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So, in my last entry, I told you there would be more '86 Mets-related festivities. Right? That's what I told you, right, Paul Lo Duca? Ahh, Joe B.

Now though, it is coming true.

We're giving away (yes, I said GIVING AWAY) a 1986 Mets World Series DVD set (which you can read about in the above-linked last entry) to the first person to get the answer to these Mets trivia questions to me via email (zookman12[at]yahoo[dot]com).

I decided they would be questions about the last two years of Mets-related misery.

It's going to be:


2003: Figure A) I was doing my job, just throwing pitches, when somehow a very important Met check-swung at a pitch and tore his groin. I struck out 13 in 6 2/3 innings of work that day. I look like some sort of bird-type mutant creature.

2004: Figure B) I was doing my job, just running the bases, when the second baseman gets in my way. So I break his leg with a possibly dirty slide. I didn't think it was that bad. Danny Garcia had to come in.

2004: Figure C) My last pitch of the game became a home run to a Mets rookie in a game in very late September. It went right over Sammy Sosa's head. Figures.

EDIT: We Have a Winner!

Walter from Washington was the first to respond with A) Jason Schmidt, B) J.D. Closser and C) Kent Mercker.

Thanks to all who entered.

Crosstown Rivals is sponsored by JustGreatTickets.com, your home for Chicago White Sox Tickets.

Are you pumped? I'm pumped.

You know what's super. Blowouts like these. The kinda games where with two outs a harmless pop-up turns into a cover shot for some bloopers video. I mean given, the game was already out of reach, but the fact that we turn around and allow a 2 run shot to Fernando Tatis is the kinda thing that gets me up at arms. And the fact that this stupid miscommunication was between the two faces of our franchise. What does that mean? Have they not gelled? Are they not on the same wavelength? HEAD FOR THE PANIC ROOM!
It's not a huge deal. It's not representative of the game or season or whatever hyberbolic spin you want to put on it. It's an error. E6. Moving on.
What an ugly game. I didn't watch it thanks to some recent eye troubles but it's not exactly the mental boost we need. Otherwise, there's nothing to see here, move along.

Friday: Game 1: 1:05 on ESPN Game 2: 8:05 not nationally televised
To the doubleheader tomorrow. I will be severly dissapointed if we do not take both. A split is not doing it for me right now. We have arguably the ace of our staff in Wang going up against one of the worst pitchers in the league in Jason Johnson in the day game. If we lose this, then it's panic time. Wang was shaky in his last start after the full length front page article about his nasty sinker and early life in Taiwan in the Times. But before that he had developed into arguably the best pitcher in the divsion (except Halladay), dominating hitters with aforementioned sinker. There is debate as to whether his lack of strikeouts (he has the lowest SO per 9 ratio of any pitcher eligible for the CYA) would catch up to him, as throwing extra pitches to record outs is never a good thing. This start could easily dictate which Wang we'll be seeing come the home stretch.

Jason Johnson is trash. Not really much of a comparison. If this is a situation where a terrible pitcher goes out and pitches 6 and 2/3 gritty shutout innings I might have to kill myself.

In the nightcap we have an interesting matchup. Ponson v. Lester. Ponson has yet to win a game as a Yankee and really as a whole hasn't brought much to the team at all. The rook John Lester started off his major league career magnificently but has since slipped, going winless with a 6+ ERA in his last 5 starts. Another game I expect us to win, not because I think Ponson will be any good, but because our offense is better than theirs. Quite simply, we're loaded. A rookie pitcher like Lester cannot go up against these type of caliber hitters more than once with any sort of luck. When we get into the later innings, well lookie here, we have a better bullpen too. Villone, Myers, and Proctor are lethal, (especially Proctor of late) and although Farnsworth has been deemed a one inning wonder, his stuff is undeniable. A 3.5 game lead at Friday's end is what I'm looking for.

Saturday: 1:20 on Fox
Easily the most intriguing pitching matchup of the series. Although Randy Johnson and Josh Beckett are very different pitchers, they are similar in that they are both struggling and performing well under their lofty expectations. Beckett's ERA is a perplexing 5.02, and his propensity to give up the long ball has been a source of exasperation to the Bostonians of late. (There I did it. That was my best crack at a Dennis Miller impression.) Johnson's numbers haven't been much to look at either, as the supposed #1 of the staff has not really carried his weight. Both have a lot to prove and both could do a lot to repair their semi-broken image with a quality start on Saturday. Here I like the Sox. They'll throw around the Unit a bit and Beckett'll go out and do his best Beckett '03 imitation. The bastard. To Sunday.

Sunday: 8:05 on ESPN
They're bringing the big guns out on Sunday Bloody Sunday. Moose v. Schill. I'm thrilled for this one. If Mussina can go out hurling and get another quality start, I'd feel a lot more comfortable with this team. He is undoubtedly our X factor. He pitches well, we have a world series winning roof for this team. He pitches poorly, well, you know what comes next. Meanwhile Schilling is (relatively) quietly enjoying a very productive season. A win tomorrow would put him tied at the top of the wins list in the AL with fifteen. However, his stats over the past month are a little troubling as his ERA is hovering around 4.5, his WHIP at 1.5, and worst of all, a .339 BAA. Bringing those kind of numbers to face this kind of lineup is not a good sign. But hey, we'll see.
I like Moose in this one.

Monday: 1:05 on ESPN
The Sox are gonna come into this one desperate. They're gonna know that they can't lose 4 of 5 in such a critical series at such a critical juncture in the season. Nevertheless, David Wells, the mean-spirited tubby, will most likely be on the hill. Needless to say, the man is not exactly money in the bag. His opponent, Cory Lidle, is extremely, well... mediocre. But these days, I'll take a mediocre pitcher as a throw in for a deal in which we get an all-star caliber right fielder in exchange for some low A raw talent. Lidle will be making his 1st start since the death of his grandmother. Whether or not that affects his mental game remains to be seen. I think that with all the emotion cooked up in Wells' belly, in front of a raucous sellout Fenway crowd, he'll get the job done. If there was one thing that could always get Wells going, it was adrenaline. And there will be plenty to spare at this series finale. Sox win.

So the way I see it, New York'll take three of five, which is about as good as we can ask for. Hopefully we can get through this series without burning out any arms, as five games in four days could be a train wreck for Proctor. Nobody wants to see this guy become the next Sturtze. Oh and on a side note, no, no sorry A-Rod won't finally be brilliant on the biggest stage, he''ll be steadily great, just like he always is. Oh well. Lets do this thing boys, I'll be watching.

Crosstown Rivals is sponsored by JustGreatTickets.com, your home for Chicago White Sox Tickets.

No Tomatoes, Please

You know what, I've had it with this little miserable program they call blogger. Just for the record, I already wrote this article once today. Goddamn it. Look for crosstownrivals.org in the future.

So I took a vacation. Sue me. The only difference is that I don't have Dan Lebetard and Bob Ryan like PTI or Jason Whitlock and that creepy slow talking guy like Jim Rome is Burning. My co-blogger seems like he's done a good job manning the ship in my absence. Life goes on.
I hit up four states on my little road trip, most importantly Maryland and the beautiful Camden Yards. I was sitting 2nd row behind the Yanks dugout for the Posada go ahead solo homer in the 9th game a few weeks ago. Thrilling stuff. I managed to snap some halfway decent shots of Randy, A-Rod, Jete, Damon, Moose, and my personal favoirte, an irate Larry Bowa. They may or may not make their way to this website. I was especially impressed by Damon, who was the only one signing young children's baseball cards and balls before the game. He's genuinely a nice guy. Weird. I learned some things. I developed an immense distaste for Craig Wilson and his ugly swings followed by solid hitting. I grew to like Abreu. I saw that Randy just isn't that intimidating, no matter what they'd have you believe. I also saw that although Brian Schneider was a candidate for greatest Nationals/Expos player of all time, Bad Vlad was not. (On this note, who's the greatest Oriole of all time? The way I see it there are two real choices in Cal and Frank Robinson and a third dark ((and I mean dark) horse in Brooks Robinson. Furthermore, who's the greatest Cardinal of all time? Ozzie? Gibson? PUJOLS? The list goes on.) I tried to persuade my buddy Adam that we could leave at the start of the top of the ninth to beat traffic, but he, a Yankee hater, didn't seem to share the assuredness I had that the game was in the bag. (Herein lies the beauty of being a Yank fan. The cockiness that you give off almost inadvertently. I was honestly hand to god 100 percent sure that the game was ours in a tie ball game going into the ninth in Baltimore. It's a nice perk.)

Anyways, what I mean to say is that I missed alot. One of the most important stretches of the year. And for that I apologize. Rest assured it wasn't a lack of effort but more of a lack of broadband. Or maybe both. But I digress: I'm back for the 5-gamer in Fenway. Good timing I'd say. We all know what the outcome of the series will be. One team who's a little luckier will take 3 of 5 and both teams will leave pretty much the same they came in. Even so, it's soooooo tantalizing that if we went into Fenway and swept, we'd have a 6 AND A HALF GAME lead. That's bigger than the Tiggers lead, maybe even bigger than the Mets lead if they keep playing the way they are. 6 and a half games. I'm getting goosebumps.

Cory Lidle's grandma died. Sorry Cory. His replacement is some kid named Brian Bruney from Columbus. Go get em kid.

Moving on to the main attraction. The Yanks new stadium. 1.2 billion dollar stadium. Now if I may, and please excuse me, but fuck that. This is Yankee Stadium we're talking about. Not some Busch (the puns kill me) League stadium not fit to hold a candle to the one being torn down. The amount of history in the place is astounding. I love Yankee Stadium. It practically raised me till the age of 9. I love the short porch. I love everything about it. Within it's walls Gehrig stood and delievered arguably the most famous line not spoken by MLK. Out on the outfield grasses Mantle, Dimaggio, and Bernie roamed. Names like Munson and Berra manned the plate. Larson worked his magic here. And we're tearing it down? What? How can you with a clean conscious destroy the house of some of the most memorable moments of the modern world? For some new age superstadium. Then of course there's the shadiness of the motive which I can't even begin to tackle right now. I could try to cram all the great moments that occured in Yankee Stadium in the last 10 years into this paragraph and I would fail miserably. Wouldn't even come close. And that's just a sliver. Honestly, I'm speechless. And although most say change is for the better, and although we have until 2009 to appreciate the stadium, I think now would be a good time to bow our heads and give a moment of silence for it. It's housed a lot of memories.

RIP Yankee Stadium (1923-2009)

A 12-2 fiasco. Goddamn it boys. OK OK... so the lead can still be six and a half. Not bad. Not bad at all. Bernie is 2nd all time Yankee doubles leader. Passes Mattingly, trails Gehrig. A nice milestone. Nick "haha his name has cake in it" Markakis ran all over us. What a disaster. I'll be back later to write a more levelheaded recap and a big ol' preview for the upcoming uberseries.

A little basketball news never hurt anyone. The US made it's final cut, the ever popular Bruce Bowen, otherwise known as the guy that everyone thinks is so underrated he becomes overrated. Yes he is a great defender. Yes he could probably lock down Manu Ginobli. Yes he is a great team player. But the point is... actually you know what I can't justify this cut. I love Bruce Bowen. What were they thinking. Antawn Jamison over Bruce Bowen. Excuse me? The final roster reads as follows.

Kirk Hinrich, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson, Antawn Jamison, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, Shane Battier, Chris Bosh, Elton Brand, Dwight Howard, Brad Miller. Pretty formidable if I do say so myself.

Wade, Lebron, and 'Melo are all co-captains of the team. That '03 draft just keeps looking better every year.

Everyone's favorite team player is selling his shoe for 14.98. That's right, the universally loved Stephon Marbury has a pair of shoes designed specifically to sell cheap. Honestly, unless these shoes cause some sort of terminal illness, how can you knock this? I know Marbury is a lightning rod for scrutiny but I really like what he's doing here. What parent is gonna deny their kid a pair of flashy fifteen dollar kicks sponsored by Marbury? Well done.

As I said, keep your eyes peeled for crosstownrivals.org. It's a'comin.

I leave you on a lighter note. Sal Fasano's silly stache.
Come on. It's amusing..
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A Tipping Point : Why The Nady Trade Still Sucks

Not really a ton to say about tonight.

It was awful. The Mets were shredded by Jon Lieber for their third consecutive loss.

And while the 3-0 score makes it look like a much closer game than either of the prior two, it really wasn't. It just was a testament to how well Glavine pitched.

Glavine, who allowed a mere three runs in seven innings, was outpitched by Lieber, who has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season. Lieber's stuff wasn't excellent. It looked like he just had command of every pitch all the time. And the Mets played an unspired, lackadaisical, and lollygagging game. They deserved to lose.

With Petey injured now (again), Glavine has been picking up the slack in the starting rotation, which can at least inspire some confidence in this feeble team.

There are a bunch of automatic outs in this lineup right now, like Mike Tucker/Lastings Milledge and the slumping Big Three of Delgado, Beltran and Wright. At least the Duck has managed to stay hotter than his own sex life.

Maybe that's contributed to the trouble. A vocal and upbeat team leader has been dragged through the muck by the press recently. And that came on the heels of losing one of the most integral components of the squad to a season-ending injury.

I was telling somebody earlier today that the Nady trade was to blame for a lot of this. He was skeptical at first. But in essence, Hernandez replaced Sanchez while Firstings/Ledee/Tucker replaced Nady. Both of those moves are significant downgrades.

The Sanchez thing couldn't have been avoided, except maybe if he had worn his seatbelt. But it made no sense, and I repeat, NO SENSE, to trade Xavier Nady.

This page hated him. Maybe hate's too strong. But I lambasted him, time after time, for not hustling and making weak plays in rightfield and striking out on every breaking ball thrown to him. But he was a major league rightfielder. That's more than any of the other three can say. The Mets have painted themselves in a corner by making a short-sighted and stupid move.

I hated it from day one. You all know that. But I didn't hate it just because the Mets got back a wildly overrated aging reliever in exchange for a young hitter with power who could play five positions. It was because the entire blogosphere started talking about how great Oliver Perez is. And how he wasn't like Victor Zambrano.

But Perez has no hope to be any more than Jose Lima as a part of this club. Why? Because that 2004 season, so oft referenced in Oliver's defense, was an aberration. I'll say it again. It was an aberration.

No question about it. Every single peripheral was a career high for him. His hits and walks rates were the lowest they had ever been; his strikeout rate the highest. He was pitching, during that season, to a ridiculous 6.66 H/9 rate. For reference, Roger Clemens' career rate is 8.16 H/9. Pedro Martinez has a 6.81 career H/9 rate.

In 2004, that number was third in the league to Randy Johnson, one of the all-time greats at limiting hits, and to Jason Schmidt, who was having a year far better than his career rate as well. That could have been used to forecast his decline.

So what to make of Perez's great season? Not all that much really. His next year, obviously a likely decline, was awful. He got shelled, then hurt himself by kicking a laundry cart. Ugh. And people talk about his great arm. The arm isn't that great. It gives up a bunch of walks, a bunch of hits and a bunch of homers.

Oh, you were talking about arm strength? Well, even according to MinorLeagueBall.com, who said that there was hope for Oliver Perez, he isn't throwing as hard as he used to. So don't talk about the pitcher being young when he's deteriorating arm strength-wise at his age.

I'm mad. Dave Littlefield fleeced us. Omar should have gotten a reliable reliver for Nady along with Hernandez like Mike Gonzalez, Salomon Torres or Damaso Marte instead of a futile project like Perez. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So, they lost. Three in a row. I'm in no position to know what's causing this little slump. But you're lying if you wouldn't prefer Nady in right instead of the three-headed monster of uselessness that is Lastings-Ledee-Tucker.

Let's not make it a four-game sweep. The lead is twelve, gentlemen.


So, some good news with '86. Straw is coming to the reunion, according to Ron Darling on the SNY Post-Game show. Yours truly has tickets but will probably not be attending.

The Mets reconciled with HoJo, ending his suspension. Come on, Howard. Don't pull what you pulled ever again.

So no Ray Knight, no Doc, no Davey and no Mazz. That's okay. I can deal. I was just wanting to go for Doug Sisk anyway.


In tune with the whole 1986 thing, there's a big ol' Mookiefest tomorrow promoting The New York Mets 1986 Collector's Edition DVD Set, which is the games of the '86 World Series on DVD as well as Game 6 of the NLCS and some special features.

The crazy train gets rolling at Borders in NYC (100 Broadway) from 1-2 PM. Then the former Mets OF goes to the Best Buy in Westbury and signs DVDs from 6:-7:30 PM.

We'll have more festivities related to the event later this weekend.


SNY and WFAN are two arms of the Mets' organization. The Mets control the press. And they don't make it very good.

Earlier today, Joe Benigno on WFAN threw Lo Duca a bunch of softball questions.

I quote:

Joe B.: "The bottom line on the gambling, at least the way I understand it, is that it's strictly on horses and that's it. Right, Paul?"

The Duck: "That's it." ...meaningless blah blah about people and MLB standing by him...

Joe B.: "And there has not been in your career, either with the Mets or with Florida, anybody that was a loan shark or anything like that looking for you because you owe them some kind of big money. How about that?"

The Duck: No. No. I don't think anybody came after me.

Joe B.: How about these two girls now? These two nineteen-year old girls. One in New York and one in Philly. What's the deal there?

The Duck: Like I told you, I'm not going to comment about my personal life and about the nonsense that gets written. That's the bottom line. I've been advised not to talk about that. . . .People close to me know what's going on.

Joe B.: Paul, I almost get the feeling, by reading all of this stuff, that it's almost like somebody's out to get you for some kind of reason. Because I'm sure, no matter what the deal may be, with the girls, with the gambling, whatever the deal is, there's a zillion guys in baseball. You know, what's the big deal? I mean stuff like this may be going on. I almost get the feeling that somebody is like out to get you, Paul Lo Duca. How about that?

The Duck: You know, I don't know. I mean, a million things go through your mind, a million things go through your head, you never know what's happening or what's going on with certain people. . . . It's too hard to comment on it wondering 'what if?'. We're just going to go on with the rest of the regular season and get to the World Series and forget about it. You know, it's just a part of life. I spent nine years in the minor leagues and it took me a while to get where I'm at and I enjoy every day going to the ballpark and this is the hardest year I've had and this is not only the best team I've ever been on, but it's the closest team and a great team and my teammates have been awesome, I mean awesome, to me. . . .

Joe B.: I'm going to ask you one more question about this and then we're going to get on to baseball. Is there anything else, any more of these reports

The Duck: (laughs) I can't even answer that anymore! You never know, I mean, the spaceship might come down and I mighta been on it. So I don't even know anymore, so I can't comment on that.

Joe B.: The one thing I'll tell you is that, with all of this stuff swirling around you, it has not affected you on the field. I give you tremendous credit, because your focus has certainly continued to be on the field even with all this controversy going down.

. . . baseball talk begins . . .

I'm not even sure whether or not I should break down this ridiculously absurd interview or not. It makes Mike Wallace's sitdown with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the weekend look hard-hitting. Joe B. is coaching the Duck through it, almost as if to say, just all you have to say is yes. I'm prompting you. No need to worry. We'll use about three minutes on this stuff and then start talking about baseball.

I don't approve of Lo Duca's love life being front-page stories day after day after day. But come on. Joe B resembled Mike Francesa in this interview, as he was so worried about offending the athlete and possibly ending a friendship that he just accepted Paul's flimsy "No comments." He even went as far as to praise him at the end of the non-baseball section. It's too much, boys. I don't want to hear anything about an interview with the Duck unless I get one.


Earlier this year, Crosstown Rivals mentioned Charles Euchner's quality read The Last Nine Innings. Euchner has now brought us another good book, Little League, Big Dreams, this time about Little League Baseball. We've all experienced it. I played. And hit about .100. But there is a national market for all of this stuff.

Connecticut, my home base, has seen only one LLWS title of late. Our star pitcher? None other than then-chubby pitcher and now ripped Buffalo Sabres C Chris Drury. He was throwing for Trumbull, Connecticut (right). Wow.

I also have a couple other books to recommend.

Baseball Behind the Numbers, or as I call it, the VORP book, is a great debunking of all of baseball's conventional wisdom. It's written by the BP team, so you know, with the exception of Dayn Perry, you're going to have a team of quality writers and baseball thinkers.

The Big Bam is a riveting read, even if you hate the Yankees, like yours truly. It's not quite the caliber of author Leigh Montville's Ted Williams book, but it's close. Pick it up if you can't stomach the VORP book.


I think that's all for today. Eat your Wheaties, Metsies. Because the Phillies picking up two games in the standings is a whole hell of a lot better than them picking up four. Once again, the lead is twelve.

Crosstown Rivals is sponsored by JustGreatTickets.com, your home for Chicago White Sox Tickets.


A Far Cry From Contention

So I went on another brief hiatus.

  • These games aren't meaningful, right?
    The Mets sure aren't playing like it.

  • The clubhouse is great, right?
    They're not hustling.

  • The team is healthy, right?
    Floyd's on the DL. The Mets are Patriots-ing the status of Pedro's calf, refusing to tell us what's going on. Pelfrey's on the DL. Bannister's having trouble rehabbing.

  • We're pounding the NL East, right?
    We lost to Billy Traber. And we deserved to lose on Sunday against Tony Armas, Jr. We lost against the Phillies on Monday. Today doesn't look good either.

  • The organization's emphasis on family values is still intact, right?
    Apparently not. Mr. Lo Duca has a tiny mistress and a big gambling problem in every NL city, or so the papers say. I think he's dated every teenage brunette on the East Coast. Godspeed, Duck. You're closing in on punching a ticket out of town.

  • Delgado's out of his slump, right? Milledge is hitting well, right?
    Have you even been watching these games? Once again, apparently not.

  • SNY is respecting the blogging community by not bumping them from Daily News Live, which is an awful show as is, right?
    No, sir.

    The team is in a funk. Not just a minor funk, but an organizational funk that is funkier than Dae-Sung Koo.

    And The Schmooze can report that the Mets have acquired Shawn Green. It was a welcome respite from this Parliament-style funk until it wasn't true. Now I'm praying that Preston Wilson gets signed.

    I remember in 2002 that Schmooze said the Mets got Bartolo Colon and the Braves got Randy Johnson. I think. It wasn't true.

    This team is a joke. And it's not a contender right now.

    The competition is weak. And they're manhandling us.

    They're playing with urgency. And we're playing like the division is already ours.

    Maybe it is. Maybe the games don't matter. But this team is a far cry from contending, right now.

    Who could they beat in the playoffs? Maybe the Padres, sure. And maybe the National League is so weak that the Mets don't need to be great, just good.

    But this team isn't good. This team sucks. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore.

    It's 11-2. In the fourth inning. Off with the TV. Do something, boys.

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