Martinez returned to his locker after batting practice to find his wildly
styled loafers strung up from his locker, a team custom to mock fashion
statements that invite ridicule.
"A lot of times
you'll see somebody's shirt hanging in the middle of the clubhouse,"
Martinez says. "Cliff [ Floyd], his stuff seems to be hanging a
Floyd also has
drawn attention for the music that accompanies each of his at bats at home: the
theme to Sanford and Son. The tune was picked by Lo Duca, who thought it
apropos for the oft-hobbled leftfielder.
And then there's
Wagner, who still hasn't lived down the time he asked the clubhouse caterer if
he could have a gallon of milk to take home to Greenwich, Conn.
$10 million a year, and you won't spring for a gallon of milk on the way
home?" Lo Duca told Wagner. "Reach into that wallet once in a while,
When the Mets are
rolling, as they have been for most of the season, they seem to have it all:
pitching (they were second in the league in ERA at week's end), hitting (first
in runs), speed (first in steals), power (second in homers) and that
immeasurable but unmistakable element called chemistry, which develops when you
can, with only the finest intentions, refer to your teammates as Visine, Moses
and Captain Red Ass.
So charmed are the
Mets that they entered the All-Star break 20-8 (.714) in one-run games-only six
teams in the post-1961 expansion era have played better than .700 ball in
one-run games over a full season-and had flourished despite having to use 11
starting pitchers in their first 88 games.
versatility is very impressive," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said last week
as the Mets took three of four games from Pittsburgh. "They have
switch-hitters who hit equally well from both sides; they have guys on the
bench who complement one another, which makes it hard to match up with them
late in the game; and they can run and pitch. They can win games in a lot of
If the Mets keep
this up, they will break or challenge franchise records for runs, home runs,
stolen bases and opponent strikeouts while accelerating Minaya's time line for
a pennant. Minaya has said that his goal for 2005 was to restore the
franchise's image-Delgado, a free agent that off-season, chose to sign with the
Marlins in January '05 rather than the Mets because he deemed Florida the
better team-and for 2006 was to contend for a playoff spot. With such a large
lead in the division, however, Minaya's revamped agenda is to fortify his
rotation to carry the Mets through three rounds of playoff series. Unless the
team's '05 first-round draft pick, righthander Mike Pelfrey, who allowed three
runs in five innings to win his big league debut last Saturday, sticks,
Martinez, 34 and with a sore hip (he was placed on the 15-day disabled list
last Thursday, retroactive to June 29), would be their youngest postseason
starter, fronting Tom Glavine, 40, Orlando Hernandez, 36, and Steve Trachsel,
35. In a humorous but telling moment last week Glavine stopped short when he
stepped into the trainer's room to find a deli-counter-length queue. "Oh,
my goodness," Glavine said, "what number are we serving in the
whirlpool, number 9?"
"When we went
9-1 on the road trip [to Los Angeles, Arizona and Philadelphia in June], that's
when I knew we had a good team," Minaya says. "But we still can be
better. It's all about pitching, pitching, pitching. That's what I'm looking
for every day."