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Hand-Wringers Need Not Apply

Mike SteffanosWednesday, October 4, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Yes, I know that it sucks that Orlando Hernandez is out for at least the first round of the playoffs, and the Mets will be going into battle without Pedro Martinez and El Duque. Instead, we will open our first playoff series in six years with John Maine on the mound. I won't lie to you and pretend that it didn't bother me when I first heard the news, but I'm not going to let myself get all hung up on this, and I'm confident the Mets won't, either.

I'm not painting any mindless rosy pictures. You won't read anything here trying to put some sort of bizarre spin on how losing El Duque is somehow a good thing for the Mets, but with all due respect, you won't find me giving into the vultures in the media who are trying to suck the last bit of joy out of Mets fans. Is that the Bergen Record's Bronx Bob writing that "the Mets' aura of invincibility vanished" when El Duque went down? Sorry, Bob, but you told us we lost that when Pedro went down. You can't take that "aura of invincibility" away more than once, my friend.

I understand losing El Duque was a big story, but guys that have been pandering to the fears and insecurities of Mets fans for month should realize that their shtick is starting to get old. I almost laughed today when more than one journalist wrote about the somber mood in the Mets locker room among the players who were still around when they heard the news about El Duque yesterday afternoon. Let any team lose their first game starter the day before and you'll find shocked faces. But if you go in there today, this team has already turned the page with the resilience they have shown all year. Of course, the experts tell us that they're merely "saying the right things" now. Pardon me, but should they be saying the wrong things?

Sorry, but I'm not scared of the Mets losing in the playoffs. If it happens, I'll deal with it, but I'm going to enjoy this all-too-rare experience. I don't need anyone to feign false pity for me, and I'm not going to feel sorry for myself if things go wrong. For the first time in 6 years, the Mets have a chance to win playoff games, and I'm going to root for them. Any sportswriter that has any sort of constructive opinion that he wants to share will have my attention, but lazy, cynical scribes who only want to beat on the same old fears and insecurities can go take a walk.

No brash predictions of glorious victories will appear in this space, but neither will the cringing self-pity those in the media expect from us Mets fans. I freely admit that the task ahead is even more difficult than it was yesterday morning. Doesn't matter. The playoffs are not for the faint of heart. As my late grandmother taught me long ago, anything can happen if you only believe.

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Comments (10)

Hi Mike- great post, I basically said I will also just sit back and enjoy the extra week of Mets baseball without expecting too much.
If they win, fantastic and if not if was an amazing season and the team and the fans should be proud.

Did the Mets ever have an "aura of invicibility"? Where did the keep it? In Pedro's locker? I can see where that might be a problem -- after all, Pedro is the only one with the combination and he lost the slip he wrote it down on.

Or maybe it was in Hernandez's home. He had left it right on his night table, but it was glowing too much and keeping him awake, so he put it away somewhere, but can't remember. It's not El Duque's fault: this is a ballplayer who can't remember his own age.

The team should take out an ad in the Post: "Lost: Aura of Invicibility. Glows and gives sportswriters something to talk about. Last seen in the vicinity of the Holy Grail. Similar to the one the Yankees had the past five years."

(Hmmn. Maybe in that case, it's better off lost.)


All good points. El Duque hasn't been much more than an average pitcher all told this year anyway, so what gives?

We can win without Pedro or Duque. Just need a little of that Maine magic.

Aura of invincibility? Didn't I read about that in the Harry Potter books? No, that's something different.

I believe that aura was left behind in a taxi in Miami this summer.

Guess we didn't need it tonight, huh?

The uppermost concern for me in Game 2 is this: will Glavine give us seven solid innings, and spare the bullpen until the weekend?

Who would have thought on Tuesday afternoon that this would be top of mind tonight?

Let's keep going, Mets!


Now let's give this Mr. Kuo a friendly New York welcome.

Mike, I'd like to know your thoughts on 3 things:

1) Willie pulling John Maine after 4.1 IP.

2) Willie not pinch hitting for Mota with the bases loaded and 2 outs.

3) Willie not pulling Mota until the game was tied.


Nice post. I echo EVERY sentiment. This is gravy.

1. maine; was better than good. I harken to a call on (?) off the corner that was called a ball...that could have led to a big inning. Ala joe Morgan i agreed with the call to the pen...But then U know that I have already advertised the Willie-omar playoff plan.....I want 5.0 innings from Maine/Ollie.

2. On willie; burning feliciano for one batter was not good. Ditto the use of Bradford. That bit him late when Mota visibly struggled in his 2nd inning. that coupled with two other do-overs; Pinch hit for Mota & sub late for green (tucker).

3. all in all I am content. Especially with cliff's big effort. He was the X factor. also once again-beltran (0-2/3BB), was more Reyes than Delgado.

4. On el-duque. Today visualized for me the magnitude of his value. El duque definately should be the guy getting that first call & going 2-3 innings. I want him back next yr in the role that he has made very popular and given to Darren Oliver this past yr....spot starter and long reliever.

Thought I was done did you....

5. Technically you owe me. Looks like Ollie is going to be the game 4 starter. Think he's stoked after his rollercoaster year?
The TWO reasons I love this is;
a. he has the best raw stuff on the staff. In fact he mirrors Billy wagner, (FB/slider) who also has his rocky moments. note the final out (SO of Nomar), that pitch is the key to Ollie's success. If his FB is accurate it will set his slider.
b. note as I posted earlier; the rotation
RHP(maine) FB/slider (?)
LHP(glavine) Change-up/FB
RHP (traxx) change
LHP (OLLIE)FB/slider

You could not ask for a funkier balance. Plus (excluding traxx) this is the rotation next yr. Insert Pelfrey/Humber at #5 and FA at #1.

Shari - It's a good attitude, and you've already been rewarded for it.
RealityChuck - the aura of invicibility was something that was given to us by pundits for the sole purpose of yanking it away. Scr** 'em. (Great sarcasm, BTW, you're still the champ.)
C Dubb - pulling Maine was the right move. He was starting to lose it a little. I thought he should have hit for Mota even if he had to use Heilman for 2 innings, but I do understand what he was doing. I didn't have too big of a problem with leaving Mota in there. One bad pitch to Nomar cost him 2 runs, but he could have just as easily got out of it. Plus Heilman isn't that great when he comes into a game with baserunners.
Ed - Can't find much to argue with, and I think starting Perez is the right move given the circumstances.

I'm with you on sitting back and enjoying this ride. I'll stress at key moments during the games. Not gonna worry about the injuries.

Oliver Perez is a risky choice in a game four, obviously. Not sure his psyche is up to the task, much less his mechanics. Maybe we sweep though. (-:

Game 2 vs. the lefty would be a huge, huge win, if we can find a way.

I did my share of stressing yesterday. You almost forget how different a playoff game feels, at least I did. Perez is a high risk/high reward starter, but I'm not so worried about his psyche. He seems to have matured a lot. His mechanics are still somewhat worrisome.

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