Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 15, 2007
BASEBALL: Subway Stoppers

Study in contrasts tonight with the matchup between Oliver Perez and Roger Clemens; while the Yankees have tried to capitalize on Perez' weakness (deep counts), the Mets have had more success with Clemens' (complete failure to hold runners) with four steals through five innings (two for Reyes, one - leading to a run - for Carlos Gomez, and one for Wright).

The play of the game so far - and in its own way nearly as impressive as Endy Chavez' famous catch in Game 7 of last year's NLCS - was Carlos Gomez making a leaping catch against the left field wall in the fourth followed by doubling Hideki Matsui off second. First, Gomez had to battle a forest of Yankee fans looking to play Jeffery Maier, and then he needed the presence of mind and accuracy for the 21-year-old rookie to outwit the veteran Matsui, who had bolted off second with one out. Gomez may be seriously overmatched as a big league hitter at this stage but you can't help but like the guy's blazing speed and hustle.

Jose Reyes' massive homer to right was a sight as well, against a Clemens who has been racking up the Ks. It's been an unusually big night for Reyes, who has never hit the Yankees well.

Watching David Wright stealing second in the fifth I noticed that he had something in his hands - it still looks unnatural to me to see guys carrying their batting gloves on the bases.

Keith Hernandez is ripping Clemens for coming out of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. As I wrote seven years ago, Clemens gets a bum rap:

Roger Clemens was 23 years old in 1986. Prior to that season, he had never thrown as many as 140 innings in a major league season; I don’t have his minor league numbers, but I’d be shocked if he had ever thrown 190 innings in a year at any level. In 1985, his season was ended prematurely (after 15 starts) by an arm injury. Coming off surgery, Clemens had his 20-K game (a complete game) in late April, and McNamara rode him hard, finishing nearly a third of his starts. To the credit of Clemens' strong arm, he held up remarkably well, way, way past his career high to that point in innings, until he was hit on the elbow by a line drive in September.

It was obvious in the playoffs that Clemens was not the same pitcher. He looked tired. His pitched lacked any movement. By the time he got to Game Six, Clemens had (counting the All-Star Game) started 38 games -- completing 10 -- and thrown 284 innings. A 23-year-old coming off surgery, remember, who had been running on fumes for more than three weeks. When he started the game like a house on fire, my brothers and I - who had been discussing Clemens' struggles and anticipating that it would come to this - patiently waited for the Mets to wear him down. Get to the bullpen; any Mets fan who remembered 1985's 26-7 Phiasco in Philly wanted to see Schiraldi or Sambito out there.

And, come the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, the Mets' veterans started fouling off and fouling off and fouling off pitches. They didn’t get much off him at first, but they knew they would get to see the bullpen. I wish I had the pitch counts for those innings; as Bill points out in a related column, Clemens threw 135 pitches that night in seven innings, even though he was barely touched in the early going. 39 starts, 291 innings, 135 pitches. He was completely out of gas, and the Mets had a lot to do with it; proof that even a strikeout can be a valuable at-bat. If he stayed in the game, it never would have reached the tenth inning.

Given that Clemens is still pitching 21 years later, I think you have to give him credit for knowing his limits.

Mets announcers just reminded me that today is the 30th anniversary of the Mets dealing Seaver. I was 5. It was a dark, dark day.

Yes, I just kept calling Gomez "Carlos Perez" above - I'm getting old.

So the Yankees finally caught somebody - Gomez - but only after Clemens left the game. And frankly they caught Reyes next as well, but it was a bang-bang play and Reyes got the call.

Mets lead 2-0 - better get several more runs, Schoenweis is warming up in the pen.

Mike Bloomberg still there in the 9th inning. Good showing, for a Red Sox fan.

Boo-ya! Wagner smokes the Yanks in the ninth. 2-0 Mets.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:51 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

Nice win.

I was 8 when the Midnight Massacre went down. Made absolutely no sense to me at the time. I was DEVASTATED, and barely gave a crap about the Mets until '84.

You know what, other than Dick Young & M. Donald Grant, I'm not sure anyone gets it 30 years later.

Posted by: Mike at June 15, 2007 11:28 PM

And it just has to be the Yankees against whom Reyes gets healthy. Grrrr...

The stolen bases aside, great start from Clemens tonight. Though he'd get hit a bit more than this.

And that aside, all-world start from Ollie. They didn't just get the good Ollie tonight, they got the Ollie-having-the-game-of-his-life-and-realizing-his-full-potential. Hope Hughes can have games like this down the road.

And so, my hopes are now pinned on the immortal Tyler Clippard...could be a long weekend. Oh, never mind, I have the U.S. Open to look forward to! Whoops, no I don't; that's right. The U.S.G.A. has rendered the Open as boring as whale shit. When does Wimbledon start again?

Posted by: Thom at June 16, 2007 6:36 AM

The Seaver trade was inexcusable. If Mets management could have been impeached at the time, the fans would have done it.

Posted by: steve at June 16, 2007 7:48 AM

Don't forget, they also shipped out Kingman the same day. He was a jerk, a defensive butcher, and not the elite slugger we all wanted to believe he was, but he certainly put more runs on the board than the other "sluggers" we had to watch for the next few years: Montanez, Hebner, uhhh . . . anyone else? Man, those Mets teams had no power at all. Zip.

Posted by: Mike at June 16, 2007 10:22 AM

Impeached? They're lucky they weren't lynched.

The Kingman trade followed by the NY blackout led to Lenny Randle's immortal line, "Mets trade Kingman, call game for lack of power."

Posted by: Crank at June 16, 2007 12:08 PM

Tom Terrific went 14-3 with a 2. 34 ERA with the Reds in 1977 after the trade. In that partial season, Seaver got 29 RSAA, which still ranks as the 5th highest seasonal total for any Red since 1969. This shows how great Seaver was (and how bad Cincinnati pitching has historically been.)

That '77 edition of the Reds had a great offense, but absolutely no help for Seaver in the pitching department. Luckily, the Reds were able to gain a divisional title with Tom's help in 1979, and should've made the playoffs again in 1981. Seaver was the Cy Young, in my opinion, in both 1977 and 1981, even though he lost both years.

If the dumb Reds would've kept him past 1982, he sure could've helped them from 83-85...

Tom's in the Reds' Hall of Fame as of last year.


Posted by: BigRedMachinist at June 16, 2007 4:32 PM

looks unnatural to me to see guys carrying their batting gloves on the bases.

My understanding is that player's do that to prevent finger injuries...if you are making a fist around your gloves you won't jam your thumb on the bag or a defender.

I always find it unusual that most players remove their gloves at first and stuff 'em in their back pocket when they should either wear or hold them on the basepaths.

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 16, 2007 5:00 PM

I recall reading that in the old days hitters carried their bats with them around the bases. To make things interesting, I propose that catchers carry their equipment around the bases, including shinguards, chest protectors and helmets.

Posted by: steve at June 16, 2007 5:50 PM

Even if the Yankees lost to the cross town Mets, I still believe the Yankees, will catch up with Boston.
Based on A Rod, and the rest of the teammates plays on the field. The Yankees, just donot give up.

Posted by: Lummpy at June 16, 2007 7:35 PM

Reyes' HR was on Clemens' first pitch...opposing batters are 4-for-4 this year when they put his first pitch in play (Beltran's 1B in the fourth, Gomez's bunt in the seventh, and an Adam LaRoche hit against Pittsburgh). Shouldn't they be swinging more?

Posted by: Kevin at June 19, 2007 2:35 PM
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