Thursday, June 12, 2008

You know how you just KNOW?

Last night, on SNY, 9th inning, Mets vs. Arizona Diamondbacks. Mets lead 3-0 going in. Mike Pelfrey has pitched 8 shutout innings, and has even gotten a hit. Then he issues a walk, and Willie Randolph comes to get him out. “Boooo!” Pelfrey walks back to the dugout. “Yayyyy!”

Randolph brings in Billy Wagner, who really shouldn’t use “Enter Sandman” until he’s won so much as 1 Pennant, let alone the 6 that Mariano Rivera has. Wagner gets 2 outs. So far, so good. But then he puts another runner on.

Mark Reynolds comes to the plate for Arizona, as the tying run. With a 2-2 count, Wagner appears to hit Reynolds on the shoe. (Almost certainly not on purpose. Doing it on purpose would have made absolutely no sense.) The umpire says the ball hit the dirt, it’s now 3-2. The D-backs argue. The replay showed the call was right: The ball hit the ground before it hit the shoe.

And then the SNY announcers started talking about Cleon Jones and the "shoe-polish play" from the 1969 World Series. The next batter after Jones, Donn Clendenon, knocked one out. (There was also a shoe-polish play in the 1957 World Series, when Vernal "Nippy" Jones of the Milwaukee Braves was hit, leading to a game-winning homer by Eddie Mathews, although Nippy was white and Cleon is black, so they weren't related.)

And as I waited for the next pitch to Reynolds, I thought, "The Mets may regret getting this call in their favor... " and then...

Well, you know how you know something is going to happen? I said it a few days ago in my post in honor of what would have been my Met fan Grandma's birthday. You don't actually know, but, yeah, you know. You feel it in every vein. I knew as soon as the thought left my mind that the next pitch was going, indeed, it was going, it was going, it was gone, goodbye!

Tie game. All the life goes out of Shea Stadium.

A beautiful pitching performance by a recently-struggling young pitcher who seems to have righted himself, and then the bullpen blows it following a play that evokes the most glorious moment in team history. I could only shake my head and say, “Only the Mets. Only the Mets. Only the Mets.”

The Met announcers "pulled a Michael Kay": They made a reference to a past event that was sure to jinx their team. (UPDATE: I have since changed the term to "The Curse of Kay.")

And yet, I just knew there was no way the Mets could win the game... and yet they did, on Carlos Beltran’s walkoff homer in the 13th.

So what do we really know? I cite the man who will probably forever be the only man to manage both teams to Pennants, Yogi Berra: “In baseball, you don’t know nothin’.”

Right after the tying homer, I switched over to YES, and the aforementioned Kay outdid himself: He posted stats showing that Darrell Rasner was atrocious in the 1st inning in games this season, with an ERA of about 7; but great after that, around 1.6. (Shades of Greg Cadaret, if anybody thinks he's worth remembering.)

And what happened? Rasner got out of the 1st inning fine, and then got shelled in the 3rd.

At least the bullpen wasn't too bad, and the Yanks did hit a little, turning an 8-1 embarrassment into an 8-4 "ordinary loss." And they still have the chance to take 2 out of 3 in the Oakland Mausoleum, a place where they hardly ever do well.

Memo to Michael Kay: Quit playing with stats and just call the game!

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