Mike Pelfrey was a clear leader, before the game even began, in the effort to win the first Wilpon Award. He had the odds stacked against him: he’s not ace material, he was way overmatched against Josh Johnson, and he plays for the New York Mets. It was almost as if he never stood a chance of not winning the award.
Although, like most baseball games, there were twists and turns that no one could have anticipated. Heading into the 7th inning it looked as if the Mets first game, and possibly their entire season, would be bereft of hits. They were anemic, pathetic, and laughable. Jose Reyes came the closest to a hit, leading off the game, when he didn’t outrun a Baltimore chop to second baseman, and perennial loafer, Omar Infante.
Jose Reyes thinking about his problems
Jose Reyes continued to go 0-4 at the plate, and only saved himself from being awarded the first Wilpon, when he returned the favor, and made a daring throw, with 1 out in the 5th and runners at 2nd and 3rd, and nabbed Infante at the plate. Had the play gone awry and the Marlins scored their 5th run of the game, surely Reyes would be on the hook. But alas as the fates would have it Jose is merely a footnote in this, the first chapter, of the book of failure.
Of course whenever a team loses the Manager is easiest to blame. More often than not it is the manager’s decisions in the crucial moments that can be most easily scrutinized. The closest thing the Mets had to a crucial moment decision was when Collins pulled Thole in the top of the 7th for a pinch hitter. After Harris had broken up the no-no with a double; and Beltran followed him with a double of his own, racking up the Mets’ first RBI of the season; Pagan singled; and finally Emaus walked, loading the bases, with two outs; Collins made his move. Playing the lefty-righty match-up game, he pinch hit with Scott Hairston (a player, Alderson must have forgotten to cut) who quickly struck out. Perhaps the move to show a complete lack of confidence in you starting catcher’s offensive ability isn’t the worst decision a Mets manager has ever made, in an opening day, but it’s close.
One of the unsung failures of this team’s freshman effort was ginger-beard, Blaine Boyer. Coming in to relieve us all of the tragedy that was Mike Pelfrey’s
Are you kidding me?
opening day effort, Boyer only pitched to 3 batters. Inheriting two runners, he was not held accountable for the run that crossed the plate during his tenure, but his overall aura reeks of impending failure. At the point when the other member of the highly vaulted, Mets’ bullpen allowed a run, my main focus wasn’t on the game; it was cleaning up all the vomit that had come spraying out of my person. Therefore Boyer embodies all that took place defensively after the 5th inning.
So we come back to Mike Pelfrey. Big Pelf. Ace. Number 1. Excuse me, as now there is more vomit for me to clean. Mike Pelfrey is a head case. When the bases were loaded we all knew the inevitable. It was a microcosm for the whole season. Not to beat a dead horse, but it was as if we were watching a movie about Napolean and assuming, in this fictionalized version, Waterloo would end in victory. Pelf never even stood a chance. I knew, you knew, the batter knew, Dan Warthen knew, even Pelfrey knew. You could see it in his eyes, on his face, after each foul ball, it was as if he was thinking “I can’t believe he didn’t hit a home run, okay, well I guess I’ll try again.” As soon as the grand slam was over Pelf, returning to his former self, retired the last two batters with ease. Of course it helped that one of them was the pitcher.
The debate was a close one in my mind, between Collins and Pelfrey. It was Pelfrey who lost the game, but it was Collins who chose to start him. Of course by that logic it was Alderson who chose not to get a better opening day starter, and
Serving up the first Wilpon Award
then of course it was Fred and Jeff Wilpon who decided to ruin everything I loved. As the rabbit hole goes, I suppose, we could just give the first award to Adam & Eve, and I was seriously considering it until I read this quote: “If I could end up being like [Johnson], that’d be great. But in reality, I think he’s a lot farther ahead than I am in his career. The guy’s obviously very, very talented and he was obviously very, very good tonight.” Mike Pelfrey and Josh Johnson are both 27 years old. Mike Pelfrey wins the first Wilpon Award.