Leave it to the Mets to find a way to finish a truly bizarre eight-game road trip with the weirdest moment yet.
They got swept in Florida, saw the owner come down to meet with the manager, lost two starting pitchers from the rotation, lost a game on a David Wright error, benched Wright and lost despite Angel Pagan notching an inside-the-park home run and triple play in the same game, yet all of it fails to measure up to the war of words touched off by the decision to remove John Maine after five pitches on Thursday night.
Maine failed to reach 85 mph on any of his pitches, including the fastballs, and was quickly removed from the game by Jerry Manuel and pitching coach Dan Warthen. After the game, they cited the lack of velocity, a lackluster bullpen session before the game and an altered delivery, two things that made them think Maine was injured and trying to pitch through the pain. Catcher Rod Barajas also said Maine didn't look right, but Maine was less than thrilled with the team's decision-making.
"I didn't get a chance (to make a case to remain in the game). I think that's what I'm most upset about. They said they saw something so they were taking me out. I'm a little hurt by that. I don't have enough clout. I don't have enough star power to say anything ... I would like an explanation. Me throwing 85 miles an hour, I don't think is a good explanation for me to be taken out of the game."
Warthen returned fire, calling Maine a "habitual liar" about his health, although Maine did admit that he always feels pain and said he always tells the team what he's feeling. Maine will see a doctor on Friday, an appointment he was informed of by reporters following the game. Pretty routine day at the office, eh?
Whatever his health, it's hard to picture Maine making his next start for the Mets. He's been awful this season and it is pretty clear the team has no confidence in his ability to pitch right now. How the Mets handle it remains to be seen, but you can be sure it will be comical.
It's the first time in memory that a team has removed a pitcher so quickly because he wasn't throwing fast enough, let alone started a game with someone warming up in the bullpen. If the Mets had doubts about Maine's readiness to pitch on Thursday night, they should never have let him get to the mound in the first place. And if they thought he was hurt, it's a downright firable offense to risk a player's health in that manner. At least they classed it up by calling him a habitual liar in public.
You'd be shocked, but this is Jerry Manuel we're talking about. He commits a downright firable offense just about every night of the week and twice on Sundays.
The Mets won the game, by the way, thanks to the long-awaited arrival of the offense. They pounded 15 hits, David Wright -- remember him, the guy Manuel benched -- had four RBIs and Raul Valdes, forced into an extended night's work, pitched respectably in the 10-7 victory.
Yes, they won on a night when their starter threw five pitches and touched off a war of words one night after losing the inside-the-park/triple play game. Your 2010 New York Mets everybody!