need to worry about that until they face the pitchers in the American League in the World Series (namely, the Twins). I think the Mets' bats are better than the National League's playoff pitching. I know they've struggled against lefties (see below), but that won't be too big a problem through the National League playoffs.

One other thing - I don't think it's a stretch to say the whole Pedro* thing may have been weighing on the team's mind. The recent funk they've been in has coincided with Pedro*'s return, and poor outings. Once it came out that Pedro* is done for the year, the bats woke up, and the Mets started winning again. Maybe it's a good thing.

One last item on Pedro* - as much as I wasn't crazy about his signing when the Mets did it, I will defend it forever. 3 years, 4 years, whatever - if the Mets hadn't signed Pedro*, they wouldn't have attracted the players they did that built this team into what it is right now. That was exactly Omar Minaya's plan, and that's exactly what has happened. Pedro* was the bait, and he was well worth it, even if the Mets only got one full good year out of him on the mound (and with a full off-season to recover from this calf injury, I think he'll be OK next year).

A THEORY: So somehow the Mets have stopped hitting against left-handed pitchers. Notable here is David Wright, who was eating up lefties in the first half of the season and isn't anymore. This doesn't seem to be a huge problem as the Mets enter the playoffs because the Phillies had the most daunting lefties in the NL, and they're going to miss out on the post-season. But it still could be a problem. And I have a thought on why they don't hit lefties.

I think they change the way they play when a lefty is on the mound, and it starts with Jose Reyes. Reyes doesn't run as much against a left-hander as he does against a righty (only 19 versus lefties, 45 against righties). In the second half of the season Reyes has just 25 SB's, and I'm sure only a couple, if any, have come against lefties. He just doesn't run against lefties. And a lot of the Mets' success comes when Reyes is on base, upsetting a pitcher's rhythm, and that's not happening a lot when there is a lefty on the mound. So the hitters change their game, and it's not 2006 Mets baseball. That's what I think.

SEPARATED AT BIRTH?: With all due respect to my good friend Naturalbl0g, I must post this look-alike picture. The Wife and I are watching the Mets the other night, and the cameras show John Maine on the bench. I look at him, then look at The Wife, and say, "Doesn't Maine look a lot like Joe Randa?" And The Wife started nodding before I even said Randa's name. That was enough for me to believe that they REALLY look alike. So here's a look at Maine and former Met-killer Randa:

P.S. Kudos to naturalbl0g for doing these quite often - these are the best pictures of these two I could find, and it doesn't even show how much they really look alike. It must be hard work to do this more than just twice in your lifetime:

MAINE: One more thing, since I've just brought up Kris Benson and John Maine. How huge did that Benson trade turn out to be? You've got Benson for Jorge Julio and John Maine. Benson finished the year making 30 starts, going 11-12, with a 4.82 ERA. Julio turned into Orlando Hernandez when the Mets made the trade with Arizona, and now Hernandez and Maine will be two of the Mets' starters in the post-season. I think that worked out pretty well for the Mets.

BOOF: Also of note, I stopped updating Boof Bonser's starts in Minnesota, but he has pitched pretty well since I've last written of him. Bonser finished the season with 18 starts, going 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA. Not bad - he had a rocky couple of starts mixed in there when I was still updating his games.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: I've written a couple of times about how awful a first place team the St. Louis Cardinals are. They are living up to that title even more now with a huge collapse, but I still think they'll make the playoffs. And as much as I'd like to see them finish the collapse, I don't want Roger Clemens to make the playoffs, so I guess I'll take St. Louis. It's looking like a Mets-Dodgers or Padres first round matchup, with the winner of the West playing St. Louis (depending on the Dodgers-Padres division winner/wild card winner finish).

I'm still not sure how Playoff updates will happen - but I will be posting on the playoff games (perhaps the next day, perhaps the night of, if I'm up with The Baby). Speaking of which, no baby yet - still waiting....................

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Jets 28, Bills 20 (NYJ: 2-1, BUF: 1-2)

The Jets made this one (again) a lot closer than it should have been. But they won, and they're 2-1, and depending on how the Patriots do in the Sunday night game, the Jets are going to be either a game out of first or in a tie for first.

I'm going to tell you something else - the Jets have a very real chance of being 5-3, maybe even 6-2, by the time their bye week rolls around. We'll get into that a little more as the weeks progress - but I have now shifted from hoping for a decent season to the possibility that the Jets can be one of the top teams in the AFC and make the playoffs.

The reason? They looked that good against Buffalo, which isn't a great team, but has been good enough the first couple of weeks. The Jets came out slow, which may have been by design, because the wind was blowing in their faces. And the Bills jumped out to a 7-0 and then 10-7 lead. But the Jets let Willis McGahee do their thing, and stopped every other facet of the Bills' game, which is exactly what their game plan should have been. (Everything fell apart in the final couple of minutes, but I now know to expect that the Jets aren't going to get anything easily this year.)

Willis McGahee got his 150 yards rushing, but the Jets kept him out of the end zone. And the Jets themselves moved the ball on the ground - nothing brilliant, but 74 yards on 24 carries - including 2 for 10 by Cedric Houston, who scored a late touchdown! (Derrick Blaylock was inactive Sunday.) Houston looked good - I'm going to start beating his drum again.

The Jets defense forced 3 turnovers - 2 fumbles by J.P. Losman, and an interception, and didn't really allow the Bills to move the ball in the air until the final two minutes. Chad Pennington was brilliant again. This was more of a typical Pennington performance - 19 of 29, for 183 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came inside the Red Zone, where in his career Pennington is now 44 TD's to 0 INT's. And it came on a beautiful play fake - I love watching Pennington do those.

There were some really great signs of life in this ballgame. The Jets running game showed promise. Pennington made some great decisions. The defense played great when it had to. I don't know if it will be enough to beat Indianapolis next week (although I'll find a way to pick the Jets by Friday), but it may be enough to beat Jacksonville in two weeks. But again, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself - let's just enjoy a winning record.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


388 yards, 2 touchdowns. 129.3 yards per game rushing. That's what Willis McGahee has done in his past three games against the Jets. We could be witnessing the beginning of a very bad relationship - the development of one of those players who just kills the Jets every time they play. Then there's the fact that the Jets gave up 145 yards rushing to the Patriots last week, and it could be a long day for the Jets run defense on Sunday.

But in the end, it might be a successful day. No, the Jets can't run the ball, but they might be able to eek out enough yards against Buffalo that they could open up the passing game for Chad Pennington a little bit. And with what Pennington's been able to do with no running game, a little bit of a running game could be huge for him.

The Jets may never shut down Willis McGahee. But they can let him do his thing and stop J.P. Losman. Last year the Jets went 1-1 against Buffalo with Vinny Testaverde and Brooks Bollinger at quarterback. The Bills aren't much better now than last year (although they have played two pretty good games) - I expect the Jets, based on what I've seen from them so far this year, to be able to go 2-0 against Buffalo in 2006.

This is a big measuring stick game for the Jets. The Bills hung with New England from beginning to end, while the Jets came alive against the Patriots in the second half. New England won both of those games. Buffalo upset Miami, who hasn't looked good yet this year, but was supposed to be good, and the Jets beat a bad Tennessee team. So if the Jets beat the Bills Sunday, I'll feel good about their chances against the Dolphins, and perhaps their chances at making a playoff run this season. If the Jets lose, it's looking like a 3rd or 4th place finish this season.

I really do think the Jets will win this game - give them a 27-13 win. I think they're that much better than Buffalo (although I haven't seen anything yet this year from the Jets to lead me to believe they should be able to blow anyone out). And it will be a good season.

PICKS: Somehow, Dave in Brighton pulled off a 12-4 week last week. He was shooting for 4 wins, he tripled his expectation. The Wife stayed consistent, going 9-7, holding off an 11-5 week by the Southern Bureau. And Justin in NYC is holding his own in the middle of the pack after a 10-6 week. Cousin Eddie fell, going 5-11, and I'm in last after a 7-9 week. Here's how it looks:

1. The Wife: 19 (total wins)
2. Southern Bureau: 17
3. Justin in NYC: 15
4. Dave in Brighton: 14
Cousin Eddie: 14
6. johnnyjets: 13

Friday, September 22, 2006


The Norfolk Tides have ended their affiliation with the New York Mets, and the Mets will now have the New Orleans Zephyrs as their Triple-A affiliate. There's only one reasonable conclusion as to why this happened:

From, September 16, 2005
I'm going to let you in on one of my dirty little secrets: I owned an Anthony Becht jersey. I know, I know, it was a stupid purchase. But I really thought he was going to be the next Mickey Schuler (I know, I know, that's not even a whole heck of a lot, but for a Jets fan, that's the comparison). But really, I thought he was going to be great. I still do think it was the wrong system at the wrong time - and if he was still around, it might have been him having a 100-yard receiving day last Sunday. Instead, he caught one pass for 7 yards in his Tampa Bay debut. But I digress. The point is, I had an Anthony Becht jersey (still do, as a matter of fact). It's my fault he didn't succeed as a Jet.

This is a curse. It's a curse I must live with. It dates back to about 1994. I read a great article in Sports Illustrated about Boomer Esiason and his son Gunnar, and I said, "I want a Boomer Esiason jersey. He will be my favorite Jet." (I was at a crossroads at this point about who my favorite Jet would be - among the candidates was Aaron Glenn.) Well, I buy the Boomer jersey - I remember it like it was yesterday - I went to Modell's on Steinway Street in Astoria, bought the jersey, wore the heck out of it, and was wearing it the night of Dan Marino's fake spike at the Meadowlands, when the Jets blew their big halftime lead, and their chance at first place, and lost every game the rest of the way to finish 6-10 and oh by the way who got burned on that fake spike - oh yes the other candidate for my jersey purchasing Aaron Glenn.

I didn't buy another jersey after Boomer for a little while. But then 1998 came. The Jets had a steal in the draft, I was convinced, when they took Boston College's Glenn Foley in the sixth round. He earned the starting job, and went 0-2, losing to San Francisco in Week One on Garrison Hearst's 96-yard touchdown run in overtime (remember that?). Anyway, after he lost in Week Two, he also hurt his ribs. Of course, we all know Vinny Testaverde took over, played for about 4 more years, and Glenn Foley took about 8 snaps with Seattle before retiring to a bar somewhere...being seen only on the free agent lists in John Madden football games (where I would sometimes sign him as a backup for old time's sake.)

So along comes the 2000 draft, and I say no to Shaun Ellis, no to John Abraham, no to Chad Pennington, I want the tight end's jersey. So I custom ordered from an Anthony Becht #88 jersey. He's going to be a star! I convince myself. Well, it looks good for a while. When the Jets make their playoff run in 2001 he's a key part - catching touchdown passes and two-point conversions late in games versus Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Testaverde found him a reliable target. But he never matched those numbers (not even very impressive numbers, anyway) again. He even developed a big case of the dropsies. I think the one that sealed it was an October Monday Night Football game where he dropped a pass that would have given the Jets big yardage, and incurred the wrath of the home fans. Well, sorry, Anthony - little did you know it was probably my fault.

Anyway, after Becht was gone, I said I'm never going to get another Jets jersey. Why put anyone through what I put poor Glenn Foley and Anthony Becht through? Then, I had a better idea. Why not get a sure thing? What's more of a sure thing than Chad Pennington? And I had a string of bad luck with green jerseys - how about a white Chad Pennington jersey!? Foolproof. So for my birthday, good old mom got me a Pennington jersey. Well, we're 0-1. Sorry Chad.

Chad Pennington, of course, went on to win the next game, then in the third game of the season went down with a career-threatening injury and nearly lost his job as starting quarterback of the New York Jets.

As you may or may not know, for my birthday this past summer, The Wife bought me a Norfolk Tides hat. So the aforementioned jersey jinx has apparently now extended to all sports merchandise.

ON THE SUBJECT OF SPORTS MERCHANDISE: My mom, bless her, sent me a package in the mail today. I opened it up, and inside was my New York Mets Division Champions shirt. What a lady.

But the shirt isn't a t-shirt - it's got three-quarters sleeves. I know it's been a long time since the Mets won a division...but how long have they been going with these? They're not the most comfortable shirts in the world. I hope the World Series shirts are more wearable. And I hope the fact that I now own one of these shirts doesn't put an end to the possibility of me owning a World Series champions shirt. I keep tempting fate.

There IS a game tonight - the Mets are trailing Washington 3-1 in the seventh. But the loss by St. Louis on Thursday night clinched home-field advantage for the Mets through the playoffs, so there's not much left to play for but 100 wins.

Still no baby, by the way.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Mets 4, Marlins 0 (NYM: 91-58, FLA: 74-76)

Enjoy it, savor it - it's been awhile. On to the playoffs!

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Pirates 3, Mets 0 (NYM: 90-58, PIT: 63-87)

Well, I didn't expect that. But I'm putting this weekend's sweep by the Pirates in the category of "Better now than in October". Here's the deal - the Mets are pressing. Similar to getting their butts kicked by the Red Sox in June - it was their first big series. Now they have that under their belt, and now they have the pressure of trying to clinch something, but failing, under their belt. The luxury of their huge lead is that they can afford to learn while doing these things.

The good news: the Mets can now clinch the division title at home, in front of their home fans...and I can watch the game. Part of the problem with Sunday was I didn't even get the Mets game. So I'm kind of happy they lost, and the Phillies won. I want to see them win the division. (Hopefully I'll get the game on SNY, too, just so I don't have to watch the awful Marlins broadcasters ruin what should be a very happy moment for me.)

One piece of mail to respond to:

"Dear Johnnymets,

I came across this nugget in the notes section of an AP story I read after the Mets loss Friday night:

"The Mets are 11-10 in games started by Martinez."

Wow. All this time I've been thinking that he was the key to the post-season. Turns out they'd be just as successful starting Trachsel in game one of the 2006 World Series. Thoughts?

Dave in Brighton"

Don't even joke about this. Everyone should remember the Mets struggled scoring runs for Pedro* during May, when Pedro* was pitching lights out and kept finishing with no decisions (and in most of those games the Mets went on to lose). That stat could easily be 15-6. Which is nearly Trachsel's record, because the Mets actually scored for him all year.

Finally, Saturday had the potential to be a great night - not only did the Mets have the chance to clinch, but The Wife and I were able to figure out how to secure the mobile to the crib in the nursery, as we await the arrival of The Baby. Here's a look:

And a closer look.....

Yes, the Mets mobile. It plays "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"...the only thing that would make it better would be if it played "Meet the Mets".

Hopefully I'll have a celebratory posting Monday night.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Patriots 24, Jets 17 (NYJ: 1-1, NE: 2-0)

This loss stung. There was plenty of good to take away from it, since it wasn't supposed to be a game, and the first half made it look like it wasn't going to be a game, but the Jets nearly came all the way back to tie. But it's still a loss, and it stinks to lose...especially to the Patriots for the 7th time in a row.

The Jets are getting killed by the fact that they have no running game. Honestly, they got lucky that they got so close in the end, because Chad Pennington got to the point where he was just tossing the ball up, and Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles made outstanding plays to turn short gainers into quick touchdowns, while Pennington was just avoiding a blitz. Pennington sells a play-action fake as well as anyone in the league - but the Jets have no running game at all, and teams are going to do what the Patriots did on Sunday - play the pass constantly, because the Jets' running game won't hurt you. I'm not even going to make a case for Cedric Houston this week, because there's no way he can be effective either, the way the Jets' O-line is playing. (And I forgot to mention this, but the Jets lost Pete Kendall to an injury last week in Tennessee - that doesn't make matters any better.)

The running numbers this week:

Barlow: 14 rushes, 42 yards
Blaylock: 6/7
Washington: 1/0
Askew: 1/0

The Jets' defense played well again, but allowed the Patriots to march down the field and score a little too easily a couple of times. The worst thing that happened to the Jets this week was the Ben Graham punt right before halftime, which went about 10 yards, and allowed the Patriots to add 7 instead of pinning them deep, going into halftime down became 17-0, then 24-0 early in the 3rd.

There's definitely reason to feel this could be a promising season, especially with how bad some of the other supposedly good AFC teams have looked. Miami fell to 0-2, playing an awful game against Buffalo, who the Jets will match up with next week (and the Jets have looked better than Buffalo - they need to make a statement and win that game handily next week). Denver, for the second week in a row, looked horrid, squeaking out a win against the Damon Huard-led Chiefs at home in overtime. So there's hope that the Jets could put together a decent season - but I'd feel a lot better about things if the Jets didn't give up so many points early - and instead of coming back from a huge deficit were able to keep pace with the Patriots throughout the game.

By the way, Tom Brady made some uncharacteristic mistakes in this game - mostly in the second half - throwing an interception to David Barrett, and losing the ball on a sack late in the game. The Patriots are a shaky 2-0 right now...but they're still 2-0.

Chad Pennington had his second 300-yard passing day - mostly thanks to the yard-after-catches by his receivers - but he was a (mostly) mistake-free 306 yards, with 2 TD's and 1 INT. He was sacked 4 times, but that's due to the offensive line, which still has a lot of work to do. The Jets NEED to beat Buffalo next week.


The Patriots are reeling. Sure, they're 1-0, and the season is barely two weeks old, but they're finally starting to feel the effects of all of their departures. At least, if you believe the hype. Which I'm not sure I do. They've recovered from all the other adversity they've faced in the past few seasons, why should the departure of Deion Branch hurt so much?

I have one reason, and it's what I'm going to hang my hat on this week when the Jets host the Patriots at 4 o'clock on Sunday. Never before has Tom Brady lost someone so close to him. He was pals with Lawyer Milloy, and Ty Law, and Willie McGinest, and Adam Vinatieri, and most of the other guys who left the team before. Damien Woody helped protect him. David Givens was a decent receiver with the Pats, and an important part of their post-season success. But no one was as close to Brady during games, on offense, than Deion Branch. Brady and Branch had an uncanny chemistry - one they claimed allowed them to communicate and change a pattern without even speaking to each other, with barely even a glance. Branch isn't the most special receiver in the league (though he is one of the speediest, and I think he will make an impact with Seattle), but he was the most special receiver to Tom Brady, and that's going to have a long-term effect on the Patriots.

Will it have a short-term effect, though? I like to think it will, at least this week. The Jets defense played pretty well against Tennesse last week, and on paper, the Titans have more impressive receivers than the Patriots do (though no one to get them the ball). The first touchdown the Jets gave up last week could be pinned on the defense, but the second came after a Jets fumble inside their own five, so you can't fault the defense. So I think the Jets' D will hold their own against the Patriots' offense, especially since Eric Mangini has an idea about Tom Brady's tendencies. (The Jets' defense did come up with 3 interceptions last week - and maybe Tom Brady tries to force a few into the wrong places this week.)

The Jets' offense is a question mark. Early in his career, Chad Pennington played VERY well against the Patriots. Then he hit a wall, and has had some of the worst games of his career against New England (including a 5-interception performance around Christmastime a few years ago in the most embarrassing game for the Jets organization ever - a prime time game featuring a certain sideline interview of Joe Namath by Suzy Kolber). I wonder if Bill Belichick is the genius who figured out how to play Pennington, or if it was Mangini. And if it was Belichick, does Mangini know what to tell Pennington to prevent the scheme from working?

I think Mangini is a key to this game. And with everything going on with the Patriots, and with the home crowd going nuts for the Jets' home opener, I think the Jets can pull this one out. I'm going to go with a 17-13 win for the Jets, in a real nail-biter, and the totally unexpected will happen this weekend - the Jets will be alone in first place in the AFC East - a situation that could affect the way the rest of this season unfolds. Dare people start believing in the Jets?

I'm 1-0 with the Jets, picking a 17-10 win last week, which ended up being a 23-16 win. I'm off by 6 points. Overall, here's the way the Yahoo! league is shaping up:

1. The Wife (in first, of course): 10-6
2. Cousin Eddie: 9-7
3. Johnnyjets, Southern Bureau: 6-10
5. Justin in NYC: 5-11
6. Dave in Brighton: 2-14

Dave says he's hoping to double his win total each week, so he's looking for a big 4 this weekend.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Friday could be the night when the Mets clinch the National League East title for the first time since 1988. The Phillies lost to the Braves on Thursday night, lowering the Mets' Magic Number to:

(It's supposed to look like there are rays of happiness coming from that 1 - not like it's having a bad hair day. But I'm a writer, not an artist.)

Don't bother trying to reach me on Friday night - I'll be parked in front of the TV, with a celebratory beverage in hand. I'm so happy my prediction has been right so far - Pedro* returning for the clincher on Friday night - a night I can actually stay up and watch the game!

Monday, September 11, 2006


The Mets beat Dunedin on Sunday night, 6-2, to sweep the Florida State League Finals, 3 games to none, and win a championship in Gary Carter's first year at the helm. Something just struck me. I was about to write "...first (and only) year at the helm". But then I was thinking, "Where would he go? Would someone in the majors actually hire him so soon?" And it all came together in my head.

Dusty Baker is getting fired. Joe Girardi will be allowed to leave Florida and go to Chicago. What better situation is there for Florida resident Gary Carter than the Florida Marlins - a young team - he has proven he can manage young guys, and he has ties to the organization from its infancy when he was a broadcaster. So, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first - Gary Carter will be the manager of the Florida Marlins, beginning in 2007. (Also, one time this summer the Florida TV announcers mentioned Gary Carter's Florida State League success - meaning someone in the organization is keeping tabs...and he really wasn't that far away anyway, in St. Lucie.)

So for now, this picture is from Sunday night's championship - but I can easily see it being repeated at the Major League level with the exciting Marlins in the near future:

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Jets 23, Titans 16 (NYJ: 1-0, TEN: 0-1)

I have to say right off the top that I'm really happy the Jets won. But I'm going to stress the negatives in this game a little more than the positives - because the negatives were such that had they happened against a good team, the Jets would be 0-1 right now instead of 1-0.

And the negatives are: the running game, and the kicking game, specifically Mike Nugent.

The running game was a disaster on Sunday. Any time a running back touched the ball, you knew the play wasn't going anywhere.

The results on the ground:
D. Blaylock - 19 carries, 36 yards
K. Barlow - 11/35
B. Smith - 2/13
C. Pennington - 2/7

Part of this was the offensive line, just allowing the Titans to swallow up the runner, part was the Jets' runners not doing anything exciting to try to get free (except for Smith, who is exciting every time he touches the ball. Even in pre-season, at quarterback, running back, even wide receiver - Brad Smith will be fun to watch.) I'm looking forward to the Jets using Cedric Houston. I'm going to pound that point home all season until he gets a chance to prove himself.

Then there was the kicking. Mike Nugent missed two field goals and an extra point - had he even hit just the extra point this game wouldn't have been as close as it was. Since he did miss all three kicks, though, the Titans were able to score two touchdowns and get two 2-point conversions to tie the game, forcing the Jets to go down the field and score the game-winner.

The Jets were awesome in the first half. Then they got sloppy and that's where a better team would have beaten them. The Jets made barely a mistake in the first half, and were mistake-prone after halftime. This included a Chad Pennington fumble inside the Jets' own 5-yard line that the Titans recovered, leading to the touchdown that made the score 16-14, followed by the Titans' second 2-point conversion.

Besides the fumble, though, Pennington was great. He played his usual game, with short, accurate passes (including his 42nd and 43rd touchdown passes inside the red zone, without throwing a career interception there), going 24-33 for 319 yards with 2 TD, 0 INT. A very Pennington-like final line.

Pennington also re-established his relationship with Laveranues Coles, which never had the chance to get going last year after the Jets re-acquired Coles from Washington. They hooked up 8 times for 153 yards. Pennington also found Jerricho Cotchery 6 times for 65 yards, along with a touchdown - Cotchery needs to be a big part of the passing game.

Overall, you have to feel good about the Jets win. They're 1-0, as are next week's opponents, the Patriots. This win puts the Jets ahead of the Dolphins, who lost to Pittsburgh Thursday, and the Bills, who lost to the Patriots Sunday. And the Jets didn't blow the game. When the Titans tied it, Pennington marched the Jets right down the field and scored the game-winner. I don't know whether or not they would have been able to do this against a better team - but we won't have to wait too long to find out - next week the Jets play the Patriots - and first place in the division is on the line!!!!


Dodgers 9, Mets 1 (NYM: 88-54, LA: 76-67)

I admit, the Mets took a backseat on Sunday to the first Sunday of the NFL season (please see the Jets blog for more on that). And it was a lot easier to ignore the baseball game when the Dodgers jumped out to early 4-0, 5-0, and 9-0 leads.

The Mets' only run came on a Jose Reyes homer, his 19th of the year. Steve Trachsel gave up 4 runs in 2-and-2-thirds - against a possible playoff opponent. I am telling you - I do NOT want to see him in a tight spot in the playoffs...and I'd prefer not seeing him in any spot in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, Brian Bannister pitched in relief in the game, giving up 5 runs in 3 innings of work - 3 of those runs coming on a Nomar Garciaparra homer. Eric Stults started for the Dodgers, and pitched very well, getting his first major league win.

The Mets open up a series in Florida on Monday, with a magic number of......

MAGIC NUMBER: It's 4, because the Phillies lost to the Marlins. The Marlins are now tied with the Phillies for second place, so the Mets will have to beat the Marlins and need the Phillies to lose over the next few days in order to decrease the number by more than one. I still suspect the clincher will come Friday in Pittsburgh.

Dave Williams goes for the Mets on Monday against Anibel Sanchez, who is making his first start since his no-hitter last week.

PEDRO* UPDATE: There's a chance we'll see Pedro Martinez* back on the mound for the Mets this week - actually, a very good chance. He hopes to be back no later than Friday. My bet is he's the one to pitch the night the Mets have a chance to clinch (and, like I said, there's a great chance that will be Friday night against the Pirates).

THE KID'S KIDS: Holy smokes! On Saturday night, for the second night in a row, the St. Lucie Mets scored multiple times in the 9th inning to come from behind and win in the FSL Finals. This time, trailing 3-1 in the 9th, the Mets got a 3-run homer as part of a 4-run ninth to come back and beat Dunedin, 5-3. Game 3, which could be the clinching game for the Mets, was Sunday night at 7pm, finishing after I posted (St. Lucie leads 2-0 in the 5th), so I'll update that on Monday.


The one thing I will try to do all season is throw a quick Jets pick up, and also a recap of the Jets game - if nothing else. I'll keep this pick relatively short, because I doubt many people will be reading it.

The Jets are playing the Titans in Tennessee, which is a very tough place to win on the road. But that proved true when the Titans were a good football team, and they're not quite back to being a good football team yet.

The Jets are definitely going to be an improved football team this year, and I think they'll be better than a lot of people are picking them to be (I've heard 4-12 again, or 5-11). I think there's a chance the Jets could squeeze out 8 wins, maybe even 9. The problem is their schedule is tough. And I think once the Jets figure out what they have in Cedric Houston, their running problems will be solved.

But for today, it looks like Derrick Blaylock will be the starter in this running back-by-committee setup. This will be my first real look at the Jets - I saw the very end of one of their preseason games when I was in New York last month, but it was mostly rookies playing at that point. It'll be my first extended look at Chad Pennington. It will be the first time I see Eric Mangini call a game. And I'm confident - if for no other reason than I want to see this new era in Jets football get off on the right foot.

This won't be the most exciting game on the NFL schedule today, that's for sure, but once it's over, I expect the Jets to be 1-0, after a 17-10 win on the road. Look for 2 touchdowns from Pennington, and about 140 passing yards...enough for a win.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Dodgers beat the Mets on Friday night, 5-0 (you know your team is having a great season when losses really take you by surprise - it was weird seeing the Mets lose this game), and the Phillies beat the Marlins, so the Magic Number remains at :

Just wanted to let you know what my rooting strategy is for the rest of the weekend: The Mets need to win the next two against the Dodgers, and we need to root for the Marlins to beat the Phillies in their next two games. That will put the Magic Number to about 3....but it will also put the Marlins closer to second place - meaning the Mets could clinch in Miami by beating the Marlins early next week, and knocking the Magic Number down multiple numbers. Chances are, though, since the Marlins lost to the Phillies on Friday night, that the clinching will come in Pittsburgh at the end of next week. That's what I'm thinking, at least - the Mets may split the next two with the Dodgers, they'll probably lose one to the Marlins, and the clincher will probably come the first game against Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh.

THE KID'S KIDS: Wow! I glanced at the score, and saw Dunedin leading St. Lucie 5-4 in the 9th inning, so I was all set to write quickly about St. Lucie having a back-to-the-wall scenario in the Florida State League Finals. But the Mets came through with 3 in the 9th, pulling out a 7-5 win, and taking a 1-0 series lead!

This series is a best-of-5, and predicts the Mets in 4. Here are the Mets celebrating their first round win (Gary Carter is the guy on the right - not the guy on the left):


Mets 4, Braves 1; Mets 8, Braves 0 (NYM: 86-52, ATL: 66-73)

I like to think the Mets were sending a message. Coming off back-t0-back weak offensive games, then a rain out, the Mets showed the Atlanta Braves exactly why they won't be celebrating their 15th straight division title - and why the Mets are going to be the new National League East champs.

I only saw about 4 of the 18 innings in Wednesday's doubleheader, but I saw enough to get the impression that the Mets pretty much dominated both games. In game one, Dave Williams (I'm really sorry I underestimated you, Mr. Williams) turned in another stellar outing, getting the win, and Billy Wagner notched the save. ESPN showed a stat that wih the Mets, Williams' ERA is about 3.24 or so, where it was 7+ in Cincinnati.

Then in game 2, Jose Reyes led the game off with a homer, and the Mets never looked back. Paced by Oliver Perez's best outing as a Met, by far, (5 hits, 6 K's, in a complete-game shutout), the Mets broke the game open with a 4-run 6th inning.

There weren't really many stellar performances, but a couple stood out for the Mets. Jose Reyes was 4-for-8, going 2-for-4 in both games. And Shawn Green had his best games as a Met, going 6-for-8, 3-for-4 in both games, with a homer in both.

I thought the doubleheader Wednesday was supposed to be day-night, so I apologize if I wrote that, because it obviously wasn't the case. Back to one game at a time on Thursday, when the Mets host the Dodgers.

MAGIC NUMBER: The Mets did their part, winning both of their games on Wednesday, making the Magic Number 9 before the Phillies even took the field for their game against Houston. Then Houston got 4 runs in the top of the ninth, beating the Phillies, knocking the Magic Number to 8. From 11 to 8 - a 3 number day!

THOSE FLORIDA MARLINS: Finally, a no-hitter. I wait for the first no-hitter of the year every year (still waiting for 2005's). Besides the Mets, it's the next best part of the DirecTV baseball package...finding out there's a no-hitter going on, then watching it. Well, Wednesday night that moment finally came for 2006 - in the unlikely form of Anibel Sanchez of the Florida Marlins. He seemed very likable in his post-game interview, so I'm glad he did it. I am also impressed by all of the Marlins' young pitching.

And finally, on the Marlins - I understand that Jeffrey Loria doesn't see eye-to-eye with Joe Girardi. But the man can manage. And somehow, because this is the way things always work in sports, Girardi will end up managing the Cubs next year, because he's from the area, and Dusty Baker will be gone. But Loria shouldn't let Girardi go, because this season has been an amazing managing job by him, and the Marlins will take a step backwards if Girardi leaves...I'm sure of it.
GOOD NEWS: I've figured out the ideal way to handle the blog and the post-season. As you may or may not know, I get very tired during the school year, and become like an old man, with an early bedtime. I can't blog after the games, like I do during the regular season. So I thought, what with the Mets playing deep into the post-season this year (hopefully), how can I chronicle the run to the title?

Well, fret no more. I have a laptop for work, so I think I will write in a word document as the games are going on, so I capture the emotion of the live event, and just cut and paste it the next day. (I wouldn't be able to put the word document on-line until the next day at school.) The postings will be a little late, but at least they will be there. So I think that will solve all our problems.

THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets gave up three runs in the ninth, but held on to beat Palm Beach in Game 1 of their best-of-three series Tuesday night, 6-4. Wednesday night, they advanced to the Championship Round, with a 6-5 win. This was Hall of Famer Gary Carter's first managing post-season series win - two more wins (I think) from a minor league championship!

FINAL FOOTBALL REMINDER: I would love all of my readers to sign up for our football pick 'em game, on Yahoo!. The instructions are on the Jets site - with the updated info you need - the League ID #. So sign up ASAP! Picks must be in by 5 minutes before kickoff of the week's first game - which in this case is Thursday night. (Thanks to The Wife, Dave in Brighton, and the Southern Bureau for already signing up.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Tuesday's game was rained out, rescheduled as a doubleheader on Wednesday. In place of the game, SNY played a Mets-Phillies game from September, 1988 - the last time the Mets clinched the National League East title. That was neat - because usually the Mets Classics on SNY are 1986 games - it was nice to see something different.

MAGIC NUMBER: The Phillies were also rained out, so the Magic Number is stuck at 11.

THE KID'S KIDS: So here's the way the Class A-Advanced playoffs work. The Mets have only won a half-season title so far (the first half - they finished a game behind Palm Beach in the second half). To be considered Eastern Division champs, they must beat Palm Beach in a 2-out-of-3 series. The Mets must have finished with a better overall record, because they have home field - Game 1 is in Palm Beach, and 2 and 3 (if necessary) are at St. Lucie. The winner then faces the West Division winner.

Game 1 was, in fact, Tuesday night. St. Lucie led, 4-1, in the 7th, when I decided to go to bed. I'll update the final on Wednesday.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Braves 5, Mets 0 (NYM: 84-52, ATL: 66-71)

The Mets could only muster one hit against Braves pitchers Chuck James and Macay McBride, as the Braves beat the Mets, 5-0.

David Wright had the only Mets hit, a single in the second inning, where he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

The Braves scored 4 runs off Steve Trachsel (3 earned) - he only went 4-and-a-third, leaving with the bases loaded. The Mets got great relief from Heath Bell, who got two outs with those bases loaded without giving up a run, then went another scoreless inning, and Royce Ring, who threw 2 perfect innings.

The past two games have been very disappointing. 1 run on 5 hits, total. The Mets need to break through, but it will be tough Tuesday night. Dave Williams goes against John Smoltz.

MAGIC NUMBER: I was really hoping this would be 10 right now, but the Mets loss and a Phillies extra-inning win on Monday means it stays at 11. I'm not even going through with the effort of putting up the graphic, that's how badly I wanted it to be 10. Chase Utley hit a walk-off homer for the Phillies, who beat the Astros, 3-2.

****IMPORTANT: I'm sorry, I didn't realize you needed a league ID#, not a league name, to join the football pick 'em league on Yahoo!. The League Number is: 44177. All other instructions should work. You can get them in Saturday's posting, or on the Jets site.

THE KID'S KIDS: The St. Lucie Mets finished the regular season (2nd half) 37-32, a game behind Palm Beach, who they will now play in the Florida State League playoffs. The series goes best-two-out-of-three, and it starts Wednesday, I think...although it could be Tuesday. breaks down the series and picks St. Lucie to win in three games, saying the deciding factor in the series is:

Gary Carter. The Mets skipper, a Hall of Famer, is a great motivator and his players love him. He's trying to work his way to the Major Leagues as a manager, and the moves he makes over the next few games will give a better idea of what he's learned in two years on the bench.

I like the way they do things at

ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Looks like it's over. Edgardo Alfonzo was 0-for-3 in the final game of the season for the Norfolk Tides, finishing the season at .241. Too bad. We'll see if the Mets make any moves involving Alfonzo in the next couple of days.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Astros 2, Mets 1 (NYM: 84-51, HOU: 67-70)

The Mets gave up just one hit to Houston on Sunday afternoon, but the Astros managed to make the Mets pay for 9 walks, and took advantage of the Mets resting some regulars to win, 2-1.

Roy Oswalt pitched a great game - he was perfect through 6, until Jose Reyes led off the seventh with an infield hit, and the Mets only scored when Carlos Delgado hit a 2-out homer in the ninth inning off Brad Lidge.

The Astros scored their runs on a bases-loaded squeeze play, and a sacrifice fly (on a nice running catch by Endy Chavez, who started in place of Carlos Beltran - more on him in a minute).

Orlando Hernandez pitched very well for the Mets, despite giving up those 6 walks - he pitched himself out of every jam he got himself into in his 5-and-a-third innings. Guillermo Mota turned in another great relief outing - he's been great since joining the Mets.

The Mets rested David Wright along with Beltran, and the offense suffered - mustering just 4 hits - all after the sixth inning. I still haven't seen the catch Beltran made on Saturday, but I keep hearing that it was an amazing, game-saving catch. And Beltran definitely hurt his knee (I wrote on Saturday that he might have hurt his knee), but I haven't heard much about it on Sunday other than the fact that it's not as bad as it originally looked.

The Mets return home Monday for a series with the Braves. Unfortunately, with the Magic Number not at 6 or below, the Mets will not have a chance to clinch the division against the Braves. But they can send one final message to Atlanta before being crowned division champs - and then when they visit Atlanta in the final week of the season, the Mets will be division champs. Steve Trachsel pitches for the Mets on Monday, and he has a chance, believe it or not, to become the National League leader in wins. That's just awful.

MAGIC NUMBER: The Braves had a real chance to help out the Mets, but blew it. Atlanta scored three times in the top of the ninth of game 1 of their doubleheader with Philadelphia, then gave up the game in the bottom of the ninth. The Magic Number could have gone down by as many as three Sunday, instead it went down 1, as the Braves thankfully won the nightcap of the doubleheader in 11 innings.

Hopefully the Braves suffer major pitching repercussions from these back-to-back doubleheaders as they come to New York (it wouldn't hurt if the Phillies lost a lot this week, too, because of the amount of baseball they've played this weekend!).

It should be noted that we should be watching the Marlins in the coming days too, because the Phillies are now just a half-game ahead of Florida in the standings, and that could have an effect on the magic number.

Stay tuned for the Magic Number Final 10!!!

MONTHLY BREAKDOWN: I forgot to post this Saturday, but the Mets finished the month of August with their best record yet:

April: 16-8
May: 16-12
June: 15-12
July: 16-9
August: 19-9

August was a good month, and I don't expect the Mets to do as well in September, what with all the new faces that are bound to be playing after call-ups, but it sure would be nice to see this team reach 100 wins.

THE KID'S KIDS: Vero Beach swept a doubleheader from St. Lucie on Sunday, ending any hopes the Mets had of winning the second-half title. But the Mets are the first half champs, so there will be some post-season baseball - I'll let you know when it is, when I figure it out. Minor league post-seasons are complicated.

Remember, last year with the Gulf Coast Mets Hall of Famer Gary Carter won the regular season title, then lost the championship series to the Tampa Yankees. Hopefully he does a better post-season job this year.

ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: Another 0-for-3 for Edgardo Alfonzo, he's now hitting .246, and I fear, with 1 game left for the Tides, there is only one game left for Alfonzo as a member of the Mets organization. Although, I guess there will always be room for him as a coach, considering almost every other member of his family is employed by the Mets.

****YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE: Please note that there was a Saturday posting (a rarity, that's why I want to draw your attention to it), and I don't care if you read the whole post or not, but I'd like you to at least sign up for the football pick 'em league on yahoo!. The information is in either the post below or on the Jets site. Thanks.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Mets 4, Astros 2 (NYM: 84-50, HOU: 66-70)

With such a huge lead in the division (16.5 games), the Mets are finding ways to stay motivated in the season's final month, with each series presenting a unique opportunity for creativity. For this weekend's series in Houston, it represents a chance for the Mets to knock the Astros out of the playoff picture, thereby letting the Mets rid themselves of a potential playoff problem - the strong 1-2-3 pitching punch of the Astros.

So far, the Mets have done what they wanted to do. On Friday night, they survived a rough return to the rotation by Tom Glavine, outlasting Houston, 8-7. And on Saturday, the Mets got a great start from John Maine, and again, some very good bullpen work, beating Houston, 4-2.

Saturday night also saw another player return from the DL - Cliff Floyd (also see his work in St. Lucie below), and he contributed right away. He had 2 RBI, going 1-for-3 in the win. I didn't see this game (it was on local TV in both New York and Houston), but read about it, and it appears Carlos Beltran made a great catch in center in the 9th inning, but hurt his knee, and had to leave the game, walking off the field "gingerly". I expect the Mets would rest Beltran as much as possible with everything well in hand - it's trouble whenever Beltran's legs are involved.

David Wright was 2-for-3, with an RBI - the trips to hitter-friendly Colorado (it's still hitter-friendly for the Mets) and Houston have really broken him out of his slump. And as much as I wasn't crazy about the deal, the slump break-out really seems to coincide with Shawn Green's arrival, and the fact that he's been hitting behind Wright. Now with Cliff Floyd back, Wright should be seeing plenty of good pitches to hit. His average is back up to .305.

With Floyd, Green, and Beltran all in the outfield, Endy Chavez finds himself as the odd man out. (unless Beltran's injury keeps him out, and Chavez fills in at center). Willie Randolph says he will continue to find playing time for Chavez, and he did Saturday night, resting Green, and resting Jose Reyes, batting Chavez leadoff, and starting Anderson Hernandez at short. Randolph will surely be putting some interesting lineups on the field what with the September call-ups and the clinching imminent.

The Mets go for the road sweep on Sunday with Orlando Hernandez going against Roy Oswalt.

MAGIC NUMBER: The Phillies split a doubleheader with the Braves, so the one loss coupled with the Mets win knocks the magic number down 2, from 14, to 12. The Phillies and Braves play another doubleheader on Sunday, so there's a good chance we can be down to ten before Monday!

RING, BELL FOR BULLPEN HELP: The first September call-ups for the Mets were Royce Ring and Heath Bell, the yo-yo's of the year, now up for the rest of the year. (This was only worth noting because I wanted to use that headline.)

FOOTBALL: I posted a quick note on the Jets site about the fact that this will be a tough year to keep two blogs going. But I also posted some instructions on joining the pick 'em pool, so we can pick games against each other this football season. It's at, join the private group: Johnnyjets Group, and the password is: jetsfan. This way we can pick against each other, all 6 readers!

THE KID'S KIDS: Cliff Floyd helped the St. Lucie Mets to a win Friday night, hitting two home runs in a rehab start as the Mets won, 6-1. On Saturday, St. Lucie beat Vero Beach. With Daytona's game rained out, the Mets are a game better than Daytona, but still a half-game behind Palm Beach for the second-half division title.

ALFONZO'S COMEBACK: The Tides had four straight games rained out, so I didn't miss anything from Alfonzo's comeback. On Saturday, they played a doubleheader against Durham (the other rainouts were cancelled games, with only a few days left in the season), and Edgardo Alfonzo played both games, going a combined 0-for-5, seeing his average drop to .252. There are reports that Alfonzo will not be a part of any September call-up for the Mets.