It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Actually it's mostly good: Los Dos Carlos
heating up faster Dwight Gooden's crack pipe, Heilman deciding to throw his fastball again, John Maine & El Duque imitating a top-notch 1-2 punch. Lots o' postives. Not to mention a sweet moment at Shea on Saturday night, as we witnessed a parade of aging jocks, half of whom seemed to have started the celebration well before hitting the field (which makes it different than any August game back in '86, how exactly?).
The negatives: another pitcher possibly biting the dust, and David Wright's continuing metamorphosis into Richie Hebner. Or Joe Foy. Or Roy Staiger.
Not much to say about Glavine. He's 40 years-old, and this can happen when your number two starter's 40. If he comes back, great. If not, well hopefully Oliver Perez's last two starts in Norfolk are no fluke. He K'd 11, walked 2, and yielded 1 hit in 7 innings Friday night. Starter depth (and quality) has been a problem all year. This just affects the degree. We knew the bats would have to be thundering come October. Which leads me to . . .
. . . the tragic saga of David "I Can't Even Give Him a Nickname Anymore" Wright. I know I've pounded on this issue for a while now, and you know what? I ain't stopping. He needs time off. Whether from exhaustion, frustration, or whatever, the man's in a slump. His post-All Star Break numbers are now 261/348/387, with 11 XBHs in 119 ABs, following 45 in 339 before the break. Breaking down July & August versus April-June is even more stark.
Young Mr. Wright's even in a cliche slump. That's all the proof you need, right? Look at this. Following the 2-for-4 late last week, that had everyone declaring his slump was over, he spoke to the press:
I recognized pitches better. When you're struggling, you're anxious. I just tried to relax. You just take a deep breath. Working deep in the count is my game. When you're struggling, you want to swing at everything. You want to hit the first pitch you see real hard. I felt good. I felt confident. I wasn't giving away at-bats.
There's nothing wrong
with that, it's certainly "B-" quality. But from the young man we've come to expect greatness from? He needs to pick it up some. The two phrases about "struggling" indicate that he is, indeed, struggling. Those lines ruin his flow, cut into the standard rat-tat-tat-tat cadence of a standard David Wright Cliche-fest. If he was truly out of his slump, he'd have said the following:
I recognized pitches better. I just tried to relax. You want to hit the first pitch you see real hard. I felt good. I felt confident. I wasn't giving away at-bats. I'm back. I'm in a groove. I'm bagging the first chick that talks to me tonight. I'm young. I'm rich.
See the difference? To the point. No wasted words. But the real quotation, with all the rambling about anxiety, about struggles? You kidding me? I want my David Wright back.
And for that, he needs a Rest.
If you want me to stop talking about this same boring topic
day-after-day, you'd better talk to Willie, and make it happen. Do it for Wright, do it for the Mets, do it for yourselves, for goodness sake. If Wright's in the lineup Tuesday night, I may have to do something rash.
And nobody wants that.
* * *Saturday Night
. Pretty cool, huh? I'll assume all of you saw the festivities. It would've been nice to see Ray Knight, Roger McDowell, Maz & Davey with the rest of the guys, but what can you do? I'm sure you've all read some nice, compelling articles about the event. Metsradamus has a nice piece about it
, for instance.
But as much as I love the '86 Mets (and love em I do), they were a team of mutts, of miscreants, of scrappers and brawlers. They didn't take themselves too seriously (well, Keith did, but no one else did), and that's part of what I loved about them. So, if I may, here with my
thoughts about Saturday night's festivities:Frank Cashen
: The architect. The man who pulled off the best Met trade of my lifetime: Gary Carter for Hubie, Fitzgerald, Winningham & Youmans. Nice to see him there. But admit it: you were thinking, ummm . . . bad things
when you saw him, looking old & frail, sitting out there in the damn rain for a half hour.
I'm glad not to have seen his name in the papers the next morning or two.Ed Hearn
: Ed Huge! Oh, my.Danny Heep
: Always a favorite of mine, a "professional hitter," whatever the hell that means. The number one pinch hitter on your team, assuming your team is good, will always be described as a "professional hitter."
Anyway, Heep looks like a doctor on a nighttime soap: complete with his George Hamilton-esque tan, Danny's not only a professional hitter, but he's turned into a "Handsome" man.Doug Sisk
: For old time's sake, the crowd showered him with a hearty round of boos. Doing his part, Sisk walked the first two batters he faced, before inducing a double play ball.Rick Aguilera
: Along with HoJo & Teufel, Aggie was the first member of the "Heartily Cheered for what he did after '86," to be introduced. And in Aggie's case, most amazingly, he was cheered for becoming a stellar closer, and World Series winner, with another team. Cheer all you want in '06, Met fans, but this guy is our BK Kim. If Shiraldi does his job, then Aggie's known as "the guy who gave up the fucking, world series-losing homer to Henderson."
I'm not saying I'd boo him or anything, but he didn't deserve that cheer. That's my take on it, and I'm sticking to it.Kevin Mitchell
: Somehow looks as good as I've seen him, despite continuing to gain weight annually since . . . uhhh, eating himself out of the game. I think he'll be the subject of one of those "Obese Man Removed From Home By Crane" stories some day. Sit tight; it'll happen.Tim Teufel
: Looks exactly the same. I was half expecting him to start doing the Teufel Shuffle as he walked onto the field. Also half hoped Howie would say, " . . . and it was his horrendous error in game one vs the Sox that ruined Ron Darling's incredible game," but knew it wouldn't happen.
But wouldn't that have been more fun? Everyone was thinking it anyway, right? They were a humorous bunch. Shoulda' gone there. Anyway, no one wants to admit it now, but he was pretty much hated in '86. It was his excellent hitting year in '87 (.300+, 29 2Bs & 14 HRs in half a season) that won the fans over.HoJo
: Big cheers which is fine by me, even though he was a minor player on that squad. But he was one of their kingpins from '87-'91, with a few awesome years in the mix. Plus, he hit two of the biggest homers in '86: the one off Worrell early on that showed the Cards they had no chance; plus, he ended the epic 14 inning game against the Reds with a bomb off Ted Power.Rafael Santana
: After his introduction, he grabbed the umbrella and popped-up the first pitch to second base.Wally Backman
: With his pot belly, combed back greying hair, and those wild "Backman eyes," Wally looks like a crazy uncle you see once a year at a family barbeque.
"Mommmmmm, Uncle Wally's drinking the lighter fluid again."
"Shut up, kid. Lemme just have one
more sip. You don't wanna get your Uncle Wally in trouble
, do ya? Here, have a beer. Heh, heh, heh, heh. Now lemme show you something else . . . "Bobby Ojeda
: He's become the "sorta sad guy who tells all the cliched, talkshow versions of the same old stories." From a piece I read the night before the ceremony
* On LoDuca's ongoing tabloid woes involving his harem of young ladies: "Had Lo Duca played with us, it wouldn’t have even been a footnote."
* On the '86 Mets legacy: “People are still interested in the ’86 Mets. We’re going to be popping up in headlines until we’re on Social Security.”
* On the continuing partying prowess of this famously hard-partying team: “These guys are boring as hell. I talked with Keith Hernandez and Teufel and Darling. And I told them, ‘Quite honestly, I don’t want to go to dinner with you. You’re old, fat, ugly. You have two beers and want to go to sleep.’”
Uhhhh, ok Bobby. Whatever you say. Just put down the garden sheers and stay off the boat.Lenny Dykstra
: They should've introduced him later in the ceremony. There's no one player who had more to do with the Mets winning it all than Dykstra. He hit well in the LCS and the Series, and had a bunch of key hits: the homer off Dave Smith, the homer off The Can, the triple in the 9th of game six in Houston. He was The Man.
Anyway, he looked like a slightly older version of the same Lenny we knew so well. The crowd really responded, and it was wonderful to see that same slack-jawed face, that same shambling gait, that same goofy expression as he lapped up the love the crowd bestowed on him. I sat on my couch beaming, enjoying the hell out seeing my man Lenny back on the field at Shea, collecting what he earned 20 years ago. He lived
for this back in '86. Glad to see him get it.Jesse Orosco
: Another kingpin in the championship. Lights out in the World Series. Unhittable. And with that wacked-out facial hair he's sporting now, he looks like he might be related to Jose Valentin. I think we could use him out of the pen against lefties in October.
Someone look into this.Mookie
: As Howie said: the Mets all-time leader in triples and steals.
As Mike says: not when Jose Reyes is done.
And as Mike also says: Keith, if you're too drunk to make a decent speech, that's your right & it certainly fits with the memories of this team. But don't pass the microphone to . . . Mookie!Keith
: Also notice he had his yellow collar sticking completely out of his jersey. Oh, Keith. And let's make no bones about this: he was bombed
when he stepped onto the field.Gary Carter
: What's up with that haircut? And no surprise to see who, among all the guys, helped Cashen back into the golf cart after the ceremonies.
Anyway, nice to hear him introduced as "Hall of Famer, Gary Carter."Darryl:
Wow. What a moment. And he didn't even brawl with Keith before the team photo.
But seriously, that
was a Lovefest. More than any moment in all my years as a Met fan, and as a baseball fan, that was the moment when I really saw Darryl for the sadly wounded child that he is. He was awash in emotion, his smile showing the deep desire for affection, for connection, that he always sought from the fans, but never could hold onto.
And, of course, starting Sunday morning, his life returned to whatever struggle "Being Darryl Strawberry" is these days. But for a few minutes in the drizzle at Shea, Darryl Eugene Strawberry felt the love. The love the fans seemed to be willingly showering upon him, as if to say, "Don't give up, Darryl. We remember you & all that could have been. Keep going."
I know the man is more responsible than anyone else for the litany of troubles that have followed him through life. But I was happy for him. I hope he can hang on to it.