Mets Game 46: Win Over Nationals

Mets 7 Nationals 4

As expected, the Mets clobbered the Nationals to finish off a three-game sweep and replace the Phillies in the top perch of the NL East.

Johan Santana was terrible (for Santana … for mere mortals, he was only good), but luckily was facing a AAA team that was bound to falter once enough innings passed by. The only chance Washington had of not losing was a rainstorm — and even then, their best bet was a 5-inning tie.

Santana struck out 11 and allowed only 3 hits in 6 innings of work, but walked 6 and allowed the Nats to cross the plate 3 times in an extremely inefficient 120-pitch outing.

It was Danny Murphy Day at Citi Field, and all fans 12 and under (as well as all fans 12 and up) were treated to a remarkable offensive display from the first baseman of the future. Murphy busted out of his recent slump by going 3-for-4 with 5 RBI, including a homerun and a double. In one evening, he jacked his average 16 points, to .262.

Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for no other reason than to keep the fans inside the stadium. He fulfilled his job of making the game interesting — going so far as to create a situation where Adam Dunn might have come to the plate as the potential tying run — before shrieking “psyche!” and ending the ballgame with a strikeout of Ryan Zimmerman.

Notes

Murphy’s homerun was originally called a non-homer, but yet another video review convinced the umpires that the ball bounced off the Subway sign, which is technically in homerville. Gary Sheffield was thrown out at home (but not really) trying to score from first after the ball that really wasn’t in play was retrieved by Adam Dunn and relayed into the infield.

But was it really a homerun? Hard to say. I was there, but the sight line from where I was standing at the time precluded me from seeing the ball clearly (the hot dog vendor standing in front of me didn’t help, either). Watching the replays afterward on TV, I’m not convinced either way. From one angle, it looked like the ball changed direction, presumably from bouncing off the Subway sign. From other angles, it looked like that change in direction could have been an optical illusion.

And for those of you who were watching on TV, you may have heard Kevin Burkhardt relay the message from the Mets fans sitting directly above the Subway sign confirming that the ball didn’t hit the sign. Yikes, and wow, thank you, video review!

Sheffield, by the way, drove in the Mets other two runs.

David Wright struck out four times. He was clearly, undoubtedly, trying to do too much at the plate — likely because Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Omir Santos were all absent from the lineup.

Three shockers involving rookie Fernando Martinez. First, F-Mart popped up in front of home plate and chose to roll his eyes, pout, and watch the ball rather than run to first base. The ball bounced off Wil Nieves’ chest, but since Martinez didn’t run, Ron Villone was able to still get the out by picking up and tossing the ball to first base. (Note: the shocking thing here was that F-Mart didn’t run, as he had shown to be a hungry, hustling ballplayer in spring training.). Shocker number two was seeing F-Mart trot out to right field at the top of the next inning. Unbelievably, manager Jerry Manuel did not discipline him on the spot and replace him with, say, Jeremy Reed. Shocker number three came in F-Mart’s next at-bat, when he popped up again, but this time to centerfield, and he didn’t run hard again! He watched it, jogged halfway up the first base line, and then started run hard when he saw that Justin Maxwell was going to have trouble getting to the ball (Maxwell wound up making a sliding catch). Those of you watching at home missed that, and the SNY announcers didn’t make a peep about it, either (ironically, Gary Cohen quipped during the at-bat, “…you can bet he’s not going to do that again anytime soon” well, he did).

BTW I watched that first play again on DVR when I got home and was treated to a fourth shock — that SNY cheerleaders announcers Gary Cohen and Ron Darling barely discussed this travesty. The strongest criticism was Cohen describing it as “a mistake”. Are you kidding me? It’s not a mistake, it’s an abomination. You get removed from the game immediately, and, preferably, sent back to Buffalo on the next flight. Anything less and you’re sending the wrong message to the player and the entire ballclub.

Oh, and another thing you didn’t see on your TVs at home was a second player dogging it — Ramon Castro, on his double (it was sandwiched between the Murphy’s non-homer/homer and F-Mart popup). Castro watched the ball from the batter’s box and did a light jog for the first 75 feet. Once the ball bounced on the foul line, he began what I’ll generously term a “trot”. I realize Castro is not a fast man, and likely would not have had a chance at a triple, but that’s no excuse for not hustling. Sit him too, and put Fernando Tatis behind the plate if you have to. It’s time these lollygaggers are made responsible for their actions, and given notice that playing professional baseball is a privilege.

Call me a “nitpicker” or an ornery “old school” guy, but I am livid with the way this non-hustling is tolerated — by the fans, the announcers, the Mets management, and the players themselves. This is MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, and the very least to be expected is effort — particularly from rookies and bench players who have something to prove.

Despite their lack of hustle, this team might win 85-90 games purely on talent, and it might be enough to get them a postseason spot. But I’m not sure I’ll care. The players don’t, so why should I?

At least now I know why the tickets for this game were much less than any others on the schedule — because the quality was much less than Major League. You get what you pay for.

Next Mets Game

These dogs dog-tired Mets get a wellllllll-deserved day off on Thursday, then host the Marlins on Friday to begin a three-game series. Mike Pelfrey goes to the mound vs. Sean West.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. wlaadair May 28, 2009 at 9:08 am
    Great job by Murph last night, he needed those two days off, he said he was banned from the batting cages.

    Wright had a rough night, but in his defense he has played every game and did help them get on the board in the first. He does try to do too much, especially with so many people out of commission, but when you are considered the captain/leader, that’s what your role is, a lot of pressure is on him now more than ever.

    He’s clearly exhausted, they team day off today should help him a lot.

  2. gary s May 28, 2009 at 10:14 am
    joe, the lack of hustle and not running on the basepaths on this team is unreal.why doesn’t manuel pull these guys on the spot and fine them when they don’t hustle??it’s a disgrace.the biggest “jogger” on the team was delgado.it seems to habe filtered down to 80 per cent of the team.castro is a disgrace abd sgould be cut tomorrow for not hustling,horrible defense and never blocking the plate.despite the wins i have zero expectattions of making the playoffs, unless manuel starts fining the “jakers”
  3. isuzudude May 28, 2009 at 10:18 am
    Joe, I’m with you in that watching these multi-millionaires playing a game for a living gets awfully frustrating when they are shown to be doing their job half-ass, like not running out flyballs and the like. And in some cases I agree the act warrants a benching. But to bench/demote FMart after not running out the popup in front of the plate is over-reacting. Calm down, Joe, I know you’re fuming already, so let me explain. Like you wrote, “the shocking thing here was that F-Mart didn’t run, as he had shown to be a hungry, hustling ballplayer in spring training,” which means FMart has a history of being a fundamentally sound, play-hard-all-the-time player. If Jerry were to bench him and Omar were to demote him immediately following his gaffe, the message being sent would be “you need to be perfect 100% of the time or we don’t want you.” And for the #1 prospect in the organization, you don’t want him thinking the team has it out for him or that he’s being treated unfairly because of the hype. If you go overboard with the punishment more negative consequences are bound to breed than if you just give him a stern talking to in the dugout and tell him that this type of BS ain’t going to cut it if you plan on being an MLB star. And it’s not like FMart purposely stood there thinking, “Hey, I’m just going to be lazy on this play and not run because I’m a doosh like that.” He knows he screwed up. He heard the boos. He had a mental lapse that, with time, will occur less and less. But he won’t be able to make the mistakes to learn from if he’s sitting in the doghouse on the bench or in AAA. Don’t forget, the kid is 20. Can you HONESTLY say at the tender age of 20 that you ran out every flyball/popup? You also have to consider Jerry is already working with a short bench with Beltran out, so taking FMart out of the game for disciplinary reasons further handcuffs the manager. And if you were to start benching players whenever they do something stupid, you’d be left with an empty bench by the 5th inning on a routine basis. There’s no excuse if FMart didn’t bust out of the box in his final atbat, and if that did happen I’m demanding someone on the Mets’ coaching staff get in FMart’s face and tell him to cut the crap. And we’ve already seen our fair share of lollygags from Ramon Castro, which is why I’m on the side of the fence that can’t wait until his contract runs out at the end of the year. But my point is that there are other disciplinary actions that can be taken against a young player than immediate benching/demoting. I think that’s the route the Mets are going, and I think they made the right choice.

    By the way, is it a mere coincidence that Santana may have had his worst start of the year following his 118-pitch effort against the Red Sox last time out? So now, after throwing 120 pitches last night, are we to expect an even worse start his next time to the mound against Pittsburgh? If that turns out to be the case, don’t be surprised if Jerry starts yanking Johan out of every game as soon as triple digits appear on his pitch count tally. And he may be justified in doing it.

  4. mic May 28, 2009 at 10:42 am
    ‘As expected, the Mets clobbered the Nationals to finish off a three-game sweep ……’

    An Xtreme statement as the Mets cant finish sweeps when healthy…nevermind with an all scrub lineup even Willie would not put on the field. Add to that DW had 4 strikeouts…Bottomline we win behind 5rbi from dan murphy who was it seemed an afterthought who Jerry cited as ‘not swinging the bat well’. I hope he has the stroke back…and says goodbye (forever) to leading off. What was with the error in the 9th?
    BTW- did the price for Nick J. go down?

  5. joe May 28, 2009 at 11:54 am
    wlaadair – agreed

    gary – i’m with you 100%. Delgado is the “leader” of this team, and as such set the example of taking it easy since he became a Met, and it rubbed off on several teammates. We’ve discussed it here many times in the past, actually.

    mic- the price for Johnson stays up while Big Papi struggles

    dude – this is going to be one of those issues where we’ll never see eye to eye. Yes I can say that at the “tender age of 20” I ran out every ball. EVERY ONE. I can say I did that going back to AGE TEN, in fact. This thing has to be nipped in the bud, or it will get worse and worse. As I mentioned in the post, F-Mart didn’t learn squat, because he jogged again in his very next at-bat.

    And I don’t care one bit about a short bench — all the better to teach a lesson if the team ends up shorthanded because of a rookie’s mistake. Watch Hoosiers, particularly the scene where the coach leaves 4 kids on the floor. It’s not just a movie, but also a fine example on how sports are supposed to be played.

    But we’ll need to agree to disagree on this one, because I can already tell you’re of a different mindset. No biggie, just know that if you’re ever playing on any of MY teams, your butt’s on the bench for not hustling! 🙂

  6. wlaadair May 28, 2009 at 12:25 pm
    Agreed, F Mart is being given the chance to play in the majors and needs to prove immediately that he belongs there and by not running out those plays, is showing that he is not ready for that privilege.

    Yes they are shorthanded right now from the injuries, but you still have to play the game to the best of your abilities.

  7. isuzudude May 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm
    I appreciate you respecting my opinion. I just see this issue getting way too much attention. I fully understand being upset at the fact that the Mets have developed a reputation of being lackadasical and fundamentally unsound, which by and large has cost them a playoff berth in each of the past 2 seasons. But FMart was not a part of those teams, so whatever infectious disorder that has plagued Castro, Delgado, Beltran, Reyes, etc, should not apply to Martinez because he’s never been on a team with these guys outside of about 30 days in spring training. And if people continue to harp on this FMart’s lack of hustle, it’s going to fester into him getting booed after every strike out, every error, every GIDP…and then everytime he’s coming to bat, everytime he’s in the field, everytime his name is mentioned. Aka the Aaron Heilman treatment. Is that fair? Is that what we want to happen to our brightest future star? Some may say that it’s all part of the learning curve and maturation experience, but FMart deserves better, especially considering that his REPUTATION is that of being a hard working, hustling player. It would be a shame if this one dopey mistake were to mislabel him as a lazy nincompoop, and then his playing time and talent were to suffer because of it.
  8. wlaadair May 28, 2009 at 2:56 pm
    Yes, agreed it is getting a lot of attention, fair or not, but as fans we do tend to nitpick at things. He was not part of the team the past two years and should not be lumped into that category. Provided he shows that he learned from this mistake, it will soon be forgotten about, because if his reputation proves accurate, he will make believers out of all fans.
  9. gary s May 28, 2009 at 5:26 pm
    if u don’t run out flyballs at 20 years old and your second game in the bigs, when will u run them out?? put hin ia a package for a starter..i’ve seen enough
  10. isuzudude May 28, 2009 at 5:34 pm
    Wow, Gary, I hope you’re speaking in sarcasm. If not, I guess that means you would have traded Reyes when he failed to run out flyballs earlier in his career, too, without giving him any chance to redeem himself? Omar may not be the brightest bulb in the batch, but thank goodness you’re not the Mets’ GM!
  11. joe May 28, 2009 at 6:40 pm
    Interesting you bring up Reyes, ‘dude. We’re still waiting for him to “grow up” at the “tender age” of 26.

    I’m with Gary on this one — if you’re not going to run when you’re 20, you ain’t running, ever, unless someone benches you.

    ‘dude, you may be OK with watching baseball players give a half-assed effort, but I can’t deal with it. To me, there’s only one way to play the game, the right way, and the right way is playing it 100%.

    For me, this Mets team is getting less and less likable by the day.

  12. isuzudude May 28, 2009 at 9:28 pm
    I know we’re still waiting for Reyes to grow up, as I’ve grown frustrated over his immarturity as well. But that still hasn’t prevented him from being an all-star SS, which is why it would have been detrimental for the Mets to have given up on him when he was ‘young and dumb’ because they would have missed out on a damn fine player. And I think the same will apply to FMart.

    I just don’t get why you think benching a player who screws up is the only way to get through to them. It certainly didn’t help the aformentioned Jose Reyes when he got benched by Willie in 2007. Because not only has Reyes not learned his lesson to quit the lollygagging, but he also went on to hit .250 over the rest of the season. That’s why I think over-reacting to a one-time mental lapse by a player of FMart’s caliber would breed more negative consequences than if, in a private setting, Jerry or whomever sat down with Martinez and gave him the lecture of his life about how to play the game properly at the major league level. I don’t understand how you think FMart would disregard that type of discipline, but would immediately straighten up as fit as a fiddle if he were publically embarrassed and chastised by being benched or demoted without a shot at redemption. That type of punishment would reek of the powerful being powerful just to be powerful, rather than sending any moral message to the team or enstilling values in the player.

    And I still think a major theme in this discussion needs to center around A) FMart’s reputation of being a good hustler, and B) FMart’s age. I don’t know what all this talk about “when are you ever running out a flyball if you’re not at 20?” That’s nonsense. Rookies make mistakes, of the mental and physical kind, all the time. They get lost in the ambiance of the major leagues, and do some boneheaded things. It’s called growing pains. And it’s been happening since the game first started. I truly believe FMart is playing the game at 100%, he just did 1 dumb thing that suddenly has unfairly branded him as just another half-asser. Can we give this KID more than 2 games before we cast him to the trash pile?

    And I guess I have to disagree with the team’s likability factor, too…go figure. Johan Santana is the hardest working pitcher on the planet. What’s not to like about Mike Pelfrey and John Maine? Livan Hernandez has been a revelation. The team has been winning despite a plethora of injuries, and getting surprising production from former nobodies like Omir Santos and Angel Pagan. Heck, even Gary Sheffield has been an angel thus far. From the beginning of the season until now, I’d say it’s hard not to like the Mets more today than opening day. True, you have your Beltran failures to slide, and your bats not cleared by the on-deck hitter, and your manager making a baffoon of himself in the tabloids, but show me a team that is perfect and I’ll show you the pot at the end of the rainbow.

    Geez, maybe you are just getting ornery with age.

  13. joe May 28, 2009 at 11:31 pm
    ‘dude, I give up. It must be that I’m growing old and ornery, because I will never be able to understand or connect with a generation of players and fans who think it’s OK to slack off, and also think that benching might somehow psychologically damage a person.

    And you keep missing what I stated in the post: F-Mart didn’t hustle TWICE. EVEN AFTER BEING BOOED, he proceeded to jog up the 1B line on a blooper that Justin Maxwell had to make a sliding catch on. So this is not a one-time “dumb mistake”, it is a pattern. In fact I’ve heard reports from people who watched him over the last two years and according to them, he’s had bouts of laziness.

    As for Reyes I was one of the few who stood up for the disciplinary action two years ago, and in fact called out Delgado, Beltran, and Wright as being dogs the entire year (it was all recorded right here on MT). I brought up Reyes as an example of someone “everyone else” considers to be immature, but really he was the whipping boy for all the other dogs who never once were disciplined for non-hustling.

    Enough of my commenting, this is turning into an all-out rant which will soon be a post. And as mentioned earlier, we’ll have to agree to disagree, because an athlete giving his/her best effort is, to me, the most basic fundamental of ANY sport — in fact to me it is the essence of sport.

  14. CatchDog May 29, 2009 at 8:19 am
    dude; I agree with your “glass half full” opinion, especially where this team currently is at despite all of the challenges.

    As a coach, I’ve dealt with a fair share of kids who were the last to warm up, run poles, hustle out to their position or acted as though their talent had given them a free pass to be lazy at will. This laziness began at practice and then would rear it’s ugly head in games. It is also extremely contagious.

    Most of those kids no longer play for me.

    I’ll take a player who wants to be there over a one who thinks it’s owed to him. And when that lazy kid rides the pine, it’s amazing how quickly said kid’s parents chirp from the stands about how their “stud” kid is getting a bad deal. Funny how that works.

    I make it clear from the beginning; my core fundamentals begin with hustle, discipline and doing the little things right. I would hope that these major league players share in that same philosophy.