By Rich Coutinho
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I have been covering sports in this town for over 25 years, and I should really know better. I knew that entering the Subway Series, the media would need a story to gnaw on, because in these days it just does not think that the game is interesting enough to talk about. There always has to be a sidebar story, whether it be a heated rivalry or whether one player does not like another player. I have a newsflash for you: This is baseball, not professional wrestling. You do not need a back story because the game is great and most fans care about only two things — whether their team won and how their fantasy team fared.
So when this Frank Francisco “Chicken Story” surfaced I just shrugged my shoulders and said to myself that this is the world we live in right now. I honestly believe that Frank Francisco did not mean to disrespect the Yankees, and he made that crystal clear at Citi Field on Friday. Because of that, when he entered the game in the ninth inning I do not think either the Yankees nor the Mets felt any extra incentive. To me, this was Francisco going up against a potent Yankee lineup with the game on the line, and he did what closers are supposed to do. He survived the inning to nail down the win.
When you get past all of the “chicken talk” you see that Francisco has been one of the best closers in the league for the last five weeks, and the numbers prove it. Since May 14th, he has converted 10 of his 11 save chances with a sparkling 1.76 ERA, giving up only three earned runs in his last 15 innings of work. I am sure that Mets fans could do with less drama from him, but he has gotten the job done, and that’s all you can ask from your closer.
But all anyone wanted to do at Citi Field was solve “Chickengate.” However, Mets fans know that this is an exciting team to watch, and last night was yet another example of this team beating another premiere pitcher. That impressive list includes: Tommy Hanson, Cliff Lee, Mark Buerhle, Jonathon Papelbon, Yovani Gallardo, Adam Wainwright,David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and now Andy Pettitte. That is quite a list, and it shows that the Mets have the starting pitching to match up with anyone.
Now you tell me — is that the story of this Mets season so far, or would you rather go on a chicken run?
What do you make of Francisco’s comments, and did you think he would blow it for the Mets last night? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…