July 26, 2007

Mysteries of Pittsburgh

The Mets have had plenty of injuries this season, but not, I'd say, a truly abnormal amount. Still, has any other team had such random injuries? How does a young guy like Carlos Gomez fracture his hand on a checked swing, exactly? And now Jose Valentine has fractured his tibia by fouling a ball off his leg. It wasn't shattered a la Jermaine Dye -- that was one of the most gruesome baseball injuries I can recall watching live* -- but it probably ended his season.

Speaking of age, I was glad to see Julio Franco land on his feet, even if it is with the Braves, and even if both parties seem a bit grouchy about the breakup. A lot of Mets fans, by the time he was released, had started to resent his presence on the team a bit, and there's no denying he wasn't very useful this year, even as a pinch hitter. Still, let's never forget how cool it is that the man is about to turn 49 years old. Also, earlier this season he broke his own record to become the oldest man ever to hit a home run in the majors, and he did it off The Big Grumpy himself, Randy Johnson. So I will, pretty much, love him forever.

Last night Tom Glavine got win #299 (and A-Rod hit home run #499). These are impressive milestones -- Glavine's far more so -- but I hate the inevitable countdown superhype we'll now have to go through with every start or at-bat. And, yes, I have decided to completely ignore Barry Bonds in the hopes that he will eventually go away. I'm not watching his at-bats no matter how many times ESPN tries to make me. Part of me does hope it takes him weeks and weeks to get it, though... if only because it will be a sort of poetic justice for Bud Selig to be forced to traipse glumly around the country after him, however long it takes. Now will you admit you should have pushed harder and more publicly for testing back in the 90s?

Anyway, the Mets seem to be back in their groove, though it's hard to tell when they're playing the Pirates. Seriously, how bad are the Pirates? Ace pitcher Ian Snell's immediate family members are now calling the team losers. "I'm starting to break," says Snell in that article. Yikes! Okay, as soon as they get out of New York, I'm officially rooting for Pittsburgh. These guys need some wins in the worst way.

That said, they really are terrible. In one eighth-inning play against the Mets last night, the pitcher failed to cover a base, no one on the Pirates seemed to know where the ball was supposed to go, and somehow an errant throw by catcher Ryan Doumit hit Shawn Green in the head as he dove back into third. Honestly, I'm not even sure what happened there; it bore only a vague resemblance to baseball as we traditionally know it. As Keith Hernandez put it, sounding genuinely confused and slightly hurt, "the Pirates did so many things wrong on that play..."

Between them and the Reds, and the Yankees' stretch against Tampa, Toronto, and Kansas, I've watched an awful lot of bad baseball over the last few weeks. Good thing they can wrap up these series tomorrow and move on to... oh... uh, the Orioles and Nationals. Aaaargh!

*Up there with Nick Johnson's broken leg (especially sickening in person -- it was almost a year ago and he still isn't recovered enough to play), Brian Roberts' elbow (eeeeeew!), and probably worst of all, the Beltran/Cameron outfield collision, which is why as far as I'm concerned no one is ever, EVER allowed to get on Beltran for shying away from balls dropping just between him and his right fielder.

You know, it's funny... I always liked Bubba Crosby when he was with the Yanks, but when I see his name the first things I think of are him crashing into Sheffield in the outfield during the '05 playoffs, and Brian Roberts' horrifically mangled elbow. That's quite a legacy for an innocuous little fourth outfielder.

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