The Global Warming Series

California Holds Back Challenge from  Texas as Mythopoetic Embodiment of Battle Over Proposition 23.

Copyright 2010 by Evan Pritchard  for Amazine1.mlblogs.com

Most World Series are interesting , not so much for the evolution of post-season statistics, which are somewhat dull, but for the way they come to express, through means not easily explained, the mythopoetic zeitgeist of the human condition at the time. Hardly an October (now we have to say October/November) goes by that a World Series matchup fails to bear a strong resemblance to either well-mythologized clashes of titantic forces of nature, or some socio-political struggle.

This year’s one-sided rout, of George W. Bush’s well-funded Texas Rangers by Nancy Pelosi’s underdog San Francisco Giants  may seem a surprising one, ending as it did, the day before Nancy Pelosi was voted out as Speaker of the House by a Carl  Rove-backed Republican surge. But there is a deeper level of meaning there to be sure. It is the story of California State Proposition 23, expressed in the language of baseball.

The Giants’ state, California, has in place a climate law designed to lower the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 levels are directly related to both oceanic and atmospheric temperatures; as CO2 rises, so do temperatures. Higher temperatures can cause drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, and the loss of ecological diversity. Democrats believe that rising CO2 is mainly caused by human activity, specifically carbon emissions, traced mainly back to internal combustion engines and the oil industry. The California Law limits the use and exploration of petroleum in order to protect the environment.   Its existence is resented bitterly by Texas oil companies, many of them with corporate headquarters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where the Rangers’ home stadium stands. Bush has been their champion for years, and is former co-owner of the Texas Rangers. Much of the money funding the team can be linked back to oil interests. These oil interests are credited with creating Proposition 23, a move to strike out the current laws on controlling the use of petroleum, and global warming.

Proposition 23, near and dear to Texas’ oil interests,  was defeated by California voters the day after the Texas Rangers were defeated by California’s San Francisco Giants. MSNBC November 3rd, 2010, posted: “Also in California, a ballot initiative primarily funded by Texas oil companies seeking to suspend the state’s landmark climate law has failed.  Proposition 23 would have delayed greenhouse gas regulations until California’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent and stayed there for a year. Unemployment in California is now at 12.4 percent.  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, environmentalists and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs had warned that passing the initiative Tuesday would derail a growing investment in alternative-energy technology in California.”

 

On October 27th, in the first round, the usually unassailable Cliff Lee was lit up and sent packing in the fifth. All told, Texas pitching gave up 11 runs on 14 hits, plus committing two errors while  Texas batters scored only 7 runs. It was a surprise slugfest, considering the pitching matchup, and a victory for the California team, but it didn’t stop there.   On October 28th, the Texans were shut out 9-0 on a four hitter by Cain.

It was also interesting that the Rally to Restore Sanity, which attracted ten times the number of people needed to fill The Ballpark at Arlington, Texas,  invaded  Washington, D.C.  on Saturday October 30th, 2010, just hours before  the Rangers, formerly the Washington Senators, won their one game in Texas against the Giants. In a pivotal skit, Steve Colbert was depicted as a giant puppet made of paper mache, set to “attack” John Stewart in a debate. He was defeated by the chants of the largely left-wing crowd. In the evening matchup that followed, Texas defeated the Giants 4-2, getting 8 hits off of Sanchez and crew. Lewis got the win in spite of homers by Cody Ross and Torres. George Bush, who is the pop leader and figurehead of the Texas oil industry, stood in the dugout during the entire game, cheering on the players to one last lone victory before falling to two more decisive defeats the following days.

The Texas Rangers were shut out on Halloween Sunday, 4-0, held to only three hits by the Giant Bumgarner, the second shutout of their four losing decisions, foreshadowing how Californians were able to shut out Proposition 23 in their state, as well as the so-called “Tea Party,” funded largely by Texas oil interests and Carl Roves’ “Crossroads” Initiative. . It is ironic that “tea” is a nickname for both oil (Texas Tea) and marijuana. One home run for the Giants was by Buster Posey, whose name evokes memories of San Francisco’s “flower children” of the late sixties. It was one more “trick or treat” for the terror-stricken Texas fans.

Also defeated in the election was the proposition legalizing marijuana in the state of California. This was interesting because the Giants’ big star is 26 year old Tim Lincecum, who was arrested this season for smoking marijuana. On the other side, the Texas Rangers feature three  colorful “hombres” who had been serious drug addicts in the past, but who have each  found salvation from addiction and come back to the team; Josh Hamilton, manager Ron Washington, and co-owner George W. Bush. Hamilton had been straight enough to sock a homer in Texas’ lone win on Saturday evening.

Monday, November 1st, saw a pitcher’s duel between “Flower Power” Lincecum of California and “Texas Chainsaw” Cliff Lee of  Texas.  Lincecum gave up 1 run on 3 hits, ended up with a 3-1 victory on a homer by Rentoria  and a 1-2-3 inning by “Beach Boy/Fear the Beard” Brian Wilson, to clinch the World Series. The Giants were happy the  series did not have to go back to California–Licecum said they wanted to “shut them up” in front of  their own fans, reflecting a long standing rivalry between the nation’s two most populous states, and perhaps the battle over global warming as well. The Giants’ champagne celebration in Texas was exceeded (I presume!) only by  their celebration of the defeat of Proposition 23 the following night and Pelosi’s re-election to the seat in  her 8th congressional district (where Obama got 85.27% of the vote in 2008) which  is also the home of the Giants’ AT&T Stadium, where I presume she also still has a seat!

The stock market actually fell slightly after the tea party’s “save the economy” victory on November 2nd. On November  3rd,  the Giants paraded down Market Street in Frisco amid ticker tape and confetti, celebrating a number of Democratic victories in the state, and also the House and Senate, not to mention the coming eradication of Global Warming.

In future articles, I will discuss how past World Series also reflected mythopoetic themes relevant to their time and place.

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The Mets Is Dead; Long Live the Mets!

 Wilpons Hire Sandy Alderson as New Headmaster

Evan Pritchard  October 27, 2010

The Wilpons, the meddlesome owners of the New York Mets, fired Omar Manaya and failed to renew  Jerry Manuel’s contract at the end of 79-83 season, a year  that revealed that most of the Mets’ contracts were overpriced. Under Manaya, the team payed top dollar for Manaya’s old friends, guys with hidden injuries, attitude problems, and other issues. That seemed to work in 2006 when everyone played above parr, but in 2010, the honeymoon was over, and both new and old overpaid guys, ticking time bombs all,  self destructed. As Gary Coleman would say, “The wheels fell off the wagon.”  It was the end of the Mets as we knew them.

The Mets were one big dysfunctional family, with Omar Manaya as the uber-uncle and headmaster of the school for wayward boys. Former Amazine articles have revealed the far-reaching biographical interconnections between countless Mets players since 2006, thanks to their connections with Manaya. Many of them were rags to riches stories; guys who grew up in poverty in the Dominican Republic, donating much of  their, excuse me, our, hard earned money, to poor communities in the DR. It was heartwarming at the time, but now we see the cost of such nepotism: A losing record and an entire team on the DL. As Confucius would say, “Where was the civil service test?”

The Mets spent like the Yankees and behaved like, well, the Mets. I am okay with knowing that the dollars I spent on high priced Mets tickets went to make the DR a safer place to live, but then I learned that a lot of their/our money was turned over to huckster Bernie Madoff, for him to invest without any oversight. To make Bernie Madoff’s life a safer place for him to live, I suppose. But a fool and his money are soon parted, and now the money’s all gone, and the Mets have to rise from the debt like the Phoenix from the ashes. There has to be a morning-aerobic-workout-after.

Now the much-chastised Wilpons  have gone to the other extreme, hiring  62-year-old Sandy Alderson as the new GM. While the old Mets were as far from the Yankees’ corporate culture as possible, the new Mets, under CEO type Alderson, who speaks the language of Bud Selig better than he does Quisquaian, are going to have to act a lot more like the Yankees, but without the money. That could be a mixed blessing.   They may lose that funky, most-elaborate-high -fives-in-baseball groove, but they might actually win more games than they lose.

Alderson has previously served as the general manager of the Oakland A’s, the chief executive officer of the San Diego Padres and the vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball.  In the language of corporate culture, this move seems to suggest that Bud Selig wants to keep a close eye on the Boys of Citifield. It also will make it difficult for the Wilpons to interfere with the progress of the team and its players.  Is Alderson an “axe-man,” just hired to fire everybody and deal with the law suits pending with people like K-Rod? Or will he be the new headmaster, sent in to infuse discipline into the unruly students of the game? Time will tell. According to the Associated Press, ” The Mets could announce the hiring of Alderson as early as Friday, the off-day between Games 2 and 3 of the World Series.”   I have a feeling that by next October, everything we now know about the Mets as a team will be irrelevant! The Mets is dead; long live the Mets!

 

Amazing End-of-Season Predictions for National League East

 You Won’t Believe It!!! Mets Will Tie for First!!!

Copyright c 2010 Evan Pritchard  September 14th, 2010

A lot of reporters are making their football predictions for the 2010-11 season right now. As a baseball fan, I think, “But the baseball season isn’t over yet! Who cares about the Giants or Jets getting into the wild card spot? Who’s going to win the pennant?”

Many baseball fans  are making World Series predictions right now and not even thinking about the Mets. But in fact, the Mets are far from being mathematically eliminated.  Believe it or not, they could still win the pennant.

On September 12th, in order to get an accurate prediction of the Mets future for the remainder of 2010, I went to a renown psychic, known to channel Elvis Presley and the ghost of Ty Cobb  once in a while, and I asked about the immediate future of the NL East Penant race. I asked, “Who’s going to win the NL East this year?” This psychic, whom we shall call, “Swami Salami,” answered, slowly and sleepily, as if in a trance, “The Mets will win the pennant! But not the Mets as you know them!”

“Not the Mets as I know them? What do you mean, Swami?”
He said, “The events that are about to transpire will be so miraculous, so surprising, that no one will remember the 1969 Mets as “the Miracle Mets.” That distinction will only belong to the 2010 team. But in fact it will be a different Mets organization than the one you have been following lo these many years!”

“Oh! Swami! I fail to understand! Tell me true. Will the Mets win the pennant or not?”
“Got your attention, sonny! You wanna know what’ll happen?”

“Yes, I do!”
“Gimme fifty bucks and I’ll tell you.”
Without thinking, I reached in my pocket and pulled out fifty bucks in US currency.  His old, gnarled hand whipped around and snatched it from  my grasp before I knew what hit me. He said, “I owe Ty Cobb fifty bucks, and he’s been haunting me about it since he passed on. Thanks a lot! See you later!”

“But.. but…” I said. “You were going to tell me about how the Mets are going to win the pennant THIS YEAR!”

“Oh, so I did. “Well, have a seat. This is not going to be a short story.”
I pulled a hassock up in front of the dias he was sitting on, and stared at him. I said, “Well…”

Swami folded his legs underneath himself in full lotus posture, and pulled a baseball out of his pocket and began to toss it gently between his hands. “Tomorrow, the great drama begins to unfold! Tomorrow, Monday, the Mets will beat the Pirates 1-0. Then on Tuesday, the Mets will beat the Pirates again 9-1. Reyes, Davis, and Beltran will all light up the board with hits and crush the Pirates handily. Reyes will go 3 for 4 with three runs scored; Pagan will go 3 for 5 with 3 rbis; Beltran will go 2 for 4 with 3 ribbies; Evans will go 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored; And Tejada will go 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored.

But this is the tip of the iceberg. In fact, in secret, they have been having meetings with the Wilpons about the future of the Mets. Most fans know that the Wilpons lost millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme involving Bernie Madoff. Most do not know that in fact they lost ALL of their money, and can no longer pay the players or even the ushers. In fact, they are thinking of having a yard sale before tomorrow’s game to raise money to pay the rent on Citifield. Right now the players have more money than the Wilpons. But of course Governor Patterson has advised everyone involved not to talk to the press about it, for fear of a panic that could affect Wall Street.

                “Before Monday’s game, the Wilpons will meet with a player delegation led by David Wright and Mike Pelfry, and offer them a chance to buy the team and to incorporate as a cooperative worker/stockholder corporation, sort of like what the airlines did, and to buy the team from the Wilpons outright for $500 million, with a downpayment of $1 US currency. Wright agrees, and the deal is made. Everyone shakes on it. The lawyers quickly draw up the papers and everyone signs it. The new team is now secretly called “The Autonomous Collective of Metropolitan Baseball Players.” There are no more crabby bosses, no long, cumbersome chain of command, no heartless hierarchy. Everyone has equal say in everything. Even the team will be managed inning by inning by a democratic vote from the dugout.”
                “But what about Omar Minaya? What about Jerry Manuel?” I cried out.

                “Not needed! In fact, Jerry will stay on for a few more days to talk to the press about the games, only until the news is released. He will be part of a cover up. Sort of like how JFK went to Chicago during the Cuban Missile Crisis just to make it look like everything was normal.”
                “Okay, that makes sense….I guess!” I said. “Who is going to make those calls to the bullpen?”
                “Relief pitchers will be elected to warm up in the pen by a committee of players, ratified by a simple majority over the course of an at-bat. The decision as to who shall make the call to the pen will be on a rotating basis by seniority.

                “So how can the Mets win the pennant anyway? Aren’t they already eliminated?”
                “They are not eliminated at all, and in fact will win. Here is exactly how it will happen. Do you have a pen or pencil?”
                “Yes, I do!”

                “Then get this down before I forget! Ty Cobb talks fast!”

On Tuesday the ACMBP, aka The Mets, buoyed up with enthusiasm, and driven by the pride that only equity ownership and profit-sharing can bring, will win 9-1, as I said earlier.

On Wednesday, September 15th, the Mets will send 14 men to the plate in the 4th inning to score 7 runs to overcome a 5-0 deficit, and will go on to win 8-7 adding a long homer by Reyes. The Phillies will beat a newly reorganized Florida Marlins, also now a socialist collective, 10-5. Fueled by a grand slam, Washington will beat Atlanta in an unlikely 4-2 victory. At the end of the day, the Phillies will lead the division with an 86-61 record; Atlanta will be 3 behind with a record of 83-64; the Marlins will be in third at 73-72, 12 games behind; the Mets will be in fourth with a 73 and 73 record, again at .500 after a several weeks below the water line. They will be 12 ½ games out. And the Nationals will be 62-84. The Mets will be a half game out of third.

On Thursday, September 16th,  the Mets will beat the Pirates behind a nice effort by Mike Pelfrey, 6-0 (oops I meant 6-2) . It will be Pelfrey’s 15th win and the Mets’ fourth consecutive win. The other teams will be dormant, leaving the Mets 12 games behind with a record of 74-73, in a virtual tie for third. But wait! There’s more!

On Friday, September 17th, the Mets will meet the Braves and beat them 9-4, gaining sole possession of third place. The Nats will surprise the Phils 4-3, and the Marlins will fall to the Cubs 3-1. This leaves the Phils at 86-62, the Braves at 83 and 66, the Mets in sole possession of third at 75-73, and the Marlins at 73 and 73. The victorious Nationals will be at 64 and 84. This will be the standings:

 

 Phils       86-62 

Braves 83-65     3

Mets     75-73     11

Marlins 73-73     12

Nats       64-84     22

 

On Saturday, September 18th, the Mets will again beat the Braves, by a score of 6-5. The Nationals will beat the Phils 3-1, and the Cubs will beat the Marlins 4-2. This will result in the following standings;

Phils       86-63  

Braves  83-66 3 ½

Mets     76-73  10

Marlins 74-73  10 ½

Nats       65-84  21

 

On Sunday, September 19th, the Mets will beat the Braves 3-0 with a brilliant shutout by Dickey. The Cubs will beat the Marlins 8-4, and the Phils will lose 7-6 to the Nationals due to a poor performance by Blanton.  This will result in the following standings:

 

Phils       86-64   

Braves  83-67    3

Mets     77-73     9

Marlins  74-74    11

Nats       66-84     20

 

On Monday, September 20th, the Mets are not scheduled to play. The Marlins beat the Cardinals 6-4; the Braves beat the Phils 4-3, and the Astros beat the Nationals 9-2. The standings will be:

 

Phils       86-65 

Braves  84-67  2

Mets     77-73  8 ½

Marlins 75-74  10

Nats       66-85  20

 

 

On Tuesday, September 21st, the autumnal equinox will see the Phillies continue to slide, losing to the Braves by a score of 4-3, the Nationals will beat the Astros 3-1, and the Mets will beat the Marlins by a score of 7 to 2. This will result in the following standings:

 

Phils       86-66 

Braves  85-67     1

Mets     78-73     7 ½

Marlins 75-75     11

Nats       67-85     19

 

On Wednesday, September 22nd, the Mets will beat the Marlins 5-4, extending their winning streak to nine in a row, and sending the Marlins below .500 for the first time in the month. The Braves will beat the Phils 4-3, entering into a tie for first with the Phils; and the Nationals will defeat  the Astros  5-4. The standings will be:

 

Phils       86-67  

Braves  86-67    

Mets     79-73     6 ½

Marlins 75-76     10

Nats       68-85     18

 

On Thursday, September 23rd, the Mets will be inactive, and Washington will defeat the Astros 3-0 for their 69th win.  On Friday, September 24th, the Mets will beat the Phillies 8-4 for their tenth consecutive win, the Nats will beat the Braves 4-1, and the Marlins will defeat the Brewers 5-2. This will leave the standings as follows:

 

Phils       86-68 —

Braves 86-68 —

Mets     80-73     5 ½

Marlins 76-76     9

Nats       70-85     16 ½

 

On Saturday, September 25th, the Mets will continue to win, beating the Phils by a score of 9-2. The Nats will beat the Braves 7-1 and the Marlins will beat the Brewers 5-1. This will tighten up the standings yet further, as follows:

 

Phils       86-69 

Braves  86-69 

Mets     81-73     4 ½

Marlins 77-76     8

Nats       71-85     15 ½

 

On Sunday, September 26th, the Mets will continue their remarkable 12 game win streak, beating the Phils 7-3. The Nationals will continue to upset the Braves 4-0, and the Marlins will beat the Brewers 8-1. This will help the Mets get closer to first place.

 

Phils       86-70 

Braves  86-70 

Mets     82-73     3 ½

Marlins 78-76     7

Nats       72-85     14 ½

 

 

 

 

Monday, September 27th, and the whole baseball world is noticing the Mets miracle surge and is watching the tightening pennant race in the NL East with increasing interest. The Mets respond to the limelight by defeating the Brewers 6-1. The Nationals, in a major upset, defeat the Phillies 6-5, and the Marlins beat the Braves 4-3. Suddenly it’s a real horserace.

 

Phils       86-71      

Braves 86-71    

Mets     83-73     2 ½

Marlins 79-76     6

Nats       73-85     13 ½

 

Tuesday, September 28th, the Mets win their 14th in a row as they defeat the Brewers 7-5 in extra innings. The Nats edge out the Phillies 1-0, and the Marlins outscore the Braves 10-9. The race tightens further.

 

Phils       86-72    

Braves  86-72    

Mets     84-73     1 ½

Marlins 80-76     5

Nats       74-85     12 ½

 

The following day, Wednesday, September 29th, the Mets are the talk of the town as the Mets defeat the Brewers 10-0. The Braves fall to the Marlins 8-7 and the Nationals yet again upset the Phils 9-2. Fifteen wins in a row for the Mets.

 

Phils       86-73    

Braves  86-73    

Mets     85-73     ½

Marlins 81-76     4

Nats       75-85     11  ½

 

On Thursday, we reach the last day of September and things are just getting more exciting. The Mets defeat the Brewers 4-3, and the Marlins defeat the last place Pirates 7-2. The Braves and Phils are dormant, allowing the Mets to creep up on both teams, entering into a three way tie for first place, with their 16th consecutive win.

 

Mets     86-73    

Phils       86-73    

Braves 86-73    

Marlins 82-76     3 ½

Nats       75-85     11 ½

 

On Friday, October 1st, the battle for first in the NL East takes a decidedly dramatic twist, that turns New York City upsidedown.  The Nationals come into town and break the Mets win streak at 16, defeating them in a 12 inning marathon, 9-8 on a popup dropped by Luis Castillo. The Marlins beat the Pirates 4-3, and the Braves defeat the Phillies 8-7 in 14 innings to spring forward and take first place with one day left in the season. The Braves take sole possession of first place for the first time in several months. The Mets fall into a tie for second place.

Braves 87-73  

Mets     86-74     1

Phils       86-74     1

Marlins 83-76     3  ½

Nats       76-85     11 ½

 

Now it comes down to the last day of the regular season, and anything can happen.  In any case, it will be one of the most exciting final finishes in history since 1967 when the AL East was a four way race. On Saturday October 2nd, the Mets defeat the Nationals at Citifield in a 1:10 day game, a 10-9 in a nailbiter, concluding with a walk off home run by Ike Davis at 4:10 PM. At that same time, the Phillies will begin a game in Atlanta that may decide the pennant. If the Braves win, they will win the pennant. If they lose, it will be a three way tie. As it turns out, the Phillies defeat the Braves 7-6 on a home run by Ryan Howard. The Marlins defeat the Pirates 4-3 to end their season on a high note. When the smoke clears, the Mets, Braves, and Phils are in an unprecedented three-way  tie at the top of the NL East.

 

Mets     87-74 

Phils       87-74 

Braves  87-74 

Marlins 84-76     2 ½

Nats       75-87     12 ½

 

 

To break the tie, MLB announces that the teams will play until one team has won two games, and that team will win the division pennant. The Mets defeat the Phillies 2-1 on Sunday, October 3rd. They then defeat the Braves on Monday, October 4th in a sudden death 10 inning game, 5-4 to win the pennant.  If the Mets had lost to the Braves, the Braves could have defeated the Phils for the pennant. If they’d lost to the Phils, the Phils and Mets would play the final game for the pennant.

 

The Mets continue on to beat the Reds and the Padres to win the National League pennant, and then defeat the New York Yankees in the World Series.

 

I asked Swami how he knew all this would happen. He laughed, and said that he just made it all up to pull my leg. He said, “It’s nice to have a little hope, isn’t it? It felt good for a minute, right?”

I agreed that it was nice to fantasize about all those exciting Mets victories. I said, “If the Mets can sweep the Pirates as you described, then I will truly believe!”

Swami looked at me funny, with a kind of hurt look.  He said, “You’re a Mets fan! You GOTTA believe!”

 

I guess in a season like this, we all gotta believe….

 

 

 

 

 

Do Mets Have Shot at Golden Possum Title?

After Remarkable Road Trip, Mets May Be In Contention for Coveted Honor

 

Note To Readers: The following article was posted on Sunday, July 25th with a significant typo and is being reposted on July 26th with updates from the games later that day.

 

The road trip ended Sunday, mercifully, and the Mets are much closer to winning the Golden Possum Award than before. The Golden Possum Award is given to any team that at any given moment has the most notable reputation for “dying on the road,” as it were. Just like a dead possum, the team that wins this coveted statue really stinks on the road, just a plain fact.

 

Possum%20road%20Kill%202.jpgTwo weeks ago the Mets were over the .400 mark on the road and out of the top ten, but after going 2-9 on this road trip, their ranking in the Golden Possum Standings has been steadily rising. After Saturday’s miserable extra inning 3-2 fiasco against the Dodgers, and Sunday’s 1-0 Golden Sombrero Fest, they now may even have a shot at the trophy. When all the members of a team think alike and do the same things at the same time, its bound to get results.

In an exclusive interview with Amazine, Mets’ third baseman David Wight* said, “The New York Mets really stink during road trips this year. They accomplish this as a team. There is hardly a game in which each player doesn’t fail to contribute to this goal. As soon as they leave the safety of Citifield, these players really come out of their shell and play like there’s no tomorrow.  Its worth it  to travel to other MLB cities outside of the New York area, just to see them play in a way that we never get to see at home. Its so remarkable.”

What is remarkable about this season is how exceptionally horrible many teams are this year away from home. It must be some kind of record. During a normal season the Mets would have no trouble capturing the flag with their astounding 20-33 “away” tally, but this year there are so many teams tanking on tour that only a miracle will allow the Mets to walk away with the superlatives this time. As they say, its not just the games behind in the loss column, its the number of teams, and the Mets are now 8th, ahead of Houston and Colorado, and a half game behind the “Clueless in Cleveland” Indians. Their chances of catching the Pirates this year in RGME, road game massacres experienced, are almost nil, but they keep trying anyway.

Here are the current standings as of July 26th, 2010. This shows only the top ten contenders, across the majors, without regard to league membership or overall win percentage.

THE STANDINGS

1. Pittsburgh Pirates 11-38   .224

2. Baltimore Orioles   13-34   .276

3. Arizona Diamondbacks  13-33  .282

4. Seattle Mariners   15-32  .319

5. Washington Nationals 17-36   .320

6. Detroit Tigers  16-29  .355

7. Cleveland Indians  19-33  .365

8. NEW YORK METS  20-32  .377

9. Houston Astros  19-30  .388

10. Colorado Rockies  20-31  .388

 

Pittsburgh, with a breathtaking total of 11 wins all year away from PNC park, and 6 games “up” in the win column from the Mets, are in the running to have the worst road record in baseball history, with  Baltimore and Arizona nipping their heels. Seattle, running fourth, has the same number of losses as the Mets, but in five less road games. The Nationals have accumulated an amazing 36 losses on the road, but are still two losses behind the Pirates, in spite of all their efforts to the contrary. The Mets are really going to have to blow alot of late inning leads on the road if they are going to pass Washington and compete with Pittsburgh for that distinction. Meanwhile even the Orioles’s 13-34 record may prove insurmountable for the New York Mets, who are known to be a streaky team and may suddenly win three or four road games in a row for no apparent reason. I think that with a few more injuries and some inept pitching performances from Oliver Perez, the Mets have a shot at passing Cleveland and Detroit in lost road games, but Washington and Seattle are now at .320 on the open trail, so I wouldn’t count on the Mets to place any higher than 6th this year in the Golden Possum Standings.

I have a better idea: Let’s forget about winning the Golden Possum this year, and focus instead on winning road games and blowing away the Braves and Phillies in the positive thinking column! What a concept! Don’t they have some kind of trophy for winning the NL East? Yes, I think they used to call it a “pennant!”

*That’s ten year old David “Gameboy” Wight, third baseman for the Trumbull, Connecticut Little League Softball Mets, who by the way haven’t had a “road trip” in ten years, since there is only one field for the entire league.

An Old Rivalry Ignites; Mets and Braves at it Again

Mets and Braves Find Themselves Competing on Several Levels This Season

Copyright 2010 by Evan Pritchard for Amazine

 


51dqTHWp2SL__SL500_AA300_.jpgThe Mets’ and Braves’ rivalries are as old as the Civil War; Atlanta never forgot what happened during Sherman’s March and New Yorkers can’t forget that day a  southerner killed Lincoln. At the end of the 1990s, as you no doubt recall, the rivalry was red hot, and into 2001 it was a matter of daily concern to citizens of both cities. But after that blown save by Armando Benitez against the Braves in 2001, the Mets went quietly and the rivalry subsided for just a bit. 2006 was all Mets, and in fact the Phillies eclipsed the Braves as Mets’ rivals for two or three years. Earlier this year it was  the furthest thing from my mind, and probably yours as the Braves wallowed in a miserable last place. But now the Braves are in first again, with the Mets in hot pursuit, just like old times.
Degress'-Battery--Battle-of-Atlanta-600-x-370.jpgIn fact, there are several  intriguing subplots here  that may have escaped your Wayne Hagan/Gary Cohen-like attention to detail.

First of all there is a hot contest for Rookie of the Year between the Braves’ Jason Heyward and the Mets’ Ike Davis. Then there is a hot contest for the NL Batting Crown between the Braves’ Martin Prado and the Mets’ David Wright, with possible challenges to both from Braves’ Omar Infante and Mets’ Angel Pagan.  Then there is a tied contest between David Wright and Troy Glaus for the top ten in the NL home run champion. Then there is a somewhat heated contest for RBI champ between Troy Glaus and David Wright. Then there is an interesting comparison between catcher Rod Barajas of the Mets (plus his subbies) and catcher Brian McCann of the Braves. Then there is a rivalry for All Star Ace between the Braves Tim Hudson and the Mets’ Johann Santana. Then there is a rivalry for All Star Closer between the Braves’ Billy Wagner and “K-Rod” Francisco Rodriguez of the Mets. Then there is a rivalry between number two starters; Derek Lowe of the Braves and Mike Pelfrey of the Mets, who have similar numbers. Then there is a rivalry between Japanese number-four pitchers; Kawakami of the Braves and Takahashi of the Mets, who have similar enough numbers to make a comparison. One could also imagine a rivalry between the set-up relief pitchers, T. Saito of the Braves and Pedro Feliciano of the Mets, who have similar numbers. Each of these contests are fun to watch separately, but the accumulative effect promises to keep the baseball hotdogs hot all summer long.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

The Braves’ star rookie Jason Heyward is getting a lot of votes for Rookie of the Year, with his 45 ribbies, five stolen bases, 13 doubles, 3 triples, and 11 home runs. In 255 at bats, he is hitting .251 and has walked 42 times and has 64 hits and 41 runs. The Mets’ star rookie Ike (Isaac Benjamin) Davis is doing equally well.  The slick fielding Ike Davis, in 275 at bats (20 more than you know who) has scored 43 runs (2 more) on 71 hits (7 more) with 16 doubles (3 more) 0 triples (3 less) and the same amount of homers, 11. Davis has 40 ribbies, (5 less) and is currently batting .258, 7 points higher than Heyward.  Davis has 4 less stolen bases and has walked ten less times.  So what? A pretty close contest between the Braves’ outfielder and the Mets’ first baseman, but Heyward has been picked for the All Star game and Davis has not. Both players bat and throw left; Both players are youngsters: Heyward was born 8/9/89 while Davis was born 3/22/87. Heyward hit a homer in his first at bat, which was against the Cubs, and Davis went 2 for 4 in his first game, which was also against the Cubs.  Davis’ first home run was off the Braves, ironically, on April 23rd, only his fifth game. Davis’ first homer traveled 450 feet, which is 36 feet longer than Jason Heyward’s first homer,  which was also a mighty blast.

 

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NATIONAL LEAGUE BATTING CROWN


david_wright_kelly_dechon.jpgWho is going to have the highest batting average at the end of the season in the NL? Will it be All Star David Wright, who is now at .314? Or the Braves’ Martin Prado who is now at .325? Will it be the Mets’ Angel Pagan, who is batting .315? Or the Braves’ All Star Omar Infante who is batting .332 in only 193 at bats, not enough yet to qualify for the batting crown
martin_prado_autograph.jpglistings? Only time will tell. If Wright can keep up his recent .400 pace he will pass these other players in three weeks, providing the others don’t improve on their stats in the mean time. Prado will start at second base on the All Star Team, but in 2009 he played 41 games at third base, Wright’s position as a starter on the All Star team. Prado hit a grand slam on May 10
th of this year, while Wright has yet to hit one this year. Wright was born December 20th ,1982, while Prado was born October 27th, 1983, less than a year later. So far this year, Prado  has 372 at bats with 61 runs and 121 hits (!!!) including 25 doubles, 2 triples and 10 homers. He has 39 ribbies, 4 stolen bases, and 26 walks, with a .325 batting average, although he peaked at .340. David Wright, his elder by ten months, has had 325 at bats (47 less) with 52 runs scored (9 less) 102 hits (19 less) including 25 doubles (they are in a dead heat for doubles, both leading the league), and 2 triples each. David has 14 homers, leading Martin by 4.  Wright has 65 ribbies, leading the league, while Prado has 39 (26 less).  Wright is batting .314 (11 less points) and has 15 stolen bases to Prado’s 4. Wright has walked 45 times while Prado has only 26 walks.

HOME RUN CHAMPION/RBI CHAMPION

Wright is leading the Mets in homers, and is in the running for the home run crown, although at a distance.  Wright has 14 homers, and has had for a while, unfortunately. Troy Glaus, first baseman for the Braves has 14 homers as well, a dead heat. Both players would have to go on a power surge to take the league lead, but are still in range to possibly seize the crown by the end of the year. David Wright is leading the league in ribbies with 65, while Glaus is only 7 behind with 58. Troy Glaus has 295 at bats, 30 less than Wright, with 43 runs scored (9 less than Wright), 75 hits (27 less) 13 doubles (12 less) no triples, and 49 walks (4 more than Wright), and is batting .254 (60 less than Wright).

BEST CATCHER(S)

Brian McCann, the Braves’ All Star catcher, has had 255 at bats, scoring 40 runs on 68 hits, 16 of which were doubles, none of which were triples, and 10 of which were home runs. He has 37 rbi’s and his batting  .267 with 3 stolen bases and 42 bases on balls. Rod Barajas is only slightly less impressive: He has 227 at bats (28 less), scoring 29 runs (11 less) on 54 hits (14 less), 11 of which were doubles. Both have no triples, but Barajas has one more home run than McCann this year, 11.
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brian mccann.jpgBarajas has 32 ribbies (6 less) and is batting .238 (29 points lower) with 8 walks.  McCann is a better hitter on most accounts, but it’s pretty close, considering the 28 less at bats. The Mets also have Thole and Blanco as regular catchers, and Thole added to Barajas is just slightly better than McCann. Add Thole’s 17 at bats to Barajas and you get 254 at bats, one less than McCann. Add his 9 hits to Barajas’ 54 hits and you get 63 hits to McCann’s 68 (five less) Add Thole’s 5 rbi’s to Barajas’ 32 and you get 37, (tying McCann); calculate Thole/Barajas batting average combined and you get .248, only 19 points lower than McCann.  Now add Blanco’s 74 at bats and 21 hits and the Mets’ battery team is batting .256 on the year, only 11 points behind. This would also give the Mets’ catchers 13 homers (leading McCann by 3) and a total of 44 rbi’s, (leading McCann by 8.)

ALL STAR PITCHING ACE

Perhaps the most obvious player to player rivalry is in the category of All Star Pitching Ace. The Mets have Johan Santana, who has really shown his stuff the last three outings, and Tim Hudson, the Braves All Star Ace.  Johan Santana lowered his ERA today to 2.98. He has a record of 7-5 with one complete game and one shutout. In 127 innings he has struck out 83 batters and given up only 8 homers and 41 walks.

Tim Hudson has pitched well so far. He has an ERA of 2.30 (.68 lower) with a record of 9-4 (2 more wins to one less loss) with also one complete game, same as Santana. In 121 innings (6 less) he has struck out 61 batters (22 less!!) and has given up only 9 homers (1 more) and 43 walks (2 more).  Sanatana has been a hard luck pitcher this year, hence the low wins, but Mets fans would say Johan’s lead in strikeouts is equal to Hudson’s lead in the ERA department, so they’re even. Why is Tim Hudson on the All Star team and not Santana?

ALL STAR CLOSER

Former Met star Billy Wagner is now an All Star for the Braves, boo hoo. But we have K-Rod, who has the better rep. But which is better this year? Wagner, unfortunately. Wagner in 37.1 innings, has an ERA of 1.21, with a 5-0 record, and 20 saves. He has 56 strikeouts to only 12 walks and has given up only 3 dingers. Francisco Rodriguez has been having an off year by comparison. K-Rod in 44  innings (6.2 more) has a 2-2 record, with 53 strikeouts (3 less) to only 17 walks (5
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more) and has given up only 3 dingers, same as Billy. K-rod has 21 saves, one more than Billy.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Lowe and Mike Pelfrey are both number two starters for the two rival teams and they are quite similar. Pelfrey was born 1/14/84 and is 6’7″ and 230 lbs. He bats and throws right.  His ERA is currently up  to 3.58 but was at one time the lowest in the NL. He is now at 10-4 with one save. He had pitched 113 innings with 69 strikeouts and 42 base on balls. He has given up 7 homers. Derek Lowe is only one inch shorter than Pelfry, at 6’6″, at 230 pounds, just like Pelfry, and bats and
pelfrey4.jpgthrows right, exactly like Pelfry!  Lowe has an
derek lowe.jpgERA of 4.35 (77 points higher) with a 9-8 record (one less win but 4 more losses). In 113.2 innings (same number!) he has thrown 70 strikeouts (1 more!) and 44 base on balls (2 more!).  He has given up two more homers than Pelf with 9. Lowe is much older than Pelf, born in 1973, 11 years earlier. Some of the similarities between these two pitchers is striking, but Pelfry is the better pitcher this year.

JAPANESE NUMBER-FOUR PITCHERS

The Braves and Mets both have Japanese number-four starters, and their numbers are remarkably similar. The Braves’ Kawakami is 1-9 with an ERA of 4.48 in 82.1 innings. He has given up 9 homers, and 28 walks, while ringing up 57 strikeouts, a strong K number.  The Mets’ Takahashi is 7-3 (clearly much better) with an ERA of 4.15 (.33 better) in 78 innings (4 less) . He too has given up the same number of
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kenshinkawakami(apphoto-kyodonews).jpghomers, 9, and has given up 31 walks (3 more) while ringing up 72 strikeouts (clearly better in this department, with 15 more K’s.)


While we’re at it we can compare Braves’ starter Hanson to Mets’ Dickey. Hanson is 8-5 with a 4.13 ERA in 102.1 innings. He has 104 strikeouts while giving up 7 homers, and allowing 23 bases on balls.  While no pitcher on either team comes close to Hanson’s 104 strikeouts, he matches evenly against Dickey, the knuckleballer, who has a similar 6-2 record and an ERA of 2.77 (1.36 less).
Dickey has only 65 innings pitched (37 less) and has given up 4 homers (3 less) and 19 walks (4 less) while striking out 48 men (56 less). Mets fans will eagerly point out the ERA versus strikeouts is a good tradeoff.


SET UP/MIDDLE RELIEF MEN

Both teams have similar middle relief men. The Braves have T. Saito, who has a 1-3 record with an ERA of 3.71 in 34 innings. He has given up 3 homers in that stretch, and 12 walks, while striking out 41 opposing batters. The Mets have Pedro Feliciano, who has a 2-4 record with an ERA of 2.34 in 34.2 innings (almost the same number of innings, but a much better ERA, 1.35 lower). He has given up 1 homer during that stretch (2 less) and 17 walks (5 more) while striking out 33 batters. (8 less).  Saito’s better strikeouts to walks ratio balances out his much higher ERA in comparison to Feliciano, but Pedro’s low homers and strong winning record gives him the edge.

INFIELDERS

Escobar is no match for Reyes but take a look at Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones’ numbers this year compared to New York’s All Star Jose Reyes. They are in a close contest as all around hitters and players. Chipper (Daryll!!!) Jones in 242 at bats has scored 33 runs on 61 hits and 16 doubles with no triples. He has 6 homers on the year, with 33 RBI’s and has 5 stolen bases. He has earned 50 walks and is batting .252 this year.  Reyes, in 324 at bats has scored 52 runs (19 more!), 89 hits (28 more), 15 doubles (1 less!), and 6 triples (6 better than nothing), with 6 homers (exactly the same), with 33 RBI’s (the same!) and 19 walks (Jones gets the edge on this one). Reyes leads the league in stolen bases with 19,(14 more than Chipper) and is batting .275 (23 points higher than Jones).  Reyes is clearly ahead of Jones.

 One might argue that Jeff Francoeur is a close match at the plate with Chipper Jones.  Frenchy, in comparison to Chipper, has 51 more at bats, one more run scored, 13 more hits, 1 less double, 1 more triple, 2 more homers, 9 more RBI’s, 31 less walks, 2 more stolen bases, and is batting .253, 1 point more than Jones. Except for walks, that’s a pretty close match! But the two have opposite personalities; Jeff is a clowner while Chipper Jones hardly cracks a smile. I’d rather have a Pooh than an Eyore on my team.

Another interesting comparison is between the Braves’ Prado, who will be allowed to play with the other All Stars on Tuesday, and Angel Pagan, who will not even be allowed into the parking lot at Anaheim.  Yes, Pagan has 74 less at bats, and has scored 25 less runs with 27 less hits,  8 less doubles, and 4 less homers, but he has 4 more triples than that Prado. He has one more RBI than Prado and is batting only .10 points lower. He has 15 more stolen bases than Prado and two more walks. (Prado is injured and will not be playing)

So as you watch the Mets during the second half of the season as they try to pick up games on the Braves in the obvious rivalry that everyone knows about, also keep track of the deeper  rivalries that are invisible to the uninitiated.

Santana Fires Complete Game Shutout to Put Mets on Top in SHO

Anger Management 101: Bay’s First Error of Season Fails to Discourage Slugger/Closer Santana in 9th

mario-fireball2-pv.jpgJohann Santana really channelled his anger this evening and slugged a foul pole smashing homer to right to score what turned out to be the winning run and pitched a complete 113 pitch shutout to place the Mets at the top of the National League in shutouts, tying San Diego with 12. This was obviously in response to my blog of earlier the same day, begging the Mets to keep a careful eye on this important stat. They are on a pace to have 23 to 24 shoutouts this year, which would demolish all recent shutout records for the team. The last Mets complete game shutout was made on September 27th of 2008. The last Met pitcher to homer was John Maine on July 24th, 2007. It wasn’t Dave McNally’s two grand slam complete game, but this game will be the one they all remember at Citi Field.

 

anger.jpgSantana has had alot to be upset about lately, with vicious rumors being spread in the tabloids about his “golf game,” and a lack of home run support from his buddies, and being taken out of shutout games only to see them squandered by lesser men. Over the last 7 no decision games he has started, he has maintained a 1.24 ERA to no avail, probably breaking some record only Cooperstown knowns about, the “Heartbreak Hotel” record. Tonight he decided, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” He provided the runs, the first eight innings as a starter, and was his own closer as well, making a surprising reappearance in the ninth after hurling about 100 pitches on the evening. In that tumultuous ninth, Jason Bay muffed a simple fly ball with men on, his first error of the season, but it did not lead to a run. Santana was already at 111 pitches, so it looked like Bay’s error had placed the CG out of reach, but when Manuel asked “How are you doing?” Santana growled, “I’m fine, leave me alone.” With help from a  cat like horizontal leap from the surprising Ike Davis on a scorching line drive, Santana needed only 2 more pitches to finish off the hot-hitting Redlegs, who lead the league in most offensive categories. His angry fastballs were topping off at 91 MPH, which is where he performs best. He recorded five strikeouts and three base on balls. This guy should get mad more often.

 

 
superman-logo-pic.jpgThe home run was Santana’s first in 182 at bats. He fouled off about nine tough pitches, until he got a change up and belted it off the right field corner foul pole and guy wire. The run was all the Mets needed to win their 47th game of the season against 37 losses. The Reds were left counting three hits among them, while the Mets collected seven in the 3-0 win. Both  teams made an error.

 

 Johann (one of about a dozen  players who don’t need a last name)  is now 6-5 on the year, with a 3.15 ERA in 18 starts. He has 78 strikeouts, an all-time low, only his second win since mid-May.  He gave up a lead off triple to start off the game, then mowed down 10 in a row.

David Wright Still on a Course for TC

In spite of a one for three performance in tonight’s game, Wright is still on a tear at the plate. He is currently batting .317, but has been batting .398 for the last 30 days. If he were to keep going at a .400 pace from this point, he would be hitting .322 by the All Star Break (106 for 329). If the were to keep that .400 pace after the break, he would hit .326 a week after the Mets resume play (114 for 349 by July 22) and .330 a week after that (122 for 369 by July 29th) and .334 by August 4th (130 for 389) That would place him high on the totem pole for batting champion for the NL. Unless Reyes, who bats ahead of Wright, is abducted by alien baseball scouts after the All Star Game and taken to Alpha Centuri to play for the Alpha Males, Wright should also be able to easily maintain his lead in the RBI category as well. That leaves the homers, AH WELL! At least he leads the NL in doubles, which is half a homer!

 

 

Amazing Pitching Trends in the National League, Mets Follow Suit

NL Pitchers Ringing Up More Strikeouts, Shutouts, Every Year Since 2006; Mets Pitchers on a Similar Trend

As I was sitting watching yet another amazing pitching performance in the NL a little while ago, I had the feeling that pitching had been becoming more of a big deal since 2006. Since the word steroid became a lynching word in some cow towns, hitters have suddenly become more anemic at the plate. But it also seems that the pitching is better as well.  I thought, “I may be crazy but I think not, some of these pitchers have got more pop!”

 

fire baseball.gifI looked up NL pitching stats from 2006 through to the halfway mark of this season, on shutouts and strikeouts, and there does seem to be a trend. Does it mean our hitters are getting worse, or our pitchers are getting better? In my opinion, the answer is, one or the other, I frankly can’t tell which, but pitching is dominating hitting more each year, with some minor fluctuations.

 

 

 

 

Here are the strikeout totals:

STRIKEOUTS

2006 Mets 1,161 (#3)

2006 NL Total  17,258

2007 Mets 1,134 (#7)

2007 NL Total 17,299

2008 Mets 1,181 (#1)

2008 NL Total 17,959

2009 Mets 1,031

2009 NL Total 18,205

2010 Mets (proj) 1,196

2010 NL Total (proj/est) 18,660*

While the NL has been consistently getting more strikeouts each season, the Mets have topped previous totals every alternate year.

The shutout totals are even more amazing. In fact, the Mets are on track for a record-busting year in terms of shutouts, so pay attention to this stat.

 SHUTOUTS

large_jon.jpg2006 Mets 12

2006 NL  136

2007 Mets 10

2007 NL 128

2008 Mets 12

2008 NL 143

2009 Mets 12

2009 NL 150

2010 Mets (proj) 22

2010 NL (proj) 182

 

fireball-300x300.jpgOther than 2007, both the NL and the Mets have either increased or held steady in  the number of shutouts pitched each year, and this year looks like its going to blow away previous seasons in this important stat. Later on I may take time out to see if the Mets have ever had a 22 shutout season before. I kind of doubt it.But 182 for a league total is unusually high as well. It seems to be the year of the pitcher, like 1968. One theory is that teams are looking to cut their budgets and having three great pitchers may be cheaper than paying eight sluggers. In any case, this is the trend to watch this season. Maybe we should lower the mound again, or better yet, have the pitchers stand in a hole.

That would give our post-steroid sluggers a better shot at an RBI.

 

* Not all teams have played a half season exactly, so this is an adjusted figure