Adios 2006, Adios Barry Zito

2006 ends with much more uncertainty than it began.

STILL a free agent...

Last New Year's Eve already saw gifts of Billy Wagner, Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca although there was the lingering uncertainty of Pedro's toe to keep hopes slightly dampened.

This year with an impact starter at the height of their list of off season imperatives, there are no more impact starters available now that Barry Zito has signed for an absurd sum with the Giants, ending all speculation of the Mets having anything but an absurdly mediocre and agèd rotation to open 2007.

Like any other fan, I'd have liked to have seen Zito pitching at Shea for the Mets next season but like any other reasonable fan, a 7 year contract at 126 million American dollars (not, as I thought at first glance, Canadian Dollars...) is alot of dosh for any one man who won't play every day and for a man who is in all likelihood, scheduled for his first major injury any day now having logged a massive 1,430 innings pitched and having escaped such cruel fates for so long.

So I won't bemoan Omar sitting on his hands and refusing to scratch out the line in dirt at 5 years to a pitcher, regardless of his age and upsides.

(This is what we tell ourselves in reasonable moments and of course, the irrational side screams about what a pathetic starting rotation we will muster and didn't care if it took a 100 year contract to sign Zito, it had to get done.)

We now have to rely upon the rich combination of really auld bastids and poorly seasoned kids to get us through the muck and mire of the first 6 innings of every game next season and if I bemoan anything it is that the Phillies, not Omar, worked a trade for Freddy Garcia and that The D Train has been pointedly unavailable.

But we've got plenty of time to worry about 2007 in the boring off season to come praying on the sidelines that Omar has a little magic left to work out another deal.

In the interim, thanks to the Mets for putting on a great 2006, getting us to within a squeak of the World Series and yes, let's admit, exceeding all our expectations.

Perhaps this time next year we will be bemoaning a season lost or grateful for another unexpectedly strong season, who knows but for the minute anyway, that we had this one season after many looooong seasons with hopes dashed by the All Star break, well, that is enough for me.

To see off the year, one more piece of eye candy and a political message for all you bird lovers out there:

Thanks to all of you who have been reading and commenting when you do. I appreciate your kind words and stout observations.


The Enemy Has Reloaded


Newest Philly OR,

Baba Sheikh Farid Shakarganj?

There we were debating the merits of underbidding the Texas Rangers for Barry Zito, there we were discussing selling New York and the Mets rather than the greenbacks in some inexplicable dialogue of economic theory in the sky.

There we were debasing the Zito Chase by listening to the hints and whispers about trading for his soon-to-be former teammates, guys Omar classified as “Some guys have emerged who I didn’t know were available until I got here.” (hint: the injury-prone flame thrower Rich Harden and Joe Blanton) and there we were listening to the encouragement of Beaneball who nods willingly at the rumours and asks, like a corner street hooker to be approached about both.

And all the while, in the smoking rooms of Philly steak and cheese sweatshops all around the City of Brotherly Love, a sneaking little satori was taking place.

The Phillies done stole Freddy Garcia from the White Sox. The unofficial rumour of only a day ago was that it would take Gavin Floyd AND Aaron Rowand to pry Garcia from the clammy hands of the White Sox management.

Well, "stole" is a bit of hyperbolic nonsense considering they still coughed up their boy band Cy Young hopeful, Gavin Floyd in return but let's face it - was anyone really going to hang their pennant-hoping hats on a kid with potential and verve but no concrete results? Personally, I wasn't going to worry myself about Gavin Floyd this season. I didn't even have that penciled in as a concern.

But Freddy Garcia, well, that makes one sit up and take notice.

These means the Phillies aren't looking to wait for the future but are ready to party now.

This comes on the heels of the not-so-scary Adam Eaton signing and gives the Phillies six potential starters which means one of the duds might become expendable in a pitching-starved market for some decent bullpen help in return or a bat to slap behind the monsterous MVP, Ryan Howard.

Oh, they're yucking it up in Philly at the moment, you can be sure. Ambiorix Burgos, you can hear them chortle. By god, what will those Mets think of next?

The interesting sidebar to the winter meetings: two heralded GMs going mano a mano: the wiley youth of Hermano Omar v. the age and guile of auld Pat Gillick. Mothra v. Godzilla.


I am officially unconcerned that Julio Lugo signed with the Red Sox for an absurd sum and will be playing the position he wants rather than out of position for the Mets. Perhaps I am still concerned about the prospects of a drearily played second base next season but c'mon, 4 years and $36 million? The guy who hit .219 with no homers for Los Angeles in the final two months of the season? You go girl. That Theo Epstein must have contracted mad cash cow disease from the Red Sox disappointing season. What else would explain the absurdist show of $50 million plus for the bidding rights to an unproven Japanese pitcher and the $70 million, five-year contract for the sure-to-spend-the-majority-of-his-career-on-the-DL superstar, J.D. Drew.

Congratulations for Mike Piazza finally getting the gig his limp-armed two-hop-to-second-base lifestyle deserved: a stint as a DH. This is where this guy can finally make his mark.

What concerns me more is that the A's also signed left-handed reliever Alan Embree for a paltry two years at $5.5 million. Is there something about his 4-3 record with a 3.27 ERA in a career-high 73 outings for the NL West champion Padres in 2006, that Omar didn't like?

No, I'd rather take my chances on Señor Burgos, the man Omar fumes about when he's called the reincarnation of Jorge Julio.

"...and her radiator's steaming
and her teeth are in a wreck
now she won't let you kiss her
but what the hell do you expect
and the Gypsies are tragic and if you
wanna to buy perfume, well
they'll bark you down like
carneys... sell you Christmas cards in June

from Tom Waits' Small Change



Winter Meetings Outhouse

I couldn't help but think upon the rumours of Milledge for lefty starter Mark Buehrle going sour how much Buehrle looks like Derek Jeter. Perhaps these photos don't capture the resemblance as accurately as the caffeinated imagination at 6:30 in the morning but there you go.

SO do the Mets now have Señor Ambiorix Burgos in their clammy paws?

I would be a tad sad to see Brian Bannister go after the promised hammies went south but this new guy's name alone is worth a few words, forget about the potential of, as Metsradamus aptly notes the 2007 version of Jorge Julio joining our side...

Briefly, Abriorix was
"the leader of the Eburones, a Belgian tribe. In the winter of 54/53 BCE, he destroyed of one of the legions of Julius Caesar, which resulted in the annihilation of his tribe."

Sounds like the sort of up and down season Burgos had with the Royals in 2006.


The Lastings Milledge for Joe Blanton rumour is a very intriguing back up plan to not signing Zito. Blanton would be a middle of the rotation sort of fit with his Zitoesque curve and a fastball reaching into the low 90s. So-so slider and average change up. The Zito Lite of the A's pitching staff, so to speak, for the moment but under the right tutelage, could develope into something even more promising, plus he's only soon-to-be 26. Barry big upside even if he doesn't necessarily solve the problem of ACE, in which case, the Mets will need at least one more big middle innings reliever, someone to set up the set up man, Duaner Sanchez. We might come away happy with this sort of steal deal and let Lastings flower elsewhere. If little else, Blanton is an innings-eater a la Trachsel with a stronger upside.


Lastly, let's address the rumour of Mark Mulder signing as a free agent, another cheaper alternative to Zito but one who wouldn't be available to start the season which makes him even cheaper, perhaps a bargain even. And now that Glavine is a Met again, he's out on the recruiting trail:

"I'll try to put in a good word with him," Glavine said. "To me, he'd be an intriguing pickup. I don't know him much; just a couple of hellos. But from what I hear from Gregg and Rick, he's a good guy and good teammate."

"Intriguing" pickup.

At least he's not a John Cougar Mellencamp, this is my America sort-of-pick up.


Havin Glavine Means A Little If Not Alot

We can all breathe a little more freely now that Tom Glavine has decided to return to the Mets next season.

No amount of money can live down that top...

One less gaping hole in the rotation although considering the Braves didn't even offer a contract to their former employee, how difficult could the decision for Mr Glavine really have been to begin with?

There were minor outpourings of indignation from a few sources considering the latitude Glavine was given to decide but frankly all one has to do is to consider where the Mets would have been had Glavine decided on their division rivals instead.

Forget about where another "name" starter might have come from, another time-worn hurler with nearly impecable standards so vulnerable to the haphazard nature of an umpire's strike zone. The important issue here, underneath the headline, is that Tom Glavine won't win victory 300 in a Braves uniform. Take that, you heathens. Another blow struck against the auld empire. It doesn't clinch a second NL East title on the trot but it certainly eases a bit of the worry about who will be pitching for the Mets next season.

*****No Big News On The Horizan*****

Reading the tea leaves of newspaper backpages, trying to decipher what all the hidden messages are between the lines I still can't figure out what the Mets intend on doing about the bullpen and starting rotation.

It would appear that the Marlins have stated unequivocably that the coveted D Train is not available (unless of course...)which makes one consider the endless possibilities of conditions under which such bold and unequivocable statements could be broken. How many times have we heard such blather only to see so and so fired or so and so traded just under the deadline? Still, the Marlins have little reason to get rid of a cheap meal ticket like Dontrelle without something important waved under their noses so the question is really how willing would they be for Heilman, Milledge and Humber/Pelfrey? Would you take that deal? Would you take two potential middle-of-the-road starters and a potential five tool head-case outfielder for one solid and brilliant yearly Cy Young candidate starter? Omar fleeced the Marlins once or twice already so it isn't a question of ability but desire.

If not, that leaves the Mets to go for broke with Barry Zito which in every day parlance would appear on its face to be a bad decision. Are the Mets merely playing games by pretending they aren't going to jump into a Boras-incited bidding war with the likes of the Texas Rangers who have shown time and again they are quite capable of paying scads more millions than their most idiotic competitors for the same pound of flesh?

On the one hand, since Citibank has been so keen on flooding the Mets coffers, there's no reason NOT to pay the man what his agent can gouge out of the Mets. They need a front line starter and Zito is a front line starter who will cost them nothing in the personnel department.

On the other hand, for some strange reason it just doesn't feel comfortable to satisfy oneself with having outbid the Rangers for a guy who might wilt under the pressure of a the NYC hype machine. And then there's that omni-fearful idea that this guy has never had a serious injury. Does that mean he's a sure bet to avoid serious injury in the future or a sure bet to blow out his arm in Spring Training should the Mets sign him to some massive 6 or 7 year deal?

If the papers are to be believed, Dontrelle and Ben Sheets are both unavailable which would leave us, sans Zito, in the hunt of the likes of Freddy Garcia, Javier Vazquez or Jason Jennings.

Of the trio, we can nip any thoughts of the big righty Jennings right in the bud. He's not a front end starter, he's more in the mould of Steve Trachsel, albeit perhaps with a little bigger, more durable and a few more guts. Take away his Coors Field stats (which admittedly, are impressive) and he's 12-18 with a 4.50 ERA over the last three seasons.

Garcia, another big righty, has the pedigree of a welsh cob. He's certainly better than Jennings but let's face it, he's fattened up his stats over the last several years against the likes of the Tigers, against whom he is 11-2 since 2003. However, he's good and he averages around 30 starts so he wouldn't be a bad addition if for no other reason than unlike Jennings, his ERA is bound to improve moving from AL to NL. 44-28 over the last three years and 30 years old. Listed at 250 pounds he would certainly be the Mets heaviest starter.

Vasquez is a smaller version of Garcia and his numbers in late season reflect that. Watch the nose dive over the last three seasons, pre and post All Star game: Pre All Star Game: 26-17 4.37 and Post All Star Game: 10-20 5.16.

Of these three, I'd shoot for Garcia and hope for the best.

Zito AND Garcia, now that's something to sit up and take notice for. If they managed that we could all breath easier, we could all go through the rest of the off season thinking we've got every chance at winning the NL East again.

But will that happen? Not likely. Still, Zito, Garcia, Glavine, Duque and a few Mets young'uns getting more experience in the #5 role would be nice to fill in whilst Pedro is away. And think about this: it would also give the Mets some latitude for next July's trading deadline if we could afford to dump a few healthy young Met arms for whomever might come available to help in that postseason push.

And of the bullpen, we say sorry to see Chad Bradford go but no worries that he had to follow the money. He deserved it after last season. Happy to see Duaner Sanchez appears to be recovering on schedule.


The Ashes

Whilst the Mets are getting older by the day and waiting desperately for yet another 40+ regular in Tom Glavine to make the choice between Hell and Queens, whilst baseball fans across the pond are shoveling turkeys into their gobs and watching an unprecedented THREE NFL national holiday games, the Army will be trudging miserably through the gale-force winds and rain comfortable in the notion there is yet another cross-planet sporting occasion to stay up all night for.

That's right, The Ashes.

As baseball is rumoured to have be slightly older, the Ashes have been around since 1877, the traditional tournament between The Barmy Army and the hated Sheilas.

This year it's Australia's turn to host and as such, the inaugural match of this test series began, (predictably perhaps, considering all the late-nights spent up watching the Mets) at 11 at night and goes on all through the morning. (Back from the tea break now at 6 am with the English getting a wee bit pounded at the minute...)

Here's the low down.

If you're interested in listening, missing baseball (well, cricket isn't the same but it's an odd variation...) you can likely catch the live commentary via the BBC's porthole.


Getting Older By The Day

Ah yes, so we all remember the little controversy about the guy who urinates on his hands to toughen the skin and theoretically at least, improves his hitting. Well now he's a Met.

So, the Mets made a little "splash" signing the oft-injured and rapidly ageing Moises Alou to replace the oft-injured and rapidly ageing Cliff Floyd in left field.

Soon-to-be 41 year old for left field? (well, he'll be ONLY 40 until the All Star break...) I don't mean to be alarmist but didn't having a rotation of old timers come apart at the seams in time for the post season learn yea something about the fragility of the agèd?

Yes, I unnerstan' - a bat against the lefties, something the Mets were alleged to sorely need late last season, is what Alou stands for. In fact, a .349 average against lefties last season. I see the logic in that sense. Another saavy veteran on the bench, I see that, yes. 98 games played last season due to injury. I see that too. On the heels of 123 games the season before that and 155 the year before that. At the current rate of decline that means Alou will play about 62 games for the Mets next season.

This is an ooooold team getting older. Hell, even Cliff Floyd was only 33 and look where that got him. Ok, we had to sign the 41 year old El Duque and we want to sign the soon-to-be 41 year old Tom Glavine to anchor the rotation but then we've resigned the 37 year old Jose Valentin to go in the lineup with the 35 year old catcher Paul Lo Duca (tell me again the average lifespan of a MLB catcher?) but then we compound matters by signing the 37 year old back up infielder Damion Easley to add to the old timer's bench with the 48-year-old Julio Franco.


Two Young But Questionable Lefties For Two 26 Year Old Past-Their Prime Righties

Mets got from the Marlins, not The D Train but:

1. Lefty Jason Vargas was 1-2 with a 7.33 ERA in 12 appearances with the Marlins, including five starts, as we will all know from reading. He started off the season starting, was demoted to the bullpen and then demoted to split time between Triple AAA and the Majors.

2. Lefty Adam Bostick, meandering through the minors with his career (yawn) highlights.

The Mets gave up:

1. Righty Henry Owens -- a Miami native -- who appeared in all of three games with the Mets last season, plus went 2-2 with 20 saves for Double-A Binghamton. This would be impressive if he were 20 years old but the clock is ticking on Mr Owens.

2. Righty Matt Lindstrom who didn't even make it to the majors at his advanced age and instead went 3-4 with 13 saves and a 3.38 ERA in 46 games last season between Binghamton and Class-A St. Lucie.

Winnah: Mets, by a vote of apathy.

Under the Radar

Keep an eye out for this Omarish move: The Mets claimed the right-hander Jason Standridge off waivers from Cincinnati and added him to their 40-man roster. Lefties hit only .200 off his last season even though his overall numbers were something to sneeze at. (like 18-14 K to BB ratio) This has all the markings of a surprise mid-season. The markings? Never heard of the guy, it's nearly winter and nobody cares. I can thing of similar moves over the last two seasons that blossomed later.


Trades In A Minor Key

"IT is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
A lily of a day 5
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night;
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures, life may perfect be."

from Ben Jonson A Part Of An Ode

Now that the naming of the stadium controversy has subsided, blindsided as it were by a "bold" pair of roster moves involving our Mets and the Padres, I can happily proclaim the Mets to have just traded for a major English Renaissance dramatist and poet...

Aha, not Ben Jonson but Ben Johnson.

This is all so confusing. Not CitiPark but CitiField. CitiPark, unlike the new Mets stadium, is a parking facility in Vancouver. CitiField, unlike the parking facility in Vancouver, is a blueprint befitting a millenium of Mets domination to come. (and having spewn a rant about corporate sponsorship once already on the naming of the new Mets home, that is all I have to say on the matter other than Let's Go Mets...

So onward to Hermano Omar's recent deal which on its face appears to be minor and insignificant but given a handful of other transactions which he has handled, it would appear any new Met is a potentially significant Met just waiting to sail under the radar and make us think in July or August, damn, that Omar is a clever git.


Two relievers of questionable authority. Royce Ring who will forever be linked in my mind with the better-late-than-never dumping of Roberto Alomar and who spent a schitzophrenic season between the Big City and Norfolk recently, was already left unprotected at least once in the Rule V draft so giving him yet another change of scenery is no shocking news.

The other reliever, Heath Bell, however disappointing he was this season past, was once renowned for the empathy he invoked (see Save Heath Bell), a poignant schrie for a once-potential "first rate set-up man" joins his bullpen brother and at least two other former Mets (Cameron and Piazza, tho Piazza may be plying his charms in the American League next season) in the dull lustre of San Diego for the mini Mets.

Verdict - although this doesn't quite reach the scope of "Addition by Subtraction" it is a sign that the Mets bullpen is going to aspire to even higher peaks next season, shedding dead weight like an ageing athlete in search of one more fleeting moment of glory.


Although not the English Renaissance dramatist and poet, Ben Johnson, the outfielder, the Xavier Nady-in waiting, is another prospect whose prospects have never quite reached the dizzying heights once expected.

Ducksnorts once mused:

"Johnson is an excellent athlete who has a good mix of power and speed. He will take a walk but hits from behind in the count too often; also, his swing sometimes gets a shade long. In the field, the former high school football star features a strong arm and decent range, although he is sometimes erratic, which is not unusual for such a young player. If he gains better control of the strike zone and settles down in the field, Johnson could be a fixture in right field and the #5 hole for the Padres by late 2003. His upside is roughly a cross between Andruw Jones and Brian Jordan."

Well, it's no longer 2003, not by a long shot and time has sifted through Mr Johnson's disappointing episode with the Padres to deem him at the moment, at worst, a platoonish sort of outfielder and at best, the second coming of Xavier Nady, which he probably already experienced once in his career and how many outfielders can really say that about themselves?

To his credit, he once decimated the Pacific Coast League, something neither you or I can claim. His other claims to fame:

"Ben was selected as the 1999 Memphis area high school Player of the Year. He was drafted in the 4th round by the Cardinals (along with Albert Pujols) and His granddad (Jimmy 'Jimbo' Johnson, a catcher with the White Sox), his dad (went to college on a football scholarship and played other sports as well) and his uncles (all of whom played some sports, including fast-pitch softball)." from the Madres luncheon.

The other tomato can in this deal was reliever Jon Adkins.

By all accounts, Adkins is well, another version of the two relievers just jettisoned. He's a righty, like Bell and his claim to fame just might be that he played an initial roll in last season's much-hyped Dodgers Amazing Comeback against the Padres by giving off a lead off homer to Jeff Kent and then following that up by giving up another homer to JD Drew.

Verdict - Wait and see. On the surface this is a very unexciting trade. But if you can recall back to 23rd December last year when the Mets made a very tiny splash by announcing the signing of Endy Chavez and look how that ended up.


El Duque - at $12 million for 2 years this is hardly a steal for a guy who didn't even put in a postseason appearance for the Mets. But he would have started Game One of the 2006 World Series had the Mets gotten that far and frankly, that would have been a welcomed relief so unless the starting rotation is massively boosted by a series of off season signings, this was pretty much a no-brainer. In May we may be moaning about how auld he is when his ERA sits at 7.45 and he's 0-2 with a sore calf but if the Mets harbour aspirations to return to the postseason, even at his advanced age, the Duke is a savvy vet to lean on provided his aging muscles don't break down first.

Jose Valentin - $3.8 million to return to the Mets for 2007, another man potentially prone to age and fatigue even though Omar sez "Jose Valentin is our second baseman today" and that Valentin will play "pretty much every day," let's hope that "today" is GMese for "until we find a more promising replacement" and "every day" means "when necessary."


It's the beginning of a bad off season for Willie Randolph. Firstly, we're well into November and he hasn't had his contract extended nor does it appear there is interest in giving him his coveted three year deal. That's what following chum like Art Howe, whom the Mets were paying more NOT to manage the Mets than they were paying Randolph to manage the Mets last year, gets you.

To make matters worse, he was beat out by Joe Girardi, who is no longer even a manager, as the NL Manager of the Year.

But, he might find some schadenfreude in the news that the man who beat him in the NLCS, Tony La Russa, the man who managed the World Champions, didn't even get a single vote for Manager of the Year. (Explained of course by the fact that such votes were tallied on the heels of the Cardinals' illustrious fade that nearly knocked them out of the postseason altogether rather than after his team shocked the pundits by winning it all.)


CitiPark CitiField, Where The Rich Come To Spend

"There is no calamity greater than lavish desires.
There is no greater guilt than discontentment.
And there is no greater disaster than greed."

--Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu

I think it was the photo of Mayor Buffoonberg trying desperately to look blue collar with a shovel of dirt in his hand that set me off this morning. The ONLY guy/gal out there who wasn't wearing a hard hat. Whatsamattah Mikey, afraid you'll muss up those gorgeous locks of grey and your gorgeous age-spotted scalp?

What we can note about CitiPark (CitiField), which is a deceptively catchy name with far less dignity than Jackie Robinson Stadium - (I mean if we're standing on history here, Jackie Robinson has alot more to do with baseball and the Mets than bloody Citibank, doesn't he? But Jackie Robinson wasn't a kazillionaire unfortunately for him and his family, so he'll get a nice little rotunda instead.) Yeah, let's celebrate the Mets for being capitalist whores like the Yankees because well, we can see how many World Series the Yankees have won over the last half dozen years employing the greed is good philosophy.

What we can note about the new stadium is that the number of toilets will increase, to 646 from 568. The new stadium store will be 7,200 square feet; the store at Shea is 2,600 square feet.

More importantly and far less imaginative in a baseball sense, the evil Citigroup name will be integrated into the team’s marketing and publicity campaigns and appear on walls, scoreboards, videos and automated teller machines throughout the ballpark.

In other words, you'll stand less time in line to take a piss, (because you'll then have more time to spend money instead of watching the game) have more room to sell overpriced merchandise and will hear and see big brother Citibank (whose cash machines will be everywhere to facilitate buying more overpriced merchandise) everywhere around the stadium, the whispers: citibank, citibank, citibank.

Mr Met will be replaced by a walking, singing Citibank cash machine with a mouth that spits fake dollar bills into the crowd (replacing the high powered tee shirt tubes) and Meet the Mets theme song will be replaced by I Love Citibank Mets, whose lyrics cannot be revealed this early in the planning because its authors are still researching new vocabularies to obfuscate and sugarcoat the growing chant of greed and corporate filth that is spilling all over the architects blueprints of the new stadium.

What I would have liked to have seen was discussions on how each section could be themed after a neighborhood in Queens or to the rich and diverse culture of Queens rather than the simplistic and automotonic paen to the rich and corporate. Is that baseball's message? I suppose it is, sadly so. Nonetheless, I would like to have seen a rich, carb and fat-laden Dominican menu, as unhealthy as it is, in honour of all the Dominicans who work for the Mets both on and off the field. For example, instead of the Boog's BBQ like they have at Camden Yards, a job for retired Pedro, like Pedro's Pastelones and long lines for the sancocho, aspopado or chicharrones de pollo. In fact, why stop at the Dominicans, why not a whole Latino section, right next to the Jackie Robinson rotunda, dedicated to Hispanic culture generally?

Because they don't make enough fucking money that's why. They can't stuff Wilpon's gob with dollar bills and turn this into a fat and sadistic revenue producing bonanza to lead them into the 21st century of modern baseball, that's why.

All I can say is Wilpon and Citibank had better put the best bloody team in baseball on the field after this blatant pandering to filthy money. And CitiField should be about winning and winning is about money. The Mets should change their jerseys to white and Citibank green with the sort of pinstripes going through the jersey numbers like lines going through the S of a $ sign. Yeah, I like that. A team with class. More toilets, bigger restaurants and more money machines to buy it all with. They've got their new stadium, their own revenue-producing baseball channel, and the wind of soul-less capitalism at their sails. They'd better start winning every World Series for the next decade because otherwise, I'm going to have to start rooting for a team like the Mets that I root for used to look like - a simple, every day working man's baseball team. Not a cheap history-poor version of the Capitalist Pig Yankees.


Just say SoriaNO - a wonderful little piece on the evils of Soriano by one of my favourite American sportswriters, Bill Conlan.


Catching Up On The Mets

Well alright, the postseason burn of Carlos Beltran leaving his bat on his shoulder with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 9th is officially history. Yes, I've been lamenting quietly these last few weeks but the true rationale for the paucity of posts is that frankly, I didn't know what to say next. Nor do I now but I reckon for anyone who has been visiting this site in the interim, we're all getting rather sick of seeing Roger Clemens so it's time for something new:

The winter.

Now the last two winters have been pretty good to the Mets. We signed Pedro and Beltran in one winter and then got Billy Wagner, Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca the next.

(yes, there were other significant additions and subtractions but this isn't a bloody roll call or a body count, it's the Superstah we're pondering here...)

So after these last two flurries of activity in the offseason, what does Brother Omar do for an encore?

Possible target Barry Zito pickin' and a grinnin' with Chris Isaak, lefty pitching playing righty...

Yes, everyone can identify with the ease of a somnambulist the weaknesses: starting pitching and left field with second base straggling behind in the distance. There is at least one A-Level starting pitcher out there called Barry Zito and my guess is most everyone who favours the Mets want him signed toute suite, without wasting any bargaining time. If you've got the money to plug the hole, why not? A lefty former Cy Young winner going back to the warm embrace of his former pitching coach, what's not to like, right?

Except I don't see any full on moves to overwhelm him just yet.

Why because the first order of business is to sign the 41 year old Tom Glavine, the 50 year old El Duque and the dazzling Chad Bradford for the pen, that's why.

Whilst I've been away, a few bits of information changed the landscape ever so slightly.

1. Guillermo Mota's 50 game suspension. All I can say is that his defence against performance-enhancing drugs should have been spirited and all he really needed to say was look at his post-season performance. So there's one less arm in the bullpen but Duaner Sanchez will be back so it's hardly a concern. Willie might be concerned because he used Mota more in the playoffs than a chronic masturbator uses his hand but losing Guillermo Mota, believe me, is a blessing in disguise. To Mota's credit, he pled guilty all the way down to the apologies so whilst no one is building pedestals in NYC for him, at least give him credit for being honest about his dishonesty.

2. Tom Glavine's uncertainty about where he'll go. I thought this was in the bag. I mean, Mets on the way up, Braves on the way down. The life of NYC versus the life of Atlanta. Sure, his family is in on the decision because they're still marooned in the cultural wasteland of Atlanta but really, I'm struggling to anticipate what the hell would be more interesting about pitching for a half-empty stadium of redneck zombies for a franchise with a goon like Chipper Jones disgracing its lineup than pitching for the Mets. Is he secretly hankering to return to Massachusetts?

3. Pedro Martinez's public contemplation of retirement. "To go back I have to recover. I have to be healthy. But if God doesn't want that, then I would have to think about giving it all up," he said. Well, Pedro has definately given us bang for the buck, even if he never pitches another game. The impact he has had on the Mets franchise is immeasurable but the Mets could stand on their own now if they needed to and for at least the first half of the season they will need to regardless so even though I find it difficult to take this sort of offseason pondering from Pedro seriously, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

4. Naming the New Shea - CitiField. The sponsorship deal will be worth $20 million per year. That should pay at least one new free agent a season. I'm not sure I like the name, certainly William Shea can't be too chuffed after all, according to some groups, Citigroup is one of the largest foreign investors in Colombia. Citi was the lead arranger on the main loan to the Colombia government last year, $250 million split between debt repayments and "infrastructure" investment. In reality Citi's loans amount to nothing less that a privatization of structural adjustment. Infrastructure in Colombia means fossil fuel development. The money is not being invested in community improvement, health or education but rather further resource exploitation efforts that will increase violence, human rights violations and environmental destruction. Yes but will it bring us Colombian superstars?!

5. Adios, Manny Acta - This, I like. I've never been a fan of Manny Acta, third base coach, I have to admit, so I see this as a plus, not to mention that he goes to the Nats instead of the Nats getting someone dangerous to manage them like say, Joe Girardi they get the guy who what, blew the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic? Ok, that's simplistic. He actually didn't do a bad job managing the DR with all those egos on board. And he's part of a trend what with another third base coach, Ron Washington getting the call for the Texas Rangers. What is disturbing are rumours that Willie might be interested in getting another Yankee in the clubhouse to replace Acta, namely, Luis Soho. Then again, Soho's middle name is Beltran, believe it or not.

6. Aloha, again Carlos Delgado - Ok, maybe it's not big news that he didn't exercise an option to demand a trade after all the post-season excitement but try and imagine last season with oh, Mike Jacobs' bat in the lineup at first base rather than Delgado's and well, let's just not go there.


As for answers on the free agent and trading front, I confess to not having any just yet.

I can say I'd like to see the D Train pitching for the Mets more than I'd like to Zito or Moulder or Schmidt, if I had to chose, that is.

Frankly, the Mediocre Starting Rotation versus the Deep and Formidable Bullpen scheme worked well for the Mets all last season, why shouldn't it again?

Should we sign some big splash free agent only to hurl curses at him all season long when he doesn't live up to massive expectation? Signing Pedro was as near as can't-miss as it comes for free agent starting pitchers because so long as he didn't blow out his body on Opening Day, the Mets won on the positive publicity alone.

None of the available free agent starters in the current crop would be such a sure thing. Yes, Zito has massive upsides but if he really is asking for a 6 year deal, well look at Mark Moulder and Tim Hudson both former A's and former can't-miss starters. I'd like to see us obtain someone big as our Opening Day starter but practically, who, among any of the available possibilities would guarantee it? Nobody.

So focus on resigning Glavine and El Duque and find an innings-eater, like D-Train, for the right price (yes, on top of being a great hitting pitcher at Shea and a great starting pitcher, he also ranked 6th in all of MLB for innings pitched). What's the right price for D-Train? Well previous negotiations are sure to be tainted by Lastings Milledge's market value down turn. That makes the deal a little tougher than it was half way through last season. The Marlins need help just about everywhere but what would entice them to surrender a star pitcher with still two years to go before free agency? Cash and cheap players with plenty of upside. Would you do it for Heilman AND Bannister and Milledge? I think so. In fact, let me say yes, in a second and throw in lots of dosh to make them really salivate because let's face it, that's what the Marlins are all about. In summary, NO To Zito and Pray for D Train.


I'd like to see Alfonso Soriano playing for the Mets next season. Sure he's a free-swinger (bet his bat wouldn't have been on Carlos Beltran's shoulders...) and yes, a defensive liability either in left field or at second base but you can't deny the excitment he would bring.

Those are the blockbusters I'd bust. D-Train, as the rightful heir to Pedro and Soriano, a sort of Reyes-Lite. Worthy of the previous two season's blockbusters.


Speculation Of A Rotation Spinning To The Hall of Fame

We've already (probably) got two Hall of Fame pitchers coming back again next season to our rotation, why not a few more?

Bienvenidos al estadio de Shea

Come and sniff my 8-4 2.93 ERA post-All Star break numbers...

Couldn't help but rub my chin with a cosmogenic stare into the space of hyperbolization when I read the headlines this morning that Clemens, Pettitte File For Free Agency, and allowed mad scientist's thoughts to manifest themselves.

These two, traveling as a pair, just as they were signed with Houston a few years back, on the way to Shea.

Yes, far fetched, isn't it. Firstly, if they were going to do something crazy like leave the comfort homes of Texas for the mad-dash media feeding frenzies of New York, they would likely return clothed in pinstripes, not the auld Dodger Blue and Giant Orange of debauched Queens.

But because this is early morning conjecture it doesn't have to be much based on reality, freeing one from the nagging constrictions that reality often brings with her.

So just think that the enticement is the Hall of Fame Quartet (which of course, is more an enticement to Pettitte than Clemens at this stage,) sold and billed as the first starting rotation in baseball history with at least three Hall of Fame pitchers. And perhaps the auldest starting pitching rotation in the history of mankind (toss in El Duque just to be certain...) and voila, unique marketing points that perhaps only the Yankees, who already have like half the starting pitching free agents over the last three years on their side, could match.

Clemens, Pedro, Glavine and Pettitte. Not bloody likely. But as Halloween fades and the chilly November winds prevail, it is as they say, effin ponderable.


Until The Next Breaking News

Now that the hangover of the World Series is over the speculation will begin but until the speculation begins in earnest in the form of the Mets, the Army will be keeping busy on a few other venues, namely Sports Amnesia (mostly American football, English football and baseball, where appropriate) and Desultory Turgescence (not sports related, beware)...

For those Mets-related items, switch back to the Army where practical for quasi-instant commentary on developing news for the Mets which we all hope and pray there will be plenty dollops of in the form of very good and very surprising news.

As always, tanx fer readin!


The Mourning After

"Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."

--Pancho Villa, last words

There was an almost inescapable feeling leading up to that fated, final called strike curveball with the Mets' best hitter's bat still on his shoulders, that like they had all season, the Mets would pull a last-minute rabbit out of the hat once again.

They didn't and in the moment after, the stinging reality that after 103 victories the Mets' season was finally over was partially assuaged by the fact that at least there should be no what-ifs haunting the memory over the winter months.

If they had gone down without a whimper; a one-two-three bottom of the ninth to send everyone home it might have been a bitterer pill to swallow. That they went down rallying and fighting, struggling and clawing down to the final strike typifies the entirety of the season and the collective character of a team that battled adversity throughout.

Expectations aside, there is no shame in last night's game nor in the season as a whole. Thinking back to the fragile hopes of March and April should remind us. We were confident but inwardly sceptical - we thought it were possible to win the NL East but we weren't certain. Not certain with the bravado of a Yankee fan, for example. We wanted to believe and time and time again, this team gave us the chance until that final strike, to continue to believe in the improbable.

We lived in a fog for the greater part of the season, dominating the National League as we did, winning the NL East by a double digit margin, rarily causing doubts to be raised and as such, with two outs, the bases loaded and our best hitter coming to the plate, we had every reason to believe that like those 103 previous victories, this too would be ours.

It wasn't and reflectively, there is no blame to be assigned. If we are to remember back to March and April, we might recall that whilst we were optimistic, the Mets were by no stretch of the imagination a sure thing and it was only all the success between those months and October that allowed us in that fateful bottom of the 9th, to believe it might all be possible.

So rather than mourn the end of the season, we should celebrate the reawakening of Mets faith, the renewal of expectation and the recognition that we are no longer the less prosperous younger brothers of the bastids from the Bronx but on equal footing and with a brighter immediate future ahead of us.

It won't prevent a cold pang in our hearts when we watch Game One of the World Series on Saturday night thinking that could be our team playing on that field in Detroit, but there are brighter sides to reflect upon. Not just that we got as far as we did, but the next season will await us, pregnant once again with legitimate belief that we could be back here again, with another chance in another October.


“I wish television would stop it,” sighed Claire Shulman, the former Queens borough president about the stereotyping of Queens by the media during the Mets' run. “Things have changed. We are no longer Archie Bunker town.”



Pre Game Chatter - Well, it's pissing down here in the UK per usual. Fortunately not in New York.

Admittedly, it was a dodgy proposition, having a couple Cidre Breton and staying up late without getting the requisite three hours nap before the 1 am wake up call to catch the beginning of this GAME SEVEN but if you're reading this, I must be writing it and thus, must have survived. It's only the day of work to follow that I will have to survive further and if the Mets win, I will survive it gladly with plans to do the auld lastminute.com business of getting to NYC for mid week. If they lose, well...there's always this ready-made noose to finish the plot...Just kidding of course, hahaha, he says manically.

Save us from ourselves...

****don't ask what's happened to innings one through four, the stories would be long and painful and the baseball police are not giving any secrets away...*****

Cardinals 5th - lead off single from Belliard, Suppan perfectly bunts him into scoring position. Mets getting more than ever could have been expected from Perez. Cardinals, like Game 6, are having trouble with the high fastballs. Eckstein smacks it into the corner, just inches from Chavez's glove but it blows foul. And Eckstein gets hit to put two men on with Preston Wilson coming to the plate. Willie coming to the mound to have a little fire talk with Perez. Double play to get them out without seeing Pujols would almost be too much to expect? High fastball swing and miss. There they go, those Cards, missing that pitch again. Another swing and miss, strike 3! Is Perez going to see Pujols?

Looks that way. Multiple runners on base, Game 7, Pujols up, hmmmm. High fastballs to Pujols, up and above the strikezone. Fly to left not deep enough, Reyes makes the catch, whew! Perez finishes another inning, amazing!

Commerical break - No real time for a break as I struggle to capture the lost innings leading up to now...and get the auld eyes and ears focused, but summing it up, the Mets got their lone run in the first inning from David Wright's RBI dump single after Suppan go the first two batters down but Beltran and Delgado got on.

The Cardinals tied it in the 2nd with a sacrifice bunt by Belliard and ever since then, both pitchers have shut down tense lineups.

Mets 5th - Oliver Perez staying on to hit for himself. Who'd have thought Perez would still be in with the Mets having only snatched two hits and a lone run off of Suppan so far. Reyes 0 for 2 tonight wondering if he's been a little over anxious again. Easy fly out. Is he trying too hard to hit that homer that would make him the hero redux? Wilson and Edmonds collide with Wilson barely keeping the ball at the warning track off of Lo Duca's smash. Sound of crowd at Shea hampering communication. No yuppies sitting on their hands over there.

Commercial Break - Still no time for commercials. Still rubbing sleep from the cidre'd eyes. Third inning saw Perez allow a lead off double by Eckstein (good job he hit him last inning then!) but then masterfully pitches out of trouble after intentionally walking Pujols, by getting Encarnacion to hit into a broken bat double play. No one has made any noise since and the Mets themselves have only had two hits.

Cardinals 6th - 76 pitches for Perez so far. Is this guy amazing or what? Maybe the Perez has finally "rediscovered" himself, that self of two years ago the FOX chimps were so in love with festering about a few games ago. 92 pitches thrown in Game Four, just Monday night ago and he's still twisting these Cardinals into knots. Edmonds steps out of the box just as Perez going into his wind up. Shea fills with booos. And it's the first unintentional walk from Perez and this earns another chat from Willie on the mound. Maybe this is Willie's finest trait, managing these young pitchers, sometimes batter by batter, challenging them, having the words when he needs them. And this is how he's....Edmonds slams the ball and it's not looking good, not looking...OHHHH! CHAVEZ steals a homer from Rolen and Edmonds is doubled off of first! Holy sheeeeeeyit! Chavez leapt and reached high over left field wall to pluck a certain pair of runs from the Cardinals!!! WFAN calling it maybe the play of franchise history. Hysterics. Wow, sweet hyperbole...Man was that ever huge. Pitching and defence, baby. Christ I can't wait to see that on the video replay. Started his jump a few steps from the fence, leaping like superman. This might be the game. 3-4-5 batters will be up for Mets.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: Sound familiar? from the Archives

World Series, 1969, Game 3, Mets and Orioles tied at a game apiece. In the fourth inning, Orioles catcher Elrod Hendricks steps to the plate. He's a lefty swinger, so Tommie Agee, the Mets center fielder, shades him to right. Hendricks smacks one the opposite way, and Agee, with an impossible distance to cover, is off at the crack of the bat. Lunging back, he just gets the tip of his glove on the ball, and it's enough. Three outs. In the seventh, Agee would make another sensational grab. There were four future Hall of Famers playing that day, but the game belonged to a journeyman outfielder on a miracle team.

Mets 6th - Ok, after all that excitement, this might be the spot to break Suppan and crush the Cardinals spirit for the game. Really, if they can score a pair here...Suppan isn't cooperating though, dribbler from Beltran. Delgado walks for the third straight time. Thinking Suppan is pitching vewwy, vewwy cowfully to the man with RBIs in his stride...David Wright has cashed in once already tonight and every at-bat in this Game Seven is now potentially, the at-bat to seal the NL Pennant. Rolen throws an easy grounder into the stands! 15 feet over the head of Pujols! There goes that gold glove, baby! Two men on, one man out and La Russa intentionally walks Shawn Green for Valentin coming up. Time for another unsung hero to break open this game...Good thing Delgado is on third so he won't hold all the other runners up with his hefty pace. Dave Duncan out on the mound to have a little chat of strategy. It's crazy talk.

Valentin up. Tension mounting, man this is great! Can you imagine, five hours and thousands of miles away, the tension is still palatable. Aren't we all just waiting for the minute...Suppan asking Molina to go through the signs again, talking his sweet time and then Valentin fouls off another. The hero Chavez on deck...

Valetin steps out of the box and plays a cat and mouse game with Suppan. Swing and a miss strike three, Suppan has almost saved himself, has almost wriggled off the hook. But it's Chavez coming up, 4 for 25 and no RBIs in 33 post-season at-bats. Must be time by now.

Nope, high fly ball to center, inning over. Mets strand three important runs.

Commercial Break - Cat and Mouse Game

Suppan and Valentin

Cardinals 7th - Perez, 6 innings, 4 hits and a run later, heroic and unexpected performance and all, is removed from the game for Chad Bradford. The Mets' bullpen have averaged 11 outs per game in the postseason. They only need 9 tonight.

Molina goes down without fan fare. Belliard coming up with Suppan on deck - pitch count at 88. Valentin gets Belliard, two down. Interesting statement about La Russa's bullpen that his starting pitcher, who might be good for only another inning or less, isn't interested in having one of this game-busting pinch hitters at the plate in the 7th with the game tied. Sure, Suppan has two homers this season but Steve Trachsel isn't pitching tonight so that's not relevant.

1-2-3 inning.

Commercial Break:

Mets 7th - Well it's the 7th inning stretch and this game is still too tight to call. Now the rain is coming down a little harder and Suppan asks the grounds crew to come out and work on the mound. Reminds me of the muppet grounds crew in St Louis taking a looooong break to fix first base two games ago. Nobody up in the Cards bullpen. Brave or stupid little man, that La Russa. Either that or faith in Suppan, stay with the hot hand. 1 run allowed in what, 15 innings pitched against the Mets? (well, 14...)

Michael Tucker pinch hitting. Nada Suppan 95 pitches, is this guy human?

Reyes 0 for 3 tonight. Second pitch swing bounces right to Pujols. What happened to getting on base, buddy? It seemed only a matter of concentration in Game 6. But let's give Suppan some credit. He's a bloody magician out there now that it isn't May when the Mets beat him 8-3. Lo Duca, another easy out, 1-2-3, Suppan cruising.

Commercial break - Dare we go there? Oh hell, why not? Mister micromanager grates on my nerves and I still can't forget the sight of him wearing shades in the bloody dugout.

Say hello to Mr and Mrs La Russa.

Cardinals 8th - Heilman stepping in from the pen. Eckstein is out easily. Scott Spiezio coming to pinch hit for Preston Wilson. Mr Hey, I've got a hideous blonde with sagging breasts tattoo'd to my bicep. 4 for 16 in this series against the Mets but a deadly, deadly hitter overall in the postseason. Imagine, La Russa doesn't pinch hit for his pitcher with nearly 90 pitches under his belt in the 7th but he pinch hits for Preston Wilson. La Russa hanging on to Suppan for dear life.

Streeeeek three! Spiezio fooled. There goes your pinch hitter. Two out, nobody on, Pujols to the plate. I reckon this is Mr Intentional Walk time...

Nope. Carefully pitched, no doubt but they are indeed pitching to him this time. Really, what's the bloody difference, pitching so carefully or just intentionally walking the bastid to get it over with. 3 and 0. There we go, final ball is intentional. Common sense prevails.

Juan Encarnacion coming up. His story: 0 for 3 tonight. Hitting .190 in this series. Delgado speaking with Heilman, probably begging him not to throw to first again, Pujols isn't going anywhere with those dodgy hammies. Up on your feet! 0-2 count...two outs...Heilman throws to first again. Keep focused on the plate, Mr Heilman s'il vous plait

Fastball swung on and missed!

Commercial Break: Bottom of the 8th, it's Inspiration Time:

Hang on, wrong ad...

Bottom of the 8th, it's Inspiration Time!

Well, something like that...

Mets - Bottom of the 8th - So Taguchi has come into the game to play for Preston Wilson instead of Spiezio. Suppan staying in though. La Russa will hang on to him until there's nothing left to hang on to. Meanwhile Wagner is warming up in the bullpen. I'm not sure that makes me happy just yet. Why not another inning of Heilman?

Beltran to the plate. This is the inning to really make it happen, meat of the order and all...Suppan at 103 pitches. At least La Russa has a pair warming up in the pen. Maybe he isn't going to stay with him into the long and dreaded night. Beltran draws a lead off walk!

Delgado coming to the plate. La Russa on his way to the mound and asking for the lefty, Randy Flores.

Bullpen Break: La Russa letting the bullpen loose!

...Delgado up...lefty on lefty. Mano a mano. Cliché versus cliché.

Mets have only two hits in this game so far. Several pick off attempts, 2 and 2 the count, Delgado fouls it off and let's the bat out of his hands. Slippery bat in the rain or subtle warning, bwahhhaaa. Relatively quiet crowd at Shea now. Uncharacteristic or scared? Strike three, Delgado went around on a slider. One away.

David Wright to the plate. Righties kill Flores. He's got like a 9+ ERA against righties this season. I've looked it up now, 9.72 ERA against righties. But Wright's average against lefties was just over .200 in the second half of the season. Which came first, the chicken or the egg, the lefty's weakness against righties or the righty's weakness against lefties? Oh, it's confusing! 4:11 AM. Ball three to David Wright. Season on the line for both teams in case we've forgotten...Swung on and missed! Two bloody strikeouts in a row for Flores.

Dave Duncan coming out to the mound with Shawn Green coming to the plate.

Remember that Game Seven of the 1991 World Series with the scoreless tie through nine? This feels like it, sort of except the Mets are playing this time and it was uh, still the 20th century...

Green grounds weakly to Pujols, side retired. Last frame, lads.

Commercial Break Destiny Awaits:

Cardinals 9th - Heilman staying in, thank christ for that. Forget the strategic imlications, I don't want to see Wagner out there just yet without a 10 run lead...

Swing and a miss, third strikeout for Heilman.

Rolen coming up for the first time since he wuz robbed by Chavez's game-saving catch.

Jyuuuuust inside, 94 mph, ball three. Where's that strike zone, Mr Ump, full count...

Rolen almost kills a few teammates in the dugout with a foul ball, yes! He's hit Jeff Weaver, another fouled pitch and then, a single for Rolen. Rolen waited out that change up from Heilman until the fastball finally came around.

Yadier Molina up. Tension high - fly ball to deep left, Chavez back...it's gone... No magic glove that time. Holy shit, lads, 3-1. Shea is stunned. Belliard grounds out to Reyes, who cares now...man, .216 hitter for the year that Molina was...

Now time to consider who's coming up for Mets' last gasp in the 9th...

Pinch hitter for Flores, John Rodriguez. That's right, who cares. Shea is silent nights.

Mets will have bottom third of batting order up. Ugh. No hits for the Mets since the first inning. Are they due or doomed?

Side retired, golf claps. Three outs to save the season.

Commerical break - Due or Doomed?


Well, here it is lads. The ENTIRE BLOODY SEASON down to three outs and what the bottom third of the order can do to save the Mets once more. Improbable? Yes, of course. Impossible? Not in this season of impossible dreams so far.

Cardinals closer Adam Wainwright on the mound.

Valentin up. Maybe his last at-bat as a Met. Last at-bat for 2006 if he doesn't do the business.

Full count. This is going to be excruciating.

Bloop single drops in for a base hit! Tying run to the plate.

Endy Chavez up to the plate. 103 wins so far this season. Chavez needs to keep the ball out of the air.

Is Wainwright getting a little nervous. LOUD Let's Go Mets chants. I keep hearing Wainwright's postgame giddiness after he closed out Game Five for the Cards. this is what it's all about, he said. We'll see.

Chavez lines it into the outfield, base hit! Holy shit!

Cliff Floyd coming to the plate to pinch hit? Called back to dugout and then send back out. Pinch bunt here?

Mound conference with Dave Duncan. WFAN saying usually after a mound chat the next pitch is a fastball...

My guts are churning, I can't imagine what Wainwright is feeling like, or Floyd for that matter. Fastball was right, but swung on and missed.

C'mon, just bunt the runners over for the top of the order, no?

Called strike two. Can't let Wainwright get back into this, keep the pressure on. Wonder what Floyd's timing is like after such a long lay off. Why isn't he bunting?

Molina throws to first to try and pick off Chavez, almost sent it wild!

Whew. Wainnwright steps off the rubber, Floyd steps out of the box.

2-2 pitch, popped foul.

Curveball, strike three. Was that Floyd's last at-bat for the Mets?

Jose Reyes coming up. Please just don't swing at the first fucking pitch, Jose.

High ball one. Thank you Jose. Patience is thy name.

Curve ball in for strike one.

Fastball fouled off. One and two. Another curve, this one fouled off.

Curve ball lined into centerfield, Edmonds catches it. Pffft. Two away, Mets down to their last out.

It's ALL up to Lo Duca to save the season.

First pitch, fast ball 1-0. Beltran on deck. Lo Duca calls time.

Slider, called strike, a high strike.

Crowd has settled. Slider low outside, ball two.

Lo Duca taps some dirt out of his spikes.

Will Beltran have a chance to bat?

Fastball high, ball three. Guess he'll be taking all the way on this one. Lo Duca goes for another little walk out of the batter's box.

Whew, man.



Oh sweet bloody hell, this is exactly where the season should be, win or lose, in Carlos Beltran's hands. Bet Wainwright didn't want to do that.

Let's Go Mets chants wafting through Shea.

Bases loaded two outs, bottom of the 9th, Mets superstar at the plate. Can it get any sweeter than this opportunity? The opportunity of a lifetime for Beltran.

Fastball strike one.

Curve ball fouled off, two strikes.

Here it comes...curveball, strike three.



Glad I'm not seeing the mob scene on the pitcher's mound.

Well, you can't complain about the conclusion's possibilities. It was right there for us but Carlos Beltran goes down on three pitches to end the season.

Adios, 2006.

GAME SIX: Home Sweet Home

So, there will be a Game Seven after all.

Just barely though, after Billy Wagner gave us more drama than any of us were really looking for and as you would expect, the Cardinals did not go down without a fight.

The evening's hero, pumped after snuffing out the great Alberto with a K in the 5th

But they did go down and they did stay down and with this 4-2 victory the Mets live for at least another night where still more questions will follow them.

Following the superlative pitching of Tom Glavine in Game One, the gutty and passable pitching of Ollie Perez in Game Four, John Maine, as one of a short history line of rookies pitching in a championship series with elimination on the line shut the enigmatic Cardinals lineup out for a little over five innings, just enough for the Mets to take hold of the lead and keep it on the way to winning Game Six and forcing the decisive and final game of the NLCS at Shea.

One ace down, one more to go...

There's probably not enough that can be said about a rookie whom many of us considered a mere throw-in to the Kris Benson deal this winter, outpitching Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter to save the Mets' collective skin last night. But then again, although it was certainly more efficient than Perez's Game Four, it was no more surprising, no more invigorating, no more mandatory. That Maine and Perez, two pitchers acquired by GM Omar Minaya with very little fanfare, have saved the Mets' collective skin twice when a starting rotation in tatters needed help from anywhere it could get it, speaks volumes of Omar's value to this team and both players' nerve and survival instincts.

Ironic then that the man we paid so much to get over the winter nearly blew it for the second time in this series with a less than impressive closing performance.

Can't help but like a guy who points to the crowd rather than heavenwards when he produces...

From the batter's side of things, Jose Reyes opened the scoring with a lead off homer 395 feet over the right field wall in the bottom of the first and never looked back. With the advice of his teammates to just get on base ringing in his ears after an impatient game at the plate the night before, Reyes responded with three hits and a pair of stolen bases to lead an offensive charge that perhaps lacking in the usual explosiveness, was sufficient and workman-like enough with solid pitching to seal the victory.

The Cardinals had their chances - in the top of the 1st they had men on second and third with only one out before Maine inhaled and struck out Jim Edmonds and induced Scott Rolen to fly out to end the inning. That was the first sigh of relief. And then again in the third, the Cardinals had Maine nearly on the ropes with runners on first and second, one out and again, Jim Edmonds at the plate. Edmonds flew out and Juan Encarnacion went down on strikes to end the inning. And finally, top of the 9th, So Taguchi, who should only be beaned or intentionally walked Thursday night if he comes to the plate in the late innings with a chance to win the game, hit a two-run pinch hit double that brought the Cards to within a pair before Wagner finally sealed their fate once and for all. The Mets survived each of those innings and survival, the instinct most predominate in the Mets' season, was again sufficient.

And so here we are, poised on the precipice of the World Series with no idea who will start the decisive Game Seven. Quite appropriate perhaps, considering the questions about the starting rotation that began last winter with Pedro's toe and have continued on through injuries until Steve Trachsel's bitterly disappointing and short performance in Game Three threw his scheduled start into question.

Given the Cardinals' season-long weakness against lefties, perhaps Matt Dillon will be available to start Thursday night...


With virtually no time to savour this victory staving off elimination all heads now turn to the decisive Game Seven.

On paper the matchup of Jeff Suppan, who stunned the Mets' lineup in Game Three to the tune of Shut Me Out Of The Ballgame and has a 4-1, 1.85 ERA mark against the Mets in seven starts, versus TBA should be a betting man's wet dream. In fact, Cardinals fans must be having a hard time containing themselves with anticipation. But on paper, the Mets probably shouldn't have gotten past the Dodgers in the NLDS after losing both Pedro and El Duque from their rotation almost overnight, a double whammy few teams could survive on such short notice.

It appears Oliver Perez will be the Mets' Game Seven starter and again, on paper, this game will be a blow out. Suppan has pitched four NLCS games in his career, is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA. At Shea, Suppan is 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA. He has a better ERA on the road (3.65) this season than at home (4.75). His lone NLCS loss came in 2004 against the Astros in Game Three against Roger Clemens. Is that demoralising enough?

Oliver Perez, despite his gutty performance in Game Four, comes into this game with a rotund 7.94 ERA. At Shea for the Mets this season he is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts. Yes, Darren Oliver will be waiting in the wings. Yes, the entirety of a very efficient bullpen is also waiting in the wings. In some ways, this hydra-headed starting pitcher philosophy for Game 7 is the perfect response to Suppan, provided Suppan gives up a few runs or has to throw too many pitches early on, because Cardinals batters will have no chance to get accustomed to any one pitcher's rythym.

I still would have made the argument to see Steve Trachsel pitch this game. I know it sounds crazy but there's a continuity involved - September 18th he held the Marlins to 3 hits over 6 1/3 innings to help the Mets clinch the NL East and on the 7th of October he started the game against the Dodgers which saw the Mets win their NLDS. (Granted, 3 1/3 innings, 6 hits and 2 runs but,) nonetheless he was the starting pitcher on the mound for those two clinchers and there's a certain karmic value to seeing him start Game Seven.

Secondly, one has to wonder with the allegedly gutless performance in Game Three of this series sticking in his craw if Steve Trachsel might not rise to the occasion and strive to make up for letting his team down earlier. Motivation and karmic factors should have weighed heavier on Willie's mind. Then again, fortunately for all of you, I'm not the Mets' manager, Willie is and what Willie does, is most often make the right decision so there you go. Time to push our luck that Oliver Perez can have two non-disasterous starts in a row. He has not won two starts in a row all season.

In any event, it's time to sit out the remaining 19 1/2 hours or so until first pitch with alot of time to ponder the immeasurable in between. Good luck to the Mets and whatever the result, it's been a helluva season.

And if you REALLY want to get the crowd going at the onset, why not have PEDRO throw out the first ceremonial pitch?


1969 - NLCS - Won over ATL
1969 -WS - Won over Balt
1973-NLCS - won over Reds
1986-WS - Won Over Boston
1999-NLDS- Won over ARIZ
2000-NLDS - Won Over SF
2000- NLCS - Won over STL


GAME FIVE - Staying Awake For Nothing

1:36 - Damn another late wakeup - missed the top half of the first with the Mets threatening, two hits - rushing about trying to get all the crap up on screen (including this new "enhanced" MLB Gameday which I haven't had a chance to look at yet,) and rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.

It's a commerical (naturally) and there's time to see that both Delgado and Wright failed to deliver with Reyes and Beltran on base...pity. Jumping on Weaver early could've killed the Kardinal spirit in Game Five and save us all alot of unnecessary nerve-fraying.

St Louis First - Wonder if 13 consecutive shutout innings is unlucky, if Glavine shouldn't have pitched an extra shutout inning or given up a run in his last outing...

Eckstein gets his first hit off of Glavine. With Pujols coming up, time to observe that in St Louieee, they're busy bashing Pujols and likening him to Barry Bonds. Wow. One so-so series to date and they're ready to pillory the bastid.

For some odd reason, Pujols has once again turned the NLCS into a joyless pursuit of excellence rather than an extraordinary opportunity to display his singular greatness, and I just don't get it.

He comes to the ballpark every day and treats people with a needless surly demeanor.

Instead of seizing on the chance to step onto baseball's big postseason stage and impress the nation's baseball press with his athletic brilliance, he instead has made quite the impression in the worst kind of way.

"Get out of my freakin' locker — you people are a pain in the (butt), you know that?" he snarled last week inside the crowded Shea Stadium visitors' clubhouse after Game 1 was rained out.

Pujols goes after the first pitch and after all that hoo-haa about Glavine and Pujols, nada. A few pitches later, Eckstein steals second to get into scoring position for Encarnacion who breaks his bat hitting it back to Glavine, inning over.

Mets 2nd - Chavez, hitting 2 for 19, delivers a two out double - clutch if only so Glavine isn't leading off the 3rd next inning. Glavine does the usual - I notice already the yuppy crowd seems a little louder - maybe they're holding the microphones down closer to the seats for this game or perhaps the PA System is playing recorded cheers from like 1980...

Commercial Break - This Gameday thing on mlb.com is stupid. A few cheap graphics, less information than the regular one. Tells me what the bloody degree of arc is or whatever. Rubbish. And because I'm sick of hearing the same WFAN commercials, I'm going to poke over and listen to what the enemy is saying for an inning or two - KTRS broadcast - my guess will be a pair of Midwest muppets will be even less exciting than the WFAN commercials.

Cardinals 2nd - Rolen leads off with a hit the drunk slurring his broadcast barely registers. The drunk slurring his broadcast is Mike Shannon and, reading his little website bio off the station, "During the 1964 Series opener vs. New York, Shannon hit a game-tying, two-run homer off Whitey Ford as St. Louis went on to defeat the Yankees in seven games"

I dunno what he's been up to in the interim (binge drinking and chain smoking?) but his articulation and cadence is like a drunk Ralph Kiner and his voice sounds like as he's gargling phlegm as he speaks. You'd have to be on heavy sedatives to get through this broadcast, ugh. Looks like it's back to the WFAN, you're not going to learn anything listening to this except why the midwest is about two decades behind New York culturally.

Strike 'em out, throw 'em out! Inning over.

Commercial Break Mike Shannon's heavy sedatives...

Mets 3rd - Reyes up...I'm hating Howie Rose and Gary Cohen less after that dose of Mike Shannon...Beltran 11 homers in 19 postseason game. Weaver is up in the zone but finding a rhythm. Do I miss idiot chatter of Joe Schmuck and Tim McSnore on FOX? Nyet. Crowd is on their feet for a two strike pitch - did someone drop a few bennies in the Evian at Busch?

Commercial break

Cardinals 3rd - Molina up, 6 for 13 in NLCS, but goes down quickly. Weaver hit .133 during regular season. This game is going down like Game One, pretty fast and pretty efficient...Cohen and Rose chatting about the NL Cy Young award and then start goofing on Trevor Hoffman for blowing the save in the All Star game and costing the NL homefield advantage. All-Time Saves Leader indeed. Cards down in order.

Commercial: Seems like I'm spending more time during commercial than I am listening to innings the pitchers are working through so efficiently. Intellectual stimulation instead of Pete King for Congress commercials...A little St Louis history instead:

In 1763, Pierre Laclède, his 13-year-old "stepson" Auguste Chouteau, and a small band of men traveled up the Mississippi from New Orleans. In November, they landed a few miles downstream of the river's confluence with the Missouri River at a site where wooded limestone bluffs rose 40 feet above the river. The men returned to Fort de Chartres for the winter, but in February, Laclede sent Chouteau and 30 men to begin construction. The settlement was established on February 15, 1764.

So, it was founded by a French paedophile? Interesting.

Mets 4th - Pujols doing some first base manicuring, unhappy with first base bag that the grounds crew cocked up in between innings. Now more grounds crew out to work it some more. How many St Louis grounds crew does it take to properly place first base for crissakes? Now they're bringing a shovel out. Think Jeff Weaver is enjoying this unnecessary delay owed to muppet midwest incompetence? Now they're changing the base. What is this bloody rocket science?! Why are they changing bases in between innings anyway? Stooges. You'd think they'd do it to Glavine rather than their own pitcher. Maybe they're just trying to piss off Pujols.

Nice. After Weaver's unnecessary break, he walks Delgado to lead off. David Wright K'd his last time up. Note the difference between media coverage on Wright in NYC during his NLCS slump and the coverage of Pujols in St Louis during his own slump...Wright, 1 for 14 in the NLCS...make that 1 for 15. A wee bit over-anxious. Liberal strike zone from the ump tonight. Green kicks up some chalk on the left field line and knocks it for a ground rule double after a St Louis fan interferes with ball. Second and third.

Valentin, over the glove of Pujols with another double! 2-0 Mets!

Look who's found his hitting groove!

Wonder what they're making of the unnecessary break for Weaver whilst the grounds crew fumbled around with first base...Chavez out, Glavine up with a chance to help himself with another run...Inning over but a little damage done.

Commercial break - In honour of the St Louis grounds crew - A 16th century brewery:

Cards 4th - John Maine and Chris Carpenter have already headed back to New York. Oops! Pujols homers off of Glavine - Chavez leapt to try and get it at the wall but yet again, no joy. I'm sorry I can't remember which blogger was writing about Mets practicing making these kinds of off-the-wall catches...pitch was up. Wonder what that cunt Pujols is grinning to himself now about sweet justification. Glavine's first post season run allowed in 16 2/3 innings. Replay shows Chavez wasn't that close to catching it after all. A few feet behind the left field wall. Now Glavine goes 3-0 to Scott Rolen...walk. WFAN official speculation that he'd rather face Edmonds than Rolen since Rolen hits him better but with two outs does that really make sense? 3-1 on Edmonds - is he trying to avoid Edmonds too? Base hit. His 4th hit of the series. And now the pudgy kid, Belliard comes to the plate. Infielders need to smother anything near the hole to keep the tying run from...nope - Belliard, RBI single between first and second to tie the game at 2 apiece. Remembering Game Two when the Cards answered back it seemed every time the Mets scored. WFAN crying that Delgado gave up on it too early. How many pitches has Glavine thrown I wonder...Now Molina up who has been going nuts in the postseason and Glavine falls behind 2-0. What's up Mr Glavine? He's thrown 62 pitches already...Now he walks Belliard to load the bases for Jeff Weaver. This is a very, very key at-bat. 8th guy up this inning and if Glavine doesn't get Weaver here, we're fecked. Bullpen starting to warm up. Glavine goes 2-0 on the bloody pitcher! Wonder what's happened to him. Whew, Weaver out but Glavine has now thrown 73 pitches...36 pitches in one inning alone.

Well-Earned Commercial Break:

Mets 5th - Reyes swings at the first bloody pitch after Weaver had the long inning break, one out. The 2-2 tie seems like a Cardinals lead somehow. Pujols broke his cherry and Glavine, perhaps demoralised as a result, threw 36 pitches and gave the lead back.

Lo Duca hits it by the line in right field, blocked by side wall placed midwest architecture stupidly and is limited to a single. LaRussa has the bullpen warming up already. Beltran rips one to the warning track but no dice. Think Delgado has used up his quota NLCS RBIs with his 5 ribbies the night before? Same situation as Sunday night, tie game righty facing Delgado in the 5th...Flores had been up in Cardinals bullpen to pitch to Delgado if necessary but now he's sat down again. Delgado pops it up uselessly. Weaver has still thrown less pitches than Glavine.

Commercial Break Public Service Announcement:

Cardinals 5th Eckstein pretends to bunt then bloops it over Reyes' glove to put the first runner on. Trouble brewing? Wondr if Willie will bring in Chad Bradford to face Pujols if Glavine doesn't get Preston Wilson out right here...He lines it to right field gap, rolling to wall, Eckstein scores, Wilson, RBI double, Cards lead 3-2 - still nobody out. Glavine has lost his stuff with Pujols coming to the plate, man on scoring position. Time to break out the intentional walk...

Yup. No doubt. Intentional walk. So it'll be two men on with Encarnacion coming up. Willie coming to the mound and calls for Bradford. Smart move. He's no Grady Little with his starters, that's for sure. So much for the sole starting pitching advantage the Mets had, Glavine down the tubes. Perhaps we can speculate on how fresh he'll be for Game One of the World Series?

Bullpen Break Quotes from Cardinals chat room:

"Well the wretched old man is getting yanked, after being a chickenschit to Pujols!"

Back to the action...Encarnacion gets a base hit and suddenly the Cardinals have the bases loaded with nobody out after Encarnacion failed to get the bunt down and decided to reach out and swerve it into the outfield. Shit.

Rolen rips the first pitch foul and suddenly the yuppie crowd is alive. Mets infield playing to concede a run for a double play (if only they're that lucky...)

Bradford tugs on his cap a few times and asks for a new ball, yuppies boo, as if they know what the feck is going on. But Bradford Ks Rolen. Nice one. Lo Duca comes up to chat with Bradford - giving the pen some more time to get warm? Willie comes out to bring Feliciano on.

Bullpen Break Cardinals chat room getting more intelligent by the minute:

"That blew doo-doo. No slack for Rolen there at all. That was a bullsh*t at-bat. Amazing. NO PATIENCE, NO DISCIPLINE."

Back to the action again...Edmonds a .156 hitter this season against left hand pitching...Delgado gets the safe force at home rather than trying a dodgy DP. Belliard coming to the plate...Chavez makes the catch at the warning track! Bullpen saves the inning, Cardinals leave the bases loaded. Oh that was clutch. The Cardinals could have blown this game wide open and instead, they only managed a run out of all that. Perhaps this turns the tide for the Mets. Weaver can't have much left in him so we'll get another shot at the Cardinals bullpen soon.

COMMERCIAL BREAK I need to relax the tension...

Mets 6th - Weaver takes the mound with the lead for the first time. Wright up to bat. Fouling them off with reckless abandon, five in a row...measuring Weaver for a smash? 2-2. Weaver stomping around behind the mound, upset with the call. 10th pitch of the at-bat...ball three. Wright having a brilliant at-bat. Dribbled on the ground to third, out. At least he burned Weaver out a little more.

Pujols makes lungeing catch to get Green. What happened to that bum hammy? Maybe that article in the St Louis paper comparing him to Bonds really pissed him off. Valentin up with the hot bat. Weaver has given up 34 homers...Yuppies waving white rally towels now. What genius handed those out to them? As if they have enough life in them to wave or get excited. Are they rally towels or surrender flags? Ball four, 3-2 slider misses. Chavez coming to the plate and Roberto Hernandez warming up in the pen with the pitcher's spot coming up after Chavez. What, Willie isn't going to let Feliciano hit?! Change of philosophy? Endy 3 for 18 in NLCS. Rubbish grounder ends the inning. Ok, pinch hitter to lead off next inning and then the top of the order. Yeah, blablabla. A run-scoring triple from Chavez would've been alot sweeter.

Commercial Break:

"Meet me in St. Louis, Louis,
Meet me at the fair,
Don't tell me the lights are shining
any place but there;
We will dance the Hoochee Koochee,
I will be your tootsie wootsie,
If you will meet in St. Louis, Louis,
Meet me at the fair."

from Meet Me In St Louis

Cards 6th - Weaver had 95 pitches so he'll be pinch hit for. Molina up to lead off. I just realised Spiezio didn't start this game. Only took me six innings. Way to be alive to the batting order, d'oh. That means he could come up for some pinch-hitting duty later in the game but it also means less chances to kill us in between.

Oh fuck. Chris Duncan hits a pinch hit homer, 4-2 C'mon for crissakes - 22 homers in 280 at-bats this season. Who is this twat? He was 1 for 12 in the postseason up til now. He hit .170 against lefties this season. Inning ends mercifully without further damage...

Commercial Break Chris Duncan scouting report from Newsday:

"Which player is most likely to disappoint?

Chris Duncan. There's a guy who all of a sudden can get into a funk on you."

Good one.

Mets 7th - Righty Josh Kinney takes over to face PH Michael Tucker. Kinney has thrown four scoreless innings in postseason so far. Tucker starts us off with a phat pheckin strikeout.

Reyes overmatched on curve, swinging strike three. Dis no lookin good amigos...

1-2-3. Easy and fast. Faith is fleeting...

Commercial Break: PSA - Doom Is Coming:

Cardinals 7th - Roberto Hernandez coming in to pitch. 0-1 against the Cards this season. 4 runs surrendered in 8 1/3 innings - all runs surrendered with Pirates. Went one inning so far in postseason v Cards without giving up a run. Blablabla. Yeah, if he holds 'em great but if the Mets don't score some runs it means I've gotten no sleep and for no good reason. Double whammy. WFAN in between pitches giving me the life history of Juan Encarnacion, his trials and tribulations with Marlins, his wake up with Cincinnati and woops, there he goes, base on balls. Another long chapter in his infintissimal biography. I dunno what they were even on about with Cincinnati - all his power years were with Detroit...

Wow, I'm getting almost as boring as these WFAN announcers. Just shows you what getting lulled into a loss does to you...

3-0 to Edmonds, Roberto throws wild pitch to put Encarnacion on second...last pitch intentional ball to get to Ronnie Belliard. I guess because Belliard's single to tie the game earlier wasn't convincing enough. Well, there it is, inning over.

Commercial Break Must be time for a fit cartoon bird break to bring the spirits up:

Mets 8th - Kinney staying out for the 8th. This is the inning to do it if the Mets are going to do anything the rest of this game. Beltran, Delgado and Wright.

3-2 to Beltran - checked swing, called strike three. They say it was a beautiful pitch. Four outs to go.

Delgado up. 4:11 in the morning, Delgado swings and misses, 1-2. Mets have left 6 men on, half of them in the first few innings when they could've made Weaver pay. Delgado rips it foul. Full count now. Each pitch makes Mets more and more desperate. Willie will have to manage Game 6 like it's Game 7. Delgado is on with an infield hit.

Hookay! Time for David Wright to snap the slump and tie it...0 for 3 in the game so far. Where's that traditional late-inning magic now?

Count even on Wright. Kinney's location not where it was earlier. Ripped down the left field line, Wright is on at second. One man out, tying run in scoring position! That's it for Kinney. Oh, love the silence of that crowd. La Russa going with a lefty from the pen to face Shawn Green.

Randy Flores coming in. 10.93 ERA with runners in scoring position this season. Green hit .267 against lefties this year.

Green loops it to center but Edmonds grabs it and the runners hold. Two outs for Valentin hitting right handed. La Russa not taking any chances, he's going to his closer already. Double switch. Adam Wainwright coming in. Quick glance shows lefties hitting .301 against him and righties hitting .182 against him. Curious.

Valentin batting from the left side but wow, weak swing, good pitch, 0-2 count. Wainwright steps off the mound twice in a row, 2-2 count. Valentin breaks bat on foul ball. Curve ball, called strike three. Fucketyfuckfuck.

Commercial Break

Cardinals 8th - Mota in for Mets. In dunno, does it matter if he gets them down 1-2-3 or let's another 10 runs score? For me, only because if the Cardinals score 10 runs, I won't be able to listen to the rest of the game before work. It's already 4:33 am. Miles gets a triple with a head first slide into third. Shawn Green fell asleep a little out there. Eckstein at the plate - a squeeze?

Suicide squeeze bunted foul.

Inning over eventually. Last chance for the Mets.

Commercial Break For Prayer For the Mets


Chavez, PH and then Reyes...I guess it's not utterly hopeless. Still what are the chances they put two men on again like after they blew their chances last inning?

Chavez - bunt effort, called strike two. Ground out.

Cliff Floyd coming up for the first time since Game One. Whattaya think, a little rusty not to mention injured? Desperation, I smell thee. Even if he gets on, Willie will have to replace him with a pinch runner. Basically, he's only of use with a homer. Floyd retired - Pujols didn't bother tossing it Wainwright.

Reyes up. Last hope. And not much of one at that. 46,496 in the crowd. Reyes dejected in batter's box for being fooled so badly. Swung on and missed, strike three.

Time to smash up some furniture. Just before five in the morning.