Do you ever get a sinking feeling watching a baseball game? The feeling that you know something bad is going to happen and no matter how many different Gods you pray to, no matter how many breaks your team gets, no matter how many times you tell yourself that it's going to be okay that something bad is going to happen. There is no way to justify your feelings or explain why you think it so, but you just know deep inside what the outcome is going to be.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I experienced that sinking feeling yesterday. In the Atlantic League. Watching Armando Benitez pitch in the ninth inning of the freakin' Atlantic League All-Star game. Benitez was trying to shut the door on a 5-3 game, but deep down, I don't think there was a soul in the stadium, who thought Armando would actually shut the door. For me personally, I have witnessed the epic meltdowns of Benitez many times before during his days with the Mets so I braced myself for the inevitable as the first batter stepped in.
And wouldn't ya know it? The first batter hits a little check swing dribbler that rolls only a few feet from the mound, but of course, the runner is safe because the ball was not hit far enough for the never nibble Benitez to make a play.
As soon as the runner touched first base, it became obvious that even though Armando Benitez was no longer in the major leagues or even throwing his trademark 95+ fastball, there was no doubt that this was the same Armando Benitez. Yes, the same Armando Benitez, who did not have the mental makeup to be a consistently successful closer with the New York Mets.
Not surprisingly, Benitez lost it after the first batter reached base. Time after time, Benitez got behind hitters and was forced to throw pitches right over the heart of the plate. Not surprisingly, Benitez got shelled. Even in the Atlantic League, hitters can hit pitches that are over the heart of the plate. Benitez had no command of any of his pitches and as a result, he gave up 4 earned runs, blew the save, and was the losing pitcher in the Atlantic League All-Star game.
Yup, same old Armando.