Archive: August 4th, 2010

Mets Game 108: Loss to Braves

Braves 8 Mets 3

Operation Meltdown. Or was it “Metdown” ? Or, “Letdown” ?

The Mets failed in their attempt to help the Phillies gain ground on the Braves by folding early and giving Atlanta an easy victory.

Four errors … three in one inning … a starting pitcher who was unable to hold a lead … a manager who seemed unable to make the right decision, no matter what the situation … and how do you walk 6 times in a game but score only three times?

If we thought a loss in game 107 would’ve been a nail in the coffin for the Mets’ season, then how do you qualify (or is it “quantify”?) a loss in game 108? Either way, the Mets lost the series, and have sunk to a .500 record and 7.5 games behind in the NL East. At this point they are closer to the last-place Nationals than the first-place Braves — not a great situation for a team that hoped to play meaningful games in September.

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey was, again, a disaster. He’s gotten to the point where he reminds one of John Maine or Oliver Perez circa 2008 – 2009. He has no confidence, looks uncomfortable and confused, and is clearly thinking too much when on the mound. I’m not going to get into the mechanical issues because I’m beating a dead horse and no one is listening anyway. It’s increasingly hard to believe that less than two months ago, Pelfrey was 9-1 and pitching not only like an All-Star but as well as anyone in the National League.

Though he wasn’t especially dominating, it should be noted that the Braves are now 13-1 in Kris Medlen‘s 14 starts. Medlen left the game in the fifth by what was later described as an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament. Not good. Usually that type of injury is followed by Tommy John surgery and 12 – 18 months out of action.

Ron Darling made his move to the dark side during the postgame, responding to a Jerry Manuel quote about possibly skipping or shifting Pelfrey in the rotation to set him up for a favorable “matchup” in his next start:

“I don’t understand what he’s saying when he says that. I mean, I’ve been around the game for 25 years; I don’t know what that means. There’s no protection in this game, there’s no picking a lineup that you think you’re gonna be more comfortable with … what do you do? pitch him at night at Citi Field where he has good numbers for the rest of the year? You can’t do that kind of stuff …”


Manuel also mentioned that the team is lacking “power”. His exact comment:

That’s another thing that we haven’t done offensively … we don’t seem to have the power from our guys, and that’s a big thing missing if you don’t present that power now and then.

Well, hmmm … if that’s not throwing your sluggers under the bus I don’t know what is. While I agree that the Mets have not hit as many four-baggers as one would like, that quote also speaks very loudly about Manuel’s offensive strategy: sit back and wait for the three-run homer. I know Earl Weaver and the statheads prefer that plan, but a manager is stuck with the hand he’s dealt; you can’t coax a royal flush out of a pair of deuces, ace high. When the homers ain’t coming, you have to find another way to score (or limit the scoring) — be it in changing the personnel and/or adjusting the offensive attack. The Steroid Era is over, and thus a manager can no longer wait for homeruns and send relievers to the mound 80 times a season.

With this loss, the Mets fall to 54-54 on the year, prompting my lovely wife to say:

Jerry Manuel has reached his goal of .500 — so he can retire now, right? And we can have a new manager tomorrow?

If only, dear … if only …

And BTW, is YOUR wife (or husband) that informed about the Mets? If so you are as blessed as I.

Next Mets Game

The Mets have a welllllllllllllllllllll – deserved day off on Thursday as they travel to Philadelphia to phace the Phillies phor a three-game weekend series. Phriday night’s game begins at 7:35 PM, and pits Jonathon Niese against Joe Blanton.


Is R.A. Dickey a Superhero?

Warning: If you haven’t seen the movie Unbreakable, just skip this post. There will be spoilers and you probably won’t understand half of it anyway. Or you can brush up on the film’s plot by reading Wikipedia.

Like most of you, I’ve enjoyed watching R.A. Dickey all season. Dickey’s emergence seems like a great “feel good” story – a nice little anecdote with an expiration date. We all love to ride the wave of an unexpected hero’s story, but the magic ultimately fades and we’re on to the next storyline (see also: Fernando Tatis, Daniel Murphy, Aaron Heilman, Nelson Figueroa, etc.)

But somehow, Dickey’s story always seemed more compelling than all that. During last night’s game, the skies opened up and it started pouring. Suddenly, it all made sense… Dickey’s emergence isn’t a “feel good” story at all. It’s a classic superhero story.

R.A. Dickey, Unbreakable and Weakness

In the movie Unbreakable, Bruce Willis plays David Dunn – a nice guy with some flaws and no direction in his life. His life is not unlike a journeyman pitcher.

Through a series of events, Dunn discovers he possesses super powers. He starts to put his powers to good use, but he quickly learns that he has one glaring weakness – he’s basically allergic to water. And by allergic, I mean, the guy could drown in a puddle.

Last night’s game was a typical R.A. Dickey affair, until it started raining. As soon as the skies opened up, Dickey couldn’t get a grip on his knuckleball. He managed to come out of it, like all superheroes do, but it got pretty scary.

Weakness is what ties a superhero’s journey to the common man. With a weakness, we are suddenly sympathetic to the hero because he is just like us – vulnerable and powerless – albeit for a moment. Without a weakness, the superhero is all powerful and cannot lose. It would be like rooting for Albert Pujols to hit a home run on the moon. Where’s the fun in that?

Unbreakable basically takes the standard superhero mythos and updates it for current times. Most superheroes have a split identity and a glaring weakness – Superman is probably the best known example (Clark Kent/Kryptonite).

R.A. Dickey and The Superhero Mythos

So R.A. Dickey possesses a magical knuckleball, but he loses his superpower in the presence of water. Just like David Dunn in Unbreakable.

Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at Wikipedia’s common traits for a good superhero story:

  • Extraordinary powers (knuckleball)
  • Secret Identity (R.A. Dickey is short for Robert Alan Dickey. Not too creative, but it still works )
  • Distinctive costume (Mets uniform)
  • Supporting cast of recurring characters (Frenchy, Jose, David “Boy Wonder” Wright, Angel Pagan, K-Rod, The Animal)
  • A number of enemies that he fights repeatedly (opposing teams)
  • Headquarters (Citi Field)
  • A backstory that explains the circumstances that led to the acquisition or discovery of his special powers. (Let’s see, he was born without a ulnar collateral ligament and he was a journeyman pitcher until he discovered the knuckleball.)

So there you have it. R.A. Dickey is a superhero.


Quote of the Day: Forbes on the Mets

How can a team valued at $858 million, third on Forbes’ list of major-league franchises behind the Yankees and Red Sox, be so incapable of acquiring any players who could help them make a run in the final two months of the season?

— David Lariviere, “No Excuse For Mets Being Dormant In Trade Market”

The Mets front office has once again succeeded in making the team the laughingstock of professional sports and they have a good portion of the fanbase defending their incompetence. Well done, guys!


Aug 4: Wednesday Morning Mets Links

Mets Gazette – Tom Greenhalgh thinks the Mets should have named Jeff Wilpon’s treehouse their new ballpark after Bob Murphy. Agreed… Or maybe Gil Hodges?

The Daily Stache – Aaron Yorke says the big picture remains unchanged, despite Jeff Francoeur’s game-winning home run. Agreed… unfortunately.

Mets 360 – Brian Joura thinks the Mets poor record in one-run games is an indictment of the manager, not the team.

MetsMerized – Joe Spector challenges the Wilpons to be more forthcoming with their customers fans. This one is a few days old, but still worth a read. Sorry I missed it when it was posted.

And via ESPN NY, here are Jeff Francoeur’s postgame comments:


Mets Game 107: Win Over Braves

Mets 3 Braves 2

This is EXACTLY the reason the 2010 Mets are so endearing: when they are backed up against a wall, they come back fighting!

Shame on all the impatient, critical naysayers who hit the panic button after the Mets dropped the opener in Atlanta — this team is for real and is poised to go on a rampage! In this dramatic come-from-behind win, the Mets proved they have guts, grit, and a tenacious will to win. My guess is that the locals will recall memories of General Sherman by the time the Mets leave Atlanta.

And who would be the one to carry the Mets to a ninth inning victory? None other than the team’s #1 clubhouse personality and all-around great guy Jeff Francoeur, who silenced the critics with an opposite-field solo homer off of former Met Billy Wagner to put New York ahead for good. Prior to the game, many wondered why in the world Jerry Manuel wrote Francoeur’s name into the lineup against Derek Lowe. After Francoeur’s game-winning blast, is there any question? It amazes me that amateurs are always second-guessing Manuel, thinking they know better. It’s nights like these that make it obvious why we are all doing what we’re doing for a living, while Manuel makes three-quarters of a million dollars to do what he does. The man knows how to play the matchups, and has a knack for making great hunches — no amount of experience, intelligence, or calculator-punching can re-create that skill; it’s innate.

Game Notes

R.A. Dickey impressed with yet another strong outing, this time plowing through 6 innings and allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks. He ran into a few jams but worked out of them with a dancing knuckler and uflappable demeanor. I think his performance was something of an inspiration for Francoeur.

Speaking of, Francoeur scored two of the Mets runs — and his doghouse roommate Luis Castillo scored the third. So there, all you judgemental critics!

As great as Francoeur and Castillo were in this game, one cannot overlook the spectacular performances of Manny Acosta and Francisco Rodriguez. Acosta was throwing BBs through an inning and two-thirds, earning the victory while bridging the gap to K-Rod. Francisco was fabulous, expending a baker’s dozen worth of pitches in a perfect ninth to seal the victory and earn his 23rd save of the season.

Bobby Cox made some very strange moves in this game, and his players made some very un-Coxlike non-executions. In particular, I’m not sure why Cox had Rick Ankiel bunting at the first pitch with none out and a Alex Gonzalez on first after a leadoff walk in the 7th, especially when Acosta appeared to be struggling to throw strikes. Cox took the bunt off after one strike, but why give Acosta a strike there and why take a strike away from Ankiel? Maybe Cox thought Ankiel was still a pitcher. Later that inning, Gonzalez took off for second and was thrown out by ten feet in what must’ve been a missed hit-and-run. Since Gonzalez just joined the team recently, maybe he misunderstood a sign? Or maybe Melky Cabrera missed the sign. In any case, the caught stealing was huge, as it was the second out of the inning and Cabrera walked on the very next pitch. Acosta would have been in a very sticky situation had it been one out and men on first and second rather than two out and a man on first — who knows how things might’ve turned out?

Next Mets Game

The rubber match begins at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night in Atlanta. Mike Pelfrey goes to the hill against Chris Medlen.