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Aug 17 2005 10:02 PM

Yancy did you see this in today's NYPost?


THE METS are the worst kind of tease when they play this well, when they pitch this well, when they hit this well. They are the worst kind of illusion.

The Mets would do everyone a solid if they simply made up their minds:

Are they as good as they looked last night during a workmanlike 6-2 win over the Pirates, as they looked on their previous homestand? If so, would it be too much to ask them to rattle off eight straight, or 12 out of 14, so they finally could substantiate their claim as contenders?

Or are they as brutal as they've looked in just about every National League port of call this year? If so, would it be so terrible if they just dropped eight or nine in a row and ended this charade for good?

In or out? Out or in?

"I've said all along that we're one good hot streak away from climbing to the top of the wild-card list," GM Omar Minaya said last night. "We need to get well above .500. And the season is starting to get a little short."

The rest of the National League keeps taunting the Mets every bit as audaciously as the Mets have teased their fans. The Astros lost to the Cubs last night. The Marlins lost to the Padres. The Braves even lost to the Dodgers, and the Braves never lose. Somehow, despite treading water for 41/2 months, the Mets wake up this morning 31/2 games out of a playoff spot.

"We still have a chance," Carlos Beltran said last night. "I believe that."

That faith is keeping him off an operating table this week, despite the fact he has broken bones in his face that surely could stand to be repaired. Six days ago, Beltran was one-half of what may well be the most horrific outfield collision in baseball history. There isn't a soul alive who would begrudge him a stay on the disabled list to get well.

"I had a choice," Beltran said, "and I chose to not have the surgery so I can get back with this team and help it win."

There's a small but vocal segment of Mets fans who will accept Beltran's decision with a shrug and a yawn, who come to Shea Stadium and boo an All-Star player 41/2 months into a seven-year deal, who clutter talk radio and jam up columnists' e-mail bins, who then forge off to places like and really let Beltran have it.

"The second coming of George Foster?" asks one blogger named "Jimmy." "It's looking like it."

"I can't believe we're paying this guy $119 million to do what Timo Perez did with slightly more power," says "Mr. Sparkle."

Tough room.

But, then, Beltran always has been a lot tougher player than his cool facade would indicate. The Mets have scraped by in his absence. But he is still their best player. He is still the most accomplished at going first-to-third, at chasing down long outfield flies that lesser fielders turn into triples. Despite the dearth of gaudy numbers, he is still the Mets' grandest hope to make something out of this season.

So, yesterday, he shagged a couple of pregame flies on the soggy Shea Stadium turf. He sprinted on the warning track. He took some live batting practice in the cages behind the first-base line. And he declared himself ready to resume work, pending the invention of whatever contraption the Mets can come up with to protect his face from further harm.

"There'll be no pressure on Carlos to come back," Willie Randolph said. "He'll only come back when everyone is agreed that he can come back. We won't rush him. We won't ask him to play before he's ready."

They won't talk him out of it, either.

In or out? Out or in?

Without Beltran, the answer's a simple one. With him, it might be the same one. Sooner or later, the Mets have to find out. Sooner or later, they'll have to declare themselves.

Aug 17 2005 10:05 PM

I always wondered if Mr. Sparkle was one of us

Johnny Dickshot
Aug 17 2005 10:08 PM

If I were YSG, I'd fire Mr. Sparkle.

Edgy DC
Aug 17 2005 10:12 PM

Mr. Sparkle is a world-class sourpuss. His prolific whining is maybe the worst thing at UMDb.

Anyhow, the writer misuses the word "blogger," when he means "poster."

Half of me always wanted to suggest to Yance that he disallow "memories" from being posted about players during their actual tenure. Because people abuse the place and use it to blow off steam.

That's what places like this are for.

Congrats on the publicity, Yance.

Yancy Street Gang
Aug 18 2005 09:20 AM

Edgy DC wrote:
Half of me always wanted to suggest to Yance that he disallow "memories" from being posted about players during their actual tenure. Because people abuse the place and use it to blow off steam.

That's what places like this are for.

Congrats on the publicity, Yance.

Thanks. Although it makes the UMDB seem more like a rant site than what it really is, it is cool to get a major media mention. (So far the biggest mentions I know of are from Sid Rosenberg and the New York Post. Neither would have been my first choice, but what the heck.)

And I'm with you on your thought about current Mets players. I considered that early on, but went with the other half of me that wanted every player to be available for posts.

One way I balance both halves is, after time has passed, by going back and reviewing posts made in the heat of the moment. I retroactively removed a bunch of Steve Trachsel posts from 2001, for example.

In the long run, I'll probably leave one or two sample posts from Beltran's first year, so there's a record of the frustration that some fans felt about his non-spectacular performance. If Sparkle's post survives (and it may not) he may end up looking foolishly premature if Beltran wins six MVP's in a row starting in 2006.

Edgy DC
Aug 18 2005 09:32 AM

The Mr. Rogers "Can you say...?" punchline is unfunny and has been for about 16 years.

Johnny Dickshot
Aug 18 2005 09:36 AM

I see where you're in a tight spot.

Seems though that the persons making foolish comments one day are the most likely to go toss up another in two weeks when the situation changes. To me that seems to sort of circumvent and cheapen the greater usefulness of the "memory" section which if approached with even the slightest bit of perspective is a terrific, unique source of Met history. Maybe you can somehow limit current players memories to 1 per user, or something, at least till they retire.

On a semi-related note, the sabermetrician known on the 'Net as "tangotiger" is performing an interesting experiment which you all should particpate in. It's a "fan's scouting report" which gathers and aggregates evaluations of player's defensive skills. The idea is, fans like you and me see the games so often, that gathering enough collective observations can theoretically be as accurate an assessment of defense as any out there.

I participated last 2 years and somewhere on there you may find the results. "You can observe a lot just by watching." This year's ballot is here:


Yancy Street Gang
Aug 18 2005 09:44 AM

I wonder if Mr. Sparkle knows that he was quoted in the New York Post.

If so, he's probably strutting around with a bigger head than he deserves.

Edgy DC
Aug 18 2005 09:45 AM

I've partiipated in that also.

But I suspect that the "home scorer" factor would be in effect x 10,000.

And, at least with the home scorer factor, there's only one scorer per ballpark, so you hope it would even out. But if 500 Yankee fans think Derek Jeter has a great arm from the hole and Jack Wilson doesn't, that'll likely only be offset by a dozen Pirate fans.

Maybe he's weighing his scores to account for that.

Where do you think one should score David Wright's tendency to hiccup when making relatively easy plays in relatively high-stress situations? "Release / Footwork "?

Aug 18 2005 09:49 AM

Congrats, Yancy.

Beltran the most accomplished at going from first to third? What about Reyes? And I'm not a Beltran knocker.

Aug 18 2005 09:54 AM

Now its Mr. Sparkle?

Will you folks please put your names on the back of your uniforms?


Aug 18 2005 10:06 AM

Having gone to high school with Mr. Vaccaro (he's 3 years older than I am) and having confirmed this with him during some phoners on my show, I can attest to him being a Mets fan from way back (in fact, when he was in college at St. Bonaventure, he would drive to the Binghamton area just to hear Bob Murphy on the radio). Needless to say, my guess is that he peruses the site--for nostalgic reasons--quite often, so it's great that he gave it a plug.

Aug 18 2005 02:08 PM

Congrats on the mention, Yancy! :)

We've worked with Vaccaro at NYYFans so he's definitely very attuned to the online fans. I suspect he probably cruises a number of baseball fan forums for the various teams. He's a good guy and his book on the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry is pretty good too.