Izzy Izzy Izzy!

The Mets continued their recent run of fakeness last night, but more importantly, Jason Isringhausen is back in action! The man is a straight-up stud, and came back with a bang last night, getting the Mets out of a jam with one out in the top of the seventh inning. Big Izzy came out to a hero’s welcome (by hero’s welcome, I mean I was chanting his name in my living room), and proceeded to get a ground out (almost a double play), and then an F8 to retire the pride of the Rockies, Todd Helton. Izzy had some decent pop on his fastball (low-to-mid 90s), and he snapped off some filthy curveballs as well.

I would have been pumped up to see any pitcher in the Mets’ bullpen get out of a late-inning jam, but the fact that it was Izzy doing the work made it certified Grade A Realness. He would have been in line for the W if Tulo didn’t make an absurd (Jeter style) play in the hole to rob Daniel Murphy of the go-ahead RBI base hit (after a two-out triple by Reyes, his second three-bagger of the night). Bobby Parnell ended up getting shelled in the next half inning to break the game open (terrible fielding on the mound, because apparently the Mets didn’t focus during pitcher’s fielding practice in Spring Training; followed by a Tulowitzki biiizooomb), and the Mets went on to lose … again.

As much as I am growing more and more frustrated by the Mets’ bullpen giving away games, for a night my anger was tempered by the return of one of my childhood favorites. Growing up as a Mets fan, Izzy was my favorite player in the mid 90s. Izzy was a highly-touted prospect in the Mets’ farm system (Generation faKe), but as a young kid, that was not the basis for my Izzy love. My adoration of Izzy stemmed from him being one of the first autographs I ever got as a child. There are countless stories across the baseball fandom of people loving or, sometimes, hating players based on an encounter they had with them in person (especially as a kid). Getting Izzy’s autograph before a game at Shea Stadium as a kid forever made me a huge fan of him, and made me want to be a pitcher.

I was a fired-up 12 year old when the Mets traded him to the Oakland Athletics for crap (Billy Taylor … who? Exactly) only a few appearances after he returned from Tommy John surgery. Along those same lines, I was also probably one of the few people (outside of Izzy himself, and possibly some of his close relatives) that was ecstatic to find out that the Mets were bringing him to Spring Training this year. Izzy went on to have a very successful career as a closer for the A’s and Cardinals. He ended up making two All-Star teams, and led the league in saves (2004) once. If he can stay healthy, and K-Rod has any injury issues, he has a chance to reach 300 career saves (currently at 293, second most among active pitchers behind the almighty Mo).

This season is still very young, but if the Mets starters do not start pitching deeper into games, and the mess of a bullpen (except for Izzy, obviously) does not start throwing significantly better, this is going to be a very long season for the Mets faithful. The bats are giving them plenty of chances to win games (especially the RBI machine that is Ike Davis), but it ultimately comes down to solid pitching, and the Mets have not shown much of it. Hopefully the play will improve, but for now I will just enjoy watching my boy Jason Isringhausen back on the mound for the Mets.

Pizzas for all.

-Kevin McRainoutsallovertonight

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Izzy Izzy Izzy!

Beckett bringing the high, stinky cheese

Yes, I am typing this while watching “Rookie of the Year,” because I obviously have not watched enough baseball this weekend (fireable). However, “Rookie of the Year” is a tremendous movie with a great soundtrack (Bill Conti of “Rocky” fame … at least I’m pretty sure it’s the same Bill Conti. The movie is not listed on his Wikipedia page, and that’s obviously the most reliable source of information for getting one’s facts correct), and while I would have liked for Josh Beckett to have pitched like Chet Steadman during the first half of that movie tonight, he instead looked like Henry Rowengartner during the second half (minus the floater, of course).

Now, most people have naturally compared Beckett’s performance tonight to how he pitched against the Yankees in the 2003 World Series, but the thing I found most impressive was the fact that, unlike then, when he was a fresh face to New York, tonight’s performance came in his 25th career start against the representatives of Pride, Power and Pinstripes. Beckett’s career stats against the Yanks — not including the World Series, of course — aren’t all that impressive (10-7, 6.26 ERA, 92 earned runs on 155 hits in 132 1/3 innings), which isn’t all that surprising (at least to me) because New York always has a loaded lineup and has faced him so many times. So to be as overpowering as he was tonight against a team that’s seen him a ton of times and has a strong lineup, even with A-Rod out (hell, A-Rod’s replacement, Eric Chavez, got one of the Yanks’ two hits off Beckett), sort of blew my mind. It’s one thing to blow away a team when they’ve never seen you before and you throw in the mid-90’s with a ridiculous 12-to-6 hook like Beckett does, but to dominate them when they’ve already seen you at your best  … I begrudgingly (as a Yankees fan) tip my hat to Beckett (Pedroia gets no hat tip, even though he was piling up the big hits all weekend. Guy is clearly a dirtbag. Hate hate hate.).

Now, speaking of pitchers with overpowering stuff (at least at one point in the past), Joba (Joba Joba) Chamberlain had one of his performances tonight that hurt my head. I know young Kevin brought up Joba’s additional pounds in his post below this one, but that’s not what bothers me about Joba. A large belly didn’t stop David Wells, Bartolo Colon (Free Bartolo!) or Hideki Irabu from being top-notch pitchers (OK, Irabu was only a top-notch pitcher in my childhood fantasies … that sounds creepy). Joba’s problem, as always, is his lack of control (leadoff walk to Big Papi in the seventh) and dumb pitch selection (walking J.D. Drew that same inning on a 3-2 slider). Three of the four balls to Ortiz were fastballs: you can’t be an effective pitcher in the big leagues if you can’t control your fastball, and Joba’s tendency to throw 3-2 sliders is something that’s bothered me about him since the 2008 season.

So, decent first week for the Yanks — outside of some poor bullpen performances and whatever is going on with Phil Hughes’ right arm. And this upcoming week brings two more interesting matchups in the Orioles (are they for real?) and the Rangers (off to a red-hot start, and will they continue where they left off against the Yanks in the 2010 ALCS?). I also might head out to Citi Field tomorrow or Tuesday to give some support to Kev’s boy, Izzy. Funky buttloving.

— Brian Cougar

Beckett bringing the high, stinky cheese

Bring up Izzy!

A weekend of straight fakeness from the New York Mets. Dropping two out of three to the scrub Nats with some weak pitching and continued weak sauce at the plate with runners on (especially runners on third with less than two outs!!!).

Opening Day at Citi Field was not surprisingly a cold and rainy day of grossness — to match the grossness on the field. R.A. Dickey could not find the strike zone (five walks), and for the second time in a week, the Mets have given up a two-run single with the bases loaded to the opposing starting pitcher (Joe Blanton, Jordan Zimmermann). This, ladies and gentlemen, is not how you play winning baseball.

Game 2 of the series went a lot better for the Mets, with some good news coming on the field in the form of a decent outing by Chris Capuano in his first start, and two bombski’s from Carlos Beltran. I have never been the biggest Beltran fan, but I understand his importance to this team. If he bounces back to anywhere near what he used to be at the plate, the Mets lineup should put up a lot of runs.

Today’s game continued the trend of losing baseball. Chris Young threw a gem for seven innings, and now has two impressive starts to begin his tenure with the Mets (one earned run, one hit), but good ol’ Blaine Boyer quickly sabotaged the W. Mr. Boyer and I got off on the wrong foot with the Mets foolishly keeping him on the big league roster over my main man Jason Isringhausen. I didn’t like this decision for a variety of baseball reasons, but the main source of my dislike stems from the fact that Izzy was my favorite player on the team growing up. Izzy brings a lot to the table for this Mets bullpen. He has plenty of experience pitching out of the bullpen (mostly as a closer), to go along with the fact that he’s proven that he can get big league hitters out when he is healthy. The Mets have a very young ‘pen that could really gain a lot with Izzy there to mentor them. Something tells me that K-Rod is not the best guy to turn to for words of wisdom, or encouragement (avoiding a cheap joke about beating up old people).

Well, needless to say, the Mets went the jabroni route, and decided to keep Boyer and have Izzy stay down for an extended Spring Training to prove his health. Blaine has thanked this show of support by getting smacked all over the park every time he has touched the mound (two losses, ERA over 10.0, and almost two hits per inning). That is First Team All Fake material. He retired the Nats in order when he entered in the 10th, then allowed four runs on four hits in the 11th to give the Nats the win as the Mets dropped their second consecutive series to drop to 4-5 on the year. So far, the Mets are doing a good job confirming most of the preseason hate.

Quick thoughts: Beckett is absolutely dominating the Yanks right now, looks like old school Beckett from the 2003 World Series. (Brian’s boy Pedroia is on fire also). … Joba is fat, and way too much was made of his good pitching this spring. He is a mutant, and is definitely not going to be better with the 25 lbs of gut he added this offseason. … The Orioles are going to be a pest in the AL East, and could compete if their young arms stay healthy. Either way, that lineup is going to put up a lot of crooked numbers.

Pizzas for all.

— Kevin McMetsjustcalledupIzzyREAAAL

Bring up Izzy!