Image via WikipediaAaron Heilman pitched the eighth inning tonight despite having three poor performances to start the season. I have to admit that I thought it would be better to put him in a less stressful position. Willie Randolph is loyal to his veteran players, sometimes to a fault. He kept Heilman in his normal eighth inning role.
Heilman is pitching to a 9.00 ERA so far this year and has been the goat of several recent games. He even walked two batters in his appearance tonight.
Clearly Randolph is standing by Heilman as his setup man but the leash has to be shorter than when the season began last week. I don’t sense any sentiment among Mets fans that Heilman is the closer of the future for the Mets. Billy Wagner is still under contract for next season so there’s no immediate need for concern. I like Heilman’s stuff as a setup man and hope tonight’s eighth inning is a sign that he’s back on track.
A lot has been written over the past week or so about the Mets playing in the civil rights game tomorrow. Willie Randolph is the first African-American manager in New York and Omar Minaya is of Latin descent. That alone should qualify the Mets as a logical choice for the game.
Some writers have questioned Major League Baseball’s choice of the Mets. The roster has plenty of Latin players, there’s no denying that. Those same Latin players wouldn’t be in the game today if it wasn’t for the civil rights movement. Baseball would still be the best white players in the world, not the best players.
I read a column by Anthony DiComo at MLB.com. It’s a good description of Randolph’s thoughts and feelings about participating in the Civil Rights Game. Being part of this country’s white majority, it’s difficult for me to fathom what the feelings and experiences of a minority in this country must be like.
The Mets visit to Memphis tomorrow prompted me to do some reading. I wanted to share with you some of the things that I found by looking around the Internet on the topic of civil rights. We all learned in school about Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King, jr. But those school days are long past for me and maybe some of you. The Civil Rights Game prompted me to take a refresher class to find out, as an adult, what I learned about as a child and adolescent.
I started with Martin Luther King, jr. The obvious choice when beginning a search on civil rights. I read the Wikipedia profile on him and was amazed by his accomplishments. He died three months after his 39th birthday, the same age that I am now. The achievements during those 39 years make me feel like I haven’t done anything yet. He was murdered in Memphis 40 years ago next week. He went to college at 15 after skipping two grades in high school. The impact he had on society today, awards he won and recognition he received are so numerous that I would point you to Google for an education. I was disappointed at the King Center website but I’m sure it’s best visited in person.
I decided to watch the “I Have A Dream” speech that he made in Washington, D.C. 45 years ago. It’s 12 minutes long and I included it here for you to see. This has to be considered one of the best and most inspiring public speeches in this country’s history. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen the full speech before today. I don’t know why that is but I’ve got the same excuses that everyone else does. I’m too busy with the things in my life that I choose to spend my time on. I’m glad that changed today.
Tomorrow I’m going to read about Jackie Robinson. For now, watch this speech and I hope it inspires you too.
Willie Randolph is number one on a recent list of managers that need to win now. The Mets aren’t built for the future. They traded some of that away for Johan Santana. Professional sports teams don’t have “rebuilding” years in New York, especially with a new stadium coming next season. The Mets are built to win now.
It’s difficult to even write about “The Collapse” of last season. It was devastating for fans, players, and management. Willie Randolph was at the helm and will be remembered with Gene Mauch’s 1964 Phillies as the worst late season drop ever.
I have to agree with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Willie has to win now or go.
Ben Shipgel of the NY Times wrote an excellent column about the meaning of the Civil Rights Game next Saturday to Willie Randolph. This is an important game for every minority in the game not just African-Americans. The Mets have even adopted aspects of Jackie Robinson’s legacy as a National League player from New York. We know how important Robinson’s historical career is to Fred Wilpon.
I’ve read some articles questioning the choice of the Mets for the game based on the racial makeup of the roster. Although there are few African-Americans on the Mets roster, and Major League Baseball in general I disagree with the view that African-Americans are the only players impacted by the social change that occurred when Jackie Robinson began playing for the Dodgers in 1947. The door was opened for Latin, Japanese, and Korean players that play throughout the league now.
It was a smart choice by MLB to have two big market teams in the game to draw maximum attention to an exhibition game that’s more than just an exhibition.
SI.com reports that Willie Randolph says that he won’t have Pedro Martinez on a pitch count again this season. I don’t buy it! Randolph has managed the pitching staff in the classic late 20th-early 21st century fashion. He employs pitch counts and rarely lets starters finish games. He uses the formula late inning relievers regardless of the situational aspects of the games and point in the season.
Certainly Willie isn’t the only manager employing these tactics, as a matter of fact he’s in the company of almost every manager in baseball. It’s the style of the game today to closely manage starting pitchers to limit innings. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it may keep pitchers from burning their arms, shoulders, and elbows out.
I don’t buy that Willie will change his style this year. Specifically, changing his style with Martinez doesn’t make sense. He’s 36 years old this season and coming off a 2007 in which he only made five starts at the end of the year due to injury. Martinez hasn’t pitched a complete game since 2005 (he had 4 in 31 starts).
I could see Willie running Oliver Perez and John Maine deeper into games. I’d like to see that. They’re younger players without a recent history of injury.
Time will tell but I’m not buying Willie’s big talk during spring training. It doesn’t jive with his historical record and common sense.
Photo courtesy of alpineinc
Click here to listen to Mike and the Mad Dog’s interview with Willie today (4/4/07). He addressed all of the pertinent topics: Milledge/Green, the rotation, Burgos, Smith, etc. It was a very good interview. Get ready for the sweep tonight.