The Mets had lost again, and their catcher was too exasperated even to think of sleeping. So with none of the all-for-one purpose stuff that existed in May, he shaved his head as he and all his colleagues had then. The difference was basic. In May, it was "shear" what prompted the team scalping. David Wright was slumping and thought less hair would prompt more hits.
For Lo Duca, alone in his room with the Mets' division shaved to 1 1/2 games, it was "shear frustration."
"I had to change something," he said.
And for his next trick, he will grow a playoff beard. It's that time of year.
"You do what you have to do in September to survive," said Shawn Green, who declined -- even before he was asked -- to reprise his role as Shorn Green. He had hit home runs in the Mets' perplexing losses to the Nationals on Monday and Tuesday nights. "My power's in my hair," he said. "It just grew back."
So Lo Duca will go it alone.
"I'm not asking anyone," he said, though Scott Schoeneweis weighed his options. Perhaps others will join. As one of them said, "We've been playin' ugly, might as well look ugly, too."
Been there, done that: The voice of experience spoke at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Before his team played, Joe Torre came to the defense of Willie Randolph and dismissed the notion that Randolph's stoicism have undermined the Mets.
"It doesn't mean, because you don't have that outward demeanor, that you don't do what you need to do," Torre said. "It doesn't mean you don't raise your voice. It doesn't mean you don't go one-on-one with somebody. You do all those things as a manager. It's not theatre -- it's just basically reaction and whatever you think is necessary. I hate confrontation, but I know damn well you can't have this job without confronting people."
Torre recalled the advice he offered Randolph after he had been hired away from the Yankees: "I just told him to be himself -- 'You're a Yankee, and I know that's probably going to be tough to get over.' I know that was tough for Maz [Lee Mazzilli] when he went to Baltimore. They wouldn't let it go over there. That would be my guess, because there's so much resentment for this organization in other organizations.
"I just told Willie to be who he was. He's a good communicator and he knows his baseball, and he's been on championship clubs. He's been a winner in New York. All these things, to me, are a great foundation for what he does. He's had success. You don't forget all of a sudden how to do things."
In the game: Acknowledging a risk factor existed, Moises Alou opted to play Wednesday night in the final game of the Mets' series in Washington, noting that the standings -- i.e. the Mets' reduced lead -- were a factor in his decision.
Alou was removed from the Mets' game on Tuesday because of what the club characterized as "stiffness" in his left quadriceps, the same muscle he had strained so severely in May that he missed 10 weeks.
After batting practice, Alou said his leg felt better than it had Tuesday night, that "I have to be careful," and that he would have "taken a day" if the standings hadn't changed in the previous week.
"This thing goes," he said, "and that could be my season. I'm aware of that. I believe I can play. ... Willie gave me the choice. I decided to play. I will be careful."
And if a ground ball must be run out?
"If it means the game, I'll go for it," Alou said. "Pray for the best."
|David Wright||26||Sept. 17, 2006-April 20, 2007|
|Hubie Brooks||24||May 1-June 1, 1984|
|Mike Piazza||24||May 25-June 22, 1999|
|Cleon Jones||23||Aug. 25-Sept. 25, 1970|
|John Olerud||23||July 19-Aug. 9, 1998|
|Mike Vail||23||Aug. 22-Sept. 15, 1975|
|Moises Alou||23||Aug. 23-Sept. 19, 2007|
|Mike Piazza||21||June 7-July 3, 2000|
The streak equals the fourth-longest in Mets history and the longest of Alou's career.
This date in Mets history -- September 20: With the 1969 Mets pushing toward their improbable division championship, the improbable happened on Sept. 20. They were the victims of a no-hitter. Bob Moose of the Pirates pitched it in the Mets' 4-0 loss at Shea Stadium. The Mets were shut out for the second straight game, stalling their drive. The Mets led the division by four games -- five in the loss column -- with 10 games remaining.
The Wall Ball happened four years later on this date. The Mets survived the 13th inning against the Pirates when a two-out fly ball hit by Dave Augustine with Richie Zisk on first base struck the top of the left-field wall at Shea Stadium and caromed directly to Cleon Jones. A relay -- Jones to Wayne Garrett, playing shortstop, to Ron Hodges -- produced an out at the plate. The Mets scored in the bottom of the inning on two walks and Hodges' single and gained the third of seven straight victories, 4-3. Though their record was one game under .500, they were merely one-half game under the first-place Pirates.
The Mets of 1998 produced their final victory of the season on this date, beating the Marlins, 5-0, at Shea Stadium, with Al Leiter and Turk Wendell combining on a five-hitter. They lost their last five games -- the final three in Atlanta -- and missed making the playoffs by one game.
And on this date in 2000, the Mets defeated the Braves, 6-3, in Atlanta, but only after they had lost the first two games of the series and fallen four games behind with 11 games remaining.
Coming up: The Mets move on to Miami for a four-game series against the last-place Marlins. The series begins Thursday night at 7:05 ET with Tom Glavine starting opposite Dontrelle Willis.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.