I’m just back from the WFAN Breakfast with Jerry Manuel at the Hard Rock Café in Times Sq and it was a most interesting morning.

 

The Hard Rock put out a nice spread and back in the day when animal fat and food drenched in oil were a staple of mine I’d have gone through 3 or 4 plates of food ( at times I have to stop myself from grabbing these middle aged guys in the too tight Dockers with their ample bellies hanging over their belts and telling them “I feel your pain stop killing yourself” ) but now it was just a raisin bagel a banana and an orange.

 

J-Man took the stage with Mike (The Sports Bloviator a/k/a TSB) Francesa. I have not seen Francesa in person in about two years and he looks the same. The guy is shape like a pear and can definitely do the “hippy-hippy shake” the man is as wide as an ol’ Buick Duce and a quarter.

 

Manuel was dress sharp in a light blue gray sports coat and grey slacks (ok now I’m feeling like one of queer eye dudes, I’m going to start singing show tunes in a minute) looking as cool as the other side of the pillow.

 

TSB after taking up too much time with his questions (no one was there to see or hear him) the floor was open for the audience to ask questions. Out of about 200 people in attendance only 20 people came forward to ask J-Man a question. You know I ran up to the head of the line but the point is for all the bitching and moaning I heard while standing on line outside the Hard Rock about his use of the bullpen and how the team is doomed not one of those big mouths stepped up to speak their mind to J-Man. That’s pretty weak.

 

My question to Manuel came from reading quotes in the paper today from Alex Cora. Cora since becoming an everyday player has stepped up on the field and in the clubhouse I loved his quote of  “it takes more than 5 superstars to win a World Series” so I asked how does having a player like Cora who seems to be a hands on guy in the clubhouse take the pressure off the manager ? Manuel said that was an excellent question as did TSB (I got to be careful not to dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back) J-Man went on to say that Cora has been invaluable to him as he leads not just by example on the field but is looked up too and respected in the clubhouse. With Cora as one of his “top cops” policing the clubhouse it frees the manager up concentrate more on match ups and strategy. I followed that up with how  I perceive Cora has become very influential on David Wright as we see Wright flexing his status as a team leader more as when he confronted Big Pelf to step up and give the team more effective innings and how Wright is giving more quotes of substance in his interviews lately. Again Manuel liked that question (I think me and the skipper had a bonding moment there) and said that Wright has taken to Cora and that the team is Wright’ team. When asked by TSB when (if?) Delgado comes back will that change? Manuel said “No, this is David’s team”.

 

Some other topics that Manuel spoke on were:

 

Jose Reyes– Manuel is as puzzled as all of us when it comes to Jose. Manuel explained that the tendon behind Reyes knee is one that really has no use, that you can function very well without it. The problem is its frayed and that is where the problem is as that’s causing him the discomfort. If the tendon were to just break off, Reyes would be fine. I know I don’t get that either.

 

Johan Santana-He is his stud and the guy that he is relying on every 5th day to give the Mets a chance to win. With a pitcher like Santana you cut down on the odds of a long losing streak.

 

How the Mets cope through the injuries-Manuel hinted that “small ball” will be the way to go as he “re-invents” the way he team goes about it offensively. He would love to have a big bat in fact he mentioned having a “big bat” several times this morning.

 

On asking Omar for reinforcements-J-Man says he doesn’t go to Omar and ask for players during the season as he feels that it is not fair to his players on board to do that but in the winter he says he talks to Omar regularly and has a big wish list.

 

One question to Manuel was on the way pitching staffs are put together and pitch counts. Manuel said that pitchers today are conditioned to just get to 100 pitches and that their mind set is since I’m at the 100 pitch time for me to come out. Pitchers today are programmed so that 100 pitches means I’m tired (fatigued was Manuel’ word) and it has become so physiological that even if they aren’t tired they talk themselves into believing that they are. Very interesting and revealing comments I thought. I have to keep that in mind when I’m screaming for Manuel to leave his starters in the game.

 

The downer of the morning was Francesa who just would not shut up. TSB seems to forget that he gets to speak to Manuel every week and for fans this may be the only time we get to pick the managers brain. Then of course TSB has to mention the Highlanders. When the Castillo drop was mentioned, TSB had to chime in with how Derek Jeter is great going back of pop ups. There was a collective groan from the fans but as much as I wanted to yell out “Shut the fuck up” I behaved myself. TSB spoke about the Highlanders so much that J-Man told him “that the (Highlanders) better be ready for us this weekend and they should be lucky they don’t see us in the second half when we’re healthy as then they’ d have no chance of winning” and of courses that was met with wild applause. At least Jerry Manuel knows his audience.

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I’ve been to 10 games at Shea so far this season and I’ll be back there this weekend and every time I go I look over at our new palatal playpen that is near completion and I stare at it with both eager anticipation and some sadness. I’m happy because it’s new and will have state of the art amenities that we fat cat Americans can’t live without. The sadness is, the more I hear about this Jackie Robinson Rotunda and the marble entrance and all the grandeur, I keep thinking there will be a shoe check stand at the front gate and don’t even think of putting your feet up on the new railings. Aside from the physical characteristics I worry about the “soul” of the new place. Shea has ‘soul” and last night you felt it.

 

The last three innings last night when Big Pelf took the mound was classic Shea. All I needed was for Gary Cohen to put on a multi color sports coat and morph into Lindsay Nelson. I though of Nelson last night during the game because he knew how to give you the feel of the crowd. I could just here him say “and “Michael Pelfrey will be out on the mound for the 9th inning, Michael Pelfrey” . Last night’s game proved a few points. First, when Shea is packed and the Mets are rolling there is no better place in the world to be. Second,  Mets fans know pitching and love pitching as we have been a pitching first organization since Roger Craig took on the St Louis Cardinals on April 11, 1962 and when we see a guy like Big Pelf who was drafted and nurtured by the Mets and face more downs than ups and then finally finds the formula to be a big time big league pitcher we show our approval by making the stadium’s foundation rock like it was last night.  The team is rolling right now and while it’s way to early to think about October, for one night at least the team and Mike Pelfrey gave us a night that during the dead of winter you think about and anticipate spring.

 

No surprise that the Mets signed Al (Don’t tase me Bro) Reyes and according to Omar Minaya, Reyes passed up a chance to go right to the majors with another team to sign with the Mets and work out of Bingo for a while. Hopefully Bing pitching coach Ricky Bones can get Reyes ready for big league action soon.

 

The casualties of the baseball season are coming back to Flushing little by little. First it looks like Ryan Church will be back this weekend and from what Warlord Jerry is saying he will be part of a right field platoon with Fernando Tatis. They will join the left field platoon of the Gold Dust Twins Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans. Then you have the platoon at second base of Easley Reyes which J-Man is standing his ground on that Argenis does not go back to NOLA for Gimp Castillo. In fact it looks like J-Man will get his way as the Mets are ready to send Gimp back to St Lonesome to work on his bat in other words sit tight until September 1 there Gimp.

 

Titan Tom Glavine will have surgery on his left elbow but don’t worry he’s not devastated.

 

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