After listening to today's indignities I still can't rekindle my loathing for those guys wearing Braves uniforms — beating us was their job, after all. But I am pretty annoyed with Tom Glavine.
The Braves said it themselves, after the game. Andruw Jones talked about how they know what Glavine will do every time they face him. John Smoltz discussed how stubborn Glavine is about sticking to his paint-the-corners strategy. You could look it up. And that's what's so infuriating: The Braves had basically stopped worrying about the inside of the plate, standing practically on it in order to wail away at suddenly reachable changeups meant to be fished for by batters standing slightly back from the plate where they belong. And Glavine kept throwing slop off the plate and watching it get hit all over creation. Again and again and again.
So what's a veteran pitcher to do? Keep missing that inside pitch and hope the home-plate ump will drift into a reverie, think it's several years ago in Atlanta, and therefore magically widen the strike zone? Keep throwing those changeups and hope that the Braves will suddenly undergo mass amnesia, or the Earth will brush by a space-time singularity that repeals the laws of physics? Can anyone else think of something a veteran pitcher whose foes are practically standing on the freaking plate could do? What's that? Mr. Gibson, I see your hand is up. I can hear you, Mr. Drysdale, please wait until you're called upon. Yes, Mr. Maglie, I see you smiling.
Sit someone down. Move them off the plate. I'm not advocating a Clemens head shot after a home run — just suggesting that Glavine might have thought about reclaiming his own turf. I know I couldn't see the game, Dolans be praised, but I certainly didn't hear so much as a gasp from the Shea crowd to indicate some Brave at least had to pull his arms back. Am I insane? Is owning the plate so out of fashion? Did Don Fehr and Gene Orza forbid it? And while we're on the subject, is Rick Peterson forbidden from visiting the mound? Is there something in Glavine's contract guaranteeing he doesn't have to talk to anyone wearing the same uniform?
We were talking earlier (or typing, or blogging, or whatever) about why we've never warmed up to Glavine. I felt like the real reasons eluded me then; today I think I found at least one of them: It's that Glavine seems so bloodless about everything, including winning and losing. You almost get the sense he isn't really in the game; it's more like he's standing on the mound with events happening around him, and all those other events are almost incidental. He repeats the very small set of things that once worked for Tom Glavine, and he appears singularly uninterested in doing different things because of anything so trivial as the outcome. Maybe that's OK in Atlanta, with its sleepy media and thousands of unsold playoff seats, but it's not OK here. Losing may be a sin in New York, but it's not a mortal sin — that's reserved for not seeming to care.
Now, I'm sure Glavine cares. But caring has to include realizing that that very small set of Glavine-esque things no longer works consistently enough to be acceptable — not against the Braves, but more importantly not against the rest of the league, either. And despite Glavine's talk today of how it's only April, this is not an April 2005 problem: Glavine hasn't been acceptably consistent since 2002. He's never had to weather the transformation from power pitcher to wily veteran, but it's obvious some transformation is required. He's become an average pitcher, and it's disappointing — as a baseball fan, not just as a Met fan — to think his last three or four years will be average years. At least it's disappointing to me. I sure hope it's disappointing to Glavine.
While we're on the subject, Jose Reyes also needs to change. Specifically, he needs to change his spot in the lineup. But I'm too worked up to tackle that one right now. Anyway, something tells me there'll be other opportunities for chewing that particular problem over.