Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wednesday's Starting Five

1. Johan Santana. I saw Johan pitch at Shea last season, against the Mets. He tossed an effortless complete game shutout. You could tell it was easy for him. In fact, the game was almost as easy for the Mets. Early on they knew they were beaten. Totally comfortable and confident that the spacious Shea outfield could keep most everything in play, Johan threw strike after strike in the later innings trying to hit bats and get outs. He did both. All the friends of friends of friends of his say that he wanted to get to Mets all along and that he has always wanted to be in the NL. So that he can bat. Because coming out of Venezuela he was a hard-hitting centerfielder compared (by his fans) to Griffey.

2. Mets fans. No fan base needed such an infusion more. Red Sox fans didn't need it. They've won two titles in the past four years. Yankees fans are too arrogant to admit they need anything and deep down just didn't want the Red Sox to get him. Nothing else could have turned the page on last year's epic collapse like this. Now, we're heading into 2008 and the storylines will be: the last hurrah at Shea, the beginning of the Santana era and the 35th anniversary of Tug McGraw's "You Gotta Beleive" team.

3. Yao Ming. Hitting 14 out of 15 free throws at the center position is impressive. Doing so in a game decided by four-points is clutch. The secret weapon of the Red Army ended up with 36 points altogether and 19 rebounds as the Rockets beat the Warriors.

4. Kevin Durant. The anointed Rookie of the Year hit the go-ahead jumper as the Sonics upended the Spurs last night, halting a 14-game skid.

5. Andy Pettitte. A man who seems to have learned from the travails of Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, Pettitte will reportedly back up McNamee's claims when he testifies in DC this week, revealing that he "discussed" HGH with Clemens before he ever used it.

Benched: Peter Gammons. The baseball institution let slip an uncharacteristic show of homerism when giving his take on the Santana trade last night. Obviously shaken that neither the Red Sox nor Yankees acquired Santana, he spun the story as being about his dearest teams holding on to the Ellsbury and Hughes respectively rather than about any of the players actually involved. It was a disapointing display by someone who I do respect very much.

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