Friday, May 12, 2006


Among other questions surrounding the dreary and uninteresting world of Barry Bonds, his bloated body, his enormous head, and his even more enormous head when one includes his ego, this one comes to me: why all the brouhaha about his passing Babe Ruth?

Now, I'm no neophyte. If I didn't invent cynicism, I probably discovered it. I understand that 58 years after his death, the Babe's still one of America's all-time pop culture icons. And I suppose that there are still some, lurking in moldy basements, holding imaginary grudges as they hold dolls sporting blackface and other such paraphernalia, that want to see a white man at or near the top of the all time home run list.


But, Hank Aaron's held the record for 32 years now. It's Hank Aaron's record, not Ruth's. Babe Ruth retired 39 years (and died 26) before Aaron hit 715. Then he hit 40 more! Why are we even talking about Bonds passing Ruth? A brief news piece? I suppose. An excuse for some old man sports writer to tell one the hoary Babe stories? Why not? The whorey Babe stores? Sure. Those too.

I know the sports press needs to create stories every day. I know they need to keep Bonds in the spotlight so they can continue writing stories about what a jerk he is, how he's "ruining the game." Whatever.

But even assuming that Bonds and his joyless pursuit of the record is worth a moment of our attention, this particular aspect of the story is more absurd than usual. And that's my take on it.

* * *

And now, ladies & gents, on to a more enjoyable, more relevant subject: The Mets. In honor of last night's abbreviated game, an abbreviated Random Thoughts:

Teetering on a Cliff: Through the first 30 games, Met outfielder and 2005 fan favorite, Cliff Floyd is hitting a disastrous 186/282/292. The only thing Cliff hasn't tried to pull is his groin muscle, and with his injury history, we know that can't be too far off. He's out so far ahead most at-bats, he doesn't have a chance to keep it fair if he makes good contact, and can't avoid dribbling grounders on outside pitches.

I know you don't wanna panic on a winning team, or do anything to cause a guy to lose confidence, but Floyd's a 33 year-old vet, and the Mets have to keep winning. They need to rest him against lefties, or give him a few days off, or something. Because he simply doesn't deserve a line-up spot right now. And with Victor Diaz languishing, as usual, in Norfolk, this becomes a bit hard to swallow.

As awful as Floyd's been in general, his numbers against lefties are almost too silly to believe: 100/182/150. Yes, that's an OPS of 332. That number'd be good enough for 7th place in the NL batting race. Victor Diaz, continuing his streak of bad luck, doesn't help himself with a 250/325/347 vs lefties. But that's only 72 at-bats. The Mets should end their "Not One, But Two, Roster Spots For Guys Older Than The Manager" routine, get rid of Jose Valentin, and bring up Diaz. And immediately put him in a left field platoon with Floyd. Or better yet, bring up Lastings Milledge, he of the 303/444/479. But I've already covered that.

Barry Who? On the positive side of the ledger, do you know which Met hitter has compiled 385/442/538, including 6 2B, 4 BB, 6 R and 7 RBI through 39 official ABs? I don't either, cause there isn't a Met hitter who's done so.

But those are the combined numbers of Met pitchers Darren Oliver, Tom Glavine, Brian Bannister and Steve Trachsel. Babe Ruth started as a pitcher. Pitcher hitting is one of the little things that helps teams compile 9-3 records in one-run games, leading to early season divisional leads. Won't last, but man it's sweet while it's going on.

Jorge Julio Counter: On Wednesday night, Big George returned to his familiar role of mop-up in games grown completely out of hand. Appearing in the bottom of the ninth to protect a 13-4 lead, Julio appeared to have even less command than usual, giving up one hit and striking out one batter, but tossing 10 balls along with his 10 strikes, many of which came nowhere near the strike zone. In fact, his final pitch bounced well in front of the plate, skipping away from LoDuca. I was hoping -- as I know we all were -- that Alex "The One Who Booted the Double Play Ball in the Bartman Game, Not the One Who Won the World Series" Gonzalez would trot to first, allowing Jorge the opportunity to face one more batter, giving us the chance to see another of his patented Ks or HRs.

But alas, Gonzalez proved yet again why a leash is more appropriate than a uniform, as he made no motion whatsoever to run to first. In a comic turn of events, LoDuca searched for the ball, dropped it, threw wildly to first baseman Jose Valentin, who dropped it yet again, before finally picking it up and completing the play. Let me repeat: Gonzalez did not move. The runner at third scored, returned to the dugout, popped a beer in the clubhouse, partied with a couple Phillie Phloozies, then went home to play X-Box with his kids and have sex with his wife before the Mets completed the strikeout.

And lost in the tragi-comedy? Another game that saw Jorge Julio's historic strikeout and HR numbers plummeting back to earth. In a cruel world filled with ugliness and pain, there is, indeed, no justice.

The updated counter: 17.1 IP, 19 H, 14 ER/11 R, 7 BB, 30 K, 4 HR, 5.71 ERA, projecting to 75 inning totals of 30 walks, 130 strikeouts, and a deeply disappointing 17 homers. I'm depressed, folks. It'll take not only a crushing sweep of the Brewers to get me out of this rut. Jorge'll have to mop-up in at least two of those blow outs, striking out every batter that doesn't go yard. And I'll need two of them as well.

We can only hope.


Anonymous Applesaucer said...

I agree with you. Sit Floyd against lefties and play Milledge. It improves the defense on those days when he subs for Floyd (and, as suggested below, for Nady) improves the lefty-righty matchups and moves a potential star along (assuming that the Mets give Milledge 8-10% of Beltran's plate appearances from CF and ~30% of Nady's plate appearances from RF.

However, one thing about Milledge that concerns me is his power; his slugging percentage and extra base hit percentage have been dropping this year and they weren't all that spectacular in prior years. Yes, I realize that we're not far into his minor league season, so calling a trend would be premature. But it's something to keep an eye on. In any event, Milledge might turn out to be more of a top-of-the-order guy than meat-of-the-order guy. Not a bad thing.


9:31 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Your last point is a good one: good point, and a point about a good thing. Maybe Milledge'll be the leadoff hitter the Mets have been looking for since . . . Dykstra?

He seems to be drawing walks by the bushel this year, and looks to be able to hit 275+ at the ML level. If he can throw in 20 steals and 30 2B + 3B, I'm ready to pencil him in daily right now.

9:46 AM  
Blogger ajsmith said...

Hey Mike,

You commented on my comment over at metsgeek, and i followed your link here. I like the blog.

I'm a non-practicing attorney from Queens, about the same age, and of course, a lifelong Mets fan.

At the moment I split my time between Portland, OR (mostly) and NYC (whenever I can get a medium-term apt. trade.)

Wondering - assuming you grew up in Queens - where you went to HS. Feel free to drop me an email - adam at paperlessmedia dot com.

2:00 PM  

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