Sunday, May 24, 2009



How could it possibly get more exciting and exhilarating than last night?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Why didn't SNY give all of us fair warning last night it would preempt last night's Mets-Dodgers game for a showing of the 1970s classic slapstick Little League baseball comedy, "The Bad News Bears."
You know, that flick where in one scene, the shortstop plays one routine ground ball as if it's a live hand grenade and in another, fields and throws another toward his team's dugout. It's that celluloid classic where a relief pitcher foolishly lobs a fielded bunt somewhere in the vicinity of first base and later the center fielder calls off the left fielder at the last minute, but fails to catch the ball, allowing the winning run to go third base.
But the tragicomic facsimile of baseball reaches its climax with the Little Leaguers up at bat. In this scene, in the top of the 11th inning, the left fielder strokes a clutch, two-out, go-ahead extra base hit. The team joyously erupts in celebration in its dugout -- but wait!
Back on the field, suddenly the third baseman steps on the third base bag, the umpire signals "out" and guess what? The runner, it turns out, failed to touch third base on the way home.
In the bottom of the inning, the in spite of themselves, the Little League pitcher wriggles out of a nearly impossible jam by getting the hitter to bounce into a certain inning-ending double play -- only to have the first baseman field the ball then hurl it toward the opposing dugout, costing the game and completing the circle of complete ineptitude.
This wasn't "The Bad News Bears"?
Nope. It was the New York Mets.
Fresh off a game in San Francisco in which their starting pitcher committed a team-record three balks that directly led to two runs scoring, the Mets last night elevated their level of incompetence in Los Angeles as shortstop Ramon Martinez, pitcher Sean Green, center fielder Carlos Beltran and first baseman Jeremy Reed combined to make five errors (their most in a single game since committing six in a 2007 game against the Phillies) while Ryan Church made the single biggest base running blunder in years, failing to touch third base en route to home plate with what should've been the go-ahead run on an 11th inning triple by Angel Pagan.
Instead, the Mets stumbled and bumbled their way to an utterly humiliating 3-2 loss.
The string of mistakes led legendary Dodgers' play-by-play man Vin Scully to opine, on Fox Prime Ticket: "The way the Mets are playing tonight, they ought to be being managed by Casey Stengel. Shades of Marv Throneberry and the 1962 Mets."
Only the '62 Mets didn't have a $150 million player payroll and never spent a day in first place, where these current Mets -- by some miracle -- reside.
Those Mets were called "lovable losers."
But last night's gaffes were just plain loathsome.
The Mets have had plenty of west coast swings in their history in which they appeared jet-lagged. Last night, they played as if they were hungover, high, or had reverted to pre-pubescence.
The team's appalling and inexcusable ineptitude screams for an apology to the fan base -- some of whom undoubtedly stayed up until 2 a.m. Eastern Time -- which watched what passed for a live "Three Stooges" marathon.
It's especially jarring after the Mets played a week's worth of inspiring baseball.
These Mets are finding new and bizarre ways to lose games -- just as they did in 1962.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Bad news from the Mets' medical front: As anticipated, Carlos Delgado has been out on the 15-day disabled list because of his hip impingement, which may require surgery.
Curiously, it is outfielder Angel Pagan (middle) -- who recently was arrested during a traffic stop for failure to pay 2005 parking offenses -- who was recalled from AAA Buffalo to replace Delgado on the roster and not prized outfield prospect Fernando Martinez (far left).
Martinez is batting .281 and leads the Bisons in home runs (4), RBI (20), hits (36) and doubles (12). Pagan, who got off to a red hot start last season while replacing then-left fielder Moises Alou, totaled his shoulder while running into the stands in Dodger Stadium chasing a foul pop. He was hitting .286 at AAA Buffalo during a rehabilitation assignment.


The question was perfectly timed, asked the moment after Gary Sheffield and David Wright successfully executed a double steal Thursday night, to put themselves in scoring position.
"What's gotten into these Mets?" SNY analyst Keith Hernandez asked.
Indeed, it's what everyone following the Mets wants to know and hopes the team maintains whatever "it" is, after enduring incompetent and uninspired ends to the 2008 and 2007 seasons.
On most west coast trips, the Mets have started out lethargic in the first game. But not Thursday night, when they stole a club record seven bases -- including Wright's record-tying individual tally of four -- and churned out clutch hit after clutch hit to beat the Giants, 7-4. John Maine overcame a miserable start, gutting it out for 6.2 innings before handing the baton to the bullpen, which stymied the Giants the rest of the way.
But that was just a warmup act for last night's 8-6 Giants-slaying, arguably the Mets' inspired win of the young season.
Admit it. Just two weeks ago, when the Mets seemed to wilt whenever behind by two runs or more and couldn't sustain a nine-inning offensive attack, you wouldn't have given them a chance if you were told they'd be down 5-1 on the road after two innings to last year's National League Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum.
But yet there they were, racking up 10 hits off of him despite striking out eight times and driving him from the game with two runs in the sixth inning, then three more in the seventh to tie the game at 6-6, just a half-inning after Lincecum burned lackluster reliever Sean Green for an RBI single.
There was Wright -- replacing the lookalike impostor who's been wearing his No. 5 since last September -- swatting a clutch, three-run double off reliever Merkin Valdez, making a visibly upset Lincecum pout from the Giants' dugout.
And there, too, was Omir Santos.
Twice, Lincecum had made him look utterly foolish while striking him out, yet he got a key run home off of him with a sacrifice fly. And in the ninth inning, there was Santos again, driving in a vital insurance run with another sacrifice fly off Giants' closer, Brian Wilson.
And the last two nights, the Mets have been making their magic without slugging injured first baseman Carlos Delgado and shortstop Jose Reyes.
Save Monday's dreadful 8-3 debacle at Citi Field against the Braves and the Mets have shown a resiliency in every game since, reminiscent of the magical 2006 season.
Tuesday, the Mets overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat the Braves 4-3 in 10 innings. Wednesday, the Mets rallied from behind three times and took the Braves to 12 innings before falling, 8-7 while pushing the tying run to third base with one out.
Just two weeks ago, Mets' General Manager Omar Minaya publicly questioned if his club had an "edge."
Now -- thankfully -- the more pertinent question is: How long will the Mets maintain it?

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Long ago, sometime after his complete meltdown in the mid-'80s, I thought beleaguered Mets' reliever Doug Sisk -- he of the uncontrollable sinker and penchant for walks -- retired.
But no.
His spirit -- and his pitches are being channeled by Sean Green, who yesterday not only walked in the game-winning run against the Phillies in a 6-5, 10-inning loss, but also plunked a pinch-hitter with a wayward sinker. The fact that Green, who toiled in obscurity in Seattle and as his last name suggests, is new to this whole Mets-Phillies rivalry thing.
And he emerged from the bullpen wearing a deer-in-the-headlights look.
Green, who entered yesterday's game sporting an 8.41 ERA, largely the result of two straight batterings at Citi Field, needs to be sent on the the next train to Buffalo to work out his kinks in Triple-A.
Anyone wondering now why Seattle was so willing to include him in the deal that sent J.J. Putz to the Mets last winter?
Green's seatmate should be Mets' starter Oliver Perez -- more on him later -- who handed out walks on the mound the way a doctor's office does with lollipops, issuing six in just 2.1 sordid, stressful innings.
Back to Green, briefly.
Like Sisk, whose July 1984 meltdown in a game against the Chicago Cubs in the heat of a pennant race turned a 5-4 lead into an eventual 11-5 loss was that season's turning point, which saw the Mets tailspinning out of a division lead, Green shows little guts -- or command. Even in Green's first appearance, on Opening Day, in relief of Johan Santana with a runner in scoring position , gave up a screaming line drive to the gap which Daniel Murphy ran down.
Groundball pitchers aren't supposed to give up screamers.
Brian Stokes, who has yet to allow an earned run in 11 innings pitched -- let me type that again, in large enough for Mets' Manager Jerry Manuel to see -- BRIAN STOKES, WHO HAS YET TO ALLOW AN EARNED RUN IN 11 INNINGS PITCHED!!! -- would've been the much smarter choice to try and keep the Phillies at bay.
Naturally, he was left to sit idle in the bullpen while Green, predictably, wilted under pressure.
Solution: Send Green to Buffalo, replace him with Nelson Figueroa, who the Mets should never have released in the first place, then signed and assigned to Buffalo.
Of course, the game might not have even been close if not for yet another shoddy start by Oliver Perez, who made a valiant attempt to break Mike Hampton's club record of nine walks issued in a single appearance. But Perez fell just short and was relieved by 40-year-old rookie Ken Takahasi, who in his 2.2 innings of scoreless relief threw half the number of pitches Perez threw and looked completely at ease on the mound facing the Phillies' hitters.
Perez, who is becoming more and more reminiscent of Oliver, the misift kid from "the Brady Bunch" who was somehow foisted on that blended family and soon earned the nickname "Jinx" among the children for the bad luck that seemed to follow him and infect the tribe, seems to not be able to throw a strike if his life depends on it.
Solution: Insert Takahashi in the starting rotation and send Perez to Buffalo, with Green.
OK, so let's say Perez, as his Major League service time dictates, declines his assignment. Then how 'bout another one: an assignment to the Citi Field grounds crew?
How about a gig being Mr. Met's understudy?
Just get Perez and Green off the roster. Immediately.