The Army's Fave Mets Highs and Lows 2008

Before we wake up in a pile of our own sick sometime around 11 am on the first day of 2009, it might be a good time to have a quick look 'round at the Highlights and Lowlights of another miserable season, 2008.

But first, a mini photo montage:

The return of the rollercoaster, number one favourite photo of the season....

Jose makes the crazy, Who Me Choke? face, yet again.

Hey Jose, don't look now but it's September!

Remember this Jose Bonehead Brainfart Against the Phillies in July?

What a minute, how about Bonehead getting picked off against the Yank-Mes in June?

Need More Oxygen To Point to the Sky!

Frame It! Castillo Actually Awake During a Game, Though Barely...

Yup, Head Still Attached to Neck...

The Hall of Fame of Mediocre Mets Managers

Look familiar? Another Blown Game By Schoeneweis

Don't Worry Oliver, Soon enough you'll be pitching like crap for even more money!

What a relief you're gone!

Mr Met Concussion, 2008

Yeessss, give Mr Mediocre More Money!

Praying to the Scott Boras Gods

Carlos Beltran does his Endy Chavez impersonation

But doesn't always land safely to Earth.

The Auld Men Whoop It Up


1. 21/5/08: Mets Crash To Earth: Willie's bizarre comments on racism and Mets swept by Braves in Doubleheader

2. 7/5/08: Kuo Helps Kill Mets Again: Dodgers Kong-Chih Kuo beat them again, striking out 8 of the 13 Mets he faced, like last years, stare at your homer moment by the same Kong.

3. 9/6/08: Four Games Four Losses Mets swept by the lowliest of Padres.

4. 29/9/08 Chooooooooke: Mets complete another collapse.

5. 31/8/08: Stupid 101 Don't Intentionally Walk The Bases Loaded another Jerry Manuel crazy decision.


1. 30/1/08 Omar You're Beautiful: Mets Sign Johan.

2.. 6/12/08: K-Rod Is A Met

3. 26/9/08: Wow: Mets come from behind victory over the Cubs.

4. 13/5/08: Softball Girls Beat Mets: Not a highlight for the loss but certainly for Nelson Figueroa's memorable remarks.

5. 17/6/08: RIP Willie: Finally, Willie punches his Mets clock for the last time.

(bonus track)

6. 18/7/08 Winning Streak to 10: Mets tied for first place after incredible 10th win in a row.


What We Will Now Never Get For Xmas

One of the sickly sad things immediately following the second consecutive Mets September collapse was not just the collapse itself but the gargantuan wish list many Mets fans produced as a result.

I had to stop listening to the FAN after those first few games, reliving the bitterness and hearing the Mets needed to immediately sign CC, K-Rod and Manny.

It did cross my mind early yesterday when reading that Mark Teixeira suitors like the Angels and the Red Sox were dropping out of the Sweepstakes that it was plenty similar to the early chase for Johan last season and how the Mets swooped in at the last minute, unexpectedly, to surprise baseball with the trade that changed the Mets' rotation.

And admittedly, I did allow a little crumb of hope that Omar would do something similar this season with Teixeira; swoop in at the last minute with a double move, trading Carlos Delgado to the Angels in return for a few draft picks and simultaneously announcing the signature of Tex to a Mets contract.

Instead, of course it was the Yankees' turn this season to pick up the pieces of an unfinished race to grab a top player.

Of course the Steinbrenners appear to have escaped losing $100 million in the Madoff Swindle like Fred Wilpon, so they probably had a little extra loose cash lying around.

Similarly, the sponsors of the new Yankees Stadium didn't need a $300 BILLION bailout to save themselves.

Psst. Got some cheap wine for sale, Metsies...

So whilst the Mets signed K-Rod and traded for JJ Putz, got rid of Schoeneweis, Aaron Heilman and Joe Smith to strengthen their most glaring weakness, the Yankees signed CC, A.J. Burnett and now, Teixeira - basically three of the biggest free agents available.

And yes, the Mets needed the bullpen rebuilt, badly. But equally, they'll need another starter and could badly use one more righty bat at the plate.

So don't kid yourself thinking you wouldn't have wanted that to the be the Mets swooping in for Tex, a first baseman for the future, a switch hitting, great fielding contact hitter with a great eye for Delgado, a rapidly ageing strikeout and double play machine with alot of question marks.

Don't kid yourself thinking you'd rather see the Mets sign the schitzophrenic Oliver Perez instead of Derek Lowe just to save a few bucks.

No, money doesn't buy pennants and the Yankees might be just as disappointing next year as they were last year.

But be honest: you'd rather see Tex in a Mets kit instead of Delgado, wouldn't you?

The combination of C.C. and Johan would have been mouth-watering.

Instead, it's going to be a rebuilt bullpen, a mediocre starting rotation and a likely repeat of Delgado's disappearing act in the middle of the lineup next summer.


I saw this and my first thought was wow, how good IS this Wilmer Flores kid anyway?

I have to admit two things:

1. I know sweet f.a. about him. Don't know if he's cocky or quiet, flashy or steady, intelligent or a bufoon.
2. I started salivating at the thought of ridding ourselves of The September Chokemeister, Jose Reyes.

I have to admit, hearing the effete Phillies pitcher Bimbo Cole Hamels talk about how much everyone hated Reyes' cockiness and sky-pointing in meaningless moments I remembered back to that Marlins debacle in Game 161 of 2007 and Jose's cockiness causing thoughts of revenge by the Marlins.

I started to think about this kid Reyes and how the cockiness translated to chokiness the last two Septembers and wondering what kind of man sticks out his chest or points his finger to the sky in meaningless moments yet chokes like a bloody dog when the games start to matter?

It's no coincidence that Reyes' Septembers mirror the Mets own consecutive collapses.

So yes, I wouldn't mind seeing him gone, If we had a decent replacement ready and If we got a great package in return for him, which one would expect, despite everyone's hatred of him and his history of choking.

I also have to admit I was all for dumping him when he couldn't go 10 games without hurting his hamstrings back when he was first starting out and he did get over that after all. But will time rid of him of his short attention span on the field, a more subtle lack of discipline or his impatience at the plate?

I know, it's too early. Surely this kid Wilmer Flores is nowhere near ready but it gives me something to hope for. The long-awaited Reyes departure.

Of course, that's never going to happen on Omar's watch.

Still, it's fun to dream.

Whilst wondering why the Mets haven't signed former Sox Manny and Lowe yet.

Especially whilst watching the Yankees act like well...you do the maths.

And whatever you are doing over the holidays, don't forget to Measure the Strength of Your Metfandom.

Happy Holidays!


Why Not A Little Pissing And Moaning For A Change of Pace?

Ok, we've all had time to digest the recent flurry of moves Omar put on the rest of baseball (bar the Yankees who defied the times and threw money at anything that moved, outbidding themselves where needed just to feel secure...)and having digested we're perhaps beginning to discover a little too much time on the toilet as a result?

Let's start with K-Rod himself.

Have it, Phillies Wankers...

It's admirable that he's out there shooting off his mouth before he's even found a home in the NYC area for his family.

Sure, K-Rod represents half of the one-two punch Omar has thrown to rejuvinate the Mets rubbish bullpen but let's look at reality for just a tick here...the Phillies, after their leader proclaimed them the team to beat in the Spring of 2007 and even after the Mets team leader proclaimed the Mets the team to beat in the Spring of 2008, won the NL East both times and of course, the World Championship in '08, deservedly or not.

So claiming to be the team to beat, you have to admit, rings a little hollow, sounds a wee bit unrealistic in the face of facts, like someone coming in from the AL West might sound to the the trained NL East ear. I would like to hear the Mets keep their mouths shut this season, keep their throats unrestricted by any kind of choking motions or sounds and go out and win the World Series in 2009.

I mean new faces or not, the credibility of the Mets after two consecutive seasons barking out at shadows whilst the Phillies were taking it all is well, comical almost. They're skating on thin ice as it is.

Yeah, that's right because while I'm thinking of it, I'm starting to get bitter all over again.

So I don't want K-Rod, no matter how well intended, talking smack about being the team to beat when just the thought makes half the team collapse in choking fits and wind themselves so tight they'll all have pulled muscles and trousers stained by urine from pissing themselves in terror before even reporting to Spring Training.

And I don't want any other Met thinking he's got to show some leadership by talking smack about being the team to beat.

Let's be clear. The Mets are NOT the team to beat. They will not be the team to beat unless they win the World Series. That's it. Everyone just laughs at us.

It kind of reminds me of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the the Black Knight gets his arms and legs cut off by King Arthur but refuses to concede defeat whilst left lying there on the ground trying to pretend "it's only a flesh wound". Mets choke like dogs last two seasons? Pshaw, nothing. We're the team to beat.

Making it worse perhaps, I've only recently discovered that K-Rod comes out to close games to this rubbish song called Sandungueso signalling his entry:

Sung by this Puerto Rican lad who sings/plays something called Reggaeton music, which has its origins in Panama and in the instant case, played for a Venezuelan. Gonna be a weird summer.


Ok, onward to the set-up guy who came over as part of a 12-player, 3-team deal, the cream of the deal, J.J. Putz.

Still feel good about this, even when I'm trying to feel cynical. I mean to get rid of Heilman AND get a guy like Putz not to be your closer but just your bloody set-up man, well, that's quite a coup.

This is what they said in Seattle Times afterwards, which I think is most telling:

"As necessary as it was, losing Putz hurts. When healthy, he is one of the best closers in baseball. He was also the sea of tranquillity in the Mariners' dysfunctional clubhouse.

But a lockdown closer like Putz loses his value on a 101-loss team like the Mariners. They got seven players for him, and they need quantity as well as quality.

Maybe the most intriguing player in this trade is Aaron Heilman, a 2001 first-round draft pick once considered one of the gems of the Mets' pitching staff.

After a string of blown saves, Heilman practically got booed out of Flushing, but he still has a talented arm. And he's only 30. Heilman wants to be a starter, and far away from the barking dogs of Shea, maybe he can relax and enjoy the game again.

So they know Putz is still good and they blame booing and not getting to be a starter for Heilman's lack of success. "Away from the barking dogs of Shea", I like that. I think I'm going to use that as an excuse, even though I'm nowhere near Shea. It can be an excuse in many languages:

Tengo que conseguir alejarse de estos perros ladrando de Shea!

Ich muss weg von diesen Bellen von Hunden Shea!


Я должен получить уйти от этих лай собак из Шей

Anyway, I've got a feeling Putz is going to my favourite guy coming out of the pen firstly because he doesn't play some weird salsa/reggae hybrid when he enters the game, he plays a good auld hardcore bit to get everyone pumped up. Secondly because he's going to be all the more effective as a set-up guy with the other team already shitting themselves about facing K-Rod. Could be quite interesting.


Hard not to like seeing Heilman, Schoeneweiss and Smith get swept away in a matter of hours/days.

“We’re happy to acquire Connor Robertson,” Mets General Manager Omar Minaya said in a statement after the Schoeneweiss dump.

You mean, we're happy to get rid of Schoeneweiss?

How can anyone really be happy about acquiring Connor Robertson? He's a 27 year old who barely got up into the Major Leagues last season and when he did, he sucked. I'm not saying he's a bad person or anything but let's be honest, as much as losing Schoeneweiss is addition by subtraction, this addition of Robertson is little more than, oh jeez, at least he'll be closer to his brother David the Effin Yankee.

I mean even this bit by a Diamondbacks article about non-roster-invitees can't even find anything good to say about him:

"There’s no use reposting his major league stats here so we’ll just wish Connor the best of luck."

Is Robertson the sort of guy who could actually make us MISS Schoeneweiss? I hope not.


Lastly, I would be doing my readers a disservice not to drop a few bitter remarks about the abundantly overpaid Luis Castillo still scheduled to be wearing a Mets uniform next season.

Castillo performing his offseason training of sitting up from a lying down position.

3 years, $18 million.

Anytime you want to call Omar a genius just remember that.

"I know he didn't have a good year, I know it's tough for him to come back. But this guy's been an All-Star, and a two-time World Series winner, a .300 hitter for 10 years."

Great, Omar. Let him retire and be proud of his career but for feck's sake, let's not compound the absurdist error of the contract you gave him by keeping him on the team and worse still, making weird suggestions about batting him lead off.

But watch this, mateys. Luis Castillo is going to be the Comeback Kid.

That's my other prediction for 2009 early on, along with I'll never say or even think "goddamnit! Why didn't we sign Oliver Perez to an astronomical, multi-year contract when we had the chance?!".

Luis Castillo fools us all and wins Comeback Player of the Year.

Yeah. Right about the time he stops walking around the bases like Fred Sanford, that is.


To be fair, there is really nothing out there too appealing as far as starters go.

So here's my take on the irony of 2009:

Except in games where Johan pitches, there won't be any leads for the bullpen to blow out there.

I mean, you can just see it, can't you?


Citi Park's Bullpen Just Got Better

What's this, Omar has finally learned the auld one-two, the body blow followed by the uppercut?

Bullpen worries TKO'd?

One day after doing the predictable by signing K-Rod, Omar reaffirmed in part anyway, his reputation as a GM's GM by turning a crazy auld-school three-way trade to net JJ Putz, reliever Sean Green and outfielder Jeremy Reed in exchange for Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez and Joe Smith.

What this means of course is that the number one concern going into the winter meetings, namely a rubbish bullpen, has been in large part alleviated. We might even be able to start breathing again although there's still the issue of a pair of starters, a left fielder and a second baseman to consider as holes waiting to be plugged.

Addition by addition AND addition by subtraction.

So the bullpen worries are pretty much over. Yes, there's a little more tweaking to do but Omar has fixed the biggest problem.

And who isn't happy to see Heilman go? Who was still holding out hope for Joe Smith? Sure, Chavez had a few miraculous graps in the outfield but let's face it, he's a born bench player who isn't the answer to any of the Mets headaches. Jeremy Reed is a cheaper and younger Chavez.

Of course, the move wasn't without a modicum of controversy. Putz, you see, is a closer, not a set-up man and whilst ideally having this one-two punch is Bullpen Beluga for the Mets, if you're JJ Putz, you've been sort of demoted.

"It's not the ideal situation, but having the two of us at the back of the bullpen will be pretty strong. I will not change my approach at all. I will close the game in the eighth and give the ball to [newly acquired closer] Frankie [Rodriguez]." Putz said about the trade.

Well, I'm not looking for controversy or problems where they don't exist but for a guy who succeeded in 91 of 108 his save opportunities over three seasons as a full time closer, 8 of those blown saves were last season alone as he battling with injuries. That minor concern aside, having a bullpen with Eddie Kunz and JJ Putz is bound to produce some late-inning tomfoolery. It also allows Duaner Sanchez and Pedro Feliciano to do less damage in earlier innings rather than giving them chances to blow leads late and means that Scott Schoeneweis is likely on the next bus out of here.

In addition to Putz and K-Rod comes Sean Green, similar to Smith as a specialist against righties although his 8.65 ERA in 24 games after the All-Star break is nothing to break wind about.

So, two days, two great deals, bullpen worries virtually resolved and the radar is now on starting pitching. Jason Marquis is not a number two starter but if it means Schoeneweis lands in Chicago by george I think Omar will have another winner on his hands.

Again I'll have to postpone concerns about the other areas which need strengthening in order for the Mets to overtake the Phillies this season but happily I'll postpone it when the news is so full of big events.

And if this wasn't enough activity there was the feminine-sounding Cole Hamels opening his big pie hole and earning his stripes as new Public Enemy Number One out of Philly by (rightly perhaps) pointing out what a showboat Jose Reyes is and again (rightly) pointing out the Mets are a bunch of choke artists. His first start in the new Citi Park should be interesting although with ticket prices being what they are, the battery-throwers and rabid, vociferous fans have likely been priced out of Citi Park so Hamel will likely be met with polite applause in between mouthfuls of French wine, brie and baguettes.


How I Spent My Mets Sabbatical K-Rod Is A Met

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

from 'The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock' by another expat who lived in England, T.S. Eliot

(editors note: the proverbial ink had barely begun to dry on the opening paragraphs of what was to be my inaugural post upon return from my annual Met sabbatical when suddenly and without warning, just as I was prepared to launch into a bitter tirade about the inactivity of the Mets front office, wham! They go and sign K-Rod. For the sake of purity of art and to symbolise the retroactive nature of offseason bile, the opening paragraphs have been preserved in their original, archaic form...)

Firsly, in closing my mind to most things Mets, yes it has been nice not to have to stew in bitter juices these last three months or so, bashing my head repeatedly against the Holy Wall of Mets Futility.

Waking up to the first fleas of the 2009 Mets season...

Secondly, yes I did make it to NYC, saw the auld Shea, the new Shea (Citi Park or Bankrupt Park or The House That Bailout Money Bought, whatever they're calling it these days) and the Shea that in October was devoid of World Series games.

Now as for the Mets, I see they've been doing nothing. No closers signed, no backbone surgically implanted in the bullpen, no head-turning action. Just quiet. Crickets-in-the-field-at-night sort of quiet.

(Now here of course, the post immediately becomes dated because as we are now aware, the Mets have taken the first step in signing K-Rod quickly, efficiently and economically...of course the cynical take by Newsday should not be missed - yes the gaping hole in the maw of the Mets bullpen has been filled but psst, what about the starters?

I agree.

Ok, I'm delighted Omar has done the no-brainer. A rich club signs the best available free agent to fill the most obvious hole on the team and does so at a reasonable bargain. Whoop.

Let's face it, any Met fan could have done that in his or her sleep.

It was pretty much an obvious move and pretty much the most necessary move of all.

So well done, Omar, for doing the obvious.

All around the world the signing of Francisco Rodriguez was celebrated...

Now, bearing in mind 1 1/2 starters are already gone from the starting rotation and the fact that the rest of the bullpen leading up to this shiny new ace closer is is essence, let's face it folks, a steaming pile of mediocrity, this is like answering only one part of a five-part question.

So, golf clap ended, the Army can now move on, after months of silence, fingers stiff from inactivity, to address the remaining, multiple concerns.

Starter: Pedro is gone. I still say the instant credibility his signing those long years ago gave the Mets was worth every penny. I will still miss his quirky views and I will still be rooting for him, even if he isn't signed by the Mets, to have one last hurrah of a season. Last Spring Training he was everybody's Number Two after Johan. By May, he was nearly forgotten and then by September, a ghost of his former self. For sentimental reasons, if the Mets could bring him back with an incentive-laden Minor League deal, I would applaud this more with great vigor and joy. If not, adios, hombre. You didn't bring us to a World Series but you and hundreds of millions of dollars of free agent cash brought us some respectibility...for awhile....until we choked two years in a row.

Ok, so Pedro is gone, replaced, let's say, by Pelfrey, who shocked and amazed us with his sudden blossoming and Maine, who we expected to do well but who is now going to be recovering from shoulder surgery.

That means the starting rotation is Johan, Pelfrey, an injured Maine and....nothing.

Last season, Oliver Perez in spurts, mind, was a fantastic pitcher and quite often rose to the occasion in games against key rivals. Whilst he was somewhat less erratic than usual, he was still the Jekyll and Hyde of major league starters. Making him more UNappealing is that he is represented by the reptilian Scott Boras which automatically makes his future contract astronimically out of tune with reality.

I'll make my first guarantee of the 2009 season:

No matter if Perez wins 25 games for the Phillies or Braves next season and shuts out the Mets every time he pitches against them, no matter WHO formulates part of the Mets ridiculously skimpy and notoriously ineffective starting rotation next season, I will never find myself writing (or saying aloud) "goddamnit! Why didn't we sign Oliver Perez to an astronomical, multi-year contract when we had the chance?!"

I won't even think it subliminally or dream it some time in mid-July.

I guarantee.

Oliver Perez, don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out. We dont' need you or your inconsistency.

So, with two, if we're lucky, three of the five pitchers of our starting rotation sorted, who would we turn to for replacements?

Now it goes without saying that due to intense interest from many other teams, the glory-hole free agent starters available, the likes of C.C., Derek Lowe, AJ Burnett and Ben Sheets, for example, will not be Mets. Or let's say, shouldn't be Mets. Firstly, the Mets aren't even in the running for CC and don't appear to be willing to toss their hat in on Lowe. Forget about the injury prone Burnett and Sheets, both a waste of money for anything but a two year contract.

What I'd be looking for firstly is an innings-eater who doesn't surrender 8 runs a start. The key of course is to move quickly, make a few signings before the Big Fish sign and other teams become desperate for anybody at any price. Move quickly of course means like, now.

Freddy Garcia once fit that bill, is coming off injury and could be had perhaps even under the radar.

The signing of Jon Garland would not bring tears of joy to anyone's eyes but look, rather than overpay for multi-season mediocrity, this guy has gone at least 190 innings per year for 8 straight years. If Omar moved now, he might get him at a reasonable price. IF his agent is dumb enough to get him signed now, that is, rather than waiting til all the big names fall and Garland begins to look more attractive.

Oddly, one might even root for a trade involving the Cubs getting Jake Peavey because conceivably, this might free up Jason Marquis' availability. Granted, getting Peavey is alot better than retaining Marquis but signing Garland or Garcia along with a sort of Heilman for Marquis trade has a sort of better-than-nothing appeal to it.

Of course the other interesting concept is to finally let Aaron Heilman have his way and give him his big shot at being a starter. This isn't an answer but a fall-back position. Nonetheless, considering his value as a relief pitcher is zero and his trade value hovering in that same neighbourhood, the Mets might just get lucky and find a plug to the rotational hole in this manner. I certainly wouldn't want to rely on it but I'm 100% giving Heilman a chance to redeem himself as a starter.

Now then, before you've been bored to tears by more Stating of the Obvious, I'll save the other moaning, like second base, left field and uh, the bullpen other than the closer for another day. If you're good, maybe even tomorrow.

Until then, K-Rod is a Met. So now we've got the best starter and the best closer and little else in between.


Mets Abandon Playoffs

In a bizarre announcement the Mets decided yesterday to abandon their efforts to advance further in the Second Annual What If The Mets HADN'T Blown It Again fantasy playoffs.

"The season is over," an anonymous team source reported exclusively to Archie Bunker's Army in the wee hours of the morning. "We now believe our participation in some sort of weird 'what if' scenario is actually counter productive to moving forward from the humiliation of a second consecutive September collapse," the anonymous source, head covered by a blue and orange balaklava, reitterated in terse tones.

Later, the Qatar-based Arabic news channel, Al Jazeera, announced receipt of the audio tape purportedly from Mets third baseman David Wright. Portions were broadcast in which Wright bitterly denounced Archie Bunker's Army for furthering the myth that Ollie Perez was capable of the pitching performance alleged to have taken place in Game 3 of the Second Annual What If The Mets HADN'T Blown It Again fantasy playoffs and for insinuating parenthetically or even subliminally that he (Wright) had a history of padding his stats with meaningless hits and empty RBIs, choking repeatedly when the game or season was on the line.

It was further rumoured that the results of Game 4, wherein Pedro turned back the clock and pitched 8 scoreless innings to clinch the series against the Cubs was "so fantastical" that censors feared it might cause temporary insanity in some readers.

Jaap Stijl, author of the aforementioned blog was unavailable for comment but Award-winning author Buzz Bissinger (or someone impersonating him) said "This guy or his stupid blog, whether we like it or not, is the future for Mets fans who find themselves year after year mired in a senseless reality."

Sources close to Stijl insisted the fantasy post season was merely a defence mechanism against he inevitable tide of WFAN callers demanding the Mets sign Manny, K-Rod and CC as the only means of salvaging the franchise.


Delgado's Slam, Perez Gem Lead Mets 4-0

For 7 1/2 tense innings the Mets and supporters at Shea finally had something other than Santana's knee injury to worry about.

True enough, Oliver Perez, in a likely bid for big bucks, pitched last night as he never had before in a Mets uniform despite a pretty decent record against top opponents. A two-hit complete game shut out however, was in danger of being wasted until the decisive 8th.

"Today, that was the real Ollie," Perez said, keeping the inflatable imposter stuffed in his battered suitcase.

"If we can get Ollie to be consistent, which has been the dilemma for him his whole career, we will have an excellent pitcher, no question," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "Just don't tell Scott Boras that."

Cubs starter Rich Harden was cruising along on his own, having allowed only a single to Ryan Church through seven innings. It looked for all the world like the game would come down to the pens, a thought that made Shea uneasy to say the least.

But then with 1 out in the 8th, Brian Schneider singled. Shockingly, rather than turn to his bench for a pinch hitter for Perez, Manuel allowed Perez to hit.

"The way Ollie was pitching and the way the pen was pitching, what choice did I have?" Manuel asked rhetorically afterwards in explanation. "All he had to do was move the runner over."

Perez struck out instead, causing a cascade of booing in Manuel's direction.

Reyes followed with an infield single to move Schneider and again, Manuel's tactics were screamingly called into question when he failed to replace Schneider, the lead run, with a pinch runner.

Bizarrely, despite the rally, the booing became louder, more hateful, almost feral, when Beltran singled and Schneider was held up at 3rd by the third base clown, Luis Aguayo, who was showered with garbage from as far away as the Mezzanine Boxes, section 572.

Why, Jerry, why?

"Just like Ollie, Carlos Delgado is facing a big off season contractually. I thought I'd give him a chance to prove himself worthy of having his option picked up." Manuel explained rather improbably. And what if he'd struck out or otherwise failed? Manuel shrugged. "I guess he'd be playing in KC or someplace similar next season."

For his part, Lou Piniella was also criticised for leaving Harden in too long and letting him face Delgado instead of calling on his fabled bullpen. When questioned after the game why he didn't bring in someone from the pen, Piniella fumed: "Why don't you go and fuck yourself? How many years have you managed a Major League team? How many years were you a professional baseball player? What's that? None? Zero? That's what I figured. Now go write a story about O.J. or something you fucking idiot!"

Delgado saw two pitches outside the strike zone, willing himself not to swing but then hammered a low fastball out over the left field fence to turn the game. He even came out for a curtain call.

Game over...thanks, Lou

Whilst the victory puts the Mets one win away from the NLCS for the second time in three years, the worries about Santana and the rotation continues.

It is rumoured that the injury would not necessarily worsen by pitching, the brass is not eager to gamble on ruining a big contract career for the sake of one postseason. The Mets may have to make due without him, possibly pitching Pedro Sunday and Pelfrey if there is a Game 5.


Santana Exits Early, Mets Lose 4-2

He carried the Mets to the brink five days ago following a brilliant 125 pitch outing with an even more heroic 3 hit shutout on only 3 days rest but last night in Game 2 of the Division Series, Johan Santana had finally shot his wad.

Exiting the game for a pinch hitter in the 5th Santana had given up 4 earned runs, walking a career high 6 batters and worse still, complaining of left knee pain which is rumoured to be a possible torn meniscus.

Pain was the name of the game last night

"I was going for it," Santana said afterwards, clearly as dejected as the rest of his team. "We worked really hard between this start and the last one to make sure my arm, my legs, everything was in place. But this time, it was simply too much"

The pain clearly effected his delivery, hence his difficulty finding the strike zone.

The Cubs, desperate for a win, took advantage in the 2nd inning when a walk to Geovany Soto was followed by a Jim Edmonds double. With two outs and men on 2nd and 3rd, Theriot was intentionally and foolishly walked to get to winning pitcher Carlos Zambrano, a .337 hitter, who drew a run-scoring, 11 pitch walk. Santana then unleahed a wild pitch, scoring Edmonds.

He composed himself but with the Mets flailing at Zambrano's pitches, the Cubs struck again in the bottom of the 4th when Edmonds doubled again to lead off and Mark DeRosa hammered the next pitch into the bleachers to make it 4-0.

The Mets scratched out a lone run in reply in the 5th when Evans, pinch hitting for Santana, doubled with none out, Reyes sacrificed him to 3rd and he scored on a DeRosa error of a Carlos Beltran grounder. But one pitch later, Beltran was then picked off first and the rally fizzled.

In the 8th, still down 4-1, Beltran led off with a single and was driven home by Carlos Delgado's double to cut the lead to 2. Typically, with none out and the tying run at the plate, the rally died in its tracks. David Wright popped a weak fly to center. The Magical Murph singled but Luis Aguayo, scared of his own shadow, forced Delgado to hold at 3rd. Murph was caught stealing and Castro flew out to end the inning.

They even fought back once more in the 9th when, with Zambrano tiring, Ryan Church and Martinez led off with back to back singles to put the lead run at the plate.

But guess what? Kerry Wood came in and the Mets went down without another peep.

"We got to have an optimistic mind-set," Wright, who was 0-3, said. "That the glass is half-full." he reassured himself.

Fat Lou doesn't care. At least his Cubbies aren't heading to Shea down 2 games to none.

Whilst to a man the Mets were happy to come out of Wrigley with one win and a chance to clinch at Shea, they are understandably disheartened by the potential loss of Santana.

"We have to look at this with half-full, rose coloured glasses," Wright elaborated afterwards. "We are only thinking of this one step at a time. Just like the Cubs only put on pants one leg at a time and the time is now."


Mets Take Opener In 12

Jerry Manuel prophesied after the Mets dramatic win on Sunday in the 9th inning over the Marlins that they were primed for "good things".

Last night, for openers anyway, he was right.

Mike Pelfrey, whose unexpected emergence solidified the rotation this season, opened a star-studded Wrigley Divisional Playoff by throwing 8 surprisingly solid innings, scattering 8 hits and a trio of walks to allow only a single run before exiting for a pinch hitter in the 9th with the score tied in his first-ever post season start.

"Nervous? I vomited so much before the game I was almost dehydrated," the young staradmitted afterwards.

The Cubs opened the scoring in this dramatic pither's duel when Mike Fontenot RBI single scored Derrek Lee in the bottom of the
6th for a 1-0 led.

Although the Mets managed only 3 hits in the first 7 innings off of an uncharacteristically wild Ryan Dempster, who walked 7 on the night, after 7 innings of typically frustrating inability to capitalise, they finally broke through in the 8th when with none out, David Wright managed an RBI single to score Reyes and tie the game.

Unfortunately, that hopeful rally was extinguished by Sean Marshall, who retired 6 the 7 Mets he faced.

Having weathered Pelf's start, Wrigley's partisans figured their team would feast on the Mets' notoriously shitty bullpen in the 8th and 9th.

Where is this shitty bullpen I heard so much about?

"We figured we had them," Lou Piniella admitted in a gutted clubhouse afterwards.

Piniella of course, had an equally disappointing 23-24 career post season record, 15-22 if you discount his improbable run managing the Reds in 1990.

Enter Brian Stokes who, with the reduced playoff rosters and thus, smaller pen, figures to play a key role for Manuel in the late innings.

"I told him I'd cut his balls off and feed them to Luis Castillo in a sopa de cajones if he let me down," Manuel joked with reporters afterwards.

Stokes tossed two scoreless innings before giving way to Luis Ayala in the 11th.

Ramon Castro's pinch hit RBI single off Jeff Samardzija gave the Mets a fragile 2-1 lead in the 12th.

"I told Ayala I'd slit his throat with a corkscrew if he let me down," Manuel joked with reporters afterwards.

Ayala walked three and allowed a hit over two innings but held the Cubs scoreless, somehow, with the game on the line.

The Cubs, with a miserable stretch of failure nearly a century long, now face what is considered a must-win game already against Johan Santana with Carlos Zambrano starting fo the Cubs.

The Magical Postseason

Once again, in blissful ignorance, ABA presents the Second Annual What If The Mets HADN'T Blown It Again fantasy playoffs.

Cautiously optimistic

Tonight the Mets will open in Chicago at 6:30.

Probable pitching matchups:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 6:30 p.m @ Chicago M. Pelfrey (13-11) v Dempster (17-6)

Thursday, October 2, 2008 9:30 p.m @ Chicago J. Santana (16-7) v Zambrano (14-6)

Saturday, October 4, 2008 6:00 a.m. @ Shea Perez (10-7) v Harden (10-2)

Sunday, October 5, 2008 TBD @ Shea TBD v Lilly (17-9)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 TBD @ Chicago TBD v TBD

Experts are picking the Cubs in 4.

Tonight's rumoured lineup:

Reyes ss
Beltran cf
Delgado 1b
Wright 3b
Murphy lf
Martinez 2b
Church rf
Schneider c



You could say at leasr they hadn't blown the season after a half inning like last year but you'd be lying to yourself.

Last year was like ripping the bandage off. Yesterday was like getting a bone rebroken because it didn't heal right the first time.

I could moan about Schoeneweis and Ayala giving up those consecutive homers in the 8th.

But that would diminish the pathetic choke of managing only five runs against Marlin pitching in three games.

You want to hang some bullseyes?

Jose Reyes. after the September he had last season, 2 for 13 against the Marlins was disgraceful. Especially because he is the motor of the offense. When he chokes, the Mets have no offense. Maybe he shouldn't be getting 688 at-bats in a season. Maybe he needs rest more often. Something tells me he's got to go and now, whilst he's young and fast and popular. He'll be worth alot.

Wright, .340 in September but 0 for 4 last night. Yes, 4 hits in this series. All fucking singles and ZERO RBIs.

Church, 0 for 9 in the series. Need I say more? Ok, I will. Next season gimme >Shin-Soo Choo in right field instead.

Delgado, wonderful second half but you'll be 37 this time next year. Time to move on.

Beltran, bravo. You can't carry a team like you once did the Astros but you make a good number two hitter, always have. Stay there.

Jerry? He'll stay, whether you like that or not. After nowhere men like Art Howe and Willie, anyone's going to seem charming by comparison but he didn't win.

More later kiddies, but for now I'm off to drown my sorrows.


Golf Clap

Yes, a 3 hit shutout on 3 days rest is brilliant. Bravo.

Last year, game 161, Maine struck out like 14 Marlins and the Mets won by double digits.

Look where it got them. The Brewers still have to lose.

And go ahead, ask me: How do I feel about Oliver Perez starting with the season on the line?

All I can say is he'll be hard pressed to do worse than Glavine's season finale in 2007.

And even if he pitches like it is Game 4 of the 2006 NLCS, the Brewers still have to lose.

But at least we bought ourselves a day and that Gangsta proved to be worth every penny.


NOT What The Doctor Ordered

We've all been here uncountable times this season already, throwing our hands up in frustration and disbelief.

We've seen the Marlins end our season before, far too recently. Have they done it again already?

As it stands now, if the Brewers or Phillies don't lose again, the Mets season is over, regardless of what the Mets do.

So of the many disappointments of last night's seemingly predictable result, the Mets no longer controlling their own fate has to be the most disappointing.

After 160 games, the blame game matters least.

After a rollercoaster ride of a series against the Cubs, last night's loss seemed almost anti-climactic, as though perhaps the fight in this team had been exhausted.

Yes, Parnell allowed two runs without recording an out. Yes Feliciano threw one pitch and hit a batter. Yes, Reyes was 0 for 5 which is really all you need to know about the disappearance of the offense. But it doesn't matter who's to blame anymore. It seemed a team-wide effort.

Will they survive now depends more on the Brewers and the Phillies than on the Mets themselves.

I don't think it matters that Santana is going to go back out today on 3 days rest. The best he can do is win one game. He can't win two and he can't beat the Brewers or the Phillies over the next 2 days either.

So take a deep breath. The shit is about to hit the fan. Hopefully it won't be a Met fan.



Regretfully, I admit I quit.

Nice one, douchebag.

When Hoffpauir hit that three run shot off of Rincon in the 7th and in the pissing down rain, seconds after Pedro had made his graceful exit from the game, I snapped the game off and cursed myself to sleep. 158 games and and 6 1/2 innings of this up and down, high and low had finally taken it's toll. That and four consecutive nights of midnight starting times, virtual somnambulism. It was only human.

Little did I know one night after the worst loss of the season the Mets would pick themselves up off the canvas once more and give us yet another night of survival.

And in the morning, reluctantly reaching for the recorder to replay what was certain to be the final nail in the coffin, it suddenly became christmas morning three months early. I couldn't believe my eyes.

METS 7 CUBS 6, misery postponed.

Did you lose faith after Delgado grounded into a double play following Wright's lead off single in the 8th or did you wish you were one of thousands sitting in the pouring rain and gusting winds watching Church, Ramon Martinez and Cancel turn into heroes before your very eyes?

And what about Church twisting and inhaling and swerving to avoid the tag at home plate when he seemed certain to be out by a mile? Lastings Milledge, anyone?

And the 9th, after the sickening failure of the night before; the Magical Murph's comically inept bunting skills on display at the worst of times with Reyes running on a two strike pitch, Wright striking out in typical Mr Hit Em When They Don't Matter fashion, Delgado getting intentionally walked all over again and finally, with the season on the line, Beltran stepping up.

No doubt Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS must have crossed your mind.

Time to keep the bat on your shoulder for strike three again Mr Team To Beat? Mr Hitting .226 When It's The 7th Inning Or Later?



Three games left, no effin idea how this will play out now.

Good christ, what a season!

Marlins? Let's exorcise THOSE demons, too.


Now, Even Wildcard In Doubt

How often it feels like you're living and dying with every pitch, euphoria effortlessly blending with despair as this pennant race reaches its zenith.

Take the 8th, for example - down by 1, the Brewers winning in Pittsburgh, Delgado's leadoff double sent us soaring with hope. Then came Beltran's single, prevented from being an RBI single by Luis Aguayo's sudden conservative scaredy-cat decision to hold Delgado at third. Followed by the fear/knowledge it would be costly.

Aguayo, you will recall, has a history of questionable decisions to send runners from third. Now he overcompensates. Can we bring back Willie to coach 3rd for the last four games of the season.

And naturally, Choking Church K's to advance no one. Castro grounds out. Fear and disgust grows.

Then Chavez gets mysteriously and intentionally walked to load the bases for Ramon Martinez which leads to confusion as many scramble to figure out who the hell he is. First game in September? Mets' starting playoff second baseman?

More glee when Martinez walks in the tying run, relief and hope because Reyes could bust it open once and for all but....naaaaaaah, not tonight, inning over.

the Curse of Church has many forms

Leadoff triple in the 9th by the Magical Murph in the 9th sends us swooning and gave Wright the chance to be a hero but instead he strikes the fuck out on a clear ball four.

that should be your head not your helmet

Sweet Lou opts to load the bases for Church...fingernail chewing or chain-smoking time...Church, shiteejit, grounds into force at home, growing anger, how the hell do you not score with a leadoff triple?! Shiteejit, you say? Yes. A new word I've invented for Church, combining shite with eejit as in, Shite! What an eejit!

Castro meanwhile, strikes out and the chair smashing and bottle-throwing commences in earnest. 10 men left on bases over 5 innings. The sea gulls are going mad with derisive chatter outside the window. Two innings in a row, bases loaded nets a mere run.

Even the crowd is quiet considering the lost opportunities.

Turn to prayer as in "Please oh please Mr Met, don't let this end with another reassuring yet empty speech by President Bush to the American public.."

Countdown to Doom

Bollocks and double bollocks. Thence forward, the inevitable, massive cock up of a loss was certain to follow.

Can't honestly even blame the pen for this one.

When two innings in a row with bases loaded nets one stinking run, you pretty much already know yer fecked.

If we're lucky, the rest of the season gets rained out.


Another Day Above Ground

What a night.

Before anyone gets too giddy, remember that euphoria after Game 161 last season when the Met pummeled the Marlins and for a few hours anyway, all seemed right with the world again. That 13-0 win over the Marlins gave the Mets a final gasp of life before Glavine put them back under the guillotine the following day...

Ok, end of disclaimer. Woop!

So for one night anyway, this was how they dreamt it all winter and spring.

Santana, we now know, is a second half pitcher, so next season we needn't fret a slow start.

Since the All Star break, 7-0 with a 2.37 ERA, 3-0 in September alone.

Simply put, without Santana this September the Mets would already be gone, done, ovah.

that broken bat was some much-needed luck

Last night he rose larger to the occasion than perhaps ever before this season; 8 innings, 125 pitches, struck out 10, matching his season high, and even had a 5th inning broken-bat hit to commence a rally, finishing with two runs scored.

This is what we got him for and he's doing exactly as we hoped so for one night anyway, credit where credit is due. (Not sure it merits a 4 year extension for Omar but fuck it, I guess we're feeling giddy.)

And for a night anyway, two guys with questionable Septembers, Mssrs Reyes and Wright, the cornerstones of the Mets' future BOTH had the kind of clutch hits franchise winners are based upon.

keep it coming

Wright, who entered the game batting .245 with runners in scoring position, punched a single into left to tie the game in that luckyweird Santana 5th.

Surfing success in the clutch

Reyes made his 200th hit of the season a bases loaded triple in the 6th that was quite possibly the most euphoric point of the season, to date, we hope.

Both had a pair of hits and both are now hitting .300 for the season. If those averages hold there's a good chance the Mets will too.

By the way, cheers, Luis Castillo, for forming that impressive black hole in the two spot in the order. Those kids at the auld atom-smashing Hadron Collider got nothing on you.

Now, the bullpen was its typical heart-in-mouth pleasure. The instinctive, reflex "Oh fuck no!" flinching gesture surely kicked in the minute Feliciano allowed consecutive one-out singles to Blanco and Hoffpauir and the 4 run lead began to look fragile.

But Ayala, Omar's prized bargain basement pick-up (Anderson Hernandez? Pshaw!)closed it out after a little pinch hitter chess from Cubbies manager medicine-ball-belly sweet Lou Piniella two batters later to send us all hysterical with disbelief.

So another day survived just when we were nearly certain the Mets had been TKO'd for the season yet again they've picked themselves off the floor and continued fighting. Heart.

And if you like sweet irony, how about Met turncoat Mike "School System For My Kids" Hampton outdueling the Phillies' precocious little lefty Cole Hamels for a 3-2 victory (imagine that the Braves doing US a favour for a change) to bring the Mets back to within 1 1/2 games of the Phillies.

And to clinch a nearly perfect night THE YANK-MEES WERE OFFICIALLY ELIMINATED FROM THE POST SEASON and can take their maudlin stadium-closing ceremonies straight the feck out of here into the offseason!

Ok, the lone note of imperfection sounded in Milwaukee where the Brewers, led by Prince Fielder's walk-off, two-run homer, kept pace with the Mets for the wildcard. Personally, I'd love to see a Phillies tailspin and the Mets with the Brew Crew getting in instead of Philly but that isn't likely to happen so we'd like much more distance between us both.

Whilst the zenith has been breached tonight, sober times await us.

Tonght it's Oliver Perez against Carlos Zambrano. The Mets bullpen against their own mediocrity. Sabathia is pitching for the Brewers which means near-certain victory thus another miracle for the Mets is imperative.

Fingers crossed, it's the pennant race!


One Step Closer To The Edge

Everything you say to me
Takes me one step closer to the edge
And I'm about to break
I need a little room to breathe
Cause I'm one step closer to the edge
And I'm about to break

Linkin Park - One Step Closer

Mets mirror market crash

When you give up a grand slam to the opposing pitcher in the 4th inning, you can pretty much be certain of an uphill battle.

Of course when you start a kid with all of two starts in his MLB career under his belt in the heat of the pennant race against the best team in the National League I'm not sure you can expect much better than pissing into the wind.

I can't imagine two rally-killing double plays in both the 4th and 6th innings were much assistance and in reality, the margin for error wass virtually nil all along.

It all spells a looming doom as the Mets dropped another full game behind the Phillies and now, more importantly, allowed the Brewers edge a half game closer.

Call me crazy but as much of this season's dreary failures in the stretch run appear to mirror last season's historic collapse, these Mets appear more handicapped than choke artists. You had Beltran crashing into walls and gutting out the game, Wright's 2-run hopeful homer in the 7th and of course, the desperate rally in the 9th.

For one night the Mets bullpen wasn't the main culprit. I feel freer blaming Luis Castillo who, along with Heilman are the poster boys of failure this season. Castillo's lifeless K to end the game proved that his best contribution in this game was getting hit by a pitch. Or maybe it was just the only happy moment he produced.


What difference does it make when you've lost three games on the trot during the most imporant week of the season?

This is the time of the season when you either get it done or you don't. Excuses no longer matter.