While this blog will focus mainly on politics viewed through a conservative perspective, I will also occasionally write about my favorite baseball team/bane of my existence, the New York Mets. Much of it will involve me either venting in disgust or looking for an outlet for the rollercoaster of emotions that this team causes on a day-to-day basis; for full coverage of the team, please check out Matt Cerrone’s famous Metsblog (which I’m sure you already know about if you’re a Met fan). Once again, the Mets eeked out a win in the most nervewracking way possible. Down to their final out in the top of the ninth, they loaded the bases against Marlins closer Kevin Gregg before Carlos Bel-TRAN unloaded them with a grand slam, giving the Mets a 5-2 lead. Mets “closer” Luis Ayala then entered the game in the bottom of the frame, turning what should have been a comfortable lead into a nailbiter. Ayala allowed 2 runs and put the go-ahead run on second before inducing Wes Helms into a game-ending groundout. Throughout the latter innings, I was reminded of the Marlon Anderson triple game from last season, during which the Mets scored 4 times in the top of the ninth before Jorge Sosa blew the lead in the bottom half. That one still hurts.

This game was a good microcosm of the Mets’ season post-Randolph: they received good starting pitching from Ollie Perez, played sound defense (with the exception of a Reyes error early on) and hit when they needed to. They also showed grit and a comeback-ability that was sorely absent in 2007 and the early parts of this season. However, once again, the bullpen did not make it easy. Whether or not they make the playoffs this year will be determined almost entirely by how their relievers pitch down the stretch. Since Billy Wagner’s injury, the Mets have been piecing the final innings together, simultaneously pushing their starters to go deeper while attempting to ride whatever relatively “hot” hand has emerged. The very fact that Luis Ayala was on the mound in the ninth, weeks after bringing a plus 5 ERA to New York, just shows the dire straits of this bullpen. Aaron Heilman, despite his heroic three inning performance on Tuesday night, cannot be trusted in a big spot. Duaner Sanchez is still struggling to regain his fastball, while Scott Schoeneweis, Pedro Feliciano and Joe Smith are erratic at best. The most consistent performer of late has been starter-turned-reliever Brian Stokes; I would not be surprised to see him get some closing opportunities in the near future.

I do believe that the combination of the Mets’ pitching and defense, combined with their resurgent offense, should keep them in contention until the very end of the season (at least they’d better, as I’ve now dropped well over $200 for the privilege of attending the final two regular season games at Shea). However, no Met fan will be able to feel any sense of comfort during the final month, for the only guarantee this bullpen offers is that it will continue to remind us of the horrors of The Collapse.