Mets failure to improve team disappointing

The Mets had a chance. Or at least it seemed that way at the All-Star Break before a collapse that’s seen them drop 14 of 17. Injuries to Frank Francisco and Dillon Gee didn’t help. Losing Gee for the season hurt a rotation that’s struggled lately. Johan Santana hasn’t been the same since tossing the club’s first no-hitter and up till last night, NL-leading 14-game winner R.A. Dickey has cooled considerably from a lights out first half.

As it turned out, Francisco’s injury hurt more than expected with Bobby Parnell emulating Aaron Heilman. The pen struggles forced Terry Collins to overuse Tim Byrdak. Jon Rauch’s role has decreased and Ramon Ramirez has been inconsistent. The bullpen has been so bad that at least four or five losses since the break cost starters wins. Especially Jonathon Niese, who’s been the Amazin’s best starter in July.

There were a couple of games that the Mets fought back in forcing extras before the roof caved in. You would think maybe Sandy Alderson would go out and get some pen help. Instead, he’s sat on his hands and knees watching his team play its way out of October. A team that’s surprised most of the summer now is four under .500 and trails Atlanta and San Francisco by at least eight games for the second wildcard. With the Pirates leading the charge and the Dodgers having caught the Giants, it looks like Met dreams are dead.

Who’s fault it is still is unknown. Is it simply The Wilpons unwilling to spend to help Alderson make a move? Granted. Nobody expected New York to contend. But with David Wright having an MVP season and Ike Davis (3 homer game) turning it around, wouldn’t it have been nice to give Met fans a chance to get excited? Ruben Tejada’s also done well enough to make most forget Jose Reyes, who already has turned the Marlins into a circus. Gone are Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez

At least the Met future looks bright with Matt Harvey turning heads with a Met record 11 K’s in his first win. Met fans can laugh at the Marlins and Phillies who both look to be rebuilding. It would still have been a concept to make this team better.


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-The Mets suffered a devastating loss to the Pirates 7-5 in a makeup game at Shea which concluded half an hour ago. They led 5-1 on the strength of a David Wright first inning three-run home run along with Robinson Cancel’s first career major league homer off the left field foul pole in the sixth in support of Pedro Martinez, who allowed only a run on three hits while walking four and striking out three on 99 pitches in six innings. But once again, the Met pen was its undoing with the Pirates beginning the comeback with a three spot in the seventh off relievers Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano. Freddy Sanchez and ex-Yank Doug Mientkiewicz delivered run scoring doubles and catcher Ryan Doumit’s sac fly suddenly made it a one-run ballgame. Jerry Manuel called on Duaner Sanchez to record the final out of the frame getting rookie Andy LaRoche to fly to center with the tying run 90 feet away.

The Amazin’s blew a couple of big chances to increase their lead stranding first and third with one out in the home seventh on a Fernando Tatis pop up and a Damion Easley fielder’s choice. An inning later following a 1-2-3 eighth by Sanchez for an inning and a third scoreless work, Wright couldn’t keep a two out rally going leaving Jose Reyes and impressive rookie Daniel Murphy on base by striking out swinging on a Denny Bautista 3-2 86 MPH pitch flinging his bat in frustration. Perhaps he knew what was to come but another pen ninth inning implosion.

Aaron Heilman got dangerous All-Star leadoff center fielder Nate McLouth swinging on a solid 96 MPH heater that tailed away. But he then went 3-0 on light hitting Luis Rivas before coming back to 3-2 when the Pitt shortstop delivered a single between third and short. Heilman’s trouble was just beginning as he couldn’t put away Mientkiewicz, who already had three big hits. This time, he fought back from two strikes down fouling off three pitches before working a walk on an outside change up to put the tying run in scoring position. Heilman’s next pitch was crushed by Doumit off the right field wall scoring Rivas to tie it while a hustling Endy Chavez got the throw back in to keep runners at the corners. Heilman continued to struggle plunking a hitless LaRoche loading the bases with an out to groans from the Met crowd.

Manuel had seen enough opting for lefty Scott Schoeneweis to face lefty Brandon Moss. He fought back from 3-0 down getting Moss to line a one hopper to a sprawling Easley, who turned and fired a strike home to get the force. The return throw to first was too late keeping them loaded with one more out to get. It’s worth noting that if Easley had realized it, he probably could’ve turned two with Reyes and gotten out of the inning. Instead, Schoeneweis faced rookie right fielder Steve Pearce, who earlier in the game left the bases packed by popping out harmlessly to second on a Pedro first offering. This time, he worked the count to 3-0 forcing Schoeneweis to come in with two strikes setting up another big full count. Pearce won the battle fisting a two-run base hit to center making it a three-run ninth and a 7-5 Pirate lead to boos. Schoeneweis got the final out thanks to a nice Carlos Delgado scoop of a Wright throw.

The damage was done. Interestingly, Manuel got himself ejected when he vehemently argued balls and strikes on what appeared to be a low inside pitch which plate umpire Bill Hohn rang up making it 3-2 on Carlos Beltran. The Met skipper was justified as Hohn didn’t give those pitches to any of his relievers in the top half of the frame squeezing them. Beltran laced a leadoff single to left anyway for proper justice. But Pitt lefty John Grabow buckled down by fanning Delgado on three pitches and then induced Tatis on a 2-0 offering into a game-ending 6-4-3 twin killing notching his second save in place of injured closer Matt Capps.

This was a bitter pill for the Mets to swallow dropping them into a second place tie with the Marlins with both 62-56 trailing the first place Phillies by two and a half.

-The biggest issue for New York’s NL team is that they don’t fare well against teams below .500 kinda like last year. While the Phils are 40-19 versus those foes, the Mets are just a couple over summing up the difference in the division though they’ve taken every series against Philly with five games left and six against the Marlins.

-The NL WC-leading Brewers got homers from Richie Weeks and Corey Hart in a 7-1 win over the Nationals for their sixth straight increasing their lead over the Cardinals to three and a half.

-Meanwhile, the D-Backs added a big bat acquiring slugger Adam Dunn from the Reds in exchange for minor leaguer Dallas Buck and a couple of players to be named later. The 28 year-old Dunn was hitting .233 with a ML-tying 32 dingers and 74 RBI’s. He’ll give Arizona’s offense a power boost. Dunn has 270 career homers and 646 RBI’s finishing also with a preposterous 1,212 K’s in 1,087 games as a Cincinnati Red. He also drew 755 walks. Basically, he’s a home run, walk or strikeout guy who will become a free agent at the season’s conclusion. Will it be enough to get the Diamondbacks the NL West crown over Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers? Only time shall tell.

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-It was a mixed night for both New York ballclubs. Let’s start with the positive if you can call hanging on for dear life against the lowly Padres that as the Mets did in a 6-5 win to kick off a vital six-game homestand on the right foot. Most of the offense was supplied by resurgent left fielder Fernando Tatis, who slugged two home runs including a huge two out three-run go-ahead shot in the home sixth which put the Mets up 4-2. The Mets tacked on a couple of key insurance tallies including a Nick Evans eighth inning run scoring double which wound up being the difference due to the pen. Though Aaron Heilman wasn’t helped much by his defense as he attempted to close out the game with Billy Wagner on the DL, he still served up a three-run homer to Jody Gerut which suddenly made it a nerve wracking one-run game with still a couple of outs to get. Jerry Manuel opted for Joe Smith to get the second out and then lefty Scott Schoeneweis came on to pop out Brian Giles to deep center on one pitch notching the save.

-Still, it was an important win snapping a four-game skid and allowing the Mets to regain some momentum as they also gained a game on the first place Phillies, who dropped an 8-2 contest to visiting Florida, who pulled within a game and a half while the Amazin’s are two behind. They need to go at least 4-2 on this stand against the Padres and Marlins to feel good about themselves as the stretch drive nears closer.

-There was no such encouraging news for the other New York team as the Yankees again lost in Texas- this time falling 8-6 despite a Richie Sexson eighth inning grand salami which at least made the outcome respectable. Truthfully, the Rangers aren’t a bad team and in fact are just a game and a half worse now than those Yanks in that wild card race. AL MVP candidate Josh Hamilton did some damage hitting his 27th home run off an ineffective Andy Pettite, who lasted only five while permitting five earned. Struggling rookie David Robertson and Brian Bruney provided little relief allowing three more Rangers to come home highlighted by a Chris Davis two-run double in the seventh that was the difference. The rookie knocked in half his team’s output as Texas captured the first two of the four-game set.

-That combined with a damaging walkoff defeat the previous night where Marlon Byrd got the better of Damaso Marte for a winning slam has New York seeing red. Boston won as Jason Bay had four hits and four RBI’s in an 8-2 win over the Royals increasing their WC lead to 3.5 over the Bronx Bombers. Oh btw…with the Twins and White Sox deadlocked in the AL Central both with superior records, the Yanks will also have to jump over them as well with Texas hot on the trail and even Toronto lurking in the background. They better get it in high gear soon or it really will be first October in 14 years without the Pinstripes closing out the House That Ruth Built for good earlier than expected.

-The worse news is that budding young ace Joba Chamberlain left Monday’s game in the fifth with shoulder tightness and already will miss his next turn in the rotation. Following an MRI, he’ll be reevaluated by Dr. James Andrews later today. Yankee brass and supporters better keep their fingers crossed it’s not too serious as they can ill afford to lose the 22 year-old former No.1 draft choice for an extended period. Especially when their staff is so thin after Pettite and rejuvenated vet Mike Mussina. Are you putting a lot of faith in veteran Sidney Ponson and the unheralded Darrell Rasner? Speaking of Ponson, he’ll face his former team tonight trying to give the Yanks a much needed jolt. So, who gets Joba’s next start? Ian Kennedy? He’s pitched well lately in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. You’d think it would make sense to recall the rookie and give him another shot over say Japanese failure Kei Igawa or <gulp> Carl Pavano.

-I’m no genius here but good California buddy Brian Sanborn informed me that ESPN SC showed the replay of Prince Fielder getting into it with teammate Manny Parra over and over again. Why must they always show such replays of something negative when a younger audience just might be watching all their shows? Because if you know the biz as I have come to, it’s all about the most evil word in TV. RATING$. They don’t care just as you watch. When is enough enough? Sad to say but we all know the answer…

Brett Favre’s back with Green Bay but won’t be for long. The question is if you were them, would you deal the legendary quarterback who’s meant so much to their franchise to the bitter rival Vikings? Tough question to answer. Personally, I think they should call the shots here for the reinstated 38 year-old future Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Don’t expect a happy ending made for Hollywood.

-Remember when the Phillies were supposed to miss former center fielder Aaron Rowand, who left for greener pastures in San Fran? Truthfully, he’s not performing badly but given how well the gritty Shane Victorino is swinging the bat these days, they aren’t missing Rowand all too much:

Aaron Rowand

Shane Victorino

-Who would ever believe that Evan Longoria would become the leader of the first place Rays during his rookie season after signing a big extension? What a player!

Alfonso Soriano missed all those games yet still leads the first place Cubs in homers slugging his 20th on a three hit, four-RBI night in an 11-7 victory over Houston. If he hadn’t gone down, 40 homers and 30 steals probably would have been locks.

-Daily News columnist Mike Lupica had another good piece in yesterday’s paper on long time Yankee catcher Jorge Posada having to be reduced to spectator status the rest of the way after undergoing successful surgery on his torn right labrum and capsule last week. It’s a good read with some very solid quotes from the 37 year-old veteran who’s been a huge part of the team’s success.

-As I noted in another entry, I really enjoyed the festivities of the final Yankee Old-Timer’s Day Saturday but when WCBS play-by-play man John Sterling actually referenced the weather holding off due to a rainy forecast as, “Once again, the sun is shining down on the Yankees,” that even got me. Talk about being overly dramatic.

Gee wiz.

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-It’s hard to comprehend the Mets after a lost weekend in Houston where they were swept by the Astros. Following a splendid Police concert last night at PNC Art Center in New Jersey, I overheard a distraught Met fan who pointed out to their friend that they should have won two of the three games. How right he was. They could’ve won Friday’s opener which was knotted at three before Mark Loretta took Aaron Heilman deep for an eighth inning grand slam. It had been a half inning earlier where they left the bases loaded with nobody out. Saturday saw ace Johan Santana not go deep enough despite allowing just a run on three hits on 103 pitches before exiting with a 4-1 lead in the seventh. Closer Billy Wagner couldn’t hold it giving up a bizarre tying Geoff Blum pinch hit two-run tying single in which Loretta and Hunter Pence came into score almost simultaneously with both sliding into home past Ramon Castro, who couldn’t apply the tag to either. Darin Erstad’s 10th inning sac fly which scored Lance Berkman gave the Astros a stunning 5-4 win.

Then there was yesterday in which Houston scored four times in two innings against Oliver Perez including a solo shot from former Met Ty Wigginton while his ex-club couldn’t do anything with the pedestrian Randy Wolf, who escaped a couple of tight situations including a bases loaded jam K-ing the final two batters en route to five scoreless and seven strikeouts for only his seventh victory. The Amazin’s were shutdown over the final four frames by the Houston pen falling for the fourth straight time.

It was just a week ago where the Mets had completed two of three from the Phils and then gained another game moving a game and a half up in the NL East with the Marlins in third. Here they are now behind Florida in the standings and trailing Philadelphia, who’s won five of six by three games. Not only that but Wagner will undergo an MRI for his strained left forearm tomorrow and could be sidelined meaning rookie Eddie Kunz might get the call. The 22 year-old former 2007 first round pick who pitched last year with Brooklyn and was in Double-A Binghamton this season tossed a 1-2-3 inning last night in his major league debut. Still, if Wagner is out, it would be immense pressure to put on the kid out of Oregon State.

The Mets also put SP John Maine (rotator cuff strain) on the DL not wanting to take any chances. Anytime you’re dealing with the rotator cuff, you have to use precaution. Hopefully, he won’t be out too long and be able to contribute down the stretch of the pennant race.

The growing question is who are these Mets? The team which underperformed miserably getting Willie Randolph axed or the team which looked like world beaters for a month under Jerry Manuel. Or are they somewhere in the middle? On paper, they’re the best team in the NL East even if Pedro Martinez isn’t what he once was. Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado continue to swing hot bats and David Wright continues to drive in runs. Can Fernando Tatis keep up his torrid pace? The one Met who’s underachieved is star center fielder Carlos Beltran. Our fave Daily News columnist Mike Lupica had an interesting take yesterday about Beltran being the city’s biggest offensive disappointment. Hard to argue even if he still has knocked in 73 which ranks second to Wright on the club. The .266 average and 15 homers aren’t enough which might explain why Manuel moved Beltran into the No.2 hole between Reyes and Wright. That’s not where you’d expect the $119 million man to hit but too often he’s up and down failing to deliver in key moments. If Beltran got hot, that would probably vault the Mets over the Marlins and Phillies. The question remains when?

-Speaking of Beltran, remember a couple of winters back when there was discussion about maybe trading him for Manny Ramirez? Don’t you think fans of the club in Queens wish Omar Minaya had pursued it? Heck. He could’ve packaged Lastings Milledge in a deal for the slugger. In his first season with the Nationals after being dealt for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, the former Mets’ 2003 first round pick is hitting .243 with nine dingers, 36 RBI’s, 39 runs scored and 14 steals in 89 games thus far while having a stint on the DL. Tell ya one thing. If he ever returns healthy and to form, Church can make a big difference in that Met lineup making everyone forget about Milledge, who hasn’t exactly lit it up yet.

-I know they cameback to win yesterday 14-9 scoring six in the eighth in which the Angels committed an uncharacteristic three errors helping them out big time to gain a split of a four-game series but what exactly was Joe Girardi thinking leaving Edwar Ramirez in to face slugger Mark Teixeira from the left side after it was clear that the reliever was struggling? Was anyone really surprised when the recently acquired first baseman crushed a Ramirez offering for a go-ahead grand slam into the short porch? Isn’t that why the Yanks went out and got lefty Damaso Marte?

-Another thing. Girardi’s supposed to be this great manager but how many times are we going to see him send Mariano Rivera out for the ninth in a tie game only to see the lights out closer give it up? He might still be the best closer in the game even if K-Rod has saved 45 and celebrates every single one like Reyes rounding the bases for a homer. However, Mo isn’t the same pitcher in tie games. Too often Girardi’s gotten burned. Maybe it’s time for another plan cause the way I see it, his ballclub needs as many wins as possible with the first place Rays continuing to win and the Red Sox holding serve.

-Nice to see deadline pickup Xavier Nady paying dividends for the Bronx Bombers, homering and driving in six in yesterday’s win. So far, so good for the one-time Met.

-Is there any other Yankee you want hitting in a big spot than Bobby Abreu? All the right fielder does is come through with hits like the opposite field tying one in Sunday’s wacky game. When he does get a hold of one, that home run stroke is very pretty to watch. Question is will the Yanks re-sign him or does Nady replace him in right next year? We’ll have to wait and see.

-Only Manny Ramirez could pull off wearing No.99 in Dodger blue and not missing a beat.

-Congrats to Rafael Nadal, who will officially overtake Roger Federer for the No.1 ranking when it gets released following the Olympics. The 22 year-old scintillating Spaniard who became the first male player to sweep the French and Wimbledon since Bjorn Borg in 1980 deserves it. He was already thought of as the best player after winning that remarkable classic over Federer. Now, he’ll become the third ever player (Carlos Moya-1999, Juan Carlos Ferrero-2003) from his country to be No.1 in the world. About damn time!

-As for Federer, it’s getting harder to believe him when he is reduced to saying he doesn’t care about losing a spot he held for a record 235 weeks after inexplicably falling in the second round at Cincinnati to big server Ivo Karlovic. Heck. He needed three sets to beat one-time U.S. Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri who wore out due to the heat. I’ve always been a huge fan of the 12-time slam winner who will still attempt to make it five straight U.S. Opens this Fall. However, more and more it’s looking like it’s going to be a much tougher hill to climb if he wants to match Pete Sampras’ record 14 slams. We’re going to find out an awful lot about the 26 year-old Swiss’ resolve the rest of the way.

-Don’t look now but it appears Nadal, Federer and Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic got company as Andy Murray is making a serious push after edging the Serb in two tiebreaks Sunday for his first ever Masters Series win and sixth career title. The former pupil of Brad Gilbert has really come on strong and should be a serious threat at the final slam here in NYC. Perhaps the Scot is about to harness his talent giving Britain what it’s desired forever. A tennis star capable of winning majors. Don’t you wish we could say the same for our own assortment of American players?

-It really was nice to see Art Monk finally get his big day going into Canton with former Redskin teammate Darryl Green Saturday. He waited a few years too long as he was one of the best and most consistent wideouts in the NFL. A class guy as well. Something you can’t always say for everyone.

-I couldn’t help wondering the other night as ESPN’s Trey Wingo and Tom Jackson sung the praises of Monk for how he conducted himself on the field about what it would be like if a first rate jerk like Terrell Owens ever makes the Hall. Can you imagine just how fake the speech will be? Will he be wearing those shades hiding away those fake tears while talking about his star QB and losing as a team?!?!?!?!?! Somewhere, obnoxious agent Drew Rosenhaus is probably grinning at the daunting prospect.

-Now that Brett Favre has been welcomed back with open arms by Green Bay, do he and the Packers live happily ever after and go away for good? I would love to be a fly on the wall and see that convo with Aaron Rodgers.

-I watched the final Old-Timer’s Day ceremony on YES Network Saturday and enjoyed seeing the loud ovations Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez along with legends Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra and Don Larsen got but that reception Randolph received from the packed house was the best moment in my book. No.30 will always be one of their own helping them win in 1977-78. Sure. He managed the Mets and nearly got them to a World Series in 2006 but the way he was sent packing was distasteful and the crowd let him know about it by giving the classy former second baseman such a long ovation which was so nice to see. You could really tell how much he appreciated it. That’s what I love about sports. Special moments such as that.

-Condolences go out to Skip Caray’s family as the great Atlanta Brave broadcaster and son of Harry Caray passed away earlier today at the age of 68. 🙁

-Also sending our prayers and thoughts to 71 year-old actor Morgan Freeman, who was in a serious car accident this morning. He’s always been one of the better actors. My favorite role will always be his unbelievable portrayal of Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding alongside Tim Robbins’ Andy Dufresne character in The Shawshank Redemption. I sure hope he makes a full recovery.

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-The Mets rebounded with a 4-1 win over the Marlins thanks to Carlos Beltran’s two out go-ahead single in the sixth plus some insurance off the big bat of Carlos Delgado, who took Marlins’ lefty Renyel Pinto deep for a two-run blast in the eighth for his club best 23rd of the season. Oliver Perez went six innings allowing only a run on five hits while walking three and fanning five tossing 100 pitches. He wasn’t lights out but did just enough to give his team a chance escaping a first and second one out situation with a 1-6-3 double play. He notched his seventh victory dropping his ERA to 4.02.

New York also got solid relief from Aaron Heilman, who after walking a couple in the seventh settled down to toss two scoreless while fanning four. Billy Wagner retired the side in order whiffing a pair for his 27th save.

-For the Marlins who dropped a couple out of first, Scott Olsen wasn’t bad by any stretch matching Perez for nearly the same amount but couldn’t get that final out in the sixth walking Delgado and then giving up Beltran’s go-ahead base hit. Following a Fernando Tatis single, the lefty was pulled having gone five and two thirds while allowing two earned on six hits walking a pair and striking out five.

You have to wonder why Florida skipper Fredi Gonzalez didn’t stay with reliever Matt Lindstrom after he baffled the Mets for one and a third scoreless with two K’s. Something Howie Rose and Wayne Hagan alluded to on the radio cast when Pinto came in to start the eighth, allowing the Mets to ice the game.

If there’s an aspect the Marlins lost this game, it was stranding runners as they left 16 on compared to New York’s nine. They aren’t the most fundamentally sound club as evidenced by their D the previous night and their continued free swinging approach which saw them K 11 times including All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez going for the hat trick. There also was a big at bat where former Met Mike Jacobs pinch hit in the seventh with the tying run just put on via a walk on five pitches by Heilman. Instead of being patient, he swung at the Met setup man’s first offering harmlessly popping out. It might have been wiser to be more patient in such a big spot. But often with younger teams, they’ll be overly aggressive showing inexperience.

That’s an area Florida will have to continue to get better at if they want to seriously contend over the next couple of years.

-The Yanks again were victimized by the opportunistic Orioles who broke open a one-run game by putting up a four spot in the seventh off the combo of Darrell Rasner and recent lefty pickup Damaso Marte in a 7-6 win. With Rasner in trouble, the ex-Pirate came on and subsequently gave up three consecutive hits including a bases clearing double to hitting star Aubrey Huff and a Melvin Mora RBI two-bagger making it 6-1. Till that point, the Yanks had their lone run on Alex Rodriguez’ solo shot for his 22nd off Daniel Cabrera.

With Joe Girardi sending out Mariano Rivera to get some work after a few days off, the closer couldn’t escape Huff, who earlier in his at bat just missed a right field upper deck homer. It would take a couple of more pitches before he straightened out a fastball which got too much of the plate serving it out into the short porch for his 22nd putting the stamp on a four hit, four RBI night. As it turned out, that big swing proved large because the Bronx Bombers rallied for three in the home half versus closer George Sherrill.

Following a Johnny Damon leadoff hit, Derek Jeter walked. Then Bobby Abreu doubled in a run putting the tying run to the plate but A-Rod struck out swinging. A Jason Giambi two-run base hit suddenly made it a one-run game. When pinch runner Justin Christian swiped second, they had two shots to get him in but Sherrill buckled down getting both Robinson Cano and Wilson Betemit swinging to end any chance of a miraculous Yankee comeback.

-The loss prevented the Yanks from gaining a game on the Red Sox, who were no-hit for eight and a third by Angels’ ace John Lackey Fenway before second baseman Dustin Pedroia broke it up. Though he lost his shutout bid on a Kevin Youkilis two-run dinger, Lackey finished the game with a two-hitter walking a couple and K-ing four on 120 pitches with 91 for strikes in improving to 9-2. The 29 year-old Angel ace who tossed his 12th career complete game got a nice hand from the Boston faithful.

-Off the field, Lackey’s team made some big headlines by packaging first baseman Casey Kotchman along with 24 year-old Double-A pitching prospect Stephen Marek to the Braves in exchange for 28 year-old first base slugger Mark Teixeira, making it the second straight year before the deadline the former Texas Ranger star was dealt. In 103 games this season, the former Georgia Tech star was hitting .283 with 20 homers and 78 RBI’s plus a .390 OBP and .512 slugging. In 157 total games as a Brave, Teixeira totaled 37 home runs, 74 extra base hits and 134 RBI’s. In the final year of a contract, he’ll now go West to LA to try to help deliver the Angels’ second world championship in six years. He’s making $12.5 million in the last year and could become a UFA this November.

Said Teixeira of the deal:

“Hopefully, I can just go over there and be one more piece of the puzzle.”

It should make the Halos even tougher to get out. Particularly with a middle of the order which now features Vlad Guerrero, Torii Hunter and Teixeira.

The slugger also added of his new ballclub:

“The Angels have always been one of the best teams in the league. They’ve always had great pitching, great defense and find a way to win games. I want to be the one who hopefully gets them over the top.”

The two-time Gold Glover also paid tribute to his former team where he enjoyed his brief stay:

“The last couple days I knew it was coming, so I prepared for it. It’s a little bittersweet. I really enjoyed my time here. I had a great year here. I love this team. I love this organization. I love this city. It’s tough to leave.”

Class all the way.

-In Milwaukee, Carlos Zambrano helped the Cubs to a second straight win over the Brewers easily outpitching Ben Sheets by going eight strong scoreless scattering five hits walking two and fanning nine as the NL Central leaders prevailed 7-1 extending their lead to three games. Four Cubs had at least two hits and Aramis Ramirez finished with four, two runs scored plus an RBI as Chicago put a hurting on Sheets scoring six times on 11 hits in five and a third to hand him his fourth defeat. Every Cub had at least one hit including Zambrano, whose infield RBI base hit to short highlighted a five-run sixth which broke open a one-run game. Japanese rookie Kosuke Fukudome and veteran utility man Mark DeRosa each drove in a pair giving the Cubs their third straight victory while dealing the Brewers their third loss in a row.

-With the Cards prevailing 8-3 against the DL-plagued Braves who just lost Tim Hudson for the season and placed leading hitter Chipper Jones on the DL, they’re within a game of the wild card behind Milwaukee. Albert Pujols slugged his third long ball in four days scoring three times and catcher Yadier Molina added three hits and two RBI’s.

-The Phillies remained a half game behind the Mets thanks to a stellar effort from Brett Myers, who went seven innings allowing just one unearned on four hits, walking one and striking out a couple for just his fourth win. A much better effort than his prior one against the Amazin’s which was good news for the Phils, who just sent Adam Eaton back to Triple-A to get straightened out. The Phillies got a two-run homer from Chase Utley (26th) which was enough to edge the Nationals 2-1 keeping pace with New York.

-The first place Rays gained a game on Boston going two up and four on the Yanks thanks to a 3-0 complete game shutout by Matt Garza, who outpitched Roy Halladay for win No.9. He got an Eric Hinske inside the park homer and a two-run Evan Longoria two-run eighth inning triple as he five-hit the Jays on 106 pitches walking one and striking out five. In a losing effort, Halladay went eight frames allowing three earned on six hits walking a trio while fanning eight in falling to 12-8. He tossed 118 pitches. What a horse.

-The Twins rallied from 4-0 down scoring five in the fifth and one in the seventh to comeback and beat the White Sox 6-5, pulling within half a game of first. Justin Morneau’s bases clearing double was the big hit but as it turned out teammate Joe Mauer’s run scoring single proved to be the difference due to a Nick Swisher solo homer off closer Joe Nathan in the ninth. Nathan then got the final batter to notch his 29th save.

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-The Mets are now in first place in the NL East after scoring two runs in the home eighth to beat the Phillies 3-1 at Shea on Kids Day. Carlos Delgado continued his resurgence by knocking in the two go-ahead runs delivering a clutch two out two-run double down the left field line plating both Robinson Cancel and David Wright, who was intentionally passed over to get to the first base slugger. Though Delgado was only 2 for his previous 17 against Phils’ lefty reliever J.C. Romero, that really couldn’t be factored into pitching to the Mets’ hottest hitter in such a crucial situation. Honestly, I think I would’ve walked him also and gone after switch hitting center fielder Carlos Beltran, who doesn’t have the best reputation deliver in big spots and frequently keeps the bat on his shoulder. Not surprisingly, the numbers bare it out:

Beltran 2008 Situational Splits

Particularly with men on base and two outs, the $16 million man is not doing much. Not only would it have been a more calculated move but Beltran hardly has any power from the right side with only two of his 15 home runs and 17 of 70 runs knocked in coming from that side. Sure. He doesn’t face as many lefties but who would you rather have beat you? A sizzling Delgado or a fragile Beltran, who seems to always fail in these situations? It’s a no-brainer.

-The Amazin’s had to also be extremely pleased with Oliver Perez, who has continued to dominate lately. This time, he went seven and two thirds permitting just Jayson Werth’s seventh inning tying dinger on six hits, intentionally walking one and fanning a season best 12 with half that impressive output coming against Chase Utley and Ryan Howard (three apiece). Perez did a good job pitching out of a couple of jams getting Howard swinging to end one threat. He also got some help from winner Aaron Heilman, who came in and got Werth to fly out harmlessly to Beltran leaving the bases loaded in the top half of the eighth.

-The Phils did a poor job with runners on base stranding double the amount the Mets had: Phi-12, NYM-6. Early in the contest, Utley and Howard failed to get a runner in from third both whiffing. Left field slugger Pat Burrell also didn’t get the job done in another frame popping out to shallow left with one out. It’s no wonder manager Charlie Manuel wasn’t pleased with his club’s performance as they have now dropped all four series to the Queens club posting a 4-9 record with a couple of series left:

“Something’s not in tune. We have to pick it up. I don’t know if it’s hungry enough. I haven’t put my finger on it, but we have to get after it more. We don’t now have that extra kick, the kick we used to have.”

-By contrast, Jerry Manuel gave high praise to his resilient club who not only battled back from a seven and a half game deficit but bounced back in a big way taking the next two games responding to Monday’s debacle:

I’m very proud of the way this team bounced back after that game the other night. We’ve been resilient for a long period of time.”

Under the new skipper, the Mets boast a 21-12 record and have won 13 of 16 to lead the Phillies by a game and the Marlins by two after Florida fell to the Cubs 6-3 at Wrigley.

-One other disturbing note from the Phils was that Jimmy Rollins was scratched by Manuel due to arriving late at the ballpark for the early 12:10 start. That’s inexcusable and not the first time the 2007 NL MVP has been sat down. Replacement Eric Bruntlett had a solid game finishing 3-for-4 with two doubles off Perez. It’s hard to comprehend why J-Roll would be late for such an important game. Perhaps Manuel’s onto something in his assessment about his team not having that extra edge as they did last year.

-Also lost in the defeat for Philadelphia was an outstanding performance from veteran southpaw Jamie Moyer, who allowed just a run on two hits while walking three and striking out six in seven innings of work on 91 pitches. What more could they have asked for from the crafty 45 year-old out of Pennsylvania who continues to defy logic? I realize he’s pretty old but don’t you think the decision to have Romero start the eighth was a mistake? Moyer had baffled the Mets all day. You’re telling me he couldn’t get a couple of more batters? Sure. Romero’s been a reliable late game reliever for Manuel. Just maybe Moyer should have remained in this one time. Always easy to second guess here.

-Condolences go out to Mets’ starter Pedro Martinez, who lost his Dad Pablo Jamie to brain cancer at the age of 79. The three-time Cy Young winner arrived back home in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic yesterday to pay respect to his old man, who he said was “a great support to me from the beginning of my career.”

Martinez was tonight’s scheduled starter versus the Cards but obviously won’t return to the mound for the first time since July 12 with instead Mike Pelfrey going on regular rest.

-The Warriors signed guard Monta Ellis to a six-year $66 million deal. No shock here as the 22 year-old former 2005 second round steal is finally ready to assume a leadership role with Baron Davis gone to the Clippers. After improving leaps and bounds in his second season, Ellis continued his emergence averaging a career high 20.2 PPG along with five boards, 3.9 assists and 2.1 steals. He also shot a very efficient 53.1 percent from the field.

-How is signing former Florida Gator long range bomber Anthony Roberson going to make the Knicks any better?!?!?!?!?!

-Now that he’s lost early in Toronto in three sets to Gilles Simon, should Roger Federer be concerned about his top ranking? If Rafael Nadal figures out the hard courts, look out.

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-Listening to WFAN’s Tony Paige in his monologue of one of the worst Met losses and the overnight host is absolutely dead on about Johan Santana not being left in to start the ninth inning against the division rival Phillies. The Mets led 5-1 at one point until the former Twins’ AL Cy winner gave up a solo shot to Philly center fielder Shane Victorino in the seventh. Still, the Met ace on this night pitched like one getting through the eighth with a three-run lead intact. In fact, he had thrown just 105 pitches. You had to figure he had something left to maybe even finish what was the biggest game of the season at a packed Shea with first place up for grabs. Instead, on a night when he didn’t have Billy Wagner available (shoulder tightness), Jerry Manuel opted to pinch hit for Santana. Instead, he turned it over to Duaner Sanchez.

Paige took note of the intro of the AP game recap. One which is worth repeating:

When Jimmy Rollins saw New York reliever Duaner Sanchez come out to pitch the ninth inning instead of starter Johan Santana or closer Billy Wagner, he went straight to the batting tee to stay loose.

It didn’t matter that he was due up sixth and the Philadelphia Phillies trailed by three runs. He thought they had a chance.

The ever optimistic NL MVP was right.

You’d think by now some managers would learn. Especially when Wagner wasn’t around to close it out which meant Manuel was banking on Sanchez to come through in a different role. Instead, the setup man failed miserably giving up three straight base hits loading the bases forcing the interim skipper to pull him for second-year reliever Joe Smith. Smith closed games for the Single-A Cyclones a couple of years ago. Truthfully, it wasn’t his fault that Jose Reyes on a grounder missed the second base bag allowing a run to score and everyone to be safe. Still, he was out of the game replaced by lefty Pedro Feliciano. He’s been a fixture in seventh and eighth situations usually against lefties. Don’t believe me? Check the splits entering last night:

vs left .222

vs right .324

Not surprisingly, pinch hitter So Taguchi made Mets’ fans worst fears realized by delivering a tying two-run double to right over Endy Chavez. Then everyone’s fave Jimmy Rollins followed suit with a two-run go-ahead double. A couple batters later, the Phillie shortstop would come into score a sixth run on Ryan Howard’s RBI fielder’s choice.

By the time the Mets’ hottest reliever Aaron Heilman got into the ninth recording the final out, the damage was done. I have to question Manuel on why he didn’t put in Heilman after Sanchez got into trouble. He had been pitching very well and probably would’ve been the best choice.

Still, in this Relief Era Error ruled where pitch counts prevent most starters from finishing what they started unless your name’s Roy Halladay (real best pitcher in the game), you have to ask why Santana wasn’t out there to at least start that fateful ninth? It’s ridiculous. The guy tossed eight allowing two earned on eight hits walking none and fanning four. Without Billy The Kid, he has to be out there.

Instead, the Amazin’s suffered a crushing home defeat failing to move a game up in the standings. Instead, combined with a Marlins’ 4-0 blanking of Atlanta in which four pitchers combined to one-hit the former NL East front runners and ex-Met Mike Jacobs slugged a three-run homer, the Mets find themselves tied for second a game behind those Phils.

Does such a devastating loss set the tone for the next two days in Queens? Will this get the struggling Phillies going. They were 12-18 in their last 30 blowing a seven and a half game lead as the Mets turned around their season following the Willie Randolph firing.

The Mets should still have the edge in tonight’s game with John Maine facing recently recalled one-time Phillie closer Brett Myers following a minor league stint. A win would cure what happened and make fans forget. The middle game of this series now becomes crucial. We’ll see what they’re made of.

-Is it any wonder that Phillie big pickup Joe Blanton struggled serving up a pair of two-run dingers to Carlos Delgado and Ramon Castro? At least he went six and tossed four more pitches than Santana.

-Over in the Bronx, the Yankees continued their sizzling play improving to 5-0 since the break with an 8-2 win over the Twins. Darrell Rasner gave them a boost pitching into the sixth on what should have been just one run allowed due to first base umpire Mike Dimuro’s bad call ruling that Jason Kubel was safe on a potential inning ending double play in which Jason Giambi showed great athleticism to start it. Instead, the Twins took a 2-1 lead before eventual rookie winner David Robertson got the final out.

The Yanks have been swinging hotter bats lately and finally, they got going in the bottom half against Kevin Slowey. With Johnny Damon on first distracting the Minny starter enough, he grooved an inside heater to Bobby Abreu, who deposited it into the short porch for a 3-2 Yankee lead. Alex Rodriguez followed with a single for his second hit of the night to keep it going and then swiped second. After Jason Giambi was walked, resurgent second baseman Robinson Cano continued his hot hitting delivering a run scoring single to center putting them up a pair.

The following inning, the Bronx Bombers put the game out of reach batting around for four more highlighted by a two-run double from team captain Derek Jeter making it 6-2. An Abreu double and Giambi single increased the margin to six.

Relievers Jose Veras (1 IP, K) Kyle Farnsworth (1 IP, BB, 3 K’s) and Dan Giese (1 IP, H, K) finished off the final three frames pulling the Yanks to a season high 10 games over (55-45). With first place Tampa Bay falling to Oakland 8-1, they’re now just three and a half out. Meanwhile, Boston got a solid outing from Dice K, who pitched into the eighth permitting just a couple of runs while walking two and fanning six in a 4-2 road win over the Mariners to pull within half a game of first. They still lead the Yanks by three for the wild card.

-With his major league-leading 41st save, Angels’ closer Francisco Rodriguez is just 16 saves short of the major league record established by former White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen, who had 57 saves in 1990. With 62 games remaining, it’s a pretty good bet that the potential 2008 free agent will set a new record.

-With their fifth win in six, the Rockies remained seven behind NL West leader Arizona, who beat the NL-leading Cubs a second straight time to go a game up on the Dodgers. Ironically, that’s who Colorado beat getting homers from Brad Hawpe and Ian Stewart in a 10-1 rout bouncing back from a 16-10 defeat. They’re still 14 below .500 (44-58) but if they hang around in that weak division and play their cards right, I still believe they got a shot to comeback and win it.

-Did you ever think you’d see the day that WNBA players would be fighting and getting tossed out of games with suspensions coming? That’s precisely what occurred during a game between the Shock and Sparks in Auburn Hills much like that infamous brawl between the Pacers and Pistons a few years back.

With 4.6 seconds left in a game Los Angeles won 84-81, Sparks’ rookie Candace Parker got tangled up with the Shock’s Pienette Pierson, who then ran into her touching off the fireworks. Parker, who paced her team with 21 responded by throwing a punch before Deanna Nolan took her down as coaches and players left the bench highlighted by Detroit assistant Rick Mahorn knocking down former WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, who tried to play peacemaker.

Ironically, the former Bad Boy was also involved in the 2004 brawl as a Pistons’ broadcaster trying to prevent Ron Artest from going into the stands. LA coach Michael Cooper thought he was trying to keep the peace but was “too big.”

Though this was far from as ugly as that NBA incident, it was disturbing to say the least. The three officials should have gotten better control preventing it to escalate following a hard foul from Detroit’s Cheryl Ford on Parker. This was definitely disappointing and suspensions and fines will be certain to follow.

-Finally, why must ESPN deliberately put a FAVRE portion on their bottom line ticker as if it were a scoreboard? Talk about insanity. I’m as tired as most of the whole Brett Favre escapade. That the people in Bristol would go this far tells you all you need to know about how out of touch they really are.

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Mets streaking while Yankees teasing

The tale of two New York baseball teams is being told as we approach the final weekend before the superhyped final All-Star Game at legendary Yankee Stadium in the cathedral which will soon be replaced by a brand new state of the art ballpark across the street.

For one team at least, they can feel pretty darn good about themselves because the Mets have finally discovered that magic formula under interim manager Jerry Manuel reeling off seven in a row including last nite’s 2-1 squeaker over the visiting Rockies at Shea.

Oliver Perez was rock solid for a third consecutive outing permitting just a run despite walking six before giving way to a pen which wiggled out of a couple of bases loaded jams including Aaron Heilman getting the last two Rockies swinging in the seventh. Pedro Feliciano followed suit by escaping a similar jam in the eighth keeping the contest tied to set the stage for surprising veteran second baseman Damion Easley who provided the heroics with a solo shot in the bottom half to give his team another huge victory.

For once, Billy Wagner closed it out 1-2-3 getting the final out on a deep fly to Carlos Beltran which kept the Amazin’s red hot with a season high seventh win in a row to remain tied with the Marlins a game and a half out of first.

Meanwhile in the City of Brotherly Love, the Phillies cameback to beat the one under NL West-leading Diamondbacks 6-5 in 12 innings getting a crucial two-run eighth inning tying triple from gritty center fielder Shane Victorino and a walkoff Jayson Werth RBI base hit to win for the second straight time. Ryan Howard added his major league best 28th dinger.

While the Mets should feel good for closing the gap after trailing by as much as seven to the Phils, the Yankees have to be increasingly frustrated with their inconsistency.

Having looked like they were about to put something together by taking the last two against Boston and sweeping a two-game series from the suddenly slumping first place Rays (lost fifth straight last night), they followed it up by turning Paul Maholm into a Cy Young candidate scoring just two runs in a depressing 4-2 loss to the Pirates in a makeup game Thursday. After a Bobby Abreu two-run single tied it, Pirates’ All-Star center fielder Nate McLouth responded by hitting a gamebreaking two-run home run off normally reliable Jose Veras in the seventh.

It allowed the Pirates to take the series despite another good outing from veteran Mike Mussina (6 IP, 2 ER, 9 H, 5 K’s).

The problem for the Bronx Bombers is that the very next night, they had to deal with Toronto ace Roy Halladay, who brought his ‘A’ game to the table outpitching rookie Joba Chamberlain (6.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, HR, 9 K’s) while going the distance for his impressive major league-leading seventh complete game two-hitting them while walking one and fanning eight.

Only veteran infielders Alex Rodriguez (fourth inning single) and Derek Jeter (ninth inning ground rule double) got hits off Halladay leaving the Yankee captain singing the Toronto ace’s praises:

“He never throws a ball over the middle of the plate. If you face him four or five times a game, you might get one pitch over the plate. He goes from corner to corner as good as any pitcher in the game. He’s probably the best starter in baseball, I would think. I know I’m a little biased because we face him 10 times a year. He’s as consistent as anyone.”

Pretty hard to disagree with that assessment. It’s always been my belief that Halladay and Brandon Webb were the best pitchers in the game. Cue up the arguments.

Unfortunately for Jeter and the Yankee Pinstripes, they blew another golden opportunity to gain valuable ground on Tampa Bay, who lost again to the lowly Indians 5-0. It’s also worth noting that second place Boston also dropped a home game to the Orioles 7-3 remaining a game and a half out of first while the Yanks still trail by six and a half and seven in the loss column.

It’s vital for them to bounceback over the next two days before the break. However, that doesn’t seem likely with struggling fifth starter Darrell Rasner going against Jesse Litsch later today. If he does win, then the finale would see veteran southpaw Andy Pettite take on fireballer A.J. Burnett in a potential great match-up.

We’ll see if Joe Girardi’s ballclub can finish strong.

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The blame game

Copyright Getty Images

Willie Randolph was still managing the Mets tonight in Los Angeles against the Angels. But for how long? 

The Mets have become the biggest story here in NYC. They finally have all the back pages as many of their diehards have craved for so long. Only thing is it’s not for how well their team is playing on the field and certainly not for the unnecessary distractions off it.

Just call it the circus in Flushing. For years, it’s always been the Yankees who perfected the art not knowing how to handle situations. Joe Torre had to deal with so much garbage. Well, now it’s former bench coach Willie Randolph who’s on the hot seat never really knowing day to day whether he’s staying or going.

Truthfully, it’s not all the former Yankee second baseman’s fault that his team has underachieved headed into a three-game set at the Angels two under .500 at 33 up and 35 down. Does the manager have a responsibility in this mess which has the Amazin’s trailing the Phillies by six and a half entering tonight? Of course. Ultimately, his ballclub hasn’t played the brand of baseball needed to make fans forget last year’s dreadful September collapse.

There’s just been zero consistency for a team many expected to not only win the NL East but had going to the World Series. That’s why they play the games. If talent and highest payrolls always won, then the Yankees wouldn’t be first round failures since that colossal choke job against the rival Red Sox. You can spend all the cash you want on a few of the best players the league has to offer but it doesn’t always account for chemistry.

Last winter, Omar Minaya patiently waited playing a perfect game of chess before cornering the Twins for lefty ace Johan Santana. This was the big deal that would put the Mets over the top. The same way once the Yanks acquired Alex Rodriguez, it was over for the rest of baseball. Despite two MVPs to his collection and a record-breaking new contract, how has that worked out? It’s been eight years since the Bronx Bombers won a 26th World Series.

There’s no such thing as a guarantee in sports unless it’s Rafael Nadal on clay or the Knicks continuing to suck no matter who Jim Dolan brings in.

Are the Mets a colossal disappointment through the first 68 games this season? Undoubtedly. So too are their crosstown rivals who finally got to four over by sweeping the Astros over the weekend. Despite that, they still got bad news when ace Chien-Ming Wang sprained his right foot tearing a tendon while scoring a run in yesterday’s 13-0 win. He’ll likely be lost till September. What that means for New York’s postseason aspirations is a giant sized question mark.

It’s never too late for the Mets to turn around their season. Five in the loss column can be made up quickly. Especially with this much time left. All they have to do is put together a hot streak and the Phils could comeback to the pack. It would be nice for the Queens club to at least demonstrate to their fans that they’re actually capable of that. A couple of weeks ago, it looked like they were coming around but then came that awful four-game series in San Diego and three vicious losses during a mediocre .500 homestand against Arizona and Texas.

Pedro Martinez did his part tossing six solid innings to help the Mets win the second game yesterday.

After splitting a doubleheader with the Rangers thanks to a solid six from Pedro Martinez and the right move by the much maligned manager pulling his starter for pinch hitter Robinson Cancel who delivered the clutch two-run hit, the Mets headed West for six games against the Angels and the Rockies beginning tonight.

Despite taking two of three over the weekend, there was still a lingering question as to whether Randolph would still be managing them. Such is the chaotic nature of Met management letting the classy former player who grew up in Brooklyn hang in the wind. A published NY Post report indicated that Fred and Jeff Wilpon had given Minaya the authority to axe Randolph and his coaches if he felt it was warranted.

How nice. The owners have no backbone or common decency. Instead, they let their GM who hasn’t exactly done a good job this year bolstering a shaky pen or making the bench younger do all their dirty work cause they want nothing to do with it. It can’t possibly be that the $140 million they shelled out could produce such a mediocre club. Never occurred to them. At least Hank Steinbrenner is hands on even though he’s extremely irritating.

Where’s the accountability? If Minaya fires Randolph or say Howard Johnson, guru Rick Peterson or Sandy Alomar for that dreadful decision sending Brian Schneider which cost them a chance at a great comeback in the first game yesterday, who’s to say it’s going to change a team which can’t rely on Carlos Delgado or Moises “DL” Alou. Luis Castillo isn’t much better due to his knees yet was signed to a four-year extension.

Then there’s Ryan Church who was on his way to the All-Star Game in the Bronx before the Mets rushed him back from a concussion. You don’t ever do that under any consequence.

Will a new skipper automatically change Jose Reyes’ approach? What about the streakiness of stars Carlos Beltran and David Wright? Is it just Randolph’s fault that John Maine throws too many pitches to go more than six most nights? What about Oliver Perez’ continued Jekyll and Hyde act?

They also don’t have a complete game from Santana who makes too much money not to at least go nine once or twice and save the bullpen from wrecking a probable win as what transpired last week. Remarkably, Mike Pelfrey came the closest pitching into the ninth before Billy Wagner blew it serving up a tying three-run dinger. At least the Mets still won thanks to a Beltran extra inning blast.

The options to setup Wagner aren’t great with Pedro Feliciano and Scott Schoeneweis proving to be the best thus far. But both are lefties who can be taken yard. Aaron Heilman has struggled and Duaner Sanchez hasn’t done much better. Joe Smith’s been alright but is never a lock due to comman.

How can it all be on the skipper when this mess of a pen has repeatedly blown games? Isn’t that the GM’s responsibility?

How come a vast majority of the late inning options off the bench are all aging vets such as Damion Easley, Fernando Tatis or Marlon Anderson?

It sure seems like one person is being given a lot more leeway than the other. Why?

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Random Thought

Normally, I list a whole bunch of random stuff floating around my brain. But being that it’s kind of late here in Shaolin, NYC and I need some rest, I did have this one random musing which I felt like issuing:

-This isn’t something I feel totally comfortable saying but it must be stated anyway. This blog represents a lot of things. I’ll never beat around the bush on any issue. I’m always game for pretty much anything. Especially revolving around sports. Lately, the Mets have been getting plenty of press both negative and positive for finally responding to management backing Willie Randolph. They had reeled off three in a row including a fascinating extra inning comeback win over the Marlins which was reminiscent of 2006. Then David Wright bashed the ball jacking a couple out off favorite Met target Brad Penny. They finally were back to .500 and starting to play the kind of winning baseball most had expected. Then came last night where resurgent reliever Aaron Heilman imploded. Given a one-run lead to protect, he permitted four straight hits allowing the Dodgers to score five in the eighth on their way to a 9-5 win evening the four-game series headed into the weekend. As usual, the customary boos were back at Shea from disgruntled fans who expect their team to win every game. Since when is that even plausible?!?!?!?!?! Let’s face it. New York sports fans are spoiled rotten. When our teams don’t perform on a given night, the majority of us including yours truly act like it’s the end of the world. When did it become this way? I don’t know. But it just seems common these days to have a sky is falling mentality. I’ll readily admit to bashing the Rangers even writing them off last February when they looked deader than Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. Then they played to capability finishing fifth in the East and derailing the rival Devils in five before losing in identical fashion to the Pens the next round. As someone who’s been very critical of the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants and of recent Yankee teams which got off to miserable starts only to make October again, I have developed a more patient approach. These days, I’m not so caught up in how many games the Yanks are trailing Boston by or the wildcard. Baseball is an extremely long season and there’s still over 100 games to go. It just seems to me that our town has become lame. You read the papers and nerds like Kevin Kernan are psychoanalyzing everything like it really matters. Oh really?!?!?!?!?! Last I checked it was May 31st with four entire months left in the season. Does winning games now help teams down the road? Absolutely. It’s one less win they’ll need down the stretch. However, it’s far from life and death the way people in this town have made it become. Listening to the WFAN airwaves has become tedious. How many more recycled debates could they have? It’s just dull. How about covering other sports? The NBA Finals should be darn good and the Stanley Cup even if Sidney Crosby’s mug makes me want to vomit is at least watchable with the Pens trying to square their series tonight against the very gifted Red Wings. I just am fed up with how we handle stuff. There’s so much more out there. It truly is the best city in the world. My advice to those using bags to breath in and out on their beloved teams is get some air and suck it in. Live a little! It will pay off in the end.

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