Fun With Filip!
As you all know, yesterday Johan Santana tossed a complete game, picking up a bullpen that had been completely taxed out in a 14-inning contest the night before, and preserving the Mets' slim first-place lead in the process. These are all great things, right? Wrong. When last we saw Filip Bondy, sportswriter extraordinaire and unabashed Yankee suckup, he was heard comparing Eli Manning unfavorably to Phil Rivers. Good call! Well, now he's got some things to say about Santana's performance yesterday. Listen up, you might learn something:
It was hard to figure at Shea Sunday whether the Mets won a big baseball game or surrendered unconditionally to an inane lobbying campaign.
Oh boy, this oughta be good.
The Mets beat the Cardinals, 9-1, and Johan Santana pitched nine full innings for the first time in more than a year, throwing the last 19 of his 118 pitches in light rain and below a particularly loud lightning bolt in the ninth.
Hmm, I see where he's going with this: By pitching the 9th inning, Johan could've been hit by lightning! Come to think of it, the same goes for Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and everyone else on the field. Manuel clearly should've just forfeited the game right then and there despite the score. (by the way - I didn't know lightning made sound. I thought it was thunder. Ah well, whatever...)
His performance provided some needed rest for a flagging bullpen, and issued the sort of message no doubt expected of a $137.5 million starter. The fans saluted his extra effort with heart-healing chants of "Jo-han," and everyone exited the place knowing all was forgiven.
Well, I agree about the bullpen, but I'm not sure I get this "message" and "forgiven" business. Is there a problem here I haven't picked up on?
But the biggest winner might well have been New York talk radio, which had screamed and pushed Santana into a dugout corner from which there really was no escape.
Yes, and if there's one thing we've learned about Jerry Manuel at this point, it's that he makes decisions based upon what Frank from Massapequa and Anthony from Middle Village think.
A strong argument can be made that Santana coming out for the ninth with an eight-run lead was not the smartest of baseball moves. The cause may well have been the unreasonable complaints about his reasonable departure last week with a three-run lead after eight.
Well, I think the more likely "cause" is the fact that everyone in the bullpen except Guy Conti had pitched the night before. Wouldn't you agree? I'm sure you'll get to that later.
After a hail of criticism following the Philly fiasco, there really was only one answer, if Santana wished to avoid the same nonsense. He agreed to go the distance, which could easily have turned into a disaster if he had strained even the tiniest of muscles.
If he strained even the tiniest muscle in the 8th, would that have been any different? Or the 7th? Jeebus H. Christmas. Let the man finish his game.
Immediately, there was a bit of mythologizing by the Mets. Manuel said that Santana was "adamant" to him about going the distance, even though it became clear the pitcher merely responded to Warthen that he could finish and wished to do so.
Ooo! Ooo! Conspiracy! Someone's lying! Which is it? Was he "adamant" or did he simply say he "wished to do so"? Clearly there's a story here, and only a bloodhound named Bondy can sniff it out.
And so the most important and expensive pitcher on the Mets' staff went out and threw some unnecessary fastballs Sunday in the ninth. If you're a message kind of guy, you were applauding his gutsy show. If you're more of a pitch-count realist, you were horrified at the illogic of it all. Manuel only intended to allow Santana to reach 115 pitches, but then there were two outs and the complete game was too close to sabotage.
I wasn't particularly horrified. You know why? At the risk of repeating myself - the ENTIRE BULLPEN had pitched the night before. I'm still waiting for you to cover this fact, which, when you think about it, is probably the most important fact underlying this whole story. I'm sure you'll get to it at some point.
It has become very clear by now that Santana - or maybe his contract - cannot walk from the dugout to the mound without manufacturing very large headlines and intense debate. He scattered six hits and walked only one batter Sunday, while his ERA dipped to 2.93. Yet the questions afterward were more about his hurt feelings, and about a rather embarrassing play in the sixth.
A complete game gem, a 9-1 rout, and you're actually going to talk about a baserunning gaffe in the 6th inning? No chance. I'd like to think you have more brains than that.
In that inning, Santana was caught napping at the plate while his batted ball sailed into the right-hand corner of the park.
Time stood still, almost, except that it never really does. And when the baseball smacked into the wall in fair territory, Santana half-trotted to first on what should have been an easy double.
Know when time stands still? When I read shit columns like this. Actually, time actually moves backwards.
If he were not a pitcher who had just completed a six-hitter, great scorn would have been heaped upon him from all quarters.
I'm sure you have a point here somewhere. Also, I'm sure this somehow relates to your main hypothesis about him pitching the 9th inning as well. I'm all ears.
There are still some potholes on this Mets expressway, too many brain-dead moments that may catch up with them in September or October. In the third inning Sunday, Jose Reyes tagged up and loped home on a one-out liner to center by Carlos Delgado. The problem was that Endy Chavez had misread the play and was nearly doubled off at second. If Chavez had been caught, then Reyes wouldn't have crossed the plate yet. The run wouldn't have counted.
You know what, Manny Ramirez ran through a stop sign yesterday and scored. Stuff happens. Fact is, things like this have been happening with much less frequency under Mr. Manuel. But again, what does any of this have to do with Johan Santana pitching the 9th inning? And I'm STILL waiting for you to mention the fact that EVERYONE IN THE BULLPEN HAD THROWN THE NIGHT BEFORE!!
But again, the Mets have won 15 of their last 19 games, their starters are lights-out and it is probably not harmoniously correct to point out some remaining flaws. As for Santana, he is throwing as well as he has all season - whether it is for eight or nine innings.
So, no mention of the bullpen being completely maxed out. No explanation of how a few baserunning mistakes are even remotely relevant to anything. It must be fun writing columns that way. I'll try:
And so, Filip Bondy continues to write stupid columns for the Daily News. The reason, no doubt, is that he was kidnapped by aliens, who implanted a "stupid column" chip in his brain. Also, he lost his car keys the other day. The end.