16.10.06

GAME FOUR: 6TH INNING AWAKENING

This morning marks a very rare opportunity for the Army, a chance to see the Mets on the telly rather than imagining them through the internet radio waves. The UK's fifth terrestrial channel shows live or quasi-live broadcasts of what is usually ESPN's Sunday Night baseball game all season and this morning, it is the FOX Channel live broadcast of Game Four of the Mets-Cardinals series.

Thus for the first time all season I'll be watching a Mets game in the comfort of the living room, just like the rest of America and jotting handwritten, illegible notes as the game goes on.



Unfortunately, I awake from my late night nap a little tardy and it's already the bottom of the first inning, 0-0 when I click it on.

St Louis 1st - Carlos Delgado drops the throw with Pujols coming up knowing Pujols hits Ollie Perez well and the first thing to imagine is jesus, we've got that kid out there starting his first playoff game ever and get the veterans, knowing what a dodgy proposition Perez is going to be all night at least give him some solid bloody defence in support? Visions of a two-run shot by Pujols dissipate...

FIRST THING you would notice about this broadcast is that when the inning ends and FOX goes to whatever horrific commercial they're going to torture the audience with, the UK broadcast goes to a dark little studio booth where one yank and one brit are sat, discussing strategy and events rather than having to go to commercial.



Mets 2nd - Valentin up after Green and I'm trying to calculate how that many Mets got to the plate in the first without scoring a single run...Valentin is 2 for 10 in the post season. FOX notes that this is the first time since 1993 that both starting pitchers of a playoff game are pitching their first postseason ever - last time it was Wilson Alvarez v Pat Hengten. Unfortunately the graphic doesn't tell you what happened or what it means for this game.

Does Valentin get fooled by Reyes' changeup or is he just a fool at the plate? Still, this telly thing is amazing. Closeup watching the changeup rotation.

Endy Chavez gets on so at least Reyes won't start the next inning having to face just the pitcher. Perez is 4 for 38 from the plate and proceeds to look almost as confused as Valentin. And hey, another nifty FOX graphic - this is the worst combined winning percentage of any duel in playoff history! (3-13) - and you wonder how two pitchers with a combined 3-13 record are out on the mound for the most important game of the series to date...Reyes goes 3-1 in the count on Perez, yeah - walks the pitcher! And now we'll have Reyes v Reyes...graphic shows that Jose "likes singing and making music in his spare time." are they fecking kidding with this? Of Reyes the pitcher's first 48 pitches (and hell, this is still only the 2nd inning) 24 balls, 24 strikes. Reyes the batter gets fooled badly, going to see the St Louis bullpen early regardless with such a high pitch count so early. Mets have now gone 14 innings without scoring a run.

*****

During commercial break, back in the UK they show hightlights of Game 3, my first glimpse of the little red soul patch of Spiezio, who is hitting .700 in the postseason for his career. Is that for real? And looking at Jeff Suppan shutting down the Mets highlight I can't help but imagine he looks like a gay Mario Lopez when he's smiling. Tried to google image of "Jeff Suppan smiling" and nothing came up. Won't bother sticking Mario Lopez's image up then. Trust me though, for that millisecond, the smiling Jeff Suppan looked like Mario Lopez playing this gay guy in Nip and Tuck...

*****

St Louis 2nd - Rolen, the leadoff hitter gets on base. I listen to FOX broadcasters, who are category three somnambulists and as boring as watching an auld man's ear hairs grow, talk for the hundreth time about how good Ollie Perez pitched two years ago as if the subsequent two years of mediocrity will just vanish and this auld Ollie Perez will reappear in his place. Why don't they just hold a bloody seance? Come back, Ollie Perez from two years ago, come back....

Ok, getting a grip on FOX booth - Buck the idiot I remember going crazy a few years back when Randy Moss pretended to moon the Green Bay crowd and acted as though Moss had just opened fire on them with a gat instead of tauting them. Douchebag number one. And Tim McCarver, folksy muppet with nothing interesting to say. Lastly, an ex-player who sounds like he should be doing professional wrestling rants (later I discover this is who, Buck Martinez?)...

Belliard is 1 for 10 in the series. He doesn't LOOK like a baseball player. Chubby little kid who would be made fun of anywhere else but the baseball field. Looks like he's got Medusa locks coming out from underneath his batting helmet. But he drops one in that Beltran just misses in centerfield because Beltran was playing him too deep. Why are you playing someone who is 1 for 10 that deep? Runners on first and third now, Molina coming to the plate with his .425 batting average with RISP in the post season. .348 with 3 RBIs in postseason overall. Anyone else worried? Ok, he smashes one down the 3rd base line and the Cardinals score first, 1-0. This could get out of hand quickly but Endy Chavez throws out Belliard at third base. What was Belliard thinking?? Why do you run yourself out of a rally with a sad sack like Perez pitching against you? Ohhhh, golden opportunity blown by idiot Cardinal. Thank christ. Rally killer Belliard. Now the pitcher is coming up. Cardinals just shot themselves in the foot...

Commercial break in the UK Studio analysis: Reyes threw the changeup alot in the 1st inning but then made adjustments because he threw more fastballs to set up the changeup in the second. Perez on the other hand, made no adjustments. He didn't use the slider versus Molina when it had worked so well against Belliard...

Mets 3rd - Mets' bat boy is handed the phone in the dugout, a call from the bullpen - next shot shows everyone laughing it up in the Mets bullpen. That's a good sign - they're relaxed at least...

BELTRAN TIES THE GAME WITH HOMER! Bang, just like that, his 6th homer versus Cardinal pitching in 11 games. And all that after they'd just shown him looking like an idiot with his bullfighter/golfer outfit...Mets scoreless streak is over!

Count is 3-0 on Delgado - the camera man is still preoccupied with the coffee supply in the Mets dugout, or lack thereof after Beltran goes for a shot. I didn't know baseball players drank coffee in the dugout. Sure, I can imagine an auld man like LaRussa needing a little caffeine dose as the game goes past his bedtime but Beltran? He just hit a homer for crissakes, what does he need caffeine for. Must be something else besides coffee. But what? It isn't Gatorade, that's in a clearly marked container. Maybe it's tea. Or beer.



WRIGHT BLASTS ONE OUTTAHERE, 2-1 METS! His first hit of the series is a homer. 0 for 10 before that. Looks like the Mets are waking up. Maybe it IS coffee after all...A fastball right down the pipe.

Latest FOX blurb makes me wonder why Shawn Green is nicknamed Gumby. They must be making it up, just to make Shawn Green seem interesting. Every time I see a photograph of him that isn't missing a fly ball in the outfield, he has this serious, pensive look on his face like he's some tormented teenage intellectual. Reyes has given up 17 homers in 85 1/3 innings...now they tell us...Green gets foiled by a changeup, inning over.

UK studio analysis- Our yank in the studio disagrees with Tim McCarver about Reyes falling in love with the changeup. He says instead that it's merely a matter of pitch LOCATION not pitch selection and then goes to show where the pitches were thrown, where the catcher wanted it...Of course, finding McCarver is talking out of his arse is nothing special, is it?

Cardinals 3rd - I predict a 1 run lead for Ollie will never be enough. Then he throws a great slider that makes Eckstein look like a chump. Eckstein then fouls a pitch off his ankle/left shin. I'll bet It's the Mets for Me loved that one considering how much they hate watching Eckstein run out base on balls to first.

ARE THE RED WHITE AND BLUE GRAPHICS just because it is FOX doing the broadcasting? Do they do this on ESPN too? I don't remember. Is this the ultimate patriot channel humming some sweet auld patriot slogans for us and blinding us with the colours of oil and blood? (Sorry, I'm just having a flashback from the past...)

4 pitch walk to Spiezio to set up Pujols. Trouble brewing...but then Pujols smashes it to Reyes who catches it and drops it on purpose to try and get the DP. Everyone has a good chuckle. Really bad acting job the way he just sets it down like that. Clever though. Maybe if he works on his acting along with his singing in the offseason he'll get it down better...But there goes Encarnacion with an RBI triple in the gap between Beltran and Green to tie the game. 3 innings pitched for Ollie, 2 runs surrendered by innings end. I'll take it. This isn't as bad as I imagined it might be.

Mets 4th- Why does LaRussa wear shades in the dugout at night? Has this been addressed already? He looks like an auld blind man. What's next a seeing eye dog in the dugout? Maybe that's pitching coach Dave Duncan's job. Seeing eye dog...pitching from the stretch versus pitching from a windup for Reyes...someone is shouting encouragement to Valentin in Spanish that the sound picks up. Someone in the Mets dugout or Pujols taking the piss from first? Ball Four! Nice one. Valentin hitting 0 for his life and Reyes walks him. Reyes' 4th walk in 3 innings pitched.

Ollie looks to bunt Valentin forward. His bunting effort looks like a cricket batsman. But he's crap at it and with two strikes, swings away. Then he falls all over himself swinging and missing. What an ugly swing. He should have stayed with the bunting pose. So he doesn't help himself at all, the twat. Reyes coming up to face Reyes for the 3rd time...nothing...

UK studio comments at commercial break: Expressing shock that Ollie Perez is going to pitch another inning. Willie has big ones they say. A shout out to Silas Simmons, baseball's auldest old timer. 111 years old?? Jesus.

Cards 4th - Reyes' windup was apparently tipping pitches, so LaRussa says - how can he see anything with those sunglasses on? In any event, Reyes is finished for the night. Perez surrenders a 1 out single to Belliard and then nearly throws wild to 1st to pick him off. Is Ollie rattled or tiring? Another pitch goes wild. Perez must be tiring fast. Then he throws a good 95 mph pitch, maybe not...A DP would end the inning and negate pinch hitter for Reyes and put a pitcher up to start the Cardinals next inning...

But Belliard steals second - LoDuca had the throw there in time but the muppet Valentin can't bring himself to make the bloody tag! What is this?

Why is Chris Duncan pinch hitting for pitcher when he's only hitting .091?

Then Valentin makes up for his muppet no-tag with a brilliant play to end the inning.

UK studio break - they get David Lengel on the trans-Atlantic blower. For those of you who don't know him, he's the smartass guy who used to do the yank in studio for the baseball games over here before they brought the genius yank over with the mind for stats. Lengel used to crack me up with his sarcasm and taking the piss out of the brit in the studio but somehow, they got rid of him or he got sick of eating fucking bangers and mash and had to go home for some real food. He's in NYC right now, the lucky bastid. He says the Mets are looking like the Yankees right now. Not moving runners and parallels with the Yankee series against Detroit. Win Game One, nearly take Game 2 just to lose it, series spiralling out of control...

Mets 5th - Meat of the order up to face Brad Thompson, who looks vaguely like he has Down Syndrome. Belliard boots a sure out by LoDuca and there is Beltran at the plate looking to...BUNT?! $119 million over 7 years to hit, not to bunt, says our boy genius, Tim McCarver. Might have to agree with that one...Then Beltran straightens up and hits a proper single. Good timing. Delgado up and I wonder where is FOX red white and blue graphics for Delgado's batting average against pitchers with Down Syndome....


Brad Thompson

Stephane Ginnsz, a 12 year old actor with Down Syndrome

*****

BOOOOOOOM! CARLOS DELGADO THREE RUN HOMER! 5-2 LEAD!



Wow, Delgado! I can't let myself get too excited though - his three run shot in Game Two didn't work wonders for the Mets and the Mets will still have Ollie Perez on the mound when this is over...still, I want to believe this is a momentum shift.

Down Syndome Thompson gets no one out and is surgically removed by blind man LaRussa. FOX goes to commercial again.

*****

During the break I want to see if this is an overused cliché, this Brad Thompson Down Syndome thing and surprisingly, I see no other references to it. Am I hallucinating in the wee hours of the morning? So giddy from getting to watch baseball on the television that I'm imagining it all? Instead what I find are references to Brad Thompson and shopping, innuendo about his sexuality. Scrolling down a reference from a deadspin padres v cardinals live playoff blog I see why:


Is there such a thing as Gay Down Syndome? How many strikes can you get?

Hoo haaa, where is Steve Lyons when you need him? Oops, that's right. Sacked for making fun of who, Lou Piniella or all hispanics, I'm still not sure who the insult was directed at.

Ok, it's giddiness over Carlos Delgado's shot, I'm certain, I'll try to calm down and just remember that Ollie Perez will be taking the mound again eventually so no lead is too big.

*****

Randy Flores is on the mound for the Cardinals now. Oh! Buffoonery in the outfield! Scattered boos show there is life after all in the yuppified St Louis home crowd. Cardinals 2nd error of the inning. And now there's two men on but Mets have been wretched hitting with men in scoring position so far this series. Banging out homers, sure. Extended rallies? Tough one. No one in the Cardinals bullpen if they load the bases with Chavez...1st and 3rd, two outs, Oliver Perez to the plate?

Willie must REALLY want to rest his bullpen. C'mon, here's your chance to build on the lead and here is Willie letting his pitcher hit in a key situation again. It's not like Ollie is going to shut the Cardinals down the rest of the way. Every pitch he throws is potentially a big bang. And look at that swing! Wild swing. He shouldn't bother swinging again, IMHO. Just stand there with the bat on his shoulders and pray for a walk. But no, Ollie swings on 3 and 2, missing wildly. Jesus, has this guy ever held a bat in his hand before tonight? Ok, he's just a pitcher but c'mon. He's still a professional baseball player for the luvvachrist.
It's a 5-2 lead but who knows what horror Ollie has in store for us in the bottom of the frame? I'd have the bullpen up and firing already. Then again, I'd not have let Ollie hit either...

Cardinals 5th inning - Chad Bradford loosening up. Thank christ. Someone showing some sense finally. Eckstein homers and it's 5-3. Here we go. Eckstein homers? How does that happen? He hit two homers all bloody season before this. Wonder who they were off of, Steve Trachsel?

Looking forward to hearing Willie justify why he let Ollie hit for himself in the 5th. But look! Spiezio K's badly. Willie interviewed between innings says: "Ollie is throwing the ball well, so far so good..." Wow, those FOX reporters sure know how to make a manager squirm. They never ask him why the hell a guy like Ollie is hitting for himself with a man on first and third when Ollie will be lucky to hold this lead...Woooo! Ollie Ks Pujols who swings through a bad ball. Maybe Willie is a feckin genius after all.

And Ollie does the business, down go the Cards without further damage. I take it all back, Willie. You're brill. Then again, PH for Ollie last inning and it might be 7-2 or 8-2 instead of 5-3. Time will tell, but Willie's faith is rewarded.

Commerical paws:

Just because it's between innings, it must be time for a fit bird break:



Mets 6th

Josh Hancock, 3rd reliever for the Cards in. Reyes and LoDuca coming up but are a combined 0 for 6 so far tonight...Interesting FOX comment: Reyes' 60 stolen bases and 80 RBIs - Joe Morgan is the only other player to do that since World War Two. It makes me wonder what happened before World War Two...(so of course, I gotta look it up...) - Rickey Henderson never did that? Nope. But it looks like Ty Cobb did it FIVE TIMES. Must be why they threw in the "since World War Two" bit...

*****

Reyes leads off the 6th with a base hit. LoDuca hitting .219 for the series. No stolen bases for Reyes yet in the NLCS. Hit and run! LoDuca slaps it through the hole, runners on first and third no outs.

Beltran up. Goes from 0 balls 2 strikes to a full count...and then walks to load the bases for guess who...CARLOS DELGADO!!

Yes! Ground rule double, 5 RBIs for Delgado in the game, 7-3!!

Spiezio looked like a bewildered red-bearded goat trying to chase that one down. Still, probably would've been a GRD either way.

The bases are loaded again STILL with no outs. Hancock is leaving the game - 5 batters up, none out.

UK Studio break - Whilst America is watching some commercial for the 700th time, over here, they take the break to "explain" the ground rule double rule. I'm sorry but if you're awake at 3 am to watch this bloody match, I think you know baseball well enough to know what a bloody ground rule double is...However, we get the bonus explanation of Carlos Delgado's hips and how he keeps them in place until the last second which is what gives him his great opposite field power. Interesting.

*****

Lefty Tyler Johnson, 4th reliever for the Cards, running that bullpen down to the nub tonight. Up to now, opposing batters have hit 1 out of 27 with runners in scoring position against the Cardinals bullpen. That's all coming to an end very quickly. Five of Delgado's six hits in this series have been to left field and all for extra bases.

Green bloops a single, 8-3

Six batters up and none out. Valentin up.

Another hit! Three run double! 11-3! Holy shit!

Wow, with a lead like this, maybe even Ollie Perez can hold it and stay in longer, give the Mets bullpen and even better rest...

Sarcastic cheers from the St Louis crowd when the 8th batter to the plate is finally out. Bitter little yuppies. This is just like Game Two at Shea when the home bullpen blew the game. Now its the turn of the Cardinals bullpen. Fair play, everyone is vulnerable.

With the score 11-3 I can't help but wonder what the biggest blown lead is in the history of postseason baseball. Maybe I better not think about it...although an 8 run lead should be sufficient. Reyes, up for the 2nd time this inning. Edmonds makes a great catch running into the wall to end the inning. 24 minute inning. 3:30 AM now. Think I'll blow off work on Monday. Open a bottle of cider. Wonder if Edmonds has hurt himself again by running into the wall. He's got cajones, that lad. Didn't he concuss himself a few weeks/months ago doing something similar? No fear.

CARDS 6th - Guess Edmonds isn't hurt. He homers to make it 11-4. How's that for a great sequence. A running catch to rob Reyes of certain extra bases, slam into the wall, get up, jog back into dugout, come out to hit and smack a homer. Edmonds is okay in my book. The only Cardinal who doesn't make me sick so far.

Molina makes it 11-5! Well well. Ollie is busy trying to blow an 8 run lead. He's thrown over 90 pitches but he just needs one out to get out of the inning alive.

Note - So many blondes in the Cardinals home crowd. It's like watching a football match in Germany. Is it something in that crappy beer they drink in St Louis?

Willie's seen enough. (finally) Ollie did the business though. A clutch performance. More than you could say for John Maine or Steve Trachsel. But that's been the Mets all season. Unlikely performances from unlikely players sandwiched around steady greatness from the players you expect it from.

Now I've just considered something awful. Game Seven, if there is one, would probably have Trachsel starting for the Mets. That sounds horrific on the surface but there's a certain symmetry involved. Trachsel started the game the Mets clinched the NL East and also started the game the Mets clinched the NLDS. Why not start the game the Mets clinch the National League pennant?

Willie got quite animated with Ollie in the dugout after he pulled him. Tough love?

Here comes the rain!

But Chad Bradford on the mound for the Mets. Do you think Ollie isn't the most relieved guy in the stadium right now? Imagine how terrified he must have been knowing the Mets season was riding on his performance and now it's over and not only did he not humiliate himself, he kept the Mets in the game long enough for them to tear up the Cardinals' bullpen.

Mets 7th - Looper pitching garbage time. How apropos. Of all the guys in the pen you'd think would gag up 8 Met runs, Looper was probably the best candidate and here he is, mopping up.

BELTRAN HOMERS AGAIN, 12-5!

This ties him with Babe Ruth for most postseason homers against the Cardinals with 7. Amazing. He's on base in all 5 at-bats tonight. Making up for David Wright's somnambulism. Wright is hitting .083 in the NLCS.

*****

It's late, kids. It's really late, the game is in the bag and my eyes are getting droopy. I'll just ease on over to the sofa and have a quick lie down for the 7th inning stretch and....

6 comments:

dado said...

What a great comeback for the Mets! I feel stupid now for doubting. Well, it's time to be excited again. Steve Trachsel pitching game seven though? That would make me gag.

Jaap said...

Maybe we'll be lucky enough that his leg will still be too sore to pitch and then we can look forward to another nerve-racking Ollie performance. Then again, maybe Darren Oliver can pitch Game 7. Or if there are enough rain outs in between, Tom Glavine...Either way, the Mets are looking better off today than they were yesterday.

sanchez said...

What gives? You haven't even got Carlos Delgado listed in your NLCS MVP box?!!

Itsmetsforme said...

"Sarcastic cheers from the St Louis crowd when the 8th batter to the plate is finally out. Bitter little yuppies."

funny-i interpreted those as real cheers from the Ned Flanders crowd. i dont think irony made it to this part of the country.

Great post, made me laugh as usual, but then again, I don't have down syndrome.

Jaap said...

Sorry, no Delgado listing in the MVP box (because it's too obvious or because I was too busy trying to remember the names of Cardinals players?) I'll try and fix that.

Itsmetsforme, yeah, mebbe you're right - too unsophisticated a crowd to recognise irony. On the other hand, maybe it had nothing to do with the game at all, just coincidental happenstance that at that very moment, the PA announcer had just offered free bratwurst to every Cardinal fan who was still awake...

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