1. Daisuke Matsuzaka receives the ball back from Travis d’Arnaud.
2. Daisuke Matsuzaka is thinking.
3. Daisuke Matsuzaka is still thinking.
4. Like most Mets fans, I’m thinking, “When is Daisuke Matsuzaka going to throw the ball?”
5. Daisuke Matsuzaka sure takes his time.
6. Daisuke Matsuzaka’s reputation has preceded him to Citi Field. SNY was prepared Wednesday night with a chart of the pitchers who take the longest time between pitches. FanGraphs calls it “pace,” which in the case of Matsuzaka means you can pace from here to Pretoria — or at least to Astoria — while Matsuzaka thinks between pitches.
7. According to SNY’s chart, only Josh Beckett takes longer than Daisuke Matsuzaka to deliver, although Brooke Buck probably has them both beat in that regard.
8. SNY put a clock on Matsuzaka. And they put Matsuzaka’s face on a clock while the clock ticked away and Matsuzaka didn’t pitch.
9. They didn’t call it the Matsuclocka, but they should have.
10. Earlier in the game, as hard to believe as it is that a nine-inning game that took 3:32 to play had an “earlier,” Howie Rose explained Daisuke Matsuzaka’s famed gyroball: In the time it takes Matsuzaka to throw one pitch, you can leave your seat, buy a gyro, eat it and return to your seat.
11. Howie’s first-inning exasperation provided an opening for Josh Lewin to invoke “tzatziki sauce” for perhaps the first time in major league broadcasting history.
12. Red Barber almost certainly never mentioned tzatziki sauce while sitting in the catbird seat at Ebbets Field, but he did keep an egg timer handy. It was there to remind the Ol’ Redhead that when its three minutes of sand ran out, he should tell his listeners the score of the game.
13. It was a good idea. Red’s listeners might have just been tuning in or not been paying close attention. Or they might have gone off to purchase and consume a gyro while waiting for Daisuke Matsuzaka to deliver his next pitch.
14. From Red Barber’s egg timer to SNY’s Matsuclocka. Who says baseball is timeless?
15. I’ve heard three different pronunciations for gyro and inevitably the person from whom I’m ordering one corrects me, whether I say “Jigh-roh” or “yeer-oh”. A guy I know from Cleveland once insisted it was “yuh-roo,” but he was from Cleveland.
16. Daisuke Matsuzaka came to us from Cleveland’s top farm club. The Indians are in a playoff chase, but they couldn’t use him. The Mets somehow found work for him.
17. Though I wasn’t the least bit excited to have Daisuke Matsuzaka join our ranks, he does hold an incidental place in the history of Faith and Fear in Flushing. Matsuzaka was on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2007 baseball preview issue, the same one that asked readers to choose the blogs they’d like linked on SI.com’s team-specific pages. For the Mets, the choices were Metsblog, Mike’s Mets, Metsgeek and Faith and Fear in Flushing.
18. I remember Matsuzaka being on that cover because a few years later I came across the issue in a pile of papers and wondered why I had saved it. “Oh yeah…” I realized as I flipped through the pages.
19. It was quite a thrill to see our name in Sports Illustrated, but perhaps it was a sign that the jinx associated with that magazine has merit. Matsuzaka was in the minors most of 2013, Metsgeek is now defunct, Mike’s Mets is sadly dormant, we lost the poll to Metsblog and I somehow got talked into recapping Matsuzaka’s endless start Wednesday night even though it was Jason’s turn.
20. In exchange for taking this game, Jason has agreed to take my place at my next colonoscopy, which seems like a fair trade.
21. “As long as the Mets’ trainers aren’t involved” was his only condition.
22. The last time SNY employed a clock on a Mets telecast, according to Gary Cohen, it was to measure how fast Jose Reyes ran from first to third. In the time it takes Daisuke Matsuzaka to deliver a pitch, Jose could march from here to Astoria — or even to Pretoria.
23. I wish Jose would jet from Toronto to Flushing. My pal Joe recently visited Rogers Centre and thoughtfully brought me back a Jose Reyes figurine. The team gave them away previously but later made extras available in the team store (a smart thing to do, dear Mets). Figurine Jose made me miss our all-time shortstop all over again. Reyes looks good in Jays blue, but he’d look even better with splashes of orange.
24. If I can’t have Reyes, I’d welcome back Ruben Tejada…to pitch instead of Daisuke Matsuzaka, I mean.
25. I’d consider welcoming back 42-year-old Steve Trachsel, who, despite all reflexive references to his Matsuzakan pace last night, actually learned to get the ball and throw the ball after a while (albeit a good long while).
26. Twelve years ago — or the rough equivalent of eight Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches — I attended a game in which Steve Trachsel two-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates in two hours and twelve minutes. Granted, it was the end of the season and granted, it was against the Pittsburgh Pirates during their Matsuzaka-like schlep across the sub-.500 desert, but it was as impressive as it was unbelievable.
27. That night the Mets clinched their fifth consecutive record of .500 or better. This year the Mets appear destined for their fifth consecutive record below .500. And if the third-place Phillies don’t get around to falling behind them again, the fourth-place Mets will set a dubious franchise record: five consecutive seasons finishing in the same spot in the standings, though if the spot was first, we wouldn’t call it dubious.
28. Five years of losing baseball. Five years of finishing next-to-last. It’s pretty glum in these parts, but I guess we already knew that. You look at a lineup that went around the horn from third to first with Josh Satin, Justin Turner, Wilmer Flores and Ike Davis, you don’t need a whole lot of statistical support.
29. Plus Daisuke Matsuzaka thinking about throwing his next pitch every fifth day.
30. But even the morning after a desultory 6-2 loss to the Phillies, there is hope if you grope for it.
31. All sorts of Mets farm clubs are headed to the playoffs. That’s gotta be worth something down the road.
32. Hard-throwing Vic Black is the new orange-and-blue reliever in waiting, per various reports regarding the Pirate to be named later from the other day. Black may be an unproven quantity, but you need bullpen depth if you have multiple pitcher injuries and a healthy Daisuke Matsuzaka.
33. The Houston Astros were eliminated from playoff contention last night, August 28. So at least we’re not them.
34. The Pittsburgh Pirates, behind the slugging of new right fielder Marlon Byrd, took another step closer to breaking their 21-year winning-record and playoff-appearance drought. We’re not them yet in either sense of the word, but they present provisional proof that nothing dismal lasts forever.
35. Wilmer Flores might someday learn to field a ground ball at second base. Last night was his first time trying in the major leagues. Give him time. We have nothing but time right now. We have ample opportunity to test anybody anywhere — Ike every day at first, Satin getting comfortable at third, maybe even Tejada playing short should he ever be recalled. We have Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound getting around to throwing 110 pitches in four-and-a-third innings. And we have a month to go.
36. A month to go between each of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s 110 pitches, according to FanGraphs.
37. A suggestion for filling some of that time, offered on the assumption that you treasure outstanding sports announcing…and I assume you do if you’re a Mets fan who immerses yourself in Gary, Keith and Ron on TV and Howie and Josh on the radio.
38. Watch Glickman if you have HBO. It’s a beautifully done documentary on the extraordinary life and career of Marty Glickman, the man who practically invented modern basketball announcing, perfected the art of calling professional football, taught a slew of successors the ins and outs of the booth and, oh by the way, was denied a chance to run in the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Berlin not because he wasn’t fast but because he was Jewish.
39. I heard Marty Glickman’s voice growing up — he did the Giants games my father listened to every Sunday on WNEW — but didn’t know until years later that he was a world-class track star on the level of his teammate Jesse Owens. He never let the anti-Semitism he encountered from Nazi-appeasing U.S. Olympic officials slow him down, and his run as a broadcaster went on nearly forever…or about as long as Daisuke Matsuzaka takes between pitches. Glickman broke into the business while still in college before World War II and called his final Jets game, alongside Dave Jennings, more than a half-century later.
40. Marv Albert learned at the hand of Marty Glickman. Howie Rose learned at the hand of Marv Albert; one of the best parts of Howie’s book is Albert relating in the foreword, “I felt a duty to pass along to Howie what had been passed down to me by Glickman…” Earlier this year, Gary Cohen told Greg Hanlon of New York Capital, “I got an AM radio when I was nine years old, and every night it was Marv Albert, to Lindsey, Ralph and Bob.”
41. There is nothing explicitly Metsian in James L. Freedman’s Glickman, but Marty’s vocal DNA can’t help but crackle through the Met airwaves. So if you need an additional reason to watch this wonderful movie, there you go.
42. Meanwhile, Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to think.
43. It looks as if he’s decided to pitch.
44. And 44 seconds into his thoughts, by the Matsuclocka’s reckoning, Matsuzaka delivers…
It’s just off the plate for ball three.