Archive: August 8th, 2007

Mets Game 113: Win Over Braves

Mets 4 Braves 3

The Mets needed to only take one game in this series, and they did it — and now have an opportunity to win the series and gain another game on the Braves.

Once again, Orlando Hernandez rose to the occasion, matching John Smoltz pitch for pitch until the sixth inning. Just as important, the Mets offense showed mettle and gumption, coming from behind late in the game to tie and then win the game.

As mentioned in the previous game recap, the hot and humid, heavy air in Shea Stadium was an advantage for El Duque, who relied almost exclusively on sharp breaking pitches of all speeds the first two times through the Atlanta lineup. The third time through, however, the Braves turned the tables on Hernandez, scratching out three runs in the top of the sixth inning. El Duque struck out the first two batters of the inning, but then Willie Harris worked an excellent 10-pitch at-bat that took the steam out of Hernandez. Kelly Johnson, Chipper Jones, and Mark Teixeira followed Harris with consecutive base hits, and just like that the Braves were up 3-1.

Meantime, the Mets were only able to manufacture one run — in the first inning — off John Smoltz, who didn’t have great command of his fastball but was spot on with the slider. Jose Reyes led off the game with a base hit, made it to second on a pickoff attempt gone awry, was sacrificed to third by Luis Castillo, and came home on a David Wright sac fly. The Mets didn’t threaten again until the bottom of the seventh.

Shawn Green started the Mets’ seventh with a single up the middle, his third hit of the game off Smoltz. After Paul LoDuca flied out, Lastings Milledge singled off reliever Pat Mahay, and pinch-hitter Damion Easley walked to load the bases. Jose Reyes flied out to shallow right, and it looked like the Mets were not going to take advantage of the rally. However, Luis Castillo dropped a single into center to score Green and Milledge to tie the game.

Aaron Heilman then came on to pitch a scoreless eighth, and in the bottom of the inning Moises Alou blasted a homerun off Rafael Soriano to put the Mets ahead 4-3.

Billy Wagner came on the ninth, but it wasn’t exactly a done deal when Enter Sandman was played. Wagner had no command of his fastball and fell behind 2-0 to Chipper Jones before Jones lined a single. Teixeira followed with another single, and Chris Woodward was brought in to bunt for Brian McCann. Wags walked Woodward on five pitches, throwing the ball all over the place, to load the bases with none out. Miraculously, he found the plate long enough to get hot-hitting Francoeur to ground a ball to David Wright, who threw to home for the forceout. Andrew Jones followed with a grounder to Castillo that resulted in the game-ending double play.

Notes

Paul LoDuca threw out Willie Harris attempting to steal in the eighth to thwart a potential rally. It was a key moment, as Kelly Johnson was at the plate and Larry Jones on deck and who knows what might have ensued if Harris were safe.

Shawn Green went 4-for-4 and has a nine-game hitting streak.

Luis Castillo went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI (his first two RBI as a Met) and a sac bunt; he’s hitting .344 as a Met this year.

Alou’s homer was his first as a Met at Shea.

El Duque went 7 innings, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, and striking out 7.

Next Game

Another camp day, as the Mets and Braves face off at 12:10 PM. John Maine takes the hill against Tim Hudson. Since it’s a weekday afternoon game, we’ll likely see Ramon Castro behind the plate and Ruben Gotay at second base. Maybe the noontime start will throw Hudson off his game.

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Dale Murphy Rips Bonds

Dale Murphy of the Atlanta BravesAs a kid, one of my favorite players growing up was Dale Murphy.

I know, I know, he was a Brave (and no I’m not a Mormon), but back then the Braves weren’t to a Mets fan what they are now. If anything, they were a team that the cellar-dwelling Mets of the late 1970s – early 1980s had a chance to beat — and there weren’t too many of those teams around.

Anyway, thought I’d share this tirade he gave on a Salt Lake City local sports radio show yesterday afternoon (found via the Salt Lake Tribune while researching Chad Hermansen) :

“I’d have called sooner, guys, but I had to get my car pulled out of the ditch I just drove into. This is a great teaching moment for a parent. You can explain to your kids why you’re not watching [Bonds] and why it doesn’t interest you.
“Even in a court of law, which this isn’t, in my opinion, you can have a preponderance of circumstantial evidence to convict somebody. Now, maybe I’m wrong, but when you get enough stuff on a guy, you can make a decision. It’s really a no-brainer.
“[Bonds] would have become one of the great ones, anyway. Now, he sucked the fun and the life right out of it. There is enough evidence to me to say without a doubt that he used performance-enhancing drugs. He hit 73 home runs when he was 37. Hank would have hit 855 if he had the same advantage.
“Barry’s a great player, but he put an asterisk by his name on his own. He’s deserved all the negative publicity that he’s getting. People have been complaining that he’s being treated unfairly. Life isn’t usually like that. You don’t just get treated unfairly. You usually get what you deserve.
“This is what Barry deserves. He’s a hard guy to like. He’s a hard teammate to have. He’s set a terrible example for our kids.
“That’s what you say to your kids. You say, ‘This is what happens when you take steroids. Your dad doesn’t want to watch this, because it’s drug abuse.’
“It’s frustrating. . . . Giants fans love it, and they are blinded by it. Most people put an asterisk by it. They have a problem with how [Bonds] has gone about his career. That’s what I tell my kids.
“There are a lot of [major leaguers] who are not being totally honest with how they feel about what Barry’s done . . . You take an anonymous poll of what players think and you’d have more Curt Schillings. The guy’s a great talent, but when you take exceptional talent and increase it with drug abuse, that’s what you get.
“It’s never been legal to abuse a controlled substance . . . A lot of guys decided not to do it, even though they weren’t testing. I decided not to do it. I thought it was wrong. It was illegal. I said, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ [Bonds] has a trainer sitting in prison because he won’t testify against Bonds.
“He hasn’t denied it. He said he took it, but didn’t know what it was. We found out later it was steroids.
“You just have to teach your kids to make judgments in life. You’re not always going to have all the facts, but you’ve got to make judgments. I understand in this country you’re innocent until proven guilty, but this isn’t a law case, this is how you feel.
“People don’t think [Bonds] did it the right way. I know he [used performance-enhancers]. I don’t have a problem saying I know he did. It’s obvious.
“I’ve got to take a deep breath here.
“I’ve said it all before, but for some reason we love our sports so much that we sometimes are so forgiving . . . But this is a great example of how not to handle your career, and how not to treat people.
“We’ve got to change the culture in sports.
“I just had to get that off my chest.”

Yeah, we’re wasting a lot of space on Barroid today, but I’m trying to forget what happened last night against the Braves.

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Mets Acquire Outfielder

Chad Hermansen on Pittsburgh PiratesThe New York Mets have traded for a righthanded hitting outfielder to bolster their depth.

Sorry, it’s not Jermaine Dye, nor Manny Ramirez. Heck, it’s not even Jeff Conine.

Rather, it’s Chad Hermansen.

And in fact, Hermansen was not technically acquired by the Mets, but by their AAA farm team, the New Orleans Zephyrs. So should we care?

Well, yeah, sort of.

Hermansen was acquired from the Marlins organization for “future considerations”. He was necessary because Ben Johnson is out for likely the remainder of the year with a severe ankle injury. Considering that the next outfielders in line for a callup were Chip Ambres and Ricky Ledee, and the fact that Carlos Beltran is still feeling sore, it made sense for the Mets to pick up another outfield grazer with MLB experience.

At one time, Hermansen was a fairly decent prospect. He was drafted in the first round — tenth overall — of the 1995 draft, by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was listed by Baseball America as their #1 prospect in both 1999 and 2000. In 1998, in fact, BA had him as the #13 prospect in all of a baseball — just a few spots below Todd Helton (#11) and way ahead of Roy Halladay (#38), Carlos Lee (#43), Derek Lee (#45), and Lance Berkman (#64), among others (how’s that for a grain of salt when predicting the future and value of youngsters such as Carlos Gomez and Lastings Milledge?). At the time, by the way, Hermansen was a second baseman. He was moved to the outfield eventually by the Pirates, as they saw him as a power hitter with a questionable glove and wanted to get him to the bigs a bit quicker. He hit 20 homers in AA as a 19-year-old and then 32 in AAA as a 21-year-old. However, he regressed after that big year, mainly due to poor plate discipline, and never showed anything special at the Major League level. He’s bounced around from the Pirates to the Dodgers to the Blue Jays to the Marlins organizations, and has a grand total of 492 big-league at-bats — hitting .191 with 13 HRs and 168 strikeouts (ouch!).

While there’s a possibility we’ll see him in a New York Mets uniform before the end of the season, there’s little chance he’ll make much of an impact. At age 29, he’s a minor-league lifer, a “AAAA” guy. About the only interesting note of his career is that he’s listed on the “Famous Mormon Baseball Players” website. Too bad, as he seemed to have such a great future ahead of him as a 21-year-old.

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112 to Go

So Barroid Bonds has hit his 756th homerun.

Thought I’d let y’all know, in case you missed it. (Yeah, chance of that?)

Hopefully (NOT!) someone will show the glorious at-bat again sometime, for those of us who (purposely) missed it. Maybe ESPN will pull it out of the archives ten years from now and show it just one more time. Or, oh, maybe we’ll be really (un)lucky and they’ll show it once or twice on a TV channel somewhere today! Or, maybe someone posted it on YouTube! We can only hope …

Sadaharu Oh home run kingI hate (love) to be the one to rain on San Francisco’s parade, but, um, the son of the drunk is 112 homeruns behind the actual all-time homerun king — Sadaharu Oh hit 868 homeruns in the Major League of Japan.

Why, those don’t count? Because the parks were smaller? (They weren’t any smaller than the parks MLB plays in today.) Because the pitchers weren’t as talented? (They weren’t any less talented than the slop throwers on mounds in 21st Century MLB.)

So there you go, Mr. ZMA — see if you can hang around long enough to hit another 112 to catch Oh, who has more class and integrity in his left pinky than you could even dream to have.


A More Fitting Ending

Too bad Barroid didn’t hit the historic ball off Derrick Turnbow (the first MLBer caught using steroids), and was caught by Kirk Radomski. It would have seemed so much more … fitting.


What I’d Do With the Ball

Rumor has it that a Mets fan from Queens caught the 756th homerun ball. Not sure what he’s going to do with it, but would you like to know what I’d do?

I’d call up and invite ESPN, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and every other news station under the sun to a special event involving the ball. When all the cameras started rolling, I’d take a syringe, inject the ball with gasoline, and then light it on fire.

That’s right — no money, no bidding wars, and most importantly, no place in the Hall of Fame for that tainted baseball. I’d burn the thing to a crisp, and make sure Barroid and the rest of the world had a chance to see it flame away into nothingness.

(Note: I just finished reading Fahrenheit 451)

Of course, Matt Murray won’t do that. He’ll likely put the thing in a glass case, have it authorized, blah blah blah, sell it to the highest bidder, pocket the dirty money, and eventually, the ball will find its way to Cooperstown. Too bad.

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