Kaz Ishii's old pitching coach said the toughest pitch for him was “strikes” and warned that he'll drive us crazy. I was thinking of a certain departed senator even before Newsday noted that Ishii walked 98 in 172 innings, while Leiter walked 97 in 173 2/3. Of course Leiter went 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA, while Ishii went 13-8 with a 4.71 ERA, which proves some combination of A) we were bad last year and B) baseball is unfair.
As for Jason Phillips, Jim Tracy says he sees a few things that could help him. Ain't it always that way? Not knowing that Team A's girl mutters in her sleep and leaves towels on the floor, Team B thinks, “he doesn't appreciate her — I'll encourage her to laugh more and suggest wearing her hair down and it'll be one helluva summer.” And sometimes she's ready for a change and it's even true. (This example is completely gender-reversible.) If Ishii wins 13 games, color me more than happy.
Looking at the 40s, I'm struck by how many of them represent bygone eras in one way or another. Even by Met standards, John Milner's power output is pretty anemic — but then, 20 home runs used to mean something. Doug Flynn is the kind of leather guy (also an innocent term once) who wouldn't get a contract these days, a non-fate that would befall Al Weis too — Al, like Buddy Biancalana, has probably never thought he was born too soon. (You could say guys like that do have jobs today because now they're blown up to Herculean proportions through regimens fair and foul, but I'd rather not think about that on a sunny day.) There's no way the Braves could get away with employing Chief Noc-A-Homa now (which is probably best), let alone what would happen if some Met emulated John Stearns and administered a beating to him. One thing I remember about Donn Clendenon is his biography ending with his holding a good job for a pen maker somewhere in South Dakota. Think Rafael Palmeiro's worried about what corporation will give him a sinecure?
Bobby Ojeda, in retrospect, might have been the last wild man of a wild era. Before the '88 NLCS I skedaddled from school to visit a friend in Maine, and so heard the news late. What? He did what? He did it gardening? Bobby O shouldn't have been opening mail with his pitching hand then, let alone puttering around with gardening shears. Maybe that moment — even more than Straw and K-Mac (if memory serves, it was them) failing to get a crucial sac fly later in the NLCS, the suicidal trades of '89 or the off-the-cliff disaster of '91 — marked the true beginning of the end of that particular era.
Ah, Benny Agbayani. I still smile every time I see poor Aaron Fultz's name in a box score somewhere.
And Turk Wendell, whom I miss as much as I do Dennis Cook. He saw no harm in fantasizing about bombing Yankee Stadium from a fighter jet. He took time out from a champagne bath to give Jeff Kent the business for thinking the Giants had the better team. After he let Rick White bunk with him after being acquired in 2000, White admitted to reporters that “he drives so fast, I have no idea where we live.”
Turk was an honorary one of us.