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.
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,
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.
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
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
Congratulations to the MLBlogosphere on our one year anniversary. For this blogger, it has been and continues to be a great experience. And now onto some random thoughts about the going ons in major league baseball.
Where Have All The Pitchers Gone?
Boy, with the type of offensive outbursts that have been taking place this April you’d think everyone was on steroids or something. Pitchers are always behind the hitters this early in the season, but it seems that they are a little more behind than normal. I mean it’s one thing to see guys like Albert Pujols, Jim Thome and Paul Konerko going deep- I’ll even tip my cap to the sensational numbers Chris Shelton is putting up, but Ty Wigginton with 5 home runs already, and how about pitcher Bronson Arroyo going yard twice in two starts. Elias Sports Bureau has reported that there haven’t been this many home runs hit in the first two weeks of the baseball season since 2001, and haven’t been this many runs scored since 1962.
Could it be that the pitchers are missing their little green pep pills? Maybe the Padres weren’t the only ones to move their fences in this season? (Teams are always pretty low key when reporting any dimensional changes). Maybe we’re in a time capsule and have returned to 1987 when the Rawlings folks in Costa Rica were confusing golf balls for baseballs? Or maybe the simple truth is that pitching in general is just getting worse.
While a few teams around the league have two dominant starters, many don’t even have one. And I can’t think of a team that has three. The days of the A’s with Hudson, Zito and Mulder or the Braves with Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz could return though in Chicago if Mark Prior or Kerry Wood can ever get back on the mound to join Greg Maddux and Carlos Zambrano. Wherever the Rocket, Roger Clemens, decides to drive his hummer to this summer should also provide a team with a stellar trio. But, for now we will just have to watch some very mediocre three, four, and five guys try to stem the flood of the seemingly endless procession of home run happy hitters.
Jim Edmonds, one of the best center fielders in the game, has already surpassed his error total (two)
from last season with three crucial misplays in back to back games. Now, his shoulder is ailing again. While many in St. Louis are fretting about Scott Rolen’s health holding up, Cards’ fans might just have to accept that Edmonds days as a great hitter and glovesman are slipping away and fast.
Three On Three
While I was working the other night inputting some St. Lucie data into my computer, I was peripherally watching the Rangers/A’s game. ‘Crack’, I turned and Eric Chavez was rounding the bases after a laser shot off Vincent "launching" Pad-illa. Hmm, wish I had Mr. Chavez on my fantasy team. As I turned back to my computer, ‘Crack’, I thought they were showing an instant
replay, but there was Frank Thomas lumbering around the bases after launching another laser out into the stratosphere. I wasn’t sure if the game was live at this point or if they were just showing highlights. Anyway, I turned back to finish putting Alay Soler’s top of the fifth stats into my program, when I heard ‘Crack’ again. The crowd, which was less than sparse, was making more noise than a sellout at Yankee Stadium. This time Milton Bradley was pumping his fist as he watched a skyrocket leave the park— Back-to-Back-to-Back home runs, seemed too quick to be live. But, then I see Padilla with a dismayed look on his face and I hear the announcer say, "three home runs on three pitches and the A’s have come all the way back to take the lead". Now, I’m not sure about this, but I have never seen three guys hit dingers on three consecutive pitches in my life. Maybe some Elias loving data-head can confirm this for me.
Cabbie Blue Light Special
Ryan Madson– After two very solid seasons as a top set-up man, Madson at 26 is just entering his prime. Madson is a towering presence (6’6") who throws a low to mid-90’s fastball which he offsets with a bedeviling change-up. Madson’s tight curve gives him three legitimate pitches that will help him to get through lineups more than once or twice. He’s off to a good start and has a lineup behind him that can really pack a punch.
Carl the Cabbie
Best Walkoff Home Run
1. NLCS Game 5 Houston – Albert Pujols (9th Inning against Brad Lidge)
2. NLDS Game 4 Houston- Chris Burke (18th Inning against Joey Devine)
1. ALCS Game 2 Chicago- A.J. Pierzynski’s Safe Strikout (9th inning against Kelvim
Best Bullpen Cameo
1. NLDS Game 4 Houston- Roger Clemens (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 K’s, WIN)
2. ALDS Game 3 Boston- Orlando Hernandez (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 K’s, HOLD)
1. Roy Oswalt
2. Jose Contreras
3. Mark Buherle
1. ALDS Game 2 Anaheim- Alex Rodriguez’s Error (7th Inning)
2. ALDS Game 5 Anaheim- Bubba Crosby/Gary Sheffield Collision (2nd Inning)
1. Paul Konerko
2. Lance Berkman
3. Albert Pujols
4. Joe Crede
Mitch Williams/ Byung Hyun Kim Award
1. Brad Lidge
Best Play At The Plate
1. NLCS Game 5 Houston- Yadier Molina’s swipe tag of Jason Lane (2nd Inning)
2. ALDS Game 4 New York- Jorge Posada beating Benji Molina’s tag (7th Inning)
1. White Sox bullpen
You can shower the White Sox pitching staff with accolades for
pitching four Complete
Games in a row or you can seriously raise
an eyebrow at Ozzie Guillen. By the time the
World Series begins, the ChiSox bullpen will have not thrown a game pitch in 11 days
have thrown only 2/3 of an inning in tha past half month. Hey Ozzie, there is such a
thing as underuse!
Cabbie’s World Series Prediction
Astros in Six
A quick look-see at some of yesterday’s games:
"Phils steal bases, but not the game" – The Phillies were 5 for 5 stealing bases against Braves’ rookie catcher Brian McCann, but still lost 6-4, they’re now a 1/2 game behind Houston in the Wildcard chase.
"Kameron overcomes Loe throws" – Impressive rookie hurler Kameron Loe made things a little tougher on himself committing 3 errors (2 throwing) against the Mariners, but gave up only 2 Runs to lead Texas to a victory and improve his record to 9-5.
"A’s catch Halos" – Joe Blanton tossed his 10th quality start in 11 Games as the A’s beat the Bosox 6-2 and moved into a tie with the Angels atop the AL West.
"Small helps Yanks live large" – Even tough they had a guy named Small on the mound, it was a grand night for the Yankees. Robinson Cano tied the game against the Devil Rays at 5 with a 6th-inning Grand Slam (his first) and Aaron Small improved to 8-0. The Yanks moved to within a 1 1/2 games of the Red Sox and 1/2 game behind the Indians for the Wildcard.
"Pettitte cruises, Astros on top" – Andy Pettitte won his 6th straight start and led the ‘Stros to a 4-1 win over the Marlins. The victory allowed the Astros to leapfrog the Phillies and Marlins by 1/2 game to the top of the Wildcard standings.
As the Phillies, Marlins and Astros go back and forth for the Wildcard lead in the NL, let’s take a look at each teams’ Starting rotations:
Phillies (15 gms. left) Astros (16 gms. left ) Marlins (15 gms. left)
For all Met fans,
Here is a quick thought to soothe your nerves as the Mets make their Playoff push—26 of the Mets final 32 ballgames are within their own division. If you eliminate the Braves the Mets have a a nfty .622 Winning Pct. (23-14) against the other three teams in their division. So once again, it could all come down to Atlanta who the Mets are (4-9) against. Stay tuned for the final 6 meetings against the Braves-
@ Atlanta 9/5-9/7
@ Shea 9/16-9/18