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Balls and Strikes

Mike SteffanosTuesday, March 27, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

I watched the majority of last night's Mets game after working at the new house for a few hours yesterday. I learned something while working on the house -- wallpaper borders that have been up for 30 years or so become as much of a part of the wall as the sheetrock itself. I'm not quite sure if I learned anything from the game against the Dodgers. In reality, the last week of spring training is just about guys getting in their work and getting ready for the season. I don't think there really are any more jobs to be won or lost at this point unless someone gets hurt.

Glavine did pitch well last night. Even the inning he struggled would have been over a lot earlier if not for yet another horrible home plate umpire. I think the art of calling balls and strikes, while never perfect, has degenerated over the past 10-15 years to the point where it's a real problem. When you watch a game you find yourself shaking your head time and time again at the calls being made, both for and against your team. There is something particularly surreal in quality in watching a bad umpire pimp a strike call on a ball that's clearly out of the zone.

When I was a kid there always a handful of umpires that seemed to feel the need to call attention to themselves, but today it is more the rule than the exception. I do understand that it's a tough job, but major league umps get paid pretty well to do it. I guess I'm an old fart, but I miss the days when good umpires understood that their job was to not get noticed.

Nice to see Burgos pitch a scoreless inning. Hopefully some time out of the spotlight in Triple-A will help him out.

I'm inclined to give Chan Ho Park a little time before I judge him as a reliever. That pitch to Kemp was a bad hanger, but the rest of the inning was better.

Joe Smith was victimized a little in the ninth by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook, who as already mentioned was fairly bad all night. He also looked nervous, despite it being a spring game. He kept it together and nailed down the save, though, and that's a nice step for the kid.

Some Links for You
In case you missed it, with all of the aggravation over the web site yesterday I forgot to link to Pat Andriola's interview with Bill James.

Mets Grrl has her official spring training report posted. She has managed to capture the feel of attending as well as the sights and sounds of the experience.

"reverend monty" was kind enough to send me this link of David Wright on MTV. I think David made the right call on using New Kids On The Block for his music.

One More Preview
It's been bugging me this spring that I don't have anything in my previews about reliever Lino Urdaneta. I'll try to rectify that before this weekend.

Oliver Perez goes for the Mets tonight in what I assume will be his final spring tune-up. All I ask from him is to show signs of the consistency that he's been developing this spring. The game will be aired on WFAN, so I'll have something to listen to while I tussle with that wallpaper.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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