Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Philler up

Ok, the Clippers lost Game 7 last night to the 3-point-chucking Suns in Phoenix. Did anyone other than Roy Trakin ('Why the Clippers are going to beat the Suns,' May 22) and Billy Crystal really think the Clips would move on to the Western finals? One team did knock off a favorite - the Dallas Mavs, who defeated the reigning NBA champion Spurs last night (also a Game 7) in San Antonio in OT. Dirk Nowitski was simply better than Tim Duncan in crunch time; he willed the win. So now it's down to the NBA's Final 4: Dallas vs. Phoenix and Detroit vs. Miami. I predict a Heat-Suns NBA final.

On the home front, the Phillies come to town for a 3-game series at Shea, starting tonight (7:10 pm start on SNY & WFAN). The Mets (26-17) lead the Phils (23-20) by 3 games and the Braves (23-22), who won last night, by 4. For the Mets, it's all about the rotation. This week's game of musical starters will feature Steve Trachsel (Tuesday), Jeremi Gonzalez (Wednesday) and Olay Soler (Thursday). Soler is the Met's 9th starting pitcher of the season, which MLB.com's Marty Noble calls an "extrordinary circumstance." This, he writes, is "more than or as many starters as [the Mets] have used in 9 of their last 20 seasons. Only once in that period have they come close to using so many starters in so few games. In 1987, the year Dwight Gooden began the season in drug rehab, the Mets used 9 starters in their first 49 games... In no other season in the last 20 have the Mets used a 9th pitcher before their 65th game." In other words, the Mets' starting rotation - after Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and Trachsel - is a mess, and doesn't look like it will improve anytime soon.

But after 43 games the Metropolitans remain in 1st place, so why complain? The middle of the batting order - Carloses Beltran and Delgado and David Wright - are averaging 11 HRs, 30 RBI and a .283 average each. With Jose Reyes and Paul Lo Duca setting the table and Xavier Nady in the 7th slot cleaning up the scraps, the Mets have a pretty potent lineup. Now if closer Billy Wagner would stop melting down when he's called upon to save important games and GM Omar Minaya finds a solution to the Mets' weak back-of-the rotation, the kids will be alright.

• The Red Sox beat up on the reeling Yankees, 9-5, at Fenway last night. Curt Schilling earned his 199th career victory and upped his record to 7-2.
• Barry Bonds failed to hit his 715th career HR and surpass Barry Ruth on the all-time list in San Francisco. Bonds went 1 for 3 against the Cards, who lost 9-2 to the Giants.

Granted that "the Mets' starting rotation - after Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine and Trachsel - is a mess." On the other hand, if Trachsel pitches the way he did when I saw him in St. Louis last week, and if Pedro and Glavine continue to hold up (admittedly, a couple of big ifs), then they can get by with what they've got. Think of it as a variation on “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” (except for the fact that nothing good rhymes with "Glavine").
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