I was hoping the first Mets-related news of November would be an awesome trade or free agent signing. MINAYA NABS DONTRELLE WILLIS IN EXCHANGE FOR VICTOR ZAMBRANO AND BAG OF BALLS. Or some other bit of good news like PEDRO MARTINEZ’S SHOULDER REHAB MONTHS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE; NEW ROBOTIC ARM CAN THROW 150 MPH, HEAL LEPERS.
Sadly, this is not the case. No, the first Amazin’ headline of the 11th month is late-season acquisition Guillermo Mota, who tested positive for something bad and will be suspended for the first 50 games of the 2007 season.
The fact that Guillermo Mota was on this team in the first place never sat quite right with me. I never went on record with that before, because I felt like I had to be supportive. It’s like if you’ve got a good friend who’s dating someone you can’t stand. She ain’t abusive, she ain’t a psycho hose-beast or some life-depleting succubus. She’s just kind of a bad human being, but really, who are you to judge your friend’s choice of a Horrible Mate?
So you catalog all the small, terrible things she does and file them away in a Bitch File. That way, when the inevitable break-up occurs, you can hit a bar with your bro and go over the Catalog Of Terror, telling him why he’s really better without her. “Remember that time I came over to play Madden and she flipped out for no god damn reason? Man, fuck her!”
Or they wind up getting married, and you have to lock all that shit in a top-secret mental vault forever. You know, whatever.
In the case of Mota, when he came over the waiver wire in August, every Mets fan bit his/her tongue and clap politely. You see, a few years back, when Mota pitched for the Marlins and Dodgers, he was in the habit of throwing at Mike Piazza’s head. Like, all the time. It got so bad that during spring training of 2003, Mota hit Piazza and caused a
bench-clearing brawl. Metal Mike was so incensed that he stormed into the Dodgers’ clubhouse after the game, looking to give Mota a beatdown.
What did Mota do? He hid. Even though he would have been surrounded by teammates who presumably could and would back him up, he fucking hid. That means one of two things: (1) The other Dodgers hated him and would have laughed while Piazza smacked him around, or (2) He was tough enough to headhunt on the mound but was terrified of payback, which, as a reliever, he would rarely have had to face.
Mota had some pretty good outings down the stretch, looking totally unhittable at times. Presumably, whatever he was ingesting had something to do with his performance, which was decidedly sucktastic for most of his season with Cleveland.
But he also had an infuriating habit of retiring the first two batters with ease, then completely losing focus and getting into trouble. This bit him (and the Mets) in the ass twice in the playoffs.
NLDS Game 1: Top 7th, 4-1 Mets. After a 1-2-3 top of the 6th, Mota gives off a leadoff single to Marlon Anderson. Wilson Betemit reaches on a weird error by Jose Valentin. He strikes out pinch hitter Julio Lugo, then gives up an RBI single to Rafael Furcal. Two batters later, Nomar Garciaparra hits a 2-run double. Tie ballgame. The Mets would come back to win a game they should have had in hand.
NLCS Game 2: Top 7th, 6-4 Mets. Mota retires David Eckstein and Chris Duncan easily.
The Mets are 7 outs away from taking a 2-0 lead in the series. Then Pujols singles. I wouldn’t kill anyone for giving up a single to Pujols. But then Mota walks Jim Edmonds–who at this point could barely lift the bat off his shoulder–on four pitches. Up steps Scott “Chin Snatch” Spiezio. Mota gets him behind in the count 0-2, then serves up
a meatball that Troll Patch hits off of Shawn Green’s face. 2-RBI triple, tie ballgame. Billy Wagner asses away the game in the ninth, but the collapse really starts here with The ADD Reliever.
Almost as egregious as any of these sins, however, was Mota’s music. When he came out of the bullpen, the PA blasted “I Like To Move It,” a dance song popular amongst the T-Top set that was played out roughly eight seconds after it was released in 1994. And when he struck out a batter, Shea was treated to the chorus of “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger:
“Mota-rin’!” (get it?) Certainly not the worst pitcher-associated songs I’ve heard at a ballpark (Mike Stanton used to come out to that SUV-patriot anthem “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue,” thus making him a ignorant crypto-fascist on top of being useless), but I’d just as soon do without them.
If I can say anything in Mota’s defense, it’s that his statements in the wake of the news blame no one but himself, accept full responsibility, and beg forgiveness. But that says more about the poor morals of the average athlete, since we fully expect someone caught red handed to blame vitamin B injections or Miguel Tejada. I’m not gonna give him a medal for doing exactly what a responsible adult should do.
If the Mets had gotten to the World Series, this would seriously have tainted that accomplishment. But as it stands, the team already had well over 80 wins when they brought him aboard. So let’s say he had a hand in 10 Mets victories–since they won the division by 12 games, it’s fair to say his presence had little effect on the regular season. And as for the playoffs, he ruined one game and nearly destroyed another.
So feel okay dismissing his ultimately meaningless contributions to the 2006 Mets, and enjoy the thought that this bit of news will endanger his hope of a big free agency payday this winter. And I look forward to hearing other bullpen tunes instead: “London Calling” for Aaron Heilman, and Whatever The Hell Duaner Sanchez Comes Out To.