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Strange Times Indeed

Mike SteffanosFriday, June 16, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

A "friend" of mine who is a Yankees fan has been trying to get in my head about the Mets lately. Yankee fans like to make a pretense of ignoring the Mets when their team is up and ours is down, but they're almost always paying attention to what's going on across town. They can't help themselves -- a key component of their baseball self-esteem is that their team owns New York and ours is irrelevant. I remember back in 1986 the Yankee fans at work were rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series. I couldn't believe it, and laughed in their faces at their smug pronouncements that they were "American League fans." They just couldn't stand the thought of being number two in New York, and actually rooted for their hated rivals. I kept this pathetic sight in mind when the Yankees and the Braves played in the series in '96 and '99. The only thing I rooted for was a plane crash. (I'm kidding, I think...)

Anyway, my friend tells me that Pedro and Glavine's arms will fall off before too long, that Beltran will stop hitting, and that we can't win with Jose Lima pitching every fifth day -- I guess he really wasn't paying attention there. My friend is pretty cool, and we usually manage to have intelligent discussion about our teams and baseball in general, but he's obviously starting to feel some of that Yankee fan paranoia towards a strong Mets team. He's jumping all over Lastings Milledge every time the kid does something stupid -- which is a little too often, lately -- as if invalidating Milledge as a prospect invalidates the Mets. Suddenly the list of series victories for the Yankees -- most of which came before my friend was born -- are a cold comfort to his growing sense of insecurity and loss.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Braves are plummeting in the standings on a daily basis. They just got swept in a 4-game series by a T-ball team from Pomona, and I hear Chipper threw a tantrum and had to sit in the time-out chair at Chucky Cheese afterwards. Fortunately, Bobby Cox has become too senile to realize the depth to which the Tomahawk Boys have fallen. Actually, the only thing that gets much of a reaction from him any more is when McDowell gives him a hot foot in the dugout.

As a Mets fan, I am breathing the sweet rarified air that I've infrequently tasted over the years. Nothing bothers me.

Note: this posting is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.

New York Times: Lastings last in clubhouse
If you haven't already done this story to death, Lee Jenkins did a good job on it.

Fox Sports: Those whacky free-falling Braves
Fox's Ken Rosenthal allows John Schuerholz to cry on his shoulder:

It's bleak-looking now, no question. But if we start playing the kind of baseball all of us think we can, maybe make a move or two to fix a flat tire here or there, we'll be able to get back in this thing. We continue to think that.

If this was last year, when all the teams in the NL east were hovering around .500, I might have bought into this. No way the Braves overtake both the Mets and Phillies to win the division. It took 89 wins for Houston to grab a wild card spot last year. After the Marlins made them their bitches again last night, the Braves record stands at 30-37. They'd have to go 59-36 over their final 95 to hit that mark. That's 23 games over .500, with that bullpen and the inconsistent starting pitching they have now. This ain't 1993, folks.

Getting Paid To Watch: Bob's Book
Bob Sikes, the former assistant trainer for the 1986 Mets, is sharing a book he's been writing about that team on his blog. Chapter one can be found at the above link.

Baseball America: Evan MacLane
In yesterday's Ask BA column, Jim Callis gave his opinion on Norfolk lefthander Evan MacLane, who has been opening some eyes this year:

... MacLane has a humble draft pedigree. A 25th-round pick out of Feather River (Calif.) CC in 2003, he went 23-10, 2.74 in the lower minors and reached Double-A in mid-2005. He seemed to hit a wall there, going 3-2, 4.14 in nine starts. MacLane didn't fare any better in six starts at Binghamton this year, but he has been lights-out since arriving at Triple-A Norfolk, posting a 6-0, 2.11 mark in seven starts. His other numbers (47 innings, 42 hits, 14 walks, 33 strikeouts) aren't as impressive as his record.

MacLane, 23, is a typical finesse lefthander. His mid-80s fastball and his curveball are fringy pitches most notable for his ability to locate them in the strike zone. His changeup is his best offering and he has little margin for error. He'll probably pitch in the majors but I don't see a huge ceiling. He looks more like a middle reliever than a starter to me.

Fox Sports: Power Rankings
Dayn Perry has updated his MLB Power Rankings, and after ranking them eigth last week, he thinks a little more highly of the Amazin's this week.

The Intelligencer: Need a Laugh?
I saw this piece in one of the local Philly area papers in mid-May after the Phillies had taken 2 of 3 from the Mets and closed to 2 games out. I had a feeling something as obnoxiously cocky as this couldn't go unpunished, so I was saving it for the right moment. Enjoy:

The Phillies will win the division going away.

The Braves aren't the Braves and the Mets, on the mound, are cooked.

(An aside on the Mutts. Their big concern before the season was the age of Tom Glavine and Pedro. Now, those two are still going strong, it's just the rest of the rotation that's in a shambles. I.E., they're done.)

Back to the Phillies.

They'll be giving us something to cheer about for months (until the Eagles begin training camp and the lemmings switch their concerns to who'll be playing nickel back) and we'll have meaningful baseball in October.

Just imagine Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols and the rest of the Cardinals coming to town for the playoffs. Very cool, and it'll happen.

The Phillies' pitching is coming around and Cole Hamels could be an awesome addition.

And Charlie Manuel isn't an idiot like most people (not here) said he was. It's amazing how much better a manager becomes when his players actually play.

And hit. You actually stop what you're doing when Chase Utley, Ryan Howard or Bobby Abreu are up. That's fun.

This is their chance. The rest of the division has fallen off or soon will be (the Mutts) and the Phillies are getting better.

Print the playoff tickets, it's going to happen. Break up the Phillies. ...

I have an informal agreement with the MetsMerized fan site for some of my posts to be listed in their discussion forum. If you ever wanted to tell me I suck in front of a few more eyes, now's your chance.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets
Pro Sports Daily Mets

Comments (4)

Whoa Mike. It does feel kinda wierd to see that 9.5 game lead. I keep waiting for the other shoe (arm or leg) to drop. But I'm trying to enjoy this why I can. A shame that the playoffs can't start this weekend while we're hot. Speaking of hot, I wonder how Anna's gonna like the welcome she gets tomorrow.

Newsday every day in its sports section runs a little blurb, a "rant" sent in by a fan. Almost each one lately has been from a Skankophile, all with a variation on the same theme: Mets fans ought to enjoy it now because they're not going to much longer (also expressed as big deal, they're good once every five or ten years). That strikes me as an odd use of energy on the part of these fans. You're not competing with the Mets, save for three games in two weeks. You're in a race of your own. You have issues. But THIS is what you choose to send to a newspaper? You are so insecure that another team in your geographic region is enjoying some success that you must spit on it for everyone to see?

Man, that's just pathetic.

I'm sure we'll got through our ups and downs, and anything can happen in the playoffs, but this team will be there in October.

I have a feeling Anna likes any kind of attention, positive or negative...

Greg, that's Yankee fans for you. Why is it that the team that's won so many has the most insecure fans on the planet? Yankee fans are nothing if not pathetic at times like these.

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