Thursday, September 25, 2008


I wanted to drop a "D-O-E-N...done!" but I'm not quite ready and it's not so simple.

Right as I'm gathering up to leave the day job, I get caught up in a corporate fire drill. Bad karma for posting on the company dime? Somebody decides at 6:10 that they needed something that night. Luckily, I had semi-planned for that eventuality and it was only a matter of dressing it up all nice. I would up looking like a star to the bosses. As I always tell the children, learn to anticipate and you'll never have to react.

I roll up in the top of the second, right after DeRosa's HR. We have those box seats in right field where the seats are tilted towards the plate. Face value was $44. If you're inclined to pay for tickets, for the dump, it's actually not bad. The company was two Mets fans, one rabid, one moderate, a Yankees fan respectful of his surroundings and me (passive Mets supporter). By the middle of the third, it's apparent that this game is going to take all.fucking.night. Both Oliver Perez and Carlos Zambrano must have gone to the John Franco school of pitching, as neither of them would throw strikes.

The most comical moment, other than the right field ball boy throwing like he had a dildo lodged in his rectum, was Jose Reyes prancing down the third base line. With the Delgado shift employed, the third baseman was playing 50 feet from the bag. Reyes was like the class clown and Zambrano the substitute teacher. At one point, Reyes was closer to home than third. I half-expected Zambrano to bean Reyes. But, everything was fucking with Zambrano. He alternately looked coked-out and cracked-up. Eventually, he served up a grand slam to Delgado.

Aside - Delgado is not the MVP; Pujols is. You're not the MVP when two other guys on your team have 110 RBI and you certainly are not the MVP if you dog the first 2-1/2 months because you don't like the manager. Besides, if we're going to give out MVPs for partial year tears, then Manny would get it.

I had to remind a few giddy fucks that the bullpen was going to have to get 15 outs. I was close, as Perez lasted 1/3 inning longer than I predicted. I also said, about the time Sanchez was escaping the 5th inning, that the Mets would need 12 runs to win the game. Turns out that 10 would have done it and the bullpen actually got 16 outs reasonably comfortably, when it needed 17...close enough, right?We weren't sticking around for that shit. It cooled considerably and the snail's pace made it all the worse.

In the top 7th, with the score tied, the issue came up as to how long we were going to stay. They all hemmed and hawed, so I broke it down in terms of whether we were going to commit to this game, however long it ran, because I was sure that the two Mets fans would not want to leave if this was tied going to 9th. That swayed them all and we broke out. The Yankees fan suggested that I take a good look, for it was the last time I'd ever be in there. I didn't bat an eye. My response was that the only fitting sendoff for this dump was for me to take a dump on it.

It was still too early to go home, so I went to the local bar. Apparently, after the Cubs took the lead, the Mets blew a 1st and 3rd, no out chance in the seventh. Reyes, not bothering to steal second with a man on third on any of the four previous pitches, was doubled off on a screamer by Daniel Murphy. Here comes the fucking rant...

...and everyone wonders why they lose ball games.

Since it is largely a series of one-on-one matchups, baseball lends itself to quantification. Like accounting, we can assign a value to every event. Routine ground outs are all the same, we're led to think. So, there is nothing to distinguish Ryan Church's 6-3 ground out in the bottom 4th from Zambrano's 4-3 in the top of the 5th. Nowhere will it note that Church, apparently having a bout of post-concussion syndrome, downshifted half way to first, while Zambrano, fat bastard though he might be, barreled towards the bag as if someone left a plate of paella on it.

Similarly, Reyes' reticence will not be noted. Neither will Delgado not scoring from second on Beltran's single in the 8th. Neither Delgado nor the coach that held him understood circumstances; that the opposition's priority- with the state of the Mets bullpen in mind- was to keep the go-ahead run off second. According to the progression of the inning- Jeff Samardzija, fresh out of Franco's school, walked in Delgado- this didn't tangibly effect matters.

Wright's strikeout in the ninth will just look like a strikeout. After Murphy, savage baseball player, worked Howry and legged out a leadoff triple, Wright took 3 balls, only to strike out on ball four, up and away. It was odd, as Wright laid off three high balls, as he typically does. This allowed the Cubs to walk both Delgado and Beltran to get to the soft part of the order. Church, suddenly unreliable, forced Murphy at the plate and Castro, who makes Zambrano look fit, gave away his at bat.

In our daily grind, we have a general obligation to bang out our work. Sometimes we're on the clock but, for the most part, we plug along and we work a little harder than necessary to keep our jobs. That probably explains our lot in life. As explained above, baseball is a series of one-on-one matchups. A field player, not being involved in most of those matchups, is called into action about 12-15 times per game. You figure that it's about 10 minutes of the game, or about 5 or 6 percent of his work day. Again, like the rest of us, that's plenty of time to stand around and scratch his nuts, fart or whatever. He can't fuck off on the Internet, so we have that on him.

Anyway, I'll break that down further and say that a baseball player is given, maybe, 5-6 chances to shine during any given ball game. 4 or 5 of those chances are going to be his at bats and it's probably 4-5 times more than the rest of us will have to shine in any given work day. When I'm given a chance to shine- and most of the time, I have to determine it for myself and seize the moment- I go full bore to leave no doubt to my bosses' minds that I got this shit and I'm holdin' it down like a fat kid on a seesaw.

You can derive your score or results, in sports or any other work, from the sum of all the good plays you make. It would seem relatively simple, but it's hard for most to apply this and even harder to apply to baseball and its focus on one-on-one matchups. There is often no tangible incentive to give it the "ol' college try." The embarrassment of being caught taking off plays or giving up a base is not enough, because those things are seldom quantified. Everybody wants to make the big play, score the goal, touchdown.

In my view, the good plays that you make- and the attitude necessary to want to make them- put you in better position and give you more opportunities to make big plays. If you're on code yellow in a code red world, as the Mets have been for about 225 games, chances are that, when it comes time to seize those increasingly rare moments, you'll seize up.

Stretching Ayala to a second inning was asking for it. He got the bullpen's 15th and 16th outs easily enough, but his undoing must symbolize the larger Mets demise...single, stolen base, excuse-me double down the line. I bet some dude, who was rooting against the Mets, a beer that a home run was to follow. Hey, the fucker paid up.

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