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Wednesday Afternoon Mets Newsstand

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Another day, another ten runs allowed to Washington's anemic offense. Despite this veritable run orgy the Nationals are still last in the league in runs scored and the Mets -- and their fans -- are left scratching their heads. Tom Glavine screwed the pooch again, allowing six runs on nine hits in five innings, throwing 97 pitches in the process and leaving many with little faith in his ability to pitch a big game when called upon to do so. Glavine was bailed out by the Braves, who hung a ten-spot at Citizen's Bank Park to knock the Mets' magic number down to four with five games remaining.

Glavine wasn't the only problem yesterday, but he was certainly the biggest, allowing four runs to plate before the Mets even came to bat. The offense failed to mount much of an attack until the too-little-too-late rally in the ninth inning. David Wright had a rare off night, grounding into two inning-ending double plays to snuff out potential rallies in the fifth and seventh innings.

Even after Glavine departed the Mets' makeshift bullpen was unable to stem the hemorrhaging of runs. Carlos Muniz made his big league debut and was charged with two runs in an inning and a third. Jorge Sosa had no runs charged against him but allowed a key two-run single to Brian Schneider that plated two of Muniz's runners. Aaron Sele allowed another two runs in two innings of work, effectively putting the game out of reach.

There isn't really much to say about the ninth inning rally that fell short. I suppose it's encouraging that they didn't give up until the final out was recorded, but even a victory last night wouldn't have negated the growing concern that anybody the Mets put on that mound right now is going to fail miserably.

Phil Humber makes his first big league start tonight and, for his part, the kid is excited:

"I definitely haven't pitched in a game that had this kind of magnitude, even the championship game of the College World Series," he said, referring to his win for Rice over Stanford in 2003. "This is a different level."
Yes, it's a big game, but the importance of the Phillies losing last night can't be overstated here. I like that the Mets are giving Humber a shot over retreads like Dave Williams or Brian Lawrence, but Humber is a completely unknown quantity here. If he can manage to allow fewer runs than innings pitched, well, he's done a better job than most of the Proven Veterans™ on this staff in recent weeks.

At the Times-Herald Record today, Michael P. Geffner writes a wretched sob story about how Paul Lo Duca is doing everything he can to will this team to victory but the rest of the team simply isn't complying.

If only the Mets had a roster full of Lo Ducas, instead of being intent on getting rid of the only one they have, maybe then they'd have clinched the division by now and not holding on for dear life.

No matter what, before his career ends here abruptly and unfairly, Lo Duca will keep on taking his hacks, trying to make something happen on the field, trying to wake up something in the clubhouse before it's too late, trying like crazy to force his mates to pick up on his lead.

Lo Duca is a fiery player with a crummy arm and average or worse offensive production for a catcher. Is it "unfair" that he has earned almost $13 million over the past two years and is about to enter his late-thirties? If the Mets were going to hang on to an aging, lousy defensive catcher for sentimental reasons they wouldn't have let Mike Piazza go a couple of years ago. Piazza could still hit; Lo Duca, only marginally so. You can spare me the "poor, unfortunate millionaire ballplayer" bit; it doesn't sell well around here.

The guy responsible for Ecko Unlimited clothing, amongst other pseudo-urban capitalist ventures originating from his parents' New Jersey garage, recently purchased Barry Bonds's 756th homerun ball and, based on the results of a suspicious online poll, will stamp the ball with an asterisk before sending it to Cooperstown. Ecko's actions strike me as those of someone more interested in self-aggrandizement than anything to do with us or baseball. The future fans and students of the game will ultimately judge Barry Bonds and his contemporaries once hindsight can establish a lasting context for the PED explosion; they don't need Marc Ecko and a bunch of internet voters to decide for them.

Though I personally feel that displaying the marked ball makes a mockery of the Hall of Fame and does a disservice to fans of this and future generations, the president of the Hall apparently feels otherwise:

"Since the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum first opened in 1939, the generosity of players, teams and fans, like Marc Ecko, has made it possible to preserve baseball history in Cooperstown. Every one of the nearly 35,000 artifacts in our collection has been donated," said Dale Petroskey, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

"We're grateful to Marc for donating this baseball, which represents one of the game's most historic records. Baseball belongs to the fans -- it always has and always will. The asterisk represents the voice of the fans at this moment in time. The level of interest reflects the strong bond between baseball and American culture. Our responsibility as a history museum is to present every story in proper context, and this ball allows us to do that."

And there it is.