Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Triumphant Finish To A Miserable Trip

Wednesday morning I was beginning to doubt if what I wear to the games makes a difference in the Mets' performance on the field. Clearly, I was in a state of utter desperation after having attended five consecutive losses by the Mets in Los Angeles (two this week and all three last season). The game before that was the 2006 NLDS clincher when the Mets swept the Dodgers, but I can't remember what I was wearing (I know it was a black jersey, but which hat and t-shirt escape me).

Well it took a while to decipher the code and figure out what my wardrobe has to be in order for the Mets to beat the Dodgers. It is quite simple really: I wear my bright orange Mets t-shirt with a blue t-shirt underneath, I carry my Mets jacket (but do not wear it), and I wear my Mets visor. And the Mets' starter throws 8 innings of two-hit shutout ball, while the offense scores 12 runs. That will work every time; I am convinced.

What a perfect day it was to mark my first ever weekday day game. I showed up two hours early because I am currently retired. The teams did not take batting practice because they had just played about 11 hours earlier. I walked over towards the Mets bullpen and the pitchers and catchers were all practicing in right field. Mike Pelfrey, Duaner Sanchez and Pedro Feliciano were all mimicking Johan Santana's motion (I witch they'd mimic more about him!) until Santana arrived and showed them that they were all wrong. The photo above is Santana correcting Pelfrey.

Later Santana and Pelfrey were in the pen with pitching coach Rick Peterson working on mechanics. Peterson was working with Santana on getting him to make his leg kick more pronounced and not just sliding through it. Pelfrey was not actually throwing a ball; he was just going through his routine since is the starter for the Mets next game.

When Pelfrey finished, he could have walked through the stands and not been noticed, but when Santana finished practice, he was predictably accosted by fans for autographs. He signed a few balls on his way to the clubhouse but one particularly annoying kid threw his glove out of the bleachers into the Mets bullpen right near Santana. He either pretended to, or actually didn't notice, but he left and the little brat sat there wondering how the hell he was going to get back his glove. I like to think he didn't, but I am sure some security guard got it for him.

The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by some girl on Friday Night Lights. Blake DeWitt caught the pitch for her, apparently at her request. She was clearly desperately in love with him. It was like watching a cheerleader flirt with a star player at a high school game. DeWitt was apparently distracted by the affair because he didn't hit a home run Wednesday as he had on Monday and Tuesday. I can only imagine the crap he took from his teammates after she ran over to the dugout afterwards in order to get his autograph.

Once the game started, it wasn't long before Dodger ace Brad Penny started to look like a Wii Baseball pitcher when you get a rally going. Sweat was pouring off of him and exclamation points shot out of his head every time he threw the ball. As if being yanked from the game in the fifth after having allowed seven earned runs wasn't bad enough, Scott Proctor promptly walked the first hitter and then gave up a double to David Wright and a wild pitch, clearing the bases and adding three more earned runs to Penny's line. Apparently P-r-o-c-t-o-r does not spell relief.

Wright had entered this series as the active career batting average leader against the Dodgers. After this series, in which he went 1-for-13 with six K's and six left on base, he no longer holds that title. I'd still name a kid David Wright Bergen if my wife let me (I doubt she'll be cool with Edgardo Alfonzo Bergen either).

The Mets crushed the Dodgers on Wednesday, 12-1 with John Maine only allowing 2 hits in the first 8 innings. After getting one out and allowing one run on two hits in the ninth, he was yanked and Sanchez mowed down Delwyn Young and James Loney to end the blowout win. It is amazing how quickly frustration and hopelessness can disappear with one good win. After two horrible games for the team and fans on Monday and Tuesday, the Mets came out Tuesday and just erased it all. Sure they lost the series, but they're going home and Santana is pitching on Saturday. All is well (note: I reserve the right to whine more next week if they don't beat up on the Reds this weekend).

Finally, Andruw Jones was boo-ed throughout this series despite actually getting a few hits (2-for-8). His swing is awful and he has had way too many Dodger dogs however. Allegedly, he asked management if he could be driven to and from centerfield in the old bullpen helmet-cart each inning. Dodger fans were actually doing the FSU/Braves tomahawk chop-chant to make Jones feel comfortable so he'd hit like he did for the rest of the decade before last year. Jones doubled down the right field line and scored the Dodgers' only run.

For comparison, Juan Pierre is hitting .304 with 12 RBI. Jones is .170 with 4 RBI. John Maine (who got his first hit of the season on Wednesday) is .067 with 2 RBI.

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