Archive: April 17th, 2008

Mets Game 14: Nationals

Mets 3 Nationals 2

“A long, ugly game that turned out pretty.”

— Willie Randolph’s fitting description during the postgame interview on SNY.

It took 14 innings of perseverance, but the New York Mets finally came out on top, winning on a wild pitch and sweeping the Nationals in a four-hour, 45-minute contest.

For a while there, it appeared neither team wanted to win the ballgame. Rallies would begin, but be extinguished quickly. In the end, it was sloppy play by the Nationals that allowed the Mets to win.

Damion Easley led off the 14th with a single — he was 2-for-2 — then took second base on a wild pitch. Shortly thereafter, Easley moved to third on a pickoff attempt that bounced off his knee and went scooting into the outfield. David Wright and Carlos Delgado were walked intentionally to load the bases, but those actions were moot when Joel Hanrahan free mp3 nokia ringtones crazy frog ringtones free nokia ringtones free get ringtones cingular ringtones boost free mobile ringtones free cricket ringtones verizon wireless ringtones totally free ringtones cricket free ringtones ringtones free ringtones verizon free samsung ringtones cell download free phone ringtones download free ringtones cell phone hotlink caller ringtones download free nokia ringtones free blackberry ringtones free ringtones for motorola phone crazy frog ringtones uncorked another wild pitch — the first to pinch-hitter Brian Schneider — that scored Easley, um, easily.

Ironically, the Mets never would have made it to the fourteenth had it not been for a Ron Belliard error in the eighth — with two out — that put Ryan Church on first base. Church scored minutes later to tie the game.

On the mound, Nelson Figueroa followed up his dominating debut with another gem, pitching 7 stellar innings of three-hit ball and striking out seven. He made just one mistake the entire evening, and it resulted in a two-run homer by Nick Johnson. Figgy was saved from a loss, however, when the Mets tied things up in the eighth on a run-scoring single by Carlos Delgado. The Mets had scored their first run in the first inning, when red-hot Ryan Church doubled in Jose Reyes.

The Mets bullpen was outstanding, holding the Nationals scoreless from innings eight through fourteen.

Notes

Is Mets pitching this good or the Nats hitting that bad? The Nationals were held hitless for seven innings at one point in the game — from the fourth to the eleventh.

What’s bothersome to me is that the Washington offense would appear to be better than their pitching … yet the Mets could manage only two runs in 13 innings.

I think I heard “Crazy Train” being played by the Shea Stadium organist. Kind of cool to hear the old keyboard getting tapped again.

The Nats look like a sloppy and lackadaisical bunch. Ronny Belliard is the king of lazy punks, and Lastings Milledge didn’t look so hot lollygagging after a fly ball that allowed Ryan Church to tag up from first to second.

Lee Mazzilli looked really tired during Nissan Postgame Live. In fact, he looked like a cross between George Hamilton and Yoda.

Next Game

Mets head down the NJ Turnpike to Philly for a three game set. Friday night’s opener begins at 7:05 PM and will match up the aces: Johan Santana vs. Cole Hamels. The game will be shown on CW11 and heard on 660 WFAN and XM 184.

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Inside Look: Washington Nationals

Usually we do these “inside looks” before a series begins, but Willie Randolph’s lineup changes have inspired me to “mix it up a little”.

That said, this time around we’re getting the Nationals fan’s point of view at the end of the series, instead of the beginning.

Chris Needham of Capitol Punishment was kind enough to answer a few of my questions regarding the Washington Nationals.

1. After an exciting and emotional start on Opening Day in Nationals Park, the Nats fell flat on their collective faces — and it appears it’s going to be a long season for the DC fans.

What keeps you motivated to watch and attend games?
Hey now, that’s a loaded question! You didn’t stop watching in 2003 when Ty Wigginton batted cleanup! I’m not convinced it’s going to be as long a season as you suggest, even if it’s probably going to be a bad one. Slumps happen. Our just happened to come in the first fortnight, instead of the last month.

2. Obviously, the Nats are rebuilding. Are there any big-time prospects who may come up for a tease later in the year? How is the minor league system looking overall?

The most immediate big prospect looming is last year’s first-round pick, Ross Detwiler. He’s a tall left-hander who, if he succeeds in the minors, has nobody in front of him, blocking his path. With the bat, the top bat is Chris Marrero, but he’s likely 2 years away. Other than a few other starting pitchers (none of whom have terribly high ceilings), there aren’t really any impact players ready in the next year or so.

That being said, there are lots of intriguing players down in the lower levels. The Nats have an excellent scouting and development team in place now, and they’ve spent as much money there as any other team. It paid dividends, and their farm system has gone from the bottom towards the upper third of teams in just a draft or two. There’s hope for the future!


3. Ryan Zimmerman appears to be the “face” of the Washington Nationals. Who is the #2 personality on the team?

Dmitri Young is the biggest personality on the team, but the other big bat is clearly Nick Johnson. Neither he nor Zimmerman really come across as much of a personality, certainly not to the extent that Dmitri has.


4. How do you feel about the Nats’ public position that Dmitri Young is a “positive influence” on youngsters such as Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes?

I’m not really in a position to judge that sort of thing, other than to make some guesses. If as many people who say that are saying it — and not all are directly employed by the team! — then there’s probably something to it.

5. Has there been any chatter regarding Paul LoDuca’s inclusion in the Mitchell Report?

Well, he’s not particularly well-liked by most Nats fans, but that has as much to do with his cold hitting and his blocking of Jesus Flores. Amazingly, he did tell nationals.com that he was sorry for using and doing what he did, probably the most direct apology of any of the active players listed in the report.


6. Speaking of ex-Mets, how are you liking Lastings Milledge in centerfield so far?

Loving it! He’s a fun player to watch. He’s got a little bit of speed. He’s got a little bit of power. A little bit of patience. And just a dash of flash. He makes watching the games enjoyable.

He’s not a perfect player, but he’s in the right situation, where the focus is on what he does well, and not what he does wrong, nor who he’s ticking off. It’s a live and let live kind of clubhouse.

7. What should we know about Brian Schneider and Ryan Church that we wouldn’t find on the back of their baseball cards?

Well, two nights ago was the Brian Schneider Nats fans came to know and love. Weak grounders and soft flares are his main strategy. Occasionally, they fall in, as they did the first week. They won’t all year. He’s got a great reputation for working with pitchers, but that increased as the bat fell into the crapper, so I’m not sure how much stock I put into it.

Church is an interesting player. When he’s on a streak, he’s really pushing your team forward. I know you’ve already seen his arm, which always has been an asset. But he also seems like a player who lets slumps get inside his head. If he’s slumping and the team isn’t performing, I’d be concerned about whether he’ll be able to keep his head in the game.


8. Who do you think will be the biggest surprise on the Nationals this season?

If you had asked me a week ago, I’d have said Austin Kearns…. so that shows you what I know! The team’s slumping terribly, but that’s because 4 or 5 of their biggest hitters are all in the tank now. Once they revert to form, this team could hum along, and I think the 70ish win total that most predicted is certainly doable.

Or the whole thing could fall apart and we’d lose 110! Ya never know!

Thanks again to Chris for sharing his unique perspective. Be sure to visit Capitol Punishment for in-depth coverage of the Washington Nationals.

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Schneider’s New Old Glove

All Star catcher's glove CM 3000 SBTDuring last night’s SNY broadcast, Kevin Burkhardt gave us explanations for Brian Schneider’s three passed balls thus far this season — straight from the horse’s mouth.

Of course, you’ve already read my theories on the subject, and interestingly, Burkhardt’s tidbit gave some credence to them.

According to Burkhardt (and Schneider):

Two of them have come from Aaron Heilman, on the same exact pitch, and here’s how …. he called for sinkers from Heilman … and, twice, Heilman threw a pitch that tailed away from the lefthander. and, well of course Schneider hadn’t caught Heilman in spring training, so the first time, he thought it was just an anomaly. And, when it happened the second time they got together in the dugout and Heilman said “well you know sometimes, I’ll just throw a different type of sinker and drop down and throw a pitch that tails away from the lefty.” Well the problem is, Schneider had no idea that pitch even existed …

Huh … that’s sort of in line with my suggestion:

Before setting up his target, Schneider was leaning toward the inside, I presume to get the batter Shane Victorino thinking that the pitch was going to be inside. Right before Heilman started his motion, Schneider leaned back over to the outside, where he wanted the pitch, but didn’t move his feet. Heilman’s changeup had more movement than usual, and was a good foot or foot and a half off the plate. Though Schneider was already leaning that way, it appeared that he was expecting (or hoping) the ball to take a turn back toward the plate instead of continuing outside. And the way it popped out (and has been popping out), it looks as if he’s using a new glove — but if that’s the case I’d be surprised.

Oh, and Gary Cohen added that Schneider had told him earlier in the day that he’d switched to a new glove from a new manufacturer — which explained why the ball was popping out of his glove so often. Cohen further assured us viewers that Brian has since gone back to his “old” glove and the problem hasn’t happened since.

The reason I stated “I’d be surprised” if Schneider was using a new mitt is because any serious catcher worth his salt ALWAYS has two gloves — one “game” glove and one “next year” glove. The “game” glove, as you might guess, is already broken in and is used in games. The “next year” glove is the one you use in spring training, in practice, in pre-game, in bullpen sessions, and any other time outside of a game. That’s because it can take all year to break in a quality catcher’s glove — though in my experience, the gloves break in more quickly when you have a staff of guys pounding your mitt at 90+ MPH.

Akadema Catcher's MittFYI, it appears that Brian Schneider’s current — or “old” — mitt is an All-Star brand CM3000SBT “Professional Series” (shown at the beginning of the article). Nice glove — All-Star is “the” brand for catcher’s gear — but I personally prefer the Akadema brand “Praying Mantis” line, shown in the picture to the right.

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