Tag Archives: Mets

Stay classy, Philadelphia

Pax Arcana

As if you needed more evidence that Philadelphia sports fans are a half-step down the evolutionary ladder from animals that literally eat their own feces, here’s what happens when you show up for a Mets-Phillies game in the wrong colors:


According to The 700 Level (a great blog despite its unfortunate allegiances), the Mets fan pictured above had the good fortune to be hit with a flying glass bottle at one of the games this weekend.

Here’s what the guy who took the photograph reported:

When the commotion started he was standing up, but he fell to the ground soon after I started watching. He was on the ground for a while and it took about 10-15 minutes for an EMT to arrive. They bandaged his head and helped him walk away. Apparently the perpetrator was immediately led away by the police.

Our area (section 143, in left field) and the outfield in general were pretty nuts throughout the game. A fan in the scoreboard porch area threw a bottle of beer on the field after Ibanez’s home run, and I later saw police and security questioning him. Also, while the bloodied fan was waiting for the EMT to arrive, about 5-10 people in orange shirts were walked down from the scoreboard porch handcuffed by the police. I think they also were ejecting fans who threw Mets home runs back on the field. All in all a wild day. I wouldn’t have wanted to have a family there. And it’s only May. I can’t imagine what the fall could be like.

I’ll give you an idea of what fall is like for Philadelphia fans. First the leaves turn brown about 20 days early because the local populace has been using the Schuykill Expressway as a giant urinal again. In November, 92 Philly fans are killed when tainted Cheez Whiz hits store shelves. Just before Thanksgiving, Eagles fans decide to drop the charade of tolerance and just go ahead and boo all the black players and cheer the white ones.

Meanwhile, the fat guy + mustache combination remains the signature look of the region. So yay!

Mets-Phillies Rivalry Already Turned Ugly [The 700 Level]

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Mackenzie Brown will save the Mets

Pax Arcana

mackenzie_brownThe sports blogs are all aflutter today with the story of Mackenzie Brown, a 12-year-old girl who pitched a perfect game in a Bayonne, New Jersey Little League game. Brown struck out 12 hitters in her 6 innings of work, including the last 6 batters she faced:

Mackenzie, who says she plays baseball because she always has been successful against the boys and just wanted to continue with it, knew she had something special going midway through the game.

“In like the fourth inning I kind of knew,” she said. “Then I just tried to keep doing what I was doing and not try to mess it up.”

And because she’s 10 gallons of awesome in a pint glass, Mackenzie Brown will be throwing out the first pitch at the Mets game tomorrow. Here’s hoping she can show the 6-9 Mets how to play with some balls.

Bayonne girl’s perfect game gains national recognition [NJ.com]


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Let us now commence with the hype

Pax Arcana

Last year the New York Mets appeared to lose every single game in which they entered the 8th or 9th inning with a lead (they were actually fine until Billy Wagner got hurt — then they were terrible). So in the offseason the Mets replaced their wretched bullpen with a handful of proven — if expensive — relievers.

johan_santana1Yesterday the Mets won their opener 2-1 as two of those relievers — J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez — shut down the Reds in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively.


Let’s witness the carnage.

The New York Post:

CINCINNATI — What was a nightmare for the Mets last year played out like a dream on Opening Day.

Much to the relief of Omar Minaya’s players and his manager, the GM’s offseason overhaul of the bullpen couldn’t have worked any more perfectly than it did here in a 2-1 win over the Reds.

The New York Daily News:

CINCINNATI – Johan Santana pitched like an ace. The bullpen blueprint worked as scripted, with J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez handling the final two frames. And Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church’s performances suggested Gary Sheffield need not rush into the starting lineup.

Four years after Braden Looper surrendered two homers against the Reds in the ninth inning on Opening Day to spoil Pedro Martinez’s feel-good debut with the organization, there was no demoralizing reprise. The Mets christened their season with a 2-1 win against the Reds as a steady drizzle fell and the temperature hovered in the 30s.

New York Newsday:

CINCINNATI – The Opening Day blueprint for the Mets‘ 2-1 victory at Great American Ball Park was no happy accident. This was a meticulously planned, perfectly executed strategy that became a reality five months ago in a tricked-out suite at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

That’s where general manager Omar Minaya spearheaded a two-pronged effort to sign Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year, $36-million contract, then traded for J.J. Putz and Sean Green in a 12-player deal that also involved the Mariners and Indians.

The New York Times:

CINCINNATI – The Mets’ team meeting Monday morning began with the players gathering in a circle and, according to Manager Jerry Manuel, discussing their responsibilities for this season.

For Johan Santana, that means reinforcing his status as an ace. For Daniel Murphy, that means rewarding the organization’s trust in him. For their bullpen, that means erasing the bad memories from last season. The Mets’ 2-1 season-opening victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday was made possible by contributions from all three.

Look — I’m not saying you can’t mention the famous Mets bullpen collapse of 2008. But when you write your lede and read it back to yourself, and YOU KNOW DAMN WELL that your competitors are all writing the same lede, it seems like a good opportunity to reconsider your approach. It’s almost like blogs exist precisely because these stories are so damn predictable.

Anyway, the important thing is that the Mets are in first place and the Phillies are eating shit at the bottom — right where they belong. Those cat rapers.


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The most depressing baseball statistics ever

Pax Arcana

metsThe arrival of pitchers and catchers is typically a big deal among baseball fans of every stripe.

But as a Mets fan, I confess I am still not emotionally prepared for the 2009 season. Two straight late season collapses — plus the ignomy of watching those Cheez Whiz slurping troglodytes in Philadelphia celebrate a World Series title — will do that to a guy.

Perhaps it’s best if I take a step back and take a rational view of what happened last year. These observations from Jayson Stark (via The Mets are Better than Sex) could be just what I needed — If what I needed were a horribly depressing litany of statistics that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the 2008 Mets were a very, very good team with a very, very, very bad bullpen:

Just consider the bullpen disaster that did in this team this season:

  • The Mets were 13th in the league in ERA from the seventh inning on and 13th in bullpen ERA overall.
  • They blew 29 saves — second most in the National League, behind St. Louis.
  • They gave up 61 home runs from the seventh inning on, tied with the Giants for the most in the league.

And those aren’t even the most devastating numbers that defined the Mets’ season. Consider these numbers:

  • If all games had ended after six innings this season, the Mets would have finished the year 11 games ahead of the Phillies (aka, the team that won the World Series).
  • If all games had ended after seven innings, the Mets would have finished six games ahead of the Phillies.
  • And if all games had even been just eight innings long instead of nine, the Mets would have finished five games ahead of the Phillies.

But the rules are the rules. And the rules say they had to play all nine. And it was those final innings that crushed the Mets. The Phillies lost no games they led after eight innings. The Mets lost seven of them — and lost 13 games they led after seven innings. That’s how seasons slip away. That’s how one fatal flaw can undermine everyone and everything. That was the story of the 2008 Mets.

Of course things look a bit better this year with J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez on board. But still, I think I’m better off just closing my eyes in the seventh inning.

Mets now have terrific twosome in ‘pen [ESPN]
Jerry’s Angels [The Mets are Better Than Sex]

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Friday Random 10: Putz Edition

Pax Arcana

It made sense that the Mets, seeking to improve the shaky bullpen that caused yet another late-season collapse, would sign Francisco Rodriguez — who broke the single-season saves record last season in Anaheim.

endy_chavezOf course, to get to K-Rod in the ninth, the Mets needed to fill in the 8th inning gap as well. So they traded Endy Chavez and Aaron Heilman for J.J. Putz and Jeremy Reed (actually the deal was 12 players among three teams, but that’s the gist of it). Apparently, Putz is pronounced “puts,” but I’m going to keep on saying it “Pyootezz.”

It’s a good trade for the Mets, who needed much more than one strong option to fix that bullpen. But as a Mets fan, it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to Endy Chavez — if only because he made the single greatest defensive play I have ever seen in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Goodnight, sweet prince.

Also nice to see the Mets eyeballing Alex Cora. That guy seems to bring good luck with him.

The songs:

Black Flowers — Yo La Tengo
That’s What My Heart Needs — Otis Redding
This Lullaby — Queens of the Stone Age
Pearls on a String — Ryan Adams
The Sporting Life — The Decemberists
White Riot — The Clash
Jumble, Jumble — The White Stripes
Carousel — Iron & Wine
The Proposition — Lou Reed
Chelsy’s Little Wrists — Pavement

Bonus Video:

Oviedo — Blind Pilot

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.


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Mr. Met will threaten you with decapitation

Pax Arcana

Via Deadspin comes this awesome video of Mr. Met — adorable mascot of the most awesomest team in baseball — giving some calzone-gobbling mongoloid Yankee fans the universal sign language gesture for “I will cut your fucking head off and store it with the rest of them.”

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The Mets are smart (or dumb)

Pax Arcana

One of the unchallenged truisms of baseball is that a lights-out closer is a key ingredient for any successful team. The theory is that stellar closers like Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon are so likely to dominate the 9th inning that they essentially give their team more at bats than the other team.

When the Red Sox get to hit for 9 innings but you only get 8, you’re probably toast, the theory goes.

ESPN’s Jim Caple says that theory is nonsense. And he’s got the numbers to prove it:

Don’t believe me? Check out this study by Dave Smith of Retrosheet. He researched late-inning leads over 73 seasons, from 1944 to 2003, and an additional 14 seasons prior to that span. What he found is that the winning percentage for teams who enter the ninth inning with a lead has remained virtually unchanged over the decades. Regardless of the pitching strategy, teams entering the ninth inning with a lead win roughly 95 percent of the time. That was the exact rate in 1901 and that was the rate 100 seasons later. In fact, the rate has varied merely from a high of 96.7 percent in 1909 to a low of 92.5 percent in 1941.

Right now I’m thinking that study applies to all leads, including big ones. But what about slim leads, the ones defined as “save situations”?

But I know what you’re thinking. That study applies to all leads, including big ones. But what about the slim leads, the ones defined as “save situations”?

Holy shit!

Glad you asked. Because Smith looked at those leads as well. And what he found is winning rates for those leads have also remained constant — one-run leads after eight innings have been won roughly 85 percent of the time, two-run leads 94 percent of the time and three-run leads about 96 percent of the time.

To be clear, Caple isn’t arguing that Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon are unworthy pitchers. To the contrary, he argues that they are used inefficiently in their current roles. If teams simply put their best relief pitchers in the game to quell threats instead of shoe-horning them into narrowly-defined roles, they might be better off. As Caple points out, teams on a 12 game losing streak may not use their closers at all during that stretch, meaning they’ve kept their best relief pitchers on the bench when they needed them most.

All of this naturally leads to the New York Mets, official baseball team of Pax Arcana. Here’s Caple’s thoughts on the Mets bullpen:

Don’t get me wrong. I realize some pitchers are obviously better than others. And I would rather have six-time All-Star Billy Wagner on the mound for my team in a key situation than, say, Aaron Heilman.

As Caple typed those words earlier this week, Billy Wagner was busy straining his forearm and heading to the disabled list. Sans closer, the Mets decided to emulate the 2003 Red Sox and institute a “closer by committee” strategy.

First committee member to the mound? Aaron Heilman. Here’s what happened last night:

When Heilman trotted in from the bullpen in the ninth inning, the Mets had a four-run cushion over the San Diego Padres. Heilman was three outs away from helping the Mets end a difficult day with a win. All he had to do was get those elusive outs. He did not come close.

Heilman gave up Jody Gerut’s three-run homer and managed to notch only one out before he was replaced and then booed off the mound at Shea Stadium. Because Joe Smith and Scott Schoeneweis followed Heilman and collected one out each, the Mets exhaled and sneaked away with a 6-5 victory.

Obviously one game does not a trend make. And the Mets may eventually prove that relievers are best used outside of their formalized roles. But damn it would be nice to relax a bit with a four-run lead in the top of the ninth against one of the worst offenses in baseball.

The most overrated position in sports [ESPN]
Heilman Bombs in Closer Debut [NYT]

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LOL Mets

Pax Arcana

So less than a week after taking over for fired manager Willie Randolph, interim Mets boss Jerry Manuel calls the Shea Stadium crowd “fertilizer.”

This should go over well:

When asked how Heilman was holding up to the constant streams of boos showered on him at home, Manuel took a not-so-thinly veiled shot at displeased Mets fans.

“It’s very, very fertile ground for growth in Shea Stadium,” Manuel said.

“It’s fertile ground for a team’s growth and development. Sometimes, fertile ground has fertilizer.”

You heard it here first: The New York Mets will win the National League pennant this year. Or they won’t and Jerry Manuel will find his mailbox stuffed with stromboli.


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Goodbye, Willie

Pax Arcana

Baseball at its best is a flowing symphony of balletic swings and synchronized motion. Baseball at its worst is an awkward duck flying in a windstorm. Somewhere in the middle are the Mets.

The New York Mets, official ball club of Pax Arcana, spent roughly $600 billion on players over the past few years — the bulk of it on proven veterans with track records of late-season success. Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Moises Alou, and Carlos Delgado are the most prominent members of that group, though solid veteran players like Ryan Church, Luis Castillo, and even Ramon Castro were expected to at least continue their solid play. Homegrown stars Jose Reyes and David Wright are getting paid commensurate with their career performances, which have thus far been stellar.

Obviously the last 17 games of the 2007 season didn’t work out quite the way the Mets wanted. They blew a 7-game lead in the N.L. East and missed the playoffs. With the addition of Johan Santana this year, the Mets looked to turn that all around.

They didn’t. They are currently 34-35 (which is, I’ll remind you, a perfectly respectable record for any team not named the Yankees, Red Sox, or Mets). So they fired manager Willie Randolph.

I always liked Willie Randolph, even when he played for the Yankees [/ducks steak bomb hurled by guy in Dropkick Murphys shirt]. And I find it hard to believe that the Mets problems are his fault.

For one thing, everybody’s hurt. Church, Alou, Castro, Delgado, Martinez, Castillo, Brian Schneider, and Angel Pagan all have spent serious time on the DL this season. Castillo had double knee surgery, Martinez missed the first two MONTHS of the season, and Church has suffered multiple concussions and says he can’t see the ball anymore. Delgado and Alou are both suffering from acute olditis.

A lot of the sports bloviators are making a big deal about the timing of the firing. The Mets canned Randolph at 3 a.m. EST after a pretty big win over the Angels out in Anaheim. I say for $2 million a year you can expect a bit of inconvenience.

And you can expect to be blamed for something that’s probably not your fault.

Mets fire Willie Randolph [NY Daily News]

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Doug Glanville can write

Pax Arcana

As a Mets fan, I am pre-programmed to despise all Phillies players — up to and including the current triumvirate of charismatic stars Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins.

But for some reason I always liked Doug Glanville. He was a great defender, a solid hitter, and a guy who genuinely seemed to be having fun out there and avoided the showboating and histrionics that sour the baseball experience for many fans.

In this Op-Ed for the Times, Glanville (a UPenn graduate) explains how it all goes down when you’re 34 and your new team assumes your career has gained too much downhill momentum to continue. In this case, he was cut by the Yankees in 2005 to make room for a younger, cheaper player:

I suppose I expected something dramatic and profound as an explanation for my getting fired. But Torre just told me, “We are going to have to let you go,” and all I could really muster was a “thanks for the opportunity” — even though I thought they were making a mistake.

Apparently, I didn’t knock their socks off as I had hoped. In the week preceding this meeting, I hadn’t gotten a hit in two games. So, after 15 years of service in baseball and 6,000-plus at bats in more than 1,700 professional games . . . it came down to two performances, which could have meant nothing or everything, depending on the eye of the beholder.

Glanville realizes teams need to strike a balance between up-and-coming stars and experienced veterans. When you’ve got one of each playing the same position at roughly the same level, teams typically opt to stick with the younger player despite the added advantages of having a savvy veteran in the clubhouse.

Of course, he writes, there are the rare occasions where young players like Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols stride on to the scene — fully formed men before their time, ready not just to compete but to conquer. In those situations, it’s best to simply stand aside:

I wore the number 6 for many years as a Philadelphia Phillie. Not that I expected my number to be retired when I stopped playing, but in a flash, Ryan Howard took number 6 and wore it the next year. He went on to be the most valuable player of the National League and the rookie of the year to boot. A true phenomenon.

So I came to understand — quickly — that Ryan will do my old number justice. After you give it your best shot and do all you can, it is easier to step aside when a force of nature is replacing you. In fact, in some cases, for the good of the game it would be selfish if you didn’t.

I would also like to point out that Doug Glanville has his mug on one of the awesomest minor league baseball cards ever, in which they apparently made him wear a helmet made of hard candy and two dinner plates.

It Gets Late Early Out There [NY Times]

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