I thought I was prepared for Thursday’s game. I purposely used aromatherapy shampoo before the game to relieve stress and promote harmony in my psyche (and my scalp). And for the most part, it worked. It was a very workmanlike, stress free performance by Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals from where I was sitting in left-center field. No ninth inning meltdowns, no dropped pop-ups by Jason Bay or Scott Hairston (mainly because they didn’t start the game), no Miguel Batista or Braden Looper (and no Miguel Batista ever again apparently), nothing like that. I went to the game, got a tan (okay a burn), and got home in one piece. It was just a run of the mill loss, which is a relief. See, low standards are fun.
But then I came home and put on the YES Network and saw Oliver Perez pitch a 1-2-3 inning against the Yankees. Then I lost it. And if you were checking out my twitter feed at the time, you were witness to it first hand. I don’t think I was necessarily wrong. Hey, when the Mets bullpen shatters hopes and dreams every night and day, and then you see possibly the most selfish and lazy pitcher ever to put on a Mets uniform setting down the Yankees in order after ending his Mets career by not pitching for a month because he couldn’t even be trusted to throw to an opposing pitcher, I think I’m justified in losing my mind.
The other thing I didn’t see until I got home was Tim Byrdak losing his mind after giving up a two run home run to Adam LaRoche. First off, Adam LaRoche has more home runs and RBI’s against the Mets than against any other team. So basically, against the Mets he becomes some hybrid of Larry Jones, Willie Stargell, and Josh Hamilton (but then again, who doesn’t these days.) But more importantly, Byrdak stared down Josh Thole after attempting to shake off a called fastball outside. Thole, obviously getting the calls from the bench, kept putting down one and wiggling it away, and Byrdak threw a meatball to LaRoche. Byrdak, after giving it up, stared down Thole and gave him the business in front of everybody. But then seemed to apologize to him and turn his ire to pitching Dan Warthen on the bench. And that made it official: this particular losing streak has now had everything.
First off, hasn’t Byrdak been on this team long enough to know when the pitches are coming from the bench? With Thole being as young as he is, you’d think that Warthen calling the pitches wouldn’t be a recent event. I concede that Byrdak may not have been in his right mind at that moment, but we knew that when he put on the Hulk Hogan costume. So staring down Thole for all to see when it should have been clear that he was merely the messenger? That’s on Byrdak.
But … when have we gotten to the point that an 11-year veteran can’t have any input into his own pitches? None? This isn’t Matt Harvey on the mound, this is an 11-year player. Yes … Byrdak totally chumped the pitch to LaRoche. Warthen wanted it outside and Byrdak threw it down Broadway. And if anything, Byrdak should have called time and called Thole out if he was unhappy with the pitch selection. And he shouldn’t have showed up his catcher. Valid on all counts. But what also bothered me is that Warthen, clearly in the dugout, motioned to Byrdak that he wanted the ball outside. Tells me that he wants the responsibility to call the pitches with no exception from veterans of the team, yet he doesn’t want to take any responsibility when those pitch selections get hit into the Pepsi Porch. At least Byrdak owned up to his portion of the disaster.
“We can’t let our emotions get the best of us. There’s frustration all around this clubhouse. There’s a lot of guys that are pissed off. Everybody is pissed off. (…) I didn’t execute the pitch. Again, as a bullpen, we need to keep it close there.” -Tim Byrdak
“Warthen was unavailable for comment.”
Oh gee. What a surprise. I would think accountability would come from everybody. But just like in the corporate world, it seems to only be required from the lower levels. I guess baseball really is a business, isn’t it? And hey, as we’ve seen from Byrdak yesterday and from Bobby Parnell in the recent past, pitch selection has been a problem. We might have found our common thread. Maybe this common thread will become accountable on October 4th.
So who was accountable after the game, Byrdak … and for some reason Mike Nickeas, who was sent down after the game to make room for Rob Johnson even though Nickeas had nothing to do with what happened yesterday. Johnson will provide a comfort zone for Harvey’s start tonight since they’ve worked together, so the move makes sense. But for those that feel that switching backup catchers is supposed to make everything better (and yes … Nickeas was terrible), I’d like to introduce you to the rest of the roster.