Monday, June 30, 2008


Two years ago, if you would have told me I would have chosen to attend a NASCAR race rather than spend a Sunday afternoon watching the Mets-Yankees game, I would have called you crazy.

But times have changed.

Thanks to Dave in Brighton (whose review of the day you can find here), I went to the NASCAR race in Loudon, New Hampshire on Sunday...and I really enjoyed it.

It is a very different experience, I'll put it that way. But the racing is pretty amazing to see in person. And although my mind drifted at different points during the race, it was far from boring to watch 40+ cars go around an oval 300 times (well, 284, but more on that later). The best part for me is that I have no real attachments to anyone, so there was no chance I was going to be disappointed - unless the experience was a disaster...but it wasn't.

We arrived at about 9:30am, tailagated for 4 hours, and then went into the Speedway. A couple of things about this - everyone tailgates. It is quite a scene. We could see the grandstand from where our car was - there were a ton of cars in the lots, but no one was inside. Everyone heads in about an hour or less before the race - everyone was tailgating. (And I just realized - for some of you, maybe going to NASCAR events is old hat - for me, this was my first race - just shy of my 30th birthday. So it was a new experience...bear with me.)

And this is the kicker - NASCAR allows you to bring a cooler inside, with as much beer as you can fit (or other beverages, but not many people weren't drinking beer). It's surreal. Also, you can leave and come back to get more beer, if you'd like.

Once inside, there are merchandising trucks all around the stands. They're your basic trucks, with the sides open, that you see outside of baseball stadiums, or other events (concerts, even)...except each driver has their own truck. (Well, not each one - some are grouped under their ownership, and some we couldn't find. I wanted a hat that had the #78 on it, but apparently Joe Nemechek doesn't merit his own truck.) I thought it would be cool if this translated to other sports - if each ballplayer had their own souvenir stand. I certainly would have had less trouble getting myself an Anthony Becht jersey had this been the case for all sports.

Then there's the race itself. What a cool experience. We had pretty good seats - right on a turn, so there was a lot of action - a couple of crashes, but a lot of action as far as drivers passing one another, or getting ready to pass. I don't know if it's because Loudon is a pretty small track or not, but it was amazing how quick the drivers came around the track. There was really no time to get bored because once everyone was around our curve, it seemed like a second later before the leaders were back.

As you might have read from Dave's entry, it was loud - earplugs saved the day. I had earplugs, and didn't have them in at first, thinking I'd put them in at the first caution or pit or something. Never had I seen such continuous racing as the first 55 laps or so of this race - our ears were ringing pretty good by the time we had a slowdown...but that's part of what made it exciting.

The one bad thing about the day was the way it ended. Storms were predicted right at the end of the race, and the race would have been completed if not for a couple of crashes. So a huge thunderstorm hit, and the race was called with all of the drivers who haven't won all year leading the race...and as a result I didn't have the best fantasy NASCAR day. I also got soaked - after spending about 10 minutes under the stands waiting to see if they'd call the race. And leaving the parking lot was a mess, so we sat for a couple of hours before we could do anything - and instead of the post-race barbeque, we just sat in the car, drenched, waiting out the traffic.

In the end, we were fed and kept somewhat dry under a canopy by nice NASCAR fans, until the rain stopped, and a 15-hour day came to an end. The ending put a slight damper on the experience (pun intended), but overall, this was awesome. I'm glad I had the experience - and I would go to a NASCAR event again in a heartbeat - especially now that I know how much time I'd have to put into the day.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


So which game of Friday's two-stadium doubleheader between the Yankees and the Mets was most indicative of the Mets?

A 15-6 thrashing of the Yankees in Game 1, where the Mets' hot bats (most notably Carlos Delgado, with a team-record 9 RBI) bailed out a pitching performance by Mike Pelfrey that wasn't so great, but gritty enough to keep the team in the game long enough to pull out the win?

Or the 9-0 shutout in Game 2 by the Yankees, where retread Sidney Ponson gave up five hits and walked four, but the Mets couldn't push anything across while Pedro Martinez* battled through five and two-thirds innings, giving up six runs and walking five himself?

Unfortunately, and no surprise here (I'm getting tired of being so negative, but how else can I look at this season), Game 2 was certainly more 2008 Mets than Game 1.

The common denominator in the two games (besides, I guess the two teams) was the Yankees pitchers. Game 1 - Dan Giese - a reliever, mostly, making the start, and Game 2 - Sidney Ponson - who's Sidney Ponson. In other words, two pitchers the Mets by all rights should have smoked.

And there were times in Game 2 it looked like the Mets would chase Ponson early, and cruise to an easy win. They loaded the bases twice in the first three innings, and Ponson got out of all of the jams he pitched himself into. I was half-watching the game, half-doing other things, and I kept looking up and being shocked that there was no score, the way the Mets were getting on base.

But, this being 2008, I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised. Because this is just how the year has gone. Every time the Mets have shown flashes of life (like scoring 15 runs in Game 1), they come right back down to earth with a thud and remind everyone why they're no better than .500.

And this might be a subject for another day - but the last two starts by Pedro Martinez* have been incredibly disappointing, mostly because of the promise they have shown. Pedro* goes for about four innings, and looks great, then hits a wall. It's tough to watch, because he really starts laboring after just four innings.

Just another example of the high expectations for the 2008 Mets that turn up nothing but disappointment.

Friday, June 27, 2008


By Gary Carter with Phil Pepe

You may remember, more than two months ago now, when I said I was dropping everything to read the new book by Gary Carter, which I just happened upon in Barnes & Noble while walking down the sports section aisle.

Well, I've only just finished the book (in case you thought I was holding back on the review I promised). It's not that it was a 550-page tome that had me slogging through it every day. It's partly because when I get books like this that have to do with baseball or something I'm really interested in, I savor them, and read them slowly, trying to drag them out for a while. The other part of taking my time with this book had to do with the fact that it wasn't really setting my world on fire.

The good news about the book is that it wasn't the same ol', same ol'. I have two other books by Gary Carter (I think they're the only other two, but I can't say that for sure) - A Dream Season, which is all about the 1986 season, and The Gamer, written right after his retirement, which summarizes his career. There's a little overlap in those books.

This one, while I was expecting that, doesn't really dwell on 1986, which I thought it would, nor does it focus on his family. While I find both of those things interesting (the 1986 part more than the family part, though for an embarrassingly long time I daydreamed that I would marry one of Carter's daughters and become part of his family, so I can't say I'm totally uninterested in his family), it was nice to hear Carter voice his opinion on other things.

And voice he did. Carter writes about coaching, his impressions of the business side of baseball, steroids, the game of baseball in general and his love of the game, the Hall of Fame, who might end up in the Hall of Fame, who should be in the Hall of Fame, and how he felt becoming a Hall of Famer.

Some of this stuff is interesting, some of it is pages-long examples of what it would be like if you gave Gary Carter a job interview, and none of it is ground-breaking. There's not one thing in there that makes you think, "Wow. That's an original idea - no one has thought of that before."

I want to give you an example of what I mean when I say parts of the book read like a job interview. At times Carter comes off as desperate, or rather eager - as in this excerpt:

"Having been a minor league manager, I think I now know what it takes to be a good big-league manager, but do I really know? I've never done it, and until I have, I really can't know. I know a lot of responsibility is put on a big-league manager that minor league managers don't have to face. It takes working with the media, being fan friendly, and caring for your players. I have the greatest appreciation and respect for those who have done it and have been successful. I think I can be successful, too. I believe my qualifications are there. I'm confident I can handle it, but I won't know until I've done it. I would love the opportunity to try. I accept the fact that it might not happen. If it does, it would be a blessing."

So, I'm thinking he'd like a shot at managing in the bigs. Just a guess.

That's a taste of what the book is about. Though it's fading fast (see next section below), I have a high tolerance of Gary Carter because he's my favorite. I don't think this book would be for everyone...but if you want a heaping helping of Carter, this is where to get it.

FOOT-IN-MOUTH DISEASE, AGAIN: I'm not sure I understand why Carter keeps opening his mouth these days. The Wife sent me this article the other day from the New York Post in which Carter goes off on Joe Girardi and the Steinbrenners. I don't know why he does this. If he's trying to get publicity for himself for his book, someone should tell him he's going about it in totally the wrong way. (The Post took the quote from an interview with T.J. Simers in the LA Times - I can't figure out if Simers is in Carter's corner or not. But that's worth a read too.)

Here's the kicker - the guy can manage. The Orange County Flyers are 21-6, best in the Golden Baseball League. We might have to start another edition of "The Kid's Kids".

So three minor league stops, and all Carter has done at each of those stops is lead his teams to winning seasons (very winning seasons).

With the kind of characters involved in professional sports, it's amazing to me that no one will give Carter the time of day...whether or not he can keep his mouth shut.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I want to care about this great story, about Fresno State winning their first ever men's championship, about the Bulldogs being the lowest-seeded team to ever win a college championship.

But I can't quite wrap my head around the College World Series, and therefore I can't quite wrap my head around this accomplishment, and I have a feeling I'm not the only sports fan who feels that way.

I'm not out to disparage college baseball. I just never understood it. It gets very little press, and I didn't seek out information. I still don't really understand the College World Series tournament. (And I'm skeptical enough to believe that had ESPN not had the TV rights to the College World Series, this upset of historic proportions would not have gotten the press it did.)

So I need some comparisons. The 2008 Fresno State Bulldogs winning the College World Series is like __________ winning the NCAA Tournament. From what I gather, it's not like a #16 seed winning in basketball. And Fresno State won its conference would it be like a #11-to-#14 seed winning? (A conference champ that barely made the tourney - like Georgia this year?)

What is the pro comparison? Is there one, since this is so historic?

What does it mean that Fresno State has the most losses of any college baseball championship team in history? What does a college baseball team usually lose?

I guess my problem is that you can't not give attention to a sport like college baseball for so long, and then expect everyone to drop everything and give a care about the sport when something like this happens. (And I am aware that in certain parts of the country, this blog entry seems absurd, because everyone follows college baseball there. I've just never experienced that, and I think...I think....I'm in the majority.)

So I want to care about this huge sports upset/story. I just don't know how.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


For me, as I imagine it is for many of you, sports is an escape from reality. For the most part, turning on a game at night or on a weekend serves as a distraction from the mostly depressing news in the world around us.

Occasionally the real world intrudes upon the sports world, or vice versa. I recently heard a story about Ira Newble, who has been in the NBA for what seems like forever (I heard it on "Only A Game", which I wrote about last week - this is the type of story I love that show for). Newble wanted to do something about the situation in Darfur, so he went there, heard horrible stories, and used those stories to raise awareness around the NBA. I don't mind an instance like that, where people try to use their status to promote something good - or at least good intentions.

What I don't like is when the two worlds collide negatively, and I feel that's what's going to happen during this summer's Olympic Games. I like the Olympics. I'm not one of those people who hates the Olympics, but I'm also not someone who lives and dies with each event, bleeding red, white, and blue. I just like them, I like watching some of the events that I don't get to see very often...or, to put it more accurately, don't care about very often.

And recently, I have been into the Olympic site selection process. I really wanted New York City to get the 2012 Olympics - I just thought that would have been cool. One of the swimming venues would have been Astoria Park, where I took swimming lessons growing up, and I thought that would have been the coolest thing ever. Especially since I wouldn't be living there and dealing with the hassles that supposedly come with hosting the Olympics. London got 2012. But I digress. Beijing has this year's Olympics, and I didn't want that to happen.

There are two sides to this. One is that Beijing gets to put on a happy face and pretend like it's just about the games, and there are no human rights violations going on in the country (please know that anytime I refer to "China" or "Beijing" in this entry I'm referring to the government, and not the people). The other side is that the Olympic Games serve as an expose and public service announcement raising awareness about what really goes on in China - and why they really didn't deserve the reward of hosting an Olympic Games. The reality will probably fall somewhere in the middle.

And I'm left with a personal quandary, and since this is a sports blog, I'm keeping this sports-related rather than political. For China, nothing will make this more worthwhile than for them to win the medal count in the Olympics they hosted. So I could easily root for the U.S. (or any other country, for that matter) to smoke China in the medal count. But that would mean that these Chinese people who are snatched sometimes involuntarily from their families to be trained by the government and to live their lives for no other reason than to serve the country well in the Olympic games....these people would have failed at the only thing they are looked at as useful for. And who knows what repercussions they will face. And that makes me sad.

Either way, I don't think I'll be able to enjoy the Olympics this summer. For me, the Olympics in China won't allow me to escape from reality. It will only be a constant reminder of what is wrong in our world.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I know it's only the end of June. I know there's still plenty of time to turn it around.

I also know that I may be late in realizing this - but the Mets are not winners. They're going nowhere this season.

They have the wrong people making the decisions, they're making the wrong decisions, and the way they are currently constituted, they are going nowhere this season.

The exclamation point on this realization came Monday night when the Mets got their hats handed to them by the Seattle Mariners - the worst team in baseball - on their home field.

The Mariners coming to town should be an automatic sweep. They're 3,000 miles from home. They're awful. If anyone has gone through more turmoil than the Mets this year, it's the Mariners, who lost both their manager and general manager in a matter of weeks. If you're the Mets, you're thinking, "Jeez, we have it pretty bad, but here comes Seattle. Those poor Mariners. We're low, but they're lower." But then you have to go out there and murder them. Kick them while they're down.

What do the Mets do? With their best pitcher on the mound, they lose. Their best player makes a key error, extending the second inning, with the bases loaded, for the opposing pitcher. Who proceeds to hit a grand slam. And then that pitcher (the Mariners' best) gets hurt in the fifth inning, meaning the Mets have four innings to get to the bullpen of the worst team in baseball, and they can't score more than a run.

That's a disaster.

You want to fire people? You don't wait until the middle of the night after a win across the country. You wait until you lose two straight to the worst team in baseball on your own field. Then you start firing people. Break up the team....I'm sick of these guys.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I guess with the collision of the end of school and the tenth week of the season, I plum forgot about this bi-weekly entry. But it's back, probably through the end of the season. "Impressive" is a loose term these days with the Mets.

MOST IMPRESSIVE: How about the fact that the Mets were able to pick up Trot Nixon - a heretofore unmentioned fact on the blog, other than in the comments by the Southern Bureau when I was away last weekend. Nixon was tearing it up in Triple-A for the Diamondbacks, and although he's hitting just .190 so far with the Mets, it's a very good pickup - the Mets need more of his type of player on their team.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: The fact that the Mets are just 3 and a half games out, and at an even .500 right now is pretty surprising. It gives some hope for the rest of the season - almost like they have a chance to start fresh from this point on.

LEAST IMPRESSIVE/BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: The whole organization gets a demerit in this analysis - both as least impressive and biggest disappointment. The firing of Willie Randolph was a disaster, it turned the Mets into a laughing stock...they were already losing, they didn't need insult added to injury...but that's what happened. I've gone into plenty about how the firing was botched, so I'll leave it where it is.

*This didn't get much play over the weekend, but it might get mentioned more today (Monday) as the weekend recaps are done on the talk shows - the Mets hired Wayne Krivsky as assistant to the GM, or some title like that. That officially puts the heat on Omar Minaya. Krivsky was fired earlier this year by the Cincinnati Reds - but he didn't do a terrible job building up that I think the Mets fully expect their next GM to be Wayne Krivsky...unless Minaya does something to save his job.

MOST IMPRESSIVE: Home dominance by the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. The best teams in baseball win at home. The Cubs are 32-8, the Sox are 29-9.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Somewhat surprisingly, even though they are nowhere near as dominant at home (22-18 at home, 24-12 on the road), the Los Angeles Angels have the second-best winning percentage in baseball (barely better than Boston), and lead the American League West.

LEAST IMPRESSIVE: The Arizona Diamondbacks specifically, but the National League West in general, have been pretty terrible. The Diamondbacks, after starting the season 20-8, are now just two games over .500, at 39-37. That means they're barely better than the Mets (although you've heard a lot less negativity surrounding the D-Backs), but the second-best team in their division is the Dodgers, at 35-40.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: I didn't pick them to win the division, as a lot of folks did, but I did expect better from the Seattle Mariners this year. They fired their manager last week after a season in which all they've done is be the worst team in baseball so far. The Mets host Seattle for three beginning Monday night. This would be a good time for a Mets sweep.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I'm not a big fan of trash talk. I prefer seeing people settling things on the field. And if someone is talking big, I feel like the best way to shut them up is to beat them good on the field.

You may remember earlier this year, when Carlos Beltran opened his mouth, and offered the idea that the Mets would be atop the division at the end of 2008. A little less than halfway through the year, you might be surprised that the only person really backing up their claims at the start of the year is Ryan Dempster.

Carlos Beltran, New York Mets - Proclaimed the Mets as the 'team to beat' in the National League East, making a specific reference to the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins, who made the same prediction about Philadelphia a year ago.

HOW'S THAT WORKING OUT? Mets are 37-37, 3 games behind said Phillies.
Beltran is hitting .276, with 10 HR, 48 RBI, and 10 SB.

Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies - After accusing Beltran of plagiarism (with his tongue in his cheek), Rollins pronounced that the Phillies can win 100 games this year. Granted, it's a far cry from his declaration a year ago, but it's something.

HOW'S THAT WORKING OUT? Phillies are 42-35, 1 game in front of the Marlins, not quite on pace for 100 wins, Rollins is hitting .278, with 6 HR, 25 RBI, and 15 SB.

Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs - Guaranteed the Cubs would break their 100-year World Series championship drought in 2008.

HOW'S THAT WORKING OUT? The Cubs are 47-28, best in the majors, and Dempster is 8-2 with a 2.76 ERA. He has 81 strikeouts in 94.2 innings pitched.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I have to hand it to the New York Daily News - great move getting Willie Randolph to write his account of how his firing went down for Friday's paper. Just a great idea, and Randolph handled it well, coming across very classy in the article. Although, he did include this, which makes you think he was leaving some things unsaid:

I stood up and shook his [Omar Minaya's] hand, told him I wished him and the team well. Then he handed me an envelope, a little parting gift, and told me to make sure I reviewed it with my agent, Ron Shapiro.

It was a copy of my Met contract that basically says I better not say anything detrimental about the team, or I might jeopardize the rest of the money I have coming to me.

So I guess that brings an eventful week off-the-field for the Mets to an end. Maybe things will start turning around on the field now. I will say this - last year, things went downhill for the Mets after they played the Rockies...and the Rockies went on a tear (a tear that didn't end until the World Series). The Rockies swept the Mets in Colorado July 2, 3, and 4 last year by scores of 6-2, 11-3, and 17-7. So maybe this year a trip to Colorado will do wonders for the Mets. Who knows...I guess I'm still clinging to some optimism.

-And why shouldn't I - so far I'm having a great summer vacation. I decided this is the summer I'm going to take pre-emptive steps against Alzheimer's and do the crossword everyday. One week in, and today, Friday, June 20th, I completed my first crossword puzzle in recent memory. So that's exciting.

-The Mariners fired John McLaren, a move that comes as no surprise for a team that has done even less than the Mets this year. The Blue Jays, though, fired John Gibbons, which I didn't see coming. I have to say, though, that the Blue Jays must be a frustrating team to root for. I wrote about this recently (in one of those bi-weekly updates that I have forgotten about recently - I'll get back to that on Monday) - they just haven't been scoring runs for their pitchers, who have been great. And they see the Rays keeping pace with the Red Sox, and they must be thinking, "Why not us?". The American League East is a strong division. Anyway, Cito Gaston is back in charge in Toronto - it's like 1992 all over again!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


A few months back, I got an iTouch. It got me back into iTunes, and I discovered the world of podcasts. At first, I was downloading everything ("Best of ESPN Radio", "Best of Mike & Mike", interviews from "Mike & The Mad Dog"), but quickly learned that there was not enough time in the day to listen to everything. Especially during the school year.

I did, however, have time for a weekly podcast, and made it a point to listen to NPR's "Only A Game", which I knew of, but knew very little about. So I gave it a listen. And I really liked it. Even though my podcast obsession has died down, I still make a point of listening to "Only A Game" each week. Sometimes I save a bunch for the car rides to New York, sometimes I listen as I mow the lawn, sometimes I pop it on iTunes when I'm on the computer. It depends. But I listen to it solely off the podcasts - I couldn't even tell you when it's on regularly. (Check your local listings.)

I thought it was time to write about this, because it's been long enough that I can now tell I really enjoy the show, and it's not just a fluke. (And I apologize if you've been listening for years and you think I'm a dope for just getting this now.) I also wanted to take a break from the Mets mess.

The host of "Only A Game", Bill Littlefield, can be hokey, I guess, but it's all part of what makes the show enjoyable - he's a good hokey, willing to poke fun at what he does not know as well as what he does know, and able to keep everything in perspective. He laughs a lot, too, which is pretty contagious.

The part about the show that impresses me the most, though, is that it offers a take on sports and sports events that I wouldn't usually pay attention to. And I appreciate it. I wouldn't read about women's basketball in the paper or online, but I'll listen to a 7-minute segment on the sport. (I also should pay more attention to the sport, since I'll have two girls at home in a matter of months.)

I also consider myself someone who knows a lot about sports and sports history. But every other week or so, the show features something that I'd never known about, and I appreciate that. I appreciate that it will find something that, not just me, but hardly anyone has ever heard about. It takes work, and it's well done.

Bottom line - the show makes me feel smarter and more knowledgable 90% of the time I listen to it.

Unlike the current news about the Mets, which makes me feel dumber every time I tune in. Yes, that's Jerry Manuel stabbing Willie Randolph in the back on the back cover of the "New York Post". Funny, I don't remember seeing that live. And how did he get the knife through security? (The article is typical 'Post' stuff - don't bother with it. This Tony Bernazard character is a problem, huh?)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I find myself thinking of two scenarios, as the Mets hit this point of transition. One has nothing to do with a manager change, though Jerry Manuel is marginally involved. The other is all about how things can turn around after a mid-season manager change.

The Marlins in 2003 are that example - Jeff Torborg was the manager to begin the season, and after a 16-22 start, he was fired and replaced by Jack McKeon. Under McKeon, the Marlins were 75-49 the rest of the way, and the 'rest of the way' resulted in a Marlins world championship.

The big difference between the 2008 Mets and the 2003 Marlins, though, is age. The 2003 Marlins had some veteran leaders, but were mostly a young team. The 2008 Mets are mostly veterans, with a couple of young leaders. Another difference - the 2003 Marlins vanquished Moises Alou's team...the 2008 Mets can't get Moises Alou to stay healthy enough to play two games in a row.

So it's unlikely, but obviously, it's the best-case-scenario to compare the 2008 Mets' managerial change to the change the Marlins made in 2003 - that's what everyone hopes for when they make this type of change during the season.

Unfortunately, I get the feeling the Mets will end up more like the 1997 White Sox:

I know this team didn't change managers, but after the season they did, and I'll get back to that.

This was the White Sox team that was 52-53 at the trade deadline, but more importantly, just three games back of division leader Cleveland, when they traded three of their best pitchers, and before that, one of their top hitters, for minor leaguers. (By the way - I can't believe that was 11 years ago - I fully expected that the "White Flag" trade took place while Manuel was managing the White Sox - in actuality, he took over in 1998 and was manager until Ozzie Guillen came aboard in 2004.)

One of those trades netted some decent players, but I'm not here to debate whether or not the White Sox did the right thing in 1997. I'm here to wonder if this is where the Mets are headed.

Right now, the Mets are 6.5 games behind Philadelphia in the division...and 7 behind St. Louis for the wild card. Unless they turn it around fast, they'd be better off as sellers than as buyers come the trading deadline. And as I wrote yesterday, it stinks that I'm already having to think about 2009, but 2008 is looking worse and worse, and if the Mets don't do something in 2008 to prepare for 2009, their first season at Citi Field will look a lot like their last at Shea Stadium.

In other words, the roster as it looks right now is old, and it might be time to blow it up. There are problems, I know - who wants some of these old guys? Well, there's a chance a team will take a chance on a guy like Moises Alou for a stretch run, if he's healthy for the month of July. And maybe Billy Wagner is expendable. Maybe the Mets can get some young replacements/replenishments for the farm system in return. It's unlikely that anyone would take Carlos Delgado, but he's not going to be back next year anyway.

The real shocker here is that I am once again going to advocate a trade of Jose Reyes. Tuesday night was a disgrace. Say what you want about him wanting to stay in the game, but his childish display, showing up his brand-new manager like that, sets the wrong tone. I don't care if he's not happy about coming out (not as a punishment, mind you, but in his best interests), he's got to have a sense of how it looks to an observer - it looks like he's being disrespectful and prima-donna-ish. It's only going to start rumors that the new manager has no control over one of his star players, much like the rumors that the old manager couldn't control him, or at least get through to him. I wouldn't mind seeing Reyes go to another team - provided the Mets get a ton for him in exchange. At the very least, last night's antics once again made me think that there's no way Reyes ends his career in a Mets uniform. (Incidentally, they were also another reason I was surprised the Mets didn't change the entire coaching staff.) I think Reyes will be with a few teams before his time is up, whether or not he gets traded.

The bottom line is that this year is looking like a failure, and the Mets have some options before the trade deadline - keep everything as is, and run the risk that next year turns out the same way, or shake things up in the hopes that some new faces in 2009 bring some better results. If it's the former rather than the latter, I suspect that one of the new faces in 2009 will end up being in the general manager's office.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


A big event like the Willie Randolph firing gets two postings in one day (make sure you scroll down if you didn't see the first yet).

I wanted to react to Omar Minaya's press conference.

And I want to start by saying I respect Minaya for his friendship with Randolph, and I respect how hard a decision it was for him. I'm sure he's genuine when he says that. I also respect the fact that it was 11:15pm local (Anaheim) time when he had his meeting with Randolph, which he stressed. And I respect that he wanted to be up front and honest with Randolph, and inform him right away, and not have word get out ahead of time, and that he wanted to sleep on the decision before making it and speaking to Randolph. I respect all that...I really do.

And I respect that it was HIS decision, something else he stressed. What I don't respect at all is the way he made the decision.

Omar, you wanted to sleep on this decision? The past month wasn't long enough for you? You could have hibernated on this decision.

Yes, Omar, you met with Randolph at a reasonable time in Anaheim. But please remember something - this Randolph firing affects a lot of people, not the least of which are the fans - 90% of which were sleeping, back on the east coast, when this decision was "announced" (if a press release and an e-mail is an announcement). I firmly believe you wanted to avoid the type of press conference you had to hold in Anaheim anyway on Tuesday afternoon. Did you know that some media types would be left back in New York, and you might not have to answer all of the tough questions? You really looked nervous addressing the folks you addressed on Tuesday - maybe you were nervous about doing it in New York.

You could have slept on the decision Saturday night, Friday night, last week, etc. There's no reason you had to fly all the way out to Anaheim to fire Randolph. You talked about not humiliating Randolph - I don't know that it would have been less humiliating for him to just have to clean out his office in between games of a doubleheader.

I feel like the decision that was made wasn't fair to Randolph - he has to be accosted by the media in a hotel lobby instead of at a presser in the old Jets locker room at Shea? It also wasn't fair to the fans - we deserve more than a note on the crawl on ESPNEWS.

(That said, I also decided, after listening to Jerry Manuel, I am not going to take all of this out on him. I hope the Mets do well the rest of this season, though I don't think some of the players deserve a successful season.)

Bottom line - I think it says a lot about the type of General Manager you are when it takes you this long to make a decision that everyone else knew was coming for a long time. What else might you be hesitant to pull the trigger on?

I am not in the business of calling for people to lose their jobs. It's different in professional sports, I feel (I'm not going to go to my boss and ask her to fire someone I work with, but I would voice that opinion about a pro sports figure), but I still don't like making a habit of it. And with that said, Omar Minaya needs to put the Mets in a position to improve, and fast. Or else I think the GM spot should have a vacancy as well.


Why can't I root for a team that just does things the normal way?

We can go back and forth arguing about whether or not Willie Randolph deserved to be fired - but the truth is the Mets were expected to be on top of the division by now, and they're only better than the Nationals; they should have won the division last year, and they collapsed; and your 1A star player isn't responding to the manager - it makes sense that Randolph was on thin ice.

But I think we can all agree that this was the stupidest way to fire someone in the history of professional sports. My belief (and Omar Minaya will talk later today, so maybe there will be more answers then, but I doubt it) is that the Mets were getting dangerously close to getting back to .500 (they're 34-35 right now), and the timing was getting worse. So the Mets had to fire Randolph after a win over the AL West-leading Angels. In the middle of the night. Just ridiculous.

A quick recap of the Randolph years:

2005 - A season of "seeing what we have". It was a bridge season - Mike Piazza's final year in a Mets uniform, the first for Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez*. Record: 83-79

2006 - Everything Randolph did worked out. The Mets got to Game 7 of the NLCS, but lost to a team they were better than. Record: 97-65.

2007 - Expectations were sky-high. The Mets got off to a fast start, but suffered a historic collapse in September to miss the playoffs. Blame can go all around, but that shouldn't make the manager exempt. Record: 88-74.

2008 - The Mets never got off the ground. Again, it's not all Randolph's fault, but someone has to take the fall. The Mets are classy enough to allow Randolph to earn a 34th win on the season before giving him the ax 3,000 miles from home. Record: 34-35

So where do the Mets go from here? I neglected to mention pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto are also gone. Jerry Manuel takes over as interim manager, and Ken Oberkfell and Dan Warthen come up to the Mets from Triple-A New Orleans. Warthen will most likely be pitching coach - I know very little about him. Luis Aguayo also joins the major league team from the minors.

Manuel has shown the fire for Willie throughout their time together. In the situations when Mets fans wanted some emotion from Randolph, it's been Manuel who has provided it. Manuel must have the respect of the players, otherwise it would have been foolish for the Mets to keep him (although, some might say it's foolish to fire a manager at 3:15am...but what do I know). I'm surprised the Mets didn't turn over the entire staff, to be honest.

I can't predict what will happen the rest of the way for the Mets. What I will say is that they make it very hard to root for them to recover from this disaster. Does the Mets turning it around and having a successful end to the season legitimize the managerial move in the middle of the night? I don't know that I want to find out. I like Jerry Manuel, but I also like Willie Randolph. I might feel a bit satisfied by the Mets continuing to play uninspired ball under a different leader, and maybe start fresh next year....though it pains me to think of that - it's a long time away.

This is probably the most significant Mets move in the history of 200 Miles From the Citi. The blog was born in April of 2004, in the midst of the Art Howe era (and by era I mean "two seasons"). Basically, Willie Randolph is all this blog has known. My feelings on Randolph started out as excitement and enthusiasm for a fresh face in the Mets dugout. They quickly turned to expectation, as the Mets showed such promise in 2006, and then disappointment when that feat wasn't repeated, and in fact, everything got much worse. And finally, frustration and a need for change, because it seemed like the Mets were going nowhere fast under Randolph. I think that's an accurate representation of the feelings of most Mets fans.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Let me tell you about my weekend:

The Wife and I had a weekend packed to the gills. We went up to Hanover, New Hampshire Friday and Saturday for her 10-year reunion at Dartmouth, but I'm not here to tell you about that. Sunday was more eventful.

Billy Joel is in the midst of about 10 shows at Mohegan Sun, so we drove down there Sunday evening to see him. It was in the works for a while, a Father's Day gift of sorts. As you probably know, I love Billy Joel. There are a handful of pop culture/sports people I put on the proverbial pedestal, and Billy Joel is one of them (along with Hall of Famer Gary Carter, the Mets, the Jets, and the likes of David Wright and Chad Pennington). I certainly see these people's faults (moreso these days than ever), but I will always hold them in high regard.

Anyway, I've seen Billy Joel a bunch of times, and the last few times I've seen him he's been great - really energetic - better than you'd expect.

Sunday night, though, was about what you'd expect...which is to say, still very good, but I guess he's showing his age. He spent less time dancing and running around (though still got up for a few songs in a row), and a lot more time just sitting at the piano. And that was awesome.

But it got me brother is still efforting getting me down to the "Last Play at Shea" in mid-July. Last I heard, Billy Joel is doing two shows at Shea - the last concerts there. I'm sure Billy Joel will be awesome there - and since it's such a high profile show, I imagine he'll be even better at Shea Stadium than he was at Mohegan Sun on a Sunday night.

And I thought how sad it is that in their final season at their home of 44 years, the Mets will be outperformed in their last season at Shea by a 59-year-old musician. Because unless the Mets have a dramatic turnaround in the next month, that's what will happen. Not what I expected coming into the 2008 season.

3 More Things:

1) Thanks to the Southern Bureau for the updates over the weekend. The "Willie Watch" was a nice touch - and just so I'm on the record - the Mets are really doing themselves no favors by stringing Willie Randolph along day by day. The "lurking shadow" is not helping matters - obviously they want to get rid of him - just do it already. If Omar Minaya looking over Randolph's shoulder hasn't worked by now, it's not going to work just because he flew out west with the Mets. At the very least fire the coaching staff - do something - we all know it's inevitable anyway.

2) This just isn't fair - but it's the way the schedule goes sometimes. Just two weeks after playing a Sunday night game in New York, then playing in San Francisco on Monday night, the Mets finished up a doubleheader late on Sunday (7-ish) against Texas in New York, then flew out to Los Angeles to play the Angels Monday night. That looked tough enough when the schedule came out, before the day game against the Dodgers became a night game and the Rangers game on Saturday was rained out, forcing the doubleheader. Things like that (along with all the losing) make it seem like it just won't be the Mets' year.

3) Interesting that the Mets will probably be naming their new manager on the west coast, the current residence of one Hall of Famer, Gary Carter. Coincidence? Maybe...maybe not.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I got home late Wednesday night (late for 9:30, I guess), after an end-of-year celebration, before beginning my summer vacation. I turned on the TV, saw the Mets game was 3-3 in the 10th, and I settled in to watch.

As I emptied my pockets, I realized there was a text message on my cell - from Justin in NYC. It said "Seriously. Worst team ever." I was puzzled. The Yankees were a late start out west, so he had to be talking about the Mets. How bad could a 3-3 tie in extra innings be?

I rewound the TiVo, and saw the Diamondbacks tie it with a homer after being down to their last strike. Then Thursday afternoon, I watched as Billy Wagner blew another save. At least the Mets came back to win Wednesday's game.

The Mets are just a mess. What happens now? Does Willie Randolph get fired? (In his defense - your closer has to finish those games. I mean what more can a manager do? I don't care what Wagner's breakdown is entering an inning versus starting an inning - get three friggin' outs.) Do the Mets still have a chance?

Interleague play has been disastrous for the Mets the past few seasons. There is a real chance that the Mets could be long gone by July first. Keep an eye on it this weekend without me - I'm heading up to Dartmouth College for The Wife's college reunion. I'll be back on Monday. It might be a loooooong summer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I discovered something the other day thinking about the way I watch baseball these days. My summer can basically be divided up into three unequal trimesters, and I'm very excited because the second of these is about to start. Interestingly, The Wife is also paying a lot of attention to trimesters these days...but I won't get into hers so much because it doesn't really involve my summer vacation.

This is the sort-of-official beginning to summer, when baseball starts, up until mid-June, when school ends. It's exciting, yet not fully formed (or developed). If I stay up too late in the evening watching the games to their very end, I wake up not feeling well in the morning. (Interestingly, The Wife also had some morning sickness.) I certainly follow things closely during this period of 2 to 2-and-a-half months, but I don't have instantaneous access to news, as I would in the....

This begins on Thursday, when school is done, and nothing stands between me and sports information until September (except the All Star break, when nothing happens). It's two-and-a-half full months of pretty much uninterrupted baseball. Basically, for the second trimester, I live like the Southern Bureau, able to make fantasy baseball moves or gather information at the drop of a hat, up-to-date on almost anything that though I had no other life. Like I was 11 again. And, let me again stress, like the Southern Bureau lives his life now.

Again, back to school, but with pennant chases and playoff pushes going on, my attention is a little more focused. I'm still feeding off the restful summer, so I can stay up late for some games, into the playoffs even, if necessary. And if the past couple of years hold true, my fantasy team is usually involved in some down-to-the-wire excitement, so that gets my continued intense attention if needed.

This year the beginning of my third trimester coincides with the end of The Wife's. It'll be like a clash of the titans. It'll be interesting to see which one of us gets to stick to their routine in the final trimester.

Monday, June 09, 2008


The title refers to the weather, not the Mets, who are far from "hot".

After a 4-game sweep in San Diego, the Mets are back to two games below .500, and morale-wise, things are back to where they were before the west coast trip, which is to say, low in the morale department.

It didn't have to be this way - the Mets led Sunday's game in the eighth, before Billy Wagner came in and served up a single and then a homer to give San Diego the lead.

And I guess my question is this: Who on the Mets calls out Billy Wagner when he messes up? Seems like Wagner is the first to point fingers at everyone else when they do something wrong...I just hope there's a system of checks and balances that makes sure he gets his when the time comes.

And on Sunday, the time came.

In fairness to Billy, the homer came after a 2-2 pitch that looked an awful lot like strike three. So maybe he doesn't only stink, maybe he's a head case as well, just like Oliver Perez. I hope someone in the clubhouse points that out to the world.

I think the sun made me angry today. I have a headache. Two more days of school...

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Yikes. Two Braves posts in a row. I hope they don't take away my Mets fan card.

I felt, though, that I had to comment on the John Smoltz situation. Earlier this week, Smoltz announced that he was going to have surgery on his throwing shoulder, ending his season. The speculation is that this might be too much to come back from, and it might have ended his career as well...but Smoltz says he wants to come back.

What bothers me about this is that it sort of messes up what could have been a great story - Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine all retiring at the end of this year, and all (in theory) going into the Hall of Fame together in five years.

This brings up a couple of things. First of all, yes, I think all three are Hall of Famers. Whether or not they are all first-ballot Hall of Famers is debatable, but I agree with others (most notably Tim Kurkjian, I think) who say that the voters will have a "sense of the moment" and put all three in together if the opportunity presents itself.

And, obviously, it's still possible. None of the three has said this will be their definitive last year, and it's still possible that even if Glavine and Maddux retire, Smoltz will not be able to come back.

The sad thing is, I hate to see Smoltz go out like this. Unlike the subject of yesterday's entry, Chipper Jones, I've never hated Smoltz. I've always sort of respected him, while hating the team he's played for. Part of the reason is because he's never been absolutely dominant over the Mets - they've gotten to him over the years. It was Maddux and Glavine who killed the Mets, Smoltz was a once-in-a-while killer...but beatable. Even as a closer. So it's too bad that he couldn't return this year and finish out from the bullpen again, or go out a winner as a starter.

It's like the Mike Piazza situation, which I haven't had a chance to comment on yet. It's one thing to retire unexpectedly after an injury, it's a whole different story to have your retirement cross the wires quietly. (Was there even a press conference? I never saw any video, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. This came right during my busy point of the year.)

But neither guy, both of whom are headed for the Hall, was able to go out on his own terms. And that's always a sad thing. Hopefully Smoltz will make it back and be able to gut out another year, at least. Piazza wasn't even given a chance.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Early this year, I threw caution to the wind. I lifted my strict no-Braves policy in favor of a fantasy baseball win-at-all-costs measure and drafted none other than Mets-Killer Chipper Jones. It was a move that made me feel a little dirty for a while after, but I kept turning back to the reason I drafted him - he's an on-base machine, and that would pay off with our new category this year being on-base percentage.

I haven't regretted the move one bit. In fact, I find myself rooting for Jones not just to get on base, but to get hits. And I bet I'm not the only one.

Chipper is batting .421 as of this moment (through Friday night's game), and his on-base percentage is .504 (!!). But let's focus on that first number.

Major League Baseball has to be thrilled with a .400 chase. The deeper we get into the season, and the more exposure this gets, provided Jones keeps his current pace, is all good news for MLB.

No one has hit .400 in a season since Ted Williams' .406 in 1941. There have been chases, flirtations - most notably George Brett in 1980 (.390) and Tony Gwynn in the strike-shortened 1994 season (.394) (but also the likes of Paul Molitor, John Olerud, Larry Walker, and Nomar Garciaparra - most of which faded very quickly) - but lately it's been the power categories that get the hot pursuit...and, we now know for sure, much of that was artificial.

There's nothing artificial about a batting average. There's even less artificial about it when it's a guy like Jones, who isn't legging out bunt singles. He's just a pure hitter, and because he's a switch-hitter, he's out there most everyday, no matter who's on the mound.

This has the potential to be a feel-good summer for Major League Baseball. It's like Cal Ripken pursuing Lou Gehrig, pulling baseball out of the shadow of the strike. For baseball to talk about the likes of Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams, and George Sisler rather than Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and the now-defunct records of Roger Maris/Babe Ruth, and to have a die-hard Mets fan singing the praises of an Atlanta Brave - looks like baseball has turned the page on the Mitchell Report.

.421 AVG., .504 OBP, 14 HR, 39 RBI (played in 57 of team's 62 games)
vs. LHP: .450 AVG., .516 OBP, 1 HR, 8 RBI (36 games)
vs. RHP: .404 AVG., .497 OBP, 13 HR, 31 RBI
Home: .462 AVG., .538 OBP, 8 HR, 26 RBI (32 games)
Away: .371 AVG., .460 OBP, 6 HR, 13 RBI (25 games)

There are some holes in his statistics, which should be noted. First of all, that's a pretty low RBI total. Secondly, though .371 is an awesome average, it pales in comparison to how he's hitting at Turner Field. The Braves as a team really struggle on the road - 7-21 versus 25-9 at home. So I guess there's evidence to suggest Jones won't keep this up all year (not to mention whether or not he can stay healthy), but I'll be rooting for him. (I can't believe I just said that.)

For a look at Chipper Jones' career (he hit his 400th career homer this week) and place in history, check out Justin from NYC's article on

Friday, June 06, 2008


With the 33rd overall pick in Thursday's MLB Draft, the Mets selected right-handed pitcher Bradley Holt. Who cares about the MLB Draft, you ask? Well, other recent Mets high draft picks include Mike Pelfrey, who is now in their rotation, and Philip Humber, who was traded for Johan Santana. So chances are, drafted at #33, you will hear the name Bradley Holt again.

It's a name that the Southern Bureau has heard a lot - Holt comes out of UNC-Wilmington, home base for the Southern Bureau. So here are some '200 Miles From the Citi' exclusives - the Southern Bureau's scouting report, plus video - an exclusive interview with Holt from UNCW Baseball Media Day, and the Southern Bureau himself on the 6 o'clock news in Carolina telling us about the draft pick.

Here’s the lowdown on Holt – the 33rd overall pick by the Mets.

He’s a tall right handed pitcher that throws hard. His fastball was clocked in the high 90s - and he is a big strikeout guy. He finished 11-1 this season, an ERA of 3.18.

Whenever UNCW needed a big start – he delivered. In their two biggest games of the season – the Conference Tournament and the NCAA tournament – Holt pitched great. His NCAA Tournament start (vs Elon) was a complete game that saved the bullpen for the rest of the weekend.

Has some control issues – trouble with walks every now and then. But he throws in the high 90s, so I guess that comes with the territory. Also – doesn’t really have a second pitch, but since no one can seem to hit his fastball – he hasn’t needed one.

Here is the interview, which never really gets going, if you ask me.

Here's the report from WECT. (Hopefully these links work - we've never done this type of video before.)

Finally, here's why the Southern Bureau is so valued up north. His take on the draft pick:

I’m SO pumped the Mets took him. It was the exact team I wanted to take him…based only on my duties as Southern Bureau.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


There was a time that I lived for a baseball fight. It was how the game policed itself, and it wasn't frivolous. Guys hated each other, so they fought, or guys were legitimately wronged (usually), so they fought.

Lately, though, these fights seem to have started over less-than-valid reasons. I mean, to not throw one at guys like Manny Ramirez for posing after a home run, but to do it because a pitcher unintentionally hit your star player, or whatever, it seems less valid. (The other reason I hate to see fights now is because of an incident in 1995 or 1996. Mets-Cubs at Wrigley, a huge fight breaks out, somehow two guys uninvolved in the original incident end up tussling, and Turk Wendell of the Cubs ended up swinging Rico Brogna of the Mets into the brick wall behind the plate, and Brogna hurt his shoulder and was never the same. I really liked Brogna, and I always traced his future difficulties back to this fight.) If this all sounds familiar, that's because this is something I feel strongly about, and I've written about it before.

Anyway, there's also these unwritten rules in baseball, which I'll write about in depth some other time, but CoCo Crisp felt that on Wednesday night he was wronged by a violation of an unwritten rule - You never put your knee down, as a defender, to block a base, when the runner is going in headfirst.

Now, I'll admit it - one of the big reasons I don't like these unwritten rules is because I would probably be a dirty player in baseball. Your goal as the runner is to get to second base. My goal as the shortstop/second baseman would be to tag you out. You want to slide headfirst, that's your choice, but I'm putting my knee down and blocking that bag to achieve my goal. I'd probably do it if you went feet first, too, at my own peril. So that's my rationalization.

So here's the scene-set. Crisp tries to steal second, Jason Bartlett puts his knee down, Crisp hurts his thumb, they exchange words, though it seems good-natured - Bartlett doesn't look like he knows Crisp is upset at him. Then the next time on base, Crisp tries to steal second, he is out by a mile, but goes tumbling into Iwamura, who's covering the bag, in a hard slide, for retaliation. He ends up jawing with the Rays manager, Joe Maddon.

Now, Thursday, Crisp leads off the second inning, and James Shields throws at his knees. Everyone saw it coming, the announcers were talking about it. So what does Crisp do? After saying the night before he hopes they don't throw at anyone else but him (I think meaning he didn't want them to take out his actions on someone else), he charges the mound, dodges a punch by Shields, proceeds to get pummeled by about four Rays, Jonny Gomes (punk #1 in the majors in my book) and Carl Crawford included. Maybe Crisp had it coming - if he was so concerned he was going to settle this situation, why didn't he go after Iwamura or Bartlett instead of Shields? I guess part of the problem in baseball is that there is no eye for an eye, especially when American League pitchers are involved.

These fights get me fired up. I don't like seeing them. It's been a long time, too, since the Mets were involved in something like this. Last year, there was the dust-up at third base on the second-to-last day of the season against the Marlins, but that was a mere dust-up. As much as I hate the brawls, a big brouhaha might get the Mets really going.

JOHNNYMETS EXCLUSIVE: Thursday was the MLB Draft. The Mets, with the 33rd overall pick, took RHP Bradley Holt out of UNC-Wilmington. That's right in the heart of the Southern Bureau. As a result, the Southern Bureau is going to have a full preview of Holt, complete with video. Here's a taste:

He’s a tall right handed pitcher that throws hard. His fastball was clocked in the high 90s - and he is a big strikeout guy. He finished 11-1 this season, an ERA of 3.18.

A full report is coming tomorrow on 200 Miles From the Citi.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I know it's two games old by now, after the Mets won the Maine-Cain matchup Wednesday afternoon, but it feels good to have Pedro Martinez* last more than an inning and get a win...and just to know he'll be back out there every five days.

According to all reports (again, I didn't make it out of the top of the first), Pedro* was healthy. He threw 109 pitches, and he even went 2-for-3 at the plate, with an RBI single.

Pedro* went six innings, giving up three runs, three walks, seven hits, and striking out three. And you have to think he'll get better, because it was not ideal Pedro* weather - cool and in the fifties (although that would be October weather if the Mets are lucky enough to be playing then).

Martinez* beat Barry Zito, who dropped to 1-9. Those two players have had a tremendous reversal of fortunes since Zito beat out Martinez* for the Cy Young Award.

In 2006 it was after a trip to the West Coast that the Mets really started to get hot (although I think that was in May, not June). Could this be where the 2008 Mets made their march to the top? They continue through San Diego (PETCO Park - "Where The Mets Go" - copyright johnnymets, 2006) before coming back east to host the suddenly awful Diamondbacks, and then match up with the AL West in interleague play.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Here's why Steve in Queens and I get along so well. I'm sitting thinking about something to write about today, then I decide it has to be Oliver Perez, and lo and behold, there's an e-mail from Steve about Oliver Perez's performance in my e-mail. Thanks Steve. Here's what he had to say:

"Johnnymets -

I would like to hear your thoughts about Oliver Perez and the fact that he is a mental case. I know this week's games are too late for you, as they are for me, but, I was able to watch the 50 minutes worth of the Mets blowing a golden opportunity in the top of the 1st and Perez only getting 1 out while giving up 6 runs in the bottom of the first.

If you get a chance to see any of his performance, I think you would agree that batting practice is more of a challenge than the garbage he was throwing last night. And, this wasn't his usual inability to find the plate in one random inning. I think his fastball topped out at 87 or 88 mph.

For someone in a contract year, he is certainly not helping his own cause (his wallet). What do you think is wrong with him and should the Mets already be thinking about signing someone else at the end of the season?

Steve from Queens"

My take on it was going to be more tongue in cheek, but I will say that before this season is out, Oliver Perez will have a huge game that will make all of this agony worthwhile. I just know it. Something is making me not hate the guy, and there's something there that tells me come late September or October, he'll remind us of the Oliver Perez circa October 2006. But I have no evidence to back that up, clearly. Just a hunch. Also, I was going to have a picture with this, but I'm having trouble putting it up, and I'm out of patience. It was Carlos Delgado with his hand on Perez from Monday night's game, consoling him, I guess. I put a caption on it that said, "Don't worry, I stink too." It was hilarious.

Now what I was originally going to say, with the caveat that I didn't make it out of the top of the first...the only person affiliated with the Mets to not make it further into the game than Perez:

Every so often you just have to stop and appreciate the moment. What we are witnessing in Oliver Perez right now is one of the most complex minds in the game. This is someone who was compared by one of his teammates to a wall, after getting pasted in an inning-and-a-third against the Pirates last month. (A wall gives up less runs and lasts longer than an inning-and-a-third, incidentally.)

But walls can't be so mentally in tune with the game that they will settle in to games of "Street Fighter" with Aaron Heilman in the clubhouse the day after tough losses. To be able to turn it on and off like that must be the type of thing that turn players like Greg Maddux green with envy.

Pedro Martinez* stated the other day that now that he's back in the dugout, with the team every day, Perez will benefit the most, and play better. Oliver Perez's response? One-third of an inning, six runs, five hits, two walks, 2 homers, 0 strikeouts. To the powerhouse San Francisco Giants.

It's not easy to understand the complexities of the human mind. It's a whole other story to understand Oliver Perez. And if geniuses like Rick Peterson and Pedro Martinez* can't figure him out, the rest of us don't stand a chance.

Cue the Southern Bureau.

LOOK FOR THIS TOMORROW: Nothing like a classic Maine-Cain matchup. John Maine versus Matt Cain on Wednesday.

Monday, June 02, 2008


OK. A few months ago I posted about my interest in the NBA getting a jolt. I wrote about the Jason Kidd and Shaquille O'Neal trades and wondered if those trades would turn their teams around. That question was quickly answered, and my interest has gone dormant again. But now the Celtics and Lakers are meeting in the NBA Finals, and everyone's all excited.

Am I missing something?

I don't pretend to know as much about the NBA as someone like Justin in NYC...meaning I can't recite all of the classic Lakers-Celtics matchups of the past. But I'm pretty sure Larry Bird isn't playing in this series. And I'm pretty sure Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar aren't either. Last I checked, it's still about 10 guys who don't hustle as much as they should, play pretty poor defense, and probably don't realize the significance of the matchup.

I know, Paul Pierce grew up in LA and lived and died with these games. That I buy. But I bet less than 10% of the combined rosters could tell you why Lakers-Celtics used to be such a big deal. And I mean used to. Because it's not that significant anymore. It's just one team against another. It's just a long flight for the Celtics. It's just a five-game series that the Lakers will win, and it will not be a classic.

Is everyone getting excited over a matchup that isn't going to recapture the glory of 20 years ago, or am I wrong here? (And I'm not bitter that it's not a new matchup. Although I don't blame you for thinking that.)

A NOTE ON THE METS: The MLB Player's Union gets so upset about the stupidest little things, I'm shocked they let baseball get away with this one. The Mets played the Dodgers Sunday night in a game that was originally supposed to get underway at 1:10pm, but was moved for ESPN coverage. Then they go out west for a series against the Giants, and there's no off-day in between. How does the union not gripe about that? (And on a related note, these games will be way past my bedtime.)

Sunday, June 01, 2008


As we turn the calendar page, I'm going to throw some numbers at you.

The Mets finished with a flurry towards the end of May, keeping me interested into June, at least. And Pedro Martinez* comes back on Tuesday night, so as long as he doesn't get hurt again, that's exciting.

Here's the breakdown:

March: 1-0
April: 13-12
May: 13-15

That 13-15 might not look too impressive, but from where the Mets were a week ago, the overall 27-27 is a huge sigh of relief.
You know things aren't going so great when I'm relying on an end-of-season prediction in the beginning of June, but I feel like after a hot start like he's had, there's no better time to bring this up. If the name Jay Bruce sounded familiar to you after his call-up by the Reds this week, maybe it's because I had him pegged early (from my season picks on March 23):

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: I really have no idea who the rookies are this year. Just looking randomly at a list of rookies in 2008 I'll go with this Jay Bruce of the Reds. He's an outfielder, and maybe he'll lead the resurgence I think they'll have.
WRIGHT WATCH: David Wright had a key double Saturday, getting on base ahead of Carlos Beltran's 2-run game-tying homer in the eighth inning. That made me realize we haven't looked at his doubles in a bit:

WRIGHT THIS SEASON: 17 (Berkman leads majors with 21)

Watch out, Tris Speaker.
And finally, this could easily be a joke from one of my friends, but here's an e-mail I got after Saturday's posting about Gary Carter (I know, since I now know he's a regular reader, that he doesn't mind that I post the e-mail):


Enjoyed your take on Gary Carter, and appreciate him being your favorite player. I was just poking fun—hope you weren't too offended.


Jeff Pearlman"

It looked legit, figured it was worth posting. And, for the record, Pearlman's piece was funny.