The New York Mets have officially approached Major League Baseball, requesting a shorter season for 2008, citing that a 162 game season is just too long.
“We were in sole possession of first place, for 135 days and since the middle of May, and look what happened,” said their dejected and exhausted manager, Willie Randolph.
“I used to be able to celebrate with the guys, especially after a home run was hit, but no longer,” he continued. “In spring training, and early on in the season, I was capable of doing that jumping, high elbow, hip check, high-five dance thing that Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes did, after one of them hit a homer. It was so unique and complex, that those guys actually practiced it and shared their technique with me.
“As the season progressed, however, I couldn’t even find the energy to smile, let alone doing a high-five celebration, even when things were going well. I don’t think anyone caught me smiling since the All-Star break. And I miss that, I really do, because from the organization I came from, actions like that were discouraged. Heck, even this good-looking mustache I’m supporting now wasn’t allowed by Mr. Steinbrenner.”
Many members of the bullpen, which posted a whopping 5.30 ERA in the final 48 games, and lost 12 of the team’s final 17 decisions, supported Willie’s decision. In fact, a few were even considering a career change.
“In the NFL, they only play 16 games in a season, and they only play once a week!” exclaimed Jorge Sosa, who logged an amazing 112 2/3 innings this season, mostly as a relief pitcher.
While most of the other players echoed Willie’s sentiments, there were a couple of ballplayers that didn’t fully support his theory. Veteran starting pitcher Tom Glavine, for example, thought that a 161 game schedule would suffice.
“And I’m not even sure why they handed me the ball on that last day of the season,” Glavine stated. “I mean, it’s not like I didn’t warn them. It’s even in my contract, for God’s sake!”
He went on to explain that many starting pitchers have incentives for innings pitched, and a typical goal is 200 innings. “And that’s exactly what I gave them. When they asked me to start the final game, game #162, the most important game of the season, with us being tied for first place, with our season in the balance, and with exactly 200 innings pitched, I just couldn’t do it. I simply ran out of gas. That’s why I gave up 7 earned runs in only one-third of an inning. And I barely had the energy and the stamina to get that one batter out. Two hundred innings were fine. However, 200 1/3 innings was just asking for too much.”
Another player who, on record, disagreed with his manager was Lastings Milledge, a young, promising, but over-aggressive, cocky outfielder. “I actually could have used more than the standard 162 game schedule, he said, “because I am just too immature for this league. Teammates frown at my aggressiveness, my manager questions my actions, and opponents get irked when I, for example, after hitting a home run last season, returned to my position in right field and gave a high-five to all of the fans in the right field box seats. I was just too excited, man. I could definitely benefit from a 180 game schedule, to grow up a little and mature, if nothing else.”
Reflecting on the game prior to fateful game number 162 this past season, Lastings went on the defensive. “Just because I celebrated in front of the Florida Marlins bench after hitting a home run, in a rare late-season blowout for us, and at the most defining moment of our season, doesn’t necessarily mean that I was ‘showing up’ a last place team. It’s all Glavine’s fault, that we lost that final game, simply because he didn’t pitch well. It had nothing to do with me and my antics the day before.”
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has declined Willie Randolph’s request for a 150-game season, citing the fact that since the Mets failed to reach the post-season this year, and who were the clear favorites to make a World Series appearance, that their season, for all intents and purposes, had already been shortened.
The Mets declined the opportunity to appeal this decision, citing fatigue as the main reason.