Wednesday, June 21, 2006

LADIES & GENTLEMEN, YOUR FIRST PLACE NEW YORK METS

Another fun one last night. Nine runs scored, home run by the pitcher, attempted inside-the-park homer by an aging porn star, smiles when he failed in that effort, and of course Lastings Milledge taking the field two outs into the first inning, then promptly diving into the stands to make a leaping grab, signing autographs, exchanging elaborate handshakes & kissing the pretty girls, as he caught the ball. I've never seen a play like it.

And I didn't see it last night either, because it didn't happen, but it was definitely that kinda game. And, to top it off, the Yanks made a stirring comeback in their own game, for which I and other Mets fans are grateful. Say what?

They were playing the Phils. Oh the joys of interleague baseball. And with the Phils latest bullpen debacle in the books, the Met lead is back to 9 1/2 games. And the Braves remain in the cellar.

Heh, heh.

In addition to their gaudy divisional lead, by far the largest of any of baseball's six divisions, the fellas are second in the NL in runs scored, trailing the Dodgers by one measly run. Queens is also the residence of the NL's highest slugging percentage, its leader in doubles and steals, plus the third best homer tally in the circuit, and the sixth best OBP. The Mets also lead the NL in ERA, are second in WHIP and strikeouts, and are fourth in K/BB ratio. Top it all off with the cherry known as the Best Record In The League and the Mets are the best team in the NL through 70 games. There ain't no other way to look at it.

Well, maybe there is, but I'm not going to!

* * *

Between repeated viewing of the famous Guy With The Hole In His Neck ("GWTHIHN"), for which I've learned to reflexively push the mute button and warn my wife to turn around, the Mets & SNY seemed to be pushing some sort of "1986 Classic" package of goods.

But I'm not sure exactly what they're peddling. You see, I'm so traumatized by the GWTHIHN, readying myself for the precautionary routine, that I barely pay attention to any of the other commercials. With one finger ready on the mute & the other turning my wife's head away, there's only so much energy I can bring to the task (in fact, the GWTHIHN is stressing me out so much, I think I may need to start smoking again).

Anyway, with this 1986 Classics package or whatever it is floating around, I got to thinking about classic 80's Met games they should show during rain delays. (We've all had it with Chico Walker's groundout, Magadan's 3 for 4 and Zabriskie's blown call, right? Although I'm still dying to know Keith's real excuse for missing the clincher.) So here, open for debate, derision, factual correction, and any other negativity due to come my way, I present a short list of Games We Really Need To See From The Mid-80s (heretofore known as "GWRNTSFTM80s." Hmmm, maybe not). This list comes from my memory, so expect lots of mistakes:

1. 1986: The Met-Reds 14 inning game. This one's a no-brainer, and like most no-brainers there's a reason. This is the one with Orosco & McDowell flip-flopping in left, right, and on the mound; Knight popping Eric Davis in the jaw; HoJo's walk-off homer before they called them "walk-off homers"; and Gary Carter playing third, turning the pivot on a double play; all that fun stuff. Little discussed, because I suspect it's seldom remembered, is Dave Parker dropping an easy flyball in the 9th (8th?), allowing the Mets to tie and send the game into extras. Amazing game.

2. 1985: The 16-13 July 4, 18 inning marathon against the Braves. Better be a long rain delay.

3. 1985: Game one of the three game Mets-Card tilt late in the season, in St. Louis. Ron Darling matched John Tudor zero-for-zero through 9 innings (and Met fans will recall, by August and September of that season it was Tudor, not Doc, who was the scariest hurler in the NL), before Darryl drove an absolute bomb off Ken Dayley into the scoreboard clock in Busch's right field to win it in the 10th. Best pitcher's duel I ever watched. Incredibly tense game.

4. 1986: Game versus the Giants (how's that for narrowing it down?). All I remember is Rafael Santana at the plate, bottom nine, Mets with ducks on the pond and two outs. Rafael popped it up on the infield (that's the way to bat .218, by the way), threw his bat in disgust, and watched the Giants' rookie middle infielders, Jose Uribe & Robby Thompson, collide near second as the ball dropped, allowing the Mets to send home the winning run. That was the point that season where I first said, "Ohhh. We're one of those teams this year. Cool."

5. 1984: Doc's one hitter against the Cubs. The only hit was a dribbler up the third base line (by Keith Moreland, I believe) that Ray Knight ate rather than throw, not wanting to risk an error. I'm not sure, but I think the Mets were waaaayy up at that point. I can tell you of one sixteen year-old that hated Ray Knight for a few years after that.

That's it for now. I'll bring up more of these games as the season goes on.

* * *

But . . . with all of you fighting to stay awake, drooling on your keyboards, waiting with anticipation for the coffee to brew, waiting with anger for this piece to end, I present an abbreviated set of Random Thoughts (you see, I'm thoughtful that way):

Murderer's Row:
Following Trachs's bomb, Met pitchers are hitting 151/219/216, with 7 XBHs, 10 BBs, 15 R & 9 RBI through 139 at-bats.

What does that mean, exactly? I have no freakin idea. Those sound like good numbers for a pitching staff, but I'm not sure. But you can't say I don't keep you informed, can you?

Don't answer that.

How Freaking Great Is Jose Reyes?: With David "Derek Jeter, That's Who" Wright taking the collar last night, he's no longer my favorite Met, no more the object of my Man Crush. Shit, let's trade him.

Jose is Da Man now. (Hmmmm? The "Da Man of the Week." A running entry?)

The co-recipient of the NL Player of the Week (who'd he share it with again?) has ridden a blazing hot streak to up his numbers to an impressive 275/340/447, with 59 Runs in 68 games played. Normally I'd kick myself for saying this, but out of respect for Jose's native language, let me say that Senor Reyes is . . . en fuego. I'm getting a bit worked up here. Best to move on.

Yeah, Mike, You Were Really On The Mark There: Just as I enter every game-viewing experience with a few players upon whom I'm prepared to lavish all my favoritism and happiness (Read: Reyes, right now), I also have a couple others with two paws in the doghouse before the game begins. It's never lack of hustle or foolish behavior that gets one in that unsavory position (Read: I'm still a huge Milledge fan). No, it's straight-out Sucking that gets me pissed off. So, last night saw me ready to bring out the Big Guns 'o Hate on Trachsel, Nady and LoDuca.

And yes, those would be the three fellas that earned the win, drove in seven, and hit two doubles and three home runs. I even went so far as to begin drafting my anti-Nady screed right onto the yellow note pad I keep on the table during games after his "inning ending DP in 4th, then lead-off double for Phillips on a ball Chavez or Millegde get to. Phillips scored."

Hmmm. Obviously, the operative instruction here is Don't Listen To A Word I Say. What's the opposite of blowing your own horn? Blowing your own nose. Blowing your . . . no, let's not go there.

Stache's Mad Dash: Nothing I can possibly say will approach, let alone top, what occurred. Next.

Was It Only Me . . . or was anyone else interested in seeing Gary & Keith spice up the interminable dug-out interview (let's add those joyful chats to the "Chris Cotter's Gotta Go" List) with Sandy Alomar Sr. by asking, "By the way, Sandy, what the hell happened to your son Roberto? Did he ever actually retire?"

And . . . of course, with no further ado, I present to you for your morning pleasure {drum roll, please}:

The Keith Watch: Ohhhh, yes. Keith, the Met's Eternal Captain, was in the booth. After late night games my tired ass couldn't get through on the West Coast swing, plus Keith's week off (Read: Every Other Week), I haven't sat down to hear his schtick in its entirety in some time. Five entries:
1. Of course Trachsel used a "level swing" on his home run. Keith keeps it simple: Swing and a miss? "Pulling off" or an "uppercut swing." Well hit ball? "Level Swing."

There are NO deviations from this analysis.

2. At one point he described a "lazy breaking ball" marked by its "tumbling rotation." Without even addressing whether rotation can tumble, I'll repeat what I've said before: All pitches, other than fastballs, "tumble."

A "tumbling" breaking ball that meets a "level swing"? I'm not sure my brain counts high enough to calculate how far that ball's going.

3. Keith's inexplicable inability to understand why a manager might play the infield to pull, but the outfield to go the other way, has official reached the lofty & exaulted status of a "Keith Obsession," joining tumbling pitches and level swings.

4. Following a lengthy riff on tumbling pitches, level swings, the importance of "keeping your shoulder in," and of course the devastating consequences of "pulling off the ball," Keith introduced his next thought by saying, "I know I'm a broken record." What followed? I don't remember, but we can reduce the possibilities to . . . three?

5. And finally, following the glorious spectacle of Stache's Mad Dash, Keith explained the difficulty of running all the way around the bases, noting that he "ran out of gas" on his "one inside-the-park homer."

The important question, of course: Was that before or after smoking three butts and swigging a brew in the clubhouse. And let's not even address whatever "leg-weakening" activity he might have been engaging in, nor whether he was in St. Louis or NY at the time. As we know, his range of "activity" was greater before Whitey sent him packing.
And you know what? I want Keith in the booth every game. He's entertaining, he knows hitting, he's the Eternal Captain, and most importantly, he never instructs you to "score it six-to-four-to-three."

4 Comments:

Anonymous Applesaucer said...

If I recall correctly -- and I'm pretty sure I do -- Ray Knight's punch actually missed Davis, or maybe just slightly grazed him. Davis moved his back to avoid the punch or maybe because he was pushed.

I still gave Knight the win for style points.

Applesaucer

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Applesaucer said...

Oh, and I think Parker dropped the flyball with two out in the 9th. Won't go to the mattresses on that one, though.

Applesaucer

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I think you're right about the grazing punch. Knight really let fly with it though. If he connected, Davis was going down.

Knight definitely popped Neidenfeuer good in an earlier brawl that season -- the one when Neidenfuer drilled Knight following a Foster (!) Grand Slam.

9:46 AM  
Blogger ajsmith said...

OK, now that Mets Nation (along with SNY) is officially into the '86/'06 vortex - and what else to do to keep busy whilst burying this sorry division - it's time to put the exclamation point on the comparisons.

It's time for the '06 version to kick somebody's ass. I mean really, as in a good ol' fashioned brawl.

This team needs to begin cultivating the kind of arrogant "we'll beat your asses, hit you upside of the heads, and leave the park with your girlfriends" aura that made the '86 squad so feared and respected.

Yeah, I know, outside of Deisel Delgado we probably don't frighten anyone physically, but have you ever seen baseball players fight? Willingness to throw down is about 65% of the battle.

Time for Paulie LoDuca to clock some hitter for glaring at his pitcher, or crowding the plate, or just because.

Yeah, I said it. I wanna be one of THOSE teams. And we've gotta be the ones to start it. Cuz i don't think that El Duque plunking someone with a 56 mph curveball constitutes "retribution."

5:00 PM  

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