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Al Falls Into The Gap

Posted By Greg Prince On March 1, 2005 @ 2:36 am In Main Page | Comments Disabled

To paraphrase Chris Rock at the Oscars, if Al Leiter got fired from The Gap, don’t expect him to take a job at the Banana Republic across the mall and tell all the shoppers how great it is at The Gap. “They have a much better selection of belts over there. And my manager would bring in Rice Krispies squares every Friday.”

Uh-uh. Of course Al Leiter is bitter. He should be. In his mind, he was The Man on the Mets. Doesn’t Omar know that? Doesn’t Willie? What happened, Fred? You used to be cool!

Al Leiter was The Man. It’s to his credit that it so eats at him that his favorite childhood team whom he served so nobly for so long let him go. He was on with his buddy Michael Kay on ESPN Radio Monday afternoon practically wailing that he’d never, ever, ever say bad stuff ’bout the Mets. Ever.

But there was a real gap that couldn’t be bridged – the gap between Leiter’s perception of his The Manness as it stood following the 2004 season and his actual status and performance, and where both fit into the Mets going forward. Al’s five-inning starts were a detriment to the team. Every indication was that he was whispering in Jeff Wilpon’s ear nonstop.

Those two facts (and his advanced age (though he’s still younger than me) overshadowed his gutty pitching and very nice ERA. Whatever his feelings, failings and Floridianness now, he deserves a DiamondVision toast and a heartfelt ovation when he comes back.

Borrowing from Mr. Rock once more, however, I love Al, but school is still going to be open on his birthday.

Anybody’s who stayed at the fair (or with a particular organization of any kind) too long is going to feel indispensable. He learns to his dismay that he is not. So he’s not asked back and the next thing he knows, it seems right to tell a soulless opportunist like Carlos Delgado that, no, you don’t want to go to New York. New York will bug ya, man. They’ll expect things from ya. Play here with me, Al Leiter. Hit me some home runs. Nobody here will care how many three-and-two counts I work. Nobody comes to the park unless we’re in the World Series. I’m old. I want some peace and quiet. I’m a great guy. Why doesn’t anybody understand me?

Let’s hope lots of bunts trickle between them. Nothing personal.

Saw a quote in the News Sunday from Robbie Alomar regarding how few Spanish-speaking teammates he had while he was on the Mets, implying how isolating it was. The only ones he could remember were Sanchez and Benitez. Hey Roberto, do you remember guys named Rey Ordoñez, Edgardo Alfonzo, Timo Perez, Pedro Astacio, Raul Gonzalez, Pedro Feliciano and Roger Cedeño? They were all on the team with you in 2002, your one full season. Maybe there were just a ton of guys not speaking to you in any language.

I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t want to speak to David Wright. He’s gone from being Joe McEwing’s protégé to Carlos Beltran’s. Let’s all take him under our wing. On Channel 2 Sunday night, he told Ducis Rogers how happy he is just to be here. But unlike every ballplayer who’s ever said that, he just dripped happiness at the idea of being here. That kid meant it! We’ve had lots of guys who’ve done nothing more than be here and they didn’t seem all that happy at the thought.

He also said his biggest thrill in baseball has been seeing himself on a baseball card. If they’re gonna bring Darryl into scare youngsters straight with his cautionary tale, the Mets should do the same with Al Schmelz: “Listen fellas. Those photographers may seem like an imposition, but in forty years, you’ll be glad ya posed. Trust me. I know.”


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