Archive: July 25th, 2007

Mets Game 100: Win Over Pirates

Mets 6 Pirates 3

It was deja vu all over again.

The Mets jumped out to a six-run lead in the first three innings, with four of the runs being driven in by Paul LoDuca and one each by Damion Easley and Marlon Anderson. With a six-zip lead, it looked like Tom Glavine would cruise easily to his 299th career victory.

However, he struggled in the fifth, allowing three runs — capped by a two-run homer by Jason Bay — to turn what looked to be a laugher in the making into a save situation. Tommy settled down to pitch a scoreless sixth, though he did give up several hard-hit balls. By the end of his six full frames, he’d thrown 113 pitches, and left his 299th in the capable hands of the bullpen.

And capable it was, with Aaron Heilman pitching two perfect innings. He’s now retired 16 out of the last 16 batters he’s faced.

Billy Wagner came on in the ninth to save his 23rd game of the season without incident.


As pointed out in the series preview, Jason Bay was batting .162 with four homeruns in the months of June and July. So far in this series, he’s 4-for-7 with three homers.

While LoDuca was driving in all the runs, Lastings Milledge also kept swinging a hot bat, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. He also was the recipient of an intentional HBP, as he had drawn the ire of the Pirates with his theatrics in Tuesday night’s game.

Glavine has me a bit concerned. He’s struggled in his last two starts, and I thought for sure he’d eat up the aggressive Pirates hitters. Some of it may have had to do with the tiny strike zone of Tony Randazzo, but that’s part of my concern — if he doesn’t have a generous, “pitcher’s” ump, he’s in deep doo-doo, even against a horrific-hitting team such as the Buccos.

How about Shawn Green doing every little bit he can to show value, with Milledge swinging like a man possessed? He’s not hitting for much power, but he’s dumping little hits here and there and running his butt off on the bases — including getting a basehit and then a steal vs. lefty John Grabow in the sixth. He eventually made his way to third and faked an attempt to score on a shallow fly caught by second baseman Freddy Sanchez — which drew two throws, the second of which was nearly thrown away. (Green went 2-for-4 with a double, by the way.) Can you say “motivation” ?

Carlos Beltran sat out the game with a pulled stomach muscle. Good thing the Mets DFA’d outfielder Chip Ambres instead of demoting Sandy Alomar, Jr. or AHern, eh? Genius.

I keep checking, but haven’t seen any changes in the MLB Official Rule Book in regard to the hit by pitch. Yet, remarkably, Nate McClouth was awarded first base after getting hit by a pitch he swung at, in the ninth inning. It didn’t matter, but it’s the principle. The rulebook clearly states in section 6, rule 9(b):

(b) He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball;
If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.

So, based on the above, explain to me how McClouth gets first base?

Anyone who watched the SNY postgame, I have a question: was that George Hamilton sitting in for Lee Mazzilli? Either my TV color is way off or Maz is looking like the inside of a blood orange. Take that tan to South Beach, Mr. Toasty.

Next Game

Oliver Perez makes his first start against his old teammates in an odd 12:10 PM afternoon start (day camp field trip!). Lefty Paul Maholm hurls for the Pirates.


Three Books to Read Regarding Home Run Kings

There’s been a lot of hoopla surrounding some guy in San Francisco chasing the number 755 (which means very little, by the way). Something about a “Home Run King”.

For anyone interested in reading about the Home Run Kings, I implore you to read the following books, in this specific order:

1. Sadaharu Oh!: A Zen Way of Baseball

This is a wonderful, insightful book written by the REAL homerun king (858 career homers) — Sadaharu Oh — as well as an overview of Japanese baseball in the 1960s-1970s. After you read this book, you are guaranteed to have a newfound appreciation for Japanese ballplayers, and Oh in particular. The guy was, and remains, a class act — the kind of ballplayer you’d want your kids to look up to and emulate. The only drawback to this book is that it is very difficult to locate and buy. If you follow the above link, it’ll take you to Amazon, where there are about a dozen available. If they’re gone by the time you read this, you may have a better shot obtaining it through a second-hand shop.

2. I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story

This is the autobiography of the American Home Run King, Henry Aaron. Like Oh’s account, this book will open your eyes to a greater respect for the man who would pass Babe Ruth. And if you do as I say and read these books in order, you may find it fascinating that both Aaron and Oh share common traits — specifically, respect and care for others, selflessness, an immense respect for the game of baseball, high moral standards, the way they dealt with racism and prejudice (you didn’t know Oh was half-Chinese? that was a major issue in Japan back then), how each reacted to adversity, and the fact that both are considered class acts and icons of their sport.

3. Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports

You had to know this was coming. Though “Game of Shadows” is a book about several athletes, and focuses on BALCO, there is quite a bit of interesting information regarding Barry Bonds — the guy currently chasing Henry Aaron for the United States homerun record. If you didn’t read this, you should. If after reading this, you think Barry Bonds didn’t use steroids, then hold your breath, because eventually the sand surrounding your head will seep into your lungs and kill you.

I would have suggested Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero, but haven’t read it yet. It’s by Jeff Pearlman, who wrote Bad Guys Won — a book I did read, and found gripping. Somehow I get the feeling that after reading Love Me, Hate Me, I won’t get the same fuzzy feeling about Bonds that I did after the previously mentioned autobiographies by Aaron and Oh.


Hero Today, Gone Tomorrow

So Chip Ambres has been designated for assignment.

If he didn’t get a dramatic, game-winning hit within the last three days, no one would have noticed. Some might have mentioned that they didn’t realize the Mets had anyone named Chip on the team.

Taking away his clutch RBI single against the Dodgers, does the demotion make sense?

The Mets sent down Ambres to make room for Damion Easley. OK. That leaves the Mets with three outfielders — Milledge, Beltran, Green — and two infielder/outfielders (Marlon Anderson, Damion Easley), four second basemen, and three catchers.

It’s very strange that the Mets would choose to demote Ambres rather than AHern or Sandy Alomar, Jr. While it’s highly unlikely anyone is going to pluck Ambres off the waiver wire, the process would have been unnecessary in the case of Hernandez — who won’t see any playing time at all, other than perhaps some late-inning defense, or a pinch-running stint.

Willie Randolph spent all of 2006 and most of 2007 with two catchers, yet he suddenly feels the urgency to carry three — at the expense of depleting the outfield. Incredibly, Randolph expended all three catchers in one game over the weekend, leaving Ramon Castro behind the plate at the end of the game. Thank goodness nothing happened to Castro — but wasn’t the whole idea of keeping Alomar around to prevent such a scenario?

Anyway, back to Ambres. I suppose what Willie is saying is this: he doesn’t trust Chip Ambres enough to start him in a game. Because if he did trust him to start and play an entire game in the outfield, he’d not have been sent down — he’d have been playing in Shawn Green’s spot against one of the two tough lefties the Mets are about to face. Why Randolph won’t trust Ambres, I’m not sure. Perhaps Willie thinks that Chip is another 23-year-old kid who doesn’t have the sage experience and wisdom of, say, Ricky Ledee. Apparently, no one informed Willie that Ambres is in fact 27 years old, and in his ninth year of professional ball. And no one let Willie know that Ambres started about 50 games in centerfield for the Royals in 2005 — batting most of those games in the leadoff spot.

Hey, I know it was Kansas City, but it was still the big leagues. It’s not like Ambres hasn’t been at this level before.

Granted, the Mets were counting on Moises Alou returning on Monday. And now it’s Thursday or Friday. At this point, does it make sense to count on Moises for anything? And, does it make sense to carry so many second baseman? Or three catchers?

I guess it’s more important to bring AHern into the game in the eighth and ninth innings for defense, than to have a true outfielder start in Shawn Green’s spot against the lefties. Now, if we see Damion Easley start at second base, and Green starts in right, I may lose my mind.