The Devil and Mrs Beanball: Mets Lose Another, Tralala

"I told Mike that. And I told him that if I could rewind the game so that he wouldn't get hit, I'd take a loss. That's how strongly I feel about it." Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa on Mike Piazza's beaning and a 4-2 victory for the Cardinals.

Don't worry, Mikey, it was only a dream...

Of course with 91 wins to their credit already, the most in baseball, three in a row against the Mets and a massive 14-game lead in the NL Central, after his relief pitcher beaned Mike Piazza in his first game back after four weeks off, Tony LaRusso can afford to be magnaminous and offer to give away victories in exchange of taking away a beaning by his own bean-headed pitcher, Julian Tavarez.

How strongly does Mr LaRussa feel about it, really? Would he be willing to take 10 losses, or perhaps loan 10 victories to the Mets? Will he tell his players to lie down quietly for us on Sunday? No, no and no.

Piazza later approached the Cardinals clubhouse in search of Tavarez but was stopped. After his postgame news conference, manager Tony La Russa met with Piazza in a nearby office as a St. Louis policeman stood inside the Cardinals clubhouse. Guillermo Mota, anyone?

Public Enemy Number One?

Julian Tavarez a sinkerball pitcher, maintained he lost command of a fastball he wanted to throw inside but unfortunately, his career is a highway littered with emotional outbursts and we know better than to believe him.

When he was with the SF Giants, he once drilled Oakland catcher Mike Macfarland in the back because he'd been pounded for six hits and four runs in a third of an inning outing against the A's. He got into a fight with San Francisco third baseman Russ Davis, spin-kicked him during a spring training game for which he was suspended five games.

When he was with the Cubs, he was fined by them for making comments derogatory toward gays in San Francisco after getting showered with abuse by the fans there because they already hated him so much.

"Why should I care about the fans?" Tavarez notoriously said after the game against the Giants whilst with the Cubs. "They're a bunch of assholes and faggots here."

And since he's been with the Cardinals, he has already suffered one 10-game suspension for getting caught with having a "foreign substance" on the bill of his cap. And in last season's playoffs against Houston, he broke his left hand after surrendering a homerun to none other than Carlos Beltran in Game 4 of the NLCS and punching the dugout phone when the inning was over. The pitch right after Beltran's homer he threw over Jeff Bagwell's head. He has had tantrums against umpires, punched dugout walls and should hope LaRussa doesn't send him out as a pinch hitter in today's game.

But, let's admit it, rage against Tavarez, the Piazza first-at-bat homer and the Piazza beaning were all fine ingredients to take our mind off of the following:

1. Mets lost their 6th game in a row, the first time they've managed that all season, 8 of 9 games on this 10-game road trip.
2. Mets are now an even dozen games behind the Braves in the NL East, deep in last place.
3. Mets are now 6 1/2 games behind the Astros for the NL Wildcard, tied with the lowly Milwaukee Brewers.
4. Mets are now two games below .500 for the first time since June 23, when their record was 35-37.
5. Mets have scored fewer than three 11 times in 15 games. They've lost six straight for the first time this season and eight of nine games on this 10-game trip.


Post-Katrina Blues

Since Katrina hit New Orleans, the 29th of August, the Mets are 2-10.

Beginning on Tuesday when they return to Shea Stadium, the Mets will ask their fans to donate to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. In conjunction with Major League Baseball, fans will be able to make donations at specified gates at Shea. Their contributions will be forwarded to the Red Cross.


Meanwhile, musing on the Met meltdown, Manager Willie let escape the kind of wishy-washy, mutton-mouthed Howeism that we became so accustomed to and nauseated by the two seasons previous to this. "Time is dwindling down," Randolph said yesterday as though he were an Art Howe ventriloquist. "We can use a jolt right now."

So that is what a once-promising season has boiled down to: Willie Randolph doing Art Howe impersonations whilst the Mets season goes down in some sort of natural-disaster-related swoon.

Ah, familiar territory once again.

The red cross symbol (or bull's eye?) on Piazza's helmet would prove apropos as Pujols easily steps over his diving yet misguided tag in the third inning.

Is it tragically funny in a schadenfreudesque sort of way that Mike Piazza is finally activated only to be beaned in his first game back and returned to the bench?

Probably not to Mr Versatility but when your team is in the midst of a stupendous and torrid affair with losing, you try to find the lighter side of things to prevent homicidal urges of frustration to bear fruit.

If I were Julio Tavarez, I would have beaned 20 people by now; people walking in the road, people having a pint in the pub, people riding their horses, people watching cricket matches and shouting whenever there is a wicket. In fact, if I were Julio Tavarez, I'd probably have thrown so many beanballs I'd have run out of baseballs by now and would have start throwing rocks and punching telephones and calling everyone a bunch of faggots.

Of course here, in England, we eat faggots:

Faggots and mushy peas, yum.

So yes, poor Mike Piazza comes back, hits a homer and then gets beaned. What an eventful day in an otherwise dreary conclusion to what had once been a season of hope.

Mets reliever Aaron Heilmann hit shortstop David Eckstein on the left arm as retribution for the beaning. The retaliation also ended Eckstein's 14-game hitting streak.


How do you think Mets pinchhitter/utility man Marlon Anderson feels these days? Last year he was with these same Cardinals as they marched to the World Series and this year, he's getting humiliated by them as they compile the best record in baseball, playing with a bunch of stiffs and choke artists.


Then again, just when you thought the season was in ashes, the Mets announce that they'd claimed first baseman Todd Self off waivers from the Astros Saturday. 9 career hits in 40 career at-bats with the Astros, a .200 lifetime hitter. Is further comment necessary? Is this the jolt they needed that Willie was talking about?


Today's game will likely be the last the Mets ever play in Busch Stadium which is scheduled for demolition following the season. The Mets are 149-147 there as a franchise. That's the second-best record any visiting team has managed.

Today's game will also feature Pedro Martinez wondering why the hell he left the Red Sox for the Mets as he takes the mound this afternoon having failed to win seven times in his eight most recent starts. The Mets have won twice in those eight games and will bat against yet another strong pitcher in the seemingly endless assembly line of strong starting pitchers the Cardinals have, RHP Matt Morris who is 14-7 this season with a 3.97 ERA.

The Mets produced winning percentages of .500 or higher in May, June, July and August, the first time since 2000 they did so in four successive months. That streak is in serious jeopardy, though: Through Friday night, the Mets' record in September was 1-9.


Anonymous said...

These Mets make me sick.

Willie Randolph gets a D for the season although he coulda had a B if he hadn't been so damned stoic during this losing streak. Get thrown out of a game for once! Stop trying to be too cool Torre and show some fire!

Maybe Louuuuu will be free next year.

Kyle in Newport News said...

Tied with the lowly Brewers and the Cubs. Ah, the Cubs... they were so kind to the Mets this August (and this after the Mets were absolute season-enders to them last September).

Thanks for continuing to write.

Jaap said...

Thanks for continuing to read even through this sturm and drang ending to the season, Kyle.

Cubs and Brewers and we are hitting rock-bottom, aren't we?

Well, time to turn it around at home, haha.

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