Braden Looper overthrows and pays for it. Armando Benitez can't be trusted in a big spot. Now substitute the names Bobby Jenks and Brad Lidge and it's like the Mets are closing both ends of this World Series.
The danger in watching post-season play is you tend to familiarize yourself with players in such a compressed timeframe. Bobby Jenks? Saturday night he was large and in charge. You can't beat Bobby Jenks. Bobby Jenks is huge…literally, figuratively, undoubtedly. The White Sox can't go wrong if they call (or pantomime) for Bobby Jenks.
Sunday night Bobby Jenks is Braden Looper or, if you can remember how good another strapping, young, unknown reliever was in Game One of another World Series, Calvin Schiraldi. And Brad Lidge? If he's not Armando reincarnated, let's just say he's got quite the albatross Byung-Hyun around his neck. I've been hearing for two post-seasons how Lidge is the Mariano Rivera of the National League. Now in his last two outings he has given up two of the most dramatic and most crushing home runs that any modern-day reliever has given up in consecutive outings.
This closing business is not the kind of endeavor you score with a pen. Francisco Rodriguez, who gets a lot of those “other than Mariano Rivera” accolades himself was not sharp against the White Sox. Our prospective Christmas present, Billy Wagner, is a prime reason the Astros and not the Phillies made the post-season. And the great Rivera was at the core of the worst choke in sports history a year ago.
So all closers must be non-tendered? No, it's just that none is untouchable, at least not forever. Jenks and Lidge (isn't that who opened for Jeff Foxworthy on his last tour?) will have their good nights again, maybe as soon as Tuesday, but there are no guarantees in ninth innings, particularly World Series ninth innings. There's a tendency to get carried away with closers we're first viewing up close in October. It is balanced by the urge to declare them busts and turn them into national jokes the Monday morning after a Sunday night like both had. Neither view is healthy. No matter how good the closer, he's facing batters on a team that is by definition one of the two best in baseball. Something's bound to give.
Not that this Series isn't fun enough on its own, but for those who like and miss Met angles, here are few others I've noticed:
• Craig Biggio briefly turned into Kaz Matsui handling — or not — a routine pop fly. “I waited a jillion games for this?” he presumably wondered.
• Chris Burke's slide with the hand reaching for the plate was the sort of move Robin Ventura used to execute regularly. I don't think there's anything I enjoy in baseball as much as a brilliant grab of home. I'm not rooting for the Astros, but I am digging on Chris Burke.
• Jose Fucking Vizcaino had to show his wretched form again. Never mind the instant 12th inning, Game One, 2000 ghost that leapt to mind. The replay of him standing on second all pleased and pumped was a Dorian Gray replay of what he did nine years ago against Steve Avery when Avery felt compelled to throw at him and Bobby Jones felt compelled to throw at nobody. I wish Jose Vizcaino would go away already.
• Scott Podsednik was one part Al Weis and one part Lenny Dykstra and, if you need a third part, one part Melvin Mora making with the post-season power where little to none was displayed in the regular season before. I didn't think that sucker was going out. So happy it did.
• Seeing Joe Crede do it all as a third baseman elicited my instinctive reaction of “man, I wish we had a guy like that.” Then I remembered we do have a guy like that. I instantly stopped trading for Joe Crede when I remembered David Wright.
• Roger Clemens sucks. That's not just a Met angle. That's a human angle. Keep icin' that hammy, big boy.
Speaking of Astro starting pitchers of unfortunate distinction and unpleasant association, all the Kids in the Hall fans should remember the show's lesbian league softball sketch between Sappho's Sluggers and Pandora's Jocks. In it, the pitcher for the Jocks, played by Mark McKinney, glared out from behind her glove in a manner that eerily presaged Andy Pettitte doing the same thing. Every October, we get that tight shot of Pettitte with the pouty scowl, and if Stephanie's around, I tell her, “look, it's Pandora's Jocks!” I've been making this observation for ten years and it gets a laugh every time.