Bill Veeck Would Be Proud
As managers trot out one prospect after another, and painstakingly
analyze the good, the bad, and the ugly of their prospective teams,
fans anxiously tap their collective feet, counting down the days until
the regular season kicks off. The long and dreary days of spring
training can be just as monotonous for fans as it is for veteran
players practicing the “wheel” play or hitting the cut off man for the
umpteenth time. So, whenever there’s a chance to break up the toil with
some fun, or manufactured excitement, players and fans alike get a
Giddy is exactly how many baseball fans felt today when the Yankees
squared off against the Pirates in what would normally be just another
Grapefruit league game. What made this game different was a small
lifelong Yankee fan wearing the # 60 in honor of his 60th birthday.
Leading off for the Bronx Bombers was none other than comedian Billy Crystal,
or the Yankees “Designated Hebrew” (DH) as he likes to call himself. It
was a perfect moment of levity and anticipation that makes these
ultra-long days of spring barely bearable for the baseball fan.
To his credit, Crystal actually got ahead in the count, 3-1, against Pirates lefty Paul Maholm.
He even hit a foul chopper down the first base line. But then Maholm,
making sure not to be the butt of jokes for the rest of spring
training, bared down. He threw two 88 mph fastballs, that the 60 year
old comic swung over, “strike three, yer out!”. The fans rose to give
him a standing ovation, while Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez
retrieved the ball as one more birthday gift, a gift this life-long
Yankee fan will probably hold as dear as any of his many entertainment
While this moment might not ever be as memorably odd as 3 ft. 7 in. Eddie Gaedel stepping in the batters box for the St. Louis Browns; or Grandstand Manager’s Day, where thousands of fans got to manage the St. Louis Browns for a game through raised placards; or the White Sox’ infamous Disco Demolition Night, legendary major league baseball team owner Bill Veeck (the greatest baseball promoter of all-time) would have been proud.
Bill Veeck Would Have Needed Weight Watchers
On the opposite spectrum of odd promotions, the Pittsburgh Pirates have
announced that they will designate certain seating sections this
season, “All You Can Eat”
sections. So, as Pirate fans gear up to endure a record tying 16th
straight losing season, they can anesthetize themselves on all the hot
dogs, hamburgers, nachos, or ice cream that they want. And if you’re
health conscious, don’t worry, you can even chow down an unlimited
amount of Salad. Ugh!
***Below are You Tube links for anyone who missed Billy Crystal’s Yankee AB:
Cabbie’s Prescription For Mets’ Fans
My suggestion to all Mets’ fans is to take off tomorrow and
sleep the day away. If you’re musically inclined, a little blues harp
under the light of the moon would probably being soothing to the soul.
And if you really find yourself unable to function, I would suggest a
swift and sudden tirade. Throw a chair, break a glass, pick up your
dog’s droppings with a Tommy Glavine
card. The long and short of it is to take the day and let yourself
express the agony of the worst September collapse in New York baseball
If you follow my advice I promise you’ll feel less worse on Tuesday.
And hopefully by Wednesday you’ll feel well enough to watch what should
be one heckuva postseason.
A Couple Of Playoff Notes For Non-Mets’ Fans
If you’re a Philly-fanatic, you’ve got to be ecstatic that the Padres and Rockies are playing a one game playoff tomorrow (Jake Peavy vs Josh Fogg).
Not only will the winner only have one day of rest before they travel
to Philly, but if the Padres win, the Phillies will only have to face
Jake Peavy ONCE! That’s a huge advantage for Philadelphia.
Padres’ fans might need to coalesce with Mets’ fans by the end of the
week. Besides blowing a nice wild card lead over the Rockies over the
past two weeks, they have to travel to Colorado tomorrow with the most
injury ravaged team that’s still alive for the playoffs. Their have
been plenty of signs in the past couple of weeks that karma might not
be on their side.
First, Mike Cameron gets a viral infection and misses a bunch
of games. When he finally returns last Sunday, he tears a ligament in
his thumb. His availability for the playoffs is now in doubt. Next,
they lose their best hitter, Milton Bradley, to a torn ACL when Bud Black, the Pads manager, throws a ballistic Bradley to the ground while trying to prevent
Bradley from ripping the first base umpire’s head off.
If those two major injuries weren’t enough to make Pads’ fans doubt their
team’s destiny, the Rockies win 13 of their final 14 games, including a
three game sweep of the Padres in San Diego.
Mr Padre’s Son Beats Padres—Ouch!
But, the omen of all omens that would really make me shutter if I were a Pads’ fan happened in the
bottom of the ninth on Saturday. With Corey Hart on second and the Pads one out away from clinching a playoff berth, all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman faced off against Tony Gwynn Jr.,
the son of the greatest Padre ever. Hoffman tossed eight straight
changeups at Gwynn Jr. before Gwynn hooked one into the rightfield
corner for a game tying triple. As karma would have it, the Pads would
go on to lose the game a couple of innings later.
AL Playoff Notes
Angels’ fans have to be delighted with how Kelvim Escobar pitched on Saturday. He looks good to go for Game 2 of the ALDS.
Since the Red Sox won home field advantage, they will get an extra
day off during their series with the Halos. That means they can use
just three starters if they want should the series go five games. Both Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka would be available to pitch twice on normal rest.
The Yankees on the other hand will now have to use four starters should their series go four games. That leaves Joe Torre with a big decision. Does he start veteran Mike Mussina if there’s a Game 4 or young phenom Philip Hughes? Who ever doesn’t get the Game 4 start would be up early in the bullpen for Game 3 in case Roger Clemens‘ bum hammy is still giving him problems next Sunday.
The postseason starts Wednesday, so get your rally caps ready fans,
the first round match-ups look to be the most competitive they’ve been
in quite a while.
Wed. October 3rd
Angels @ Red Sox (John Lackey vs Josh Beckett)
Cubs @ Diamondbacks (Carlos Zambrano vs Brandon Webb)
Padres or Rockies @ Phillies (Greg Maddux or Jeff Francis vs Cole Hamels)
Thurs. October 4th
Yankees @ Indians (Chien Ming Wang vs C.C. Sabathia)
Bonds’ HR Countdown!!!!!
Is their anything more durable than history? Current home run king Henry Aaron has publicly said he won’t be in attendance when Barry Bonds eventually passes him to take his place a top the all-time home run list. And though he has yet to declare it, Comissioner Bud Seligmost likely will be elsewhere also. In fact, many baseball fans will
choose to turn away when the greatest record in baseball finally falls.
Yet, no matter how many asterisks one might want to add next to Bonds’
name; no matter how many remotes decide to jump channels; no matter how
many references to HGH or steroids line the daily sports’ sections,
when Barry Bonds does finally hit # 756, baseball HISTORY will be made!
In 1921 when Babe Ruth hit # 139 to pass Roger Connor as the
all-time home run king, the historical impact was muted considerably
because of the infancy of the home run record. Because Ruth went on to
hit so many more long balls than Connor, the historical significance of
Connor’s home runs became even more insignificant. But like fine wine,
baseball records become so much finer with the mere passage of time. 53
years after Ruth established himself as The Sultan Of Swat, Hank Aaron
hit the most famous home run in baseball history. When Aaron hit # 715
off of Al Downing, he not only broke Ruth’s record, but he gave the 714
home runs Ruth hit greater historical context. Ruth had set the bar.
But, until Aaron had raised it, there was no one to really compare Ruth
with. Simply, Aaron’s 715th home run meant so much to the history of
baseball because he had Ruth’s 714 home runs to build on.
Once Bonds’ reaches the new magical number, there will probably be a
frenzy of articles penned all across the country supporting the notion
that Hammering Hank should still be the rightful champion of the long
ball. But, ‘shoulds’ have never made anything so, and that is why # 756 will go down as the most famous home-run in the annals of baseball.
Ironically, just as all the racial tension surrounding Aaron’s chase of the Babe added an extra facet to the story of # 715,
all the hoopla in the media about the possible illegitimacy of Bonds’
home-run chase, because of performance enhancing drugs, will make # 756
an even more fascinating historical event. Fans, journalists,
congressman, and even the Commissioner can opine ad nauseam on the
legitimacy of Bonds’ home run chase. But, while the opinions of many
might color history, it can never undo it. Barring injury or federal
indictment, the summer of 2007 will go down as the summer Barry Bonds
passed Hank Aaron as the all-time home run king.
Present Home Run Total Home Runs Needed
Cabbie’s Division Series Awards
2006 Division Series Awards
NLDS Pitching MVP
Chris Carpenter (Cardinals)
He has been the best pitcher in the NL for the last three years. Carpenter defined the term "Ace" with his performances in Game 1 and Game 4 of the NLDS vs the Padres. For a team considered to have the worst pitching of any of the playoff contenders, Carpenter led a Cardinals’ staff that had a Division Series best 1.50 ERA. In his two games pitched, Carpenter went 2-0 with 2.03 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He allowed 3 ER in 13.3 IP while striking out 12 and walking 4 men.
NLDS Hitting MVP
Carlos Delgado (Mets)
No hit was more important than Carlos Delgado’s lead-off home run to dead center in the bottom of
the 4th inning of Game 1 against Derek Lowe. The Mets were losing 1-0 at the time until Delgado flashed the power that makes the Mets the most dangerous lineup in the NL. In the 6th inning Delgado singled and scored a run to help the Mets tack on two important runs. And then in the 7th inning after the Dodgers had tied it, Delgado changed the momentum of the entire series with a single to right off of Brad Penny to put the Mets back ahead for good. In the four games, Delgado hit .429 (6-14) with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 3 Runs and proved that sometimes good things happen for those who wait (Delgado had gone the longest of any active player, 1711 games, without a playoff appearance until last Tuesday).
Jeff Kent (Dodgers)
La La Palooza went down in flames, but it certainly wasn’t because of Jeff Kent. Kent hit in every game and gave the Dodgers one last shot with his two-run home run to tie Game 3. Overall, Kent was the best hitter in the NLDS with a .615 Avg (8-13).
ALDS Pitching MVP
Kenny Rogers (Tigers)
The Yankees were certainly not welcomed to Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. The old man pitched the game of his life in Game 3. No one showed more grit and passion than the oldest pitcher (41 years old) left in the playoffs. Kenny’s determination was the perfect personification of the fire behind an incredibly motivated Tigers’ team. His face throughout the game was also a photographer’s dream. Rogers grimmaced and snorted his way through seven plus innings, and all you had to do to gauge how bad Rogers wanted this one was to read his lips. Everytime Pudge Rodriguez hesitated, even a moment, before throwing the ball back to the mound, Rogers’ roared "Gimme The Ball!". Now the Tigers are roaring their way to the ALCS. Rogers line against the Yanks- 7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K’s.
Joel Zumaya (Tigers)
He only pitched two innings, but Zumaya’s entrance in the pivotal Game 2 changed the momentum of the series. Zumaya came into the game in the 7th with the Tigers up by one run and proceeded to dominate the 2006 version of "Murderers’ Row". With one out in the 7th, Zumaya blew Derek Jeter away and got Bobby Abreu to tap out. Then in the 8th inning, hitting a sonic 103 mph on the radar gun, Zumaya extinguished the heart of the Yankees lineup as if he were facing little leaguers. Gary Sheffield actually got his bat on the ball, but Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez might as well have been swinging at air. This intimidating performance was the beginning of the end for the best club money could buy.
ALDS Hitting MVP
Frank Thomas (Athletics)
Carlos Guillen gets an honorable mention for his standout performance,
.571 Avg (8-14), 1 HR and 2 RBI, but Frank Thomas almost singlehandedly
won the most important game of the Athletics/Twins series. When Frank
Thomas took the best pitcher in baseball, Johan Sanatana, deep in the
2nd inning of Game 1, he gave the Athletics a lead they would never
relinquish. His second blast in the ninth off Jesse Crain proved to be
the difference maker in a 3-2 victory that would propel the Athletics
for the rest of the series. Overall, Mr. Thomas hit .500 (5-10) with 2 BB and his two lengthy home runs.
Best Managerial Move
Willie Randolph (Mets)
Willie actually is going to make both the best and worst moves list. In
Game 1 Willie used his bullpen almost flawlessly, exploiting one of
the Mets’ greatest strengths as the Mets held on for a 6-5 victory.
Replacing a very effective John Maine with Pedro Feliciano and Chad
Bradford in the 5th inning, with two men on and one out, showed the
great instincts Willie has and gave the bullpen the confidence it
needed to carry the Mets through the series. Feliciano struck out Kenny
Lofton, and Bradford got the dangerous Nomar Garciaparra to bounce out
Worst Managerial Moves
Willie Randolph (Mets)
Remember, I said Willie used his bullpen ALMOST flawlessly. In the same
game I just commended Randolph for, he made a potentially deadly error.
In the bottom of the 6th of Game 1, with the Mets up 4-1 and the bases
loaded with two outs, Willie let reliever Guillermo Mota hit even
though he had Julio Franco and Ramon Castro on the bench with a lefty
on the mound. You never leave runs on the field, especially when Aaron
Heilman and Roberto Hernandez are still available to pitch. The move
almost cost the Mets as Mota, with the help of Jose Valentin’s throwing
error, let the Dodgers tie the game up in the top of the 7th. Another highly
questionable decision was in Game 3 when with a man on base Willie let
lefty Darren Oliver face hot-hitting and lefty-killer Jeff Kent. Kent
proceeded to smoke one over the left field wall to tie the game up as
the Dodgers briefly took the lead later that inning. With three lefties
and all your righties still available in the bullpen, what was Willie
pitching ace Jake Peavy, on normal rest, in an elimination game is
unforgivable. Bochy has been fantastic pulling the strings most of the
year, but saying he wanted to save Peavy for a Game 5 that will now
never happen is just plain stupid! The Padres will have to go into the
offseason knowing that they lost with their best pitcher sitting on the
Rule 10.24 (b)
For any of you box score mavens who might have missed this little tid-bit, Derek Jeter’s 22-game hitting streak lives on (1 for 5 tonight), even though he went hitless Tuesday night at the Stadium, because of an obscure rule in MLB’s rulebook.
Rule 10.24 (b) states that "a consecutive-game hitting streak shall not be terminated if all the player’s plate appearances (one or more) results in a base on balls (BB), hits batsman (HB) or a sacrifice bunt (S). The streak shall terminate if the player has a sacrifice fly (SF) and no hit…." .
So, as far as the streak is concerned, Tuesday night never happened. For the record, Jeter officially had 4 plate appearances in yesterday’s game- 3 walks, 1 hit by pitch and 0 hits before Torre lifted him in the 7th inning. I guess Joltin’ Joe’s spirit will have to look over his shoulder for at least one more game.
22-Games and Counting
* This rule did not exist in Joe DiMaggio’s day.
Anibal’s No-No Needs Some Slo-Mo!
As the old saying goes, "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story". In the aftermath of Florida Marlins’ Anibal Sanchez’s no-hitter Wednesday night, it appears that ESPN, MSG, SNY, all the network news shows and every other highlight show I watched on TV decided to follow this old moniker. There were many catchy angles to this story— "Anibal breaks the longest no-hitter drought in major league history”, "Sanchez throws first no-hitter in over two years", "Marlins’ hurler becomes first rookie since Bud Smith in 2001 to toss a no-hitter", but not one, NOT ONE slow-motion replay of the final out of this historic moment. Why is this a big deal? Well, because to the naked eye Eric Byrnes looked SAFE! How’s this for a story headline, "Umpire blows call on last play of a no-hitter!". I mean didn’t one sports producer think that it might have made a good story to highlight the drama of such a close play. And not just any play, but the last play of a no-hitter.
If you read the paper tomorrow, the print media will have you believe that Byrnes was retired on a routine ground out. But, in truth, shortstop Hanley Ramirez turned into a nervous nellie and took his sweet time in throwing the ball over to first, and what should have been routine became a bang-bang play. Byrnes actually might have had himself an infield hit. Now, I’m not saying he was definitely safe, but it was so dang close that the sports media might have wanted to show at least one slow motion angle to its audience so we could get a closer look. I mean for godsake, there was only a no-hitter on the line! But, who am I to get in the way of a good story? Have your no-hitter, rejoice in it, dream about it, mark it in the record books, but please when you retell the story to your grandkids of how it went down, remember to tell them that Eric Byrnes might have actually been robbed of a hit on the last play of the game by an overzealous umpire. Remember to tell them that this might have been one of the greatest blown calls in recent baseball history. And remember to tell them that Anibal’s no-hitter might not have been a no-hitter afterall. But, without a slow motion replay we’ll never know.
The “Two-Out” Inning
Just when you think you’ve seen everything in baseball, along comes some strange wackiness that would even make the headless horseman scratch his head. The other day while I was smoking a cigarette out on the stoop, a little birdie flew by and chirped some very strange happenings from Bristol, Virginia.
On July 9th, in an Appalachian League game (Rookie Ball) between the Elizabethton Twins and the Bristol Sox, their was actually a "two-out" inning. According to my feathered friend, the incident took place in the top of the 5th inning with Elizabethton batting. This is how it went down—Daniel Berg led off with a line single to right. Richard Sojo then tripled him home. With no one out Steven Singleton lifted a sacrifice fly to center-field to score Sojo and record the first out of the inning.
Then things turned wacky.
Evidently, with Michael Lysaught at the plate and no one on base, the scoreboard listed that there were two-outs. When Lysaught popped out to center fielder Kent Gerst, the umps called three-outs and the teams left the field. The mistake unbelievably wasn’t noticed until the bottom of the fifth was already under way. The umpires decided to continue play as normal with Elizabethton’s next scheduled hitter William Luque leading off the top of the sixth. The Bristol pitchers ended up being credited with 9-innings pitched and 27 outs recorded even though they actually only got 26 men out.
So, what happened to the mystery out? If you look at the Game Log in the top of the 5th that day,
you will notice that the batter Michael Lysaught is credited for two-outs during his at bat. The second out is listed as batters interference. You’ll also notice in the Box Score that Lysaught, who was batting ninth in the lineup, is credited with 5 plate appearances while the rest of his teammates all have 4 plate appearances.
All this craziness didn’t hamper Elizabethton as they went on to win 5-3 anyway, but poor Mr.
Lysaught’s batting average got the short end of the stick as he wound up 0 for 5 instead of 0 for 4.
Well, the only answers I can think of are that we have become so
conditioned to accept technology as omnipotent that it no longer occurs to us to question what an electronic scoreboard says; or that the home team knew what was going on, but decided to stay mum about it thinking that they had caught a break; or as my little birdie surmises, there was some kind of sedative in the water in Bristol that day. On the positive side, maybe this abbreviated-inning gaffe should be adopted as the norm—it sure would shorten the interminable length of ballgames these days!
I’m not really sure how to prevent this oddity from occuring ever again, except to suggest a new toy out on the market that might help the umpires refresh their counting skills— it’s a brilliant little item and can even be folded and packed in a bag for road games.
Mets Win! Mets Win! Mets Win!!!
3:06 AM in the morning
My body is still recuperating and my brain is pretty much fried after the most draining game I’ve been too in a very long time. When I left for Shea this evening I thought I’d make it back home for one of my favorites, ‘The Charlie Rose Show’. Well the Show went on without me as did ‘Nightline’, ‘Letterman’ and the rest of late night television. But, what a game it was… 5 hours and 22 minutes of grueling drama- the longest game in the majors this season and the longest at Shea since 1995. Thankfully, I can say that all is well here in the wee hours as I sit rejoicing over the Mets’ 27th victory of the season- a 9-8, 16-inning, 521-pitch marathon. So many highlights, so many pitchers, so many hitters, the Mets were going to have to suit up Rusty Staub (at the game for a fund raiser) to play if the goose eggs continued. Thank God it ended when it did, cause we were getting very close to seeing Carlos Delgado behind the plate and Tom Glavine in left field.
Throughout, the Mets never gave up, fighting back from a four-run deficit this team just wouldn’t quit. The bullpen was unbelievable. The Phils scored their last runs in the seventh inning and then the Mets’ marvelous bullpen proceeded to throw 9 shutout innings. Darren Oliver earns a special Cabbie Honk for keeping the hope alive with four gritty innings of work to keep us afloat until Carlos Beltran finally ended this epic battle with a rope over the rightfield fence well past midnight.
I also have to give special Cabbie Honks to Jose Reyes for his bomb in the eighth that tied the game
and made the extra frames possible; Paul LoDuca for catching all 16 innings and throwing out Chase Utley in the top of the 16th when even lifting his arms was beyond the call of duty; Cliff Floyd for hitting every ball on the button and playing great defense; Endy Chavez for his speeeeeeeeed; Julio Franco and Chris Woodward for honoring Rusty with big-time pinch-hits; Pedro Feliciano, Jorge Julio, Duaner Sanchez, Billy Wagner and Chad Bradford for their sterling relief; Carlos Beltran for maybe the biggest home run in his Mets’ career; and to my friend Robert and all the die-hard Mets’ fans who cheered their freakin’ lungs out until the joyous end.
I am now ready to collapse into my bed, but I will leave you with one last thought,
The Fear Of Bonds
First off, for anyone who would care to hear my Cabbie Chat with Pete McCarthy on "Under The Lights" at MLB Radio just click HERE and then click on "Click here to listen to Carl". The Mozilla Browser works best. Every Friday night Pete and his producer Chris Caron will be airing an interview with a different MLBlogger.
I just finished watching the Mets’ first encounter with the Giants and the omnipotent Barry Bonds. And what a disaster it was for our Metropolitans. I love Willie Randolph, I really do- great guy, warm heart and very organized. However, as a tactician his record is open for debate. Tonight was a dreadful game for any Flushing fan to watch. Yeah, I know about giving young managers free passes and I know many Mets’ apologists will argue that most every manager in the NL treats Barry Bonds the same way- WALK him. But, I’m a Met fan and I expect our manager to be just a little bit better than the rest. Basically, Bonds was 0 for 1 with 3 walks, but any box score junkie would miss the whole story unless he watched tonight’s game.
Moises Alou might have had a home run and 5 RBIs, but it was Willie’s fear of Bonds that led to those five runs. From the beginning, Tom Glavine wanted little to do with Mr. Barry, even though for most of the night Bonds looked off balance on the junk that Tommy G did dare to throw his way. With two outs and one on in the first, Glavine nibbled his way to a 3-0 count before intentionally passing Bonds to first. The next batter, Moises Alou promptly deposited a shot over the left field wall and the Mets were already down by three.
In the fourth, Glavine threw junk curve after junk change after junk curve never topping 80 mph on the gun, and the strategy paid off as Bonds grounded weakly to first. Great! Glavine showed he could indeed take advantage of a hobbling Bonds- just keep throwing him junk. The Mets scratched for two in the sixth and we had a ballgame again, 3-2. Then came the deciding 7th.
Glavine gave up a single to Jason Ellison who was sacrificed to second by Randy Winn. With Bonds
lurking and Lance Niekro on deck, it was imperative that Tommy go right at Omar Vizquel to get a second out. This is where Willie started to mismanage. Glavine, who was clearly losing his control back in the sixth, nibbled to no avail, issuing his fifth walk and sending Vizquel to first. Finally, Randolph got Aaron Heilman up in the pen as Lance Niekro stepped to the plate. Glavine quickly fell behind Niekro 3-1. The fear of Bonds was approaching with the prospects of the bases being loaded, so Glavine tossed a meatball changeup right over the heart of the plate that Niekro swatted easily into right center scoring Ellison and sending Vizquel to third, 4-2.
What to do? Bonds walked casually to the plate. Randolph waited a moment and then made the call. Heilman came trotting in from the pen. "O’k", I thought, "gutsy move, Glavine’s clearly done, maybe Heilman can get Barry to try to pull one of his tailing fastballs that gives most lefties fits." This is where Willie acted like every other overly neurotic manager in the NL and decided to have Heilman intentionally walk Barry to load the bases- just what Heilman and every Mets’ fan needed, no room for error and the hot-as-heck Moises Alou coming to the plate. I was livid, doesn’t anyone have any guts anymore? I mean as great as Barry has been in his career, he’s only hitting .222 for godsake! Just the other night
I watched Aaron "very average" Cook get Barry to tap one back to the mound in a very similar situation and that was in Colorado. Certainly this Aaron would be even harder for Bonds to handle? But NO!!!! Managers rather have Barry beat them with a .526 OBP than with a home run. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a .222 hitter with an OBP over .500— this is insanity! This is even crazier than AL managers playing the Giambi shift (six players on the right side of the diamond). Make the guy beat you! I don’t care if he’s Barry Bonds or Babe Ruth. By constantly refusing to pitch to Barry, Randolph in essence told his entire team that he is Willie Nilly and so should they be. The psychological effect of this fear based thinking was devastating. Not only did Willie zap Heilman of confidence, but now Heilman had to face the Giants’ hottest hitter with the bases loaded and he was barely warmed up. Plus, he had lost the advantage of facing a lefty hitter (who he is clearly more effective against) and in the process supplied Alou with extra motivation. Need I say it, but Moises rifled a shot to center scoring two and icing the ballgame, 6-2.
In a way I’m glad Alou succeeded, because maybe Willie will pitch to Bonds next time. Even at his best, he still only hits a home run every 12 or 13 at bats. I’ll take those odds any day over the ones Heilman was given in this situation. No, I give Heilman a pass on this one, this loss is all on the Mets’ manager. I love ya Willie, I believe in you, but I got to call it like I see it. So, if you’re looking at the box score today and you think the Mets lost because of Alou, realize that the fear of Bonds had just as much to do with it. If this was hockey, I’d give big bad Barry 5 assists.
Carl the Cabbie
A POSITVE Day At Shea
I finally made it to Shea today and what a beautiful day it was- 70 degrees, a swirling 15 mph wind in from left, plenty of sun, and Glavine going for win number 275. I got out the door a little late, but made my connection to the 7 with only a slight hitch, passing right by Queensboro Plaza, but since it was because I was talking Mets baseball with another Shea enthusiast it didn’t bother me one bit. By the time we hit Flushing my new Met buddy had offered me a golden seat right by first base, but I already had an engagement with two Bikram yogis in the left field loge, so I declined for another day. We arrived in our seats in the bottom of the first, a kid gave me the top, so my scorecard was clean. A hot dog, some mustard and I was ready for another Mets’ victory.
From the git-go I could see we were in for a low scoring duel. Glavine and Hudson were working quick and half the Braves’ and Mets’ lineups were either hurt or resting. Through four, Jeff Francoeur had the lone hit and it wasn’t until the sixth that the Mets got anything going when Ramon Castro led
off with a single to left. A Brian Jordan throwing error and a Glavine bunt left men at second and third with one out and Reyes coming up. Hudson was in a jam and Shea was jumpin’. Suddenly, my gut got queazy and it wasn’t the schnitzel. Hmm, "Castro is so slow…" I thought, but before I could finish my thinking, Reyes popped a medium fly to left. My stomach turned, Castro tagged and I yelled, "Move it Ramon, boogy man, boogy!" Matt Diaz threw a strike to Pratt and Castro was out far too easily. I muttered something a little more profane than "Geez" and reluctantly scratched 7/FDP, 3xH(72) in my scorecard as the rest of Shea sighed and sat.
In between innings, the queaziness churned as I returned to my earlier thought, "Why didn’t Willie pinch run for Castro?" I assured myself that any other Met would have beat Diaz’s throw, no sweat! There was now momentum for the first time in the game and Andruw Jones waltzed to the plate. The Flushing faithful saved all their boos for Mr. Jones, and serenaded him loudly. I wish they had all shut up because I felt like they were just motivating him more. The good feelings I had on the 7
train were flooding away. Glavine got behind and the inevitable happened- a shot over the 371 sign in right,1-0 Braves. My mood was dropping, I was getting discouraged. Atlanta tacked on a run in the eighth as Mr. Wright turned into Mr. Wrong when he committed his third error of the day. It’s o’k David, I still love you. "Just one of those days" I explained deflatedly to my Bikram yogini friend. But she wasn’t having that, "You already giving up Carl? Come on it ain’t over" she snorted as she struck a perfect Warrior pose.
"Geez", I muttered to myself, "Have I become one of those pessimistic Mets’ fans that I swore I never would become?" This thought disturbed me and I quickly went into full lotus position and shooed away all those bad Bobby Bonilla boogeymen that I had carried for so long. My other yogi friend spotted a couple of seats in the sun and we moved up for the ninth. I looked around the stadium as Julio Franco strode to the plate to pinch hit. Everyone was standing, hands were clapping, Shea was electric, no one had given up. "To heck with Roberto Alomar, I couldn’t care less about all the Takatsus and Mienkiewiczs who had come before". I was emboldened, this was a new Mets Nation, the spirit was alive. Franco went 63/G, but hey Tony Pena’s kid is pretty darn slick over there at short. Wow, positivity during an out, I was really beginning to enjoy myself. The crowd grew louder as Reyes worked the count. Hudson was reaching back, he was clearly getting tired. A rope to right and Jose was on second. Woodward laced a single to left and Shea was stomping as Reyes crossed the plate. Could it be, Delgado was up, yes it could! Hudson reared back, Carlos got a hold of one the other way, but the 15 mph gust held it at the track and it was now left to David to Wright his ways. No one in the bullpen, this was Timmy’s game. Wright swung under a 92 mph fastball, fouled a couple and then hit it sharply, but to the wrong guy. Pena Jr. slid over to the middle, 64/FO/G and the Braves won 2-1.
Yes, it was quite a day. I know the Braves beat us again, but I felt pretty good. So, we lost. So, David got a little tight at third. So, Wille didn’t listen to my queazy stomach. It’s just one game, we’ll be alright. Glavine looked great, Reyes and Woodward were clutch and the kid who gave me the top of the first got a t-shirt from the laser guns during the stretch in the seventh. My yogic friends were still smiling and you know what, so was I. So, Goodbye old demons, I know these Mets will rise, I got no worries, the next time we face these Braves they’re going to be in for quite a surprise. Gooooooooooo Mets!
Carl The Cabbie