Monday, April 03, 2006

I'm Going to Throw Up

posted by BH

It's been a while since I posted a commentary on some written piece of garbage, but there's nothing like Opening Day in Major League Baseball to bring out over-analysis and tea leaf reader in all of us. With that, I give you Jerry Crasnick's tribute to Mets baseball.

"Crasnick: An Amazin' Start."
Seriously. The Amazins thing was done thirty five years ago. Stop. Dear God stop. Ask a fourteen year-old Mets fan what "Amazin' Mets" means and he won't know what the fuck you're talking about.

NEW YORK -- New York baseball fans with a dearth of closer trivia knowledge must have noticed something odd when Billy Wagner jogged onto the Shea Stadium outfield grass Monday. Wagner leaves the bullpen to the sound of "Enter Sandman," the same heavy metal anthem that accompanies Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to the mound.
Do all New York fans have a dearth of closer trivia knowledge? One could probably assume that you mean 'New York closer trivia knowledge,' since Billy Wagner's been entering games to "Enter Sandman" for some time.

To which Wagner replies: So what? Rivera might have the history, the World Series rings and the love of a town forged through years of sustained excellence. But he doesn't have dibs on Metallica. Wagner has been doing the Sandman thing since Jeff Bagwell picked out the song for him in Houston, and he's not about to ditch it now.
Wagner didn't actually say this, and I'm not quite sure why Crasnick puts it in, since Wagner is quoted in the next sentence. Plus, I'm not sure anyone other than Yankee fans and Crasnick give a hoot. I'm already bored with this whole idea.

"I play for the Mets. Mariano plays for the Yankees. I never have to face him and he never has to face me, so there's no big competition there," Wagner said. "The earth isn't going to crumble just because two guys have it."
Is it really an issue? Someone asked him that question after the game? Wha? "Hey, you just saved your first game for the Mets. What's with your entrance song?"

With a new $43 million contract and 285 career saves, Wagner has earned the right to pick his background music. If New York is big enough for a pair of Sandmen, it should be able to accommodate two teams with postseason aspirations.
Earned the right? Again, wha? If you're going to go that way with it, then no, he hasn't earned the right to come into Rivera's city and enter to his tune. Really though, we're talking about the song a guy plays to enter a baseball game. It. doesn't. matter. at. all.

Wagner made his Mets debut by pitching a scoreless ninth inning in a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday. A crowd of 54,371, the largest ever for a Mets season opener, showed up at a dreary Shea Stadium and saw general manager Omar Minaya's revamped team rely on strong bullpen work, exceptional defense, a little David Wright and enough esprit de corps to fill a St. Patrick's Day parade.
Crasnick probably should have written, "Omar Minaya's revamped version of last year's revamped team." Every year the Mets are "revamped." Mo Vaughn anyone?

For sake of comparison, the Mets couldn't help but recall last year's season opener in Cincinnati, when Pedro Martinez struck out 12 batters in six innings only to miss out on a victory when closer Braden Looper gave up ninth-inning homers to Adam Dunn and Joe Randa. The Mets proceeded to start 0-5 in Willie Randolph's first year as manager.
For sake of comparison, Mr. Crasnick, the outcome through 8 innings was the same, but the closer blew it. This year, after watching game 1 of 162, you are blowing your wad because Billy Wagner saved the game.

Now they're perfect, at least for a day, and they could attend Monday night's team function with no regrets.
Dude. They've won one game.

After spending mega-millions to bring in Wagner and Carlos Delgado over the winter, the Mets kicked off Opening Day by paying tribute to the 1986 world championship club. Gary Carter caught the ceremonial first pitch from Jesse Orosco, but couldn't muster up the energy to leap into Orosco's arms.
Oh dear God. What are you talking about? Maybe Carter couldn't muster the energy because he didn't just catch the last out of the Series. Or maybe it's because he and Orosco are 67 years old. How happy do you want them to be?

In the end, this Opening Day was about redemption. Carlos Beltran, who so disappointed Mets fans with his production last year after signing a $119 million contract, was booed by the crowd when he popped to shortstop with a runner in scoring position in the fifth inning. But Beltran sent the fans home happy when he cut down Jose Vidro trying to stretch a single into a double for the final out of the game.
Beltran redeemed the contract he couldn't justify last season by cutting down Jose Vidro at second, when Vidro had no actual business actually trying to go for two and my grandma and her 84 year-old throwing arm could have gotten him?

It was about fresh starts. Xavier Nady, who came over from San Diego in the Mike Cameron trade in December, joined Richie Hebner as the second player in Mets history to collect four hits in his debut.
Great trivia name. Richie Hebner. At one point during the game, I saw three people stand up and wave to the camera while talking on their cell phones. That's the first time I've seen that since July 27th, 2005 when I was sitting next to Phil Anker at Tips having a Guinness while discussing the ins and outs of shuffleboard. How's that for useless trivia?

It was about lofty expectations. Wright, who has been anointed the face of the franchise for the next decade, hit a solo homer off Livan Hernandez in the sixth and was serenaded with cries of "MVP! MVP!" -- much to his embarrassment.

"It's way too early for that," Wright said.
Something like three seasons too early, in fact. I'm sorry David Wright, but if you played in Kansas City, do you know who you'd be? Mike Sweeney.

It was about positive omens. By all rights, the Nationals should have tied the game in the eighth inning. Alfonso Soriano singled and came all the way around on a Ryan Zimmerman double into the left-field corner. But a Cliff Floyd-to-Jose Reyes relay made for a close play at the plate, and umpire Rick Reed failed to notice that catcher Paul Lo Duca dropped the ball after Soriano's left hand touched the plate. "We got a break," Lo Duca said.
Positive omens? Are the Mets going to rely on blown calls all season? They won a 3-2 game because the umpire crapped his pants. BUY YOUR WORLD SERIES TICKETS NOW!!

Finally, Opening Day was about a reliable old trooper gearing up to make a run at baseball history. Since Glavine came to New York as a free agent in December 2002, the experience hasn't been entirely positive. He lost two teeth in a taxi cab accident, and he's posted a 33-41 record in a New York uniform. A lack of run support and a shaky bullpen haven't helped his pursuit of 300 career victories; he's currently 24 wins short.
Oh man. The formulaic backstory. I don't know what I'm supposed to be feeling at this point. Should I feel bad for Glavine, as Crasnick wants, because he took the Mets' money and is having a tough go of it?

Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz recently revealed in his book that Glavine actually had second thoughts about coming to New York in the first place. The revelation upset Glavine, who thought their conversation never should have been made public.
John Schuerholz, the bastard. Please Jerry, tell me how this applies to today's game.

A great deal has been made of Glavine's age -- he turned 40 a week ago -- but he's never been on the disabled list and he's never shied away from competition. Given a chance to start against Washington because of Martinez's toe injury, Glavine was on his game.
You didn't want to answer the last question? Well, it didn't matter anyway. I like how you write that Glavine has "never shied away from competition." This is really good, since, you know, he's a major league baseball player and all.

It's a long season, and maybe Atlanta will exert its influence as usual and relegate the Mets to the role of wild-card threat. Maybe Martinez's toe becomes an ongoing issue, or Beltran never adapts to the big city, or Reyes' lack of patience at the plate becomes a drag on the offense at the top of the order.
Um, all that stuff is going to happen. Let's get that out of the way right now. They're not 'maybes.'

Maybe all of that occurs. But a day into the season, the Mets are talking like a team that believes it can justify the hype. When Floyd says, "We know we can win," try telling him he's wrong.
No. He's way bigger than me. Plus, the Mets spent 4 gazillion dollars actually trying to prove that he's right. And the best time to tell him he's wrong might not be after a win.

We're talking about "a day into the season." One game. Every year, every columnist in the country writes about his favorite team either winning the series or losing 162 games because of how things went on the first day. Dude, it's a long season, and your team has played one game. Before the Giants lost today, they had won four Opening Day games in a row. You know what it got them? Shit. It's doesn't mean anything other than a 1-0.

The background noise at America's loudest ballpark sure wasn't enough to obscure the pounding of all those Mets hearts on Opening Day. The celebrants ranged from rookie pitcher Brian Bannister, making his first appearance in a Mets uniform, to Julio Franco, who played alongside Bert Blyleven, Mike Hargrove and Manny Trillo in his first full season with the 1983 Indians.
America's loudest ballpark? Really? I've never heard this before. I'm not joking. Does anyone else know this? Jacob's Field was pretty loud back in the day. Fenway's loud. If I had to come up with a list of the top ten ballparks based on my admittedly limited knowledge of ballpark loudness, Shea wouldn't sniff it. And please. We all know about Julio Franco. He's old. I get it.

Then there's Wright, the reluctant MVP candidate. He needed a visit from the Sandman on Monday night just to quell the adrenaline rush.
Who is talking about this guy as MVP? I don't think I've heard his name mentioned once. He had a decent year last season, hitting .306/27/102/.388.523, but let's not wet ourselves. He's going to be a solid ballplayer, but at this point he is totally over-hyped.

There's this thing Sondog and I talk about from time to time. I think it's called the "East Coast bias" or something like that.

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