I know he’s got a big mouth, I know he never really took care of his body and perhaps wasted a chunk of his considerable potential, and I remember his tendency, when with the Yankees, to unhesitatingly (and visibly) give up on games in which the starting temperature was over 85 degrees. Nevertheless, I’ve always loved watching David Wells pitch. His career is both cheerfully improbable and also a sort of implicit “fuck you” to all those people who insist you need to eat well, drink in moderation and go to bed early if you want to succeed in life. Okay, so he developed diabetes at 44 and is not exactly a role model... still, those people need a good "fuck you" once in a while. And pitching a perfect game while hung over -- or by his own account, actually still sort of drunk -- is a level of bad-assery not often seen in the Majors since the 70s.
Also, I have never seen a more accurate or concise observation about Bud Selig than the following from Wells:
“He worries about what people say about him and he Googles himself.“
You know he does.
You’ll recall that the Padres released Wells a couple weeks ago; tonight, pitching in his first game for the Dodgers, he looked surprisingly sharp. Obviously I was rooting for the Mets but I was happy to see Wells back in the saddle, too, and in my favorite moment of the game, he bunted for a hit. Fucking beautiful – well, not aesthetically, actually, but the idea of it. I’ve never seen David Wright look more surprised.
In other news, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but credit where credit’s due: Joe Morgan said something interesting on ESPN tonight. He mentioned that John Maine’s high fastball seems to be actually more effective, and more explosive, than his low fastball – even though the general rule of thumb is that pitchers should keep the ball down, down, down and will get hit hard if they don’t (see: Igawa, Kei). I think Morgan’s right; when Maine’s in a groove, which he was for a few innings tonight, I often wonder how he does it with the ball so high in the zone, but I hadn't fully articulated that thought til Morgan mentioned it tonight. He just seems to have more movement up there for some reason. Good call, Joe.
Now, leaving this odd parallel universe in which Joe Morgan uses his remarkable Hall of Fame career to actually make interesting observations and educate his viewers, I have to point out that tonight Morgan also referred to Sandy Alomar Jr. as Roberto Alomar, Marlon Anderson as Marlon Byrd, Shea Hillenbrand as Shawn, and pointed out that the Braves need bullpen help but cannot pick up reliever Bob Wickman… since they just designated him for assignment. Ah yes, now we’re back in Kansas.
The Mets head to Philly now, and I thought this would be a really big series when I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the season, and even a few weeks ago... but it's not, really, since the Mets have already opened up a six game lead in the NL East. That's not huge, but as long as they take even one from the Phillies here, they’ll still be in pretty good shape. Taking the series from the Braves probably isn't necessary either... but man, it would really help their fans' mental health.
By the way, to clarify: in the last post, when I said the Yankees’ season was really really close to being over, what I meant was not that they don’t have a decent shot at the playoffs – three games back from the Wild Card in the loss column, they’re still very much in it - but that they have an extremely small margin of error right now. They’re only two or three losses combined with Mariners wins away from being, while not mathematically out of it, a real longshot. So if Mussina is really done – though I do think he’ll bounce back tomorrow, at least somewhat – and/or if Clemens and Hughes continue to be uneven… the point is, they're now one bad, unlucky week away from being essentially done, so everything needs to go right from here on out.
Well, either that, or the Mariners need to start sucking. But I've been waiting for that to happen since June...