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So, I took a day or two off.

Not really much reason behind it, though I did manage to take in yesterday's Mets-Padres game with my best seats yet. Section right behind home plate. Five rows back. Good enough, even for Campers Day and even when there was an unsightly trio of outfielders. I came to see Beltran and Firstings, Piazza and Cameron. Instead, I got disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson and Josh Bard. Not even Josh Paul. He's a Devil Ray, I know, I know.

How far we've come, in recent years, with the outfield, is absolutely staggering. Remember the days where Victor Diaz was a future star and Eric Valent the next great lefty slugger? Remember Jeff Duncan? Remember on hot days, how Ice Williams would cool you down? Remember Richard Hidalgo? Mike Cameron? Karim Garcia? Shane Spencer? Brian Buchanan? ESIX SNEAD? This was 2004. Not that long ago at all.

So, now the Mets opted to go with the ever-so-inadequate outfield of supersubs Endy Chavez and Ricky Ledee as well as professional bad baseball player Michael Tucker. I booed Tucker during his first at-bat. Maybe it was because he was successful as an Atlanta Brave, though it was probably just because I knew he'd suck. And sure, I might have been wrong about the guy for one at-bat the rest of the season. No way he's useful again. Ever.

Ricky Ledee isn't really anything to write home about either. How he (and Zach Day/Jake Westbrook) landed the Yankees 20 David Justice home runs down the stretch run in 2000 is news to me.

Also, it's worth remembering that the Mets had Justice (in exchange for Robin Ventura) for a few days there, before they dealt him to Oakland. They received, of course, Tyler Yates (now a Brave reliever) and Mark Guthrie, whose scoreless innings streak will be on the line this weekend.

But Ledee really hasn't helped any of his teams throughout history, with his best season a thirteen homer effort as Jason Michaels' platoon buddy in the city of Brotherly Love. Career OPS of .745. Pretty pedestrian. Carlos Beltran's is .829.

Furthermore, please don't get me started about Mike DiFelice. I know the guy is a veteran, but I just witnessed what will undoubtedly be his best single-game effort of the season, where he walked twice, thereby getting himself on base twice. That's twice more than you should get accustomed to. He had a few barely above average seasons earlier in his career. Since then, nothing at all. It seems counterintuitive to me, as DiFelice has been wretched at the dish considering everything we've seen from him the past few years.

Just don't forget that Jason Phillips, of the .100 average with Toronto, was DFAed a week ago. I wonder who that Goggles-Ishii trade helped more. Lock him down, Minaya.

All in all, there wasn't a ton to see yesterday. Chris Young, of going to Princeton and being super-tall fame, pitched okay. He seemed to be missing a lot of his targets, but the Mets offense lacked the usual firepower with the big bats taking a day off. Except for David Wright, who, as usual, came up with some big hits and played well.

El Duque was nasty. Forget that two-run shot and you have a good day from a pitcher who's looking like a pretty solid choice for a third starter in October. The rotation, as of now, can go toe-to-toe with the class of the National League provided Glavine steps his game up like he did against the Phillies. Otherwise, and I know this would never happen, but it would make a lot of sense to get him out of the rotation. Right now, he's worse than Pedro, worse than Maine, and probably worse than Duque. He and Trachsel could battle it out for that fourth spot.


I won't really go into much depth about Wednesday night's game, but it was really telling to watch the crowd's reactions. Mike, we love you, but please don't hurt us. Pedro pitched well, he is clearly on track even when he doesn't strike out a ton of guys.


I think I might have the Mets and Jets in split-screen tonight. I miss the long-ago promise of Billy Traber, but come on. There's no way this game won't be a blowout. Against the Nationals? Come on.

I'll also be taking off for the long weekend, deprived of my Mets until Tuesday night. Just a question. As fans, do you prefer tracking the game on GameCast or on the radio or depriving yourself of the outcome until you can come home and watch it on VCR or DVR? Especially if it's only for a weekend. I'm not sure.


I am pretty sure there aren't any Lo Duca articles in today's papers. For chrissakes, he didn't even play yesterday. And there was a thwarted terrorist attack! Isn't that news?

Apparently not.

Now loan sharks are chasing the Duck. I hope this week won't get any worse for him. But dreams don't pay the overhead. Boom. American Express slogan. I'm out.

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More Than A Little Strange

Last night's game seemed surreal. I'm not sure why.

Maybe it was seeing the greatest position player in the history of the New York Mets wearing #33 in a uniform that looked nearly purple. Maybe it was hearing the rousing ovation that must have distracted him throughout that first at-bat, or that Jimi Hendrix music which seemed out of place.

Why didn't Adrian Gonzalez get that kind of reception? I think it's clear. For once, the fans of New York grew attached to everything Piazza, and I know I wasn't the only one who wanted him to throw one of those baserunners out, as I'd been rooting in vain for such a thing for nearly 8 years.

And there was more surrealism, seeing Mike Cameron in that same Padres uniform. While his comeback was clearly overshadowed by Mike P., Mike C. had a longer way to go, returning from an awful injury to play his home games in the ballpark where he sustained that injury.

Nothing to worry about: the centerfielder who replaced and collided with him did okay tonight.


Willie did a good job managing tonight, once again using Darren Oliver in a setup role. And like Crosstown Rivals predicted, it was a rousing success. For, uh, the first inning. Then Mike Cameron had a superhuman at-bat which ended in a walk. But Bert managed to nail down the PizzaMan, followed by Pedro Feliciano's out against Adrian Gonzalez.

But there were two things that weren't weird.

Billy Wagner had a ton of trouble in the ninth inning. Although admittedly some of it was caused by David Wright, it goes without saying that Billy should normally be able to quickly dispose of the bottom of the Padres' order. Hell, he walked Geoff Blum! I thought Billy was at least supposed to bring an upgrade in security over Looper. I'm still waiting for it.

The other thing was that it was all David Wright at the dish tonight. He didn't have that Piazza power, but he delivered some big hits and looked like he was breaking out of his funk. Unfortunately, Firstings needs to do some breaking out. Otherwise we're in trub-trub.

And one last surreal thing. Paul Lo Duca, according to the New York Post, was sleeping with a nineteen year-old. Ugh. You know this will go on forever. Yes, there are pictures.

The Daily News covered Lo Duca's press conference.

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Duck Season

...Wait for it... wait for it...


As a devout reader of both New York tabloids, I'm unsure of which has crucified our catcher more. The Post came out with a disparaging story yesterday, painting the good guy image of Lo Duca with the bad brushes of adultery and alcoholism. The story was written with a clear bias towards Lo Duca's wife, Sonia, and her family, who also happened to be sources in the piece.

Here's the WFAN interview. Softballs.
Other blogs have been linking to explicit Mrs. Duck photos. We won't do that. But you can find them, I'm sure.

So I figured what the hell, right? It's an off day; Lo Duca's a popular player. Fair enough.

Well, MortZuck and Co. upped the ante in today's edition of the Daily News, releasing stories (one that was written essentially without a byline) that played up an angle of Lo Duca's gambling problems. Lo Duca is very well known to be a diehard fan of horse racing, which probably means he's a gambler.

In various interviews in the paper, the Duck has admitted to being a gambler and going to Belmont and Saratoga on off-days. It's interesting what has become of this. Earlier, the Duck was a fan favorite. Now, he's being talked about like the gamblers of Gretzkygate, the dopers along the lines of Palmeiro and McGwire and other degenerate figures that have appeared throughout sports.

Tuesday's Sources:
Mike Lupica: He's Catching Grief During Amazin' 06
-Lupica, who is normally very good, goes a little out on the deep end here, by relating Lo Duca's troubles to those of Floyd Landis. Landis cheated on the greatest stage in his sport and duped an entire country (myself included) and is still lying about his drug use. Lo Duca gambled legally on some horses he owns and cheated on his wife. Hardly analogous to me.

Tina Moore: Mets Star: You Bet It's Legal
I don't really know how much factual basis exists in this story. The whole allegation of the article is based on "sources close to Lo Duca" who say he's run up so much gambling debt that the Mets front office is concerned. Psh. Who cares? Even if the Mets' front office is worried, I'd wait for the debts to get to Jaromir Jagr/Jeremy Roenick proportions where the IRS gets involved before burning my Lo Duca jersey.

John Harper: Lo Duca finds fame as leader of NL's best
I'm not sure what this story is supposed to convey. I think it tries to tie this Lo Duca scandal into Piazza's return in some way, and how Lo Duca is a leader on this team, something that Piazza couldn't have been this year. And I think Harper's right. The timing of all of this is awfully curious, to say the least. The divorce papers were filed in June after they had separated prior to Spring Training. Why now?

Dave Goldiner: Brooklyn Toughness Never Left Paul
Okay. Maybe I grew up in the shadow of New Haven, CT, not New York, NY, but I don't understand how his Brooklyn heritage gives him any sort of toughness. It's not all that hard to tell the press you're not talking to them. And why doesn't he just say it was his Arizona toughness? That's where he grew up. Ugh. I do like the fact that Goldiner goes to Lo Duca's family in this story, though, rather than just Sonia's.

NY Post: Her Swing at Fame
Well, this certainly is unsurprising. This story speaks to one of the former Mrs. Lo Duca's ex-boyfriends, one who portrays her like another former Met wife-turned-ex-wife-turned-wife-again who sought fame. Actually a different angle than most of what we've been seeing lately.

On the whole, let us not forget that Pizza Man is coming back tonight and it's almost football season. There's no reason to get all Duck-happy. This story will eventually end, and I presume Lo Duca will try and put it to rest making his weekly appearance on WFAN today with Joe Benigno. I'll be listening.

In other, more important news, the Mets nabbed a lefty bat for the bench. I like Ricky Ledee, mostly because he's better than Eli Marrero, who's likely to receive his walking papers to make room for the veteran outfielder.

You know what that means? No more traces of Kaz Matsui in the organization. Actually, I wouldn't mind if Woodward took a hike with him. Chris Woodward has regressed to his career averages, playing to an awful .232 EqA, making him only marginally better than Miguel Cairo this year at the plate. Since Yankee fans are stupid, they think Andy Phillips, Melky Cabrera and Miguel Cairo are godsends. How about Woodward for A-Rod? He'd fit in perfectly with Yankee fans, because he's such a good utilityman.

See you after tonight's game.

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Off-Day Morning Wrapup

The Duck is Roasted

I figured as such. His decision not to speak to the press seems better confined to the Post, but I understand where the Duck is coming from. The paper seemingly exploited a private situation for the cover story (registration required), and in actuality the papers had previously been filed.

You hear these stories about baseball players all the time but rarely is it front-page news. For a fan favorite on a hot team in the big city, like Lo Duca on these Mets, or Michael Strahan on the Giants, it becomes a big story. People may also recall last year, when Manny Ramirez's romantic infidelity was supposedly the reason he requested for what seemed to be the millionth time a trade from Boston and put his Back Bay apartment on the market. I guess it would be "ah-paht-ment" and "mah-ket" though.

Well, I think it's safe to say that this is the best-handled situation involving romance with an Italian-American catcher traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins to the Mets who was married to a nude model at some point, leads the team in batting average and has facial hair.

We're In Maine Now; Philly's In Rearview Mirror

John Maine, the goofy-looking fellow in the above photo, kept the streak alive last night. Sure, he's going to have a bit of trouble catching former BYU great-turned-Met nemesis-turned-Met-turned-Rangers pitching coach-turned-Baseball Tonight analyst Orel Hershiser's 59 1/3 scoreless. But he looked the part last night, throwing a few too many balls, but still working his way out of every jam. Maine was probably a little rusty, due to Mike Peltrey being in the rotation and taking his starts.

Joe Morgan is awful. But last night he actually made some reasonable points that were bordering on conscious, like why RBI isn't such a great stat and why strikeouts are the best way for pitchers to record outs. Bonnie Bernstein did a good job in her interview with Omar, even if he appeared distracted by... the game. What a revolutionary change it would be if ESPN found a way not to interrupt the game with their self-promotion or interviews. I liked how Joe Morgan said "I don't use email." As if that surprised us.

Also, what on earth is the deal with Jon Miller and his incredibly annoying enunciation? It sounds like he's trying to make every word perfect, but it just sounds wrong. And if you're going to say Bell-Tron, why didn't you say our left fielder's first name was On-di? Oh, is that because you're not fluent in Spanish? Once again, another shocker.

Golden Boy Becomes Platinum Boy

David Wright signed a six year, $55 million extension that keeps him in Flushing at least until 2012. The Mets have an option for 2013.

The boys are locked up long-term for the good of the squad. Reyes and Wright will be here for a little bit longer now than we were originally guaranteed. That makes me happy. Because now we don't have to hear any idiot Yankee fans telling us that Reyes and Wright are just playing out their six years with the Mets and then going to the Bronx. Fat chance.

Maybe I can get some Reyes/Wright tattoos now to go with my season tickets for the rest of the year. Explosive. It's now superhumanly apparent that his blog (at MLBlogs) is just another thing of commercialism, though.. The people who run that operation seem to have forgotten that if "David Wright" is to post on said blog, it should not be posted when he is currently playing the field at third base. The time of day when the entry was posted also isn't available. But it was at 10 PM on Friday night. Trust me.

They said "Posted Courtesy of MLB.com." Maybe I should post write my entries mid-day when I'm taking a cat nap and say that they were posted courtesy of David Wright. Equally believable.

Will Curtis Run Again?

With the Hall of Fame game transpiring last night, even though my eyes were interrupted for the first two hours by the Mets game and then for a half an hour by Entourage and then for the Mets game again, football season is officially sort of here. Thankfully, the Jets haven't played their first preseason game yet, though they did face off against themselves in a simulated game over the weekend. Here's the caveat: the most underrated rusher of all time, Curtis Martin, is still recovering from knee surgery.

Now this isn't all bad, because the Jets aren't exactly going to be just one player short this year. But was that game December fourth against the Pats really his last? He went for 29 yards on fifteen carries, both the fault of his wobbly knee and the wobbly offensive line.

From a fan's standpoint, though, it's hard to find the right handle on this issue. Part of me thinks that Curtis should be part of this team with his legend status. But then again, it's hard to figure that it makes sense to push him out on the field for a noncompetitive team despite his injured status. The Mangini lockdown has made it impossible to find out the extent of his injury, therefore it's hard to say what Curtis' fate should be. I want Justin McCareins to get his lazy, good-for-nothing, ass back in shape. That's all I have to say.

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Eating the Mets

What on Earth is eating the Mets?

I feel strange after today's scary win, writing as though a loss had just happened. But the Mets were incredibly lucky to win this game. Jon Lieber is one of the worst pitchers in the National League this season. And he dominated the Mets today, limiting them to a bunch of bloops and only a few spotty plays by Pat the Bat and Ryan "I Make Carlos Delgado look like Keith Hernandez" Howard ensured the victory. Howard bugs me, because he won't go with the flo as far as the batting helmets go. That was the funniest pun I've ever made, because the new type of batting helmets are these CoolFlo helmets and Howard's not wearing one and go with the flow is an expression. But you probably knew that.

There were some good things in Saturday's game, though. Glavine pitched really well, allowing only seven baserunners in his seven innings of work. After a rocky first inning, where he gave up a massive three-run shot to left to the massive Howard, I just figured it was another "here we go again" with Glavine.

Instead, he managed to do what he's done best. He took advantage of an inexperienced and aggressive Phillies team that lacked the reliable forces of Bobby Abreu, and, to a lesser extent, David Bell, in the lineup. Bell had a .310 lifetime average in 29 AB versus Glavine. Abreu was a far less successful .224 in a larger sample size, but he was always at the plate to see pitches and be passive rather than aggressive. In their places were Shane Victorino and Abraham Nuñez, who combined to go 1-7 in the game, while Victorino twice whiffed against Glavine.

Not to be outdone, Danny Sandoval, Chase Utley's replacement after the streak ended, also went 0-3 against the Mets today. Chris Coste, the rookie who has somehow made his MLB debut long after his prime was through (Satchel Paige, anyone?), also went 0-4. Glavine and his wily ways seemed to overmatch a Phillies team getting their first licks at him, while he took a beating last week against a Braves team that had seen too much of Glavine. I'm hoping he and the Jacket have worked together and have somehow turned a corner, but I'm not sure if one start makes me buy into that.

Speaking of overmatched, I have two words for you. Mike DiFelice. Somehow, DiFelice's .118/.211/.118 in 17 at-bats last year was just too much to pass up. He was also hitting .277/.373/.366 in 112 minor league at-bats. That's not too bad, right? That's just god-awful, considering he was doing it at AA Binghamton. If I were a thirty-seven year old man who had made baseball my choice career, I might be serving myself better than playing against guys 17 years younger than me at AA.
Hell, it would make sense to call up anyone but DiFelice. Put Gerald-Ice behind the plate if you have to. Jose Awfulman could probably do a better job back there than DiFelice! Actually, forget that. Awfulman made 42 errors at short in 149 games for the 1992 Dodgers. But call up Sandy Martinez, or someone who actually hasn't already proved to us that he's worthless. Jeez.

And what about Billy boy today? For the second time this year against the Phillies, David Wright saved his skin. And on another note, he also ran his damn mouth off again about his former teammates. Today, it was Cory Lidle. He apparently didn't feel a need to badmouth Arthur Rhodes, because they never played together in the poorly-named City of Brotherly Love. But he went off on Lidle, calling him a chicken. That's great, Wagner. Why don't you start doing something more productive with your time than spouting crap about your ex-mates? We get it; you're bitter. Now remind me why Takashi Saito is outperforming you again when he's making about a tenth of what you are? Oh, now you want to be quiet. I get it...


Last night's loss was crippling, as El Duque had an aberration start. It was an aberration because he got absolutely shelled, after his great last start, by the Phillies, of all teams, and it was also bizarre because he didn't give up that many runs after being shelled.

The Mets' offense seemed to be off and running against the far from stellar Randy Wolf, as he exited early in what appeared surely to be a losing effort. The Phillies? Digging into their bullpen to work the fifth inning? Against the best of the NL? In what galaxy does this game translate to their victory?

Well, El Duque triples and other whimsy aside, it somehow did.

And I was feeling pretty good going into that seventh inning, where I felt Willie somehow channeled me. Earlier that day, while fishing around in the fridge for some cold Diet Coke, I had wondered to myself why Aaron Heilman was working his third consecutive day. And then I realized. Currently, Willie has a four-man bullpen to use on the road in a close game without a lead. He doesn't use Ring or Oliver. Ring is understandable, as he's only been up for a few brief days and Willie might have a hard time defending why he brought the new guy in during a pressure situation.

But why not Oliver? Willie can't just have him work one inning in the entire week. I think, as great a long man he's been, there's just not enough need for it. The Mets have the luxury of having five starters who can go five innings (usually) and keep them from getting blown out. So Oliver never works, probably because Willie doesn't want to waste him. He can't make that long relief appearance the day after he made a short one. So Oliver is useless unless you're getting blown out, because Willie won't use him one day as he figures we might be faced with a short pitching stint.

So Willie finally used him as a set-up guy. And Dellucci seemed not to mind much about ruining my master plan to improve the bullpen, launching one over Firstings' head in right field. And that was seemingly it.

Sure, there was some excitement over whether or not Utley would keep the streak alive, but the Mets didn't look so great against master of the change-up Ryan Madson. Ever since he came out of nowhere in that 2004 series in Philly where Todd Zeile christened Citizens Bank Park with a bunch of homers, Madson has scared the bejesus out of me. And he's been better in his career against the Mets than he has against other teams, with his 2.83 ERA and 1.11 WHIP against them versus his 4.27 ERA and 1.39 WHIP against everyone. (Though Todd Zeile did hit a three-run homer off of him, and Beltran's "Thank God, we can all go to sleep now!" shot is also not to be forgotten.) And he pitched well, so he got the win. Sure, he gave up three hits in two innings of work. But he struck out four. Egh.

Pedro Feliciano gave up a home run to Ryan Howard as insurance in the ninth. Is it me, or has this guy managed to keep his ERA down by some oddity? I can't tell anymore. But he seems to walk a bunch of guys and give up a bunch of home runs and maybe it's always Chad Bradford getting him out of these jams. I think they could be excellent sidekicks for eachother, what with their funky deliveries and Chad's propensity to help Pedro out and how Pedro even can bail Chad out occasionally against lefties. They could be a crimefighting duo. Maybe they could go out and arrest Duaner Sanchez's drunk driver. Just a thought.


What's eating the Duck? I have a feeling it's not good, and I'll blog about it as soon as I can find out. For those of you unaware of the potential scandal, Lo Duca's not talking to the media for the rest of the season due to something we're due to find out today. I just get worried about these things, as the last thing this clubhouse needs is some sort of drain on the chemistry. And an unhappy Duck is just that. I have a feeling it could be adultery-related, as the photo on our left does not exactly scream "committed father and husband" to me. Whatever.

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