Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Lightning 9.13.2009

  • The taste of blood:
It was only one game and if the Mets get pounded in Sunday's doubleheader against the Phillies, it will essentially be meaningless; but if anything was to be taken from the Mets 10-9 win over the Phillies, it's that David Wright has taken hold of the club's reins and is prepared to officially take over as the team's first captain since John Franco; and it's possible that the Phillies, with the same late-inning issues that plagued and dismantled the Mets in 2008 are going to see that as their downfall.
The year has been a disaster for the Mets in general and for Wright in specific. Left alone on an island as the last veteran who instilled any fear in the opposing pitcher, Wright's power numbers were curtailed by the cavernous dimensions of Citi Field and that there was no earthly reason to give him one good pitch to hit for fear of anyone else in the lineup getting the job done. Then----with the rest of the intended team dropping like someone had poisoned their food or placed a stunningly effective voodoo curse on them----Wright got beaned by a Matt Cain fastball putting the rest of his season in doubt. After a concussion and a stay on the disabled list, Wright was forced to wear a ridiculous looking prototype helmet to provide extra protection that also succeeding in making him look like Lil' Davey Wright whose vested interest was a Happy Meal rather than playing ball. He ditched the helmet after a few games. This series offered an opportunity at some redemption for the lost season.
In years past, the Mets would've cowered at the Phillies jumping out to a 8-4 and 9-5 leads until Wright's heroics came to pass. Homering in the eighth against one of the Phillies candidates to take over as closer, Brett Myers; and then in the ninth with two outs, he ripped the first pitch he saw from replacement closer-of-the-moment Ryan Madson over the left field wall to give the Mets the lead.
That wasn't all in terms of turning the tables.
The Phillies have come back on the Mets against so many different relievers in so many diverse (and perverse) ways, that it wasn't a guarantee that Francisco Rodriguez was going to get through the ninth without another disaster to pop the Mets in the mouth. Instead of getting into his usual amount of trouble, K-Rod retired the Phillies in order on two strikeouts and a fly out to close the game.
In the doubleheader, the Mets are facing one pitcher in Kyle Kendrick whom they've historically pummeled and another in Pedro Martinez against whom they'd undoubtedly like to inflict a good beating.
Vengeance can be sweet if the Mets are able to take this game and spur them to not only damage the Phillies moving forward, but to send a message for 2010 that things are going to be vastly different next year; and David Wright took the first major step toward that end with his performance today.
  • If the JOBA RUINATION wasn't enough, this is a potentially bigger problem:
No one can say they're surprised that A.J. Burnett has reverted to the pitcher he's always been. Flashes of brilliance; flashes of mediocrity; and flashes of horror. The one saving grace he's had this year is that he's been healthy, but after two straight years of health in 2008-2009, can anyone say with confidence that the Yankees are going to get 200 innings and 33 starts from Burnett next year?
But that's next year.
The problem with Burnett is for this year and should be most concerning to the Yankees.
With the way Joba Chamberlain has pitched----due in no small part to the ridiculous way he's being handled----he can't be trusted for the playoffs. There's been talk that the Yankees are going to use three starters for the first round of the playoffs. Now, with the way Burnett's been pitching of late, can they trust Burnett any more than Chamberlain?
This "one bad inning" stuff can be overcome when a team has the offense of the Yankees...during the regular season, but in the playoffs in general and the division series in particular, the one bad inning could lead to an avalanche and the team could be heading home before they even know what happened.
Despite their bullpen issues, the Tigers are not going to be an easy mark especially with Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson able to match the top two Yankee starters. They need Burnett to come through and if he pitches as he did yesterday, they're going to have a problem. A big one.
  • Talk about a collapse:
Did the Rays hear from the Blue Jays how nice it was to go home in August and decide to join them?
This is getting embarrassing and is rekindling memories of the days before 2008 when the Rays were a laughingstock. After last night's rain shortened, 9-1 whipping at the hands of the Red Sox, they've lost nine straight and are in a death spiral.
The way the Rays have essentially collapsed does not reflect well on manager Joe Maddon and while it's easy to kick the guy when he's down, it all reinforces my feelings about Maddon that he's not the guy to discipline a young team; nor is he the manager I'd want to take the next step into an annual contender that the Rays have the talent to be.
Of course, the team made it to the World Series last year, but much of that was talent and good fortune; that cannot be maintained over the long term. The Rays are falling back due to a natural course of events in which the young players who've never known success aren't sneaking up on anyone and the scrapheap pickups along the lines of Grant Balfour and Gabe Gross haven't performed as they did in 2008.
I've never hidden the fact that I don't like the way Maddon runs his team on or off the field, but the club isn't going to do anything now after their run last year and, more importantly, that they just gave Maddon a 3-year contract extension through 2012; but if they want to maximize their talent, I have two words for them if things start poorly next year and he's still available: Bobby Valentine. He's the guy to take a team like the Rays to the next level strategically and is exactly what they need.
  • Viewer Mail 9.13.2009:
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes:

So now you have TWO blogs? What's next? Your own talk radio show? (You'd be great, btw.)

This is only temporary due to maintenance issues at PAULLEBOWITZ.COM. One has to have a backup plan.
A radio show, huh? I've been on the radio around three times. Twice, for some unfathomable reason, I called Mike and the Mad Dog and once I was the MLBlogs blogger of the week. I was good in that appearance but can't find it anywhere online. Maybe I should look into some kinda internet radio thing. Would it be the tree falling in the woods or would there be some listeners somewhere, anywhere? I tend to talk to myself anyway, so maybe there wouldn't be much difference.

Ted at Tribe Talk With Ted writes:

You should have your own talk radio show like Jane said.
BTW, I am a fellow mlblogger
and I saw your link and clicked away.
Nice blog here.
I don't think Olney would get anyone's attention
since he is so boring.
How does he still have a job?
I mean I know he is a fair analyst but he needs some enthusiasm you know?
Please stop by my blog.

Well, I don't think Olney's bad enough to be fired. If they were going to start chopping heads off, he'd be waaaaaaaaaaaaaay down on the list. (Maybe there's a job for me there after all. I could be the executioner with one of those hoods and an axe to start dispatching the dead weight.)
Is there a recurring theme here? A groundswell to hear my voice on the radio? Hmmmmmm.
  • The Twitter Mafia game has inspired me:
Not long ago, I published a rudimentary and incomplete Prince of New York Crime Family on August 6th. If anyone interested in being "made", I'm taking names. Just rememeber who the Boss is.

1 comment:

She-Fan said...

You should really consider an internet radio show. Your opinions would generate lots of callers and you could plug your book. Do it!