Mets 13 Nationals 0
It was a blowout, and it was a win, but let’s look at the most important issues, considering the Mets’ postseason.
Have Tom Glavine pitch well enough to warrant being a #2 playoff starter … check.
Get Julio Franco and Ramon Castro some at-bats to get them into a groove and be worthwhile October pinch-hitters … check.
Tell Carlos Beltran to take even more pitches and draw some walks to put ducks on the pond for Carlos Delgado, Wright, et al … check
Get Shawn Green and Endy Chavez into the groove, so that if Cliffy isn’t available, we’re still OK … check.
Get Chris Woodward some at-bats so he isn’t rusty … check.
So all the 161st game postseason preparation goals were met, and the team won a laugher, to boot.
Most important was the Glavine issue; facing a last-place team with a very so-so offense, Glavine needed to pitch well. Had he struggled in the least bit against the woeful Nationals, we’d be in deep doo-doo. As it was, he not only pitched well, he came as close to dominating as Glavine is going to do against anyone, shutting out the Nats in six innings, walking none and allowing only three hits. Also important, he threw only 72 pitches — an average of 12 per inning (that is outstanding efficiency, by the way) — and 49 of those for strikes. Though he easily could have pitched another two innings at least, and possibly finished out a complete-game shutout, Mr. Willie did the right thing by pulling him after six. This way, Tommy came out of the game on top, brimming with confidence and with a very good taste in his mouth. Now that Pedro is gone for 2006 (and much of 2007), it is absolutely vital for Glavine to recapture the magic that made him a Cy Young Award winner in Atlanta, if only for the month of October. He needs to be as sharp as he was this evening, if the Mets are to get to the World Series. He must.
While Glavine was pitching lights out, the offense suddenly woke up. Granted, it was against the worst pitching team in the NL, but we’ll take it. Now is as good a time as any for the Mets offense to get into gear.
Leading the way was, of all people, 48-year-old Julio Franco, who was a triple short of hitting for the cycle, and drove in five runs. Endy Chavez went 2-5 with a walk and three runs scored, and Carlos Beltran walked three times, had one hit, and scored all four times he reached base.
And, Shawn Green broke out, going 2-4 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI. If you paid attention to my last few posts, I mentioned that Green seemed to be seeing the ball well and was due to break out at any moment. I really like it when I’m right about some things ;-). Right now is a great time for Green to get into a hot streak. While we can’t expect him to carry the team, he’s not that far removed from hot streaks where he goes absolutely ballistic, and looks like the Jewish Babe Ruth. He had one of those back in May, when he hit .374 for the month. Though he’s probably no longer the guy who once hit four home runs and 19 total bases in a game, he is still able to get on the kind of hot streak that can do some damage, especially in the already potent Mets lineup.
Before the game it was announced that Frank Robinson would not return to manage the Nats in 2007. Robinson is without a doubt one of the icons of the game, and one of the few men who you could say, is most interested in preserving the integrity, respect, and purity of baseball above all else. He took the position of Montreal Expos manager five years ago partially because he wanted another shot to manage, and mostly because Baseball asked him to do it. Under the most dire circumstances — a team without an owner, and on the brink of dissolving at any moment — he did his best to make his teams as competitive as possible, despite a lack of resources and interest, and without complaints. My wife had a great point: considering his respect and commitment for the game, and his accomplishments, wouldn’t he make a great commissioner of baseball? The thought never occurred to me, but she has a worthwhile point. Of course, it would never happen, as the commissioner needs to be a puppet and mouthpiece for the owners to pit against Donald Fehr and the MLBPA. However, if the powers that be really cared about baseball, and wanted to put a good, neutral man in the position — one who would make ALL decisions based on what was best for the game (as opposed to the pockets of the players or the owners), then Frank Robinson might be a fantastic nomination for a short list of candidates. MLB has not had such a leader since the days of Fay Vincent and Bart Giamatti, and sadly, likely never will again. But if there’s a shred of possibility that baseball could have a true leader, rather than an egocentric foil for Don Fehr, here’s one vote for Robinson.
Probably lost in the postgame comments was a remark by Julio Franco, interviewed by SNY. He was asked if he realized he was a triple away from hitting for the cycle. He answered that he did know he needed a triple, but with a ten-run lead, he wasn’t about to start swinging from his heels in search of a personal milestone. He said something to the effect of, “… I have too much respect for the game … we were up by ten, so I take the first pitch in my at-bats … “. This was coming from an old-time ballplayer exuding old-time respect for the game and more importantly, for his opponent. He might also have been verbally slapping the Braves for their swing-from-the-heels approach after gaining an equally insurmountable lead against the Mets earlier in the week. No doubt Franco took offense against his former Atlanta teammates, who were clearly looking to embarass the Mets and pad their own stats in their 12-0 pounding and 13-1 massacre in back to back games on September 26th and 27th.
Speaking of that shellacking on the 26th, Oliver Perez will get the start in the final game of the season, stepping in for Steve Trachsel, who is returning home to San Diego for personal reasons. Hopefully, all is OK with Trax’s family, and we wish him the best. And if he can’t rejoin the Mets for a few days, so be it … there are much more important things in life than a few baseball games — even if it’s the playoffs.