I don't expect you all to be monitoring my whereabouts at all times, but I will tell you that I am back in Massachusetts after logging roughly 1800 miles on the Johnnymets-Mobile (see graphic above). I think I've mentioned this, but since The Wife took over the scheduling of the stadium trips, the whole experience has been much more fluid and organized. Instead of hitting a random stadium on a whim, we have well-thought-out trips that cover a couple of places. This year, it was Ohio - visiting Jacobs Field in Cleveland and Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. We also stopped in Rochester, New York on the way out, and drove through Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on the way back. All very nice stops (except Rochester...not much going on there).
For those of you wondering, The Baby did very well considering that's a lot of time for a baby to be cooped up in a car. She's so good. There will be more on the trip later in the week, but before I get to a recap of what's happened with the Mets in the past week, a few of the highlights during the trip (not counting the ballparks) and since we've gotten back:
- A real treat on the ride from Cincinnati to Gettysburg (aside: The Wife originally thought this was a 4-hour trip, which would have been a breeze. She discovered last week it would be a 7-and-a-half hour trip. Whoops. It was not a breeze.) - While looking for some good radio to keep me awake one hour into the long trip (lots of Christian music out there, incidentally), I found ESPN Radio - Mike & Mike in the Morning, with Mike Greenberg and Tim Kurkjian. And they had as a guest none other than Hall of Famer Gary Carter. This was Thursday morning, and he was preparing for Hall of Fame festivities, and plugging something for MasterCard. Then, I started to lose reception on ESPN Radio right after that interview, so I found Fox Sports Radio, and they had none other than Hall of Famer Gary Carter plugging MasterCard. Back-to-back Gary Carter interviews....good start to the day.
- Before I left, I used the search function on TiVo to find a 'Scrubs' episode in syndication - the episode where Janitor organizes an air band. When we came back, it was waiting for us, so that was a nice mini-surprise. It's probably my favorite episode, a laugh a minute, though I wanted there to be more air-banding. It really came in the 'Scrubs' wheelhouse, too - where they were treating Mrs. Wilk, and Mandy Moore was J.D.'s girlfriend. That was a great stretch of episodes. On a related note, Comedy Central seems to have done away with the 11am-12 noon back-to-back 'Scrubs'. That was always a nice treat for The Baby and I for her 11:30 bottle...we'll have to change our routine...because we don't watch MADTV.
- Also a bonus - two 'Flight of the Conchords' waiting for me on the TiVo. The first was the first bad episode I've seen...I deleted it so it doesn't ruin The Wife's blossoming enjoyment of the show - she doesn't have to know about that episode. The second one from this past Sunday was funny enough - lots of Murray, that's always good.
- The digital camera worked all through Cleveland, and then for the Cincinnati Zoo...but when we got to Great American Ballpark, the camera gave some sort of error message. After a lot of cursing and frustration, I went to Plan B (Plan A is that I need plenty of pictures of these stadiums, using the digital camera), buying a disposable camera at the team store. $20. Yikes. So the Cincinnati pictures need to be developed from a store, and then I'll write about the trip - that's why Cincinnati comes late in the week (approximately Thursday. Cleveland will be tomorrow.)
- Did lots of reading over the trip, mostly Harry Potter. For those of you wondering, the final Harry Potter was a much more satisfying ending than The Sopranos. I like my closure. I'm not going to spoil anything here, but I'll give this piece of advice - it was very helpful for me to re-read the sixth book before reading number 7. I had forgotten a lot of important details. JK Rowling is a genius.
ONE MORE NOTE BEFORE THE METS: MLB.com has what seems to be a cool contest going for the post-season. You've probably seen the commercials, with Dane Cook (why?), that have the actober.com website. They are releasing certain sets of classic post-season games on their website, and fans can re-create the moments however they want...the cleverest would win tickets or some such thing. I'm going to keep checking back, and when I see a scenario that inspires me, I'm going to win that contest. I have not been inspired yet...and I'm not sure I even understand all the rules yet. But I will.
THE METSSo the Mets played Pittsburgh and Washington while I was away, and they did OK. They took two out of three from the Pirates, and then split 4 games with Washington. The Washington series was a bit of a disappointment because of the way the Mets lost Saturday night's nightcap of a day-night doubleheader (the first day-night doubleheader at Shea Stadium in 35 years - pretty wild stat, I thought). They fought back a couple of times to tie the game, then gave up the lead one last time, and had a rally fall short.
People are criticizing Willie Randolph for a complicated situation Saturday night where he pinch hit Marlon Anderson, after he already knew he had to insert Ramon Castro into the game because Paul LoDuca got hurt running the bases (he might be hurt bad, incidentally). By putting in Anderson, Randolph used his last bench player, and was forced to pinch hit Tom Glavine in the ninth inning. The problem here is Carlos Beltran, who is hurt again, but hasn't been placed on the DL yet, so the Mets are wasting a roster spot waiting for a decision. He'll probably go on the DL Tuesday. Randolph defended his move, and I'm fine with his defense (that Anderson is a pinch-hitter, Castro is less comfortable in that role), and the bottom line is that the Mets had another chance to tie in the next inning and left a runner at third, so that wasn't the deciding play of the game. But I think Randolph's hands are tied with the Beltran situation.
The Mets have injury problems right now - Moises Alou is back, but Beltran and LoDuca might be out for a while now. Mike DiFelice was called up to replace Mike Pelfrey, who was needed for the doubleheader, and DiFelice gives the Mets depth at catcher, and then David Newhan was called back up and Anderson Hernandez was sent down because the Mets need outfielders, with Beltran now out (though not yet on the DL) and every other outfielder seemingly injured. Expect another roster move in the next couple of days if Beltran is disabled.
All told, though, the Mets are holding on. They're 3-and-a-half up on the Phillies, who play the Cubs Monday night in the only National League game. The Braves are a game behind the Phillies.
SPEAKING OF WHICH: The reports right now are that the Braves have agreed to a deal for Mark Teixeira in which they get the first baseman and pitcher Ron Mahay in exchange for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and another top prospect. They're saying this is going to shift the balance of power in the NL East. I know that Andruw Jones is playing better now, Tim Hudson has been pitching great, and Chipper Jones is having a very good season, and I acknowledge that Teixeira is a better option at first base than ex-Met Julio Franco, but I don't think Teixeira is a difference-maker. (He might be in East Coast Bias, where my lead is slipping more and more everyday...but that's another story. Hurry back, Pedro*.) I think it makes the Braves better offensively, but I don't know that it gives them the oomph to pass the Mets in the division.
The Mets have just countered (at this writing) by trading two minor leaguers for Luis Castillo. Castillo is coming from Minnesota, but you'll remember him making his mark in Florida. The important thing to note here, and what makes this a great trade for the Mets, is that Castillo has been an outstanding hitter over his career at Shea Stadium. He had one of the longest (if not the longest) hitting streaks at Shea for a visiting player, and definitely has a great career average there. He hasn't done as well recently, but the career numbers are staggering - I'm sure they'll be all over the papers tomorrow...I don't even know where to search for them right now...maybe Yahoo!.....they don't split the career stats. Castillo was 1-for-13 at Shea this year for the Twins. Maybe now that he's back in the National League, though.....
COMING TOMORROW: Jacobs Field Review, lots of trade reaction, I'm sure, too