Here's the thing. For the longest time I've wanted to like the Mets, not wanting my contempt for the Yankees to color the whole city of New York. The problem is that for me to like a team, I have to respect them, and the Mets prove year after year all the reasons I shouldn't. The monstrously large contract to Beltran; fine, I'll live with that, he's a good player. Four years to Pedro Martinez; why not, after he throws out his arm you can make him wear the Mr. Met costume. But yesterday's game against the Cubs showed me exactly why I look at the Mets as a traveling circus more than I do a baseball team. Everyone focused on Dempster blowing the save and the walkoff homerun by Derrek Lee, but what interested me most was how the Cubs scored their first three runs.

In the bottom of the second, Jerry Hairston Jr. led off the inning. Victor Zambrano had him in a two strike count when he proceeded to drill Hairston between the numbers with a breaking pitch. No one was worried, because next, in the eight hole was Henry Blanco, or, as we here in Minnesota called him, Henry "The Rally Killer" Blanco. The Confines staff suspects that he generates more than one out per plate appearance, but we still need to go over the data. Blanco hit a low, weak popup that would have been caught by most little league teams under normal weather conditions, and by most major league teams, even with the gusty weather at Wrigley yesterday. Hairston ran the bases brilliantly, giving himself enough time to get back to first if he had to, but was closer to second because he knew what I knew; these are the Mets. The ball dropped in between Beltran and Kaz Matsui and was scored a single.

Now with runners at first and second with the pitcher coming up so early in the game, most teams would charge the bunt, take the out and get on with the inning. Zambrano allowed himself to get so worked up that he'd pitched Prior to a 2-2 count. Then he made an even bigger mistake: a balk. One would now think that Zambrano would go after Prior for the strikeout, or even a groundball to get an out. Zambrano's 2-2 pitch was so far off the plate, even the stellar defense of Mike Piazza could stop it. Hairston scored from third, Blanco moved to third, and Zambrano walked Prior on the next pitch. Patterson was up next and slapped a grounder to Mientkiewicz (who will henceforth be known as "The Doug") who short-hopped a thrwo back to Piazza after stepping on first. The low throw, combined with Piazza flopping backwards like a fish out of water, looking for the ball in front of him, allowed Blanco (a catcher to score from first). Neifi Perez then came up and ripped a ball up the middle that rolled halfway into right center for a single. Prior scored from second on the play.

So the Cubs scored three runs on: a HBP, a 1B (that should have been a team E), a balk,a WP (to the starting pitcher), a BB (also to the starting pitcher), a G3 (and another team E) and a 1B (with a throw so weak that the pitcher scored from second). Two singles, a hit batsman, a walk, a balk, a wild pitch and a groundout. This inning illustrates so clearly why I cannot respect the Mets. If Willie Randolph is any kind of manager, I know exactly what he said in the locker room after the game.

You guys... you lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. Do you know what that makes you? Larry?


Jason said...

You're a Cubs fan, and you want to like the Mets? After the Cardinals, there's no team in the NL I'd rather see the Cubs beat up on.

Righty Grove said...

Somehow I've always had an axe to grind against the Braves. Besides, like I said, I'd like to like a team in New York, and until Steinbrenner shuffles off this mortal coil, that just won't be possible.