Section 23

Name:
Location: Delmar, New York, United States

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Back...

Long hiatus. But I have decided to give this another go.

Monday, April 18, 2005

With the lights out...

Ok, so I had a chance to catch one of the televised games this weekend on WPIX, and attempted to listen to the radio broadcast as closely as possible Friday.

There is little much to say that has not been said about the weekend. You would like to finish off a team when you take the first two, but as short handed and struggling as the Mets are offensively you take solace in 2 of 3 from the Marlins right now.

What I will point out beyond congratulations to Aaron Heilmann for a tremendous performance on Friday, and welcome to Pedro, who even with marginal stuff looked dominant on Saturday, is the art of poor journalism.

The piece by Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star Ledger, available at NJ.COM is a perfect example of op-ed reporting. Stephenson asserts his personal opinion of the emotive tense of Willie Randolph's post game interview, which is fine, but you don't see Willie Randolph or any of the context to which Stephenson characterizes his words.

My problem is with his use of "trying to be kind" in reference to Randolph's post game conference. It is irrelevant to the reader whether Stephenson thinks or knows Randolph is trying to be kind, all that matters is that Randolph answers a question as asked. This is a small example of New York writers attempting to drive the storyline as opposed to the game driving it. Of course Glavine did not hit his spots well as evidence by the walks, deep counts and ultimately his loss.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Hard To Blog What you Do not See...

Sure I can try to catch BBTN and other recap sources, but this Time Warner & Cablevision cry baby spat is taking the heart out of the blogger.

I will always be trying to add some insight and often will try to listen to games on the radio, but the lack of MSG/FSN makes this venture difficult.

Obviously last nights win was big as it kept the good vibes alive, but also Ishii pitched better than could be expected. It is hard to overstate those 1 run wins and as much when they are in extra innings. Those things have a habit of building, and for a new team with alot of young players it can start to roll. It does not hurt the veterans either who start to smell momentum over hear we go again.

Not being able to watch last nights game in its entirety is doubly painful, I love the pitchers duel more than anything in baseball.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Aroun the Horn...

Three things to chew on after the completion of the first official week of games...some Mets some not...

1. Boo Birds. This week put the official stamp on New York as the most god awful representation of mutant minions existing on earth. New York fans are horrible creatures with low self esteem and anger management issues. Submitted as new evidence, the Yankee faithful booed, yes they BOOED Mariano Rivera. After that display of utter lack of respect you deserve 86 years of misery times two. The pond scum at Shea is no better. On opening day Kaz Matsui, Felix Heredia and Braden Looper were booed for simply having there names announced. Folks there are no two ways about it. If you feel the need to boo your own players for lack of success stop going to games, it is a cost relative issue to you personally. You feel it is pay exchange right to belittle your own team with lame excuses like "I only root for laundry." Seriously consider staying home, exposing your mental prowess is not doing your meager ego any good. Someone gives a lack luster "effort" fine have at them. I never booed Bobby Bonilla, never saw the point, but I can understand why you might want to. Rivera has earned a level of makegoods that should transcend time, space and physics. As for the Mets contingent, I can only suppose you really think Looper enjoyed Monday in Cincy, that Matsui is set on being a disappointment and that Heredia is just a nuiscance. New York is a town of spoiled misfits and a-clowns.

2. The Phillies and Pat Burrell. Think he misses Larry Bowa? Hardly, hitting .448 with 4 HRs and 17 RBIs in 7 games. There is a reason I was picking Philadelphia to finally show up, and this in one of them. Phils fans are hoping that this is finally a sign of the real Burrell.

3. The "enhancement" testing has thus far outed to leadoff hitters. That seems like it is really working, NOT. Couldn't possibly be that players juiced have wised up, slimmed down and kept a low profile. Or worse have the money and means to access the key masking agents.

Thats two...

Yesterday's 8-4 win at Shea stadium, proved two things. The Mets can play from behind, and perhaps more importantly they can play from behind without the longball.

The difference maker for the Flushing Fellows yesterday was the leg game. Specifically Jose Reyes and Kaz Matsui. Combine some less than stellar play from the Astros (hey first you giveth then you taketh away, although we gave to Cincy and Atlanta) the Mets capitalized on the little differences that makes winners out of former losers.

To me the turning point of yesterday's action was clearly Jose Reyes ability to leg himself out of potential double play in the 8th inning. Victor Diaz who had reached on a walk and moved to third on Marlon Anderson's third pinch hit of the young season (watch out Lee Mazzili, Rusty Staub and Lenny Harris) scored as Reyes beat a hurried throw from Houston shortstop Adam Everett. There is some debate as to whether Houston pitcher Russ Springer should have gone home with the throw, one thing for sure, he will unlikely consider trying to double off Reyes should the situation present itself again. With the game tied and Kaz Matsui at the plate, Reyes under the thankfully open door policy of Willie Randolph quickly stole second base. From there he promptly jetted home on Matsui's slap single to center.

So another nice come from behind win. So following a less than fulfilling opening week, the Mets have had one give away loss, four regular ole L's and two consecutive take aways in their W column. In the season ending boxscore Sunday and Monday look less to the naked eye than opening days one run defeat to Cincy, but turning around 1 run deficits two days running in the 8th inning is a nice building block for success.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Opening week blues...

Not what the doctor ordered for the Mets for a fresh start and new faces.

The horror that transpired in Cincinnati on opening day in the bottom of the ninth trickled down right through to the top of the eighth inning yesterday in Atlanta.

The Mets looked like the same hapless and somewhat scared drones we have grown to know all to well over the past several seasons. The question was how could it be possible? How could you bring in a new GM (again!) and new Manager with all but one new coach (again!) and overhaul five of your eight position players from opening day a year ago, only to see the same legally bad and uninspired baseball.

When Pedro Martinez grounded out to John Smoltz in the top of the 7th inning yesterday, you could not help but think he was wondering the same thing as you..."Did I make a mistake?"

Happily the Mets finally won their first game of the season and the first under manager Willie Randolph yesterday. To some extent, the way Smoltz was rolling (although give a big assist to another mindless thirdbase coach, of which the Mets seem to have an endless supply) even the spector of 0-6 you had to chalk up to his magnificence as opposed to Met failure, he was dealing that well. Kudos to Willie Randolph, although more than one mental midget called WFAN yesterday to complain when he had Miguel Cairo sacrifice Jose Reyes into scoring Position. My goodness how could be playing for a tie on the road...um because we had only one other blown chance to score against Smoltz at that point. Get the game tied and at least you have some relief if not momentum. Gloriously, we witnessed yesterday exactly why as successful as Bobby Cox has been in the regular season, why the Braves get dumped in the first round of the playoffs continously. Personally after 7 innings, I pat John Smoltz on the back and say thank you, but Cox allowed his closer of four years to hit the mound in the eighth with 110+ pitches on the arm. Earlier in the day Cox spoke with Ed Coleman of WFAN about how the Braves were getting the good breaks so far and his team could just as easily lost four or five games. Perhaps caught up in too much of the moment, he gave the Mets a break they very much desparately needed. Carlos Beltran acknowledged that opportunity graciously.

So the Mets salvaged some dignity yesterday. Having only seen part of Friday's game (before TWC axed my Turner South MLB extra innings preview in the 5th inning), Saturday's low level intensity and yesterday's affair it is not easy to get too pumped about the New Mets. All else is dark thanks in part to Time Warner and Cablevision.

Perhaps the New Mets were simply shell shocked and tight after Monday's kicker. Whatever the issue, the New Mets looked an awful lot like those old Mets, leaving an endless procession of runners in scoring position until two 8th inning situations delivered via homeruns.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Opening Day...Ouch!

Not much you can say about the sudden and flat end to opening day for the New York Mets. This blog be damned, as I sit without access two well over two-thirds of the games due to the infants at Time Warner Cable and Cablevision.

The Mets had a lot of things go right yesterday, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez, as discussed by Adam Rubin in the Daily News.

The Mets had a major meltdown from their closer, but less overt were the ten men left on base, and the two double plays from the bat of David Wright. I am not here to blast this game on Wright's shoulders, but each game is more or less a composite of success and failures, rarely is it once action. Braden Looper happened to be the most recent and relevant action yesterady afternoon.

There is a theory in baseball that on average you can more or less count on winning a third of your games and losing another third. It is what happens in the remaining third that makes or breaks your season. Basically you are going to have your share of 6 to 1 or 7 to 3 affairs that appear relatively harmless, and your presence on the tail end of those scores as well. But the real makeup of a team is the 1 and 2 run games. How you fare in these contests, and how many you cough up and how many you take back sets you apart from pretender to contender. The Mets take a big "L" in this category of games yesterday. For the sake of arguement it is a two game loss swing. Not only did they lose by a run, they coughed up a two run lead with only three outs to go. They lost one that was in their bag.

Oh by the way, John Smoltz return was hardly awe inspiring. And yet I doubt the Braves are ready for mutiny. The marathon still has 161 to go.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Senior Circuit...

So, what of the National League

Again, the left coast or things close to it first.

NL West...
1. San Francisco Giants
2. San Diego Padres
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles
5. Colorado Rockies

Yes, Barry Bonds is on the DL indefinitely. Yes he has been the most destructive offensive force in the game since Babe Ruth. But one thing Barry does not do that the Babe did is pitch. The Giants are a veteran laden team, that can ill afford to take any hits beyond the massive loss of Bonds. But in a division that is more or less lifeless it is hard to abondon a pitching staff lead by what most believe to be a an extremely healthy Jason Schmidt. Don't underestimate the impact of Mike Matheny as an acquisition, nor Omar Visquel. Not world beaters but glue with serious credentials and loads of positive experience. The Giants are going to need someone to emerge and shoulder some offensive burden (lets be realistic NO one is replacing Bonds or close to it) or will need to dial a number around the trade deadline, but their pitching should help be in that position come the time. The Padres are intriguing, but not quite there yet, 2005 should be a major step in the right direction for their future, and if they can keep things together and add a veteran arm things could get interesting for them quickly. Arizona clearly reinvented themselves last season, but improving off of 51 wins is not a difficult task. At very least the Snake fans will be able to go to the ballpark this summer sans paper-bags. The only thing saving the Dodgers from last place or oblivion are the lowly Colorado Rockies. Jim Tracy is rewarded for getting the club back to the post season for the first time in nearly a decade and is rewarded with an ambivalent if not puzzling offseason. The Blue part ways with Adrian Beltre, who yes had a career year to date, but more or less replaced him with the same financial package for JD Drew, whom by the way had a career year for Atlanta. While the Braves have financial limitations, the fact that they showed no interest in Drew speaks volumes to me. In a pitching rich market, the Dodgers sat sideline and settled with the remaining lot, one of their own in Odalis Perez. Their changes were oddly cosmetic and not good enough to keep up with their success from a year ago, add injury concerns for top closer Eric Gagne and Tracy should not be shy about putting his house on the market. I have nothing to say about the Rockies, they will score runs, we all know that.

NL Central...
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Houston Astros
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Cincinnati Reds

This is again a tough division, but will not be as competitive as it has in the last few seasons. Father time has caught up to Houston, where fans will lament their we can almost taste it feel from the 2004 NLCS. Pitching will likely keep them afloat but the lack of Lance Berkman and the mileage on Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell will not help matters. The Cardinals teeter on the edge of two possibilites, utter collapse following an outstanding season which saw them virtually not show up in the World Series, or mission to the embarrassment of the former. The addition of Mark Mulder allows the rest of the staff to fall into proper placement, if healthy Matt Morris as your number two is a pleasant concept. St. Louis should be able to go five deep this season fairly consistently. While they lost Edgar Reneteria, they absorbed the hit with a not insignificant pickup in David Eckstien. Sometimes times need a sparkplug, and the thought of Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen is troubling to any pitcher. The only thing holding the Cubbies back is the question on the arms front for Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. While those are significant questions, do not overlook the impact of Carlos Zambrano or 300 game winner Greg Maddux. The Cubs will not miss Sammy Sosa nearly as much as people think. Nomar Garciaparra is poised to have a solid prove them wrong season, while Aramis Ramirez is ready for primetime. If the big guns can get healthy, the Cardinals will be in for a run, but that is a big IF. Pittsburgh and Milwaukee both present interesting teams to watch. Both have talent, with the Brewers being a bit more seasoned. The Pirates have a wealth of young arms that will be seen over the course of the season, and both teams represent a glimpse of the not too distant future of the NL Central. The Reds on the other hand, too much riding on a rag tag pitching staff. Their big offseason move was bringing in Eric Milton and a host of bullpen arms. A wiser move would be to consider how to compete in 2006 if not 2007, because the Cardinals and Cubs are not going away anytime soon.

NL East...
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Mets
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals

This is the best division in baseball hands down, and I do not say that as Mets fan attempting to justify where they will finish. The talent level speaks volumes. The Braves made the boldest move this off season acquiring Tim Hudson. But while the loss of JD Drew is not traumatic, the replacement of his numbers will be. Alot is riding on Raul Mondesi, Brain Jordan part II and reinventing John Smoltz again. That trifecta will cost the Braves their first division crown since 1990. But it won't be by leaps and bounds, Atlanta will win 90 plus games, but fall just shy of Philadphia finally fulfilling their promise. The weight of tension applied by Larry Bowa is lifted, and Jon Lieber will be everything to the Phils that Kevin Millwood was not. A healthy Vincente Padilla, Randly Wolf and a stream of young arms led by Gavin Floyd will benefit from a top notch offensive machine. The Mets, while much improved lack the pitching depth to seriously challenge for the division or even a wild card. Their fortunes rest on the health and impact of Jose Reyes and Kaz Matsui, if they play above their heads the Mets will find themselves on better ground than can be anticipated. The Mets future is more likely 2006 when they can hope to add potentially two impact arms into their starting rotation from their own system. The Marlins might look great on paper, but if there is a team with a more questionable bullpen in baseball, that can least afford to have those questions it is McKeon's crew. There is no reason to believe that Josh Beckett or AJ Burnett will start 30 plus games a piece. I love Al Leiter, but he is going to put a criminal hurting on Florida's pen. None of this will be offset by Carlos Delgado. The Nationals, well, they will be happy to call one city home. They are not total after thoughts, and anytime which takes them lightly will pay the price and scratch their heads when the seaons ends.

So that is that...