At week's beginning, I questioned the efficacy of the Mets “watch parties” promoted by bars here and there. Well, I just came home from one and have to say they can be plenty of fun.
They give you something to do while the Mets aren't scoring.
The occasion was the launch of everybody's favorite book — surely it will be yours if you purchase a copy — Mets By The Numbers. Authors Jon Springer and Matt Silverman were there along with several members of the MBTN community who double as friends of FAFIF. A good time was had by all who weren't paying close attention to what was transpiring in Atlanta.
Which was absolutely nothing, save for the valiant, unsupported pitching of Johan Santana who must not have heard this is how we treat our aces.
Because I was deep into chicken wings and conversation, I didn't get a good look at John Smoltz, though after two decades, I think I've seen all I ever need to see of that mangy old goat. Baseball-Reference says Smoltz is a few games over .500 versus the Mets. I'm sure he's 500 games over and maybe we've won a few. It always looks worse when you're 2-3 in your bounceback season, but man did the Mets do anything today other than inspire us to order another round of Black & Tans?
The Braves aren't The Braves anymore, but they're still the Braves. I hope I've made myself clear. If I haven't, this is sort of what I mean: When the Mets go out and make a move, even a really good move, the Braves go out and match or trump it.
• In the winter of '02, as we're high-fiving over the imminent contributions of Robbie Alomar and Mo Vaughn, they get Gary Sheffield.
• Three years later, as we are ascending the ranks thanks to Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, they manage to come up with Tim Hudson.
• Last summer, moderately jubilant that we have secured the pennant drive aid of Luis Castillo, they go out and grab Mark Teixeira, who was re-signed in January for exactly one year (whereas, as my partner so accurately put it, we filled a firehose with money and blasted Luis green in the face).
This offseason, the offseason of Santana, the Braves didn't match Johan. You don't match Johan. It was all they could do to replace Andruw Jones with Mark Kotsay. But they keep reviving bleeping John Smoltz. John Smoltz won't age. John Smoltz won't fall to pieces. Every series you turn around, John Smoltz is waiting to face the Mets. This was his 69th appearance lifetime against us, his 41st start. Both are career highs. His first start was at Shea Stadium in 1988, back when Rick Astley was riding high and the Soviet Union was at least riding. He won then, he wins now. He will, nuts to the knots behind his shoulder, keep winning against the Mets at Turner Field, at Citi Field, at whatever succeeds Citi Field. The John Smoltz Memorial Classic they'll call it. Buy a brick before they're all gone.
When it comes to pitching, John Smoltz knows his onions.
On our side of the fence, the Mets clearly aren't clicking, save for Santana and Church. Let's hope they can resist the pull of their new teammates and their old karma. It's already begun to suck Schneider and Pagan into that stale and dismal vortex that seems unchanged from last September, the one that makes you forget we're only five games into 2008. Funny, I thought that's what the Black & Tans were for.