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Everything went right for the Mets tonight.

There's really not all that much to blog about.

Glavine looked great.

Matt Kemp looked awful.

Jose Reyes was exquisite.

Rafael Furcal was jogging.

Don't tell me Brad Penny deserves the Cy Young Award. Or the league lead in wins. He got shelled today.

Our offense is the best in the National League.

The scoreless innings streak is up to 25. Maine continues the quest tomorrow.

Is there anything more we could ask for? The magic number is seven.

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Ryan Howard's Litmus Test and Other Tales on an Accidental Off-day

Jeff Passan wrote a piece on Yahoo.com today.

I objected to it the moment I read the headline below.

Having a wee bit of newspaper experience, I am well aware that columnists do not pick the headlines for their own articles. It was probably just due to an overzealous Yahoo! staffer.

Except it's hard to believe that, given the content of the article.

I believe that Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were steroid users. All three of them put up single-season home run totals that trumped Roger Maris' record of 61 in 1961.

But it's important to note one thing in common between Bonds, Sosa, McGwire and Maris. None of them have ever tested positive for steroids.

Sure, with Bonds we can say with near-absolute certainty that he was a steroid user. But Sosa? And McGwire? What more is there to say about them besides we think they were steroid users?

That they had freakishly large muscles? That there have been reports in papers that they were connected to steroid dealers?

Ryan Howard's huge. So is David Ortiz. Come to think of it, it seems as though three-quarters of active MLBers are musclebound.

You know who else has never tested positive, right? Ryan Howard.

So why has it become the responsibility of the Maris family to determine who is and who isn't clean?

It's not all that hard to make an argument that Ryan Howard is doping. Howard is slugging an impressive .626 this season. His career minor league slugging percentage in five seasons is .547. That number appears not to be a huge difference, except when you consider how spot-on Howard's other minor league numbers are.

He hit .299 in the minor leagues; .297 this season. His minor league OBP? .384. His OBP this season? Also .384.

Now let me add that I don't think at all that Ryan Howard is a steroid user. But it has been established that MLB's tests can be beaten.

Jason Grimsley, a user of illegal performance-enhancing drugs this season, never tested positive with MLB.

I guess Roger Maris' grandkids know better than I do who is using steroids. But to write off Sammy Sosa, who testified under oath that he never used steroids, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds, who have both never tested positive, is a huge joke.

As much as I detest Major League Baseball's lack of action toward Bonds and Giambi, I can't help but think that the Maris clan should just shut their mouths for the good of their forefathers.

Think of it this way. So many baseball insiders claim that Mike Scott was scuffing the ball up in 1986, en route to a Cy Young Award and an NLCS MVP award.

But has second runner-up Fernando Valenzuela ever referred to that Cy Young award as his? Absolutely not.

The Maris family should shut it. Otherwise, I'm going to repeat my previous claim that Babe Ruth actually holds the single season home run record with his 60 homers in 1927. Remember, they played only 154 games a season back then? So, Babe would have been on pace to hit 63.1 homers in 162 games. And yes, I considered games the Babe sat out as part of the 162.

So, there, Maris family. Sorry your claim to fame is dead. But, come now. Ryan Howard may be taking steroids; Sammy Sosa may have been clean.

The fact that a reasonable doubt exists about anyone's guilt or innocence makes this story the Despicable News Item of the Week.


A rainout? That's great.

I'll probably take in the first game of tomorrow's doubleheader, but due to prior commitments it looks like that'll be it.


The Mets called up a small army of players today, including top prospects Phil Humber (right) and Lastings Milledge. Also promoted were potential postseason backup catcher Kelly Stinnett, starting rotation also-rans Dave Williams and Brian Bannister and Ricky Ledee.

The non-callups had a few surprises. Insufferable veterans Jose Awfulman and Jose Lima were not promoted, nor was super-stud Mike Pelfrey. One must wonder whether Pelfrey's earlier injury has somehow made the Mets think of shutting him down.

He may also not be promoted until later this week. I'm also a little bit surprised that Ruben Gotay was not promoted, considering he has more pop than Anderson Hernandez.


Here's my proposed postseason roster:

Position Players:
C: The Duck
1B: Delgado
2B: Valentin
3B: Wright
SS: Reyes (right)
LF: Floyd
CF: Beltran
RF: Green

-notes: Maybe you could think about replacing Green with Chavez in this lineup or Chavez replacing Floyd if he's unhealthy. Otherwise this lineup is locked in. World Series DH? Let's not get ahead of ourselves, but suffice it to say Milledge or Franco should get some consideration with a lefty on the hill.

Spare Parts:
C Kelly Stinnett
IF Anderson Hernandez
1B Julio Franco
OF Lastings Milledge
OF Endy Chavez
UTIL Chris Woodward

-notes: Anything surprising here? Hernandez only rejoined the Mets this weekend after leaving the team earlier this season. He's not a great hitter, but he can play both middle infield positions and provide a solid pinch-running option or bunting option off the bench. Stinnett is just about as good a defensive catcher as DiFelice, but he's a better hitter even though he's yet to suit up for the Mets. It's also worth noting that Lo Duca's going to start every game anyway.

I was thinking about going with Michael Tucker over Firstings, but it is of incredible importance to have a righty bat that can suit up in the outfield, especially ith the health issues of Floyd and Shawn Green's incredible struggles since joining the Mets.

Julio and Endy are easy selections. Woodward gets on here because he can play any position on the diamond with sound fundamentals, even though he's not a great hitter.

SP1: Pedro Martinez
SP2: Tom Glavine
SP3: Orlando Hernandez
SP4: John Maine

CL: Billy Wagner
SU: Aaron Heilman
MRP: Guillermo Mota
MRP: Roberto Hernandez
LOOGY: Pedro Feliciano
ROOGY: Chad Bradford
LONG MAN: Darren Oliver

-notes: There really isn't anything surprising here, aside from the fact that Steve Trachsel (hanging his head at right) shouldn't touch a ball in the postseason for the Mets. I just pray Willie doesn't make Trachsel a part of this team in the playoffs just because he's the longest-tenured Met and he leads the team in wins and starts (and walks and home runs allowed) and blah blah blah.

I don't like Bert at all, but considering the other options, I'd say he's probably the best bet. No doubt I would like to see Henry Owens up in September though, if not for any other reason than to humor Mets fans. He looked pretty good earlier this season.

If Owens, Matt Lindstrom, Heath Bell, or Royce Ring were to be absolutely dominant in September, I think one of them should bump Hernandez.

A Mota implosion is also not that far-fetched.

So, how's this roster looking? I like it. Versatility and capability off the bench (as well as the incomparable Firstings), plus a bullpen that can go toe to toe with anyone in baseball.


I'll leave you with this Bert Blyleven video (via Deadspin, warning: foul language)

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Labor Day Defeat

This was ugly.

I guess the Mets figured that Labor Day applied to them. It seemed like no one really gave a damn. Even the defense was bad. Did anyone see that Steve Trachsel was going for the league lead in wins? Anyone think wins is still a meaningful statistic? Anyone?

Trachsel was awful, walking everyone and not doing the one thing he’s supposedly good at: eating innings. The veteran Trachsel walked seven. That’s in, uh, four innings. No debate about it: Steve does not deserve a playoff start unless he picks it up or if Maine/Duque collapse.

But Chuck James (bitch) dominated the Mets today. No question about it. They only had one hit all day. And David Wright was thrown out trying to take second on a ball that was absolutely scorched.

Obviously, this is the kind of game the Mets can afford to lose. I don’t see it fit to reference the big lead in the NL East right now, but suffice it to say the Braves pose no immediate threat.

Maybe, though, this game signified a bigger problem that came with the Shawn Green acquisition. The Mets lineup, especially via that trade, became so lefty-dominated. This was especially apparent when Wright stopped lefty-mashing for a while.

The season began with pretty good balance. Nady, Wright and Lo Duca would provide right-handed at-bats, while Reyes, Matsui and Beltran would switch hit with Floyd and Delgado bringing some left-handed power.

Now? No more Nady and in his place a left-handed hitter with seemingly no power and a ton of pop-ups. I miss Firstings.

I really do mean that. There was no need for the Mets to invest in a skinny journeyman when we had the most talented human being in the history of anything. He’s got tools. Lots of ‘em. So maybe he wasn’t hitting. But we didn’t wind up with anyone better.

Chuck James pitched pretty well. But there’s no reason why a pitcher who the Mets destroyed earlier this season should actually be throwing one-hitters against this team.

Maybe it was because Beltran wasn’t in the lineup. Maybe it was because my new favorite player Michael Tucker (I’ll explain later) was playing left field rather than Cliff Floyd. Maybe it was because Valentin can’t really hit lefties despite claiming to be a switch-hitter.

The vibe at Shea was that of anticipation for humiliating the Braves... again. Instead, the joke was on us. The game was boring and dreary, with Andruw Jones and Matt Diaz seemingly snagging every line drive.
This game was a disappointment. And, sure, I know this moment lacks immediacy for the Mets. They could probably lose three quarters of their remaining games and still wind up division champions.

But there’s no reason to go out to the ballpark to watch a team that doesn’t hit well or pitch well. No matter. I’ll be there again on Wednesday.


Didn’t T.S. Eliot say something about going out with a whimper instead of a bang? I feel that was what today was like. I got to the game really early on account of travel precautions. It didn’t seem much heavier than normal despite the U.S. Open next door.

So, I had a pretty good day at the ballpark. Michael Tucker threw me a ball during batting practice, making him my new favorite player. During BP, I also saw ball hunter extraordinaire Zack Hample (of Mets Weekly fame). He was doing the routine he explained to us on SNY, speaking Spanish, saying please and what not.

I don’t think he got a ball though. Guess who did?

Speaking of ball hunting, would it have helped for me to ask Australian Braves relief pitcher Peter Moylan what his thoughts on Steve Irwin’s death were? Good thing I didn’t.


Quoting the WFAN 20/20 guy: “Carlos Beltran had an RBI earlier today on his bruised knee. Seems he’ll be okay.”

Phenomenal. I think I have an irregular heartbeat, so I’m going to go get an ERA.


Just another thought on brushes with pro athletes. As a child of five years of age, I met Andre Agassi in New Haven. I didn’t really know who he was then, but I was for some reason at the local tennis tournament’s hotel of choice with my father.

So, Andre’s career is apparently done. All in all, he put together quite a portfolio of success, despite various hiccups and poor showings at points in his career.

The only remaining question: Where’d all that hair go?

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