Monday, April 30, 2007

InterNATIONAL Dance Day

Yesterday, we went down to DC to see the Mets play the Nationals, in what was the culmination of our weekend-long celebration of International Dance Day, party hats and maracas in full force. RFK might be the dumpiest ballpark I have ever attended a sporting event in, especially from the outside. I suspect that the fine gentleman I met at the Mets-Phillies game a couple weeks ago would be even less likely to take a crap in this parking lot than he would be at Shea.
The Mets were lucky to get out of RFK this weekend with 2 wins. They easily could have gotten swept by an awful team, but luckily for the time being the Yankees seem to have cornered the market on that practice. Saturday night was one of those games that remind you why you love baseball, as more than any other game, it's a game of inches: Easley getting called safe at first, Chavez sliding under the tag at the plate. Any of these things end up an inch off, and the Mets lose. Yesterday was all about John Maine. This guy looks like the real deal so far. He doesn't overpower you or have incredible stuff, but it seems like he just knows how to pitch and he consistently gets the job done.
The news today is that the Mets age seems to have already caught up to them, as both El Duque and Valentin are headed for the DL. In terms of El Duque, we expected this. There was no way he was pitching a full season. So, the Chan Ho Park era begins. I suspect this will be imminently (used correctly and precisely here) followed by the Jorge Sosa era, and then possibly the Phil Humber era. Here's hoping that El Duque is back before we are forced to get to the Av Sinensky era.
As for Valentin: first of all, it's worth pointing out that an actual person would never hurt his ACL. Now that we have that out of the way, while we still don't have the full diagnosis and projections for his injuries, ACLs are always scary, expecially considering his age and past knee problems. If he's going to be out awhile, I hope Omar isn't seriously viewing any of the in-house options as the long-term replacement. Damion Easley, Anderson Hernandez, and Ruben Gotay are simply not everyday players (in the case of Hernandez and Gotay, possibly not even anyday players.) My vote: Mark Grudzialanek of the Kansas City Royals. I wanted them to sign him last year and I think he would fit perfectly if Valentin can't come back. He's a solid veteran with a good reputation, plays great defense, and will be a solid .280 hitter and a smart player. And I can even save Omar some time because I will be in Kansas City next week, so I can do some scouting and maybe initiate trade talks with the front office. I would have to think he would be gettable without giving up too much. Next best option: my dad. If you can't replace the ball player, at least replace the mustache.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This

Can't win 'em all I guess, even against crappy teams. Mike Pelfrey just didn't have it today and the Mets got crushed. It's a little disheartening to see the offense unable yet to bail the starters out when they deliver poor performances. We know this team is capable of putting up 10 runs in a game routinely, but they always seem to do it when they get a good start and thus win 10-2. They need to show that they are capable of winning games 10-8 in addition to 3-2.
Not really much else to report on this game other than to call attention to an ongoing debate I have with Eric all the time about when it's appropriate to leave a baseball game. Etan called me to today to ask this very question when the Mets went down 9-0 and I gave him permission to leave. Eric maintains that the only time it is ever acceptable to leave a game is when the game is over. Eric, however, is overly principled to a fault and lacks the reasonablemindedness to see when his principles are impractical. We go to enough games that leaving early doesn't mark us as bad fans. It simply means that staying for the rest of the game will be a miserable experience and we can find less depressing ways to spend our time than sit there and watch a team that just doesn't have it today.
One last point. After the game, Danielle asked me: "So now you're all gonna be in bad moods? Is this how it works?" Ya, pretty much. Such is the life of a baseball fan, or at least this group of baseball fans. Our happiness on a daily basis is inexorably linked to whether or not the Mets won their previous game, leading to a constant oscillation between euphoria and depression. Baseball season is basically a 6 month long ecstasy trip. Better get used to it China.
Oh and Yankee fans, watch out, is that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in your rearviermirror? Well, don't look now because I think they just passed you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Free Baseball

The other day, Eric commented to me that he didn't think this team looked like they had that comeback ability in them that made them so dangerous in the late innings last year. Well, how do you like them apples, Eric? I bet you're feeling pretty foolish now. You really have egg on your face this time, don't you. On a night when the Mets couldn't get anything going offensively, when it looked like they were gonna waste a masterful performance by El Duque (for the record, Feder says that when he tries to throw those curveballs that Duque was throwing tonight on his playstation game, everyone hits HR's,) it wasn't David Wright or Moises Alou, the Carloses or the Joses, it wasn't even Shawn Green or Paul Lo Duca (although, God I LOVE HIM) that came to the rescue. It was Damion Easley, who with 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th and down to his last strike, sent one over the left center field fence to put the Mets on the board for the 1st time and give us even more free baseball.
Great teams find ways to win. When all goes to hell, they find a way to squeak by on a pinch hit HR and a game winning bunt single. Incredible job by Chavez recognizing that the right side was playing back and dragging that bunt up the line for the win. This came after Speier (JZ?) delivered the most obvious balk in the history of baseball. In fact, this might have been the first time I ever knew it was a balk before the ump called it. Willie has to find more ways to get Chavez involved. He is our Antwan Randle El. The goal has to be to get the ball in his hands (at the plate, in the field, on the basepaths) and just let him make plays. He's not talented enough to be an every down or day player, but he has that big play ability that makes a difference in games and Willie has to be more creative in finding ways to use him.
Shawn Green gets a gameball for hustling and stretching a basehit up the middle into a double. I went on the record, saying Lastings Milledge would be the everyday rightfielder by May 15, but the way Green has been playing, Milledge should start boarding up his windows because he might be down in New Orleans for a while. Amazing Kiddush Hashem by Green. Terrible Chillul Hashem by me.
I'm told tonight was another amazing night of whiteboarding, which I am happy to hear, but more so, I am pissed off at Penn Law for forcing me to take finals this week and causing me to miss the excitement at Shea.

Mets Baseball At Cavs

Last night, I decided to mix things up a bit and took a very well deserved break from studying to go to Cavanugh's to watch the Mets game with Feder. For those of you who are not familiar with Cavanaugh's, it is a very high class, sports bar a couple blocks from Penn Hillel that is typically packed to the brim with well dressed, friendly, totally unscary individuals. For those of you who are not familiar with sarcasm, it is the rhetorical device I used in the previous sentence. For further examples of sarcasm, visit its wikipedia entry.
So we watched many baseball games while drinking beer, paying close attention to the Mets and then the Phillies. The Phillies were taking their turn at the honoring Jackie Robinson thing, so all players and coaches on both the Astros and Phillies were wearing nameless #42 jerseys. They were all Cheadle. This made figuring out who was up, pitching, etc nearly impossible unless I happened to recognize their face. Although, it did make me laugh a lot whenever there was somebody on base and the camera shot was of the 1st baseman, runner, and 1st base coach all in the same picture, all wearing #42. I'm not sure how exactly this honors Jackie Robinson, but I guess I just don''t understand. First, we said nobody is allowed to wear his jersey. Now we're saying everyone should wear his jersey. Makes no sense to me.
As for the Mets, they won easily against a terrible team. Their next 5 games are also against terrible teams, and there is no reason why they shouldn't come out of this 6 game stretch with 5 wins. Mainly because if they don't Eric will declare the following 48 games to be triple code red must wins and go on suicide watch. And that won't be pleasant for anyone.
Finally, last night, the rest of the Mets Baseball clan were representing at Shea, as they whiteboarded their way in, but the whiteboarding didn't end there. They somehow got a party patrolwoman's attention and got Harold into the trivia contest between innings. They then used the whiteboard to start a "HA-ROLD" chant in their section, adjoining sections, and eventually scattered parts of the stadium via the big screen. When Harold failed to answer the question correctly, the chants turned into heckles, as the entire section chanted "HAAAAAAAA-ROLD," asshole-chant style. Per Shea Stadium policies, I can only assume that Harold was awarded the same parting gift he would have received had he answered the question correctly.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring Is Here

We seem to have finally turned the corner weather wise, which made going to the game yesterday afternoon something I looked forward to all weekend. Beautiful weather, field box seats, and the rubber game of Mets-Braves (extra points to any Bednarsh nephews that could tell me what a rubber game is.) Also, before the game I got a call from my cousin, who subsequently informed me that her 7 year old son is a Mets' fan (she doesn't know how or why, but he says that he is) and that I must take him to a game, which I was absolutely delighted to here, as the next generation of Mets' fans in my family are now in place.
Turns out though, the weather was pretty much the only good thing going on yesterday. Yesterday's game is the type of game my mom loves because she cares more about the back and forth drama of a baseball game than its outcome. As we have already discussed, however, my mom doesn't understand baseball. Or many other things, but that's a topic for a different day.
The Mets have always struggled against John Smoltz. I have no statistical evidence to back this up, it's just a sentiment I have from watching him pitch against us for close to 15 years now. We have had some good moments agaisnt him (Piazza game-tying HR in NLCS game 6, Beltran HR in April 2 years ago when the Mets opened the season 0-5) but overall, he scares me. Yesterday was no different. Through the 1st 4 innings, he looked unhittable, with all his pitches working. The Mets were down 3-1 and Glavine was out of the game, headed for the loss. But when the Mets exploded for 5 runs off Smoltz in the 6th, highlighted by a bases clearing Reyes triple (check out his projected stats on his profile right now), this game didn't seem losable. Last year's team would not have lost this game. Ever. (As a side point, on the triple, Valentin missed the plate on the slide, was sent back to touch it by Alou, and only then did the ump call him safe. As all of this was happening, I was jumping up and down in my seat, yelling "He missed the plate. Go back." I'd like to think Alou heard me and alerted Valentin.)
Without getting too much analysis of Willie's use of the bullpen, he seemed totally clueless in the 7th yesterday. If you're gonna use Burgos there, let him pitch. Why are you pulling him after he gets the 1st 2 guys out and then allows one guy on due to a bad defensive play by Green? And if you're gonna go righty-lefty there, then really go righty-lefty. How is Schoenweiss still in the game to pitch to Renteria?
The last point I want to make is that David Wright looks totally lost. He's playing terrible defense and can't do anything at the plate. He's already struck out 18 times in 17 games and he seems to be going down looking more than I can ever remember. I'm not sure what the answer is, but maybe Willie should sit him down for a day or two to let him get a break and maybe clear his head. We need the David Wright we've come to expect to show up if we're gonna be able to get where we want to be this season.
So I dropped to 1-2 on the year (0-2 at Shea), but there was a silver lining. I got a 2007 Mets calendar, which is now hanging above my desk. Uri did not. So Uri, you've been calendared.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wastin Away On The Streets Of Philadelphia

I always get enjoyment in situations where there is a very prevalent stereotype of certain groups of people and then those people continually exhibit behavior that further perpetuates that stereotype. For example, the way I always hear stories about Stern girls decorating their friends' doors when they get engaged, taking classes about marriage, and breaking the floor in Belfer during a chagigah. Well, in the case of Philadelphia sports fans, I can honestly say that their reputation as absolutely awful human beings gets reinforced for me every time I attend a sporting event in this town.
I went to the game with Eric tonight and we sat a few rows behind the left-center field fence, which gave us a very different and unique perspective on a baseball game. We had a great view of both of Alou's home runs and saw Aaron Rowand dive towards the wall for a fly ball about 8 feet away from us. It was definitely a good change of pace. But back to Philly fans and why they suck...
It seems like there is a significant number of people in this city that would describe this as a fun night out: get totally hammered, go to the game, and harass people for no reason. For most of the early parts of the game, we sat quietly and kept to ourselves, clapping at times when something good had happened. For some reason though, some of the fans in our vicinity declared that we were homosexuals. They then demanded that we orally pleasure them. One might suggest that this unusual request indicates that they are, in fact, the homosexuals, but I don't want to make allegations. They also seemed to think that the fact that I was wearing a Reyes jersey was very comical and unusual and began addressing me as if I was actually Jose Reyes (and as if I was the 1st person ever to wear a player's jersey to a sporting event.) At one point they were yelling something at me during a pitch while Reyes was in the process of stealing 2nd. I waited until the play concluded with Reyes standing safely on 2nd and then turned around and asked them to repeat their question, as I was unable to hear it the 1st time, since I was too busy stealing 2nd.
Towards the end of the game, the elderly gentleman in front of us started hurling profanities at us and seemed to be extraordinarily proud of the fact that the seats he was sitting in were his own season tickets, taunting us about the fact that surely we could never acquire such high-caliber seats at Shea or any other ballpark. The face value on the seats was $22. He proceeded to mock Shea, saying "that place is such a dump, I wouldn't even take a shit in the parking lot." I asked him what would inspire him to ever take a shit in any parking lot, explaining that such behavior was disgusting and probably illegal.
Finally, the activity that bothers me most of all, and it is something I have witnessed not only at Phillies' games but also at a Dave Matthews concert here last December, is the constant barrage of E-A-G-L-E-S chants that spurt out at every non-Eagles game event that occurs in this city. It absolutely drives me crazy and I am happy that my days of living in this city, EAGLES chants and all, are soon coming to an end.
On another note, RANGERS HOCKEY, YAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. I will be attending the game tomorrow night as we get our brooms out and try to sweep the Thrashers the way the Mets swept the Phillies in their series tonight.

Monday, April 16, 2007

If The Rain Comes, They Run And Hide Their Heads

There has been no Mets Baseball (yeahhhhhh) the last 2 days because it has rained. That makes me sad. I do not enjoy watching the puddles gather rain. And I would never complain that there's no rain. Rain is only good in Israel. Or as a Mortal Kombat character.
So what have I been up to since there hasn't been any Mets Baseball to follow? Mainly, 2 things: I have watched "The Devil's Advocate" and I have watched hockey. Amazingly, one of these 2 things was academic in nature. I surveyed a couple other Mets' fans to see how they were spending their days off. Harold spent Sunday taking a series of naps, while Eric "went shopping and then did nothing." It seems we all have very exciting lives when the Mets miss a couple days. Hard to believe any of us survive the winter.
I didn't see either of the games this weekend because I am shomer Torah U'Mitzvos. (Or at least I was this past Shabbos [at least with respect to watching the Mets game]) Therefore, I don't have much to say about them. I was a little disappointed that they only came away with 1 win out of the Nationals series, as I expected at least 4 or 5, but what can you do. Pelfrey wasn't remarkable in his season debut, but it was good to see him pitch decently and get his feet wet. I think he is a very key part of the rotation this year, and has the young, strong arm that could potentially give the bullpen a needed break after getting a lot of action in Glavine/Duque starts.
Going to the game tomorrow night here...hopefully. That should be a pleasant experience. Sporting events in Philadelphia always are.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Home Sweet Home

I went home last night. And although it was cold, windy, overall unpleasant and the Mets got beat in a slow, boring game, it was good to be home. As we drove down the ramp towards Shea, with Pearl Jam's cover of "The Boys Are Back In Town" blasting, it felt like I had never left. I wish there was more about the game and the experience to report, but it was too cold to really pay attention to anything and nothing particularly interesting happened, except that a cat ran onto the field at some point. The last time this happened, the Mets won the World Series, so that bodes well for our chances this year, I guess.
Oliver Perez is, well, what I expected. He was great in his 1st start, dreadful last night. The most frustrating thing about a guy like him is that he is so clearly talented with exceptional stuff, so that every time he goes out there and pitches lights out, we will think that he has turned the corner and will be good from that point on. But I have a feeling that this two-game pattern will be a decent sample of what we can expect from Perez this season.
Good job by Mets fans deciding to pick on Jimmy Rollins whenever he does anything that can possibly be construed as screwing up. Yesterday, there were jeers for him after he failed to make a play on a groundball that hit the pitcher and got redirected. Let's hope this treatment continues for the rest of the year going forward.
As a side note, last night a Mets fan and Yankees fan got arrested because they got into a fight, which led to a loud "Yankees Suck" chant. Now, Eric has always hated these chants at Mets games as he feels that the focus should be on the Mets, not the Yankees, and I guess in a way it validates them when we do that. And some might point out that Yankee fans will never do a "Mets Suck" chant at a game, explaining that Mets fans have an inferiority complex when it comes to the Yankees, and they don't care about the Mets. I would point out that many of the chants at Mets' games are in response to instigation from an obnoxious Yankee fan, not out of the blue, and that in all the non-Mets/Yankees games I have been to at Yankee Stadium, I have never seen Mets fans behave the way Yankee fans do at Mets games, instigating and picking fights. So I think this might be a better explanation for the disparity in chants and makes me more comfortable about the chant in general. Because when we chant "Yankees Suck" what we are really saying is "That guy and is an asshole, and so is anyone like him."

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Back To Earth

So, the Mets aren't gonna go 162-0 this year. They're not even gonna go 161-1. But we knew that already. Turner Field has always been a humbling place for us, and this weekend was no different.
Positives to take out of the weekend:
1. great efforts out of Perez and El Duque and a decent performance out of Glavine, so the starting pitching has continued to impress
2. the Mets have continued their minhag from last year of striking early on the road. They scored 78 runs in the 1st inning on the road last year. In this series, they scored in the 1st inning or the 1st two games and while they failed to score in the 1st today, they came right back with 2 in the 2nd for tashlumin purposes.
3. Jose Reyes is inspired with Ruach HaKodesh. Watching him play every day is one of the greatest pleasures in my life right now. Check out Mike Vaccaro's article from Sunday in the Post, it borders on avodah zara.

On today's loss:
As soon as they took El Duque out of the game I told both Eric and Etan that the bullpen was gonna F this game up. It just had that feel. In a game where you let the other team stay in the game by continually squandering chances to break the game open, the baseball gods won't allow you to win the game. It's that simple.

Sadly, I will be missing the home opener tomorrow because God, in consultation with the Rabbis decided that we can't have more than 45 consecutive minutes during Pesach this year that are not interrupted by issur melacha. But I'll be there Wednesday night for our very own "Orthodox Opening Day" and as always, we'll be tailgating in the parking lot before. So if by any chance, there is someone out there who is reading this who was not already on the email about the tailgate, you are cordially invited to join us in the Shea parking lot (whatever is left of it) for some Dogs and Liebermans before the frum, home version of 2007 Mets Baseball gets underway.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


As I sat on the train on the way back to Manhattan after Game 7 of last year's NLCS, the most depressing, quiet, catatonic train ride of my life, I turned to Harold and said "I can't do this again." I wasn't going to allow myself to invest emotionally in a baseball season the way I had in the 2006 Mets because I couldn't let myself get crushed like that again. I, like many other Mets fans, spent the next 5+ plus months replaying that 9th inning over and over again in my head, hoping that this time Willie would bunt instead of sending Floyd up there, picturing Reyes' line drive sailing over Edmonds' head instead of into his glove, and begging Beltran to at least swing the bat. You would think that the bitter ending to last season would have had me counting down the days to the new season, eagerly anticipating their chance for a fresh start. Instead, I was almost dreading the new season because it was too daunting: to think they had to play 162 games, win a round of the playoffs and win 3 games of the NLCS just to get back to exactly where they were an hour before that train ride last year was too high a hurdle, especially when considering that this time they would be expected to do it. And so, unlike previous years, Opening Day totally snuck up on me this year. All of a sudden it was here and there was a baseball game on and the Mets were playing the Cardinals. There's something special about baseball though, which unless you really love it, you can't appreciate it. Because as soon as Chris Carpenter fired the 1st pitch of the season to Jose Reyes (a ball - good eye Jose, way to work the count, gotta be more patient at the plate this year)...I was back.

So, the Mets swept the Cardinals. What does this mean for them? It means they're 3-0. Not much else. My mom would try to convince you that the Mets are now likely to finish the season with a record of roughly 162-0 ("An 'A' student is always an 'A' student". ) My mom doesn't understand baseball. I try not to get wrapped up in the outcomes of games this early in the season because the baseball season is just too long. Still, there is something satisfying about sweeping the Cardinals in their building and doing it by a combined score of 20-2. Does this make us even? It very much does not. Nothing ever could. Even if the Cardinals were to go 0-162 for the next 10 years and the Mets were to run off with 10 straight World Series wins, we wouldn't be even. There is nothing that could happen that would take away the pain of Game 7. Nothing. A sports fan never forgets those games (for me, in order: 2006 NLCS Game 7, 1998 AFC Championship game, 1999 NLCS Game 6, 1994 NBA Finals Game 7.) Ask any Red Sox fan if beating the Yankees in 2004 made the memories of Aaron Boone or Bucky Dent any less painful. It doesn't. It never goes away.
So what can we take away from this 3-0 start?
1. This lineup is damn good. They were scary last year, but it seems they might be even better this year.
2. The starting pitching has been very encouraging. Not so much the combined 2 runs they gave up in the series, but more so that their starters have gone deep into games, which they'll really need this year with a weakened bullpen. John Maine's performance tonight was particularly encouraging because he is one of the players I have labeled as an "x factor" for this year. We know what we're gonna get out of Glavine and we know what El Duque can do when he's healthy. And the back end of the rotation will probably be a typical back end (the rookie and the hit or miss guy.) But John Maine could be the difference between the Mets having a "good enough to get by" rotation and a truly formidable one. If he can be the pitcher we saw flashes of down the stretch last year, most notably in Game 6, and then again tonight,
the Mets are gonna be tough to beat in the NL East.
3. Whatever chemistry last year's team had seems to have carried over to this year so far. The way they were able to just turn it on after a nervous spring is indicative of this. Or maybe they were just pumped to play the Cardinals. But I prefer to think that it means the team is just very good and well constructed. We'll see, I guess.
4. This lineup is damn good.
So that's what we can take out of these 3 games. Right now, it's hard to conceive a scenario under which the Mets could lose a game this year. But as the saying goes, "momentum is as good as tomorrow night's starting pitcher." And we have Oliver Perez (6.55 ERA last year) going Friday night in Atlanta. But for right now I'm gonna relish this feeling. Because baseball is back and I couldn't be happier. And the Mets are off to a 3-0 start to boot. And even if it doesn't really mean anything or change anything and we probably won't even remember this, for one night, we got our "revenge" on St. Louis.


Welcome to my 2007 NY Mets blog. If you are reading this, it's probably because I emailed you or told you about it and you decided to click on the URL. Anyways, here's the deal: I have decided to write a blog covering the 2007 Mets' season. Unlike other people, I am not promising that this will be a daily blog. I am not even promising that it will be funny or particularly interesting. I am simply using this as a venue to record some of my thoughts and impressions of the Mets as we go through the season. I like recording my thoughts about things as they occur and being able to look back at them later, so really this is mostly for myself. If anyone else finds this interesting or amusing, that's an added bonus. This season has a chance to be very special and I would love to have all of you to share it with me as much as possible both in person and through this blog as we embark together on what I can only hope will be the year the Mets finally win it all.

More later...