Saturday, April 10, 2010

Joey's Soapbox: No More Mr. Nice Bear

You may know me as the cute half of the Studious Metsimus staff. I'm the roving reporter and the culinary expert of the staff. I write about all the fun aspects of being a Mets fan, like meeting players and eating chicken nachos at Citi Field.

But I was at Saturday's game against the Washington Nationals and witnessed many things that made my fur crawl. That's why the poofball hat is coming off. It's no more Mr. Nice Bear!

Willy Taveras

If you look up the word "slap hitter" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Willy Taveras. He makes Luis Castillo look like Albert Pujols (a permanently limping Albert Pujols). Before Saturday's game, Taveras had accumulated 2,609 at-bats in the major leagues and had only driven in 124 runs. To say Taveras is a good run-producer is like saying Ted Nugent is a good spokesman for PETA.

So what did Willy Taveras do against Oliver Perez and the Mets on Saturday? He drove in all four Washington runs! Needless to say, it was the first time in Taveras' career that he collected four RBI in one game.

Willy Taveras batted eighth for the Nationals during the matinee. In 2008, Taveras led the National League with 68 SB (breaking Jose Reyes' three-year reign as NL stolen base king). Why would a team bat a speedster in the eighth spot? BECAUSE HE CAN'T HIT! Taveras is like the modern day Willie Mays Hayes. All flash and dash, but no hits and grits. On Saturday, Taveras showed some grit and came through in two different RBI situations. Because Oliver Perez wasn't more careful with the man batting directly in front of the pitcher, he was burned by the one-dimensional Taveras.

Strike one!

Tyler Clippard

In 2007, the Mets were playing the Yankees in an interleague series at Shea Stadium. The Mets were coming off their first season since 1988 that they were playing baseball after the Yankees had played their final game. After taking the first two games of the series, Mets fans were poised for a sweep of the hated Yankees.

When the Yankees announced that Darrell Rasner would not be making his scheduled start because of a broken finger, Mets fans salivated at the thought that some no-name by the name of Tyler Clippard would be starting. (Yes, I know it's a contradiction to say he's a no-name and then name him, but is this blog called "Studious Metsimus Reader Soapbox"? No, it's called "Joey's Soapbox", so I don't want to hear anyone correcting me!)

Of course, the Yankee Clippard pitched beautifully in his first major league start, giving up only three hits over six innings and the Yankees avoided being swept by the Mets.

On Saturday, Clippard (who was voted by his high school classmates to be the one most likely to play Sloth in "The Goonies" remake) faced the Mets again, this time as a member of the Washington Nationals.

Clippard faced them in relief of starter John Lannan, after Lannan pitched five shaky innings. Maybe he used some of One-Eyed Willy's treasure, (this is different than One-Dimensional Willy, who was mentioned earlier. Pay attention, people. That was just another "Goonies" reference.) but Clippard was outstanding against the Mets once again, pitching three scoreless innings and striking out seven batters.

Perhaps Tyler should change his last name from Clippard to Klippard, because he seemed to corner the "K" market at Citi Field. No Met batter struck out during the first four innings. Then Sloth came into the game and made the Mets whiff early and often. As if Citi Field wasn't windy enough, the Mets' bats had to generate more wind from all the swinging and missing!

Strike two!

Willie Harris

Even a casual Mets fan should know who Willie Harris is. He is the outfielder's version of umpire Angel Hernandez, meaning he lives to screw the Mets. First, he made this game-saving catch as a member of the Atlanta Braves on August 9, 2007.

The ninth-inning shot hit by Carlos Delgado would have been a dramatic game-tying home run. Instead, it became a long out and helped preserve a 7-6 Braves victory. In a season where the Mets lost the division title (and the wild-card) on the final day of the season, any additional victory could have sent the Mets into the playoffs. Willie Harris' catch might have been just as crucial to dashing the Mets' postseason hopes as any of the million games they lost after the "17 games to go" point of the season.

Then on May 15, 2008, Willie Harris made this catch against the Mets, this time as a member of the Washington Nationals, but also at Shea.

The catch on a ball hit by Ryan Church helped preserve a 1-0 win by the Nationals, spoiling a brilliant effort by Mike Pelfrey, and led to Billy Wagner's infamous "you should be talking to those guys over there...oh, they're not here...big shock" post-game comments.

By the way, the Mets lost the wild card to the Brewers on the final day of the 2008 season. One more victory during the season, yada, yada, know where I'm going with this.

Fast forward to Saturday's game against the Nationals. Josh Willingham had started in left field for Washington and had failed to make this catch on a ball hit by David Wright.

Since Willingham is not known for his defense, Willie Harris was inserted into the game as a late-inning defensive replacement. In the ninth inning, the Mets loaded the bases with two outs. Up came Rod Barajas, who had hit two home runs against the Nationals in the series opener on Friday night.

This time, Barajas smoked a line drive to left field that Gary Cohen immediately called as a base hit on SNY. The only problem was that it wasn't. Willie Harris was in left field, not Josh Willingham. There's no need to post a picture of what happened. I think you already know.

Why do I hate Willie Harris more than the average Mets fan? Perhaps the photo below will explain it for me.

That's right. I was at all three games where Willie Harris snatched potential victories away from the Mets. There are no words for how I feel about Willie Harris. In fact, I will say nothing else about him other than...

Strike three!

I want to be a nice bear. My fans expect that from me. But sometimes the Mets make it impossible for me to keep the cuteness fa├žade up. Saturday was one of those days.

My Studious Metsimus colleague tells me that I should remember that the 1986 Mets also started out with a 2-3 record before they turned it around and ended up winning 108 regular season games and the World Series. He might be right, but those Mets never had to face Willy Taveras, Tyler Clippard and Willie Harris.

All I know is that if the Mets continue to lose games they should win, Mr. Nice Bear might never come back. Be afraid, be very afraid.


Coop said...

I might have giggled at the Sloth from Goonie's reference. Especially with that picture there. Maybe. A little.

Sawl-E said...

You were at all 3? Oh Bear Man...

DyHrdMET said...

my how your seating arrangements have improved over the years.

Joey Beartran said...

Not really. The first two Willie Harris games, I was at Shea. I'm sure you'd trade in a great seat at Citi Field just to be able to attend a game at Shea again.