Griff's View O'The Game:8/10-Fundamentals Redux

Ok, boys and girls. I hope you're comfortable in your seats. Because this one is going to be a painful experience to watch, so your bottoms might be sore by the time this is over. Not content to fill a highlight reel of flawed fundamentals a couple of days ago, the Mets seem to be trying to film a mini-series here. Ok, the lights will be dimming now. No shadow-puppets please.

First off, in the first inning, you see here... the Mets got runners on first and second with no one out. They are facing a rookie pitcher in Luther Hackman. Hackman has an E.R.A over 11.Be agressive and go after him, right? He's especially shaky in the first inning. Nope. Mike Piazza, a veteran hitter, watches strike three on the outside corner. He walks back to the dugout, blowing bubbles and acting like nothing happened. He probably figured Mo Vaughn would drive a run in. Wrong. Vaughn chases a pitch outside of the strike zone and pops up to Rolen. And now, since Edgardo Alfonzo is on the D.L., John Valentin comes up to the plate with two outs and gets plunked. Bases loaded now, but Jeromy Burnitz, the human rally-killer, comes to the plate. Sure enough, he flies out to right, and Hackman gets to scamper off the field, happy to escape unscathed. This is how you lose games despite out-hitting your opponent 13-5.

Ok, I've brought in a chaperone for this next part, because it's excessively gory for kids to see, so kids, if you have nightmares after watching this, you can talk to the chaperone over there in the corner. Shawn Estes, who has been inconsistent, to put it mildly, was SO wild that Jim Edmonds, the Cardinals number three hitter was the first batter to even swing at an Estes offering. Estes compounded the situation by throwing a pick-off throw into center field. To be fair to Estes though, it was a ball that shortstop Rey Ordonez should definitely have caught. The error allowed runners to move to second and third. Estes walked Edmonds to load the bases, and with no place to put anyone, he served up a fat pitch to Albert Pujols, who cranked it over the center field fence for a grand-slam home run and a 4-0 Cardinals lead.

It gets worse here, you might want to cover your eyes. After Tony Tarasco led off with a double, Ordonez, whose baseball sense I have questioned repeatedly, laid down a bunt to move Tarasco to third. Sure, he may have been trying to bunt for a base hit, but he still sacrificed with the pitcher due up next. Estes is a pretty good hitting pitcher, but Hackman just blew him away on strikes and got Roberto Alomar to ground out to second to end the inning. Try to drive the runner in yourself, don't pass the buck there, especially to the pitcher.

Fundamentals deserted the Mets again in the fourth innning in both hitting and fielding. First, the Mets got a one-out single from Burnitz. Ordonez, amazingly not bunting again (that's something called sarcasm, kids),went the other way and missed a home run by inches. He had to settle for a double, but Burnitz was held at third instead of trying to get a run across. The throw to the plate looked like it might have been good, but Burnitz is a big man and a hard baserunner, so there was a chance to have Burnitz dislodge the ball from the catcher. Bobby Valentine pinch-hit for Estes with Ty Wigginton. All Wigginton had to do was hit a fly ball. After taking a couple of mighty cuts to try to hit a three-run home run, he wound up hitting a short fly ball to right...uh, excuse me, I said no shadow puppets, thank you...that was not deep enough to score Burnitz. Alomar wound up grounding out to end the inning. On the fielding side, the Mets screwed up but survived unscathed. Jaime Cerda, who had been brought in to relieve Estes, first walked Ferando Vina, a man you do not want on the basepaths. Then...HEY! I said no shadow puppets! That's not a very nice puppet either...he balked him over to second. Only nice fielding plays by Valentin and Timo Perez kept the Cardinals from adding more runs.

Brace yourselves now folks, because the Mets actually showed good fundamentals in the fifth inning...there, that stopped your shadow-puppet theatre act, didn't it? The Mets tied the game in the inning, and some of it was due to good baserunning by Valentin and Tarasco. First Valentin scored on Tarasco's hit by sliding headfirst, usually a Valentine bugaboo, but it enabled him to get his hand in before the tag. Tarasco wisely took second on the throw, showing some good baserunning.

It was back to business as usual in the sixth though, as Perez did what drives Mets fans crazy, trying one of those ill-advised drag bunt attempts with a runner on first, and wound up popping it up to the catcher. I think I saw more gray hairs sprout on Valentine's head then.

Marco Scutaro, who pinch-hit for Burnitz and took his place in the field ,completely misplayed a fly ball that allowed Eli Marrerro to reach second. he actually ran in the wrong direction. It was the first time the Mets had screwed up in the field besides the pitcher. Then the umpires screwed up. Vina obviously leaned into a pitched and was awarded first base. When the Mets protested, they were even slapped with a warning.

Ok, the tape's Hmmm...they must have fallen asleep. Guess I'll do my own shadow puppet theater. Ok.. now this is a duckie....

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