I'm officially back from honeymoon (actually, I got back to New Jersey on Saturday night), and as much as I'll miss Maui for its climate and its culture, I am happy to be back with my internets, HDTV and our dog Oscar.
We missed Oscar so much in fact that we went out Monday night and bought another dog, something of a wedding present to ourselves. After bringing him home and trying out several names on his first walk, we settled on "Riley", so that's what he's called ("Henry" and "Sammy" didn't make the cut, nor did my choices of "Norbert" or "Lamont"). Riley and Oscar are both Cairn Terriers, a breed which can often resemble the Westie if the coat is light enough. I'm allergic to most dogs, but Cairns have hair and are hypo-allergenic, so that's how we settled on this particular breed.
It's good to be back, and big thanks go to kingcriticial, Mr. Met and anonymous for steering the ship while I was away, as well as to all of you, the heroes, for reading this site so devotedly.
I arrived back home on the heels of the Mets home sweep of the Rockies, with each of the three victories capped off by a Billy Wagner save. Wagner fourteen strikeouts and just two walks in August, spanning eleven games (nine saves) and 10.1 innings. Also in August, the formerly-struggling Aaron Heilman has pitched to a 2.13 ERA as Wagner's primary setup man, striking out 15 and walking five in 12.2 innings while not allowing a homerun.
Then on Monday it was revealed that Tom Glavine had a "mystery" ailment and that fingers on his pitching hand felt cold and numb. We all expected the worst, but he's actually okay and may be on a mound near you within a week or so. With uncertainty already surrounding Pedro Martinez the Mets would have been in a most precarious situation heading into the playoffs with their rotation in shambles. Glavine has struggled since May, but who knows if this affliction has been with him for some time and only escalated recently. Glavine has always stated that he's a "feel" pitcher, and when your fingers go numb you have an awful hard time feeling much of anything.
Then yesterday the Mets finally acquired Shawn Green from the Diamondbacks in a move that had been rumored for almost two weeks. The Mets send farmhand Evan MacLane (whom I talk a bit about over at MetsGeek) and get back a wad of cash from Arizona. Baseball Prospectus writer-turned Blue Jays executive-turned ESPN.com writer Keith Law had this to say about Green:
He hasn't been the same hitter since he left Los Angeles, and his bat looks particularly slow this year. He's become a big liability in left since he doesn't have much range and can't throw at all due to repeated shoulder injuries. And although he's had a bit of a reverse split this year, he's been useless against left-handed pitchers for several years now. A bad defensive player with mediocre offensive abilities and platoon issues isn't much of an asset. If Cliff Floyd can't return to play in the playoffs -- and it's possible he'll only be able to hit but not to field -- Green represents a marginal upgrade over Ricky Ledee or Endy Chavez.(source = ESPN Insider -- subscription)
I don't have any real problem with this trade, though it may take some playing time away from Lastings Milledge, who would surely benefit from plenty of action over the next five weeks as the Mets prepare for October. Otherwise, this move really only cost the Mets money. I understand that Green and Carlos Delgado were buddies from back when Green played in Toronto, so the Mets may be hoping that they can reconnect and that a change of scenery might help wake up his bat (though the same theory didn't pan out when Green was traded from Los Angeles to Arizona).
And then last night, in one of the most thrilling games in an otherwise thrilling season, the Mets survive two homeruns and seven RBI from Albert Pujols to overcome a six-run deficit and beat the Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth on Carlos Beltran's walk-off homerun. Carlos Delgado added two homeruns of his own, including the 400th of his career, a grand slam that brought the Mets to within 7-5. Beltran's blast, though, was surreal, as Gary Cohen had just finished articulating how he could send everyone home with one swing of the bat. And that quickly, the ball left the park to Cohen's "IT'S OUTTA HERE! OUTTA HERE!" ovations, bringing home Paul Lo Duca with the tying run, who was closely followed by Beltran himself with the now-ubiquitous high-jump-into-the-plate and it's friend, the obligatory mob-by-jubilant-teammate melee. Good to be back indeed.