Mets Win In Spite Of Distractions
Piazza, befuddled as always in his catcher's garb, lost without his bat.
The partisans at Shea must have run out of worry and concern about the conclusion of this season for the Mets. What else could have explained the intense distraction fans appeared to feel about the return of Mike Piazza after his exile to San Diego in February?
But more befuddling than cheering on an ex-Met now playing on the other side, their sentimentality appears to have gotten the best of them in the most delusional of ways.
Was it only last season that Mike Piazza started a roadtrip by getting an autograph from Rush Limbaugh, (his main political influence), then compared the experience of meeting Rush Limbaugh to meeting George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or the pope. Bad enough, but then Piazza went on a 0 for 9 tear with six strikeouts and hit into a double play.
Instead of showering the field with Rosh Limbaugh bobbleheads and booing a suspect selfishness, Shea fans clapped and screamed his name like schoolgirl rock groupies during a pregame highlight montage and then stood in unison for his first at-bat, which quite naturally, was a strikeout. Three times he stepped from the box and then tipped his hat to the crowd. Typical Piazza. His team locked in a race for the postseason and he's tipping his cap to opponents' fans.
Have these loathsome years of mediocrity and selfishness been forgotten?
Have all those three-hop throws to second base been repressed in the memory? The candid selfish refusal to try and learn first base properly and instead stick stubbornly to being the worst defensive catcher in baseball regardless of what it meant to the team?
Who could ever forget one of baseball's All-Time Worst Hairstyles?
Piazza, forever playing with hairstyles and shaping facial hair in a frightening, Mariah Careyish sort of way, returned to New York with a newly shaped goatee for the occasion. "New York is New York and I'll always cherish what it meant to me," said Piazza of the slavish outpouring of Shea emotion. That's bloody brilliant. New York is New York.
I'll grant that back in '98 when we got him for Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall it felt like a franchise-changing moment - finally a superstar who wasn't past his prime by the time we got him.
And I'll grant that he finished behind only the polemical Darryl Strawberry in careet Met homers, that he hit .296 in 972 games for us with the highest slugging percentage of any Met ever.
Perhaps that merited a few desultory chants his way by subversive fans but this massive, unrequited infatuation for a man who put his record for homeruns for a catcher above the good of his team should not be forgotten because the Army's memory is short. The euphoria of 1998 is a long way away and what's left is the bitter taste of so very many miscues, is the final three years of his Met career, the three years too long that soured so many of us on him and perhaps had he left back in 2003 before it all went pear-shaped, it might be said that Piazza deserved last night's outpouring. But not any longer.
And besides, there was a game on after all.
The Game Face of the season - Trachsel winning ugly.
There was Steve Trachsel pitching with a coherency that bordered on mellifluous at times; 5 2/3 innings, 97 pitches, 5 hits, a pair of runs surrendered via homerun to Geoff Blum, etc. What is truly amazing about Trachsel's season is that in spite of an ERA that currently stands at a bloated 5.03, his record is a deceptive 11-5.
After Trachsel's second inning gopherball put the Mets in the hole 2-0, they loaded the bases in the bottom half of the frame with none out for wunderkind Lastings Milledge.
I know David Wright is the new poster boy of the Mets and Milledge appears more likely chum for trade bait but here was Lastings' chance to set the record straight. Instead, he hit into a double play that still managed to score a run and went 0-4 on the night with a pair of strikeouts. He is hitting .217 for the season and .150 since being called up to the team after the Nady trade. Nady meanwhile, is hitting a healthy .308 for the Pirates.
And then of course, Wright himself stepping into the limelight with three hits and two runs driven in. Carlos Beltran, who must have been envious of Piazza's ovations for all the cat calls he's heard in his brief spell here, hit three doubles on the night.
Royce Ring continued to yearn for Norfolk, surrendering a walk and a hit in a third of an inning. Meanwhile everyone save for Heilman seemed to make an appearance out of the bullpen that finally concluded with Billy Wagner recording his 25th save of the season. And please note I wrote "recorded" rather than "earned" his save for by giving up a walk and a hit in the 9th hanging on to a one-run lead, Wagner did none of the elderly fans with rough tickers any favours by making it an easy close. He never does.
And lost in all the hoopla over Piazza was Mike Cameron's return to Shea as well. Cameron, patrolling his beloved centerfield, is hitting .262 on the season and appears to have satisfactorily recovered from last season's collision with Beltran.
Count me out of the plauditing masses over the signing of Rickie Ledee off the waiver wire. Ledee appeared in 43 games with the Dodgers this season, batting .245 with five doubles, a home run and eight RBIs in a mere 53 at-bats. He's a former Yankee and a former Phillie and his inclusion might mean the debarcation of belovd Eli Marrero from the squad. Boooo.
Paul Lo Duca is swathed in controversy now - wife filing for divorce in June over cries of infidelity (what, a baseball player being unfaithful to his wife?!) and more ominous still, a rumoured gambling debt.
"I have no gambling debts," he pandered to the thirsty media whores. "I like horses. I own horses. I own thoroughbreds. I breed them. It's something I want to do. It's my love."
Lo Duca did admit betting on horses, but therein lies no crime. "I do bet on horses, legally," he said. "I have an online account, legally. I have no gambling debts, no past debts that were paid. All those allegations are false. That's all I have to say."
Good enough for me. But looking at his output since the All Star game, I'm rather liking how much these distractions off field have appeared to help his performance on field. And speaking of distractions, how do you cheat on a bird that looks like this?
(via The Wade Blogs) - forget Anna Benson indeed.
Forza Lo Duca!