Dae-Sung Koo still doesn’t know all that much about baseball here in the United States. But his education is an ongoing process and the Korean reliever learned a very important lesson yesterday.
Grooving a 3-0 fastball to Carlos Delgado is a mistake in any language.
Brought in specifically to face the Florida Marlins first baseman, Koo threw one right down Main Street and Delgado nearly hit it all the way to South Beach. His three-run homer in the seventh inning erased a one-run Mets lead and helped the Marlins avert the sweep with a 6-3 victory.
“I didn’t expect him to swing at it,” the reliever said. “Most of the batters in Korea and Japan don’t swing.”
Of course, Koo isn’t in the Far East anymore. And, as he found out the hard way that when major-league hitters see a fastball that’s just begging to be hit, they usually oblige.
“That was about as grooved as you can groove one,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said.
“I’m employee No. 25,” Delgado said when asked if he knew he had the green light. “I follow orders.”
(Delgado, center, congratulates reliever Todd Jones, left, on a) staying straight, b) not engaging in sex outside of marriage and c) earning his 8th save, not necessarily in that order).
In Koo’s defense, even the screamers doing the game for Fox Sports Miami were predicting that Delgado would take the 3-0 pitch (presumably neither of those guys should be relieving for the Mets, either). I’m not sure if Mike Difelice has learned how to say ‘don’t throw one right down the middle to Carlos Delgado” in multiple languages, but had Koo walked the bases full, we’d probably be hearing about it today as well.
The Bergen Record’s Steve Popper submits that the Mets are haunted by Delgado’s decision to spurn New York’s offer and instead sign with the Marlins, while the Times’ Charlie Nobles wonders along with the rest of us when Carlos Beltran will return to the starting lineup. (Maybe tuesday, maybe not.) Meanwhile, Newsday’s Jon Heyman is puzzled as to how Kaz Matsui managed to talk his way into yesterday’s game.
When Mets writers were looking for Jerry Manuel in an apparent attempt to uncover the story of how a man without a pulse might be hired to manage again (just a joke; the low-key Manuel would make a better hire than the no-key Art Howe), Manuel got a colorful heads-up from a Mets reliever who didn’t like their early reviews.
“Hey,” Roberto Hernandez yelled, “the rats are looking for you.”
Hernandez either has the idea that “rats” and “reporters” are synonymous or tried to reassert the clubhouse caste system, which still places reporters several pegs below relievers, even mediocre ones.
Anyway, we “rats” have to hand it to Hernandez. He still throws cheese (sorry, couldn’t resist), as does Bell, a nice surprise, and all their mates aren’t yet forming the disaster area everyone figured.
The Mets returned home relieved after the trip’s 0-3 start, and one thing to cheer is not playing the Braves in the next 37 games. You can say great things about the new, improved Mets, but everyone knows who’s the daddy in that relationship.
The Mets still turn to goo against Atlanta, responsible for the ugly part of this 3-4 trip. About Atlanta, Cliff Floyd conceded: “I think we’re thinking about it, and I think they know we’re thinking about it. It’s not that we’re waiting for something to happen. But when it does, we say, ‘Oh, –, here we go.’”
Funny, that was my very reaction to Matsui being back in the lineup after an eight-day hiatus. Matsui replaced Miguel Cairo, who had three hits, three runs and two steals in Saturday night’s victory (a good month for Matsui), after finally telling Randolph he was good to go.
Previously, Randolph said Matsui had described a less-than-perfect health situation. But once Matsui finally understood that Randolph wouldn’t play him until Matsui assured him he was perfectly fine, Randolph penciled Matsui back into the lineup.
Matsui and Randolph may understand each other now, but the game still confounds Matsui. When he failed to catch Matt Treanor’s pop-up, it was such a sophomoric miscue that Randolph wrongly figured it must’ve been part of some ingenious strategy to swap Treanor for the faster Alex Gonzalez, whom Matsui forced at second.
“I think he let it drop to change the runners,” Randolph guessed. Not in this lifetime. “I completely lost it in the sun,” Matsui said.
In any language, or in any culture, Matsui continues to play like garbage.