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Articles Focused on the New York Mets. Opinions on the players, the rivalries, the standings and anything else that comes to mind.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bring Back Pedro

The Backstop Back At Ya: A quick point: Pedro Martinez is unemployed and the Mets have an uncertain starting staff.  I heard that he is looking for 5 million dollars.  I think he would be worth that  to be in the clubhouse.  I am good for $30.  Anybody care to pass the hat around an show Uncle Fred that we may care about the team winning more than they do?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boo Boo... Boom

The Backstop Back At Ya:  I have been of the opinion that there are very few reasons to be a fan of a team and then 'boo' them when they underperform.  Well, in last night's game I saw an exception.  When David Wright struck out in a key spot, the fans, for the first time in my memory, let him hear it.  I remember thinking, "why do people do that?" then, "why do people pay money to do that?"  I have always thought playing in New York alone is more pressure than any athlete should have to absorb.  Playing for fans that have had their hearts ripped out and thrown over the plate for a called strike three for three years running...well lets just say that has to be hard.  Playing for a team that, to the rest of the world, is the illegitimate step-brother of team 26 across town does not make it any easier.  I also think of the players that we had escorted out of town and I just don't think it is right. *Say what you will about Aaron Heilman, he always took the ball...hurt, healthy, strong, weak, moody, happy, sad, or universally indifferent...he always took the ball. And if he failed, he was the first person to meet the reporters after the game.  He made no excuses and from what I have heard, he had a few at his disposal.  He would simply say that he let the team down.  I have heard from multiple sources that he was hurt all season last year.  And no, none of those sources were any of the New York "Make it up as you go" tabloids.  I have not seen the latest updates, but the last I heard, Heilman was pitching well in Chicago.  I don't think he has given up an unearned run yet.

Okay now that I got that speech out of the way, I saw something last night that fascinated me.  In the inning that followed Wright's strikeout, he made a play in the field that would have made Brooks Robinson nod his head two, even three times.  In his next at bat, he parked the ball to right field, that from most of the broadcasters I have heard, would have been over the fence at Shea.  As it were, he was robbed of an extra base hit by a spectacular play by Austin Kearns.  Tip your cap.

He hit the ball hard three times since then.  It was after the Saturday game that it occurred to me...they might have kissed him off just enough to wake him from the baseball daydream he seems to have been in since the season began.  I condone the 'boos' just this one time.  He has not turned it around yet.  His numbers say nothing of his meaningful production thus far.  Lets check back in a week or so and see if that was not where he turned the corner.  The team is still double bogie when it comes to timely hitting.   Two wins in a row.  Lets get back to this one.

Yours Behind the Plate and Dirty,
The Backstop

No Sinker No Worry Cause Guts Leads To Glory

The Backstop Back At Ya: The Backstop Back At Ya:

I needed to see Pelfrey pitch again to compare his delivery to his last start.  Besides less of a soft step on his follow through, I did not see any difference.  Perhaps the team he was pitching against was the difference.  The Nats are not the best team in the game, I grant.  Fact is, they seem like they could put up a fight for the worst team at this point.  That said, I must mention that they are not baron of talent.  Zimmerman and Johnson at the corners makes for a B+/A- factoring in offense and defense.  *You heard it here, John Lannan is going to be a very effective #1 or #2 starter for years to come.  Jordan, or the pitcher - Zimmerman, though not battle tested, has the physical, and likely mental make up to be a top-of-the-line starter as well.  Come June when the player draft happens, they will likely pay for and get the best pitching prospect since...maybe ever.  They are a major league team nevertheless.

Mike obviously did not have his best stuff for today's game, but he was able to put a notch in his belt that is perhaps more important than the win.  Having caught a small unit of talented pitchers myself, it is my opinion that the difference between the good and the great, is that great pitchers can get through a game purely on guts.  My dad called that heart.  Others call it...manhood.

Pelfrey's sinker was not doing it's job early in the game.  Did not seem like much at any point in the game to be honest.   But he grew a, shall we say, plan B's.   For this, I give him all the credit in the world.  He was not afraid to face and go after guys.  He never let the batters dictate his game.  He identified and used the strike zone.  Most of all, he had faith in the seven guys behind him and one guy in front of him and they did not let him down.

The amazing play that Murphy made was a good example.  But perhaps a better example is the play he did not make in the 6th.  There was a ball hit to left center that Beltran clearly had a play on.  Problem was that Murphy was raging towards it like a hungry bulldog, so much that Beltran, who would have had an easy play, had to pull up and let it fall.  I suspect memories of getting his head stuck in Mike Cameron's face back in SanDiego may have been a lingering thought in Carlos' mind.  And who could blame him.  The fact remains that when you got guys like that behind you, willing to attack every ball hit to their area, you learn to trust them and they you.  Nice Work Mike.

The Backstop appreciates your efforts, and here is a "W" for your trouble. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Link To The Farm

The Backstop Back At Ya:

By the way, now that minor league assignments have been distributed and games in the farm system are going you might be interested in reading Kyle's "Mets Prospect" page. I started saying last year that the Mets have a much better farm system than people are giving proper notice to. Peter Gammons verified this for me over the spring in a radio interview with ESPN.
I believe that this year is the year that what I affectionately call the "Omar Discoveries" will make their way through the system. We don't have the Dodgers' or Rays' farm...yet.

Check it out:
If you have trouble getting to the link, just Google Mets Prospects. It will be the first page that comes up.

To be the man, you must first be a man.

The Backstop

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Saw The New Home.

The Backstop had another 2 cents that hejust had to spend on the Mets.
I will always be able to say that I was at the first ever New York Mets victory at Citi Field.  And it was a special night indeed.  I said last week that I would love to eat my words concerning a previous post about Oliver Perez.  Well, after one very good follow up start: Mr. Perez, these words taste almost as good as the slow cooked pork tacos I had at the new super concessions court.  (For those curious about price, I had the 2 soft tacos, a large soda, and a vanilla waffle cone for a little less than $20)
I love the field.  I do not side with "obstructed view" complaint fest that everybody is ranting about.  We are talking about 2 to 3 % of the field that you may not be able to see depending on where your seats are.  And if that is a real bother simply look up for one of the billion televisions.  The T.V. 's are wisely timed to a 3 second delay so on the outside chance you are sitting in an area that misses a big play, do what I do, just look up.
The 2 biggest baseball highlights of the week were the 2 starts by the 2 southpaws.  Obviously Johan winning a game 1-0 that the bullpen managed to hold and save for him was huge.  Last year we loose that game 10 times out of 10. This comforts me a little.
Otherwise, thus far, I see what the record states.  They look like a .500 team with way above .500 talent.  The biggest issue that see right now is a lack of timely hitting.   I hate to keep saying this, but it is still way too early to base the few units of measure I have to work with, to make a fair evaluation.  I find it funny that the last person I want to see batting with 2 outs and a tie or go ahead run on base is no other than the face of the franchise.  David Wright thus far is striking out at an alarming rate.  He has also been far from what we would call "clutch". (Tick tick tick) I am putting a hopeful helping of mustard on those words before I type them. 
 Castillo, a pleasant surprise thus far. (Tock tock tock)  I truly hope that he can last the season out the way he is going.  If for no other reason; To piss my uncle Rich off.
Which takes us to a new weekly tradition here on the backstop.
My Crazy Uncle Rich's quote for the week.
"I am not getting myself worked up over them this year if they win, they win.  If they loose, they loose...  You mean to tell me that they could not get another 2 lousy runs off that bum Jeff Suppan? (Remember him)  They make him look like an all star."  
This is the same Jeff Suppan that shut us down completely in the 2006 NLCS.   Who pitched out of trouble with the bases loaded and 0 outs in the 6th inning.  The same guy who after "the catch" was able to step out any rally possibilities with a 1 - 2- 3 bottom 8 throwing less than 15 pitches.  Yeah he is a real nobody.
Final thoughts and I will get back to you during the week.
What do you think the Mets need to do.  Go get a player? Leave it alone? Get into a fist fight?
I would love to hear from you if you are out there.  Until then don't crowd the plate and be well.
The Backstop 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Too Early To Tell If We Are Watching Players or Saying Prayers.

The Backstop had another 2 cents that he just had to spend on the Mets.
Well for the first time in 7 years I did not get to attend the home opener.
Yeah, poor me.  I get to go tomorrow night because of a very good friend.  From some of the stories I am hearing about stub hub prices and around the Queens campfire I am fortunate to get to see the place so soon.  Hope everybody who went enjoyed the new atmosphere.
Just a few quick things about the ball game that broke out in the mist ofall the ceremonies.
1)I said Mike Pelfrey was a gamer and I still believe he is.  Last night he just did not have it.  Guys that build their arsenal around their sinker-ball always run the risk (especially early in the season) of having too much of a push, and not enough of a whip to their 2 seamer.  The result: A very flat very straight fastball that is very hitable.  I might also have objected to the way he and Schneider where going after Kevin Kouzmanoff.  He is a guy that would rather take a subway in Moscow at 2 o'clock in the morning than a walk.  They could have expanded the strike zone a litte bit in an effort to get him to swing at a few bad pitches.  Besides that I think that Pelf's better games this season are going to come when his arm tires just a little.  That is what helps the sinkers sink and not float.  All the same he is still a work in progress.  I still hope(see title) that he can bring big things.
*Note;  This would be as good a time as any to put in my pitch to bringback the still unemployed Pedro Martinez.  Pelfrey needs to learn a little more about how to guess and evaluate a batter's approach.  I have never seen a better pitcher than the great Pedro at the guessing game.  Pedro is an outright mindreader who Pelfrey and many other young pitchers could learn a lot from.  I beg you (Omar, Fred, Jeff, Bernizard in sheeps clothing) Do not let another team be taught these tricks.  If he can start 15 games and sit on the bench the rest of the time, he will be talking and other players benefit from that.  Ask around.
2) I will always give credit where it is due.  So I must put in a word of praise for our second baseman.  They practically modified the introductions last night to minimize Castillo from being booed.  The credit first goes to the New York fans who prove time and again and above that they will issue a clean (short leashed) slate to a player that shows effort.  Kudos Mets fans.  I must also comend Mr. Castillo for coming through in the early innings when he knew if he did not the water would start to boil.  He wants to prove himself to us. (His Words)  I for one am happy to let him try.
3) I have been vocal of late about why Mr. Wright has gotten a pass for not coming up in the clutch whileMr. Reyes is subject to league wide and media wide ridicule for his choreographed antics.  Despite anything that Jimmy Rollins or anybody else has to say, Jose Reyes puts his money where his dancing hand-shakes are year in and year out.  I had just got done saying this when David Wright hit a Clutch with a capital D (for Ding Dong That ball Is So Gone) home run to tie the game up last night.  That was huge.  My hope is that our 3rd baseman who has the ceiling limit that is nothing shy of the Cardinals firstbaseman, (You heard me), a) returns to basics b)hit the ball where it is pitched c) forget about your poster image & d) Throw the ball at Delgado's Jersey logo,not his feet.
4) When it is all said and done we lost.  I would love to make predictions or see if I can discuss what I think we need.  It is just too early.  The last 2 games were lost by an outfield error and a balk collectively.  Way too much ball to play.  So if you are already starting to pray, stop.  Its baseball not real life.   I am as passionate about baseball as anybody you will ever know. But pray for something important.   Baseball is a wonderful microcosm of life, it is not real life.
Thanking you for joining me this season with all the humility at my disposal,
The Backstop

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Timely Hitting Running Late, But it is Still Early"

New year...fresh start...hope springs eternal.   It could not possibly happen a third time!  All things I find myself saying when I notice a few blotches in the Mets offense.  But it is still way too early to evaluate that.  The team has yet to play a home game.  That said, they have left way to many runners on base.  Here's to hoping it does not become a habit. Ultimately it is timely hitting that wins games.

A few bright spots that are apparent early:
  1. Ryan Church appears to be picking up where he left off before his second concussion of last year, and the brilliant front office thought it wise to let him fly to Colorado (the highest point with the thinnest air in the continental United States...for future reference Concussion + Long Plane Trip + being in Colorado = a much worse concussion)
  2. Daniel Murphy.  When I first saw him, I thought he would be a flash in the pan.  He came right up from double A, his swing takes about a half an hour, and as a prospect analyst...I never payed close attention to him.  Well let me say that I missed out on something special...his long swing is deceptive because of the way he brings his hands through the hitting zone.  At the moment, he has one of the best eyes among any younger players in the game.  His plate discipline is remarkable and he is mature well beyond his years.  I'm on board with the idea that he is the real thing and will only get better.
  3. November of last year, I began projecting that Carlos Beltran will win NL MVP, becoming the first New York Met in club history to earn this honor...I stand by it. 
  4. I will give Castillo the benefit of the doubt for the time being.  He looks healthier and I just want to believe that.
  5. Wright has a slow bat.  Does anybody think he will stay that way?
  6. Reyes is already being Reyes and I still do not think we have seen the best of him or Davy DoWright.
  7. Delgado is already off to a better start than he was last year.
Four games in and lots of fun to come.  As I write this, the Mets are winning 5 - 0 over the Marlins behind the bats of Reyes, Murphy, Church, & Castillo.  Number 5 starter on the hill... and he shall be Levon and he shall be a good man.

The Backstop Loves Feedback.
Lots of topics to touch on.
Am I the only person that STILL thinks that Pedro deserves to be on this team?

Maine is Money Man

It is pleasant to see John Maine back in the rotation.  Last year, even when he was pitching, I could see something glaringly wrong with him.   He seemed to grimace after every pitch.  He had a dumbfounded "this used to work all the time" look on his face until he was ultimately put on the battered list for the rest of the season.  Even when he was almost able to return, you could just see that something had him pinned and he would need the entire off-season and maybe then some to get back to right.

Two solo home runs was not the fondest welcome back to the bigs he could have received, I grant.  But I did re-learn something I always said about Maine.  He can get the job done under any circumstances.  Another guy who settled down.  Trusted, his offense would make it up and he held the Marlins in check for 5 innings.  He threw a few too many pitches.  For a guy that always seems to get ahead to an 0 & 2  or 1 & 2 count, he still seems to have that tendency to allow batters back into at bats.  We never did get a close look at that curveball he was developing in the spring.  But after one start where he took a no-decision and gave the team a chance to win, I would say that it was a good start to his return.

Backstop Going to Say Something Profound Enough to Sound Silly Alert:  Lets review the past 4 seasons.  We have only had Santana for one.  Pedro (more on him in another post) was more of a team relevance declaration than it was a baseball move.  I would contend, or at least open the discussion, by saying that John Maine has been the Mets best big game pitcher since Al Leiter.  I know I can't just say something like that and not explain myself.
In 2006, after a regular season that was better than expected, Maine was given the ball in the Mets first playoff game since 2000.  Pedro was out, the supposedly unbeatable in the playoffs  - El-Duque was a last minute scratch because of a soar something or other, Perez was unproven and on short rest, etc, etc.

All John Maine did that day was take the ball, face and beat the much more experienced Derek Lowe, and give the team its first playoff win in 6 years.  Until last year's injury, he really has not looked back since then.  O6's Game 7's painful end overshadowed the gem Maine threw in Game 6.  With the rotation, baseball's equivalent of a M.A.S.H. unit, without John Maine I do not think we make the second round.

2007 & 2008 happened...I am sorry to bring that up...we must move on.  I am only bringing it up because another game lost in the archives behind last game collapses is the game he threw on the second to last game of the season.  He took a no-hitter into the 8th and struck out the entire ballpark.  The fact is that we would not have a chance to collapse on the final day if Maine did not put up with all of the money on the table on that Saturday.

Last year he was injured and tried to pitch through it and eventually could not go on.  Well now he's back.  I am brimming with optimism at the possibility that the John Maine we had a few years ago is back.  We shall see.
Interesting Point:  Both John Maine and Oliver Perez were traded to the Mets as throw-ins in deals that involved other players that proved to be duds.  Maine was a throw-in in the deal that brought us the long forgotten Jorge Julio for the bullpen (and export Mr. & Mrs. Benson).
Rumor has it that the Orioles gave Omar a choice of five different pitchers as the additions to that deal.  He chose Maine.  Apparently the Orioles still do not want to make any deals with the Mets because we chose the successful John Maine.  This from the same people who took Melvin Mora, who is still one of the biggest parts of their franchise in exchange for Mike Bordick (who showed up for exactly one at bat and was MIA to and through the World Series).  Sorry...we chose John Maine.  The Perez deal was mainly built around Xavier Nady and Roberto Hernandez.  The essential need in that deal was the return of Roberto Hernandez after the now infamous Duaner Sanchez cab ride downin Miami.

Next:  The backstop wants to talk about the offense.

Put it in the books & on the Shelf.

I will not torture my readers with another long evaluation of one player.  At least not right now.  But with the first four games done and a five hundred record to show for it I wanted to put up a few things I noticed about 2 of our number 2 pitchers.  (Love this problem.  Its like we finally have an ace and the rest are defined as competing for the #2 title.  Which is only a good title in baseball)
The Big Pelf gave up 4 well earned runs in the first inning.  I do not think I was alone in saying.  "I knew it.   He threw too many innings last year.  We ruined another one."   Well he settled down.  Pitched out of further trouble (give the assist to the defense.  Pelfrey will usually owe most of his game to his infield.  thats called "team." Google it)  And did not pitch himself back into any damaging trouble.  
My opinion of Pelfrey continues to rise.  The one thing you can't teach is heart.  A biological and grammatical impossibility but the truth nonetheless.  Mike Pelfrey has the heart for and of the Marines.  I can think of pitchers, too many to name, who would give up four runs in the first inning and simply mail the rest in.   Votto had his number on that jack that just landed in downtown Cleveland about 5 minutes ago.   Mike kept his head on focus and eventually his offense caught up with him.  No small task considering that they were facing the Phenom Volquez who could barely be touched the first 2/3 of last season.  Now when I say focus, I am talking about focusing on the game.  Not the mistakes he made earlier, or what the 4 runs would do to his ERA.  Pelfrey hung in there and got the team the win.    Since the term "You Da Man Mike" is , to Mets fans, permanently reserved for a certain future Hall Of Fame Catcher, I would like to say:  "Way to Put em on the Shelf Pelf."  
Next Post- John Maine

Oliver with a Twist and Mr Hide.

Oh Ollie...
I am not mad at you as some people are.  I have to share some insight that I think gets overlooked.  
Oliver Perez's "stuff" has never been questioned beyond the points between nasty and impossible.  We have all seen him when he is on.  I would compare it to a classical violinist.  Every motion, every beat, every deliberate movement and change compile together to make up what is a pure work of art.
But there is a twist.  There always is.  Sometimes when you are hoping to see the classical violinist play, a drunken clown barely capable of a children's party shows up.  An elaborate comparison I grant, but the difference between the two, as obvious.  My sense is that a fragile ego is often what makes the violinist run and hide leaving the mean pseudo tough clown to pitch. (and do something else that rhymes with pitch) 
I would love to catch each of the 2 Oliver Perezes for one inning.  The first: Simply to see how amazing it must look from behind the plate with that water rapid slider.  The fastball that hits both corners, depending on which side I want.  Simply putting the variation of signals that spell the heater holding my catcher's mitt up and know that I can close my eyes and wait for the sound of the pop that will close the glove for me.  
With the other guy I would not close my eyes to blink.  Let alone any assumptions of the ball being anywhere near where I put my hand.   I would do a few things that may teach him that having a 36million dollar for 3 years arm is not enough.  (Brian Schneider, Ramon Castro, if this message somehow gets to you I hope it finds you well.)  First we have to play the game.  I am not nearly arrogant enough to think I can teach Ollie or anybody how to do that.  He is a big league pitcher and I am... Well not.
I would like to tell him a few things about the game within the game.  They apparently do not put a whole lot of prerequisites on this in the Scot Boras camp. 
 I live in New York that means that I have the opportunities to listen to the 2 big (and several not as big) sports radio stations.  I have a choice of 30 newspapers to read about the Mets, and baseball, and on and on.  Yet I hear and read very little about the game within the game.  
Mr. Hyde and Go Perez does several things during the course of one of his A.D.H.D. outings that can be corrected.  I am not in the clubhouse so for the sake of discussion lets assume nobody has told him about these shortcomings.   (Please note that this is a mere constructive criticism.  I have no quarrels with Oliver Perez the person.  That is in fact what makes Major League  baseball such a wonderful thing to be a part of in any capacity.  None of them are real people.  They are the manifestations of our percieved reality.  Anger, frustration pride or joy towards a particular player for example.  A rivalry between the fans of 2 different teams is an even better example of real life seeking healthy refuge in sport.  To us they are only the people we see playing out the script we have set using a ball field as a stage.  Like all stories there has to be a goat.  This week it is Ollie because I am well aware  of how good my own words could taste a week from now when and if he makes me eat them.)
1) Like it or not, the umpires have multiple duties during the game.  Some of them in the rule book, others implied.  The strike zone is what the umpire says it is.  Life is not fair, you will pay taxes and the strike zone can change at any given moment during or between games.  I remember a story I heard a few years ago about when Jose Lima was batting against John Smoltz during a Mets Braves game down at Turner.   Upon taking a called third strike, Mr. Lima noted to the ump that when he was pitching that was not a strike. The ump responded what I don't think any pitcher would be happy to hear.  "That's because You are not John Smoltz."  Unfair? Absolutely.  John Smoltz Strike Zone Restrictions written in official M.L.B. Rule book? Absolutely nowhere.  Jose Lima had no further response (I guess until he told the story, assuming authenticity)  He took the ball and pitched.   Mr. Perez,  Give that attitude a shot will ya?  If I can see your hurt feelings from the center field camera, when your back is to me, every time you do not get a call you think you deserved how apparent must those same  hurt feelings be to the ump?   We do not need to take a long slow huff (one step) puff (the second) walk around the mound.  No need to shake your head and give dirty looks.  Trust me when I say that it is counter productive.  In the 5 walks you issued on Thursday  I can guarantee you that every time you snickered or pfff'd the strike zone got smaller or moved or even for a time disappeared completely.   I have noticed in your better starts, in recent years, that your in game practice was different.  You would snap off one brilliant pitch and could barely wait to get the ball back.  Do the same thing when you do or don't get a call.  The umpires have a speaking part in your game.  Like it, or don't like it.  Just deal with it and for Heaven's sake quit showing the umps up. One of the other unwritten jobs of the umps is to keep the game moving.  If you show them up or slow them down they will make your night difficult.
2) You are not John Smoltz.  That is to say that you have not earned the benefit of the doubt YET.  Physically you have even more than he does.   To get the benefit of the doubton those "border line strikes" you have to earn it.  If you stopped being a little kid and accepted the umpire's opinion as the only one that counts you can be among the greats.  
3) Speaking of the greats;  There is a tall tan handsome guy in your locker room.  His name is Johan.  He has said in multiple interviews to multiple sources that he would be more than happy to take you under his wing.  Get your left handed tail under that wing.  This is a resource that 725 other big leaguers and millions of prospects at every level  pray for.  You have it.  Use it.
4)  You are not your stats.  Why is it that every time your team falls behind, they try to scratch out runs to try to give the game back to you only, for you to give it back to them?  You gave up four runs in the 3rd (on Thursday) and four runs in the 5th.  At least in the part of the fifth that you were nice enough to stick around for.  The final score of that game was 8-6.  If the other eight guys that bat and play the field don't give up on you, don't give up on them.  The attitude seems to be "Well I am not going to get a W out of this one maybe I should... Oh look there is a guy wearing a neck tie.  Now why would anybody wear a neck tie to a ball game?..."Wake up, you just gave up 4 more runs and pissed off the umpire... Again.  I refuse to quote a person who is more famous as a Yankee than a Met.  So;  The game of baseball you are Presently playing hasn't officially ended until it in the past.  Get Me?
5)  I make no secrets.  I am a fan of your team.  You also deserve to know that I am a big fan of yours'.  I beg you.  Make me regret publishing this.  The follow up I would write would be the words of a man who is proud he was wrong.   You can still be great.  Be Great.
Via Con Dios,

The Backstop

What a Week What a .500 Weak?

Backstop back at you, 
Okay we have been through 5 games.  I am going to start a new ritual during the season.  As baseball is a game sheet rocked with superstitions, my ritual has a more practical purpose.
I am simply not going to clip my nails during the regular season and if the Mets are in the playoffs (My fingers to God's Answering Machine) I am going to take a daily double dose of those vitamins that make your nails grow faster.  
The superstitious Reason:  Does anybody anywhere know were these things come from?  I know that I was in a slump once.  I stopped for pizza on the way to the game.  The pizza tasted like the hotdogs at Shea before Nathan's came and made them at least eatable.   During the game I was unsure of when I was bating until I noticed that nobody was on deck.  It was me who was supposed to bat next, line up cards exchanged,  I ran towards the circle and grabbed the first helmet I saw.  I noticed the helmet being very tight as I am what one would call cranially blessed (I have a big head) but the one I usually wear was guarding the head of the guy trying not to get picked off second base.  The guy that was batting, normally a patient hitter swung at the second pitch, giving me 2 maybe 3 warm-up swings.  I stepped in.  First pitch was in the dirt. No need to even bring my hands back on that one I thought.  The second pitch was  a heater that to this day I still see in slow motion.  Letter high outside corner with a sinking 2-seam movement.  Shift, turn, head on, hands back and Bam.  Opposite field triple over the right fielder's head.
For the rest of the season I kept that lousy pizza place in business.  I would stop there before games no matter how far out of the way it was.  I also likely permanently altered the shape of my head by wearing only the tightest helmets I could force to fit  on my head.
Superstitious?  Logic Man (He is the guy that looks back and makes sense out of everything in the rearview mirror) says that the carbs in the pizza gave me energy and the tight helmets held my loose living brain together enough to keep me focused.  Logic man has no idea what he is talking about.  The pizza: Magic Pizza  The helmet:  My Magical Protective armor.  My slump ended that day.  Thank you for indulging me in allowing me to tell one of my "Glory Days" stories.
The Practical Reason For Not Clipping Nails:  I clipped them yesterday morning.   By the 6th inning of last nights (4/10/09 loss to the Marlins) I had to resort to biting right into my finger for lack of any fingernail to bite.
Here are a few goods, a few bads, a few did you notice?'s and a few things to keep your eye on for week 2 and beyond in hopes that things don't get ugly. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Opening Day Follow up. 1 & o

Okay just a few quick things
1)Mets won.
2)How many times have we heard that Green may well be the swing factor in the bullpen.
3) Did you notice that the offense came from 2 "Question Marks"
4) Johan can show you how  a true "Ace" is defined. He did not have anything close to his best stuff but he found a way to hold what I think is going to be a very good Reds line up to a run. (Give the assist to Ryan Church  both literally and figuratively.)
5) If we had to write a script, with the whole offseason being about how the once finessed into uselessness back of the bullpen, was now anchored by (on paper) the best 8th & 9th inning combo in the game. Could we have written a better ending than a one run lead going into the 8th being nailed down like a motel lamp?  Shut off like one too.
6) I know it is just one game.  You don't have to tell me. The Problem is I can't comment on the second game because a) I want this to be about the opener and b) the second game has not happened yet. (mainly b) 
7) I have just learned that through the good graces of a great friend, I am going to be able to attend the second game at Citi Field. Looking forward to telling you all about that.  If you have a friend named John, I can assure you that he is not likely half the friend as my friend John.  Love you brother.
Best is yet to happen and is already happening.
The Queens Backstop

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Mets This Time Tomorrow 0&1 or 1&0?

Hey Folks,
The Backstop here.  It is Time.  Tomorrow The New New New York Metropolitans go to battle for game one of 162.  Like many I would almost rather sit in a state of coma until The last game of the season (as that seems to be where we all live and die as fans) "It could not possibly happen a third time" you say.  I said it could never happen a second time.  There I was watching it all happen again.  Closed against the sam Marlins.   On the second to last game an overlooked super start out of two of our starters.  (John Maine & Johan Santana pitched what could have been in the archives of the greatest performances ever hurled by an Amazin untill... Jaw drops, tears soon follow (for those that admit it) It happened again.  I sat and watched the final ceremonies at Shea on television.  Almost got the sense that a playoff birth would have got in the way of the shutdown ceremony.  Imagine the Great Mike & Tom took the walk to the centerfield doorway and said "We will see you tomorrow folks."  They probably would have worked around it.  
So here we are.  It is the eve of the 2009 Mets Campaign.  I am here to say that this time we will make it through with runs to spare.  I will likely do quite a bit of talking about silly things like My Crazy Uncle Rich.  Whom I affectionately refer to as the guy I thank for making me a Mets fan in April and the guy to blame in September.  Trade possibilities when it becomes that time.  Standings and projected standings.  All kinds of fun stuff.  If you care to join me.  Well the motors are running and here we go.
A few things for the record:
1) I will never abandon my team so if you are the type that hides his Blue & Orange until they are the toast of the town... I was there on opening day to watch Rickie Gutuierez start at second base.  When the big off season find was Karim Garcia  & his equivalent.  I believed then and I believe now.  I am going down with this ship.  But that does not matter because this is finally the year.  World Series.  No Hitter (I will say Johan) Mets' First Ever NL MVP (Carlos Beltran)
It is all now.
2) Before the season starts I want to say one thing that the team needs more than even a righ handed bat that Shefield may be.   A fist fight.  I do not want anybody to get hurt. Its only baseball.  I don't even advocate violence.  But baseball is a self policing entity.  And the Phillies have rubbed their (our) noses in it to a degree that has to be "Policed."  Pitchers bat, and I wonder if Young King Cole should be careful digging his back leg in too deep.  Just a few shoves and wrestling matches is all I am asking for.  For team unification.  I was a player myself. Believe me, it helps.
3) At some point (And this may be a bit ambitious) I may attempt to switch this spot over to video.  We will see how that works out.
Bring It Philly and all the rest of them.
The Backstop
P.S.  Phillies lost their first game to Atlanta.  We start the day tomorrow 1/2 a game ahead of the champs & 1/2 a game behind the Braves.


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