Archive: April 27th, 2007

Mets Game 21: Loss

Nationals 4 Mets 3

Ooof … just what the heck happened here?

The most talented offensive force in the National League — the New York Mets — were facing possibly the worst starting pitcher in all of MLB, Matt Chico. Chico’s ERA was nearly six and a half, he had never gotten past the fifth inning (only got through the fifth once), and in 18 innings had given up 15 walks and 24 hits. His numbers, mediocre stuff, and lack of experience — he’d never pitched above AA before this April — seemed to add up to an early exit and massacre at the hands of the New York Mets.

Ah, but then the Wandy Rodriguez Effect took hold.

For the uninitiated, this is the hypothesis stating that the New York Mets cannot beat a rookie lefthanded pitcher they’ve never seen before. It’s named for a late July evening in Houston in 2005, when then-rookie Wandy Rodriguez looked like the second coming of Sandy Koufax against the New York Mets — despite entering the game with a 6.18 ERA.

The “Wandy Effect” has played itself out many times over since that night, executed by such talents as Eric Stultz, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Vargas, Paul Maholm and Cole Hamels. (OK, Hamels and maybe Maholm are decent, but they were green nobodies when the Mets saw them.) Why the Mets have such a struggle against unknown lefties is curious; perhaps it’s a curse. Now that they have a minor league team based in N’Awlins, you’d think the Mets would talk to a voo-doo expert or soothsayer about the issue.

What should have been an easy win for Oliver Perez turned into a wasted effort. Ollie pitched seven strong innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and no walks, striking out nine. But the best thing that happened was the worst thing that happened — he gave up a 3-run homerun to Austin Kearns in the first inning. How can that be the best thing? Well, it wasn’t the homer itself that was great, it was the way Perez responded afterward — it didn’t affect him at all. Perez shrugged off the Kearns blast and proceeded to retire 16 of the next 18 batters, before giving up another run in the sixth and pitching a scoreless seventh.

I’m sure I’m not the only one holding my breath every inning Ollie pitches, wondering if this will be the inning he has a meltdown. Kind of like walking on eggshells, it’s like waiting for something to set Ollie off. After the two singles and homer in the first inning, there was every reason for pessimists to believe that it was going to be another long outing for Oliver. However, he fixed whatever the issue was, in game, and rebounded beautifully. The Mets may have lost the game, but Oliver Perez took a giant step forward — he responded to adversity by making the proper adjustments before all hell broke loose. If he can continue to correct himself — rather than relying on nine days of bullpen sessions — then the Mets may really have something here.

Unfortunately, Ollie did not get the support expected from a lineup facing Matt Chico. Most likely, the scouting report stated that Chico had control problems, but the little lefty went against what he’d been doing previously and became a strike machine. The Mets hitters had been overly aggressive of late, and chose the wrong day to start taking pitches, as Chico got ahead of everyone in the first three innings. Thrown for a loop by the sudden change in approach, the Mets seemed clueless at the plate, and were unable to string together more than two hits in a row. Their timing was impeccably awful; every time they put runners in scoring position, there were either two outs or the pitcher coming to the plate.

Shawn Green had two hits with no one on, but couldn’t come through with runners in scoring position in his other two at-bats (so maybe he should be a leadoff batter? ha ha). Twice Oliver Perez came up with runners in scoring position — once with two outs. Willie Randolph might have been tempted to pinch-hit for Perez in the top of the sixth, as there was one out and bases loaded, but with him pitching as well as he was, it didn’t make sense to pull him after only five innings. Pundits may point to that at-bat as the turning point in the game, but in reality, the problem was that the Mets failed in many opportunities to get the big hit, and could have run the bases more aggressively.

For example, in the eighth, Moises Alou doubled in David Wright with none out, then inexplicably remained anchored to second base while two deep fly balls were hit to right field by Green and Jose Valentin. Surely he could have advanced on one, if not both of those flies. Had he advanced on Green’s fly, he definitely would have scored on Valentin’s. Instead, he stayed put, until Julio Franco flied out to center to end what could have been a productive inning.

Similarly, there were two situations in the game where previously over-aggressive third base coach Sandy Alomar put up the stop sign. In the fourth, with his buddy Carlos Delgado on second base, Shawn Green singled to right but Delgado was held up at third — probably the right idea, because Delgado’s speed (can you call it that?) is comparable to a sloth towing a ’64 Plymouth. Then in the sixth, with David Wright on second base, Jose Valentin hit a bloop single to left-center that Michael Restovich might have had a chance to catch, but he pulled up at the last second and allowed the ball to drop safely. Again, Alomar had to hold him up, and you can’t blame Wright for playing it safe … it was just one of those games where things simply didn’t happen they way you’d want them to — a frustrating night of too little, too late.


David Wright drove a double to deep right in the eighth inning. Does that mean his slump is behind him? Hope so, because we can’t keep counting on Alou, Green, and Valentin to get all the big hits.

Speaking of, the corner outfielders were a combined 5-8 with an RBI. Alou is now batting .397, and Green is “only” hitting .358.

Jose Reyes had only one hit, but it was a double, and he stole third (13th SB of the year) and scored moments later on a sac fly.

Mighty Joe Smith pitched a scoreless 8th inning, walking one and striking out two.

Moises threw out Ryan Church trying to stretch a single into a double to end the bottom of the sixth, but Dmitri Young scored before the out was recorded. How is it that Dmitri “The Fridge” Young can score from second on a single and Carlos Delgado can’t? It’s gotta be the shoes.

Next Game

Tom Glavine faces Jerome Williams in a 7:05 PM start. If the Mets do not pulverize Williams and get Glavine his 294th win, I may consider paying attention to the NHL or NBA postseason … or start watching Martha Stewart reruns (whichever’s more painful).


Former Met Employee Indicted for Steroid Distribution

Steroid needleThe latest twist in the MLB steroid story involves the New York Mets.

Relax, though, they’re not fingering any CURRENT Mets — not yet, anyway.

37-year-old Kirk J. Radomski, a former personal trainer and employee for the Mets from 1985-95, was nailed by the feds for distribution of performance-enhancing drugs. Speculation is that Radomski’s business was focused on MLB players, and that he sold drugs to “dozens” of Major Leaguers. Radomski laundered the revenues from his drug sales, and that’s how the feds caught up with him. He has already pleaded guilty to the indictment, and as part of a plea bargain, has agreed to cooperate with the group led by former Sen. George Mitchell.

This is VERY bad news for baseball. If indeed he sold drugs to “dozens” of players — reportedly from 1995 to 2005 — then there will be a lot of unhappy people in the coming months. The FBI was ready to release the names of players who failed drug tests, based on information seized from Quest Diagnostics, but the move has been blocked by appeals courts.

However, the latest indictment of Radomski means that there is now an avenue for names to be named, because Radomski agreed to testify at any grand jury proceeding requested by the government. The FBI and IRS (led by bulldog agent Jay Novitzky) can and will call Radomski to testify — that is the whole point of giving him the plea bargain. It may take a while, but eventually, we will find out who was doing what.

In addition, Radomski agreed to participate in undercover activities; in other words, he was recently wired while setting up / making deals. If you think the Jason Grimsley case from last year shook up some players, imagine what’s going through the minds of guilty parties now. My guess is that anyone who made a deal with Radomski in the last six months has to be concerned.

So where does this tie in the Mets? Hopefully it doesn’t; right now, the only link is that Radomski worked for the Mets as a bat boy, ball boy, clubhouse assistant, and similar duties from 1985-95. He left the organization some time in 1995 to go on to “bigger and better things” (pardon the pun). While it was over ten years ago that he worked for the Mets, it’s not hard to connect the dots. Like any successful businessman, he obviously built a lot of relationships, and used them to build his distribution network. It’s probably not a coincidence, for example, that several New York Mets farmhands were busted for failing steroid tests over the last few years (ex. Grant Roberts, Jon Nunnally, Brian Walker, Felix Heredia, Waner Mateo, Jorge Reyes, Timothy Haines, Yusaku Iriki).

The best thing to happen to Radomski’s burgeoning business was the busting of BALCO in 2003. With that major distributor out of the picture, Radomski seized the opportunity to expand his business. He was doing pretty well — an affadavit listed 23 checks worth more than $30,000 that were deposited by individuals associated with Major League Baseball into his personal bank account between May 2003, and March 2005 — until an FBI agent posed as a buyer and busted him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella said of Radomski, “This individual was a major dealer of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs whose clientele was focused almost exclusively on Major League Baseball players. He operated for approximately a decade.” Yikes.

Radomski’s tie to the Mets puts PR man Jay Horwitz in crisis mode at the moment, but in the end this is more about MLB as a whole, and less about the Mets. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and MLB is the Titanic.