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Ba! Pen Drooler

When ninth-inning do-or-die situations arise this season, I hope

Braden Looper is up for them. He was the most dependable Met all of

last year and yet I still don’t quite trust him — maybe he was waiting

for this year to start blowing games in earnest because he knew doing

so last year would be a waste of time, what with nobody watching.

I knew it.

Not just on February 27 [1], as I take absolutely no solace in pointing out, but in the minutes

leading up to this mind-blowing, game-blowing, we’re-blowing debacle.

A 6-4 lead escorted into the ninth should be safe. The warm n’ fuzzies

that were in evidence should have been validated. Yes, yes, Reyes and

Beltran and Floyd and five of Pedro’s innings and Kaz and Mike and

Mister Koo were all wonderful.

Yet it never felt right.

* Pedro’s 12 Ks, awesome as they were to behold, couldn’t mask the

lousy first inning and, to be totally unreasonable and ungrateful about

it, guaranteed he’d go no longer than six.

* You don’t escape two lame DPs like Wright’s. Why was he batting so high in the order anyway?

*About three seconds after a graphic appeared (on the television screen

if you’ve forgotten what one of those looks like) lauding Carlos for

almost never getting caught stealing, he was picked off.

* Aybar’s effortless giving up of that single run in the seventh was a signal that Cincinnati wasn’t done.

Then two worse things happened.

One was Gary Cohen rolling out the Mets’ marvelous Opening Day record

since 1970, which was about to improve to 29-7 as soon as Braden Looper

did what he did so often last year. He didn’t say it quite like that,

but there was a little too much in-the-bag presumptuousness informing

his delivery.

The other was Braden Looper, so reliable in 2004, too easily penciled

in to be the same in 2005. He’d pitched not well toward the end of

spring training (not unlike DeJean, the other so-called given) and I

was hoping it wouldn’t come down to him.

Who is Braden Looper? What did he ever do for us except pile up a bunch

of infrequent saves in almost total anonymity over one year? There is

some degree of Metsworthiness that each player must pass in my judgment

to be forgiven the occasional immense blunder, and while I couldn’t

begin to explain the grading process, I know it when I see it. And I

don’t see it in Looper. Not right now.

This is hasty ingratitude bordering on ignorance (to cite my guru Rob Emproto citing his guru Bill James, you’re never as bad or

as good as you look when you look your worst or your best), but screw

that, man. The guy freaking blew Opening Day for us. Freaking took a

beautiful thing and made it ugly and grotesque, ensuring there’d be

nothing remotely pleasant to think about any earlier than Wednesday

night at ten. Instead of floating on a cloud for the next fifty-plus

hours, I was left with visions of Mike Schmidt in 1974 and Dante

Bichette in 1995, the walkoff weasels of first games past.

BRADEN LOOPER?

Who is he really?

BA! PEN DROOLER

Moments after Joe Randa ruined everything, I typed the name Braden

Looper and stared at it. As difficult as it was for him to pitch like a

Major Leaguer, it was easy to form appropriate anagrams, especially

when you consider all the fine work by his teammates that was

contaminated by his dogass effort…

RE: A POOR BLEND

A season that should have started sky-high now draws attention for the rock-bottom way it has begun…

LO DRAB OPENER

The guy’s pitches were so radioactive that if they took place in an

adult movie, even the most lascivious characters would have to be

covered up with a specially encased protective garment…

LEAD PORN ROBE

We were wrecked by a fastball that was unsafe at any speed…

NADER BLOOPER

The love I felt turned to something much worse…

ARDOR? BLEEP, NO

Now, instead of wanting to live and breathe Mets baseball, I don’t know whether to sulk or just end it all…

BROOD’N LEAPER

Oh, it’s not that bad. It’s just one game. There will probably at

least three or four more this year. I wish I had a distraction, though.

I doubt making some toast or taking a swim would improve my mood…

BREAD NOR POOL

No, I need something stronger…

POLAR BEER? (NOD)

Ahhhh, they really know what they’re brewing in Venezuela.

Still, someone who gets paid to do what he gets paid to do should

benefit from the experience of his mishap and understand that it if he

doesn’t improve, it could portend something ominous…

PRO — LEARN BODE

Because Polar Beer isn’t the only Venezuelan import available on the US market. Right, Uggie?