Thursday, September 15, 2005

"It was a good death."

"The ways of the Mets are long and pointless."

The New York Mets have a 0.43885% chance of claiming the National League's wild card berth. What were their odds at the outset of the current three-game series versus the Washington Nationals? Probably not much higher; however, it's safe to say that the Nats have taken the Mets' closed coffin, nailed it shut and now, thanks to last night's 6-3 victory, dropped the thing ignominuously in the cold, damp dirt. It's kind of gratifying, in a sense, obliterating the last vestiges of a team's hope.

Our team's hope, on the other hand, keeps hanging on---
though it's hanging on life support. These two wins have kicked off a 12-game whirlwind in which the Nats play the Mets (in New York), the Padres (in San Diego), the Giants (in Washington), and the Mets again (at RFK---ah, blessed constancy!). Ten games remain of this below-.500 extravaganza, and I think the Nats need to win eight of them to keep hope alive. Such a peformance would still likely require taking four-of-six from the Marlins (down there) and the Phillies (at RFK), who just so happen to be in front of the Nats in the standings at current. There's also the Astros to worry about, who after tonight's game with the Marlins will be lone-wolfing it on a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way.

So, come to think of it, sweeping out the Mets/Pads/Giants/Mets might be quite advisable, though not at all realistic.


Last night's win was a nice one. Unlike Monday's game, which was rather dependent on poor fundamentals by the Mets, last evening marked a solid all-around offensive effort for the Nats. They squandered some opportunities, but still led 3-0. They then supplied the necessary finishing kick, and the progression from Loiaza-to-Majewski-to-Cordero was basically no worries.

Solid performances abounded: Nick Johnson hit the ball with authority; Preston Wilson knocked the snot out of a home run ball; Brad Wilkerson played smart ball; Gary Bennett, breaking out of Frank Robinson's recent and strict left-right catching platoon because of Brian Schneider's bum wing, actually supplied offense, ducksnorting an RBI single to short right; and Vinny Castilla, bouncing back from a nonchalant first inning error that would make the rawest rookie (or Ryan Zimmerman) wince with embarrassment, cranked out a dinger of his own.

Oh, and there was Jose Guillen's "performance," too. Mark Zuckerman
notes in today's Washington Times that Guillen's been mouthing off more-and-more in the clubhouse lately, and that attitude spilled over to the playing field. Ejected by home plate umpire Bill Miller in the fifth inning, Guillen devoted the next few moments to a primo temper tantrum.

I didn't actually see the borderline (Zuckerman's description) third strike that raised Angry Man's ire, but I did take notice when the Mets' television announcers said, "Uh oh." I immediately knew it was Guillen. By this point he was merely ejected, but he was only warming up just the same. He took a minute to select his projectiles, and then he hurled stuff from the dugout onto the playing field. MSG color guy Fran "Doofus Voice" Healy was impressed that Guillen could toss four bats at one time with such precision. Hey, Guillen's got plenty of practice tossing stuff!

Honestly, if it wasn't so pathetic it would have been rather comical. But it was mainly pathetic. We---by which I mean Nats' fans, bloggers, etc.---make light and frequent mention of Guillen's anger management issues. We regard him, rightly or wrongly, as a timebomb waiting to go off. If it's "wrongly," it's wrong for the same reason why a defendant's seven previous robbery convictions aren't admissible in his robbery trial as proof he committed his particular robbery. Sure, Guillen's gone crazy before, but it's unseemly to use those incidents to demonstrate Guillen's bad character and use that bad character as evidence he was wrong (guilty) here. If he's guilty of being an idiot (or "idoit") in this one, it should be decided based on this one's facts, not by way of innuendo from something he did in Anaheim. Or so the reasoning would go, though I'm loosening things a bit, of course. And needless to say "the court of public opinion" isn't a court of law. Yadda yadda.

Of course, there are ways around that reasoning. One way is to use the evidence of the prior bad act(s) to demonstrate a plan or preparation or absence of mistake or accident. How is that done? (Loosely stated, of course.) What was the first thing he threw on the field in Anaheim? His helmet. And what was the first thing he threw on the field last night? According to St. Barry, it was his helmet.

Don't you see? The helmet-throwing is his signature! He decided to go on a rant, rummaged through the dugout for a good, hard helmet to chuck as his opening salvo, and exclaimed, "Bombs away! Get ready for the heavy lumber!"

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