The Mets and Cardinals are mirror images in many ways. Neither team has great starting pitching and therefore both rely heavily on their bullpens for victories. Both teams had Septembers they would rather forget and both have star players who are now on the disabled list. The Mets will be without pitchers Pedro Martinez and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez while outfielder Cliff Floyd is listed as doubtful, and the Cards will be without starting pitcher Mark Mulder and in all likelihood third baseman Scott Rolen.
Our Flushing heroes should emerge victorious in the National League Championship Series but don’t expect them to sweep the Cards the way they did the Dodgers. Mets manager Willie Randolph is going to have to get more than five innings from starters John Maine and Steve Trachsel, and the entire pitching staff is going to have to a do a better job containing Cardinals superstar hitter Albert Pujols than they did the Dodgers’ best hitter, Jeff Kent, who tormented his old team.
I admire Dodgers manager Grady Little, who had to deal with quite a bit of adversity in the National League Division Series. In Game 1, two Dodgers runners, Jeff Kent and JD Drew, were thrown out at home plate on the same play, which was the probable turning point of the playoff series. Rather than express anger after the game, Little showed a great sense of humor as he quipped, “There was another example of an L.A. traffic jam.” He then joked about how the team practiced that play during spring training. Little, though, did not joke about losing the services of his setup relief pitcher Joe Beimel. Beimel stupidly cut his hand on a glass in a Manhattan bar in an incident that has yet to be totally explained.
Longtime Mets reliever and St. John’s alum John Franco was reporting on the Dodgers Mets series for mlb.com. I told Franco that current Mets closer Billy Wagner reminded me of him after he nearly blew a two run ninth inning lead in the first game. “Nah. I used to just give up walks and bloop singles. Never hard hit doubles,” Franco replied with a devilish smile.
As expected, Shea Stadium drew a large number of celebrities as Queens College alum Jerry Seinfeld joined Queens natives Donald Trump and Ray Romano in the box seats. Romano is a late jumper on the Mets bandwagon because even though he grew up in Forest Hills, he is a big Yankees fan.
Last week I wrote that the city of Detroit should throw a ticker tape parade for the Tigers if they were to win a single game against the Yankees in that playoff series. Of course what I meant to write was that Mayor Bloomberg should throw a ticker tape parade down Broadway if the Yankees were to take a game from the upstart Tigers.
Fox television executives were probably more inconsolable than George Steinbrenner after the Yankees were shockingly booted from the post season. No team draws viewers like the Yankees since people either want them to win or root vociferously for their defeat. Not only does the absence of the Yankees mean lower than expected ratings for Fox in the American League Championship Series, but it also means that the network will have a harder time promoting its new fall programs such as “Standoff,” “‘Til Death,” and its competitor to “Saturday Night Live,” the clever “Talk Show With Spike Feresten.”
David Hill, Fox Sports president, had to certainly have hoped that the Yankees could have at least made it a five game series with the Tigers so that Fox could put a dent in the ratings of NBC’s so far successful Sunday night NFL package.