After a lengthy sabbatical from the Fury, I now return. I must confess, the pressures of the job search combined with the euphoria of the Giants Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots made it easy to neglect The Fury these last couple months. In terms of the job search, a certain feeling of guilt would come over me when I thought about writing. And in terms of the Giants championship season, I found I didn't need that emotional outlet from writing the blog as a lot of my posts are directly related to the angst that comes along with being a Mets, Giants, Knicks, and Rangers fan. The Super Bowl 42 victory just felt so damn sweet for so long. Don't get me wrong, it still does. But now the 2008 baseball season is upon us, Donnie Walsh is the new head honcho in Knickland, and the Rangers kick off their NHL playoff run against the New Jersey Devils this week! Not to mention the new season of BSG has begun, and this Thursday '30 Rock' comes back. This means the juices are flowing again, and the angst has returned...riding single file and in greater number of course.
Oh, but what of the guilt coupled with the job search you may ask? That's still there, but seeing as though it hasn't made a difference so far it probably won't make much difference going forward if I take a few minutes to write now and then. Perhaps it will be therapeutic!
On to the nuts and bolts:
1. The Mets have begun their 2008 campaign looking to erase the embarrassment of lats years historic collapse. A lot of off season activity has gone down since last we spoke, and I had a few blog posts in the works on such subjects but they are long gone by now. You all know the Mets acquired Johan Santana, got Pedro back(briefly) and still have Slick Willie Randolph at the helm. Today, was the final opening day at Shea Stadium and it showcased what I'll call bad omens for the future...
a) Bad Omen Number One - They lost. 5-2 to the hated Phillies. On a day when you'd have to think this team would rally together and do everything they could to put a hurtin' on the Phillies, the Mets looked soft and scared, just like they did against the Braves over the weekend. This was the last time the New York Mets would open their home schedule at the beloved Shea Stadium and they stunk up the joint(except for Carlos Delgado and Ollie Perez). That's a bad sign. So far, this 2008 edition of the Mets has looked timid and confused at the plate(I'm pointing emphatically at you Jose Reyes, Louis Castillo, and sometimes even Wright and Beltran!)
b) Bad Omen Number Two - Louis Castillo left the game in the 3rd inning due to 'knee stiffness.' In case you hadn't heard, Castillo had surgery over the winter to, and I quote the Mets announcers, 'clean out his knees.' The implication being scar tissue from PREVIOUS surgeries needed to be removed so he wasn't in constant pain. Lovely! The reason given for Louis exiting the game today was that it was the first 'cold weather' game Louis was involved in this year, and his knees tightened up. It was 55 degrees and sunny today in NY. This goes to show that all those pundits who claimed the Mets weakness will be their aged, frail veterans just might be 100% correct. Pedro and Alou already went down with injuries for at least a month and a half a piece, and everybody assumes Delgado's hip will end up keeping him out here and there as well. Now Castillo has to leave a game in April because of his surgically repaired knees. This doesn't bode well for him come September and October where 55 and sunny will seem like the dog days of summer. This situation also sounds suspiciously like my Grandmother complaining about going food shopping during the winter, the difference being that she's 87 and walks with a cane.
c) Bad Omen Number Three - Aaron Heilman is a basket case. It seems Met fans aren't the only ones who will never forget the Yadier Molina HR that killed the 2006 Mets championship-esque season. Aaron himself seems to remember it every time he pitches in a pressure situation. Willie - "Hey Aaron, go out there and hold a 4 run lead for us." "Sure thing, boss." 1-2-3 inning, done deal. But make it a close game, or let's say the Mets are trailing by 1 or 2 and Willie asks the same thing? "Uhhhh, , Iuhhhh, Yadi....Yes! Yes, n-no problem..." And then as that crippling home run clears the wall, Aaron breathes a sigh of relief and thinks "It's over, thank God, it's over..." I am now eyeing that exit sign for "Trade Aaron Heilman Before It's Too Late Blvd." I have no doubt if he's in another uniform, he'll be a fine setup man and possibly even a closer. But in the Mets uniform, he is scared to be out there in pressure situations. Go find footage of the Chipper Jones and Mark Texieria at-bats from Sunday's game and you'll see what I mean.
d) Willie took Perez out of the game in the 6th inning, even though Ollie hadn't given up a run yet. Oliver had just walked two batters, but this is the type of situation where you want to see if a young, talented pitcher might be able to find enough gas to get out of a jam. In fact, last year Perez showed the ability to get out of situations like this on his own and that's part of the reason why most people believe, if* they stay healthy, the Mets will win the division easily. But, Willie has shown so far he has an itchy trigger finger with the bullpen and it's bitten him in the ass already. Today was a huge example. The Mets were winning 2-0 with Ollie in the game. He walks two batters, gets lifted, and the wheels fall off with Schoenweis, Sosa, and Heilman blowing the game in a unified front. The result is a Met loss by the score of 5-2 when their offense completely craps out over the final two innings of the LAST HOME OPENER AT SHEA STADIUM EVER. Did I mention that fact already? GOOD! Anyway, Willie just can't seem to get it right. He used 5 pitchers in the season opening win against the Marlins, including 3 in one inning to protect a 4 run lead. He then uses Jorge Sosa, the long reliever in the bullpen 2 straight days right before Mike Pelfrey was to make his debut as the number 5 starter. Pelfrey of anyone on the staff would NEED that safety net of Sosa in the 'pen seeing as though he was less than 'good' last year as a starter. Luckily for Willie, Pelfrey's start got rained out but not before Met fans performed their first official collective headscratch of 2008. I can already hear Sosa and Heilman's elbows creaking from overuse. I'm not sure that anything will be able to help solve Willie's problem of mismanaging the bullpen. I'm also eyeing the 'Fire Willie Randolph Before It's Too Late Ave." exit...
So, if I've managed to make the Mets home opener look like the sign of a dismal season to come you're getting my point. I'm officially concerned that this squad has 'tank job' written all over it. If I were Omar, I'd have a quick hook with Willie if I want to keep my job, Johan trade and all.
Well, I've gone on long here and will close for a bit. Expect regular updates once again as there are more and more things rattling around the ol' Duders head these days.