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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.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sorry I been Gone

The Backstop Back At Ya: My apologies for not putting up a post for 2 weeks.  Backstop's been busy and unfortunately I do not do this for a living yet.
For now I am just checking in.  Much to discuss.
-I went to Boston for the Sunday game against the Bo-Sox. (11:40 Saturday morning May 30 that is the last gam the Mets lost)  Beautiful park.  Cant say enough nice things about the Sox fans.  The absolute opposite of what I expected.
-I wore a Mets hat and went to face the bleacher bums at the new Yankee Stadium.  After a few exchanges that found me asking them the question.:  "Would you guys come to Citi Field and wear a Mets Hat?"  What followed was a quote that I will remember for the rest of my life.   "I have to respect that... You are crazy but I have to respect you."  High fives and man hugs followed.  For the rest of that game (against the Orioles) they embraced me as one of their own.  For that...  The Backstop reluctantly tips his helmet to the very last folks he ever expected to.  For no more than one day; Hats off to the bleacher bums.  That day is over.  Respect.
Now the Backstop wants to talk about baseball.   More soon. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Less than 40 Games. I See Bo Light, But I Do See a Tunnel.

The Backstop Back At Ya:
The team is starting to click.  This was so obviously missing through games 1-10.  I am watching them in their second game against the Giants out in the land of fruits and nuts. (I kid.  Got so much Cali love.  In fact I am going back)  They are winning 7-6.  The 2009 NL MVP Carlos Beltran just hit an infield single in the top of the 9th.  
Here are 2 reasons that I think they are becoming a team instead of 25 individuals.
1) I have counted 4 games that they won so far that they without a doubt, 100% certain,no margin for error, lose last year.   Actually they lose them last year, 2007, and I will even go on a limb and say 2006. Same odds.  They do not overcome 5 first inning runs against the reining NL Cy Young award winner, and fight back to win.  They do not give up a tying run in the top of the 9th and take back the lead in the 9th.  They don't score a) In late innings with a lead.  b)With two outs & b) With runners in scoring position very often...  That is until now. Bases loaded top of the ninth, 0 outs insurance run 90 feet up the lime line.  Tatis up. Stand By.  Sac Fly.  Beltran scores. Shefield tags and moves to 3rd. 
2) Overcoming injuries & errors.  I do not think I am alone when I say that every time the ball is hit to 3b these days, I hold my breath, and hope Davy Do-Wright does not do wrong.   I mean no disrespect to Uncle Fred's Golden Cash Goose.  He is just making those throws to first a bit of an adventure than I would like them to be.  *I must concede to anybody that says "Lets see you try it."  I cant.  I have played 8 positions over the course of my life with some success.  For some reason I could never handle the throws from 3b.  But I see them making errors (mental or physical)  and picking each other up.  One guy makes a mistake, another does twice as what is expected. Give me a T-E-A-M.
I have always said that this team goes the way Reyes goes.  Well Reyes is hurt.  Delgado is headed to the DL.  Alex Cora, Jeremy Reed, Fernando Tatis, the Sheff and others have them on the verge of a 3rd win in a row with a pinch hit pop up from Reyes and no Delgado at all.
It lend itself  to a lesson that the other NY team simply refuses to learn.  You do not have the best team by having all of the best players.  We need the Mazilli/Endy/Tatis factor to be a factor.  Role players are as important as who ever is batting fourth.
Giant went in order to J.J. Putz in the bottom ninth.  Ball Game.
The Backstop always believes.  Long way to go until the light at the end of the tunnel.  2 Games in first...  They are in the tunnel.  
The Backstop

Saturday, May 9, 2009

7 of the backstops million observations this week.

The Backstop Back At Ya:
A four game sweep of the Braves & Phillies.  A opening series win against the Pirates to boot.
1) The Backstop has several witnesses that heard him say last June that Carlos Beltran would be the 2009 NL MVP.  With the likes of King Albert and Votto in the way,  I stand by this prediction.  He would be the first NY Met to take this honor.  I must note that C-Bel is generally never this good in April & May.  He usually catches his stride in mid-June.  Watching him play, as good as he has been, he still does not look like he has caught his stride.  
2) More than a year after the great trade with the Twins I still find myself pausing during the course of my day and saying the beloved words "Johan Santana is a Met."  The art of pitching in its most refined form is on display in the blue & orange every fifth day.  I advise all fans to take it in as much as they can.  All hail a 1-0 lead is actually safe.
3) K-Rod & the cast in the cage.  I am up to 4 games in this early season that I can say, without a doubt, that we would have lost last season.  That is with or without Wagner.  
4)Being half a game out of first has no meaning to me at this part of the season.  Being 5 games out in this stage would yield no more concern.  We are in the unfortunate position where the regular season has been going on since the called 3rd strike to end game 6 back in 2006.  The reality is that this is the 2009 season.  We are barely at the 30 game mark.  There is too much baseball to play yet.  In all 6 divisions, the true stand out teams have yet to reveal themselves.
5) Oliver's Travels. - I think it was wise of him to accept assignment to the minors.  Especially with what I am hearing about his wounded knee. (accidental pun)  I did not notice until that mess down I-95 about an hour and 45 minutes that his velocity was down.  Way down.  He was topping out at 88 mph.  He is generally (even in his harder to watch ADHD starts) hitting the radar at 91-3.  It seemed his inability to finish off his delivery, especially the slider, would lend legitimacy to him pitching hurt.  So he goes to Buffalo.  He can rehab his knee. Fine tune his delivery.  Most importantly, he can do these things without having to answer to the fans or have the games count.  The latter being more of a concern to me.  We used to be dealing with a super talented pitcher with a fragile ego.  Now we are dealing with a super talented pitcher with the same fragile ego plus 37 million dollars.  The very last thing  I want to see is him dog it until we trade him and pay most of his salary just in time for him to get right and pitch for another contract.   We all love how much New Yorkers love to grant redemption to those that earn it.
6)  Speaking of redemption.  Was that Castillo I saw stealing a base last night? And the night before?  Was that the same guy I have been seeing ranging from behind second base to shallow right field with his glove?  Same guy I see getting on base almost 40% of the time?  I know the jury will have to deliberate on him for at least a half a season.  So far he looks like 75% of the guy I remember in Florida when he was part of one of the best 1-2 tandem I have ever seen. (Juan Pierre being his partner then) Won't you help me sing.  These songs of what could be.  Wait until the second half.  Redemption... Possible. 
7) Nice to see a young starting pitcher get called up for his first start.  Have who are usually 2 very reliable outfielders force him to pitch a 4 out inning and still gut his way to what was a very quality start.  Love the 2 different curve-balls.  Neise looked pretty nice.    
More to come. 
For now the Backstop's got your back. So keep looking forward.
The Backstop    

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I said it was too early when we were loosing...

The Backstop Back At Ya:  And I am in a jam.  When we last spoke I said that I wanted to wait for the Phillies series to be over before I said anything.  Well the next game got rained out.  Then they went into the cursed Turner Field where they never win... And won.  2 games big deal.  But they never win there.  Again, they have not even played 30 games, so it is hard to see one way or the other.  
I must say this: To loose a game the way they did on Saturday.  Have 2 days to sit around and think about it and come back and win 2 from the Braves speaks scores about the teams character.  This seems to be when the Mets (historically speaking) have played their best. As the guys that are not supposed to win.  Unfortunately/fortunately that seems to come with the uniform.  Remember in 2006 when the playoffs began.  The pitching staff needed more medical care than practice balls.  Pedro was out.  El-Duque, storied for his playoff prowess, and slated to start game one against the Dodgers got a sore calf and could not pitch at the last minute.(literally)  All we had going for us was home field advantage.  And really... In baseball?  Well I was there.  I saw a then little known John Maine out duel Derek Lowe and Brad Penny to win game one.  The very same John Maine that has Orioles management still mad at us because we were given a choice of 5 pitchers to be the "throw in" in the deal that imported Jorge Julio (Useless) and exported Mr. Anna Benson.  
*Foot note, the Orioles are the same team that traded us Mike Bordick in 2000 when Rey Ordinez went down to injury.  We sent them Melvin Mora.  Proud father of 5 and the last I checked still a productive fixture in the Orioles everyday lineup.   Bordick subsequently showed up for one at bat.  Looked inconvenienced by playing in a world series.  He then proceeded to re-sign with the Orioles to play shortstop with Mora.
I know how 2006 ended.  But we can't forget how far we went with a roster full of guys who had body parts sewn on.  I do not want to discuss 2006 any further.
The point is that the word "Amazin" does not associate itself with a team where you can expect to see the expected.  Anazin means your fingernails are gnawed down to the nub.  It means that even when they win games they are supposed to win, it will always be interesting.  Lets remember that the East is still anybodies to win or loose.  Lets enjoy the games.  And lets postpone long term evaluations for another week or 2.  You will hear what the backstop thinks of the Phillies series sooner than that.
Untill then... 1 hour & 11 minutes to gametime.
The Backstop

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Reserving Judgement

The Backstop Back At Ya:
I just got done watching the Mets lose to the Phillies in extra innings.  I was thinking that either way this was a good game.  During the regular season the Phillies often seem to bring the best out of the Mets and vice versa.  I said that until the last pitch.  Seeing Sean Green walk home the winning run to end the game brings up one of our most painful memories.  I am not going to write it.  anybody who was a fan in 1999 knows what I am talking about.
I need to see how they respond tomorrow in the rubber game.  
As bad as today was you can learn a lot about a team in how they bounce back from a game like that.  For now, we are still waiting for something to click.  I wish I could tell you that the person or people who will make that happen are on the team presently or not.
One thing that we have to look at is the reality that 2006 was it.  There I said it.
They can no longer play like they will just get a free pass into the playoffs based on talent.  They need to start from the ground up rather than the sky down.
Frustrated right there with you,
The Backstop


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