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Trouble in Paradise?

Scratch everything I wrote last night, I think.

Tonight's Mets were entirely different, despite an ostensibly similar lineup on the field. What, you may ask, was the cause for that?

Well, first of all, "Magic" Wandy pitched like a sprig of holly with a core of phoenix feather, purchased at Ollivander's. [ED NOTE: Does a Harry Potter reference, albeit an obscure one, qualify as a new low for this space? Yes, yes it does.]

[ED NOTE: I write and edit (and read, while sobbing uncontrollably) these posts all by myself; I had hoped you, the reader, would enjoy this interplay in my tormented mind. Perhaps not. I'll return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.]

The Mets have been shut out three times this year. The first was at home, at the hands of Barry Zito, who undoubtedly wanted to prove to Mets management what they were missing when they passed on his ridiculous price tag. Another came against Johan Santana, whose agents are reportedly looking for $25 million per season over a long-term deal when he enters free agency after the 2008 season.

Each of those pitchers has at least one Cy Young award and a winning percentage above .600 for their career (Santana's is above .700). They're extremely well-regarded among their contemporaries.

Enter Wandy Rodriguez, of the 24-27 career record with a 5.23 ERA to boot, who dazzled against the Metsies in a near-surreal evening. Rodriguez only allowed four hits over the complete game, putting to shame another improved effort from youngster Mike Pelfrey, who regrettably drops to 0-7.

The Mets' shutout, though, was their third against a lefthanded pitcher. As Marty Noble notes at MLB.com's wrapup of the game, the Mets haven't been hitting lefties like they used to since Xavier Nady's departure, and, I might add, since Moises Alou hit the DL.

But regarding that Nady trade, you might have read similar sentiments in this space last August and again later that month. I really liked Nady as a hitter, though his defense in right was questionable at best. The X-Man, who has a .292/.343/.509 line in the City of Brotherly Steel this season, would have fit in very well on this team, though it would have meant no Oliver Perez. Take your pick.

The Mets stunk against lefties last year, and were routinely mastered by luminaries like Hong-Chih Kuo and Eric Stults. This year, the Mets have fared better OPS-wise against lefties than against righties, but a recent swoon versus southpaws and these three shutouts might argue otherwise.

Being shut out by Wandy Rodriguez wasn't the biggest problem, tonight, as the Mets are awfully depleted without Duck and Alou and with Green and Delgado essentially useless on most evenings. You might have hoped for David Wright to do something, as well, but home plate umpire Larry Vanover called the game as would a man with one hell of a dinner reservation.

The big question for tonight was Jose Reyes. Over the years, Reyes has brought enthusiasm to the team and has been something of an outgoing and charismatic individual. Remember in 2005 when he would dance with Doug Mientkiewicz? Poor Jose.

But he didn't seem to care much tonight. With the Mets down by four in the eighth, Reyes hit a ball down the third base line, which had all the traits of a ball that wasn't going to stay fair. He jogged a little, but was blind-sided when Mike Lamb picked up the ball and nearly ran it all the way to Lance Berkman at first base.

Reyes didn't run. For a player who makes a living on having legs in constant motion, the shortstop didn't plan on straying too far from home plate tonight.

So what? We've seen times where Beltran hasn't run, even times when the infallible Julio Franco (who must have incriminating pictures of Omar Minaya) hasn't. And what? Nothing usually comes of them, though sometimes the lazy are lampooned in the press.

When Mets infielders spend time with sunglasses upside down atop the bills of their caps, nothing comes of it. It's vanity, not baseball. Occasionally, they'll lose a ball in the sky, but at least they look really bad-ass doing it.

But Reyes apparently didn't explain that he didn't want to be caught hustling to Willie Randolph, who pulled the sparkplug from the game in favor of Ruben Gotay, who is probably best described as that revenge hookup for Willie Randolph. He's obviously not a better shortstop than Jose Reyes, but it made the All-Star seethe in the dugout.

Jealous of Ruben Gotay's playing time? Who are you, Esteban German?

Only time (and, perhaps, tomorrow's lineups) will tell whether a conflict has truly developed between Reyes and the skipper. The two hardly embraced after David Wright was caught trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt to end the game.

The team has, in recent days, shown something of an aloofness on the field, with the exception of Paul Lo Duca and his "Die Hard and Like It" at bat against Colorado. One hopes Reyes, who has looked a little unfocused in the field of late, will be able to set a positive example for other players with a newfound hustle and love for the game in these last two contests before the break.

If not? Perhaps Reyes becomes more like Rafael Furcal. I don't want to go there.



-I'm trying to develop a coherent way to phrase my thoughts and feelings about Dodgers GM Ned Colletti. Admittedly, it's something of a non sequitur, but he has done atrocious things with the personnel in LA and has won only on account of the talent developed by ex-GM Paul DePodesta and farm director Logan White. That post ought to be up sometime next week.

-As I write this, the Braves have defeated the Padres and the Phillies and Rockies are engaged in an extra-inning duel. Ground, unfortunately, must be gained by someone.

-I won't voice my thoughts on global warming (or Al Gore) in this space, but I'm pretty excited about Live Earth tomorrow, mostly because I get to see a few of my faves on stage, all the while blacking out the drivel emerging from their mouths. With hours upon hours of music, you might want to borrow some amphetamines from your good friend Tigers SS Neifi Perez. With a 25-game suspension, he probably won't be needing them anymore. [ED NOTE: Way to go! You could have very easily made a reference to Hermione Granger's time-turner from the Harry Potter series that allowed her to take all those classes. You really have made it in this biz!]

In addition, remind me to make this blog carbon-neutral by December.

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