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Pitching In

Steve Trachsel's home run on Tuesday reminded me of the last time a Mets pitcher homered, and if you're visiting this site, chances are, you remember it well. It seems appropriate, given that The Vandal is pitching for the Astros on Thursday night, to re-run, or actually give a first run to an unpublished work I put together a few years ago.
Originally written sometime after June 15, 2002

We know what was really troubling you last Saturday, Mr. Shawn Estes. We could tell by the look on your face when the questions started coming.

“Here we go…” you said. “I get to talk about my offense now.”
Well Shawn, no offense, but with all the talk and hoopla surrounding your pitching matchup with Roger Clemens, we ignored what you’ve brought with your bat to this point in the season. No offense.

This group of Mets pitchers is particularly pathetic at the plate. Al Leiter, even with his two-hit game against the Twins, still gets standing ovations for hitting the ball to the warning track. Jeff D’Amico was thrown out at first base earlier this season on a base hit to right field. Pedro Astacio ranks second to Curt Schilling in most at bats by an active player without a home run. Steve Trachsel is the best of the bunch, hitting a robust .150 after his gem against the Minnesota Twins.

You were supposed to change things Shawn. At least that’s what Bobby Valentine said on WFAN just days after you were acquired from the San Francisco Giants this off-season. But the Mets offensive malaise that has claimed just about every newcomer has gotten to you as well. The 0-for-18 drought hasn’t helped your cause any, especially considering the way you were pitching since 1-hitting the Milewaukee Brewers.

Last Saturday thankfully there was change. Lets call it closure since that was the buzzword regarding your pitch that sailed behind Roger Clemens’ behind. It came with the home run you hit and the perfect sacrifice bunt you placed that produced a run due to alert baserunning by Rey Ordonez.

We know that your hitting struggles were what was costing you sleep and not the other things on your mind, like proving yourself to your teammates. You admitted “I’m glad it’s over with” twice within the first minute of your postgame press conference.

“Shawn is a lot better hitter than what he had shown,’’ said Mets manager Bobby Valentine.

The home run, on a high fastball, was similar to the two previous you had hit. The way you talked, it was clear you knew something about hitting, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that you hit eight home runs in your senior year of high school.

“I knew I had to gear up for a fastball, so I did,’’ Estes said. “I realized if I got a fastball that I could turn on it. I had hit a couple of home runs and I didn’t feel them. I didn’t feel the ball hit the bat. After that I was numb. I didn’t hear the crowd. It was like running in a tunnel. I know Roger got a double (later in the game), but I think I one-upped him.’’

It was humorous to us that the ball landed right below the retired uniform number 37, for Casey Stengel. “Amazing, amazing, amazing,’’ the Ole Perfesser would have said.

You could see too the slight glimmer in your eye and the tiniest of smiles. The one that said “I got Roger and I got him good.” Of course, you did your best Mike Piazza impression so not to draw any ire.

“I was trying my hardest not to smile and to keep a stone face,’’ Estes said. “You don’t want to show anyone up. I also made sure to touch all (the bases). That’s pretty important.

Yes it was, Shawn. So we promise now that we won’t write about the bad-hitting pitchers of the New Yoerk Mets anymore- at least until we need to do something that will generate a little controversy. There hasn’t been much of that around here, has there?

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