Mar 18

March 18.10: Perez tries to take another step vs. Marlins.

Oliver Perez is left-handed with 90-mph. plus heat. He’ll keep getting chances. When he’s on, as he was last Saturday against Detroit with four hitless innings, he ignites the imagination.

Then again, when he’s the Bad Ollie, he reduces those in the Mets’ dugout to a bunch of babbling, head-scratching messes. Jerry Manuel once said the Bad Ollie kept him on the top step of the dugout ready to spring out.

Perez threw strikes and spotted his pitches against the Tigers, and the Mets want to see more of that tonight against Florida. The Mets continue to hang with Perez because of his high ceiling for potential, which is greater than John Maine or even Mike Pelfrey.

Perez’s command was good in his first two starts, traceable to a consistency in his footwork mechanics that resulted in a comfortable release point.

“It seems so easy when it all works,’’ pitching coach Dan Warthen said.

When Perez has an idea where his pitches are going he becomes more focused and relaxed. The anxiety is gone.

It seems like a little thing, but in the Detroit game Perez cruised and retired his first eight hitters, but then walked the next two. The wind kept Carlos Guillen’s ball in the park. The next inning, Perez regained his focus and set the Tigers down in order.

There are dozens of games when those circumstances produced a different scenario.

It’s only spring, but it beats what we’ve seen before.

Beltran making progress: Carlos Beltran, who’ll open the season on the disabled list following knee surgery, is encouraged by his rehab.

“I’m doing good,’’ Beltran told ESPN Radio. “I come to the ballpark every single day, rehabbing, to try and put myself in the best condition, so when it come time for me to start playing baseball I can go out there and do what I know I can do.’’

Here’s tonight’s batting order vs. Marlins:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Jason Bay, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Alex Cora, SS
Henry Blanco, C
Oliver Perez, LP

Followed by Pedro Feliciano, Hisanori Takahashi, Pat Misch, Ryota Igarashi and Francisco Rodriguez.

Mar 13

March 13.10: Perez tries to improve vs. Tigers.

The Mets liked that Oliver Perez threw strikes is his first start. It would have been nice if he’d gotten some hitters out. The Mets need to see improvement today from Perez in his start against Detroit.

The Mets’ projected rotation of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Perez, John Maine and Jon Niese have all worked, with only Maine pitching effectively. But, it’s early and still time for the others to get into a grove.

Perez is coming off a miserable start last Sunday against Washington in which he gave up five runs on seven hits in three innings.

Perez did come out of the start with not problems to his right knee (offseason surgery) and that he threw 33 of 49 pitches for strikes.

Here’s today’s line-up against Detroit:

Angel Pagan, LF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, DH
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gary Matthews, CF
Rod Barajas, C
Alex Cora, SS

Perez will be followed by Hisanori Takahashi, Nelson Figueroa, Sean Green and Bobby Parnell. If it works out where innings are available, Jenrry Mejia will pitch.

Oct 10

If they’re going to have instant replay, then do it right ….

It’s one thing when a player makes a mistake or a manager a bad decision. That’s part of the game. It’s expected. It is the human element.

It’s also expected umpires will blow calls, but in that case, there’s a vehicle in place to get it right. Baseball has introduced technology to work with the human side. Unfortunately, it’s only used on home runs, but the game is far more than the long ball.

CUZZI: Blown call could alter playoffs.

CUZZI: Blown call could alter playoffs.


Who knows … perhaps it would be the Tigers playing the Yankees had plate umpire Randy Marsh got it right and called it a HBP on Brandon Inge with the bases loaded Tuesday in the Metrodome. Replay got it and the Tigers should have had a run. Maybe they beat the Twins, maybe they don’t, but we shouldn’t be wondering.

And, who knows what Phil Cuzzi saw a ball when he ruled Joe Mauer’s ball off Melky Cabrera’s glove foul instead of fair, which it was by close to half a foot if not more. Later, when it was too late, the umps admitted they got it wrong. Worse, Cuzzi was the extra umpire used for the postseason.

Instead of a runner on second and no outs, the Twins had a man on first with no outs. The Twins eventually loaded the bases with no outs, but with the human element, did not score. They lost in the bottom of the inning.

Had the play been ruled correctly and the inning unfolded as it did, the Twins would have scored. The ump’s admission does not remove them from the brink of elimination.

“The left field umpire Phil Cuzzi saw the ball foul and called what he saw, rendered the ball foul decision,” crew chief Tim Tschida said. “Afterwards, like any close play, we went in and looked at it and it’s a clear indication that an incorrect decision was rendered.”

There’s a vehicle in place to get it right and it should be expanded.

Unlike football where the action takes place anywhere and the view is often obstructed by fly bodies, baseball has fixed locations in the foul lines and bases. It’s far easier to correct plays. Even on trapped balls in the outfield, there’s rarely another body to blur the view.

If the goal is to get it right, then MLB should use everything at its disposal to ensure the game is correctly called. There’s too much at stake otherwise.

Oct 07

Did you see the game?

Yesterday was one of those days when baseball can be a magical sport. The tension was so thick in the Metrodome because of the finality of it. Somebody has to go home.

The Tigers took the lead and the Twins’ luck had run out. But, they regrouped and with the Metrodome as loud as only that place can be, the Tigers came back. It was one of those games where there was tension on every pitch.

If you weren’t a baseball fan then, you would have been later. The game was over four hours, but would anybody have complained about the length. When the game is that good, nobody cares about the time of game. Save overtime, you know when football and basketball will end. The clock tells you so. But, there is no clock in baseball. That’s why it is a timeless sport and always will be.

Just play the game right, and people will watch.

I know I will, and I hope you’ll join me as I blog throughout the playoffs.

Oct 06

Talkin’ Baseball: Tigers at Twins (AL playoff)

The finality of these one-game playoffs breeds the tension and excitement. On the surface, the Twins carry all the momentum and the Tigers are reeling. It’s the second straight year in which the Twins needed a playoff, with last year saw them losing 1-0 at Chicago.

Twins roll into playoffs.

Twins roll into playoffs.

Few could see this happening a month ago when the Twins trailed Detroit by seven games. A week later, they lost All-Star Justin Morneau to a season-ending back injury and most thought their chances were cooked. And, just last week, they were three down with four to play.

While the Tigers went 11-15 down the stretch, the Twins won 16 of 20 and four straight to force the extra game. They are kind of like the roll the Colorado Rockies were on in 2007. The winner of today’s game gets the Yankees, who had the option of having until after today’s game to decide whether to open the ALDS Wednesday or Thursday.

Tigers stagger into playoffs.

Tigers stagger into playoffs.


Gamesmanship all the way, they chose tomorrow, giving today’s winner no chance to catch its breath.

“Everybody wrote off the Twins, it seems like, a long time ago, especially when Morneau went down,” said Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon. “A team needs to keep fighting and they’ve been one of those special teams for a long time. It seems like they don’t give up. That’s the great thing about baseball. You never know.”

The one thing we do know about today’s game is it will be loud.

My plan is to blog as much of the postseason as I can, and that begins today. I don’t have a favorite in this game. The consensus seems to be Detroit has a better chance to unseat the Yankees than Minnesota.