Parts I - VII
Monday, October 18
Atlanta would have made the trip regardless.
The Mets are happy to be coming back.
Both teams are headed South, back to Atlanta, for a most improbable 6th game of the NLCS. Somehow, the Mets have pulled together to make this trip necessary. It's hardly been a pleasure cruise for the Mets, between the sniping between players, the injuries and the question of whether or not their manager will even be back after the season.
But then again, this season has gone on a hell of a lot longer than anyone expected. With the Mets coming back from the dead over and over again, the Mets are beginning to garner National attention. They've put all the pressure on Atlanta to finally put them away like they're supposed to. But Valentine believes the pressure still lies with the Mets. Both sides are correct. For the Braves, coming in with Kevin Millwood, who has been simply dominant over the last few months, and who was solid in his Game 2 victory, the edge lies decidedly with them. But for the Mets, they still have to win to stay alive, in a stadium where they haven't been able to. And their starter in Game 6, Al Leiter, who was seen warming up during the 14th inning Sunday night, is now scheduled to take the start on 3 days' rest, something he's not accustomed to doing, but a challenge he'll readily accept.
Meanwhile, questions remain on both sides. Why didn't Cox go to Kevin Millwood in the 15th inning on Sunday? What's the story with Mike Piazza? Is he well enough to go tomorrow? How will Leiter respond to what will certainly be his biggest start as a Met on short rest? Will John Rocker ever keep his mouth shut?
It's mostly lost to me, but in the other league, the Yankees very quickly and very quietly wiped out the Red Sox in 5 games in the ALCS. If there was any more incentive for the Mets make history, here it is. Beat the Braves, come back for a Subway Series.
This series has delivered a lot of different angles, from both sides. So far, the only thing that has been resolved by this series is that the teams continue to speak highly of each other on the surface, but continue to have a mutual underlying dislike.
It's all about to come crashing together once again in a battle for the ages.
Tuesday, October 19
Baseball is a game of context. A game of building and then sustained tension. The New York Mets have lived an October on the edge. Four agonizingly close playoff games with the favored Atlanta Braves left them down 3-1 and facing elimination for the second day in a row. In Game 5, after 14 1/2 taut innings, they had again been pushed to the brink.
'Costas: (over shot of the Mets dugout) The Mets are down to what could be their last 3 outs of a memorable season...(Cut to Shawon Dunston) Rolled toward the middle, Base Hit! A trememdous at bat by Shawon Dunston!...(Cut to Todd Pratt) The 3-1...Ball 4! Game Tied!
Morgan: The Mets will not die.
Costas: (Cut to Ventura) Now Ventura, still looking to bust loose in the Playoffs...A drive to right! Back to Georgia! What a scene at Shea!'
The longest Playoff game in Baseball History shortened the distance between the Mets and the most improbable comeback in Baseball History. Game 6, next.-Bob Costas
After several games where NBC's opening montage slanted decidedly towards the Atlanta Braves, now the Mets were the ones getting all the attention as the series returns to Atlanta. This montage featured clips culled entirely from the bottom of the 15th inning on Sunday night, culminating with Robin Ventura's already legendary Grand Slam Single.
With the series now 3-2 Atlanta, there is more of a sense of urgency. For the first time in the Postseason, Turner Field is sold out. But the crowd of 52,335 is not jammed with Braves fans ready to chop into the night. There are many Mets fans who have made the trip south for this game, including a classmate of mine, who drove overnight from Binghamton to Atlanta.
Turner Field has always been a house of horrors for the Mets, ever since it opened in 1997. It looks dark and forbidding on TV, as Bob Costas and Joe Morgan sign on. After dressing in an odd variety of shirts and jackets, both Costas and Morgan are dressed seriously tonight. No more joking around. This series is for real.
Costas and Morgan go over the pitching matchups. Costas notes that Leiter "has been in a great groove of late." Morgan says that there are two questions concerning Leiter. "Does he have good stuff, and how long can he go?" With the day off on Monday, the Mets bullpen, which was spent by the end of Sunday's game, is somewhat refreshed. They'll also have Masato Yoshii and, once again, Kenny Rogers out there should the game require them.
On the other side, Costas and Morgan go over why Kevin Millwood didn't appear in the 15th inning on Sunday. He could have closed, but then, if he didn't, and had to pitch to the conclusion, he wouldn't be able to pitch tonight, forcing Cox to use Glavine tonight, and potentially Smoltz tomorrow, both on short rest. Plus, with the luxury of being able to give a loss, and with the condition of the field, Cox did not think it prudent to run Millwood out there. So, he gives up Game 5, and focuses on Game 6 tonight, with Millwood on full rest.
Meanwhile, Jim Gray is underneath the Stadium with John Rocker. Rocker crashed his car yesterday. Unfortunately, he's OK. He's still smug as always, and he blamed the other driver involved in the crash. His car is pretty messed up. But he says it looks a lot worse than it actually was. Too bad he didn't break his jaw or something.
Craig Sager is with Mike Piazza on the Mets bench. Piazza still looks like death. He speaks slowly. He has a forearm bruise from his collision with Lockhart on Sunday, among other things. He says "It's still sore. It was sore in BP. It feels good now, and I'm gonna go for it tonight. But if I can't, Todd's done a great job, so we'll be in good hands. I don't like being banged up. I'm gonna go out and do the best I can. I'm not using that as an excuse. I'm just gonna go out and hopefully we can get a timely hit and take it to a seventh game."
Sager asks Mike if he feels cheated because his injuries have not allowed him to perform at his peak in the Playoffs. Mike responds, "I just regret that I came in here running on fumes. I wouldn't give this up for anything."
Costas states that "If the Mets make the World Series, Piazza should get a Ring and a Purple Heart."
Following the interviews, we move quickly to the start. The Mets lineup is largely similar to Game 5. Alfonzo hitting 2nd, Olerud 3rd, Darryl Hamilton starts in CF. Cedeno is back in Right against Kevin Millwood, who pitched well in Game 2, and finished the season red hot. There are loud boos for Rickey as he steps in against Millwood. Costas talks about Rickey's lack of production this series, as Millwood quickly gets ahead. With 2 strikes, Turner Field is loud. Louder than it had been at any point in the first 2 games. But Rickey reaches for one and pokes a single to right, in front of Brian Jordan. Alfonzo bats, and there is an audible "LET'S GO METS!" chant as he steps to the plate. It was Alfonzo's sacrifice in the 15th on Sunday that really set up the inning for the Mets. Costas and Morgan note this, even though the play itself was largely overlooked. Fonzie hits the ball well, but right at Jordan for the first out.
For the Mets, Cookie Rojas is back as the 3rd base coach, following his 5 game suspension after his blowup in the NLDS. This helps, as the Mets are more familiar with Rojas giving signs, as opposed to Bruce Benedict, who had replaced him there. Benedict is back on the bench.
John Olerud is next, and he hits a fly ball to center that dies. The ball carries well down the lines at Turner Field, but not to Center Field. Andruw Jones catches it easily. Piazza follows. Knee, thumb, hand, forearm, concussion, and he's still in the lineup, and batting 4th. Rickey's not running. Millwood has been able to keep him close at 1st, and he has been pitching from a slidestep. Rickey doesn't seem able to time him well. Another "LETS GO METS!" chant breaks out. Piazza looks pained on every swing. Costas says that Piazza will not talk about his condition unless asked. He says he feels a tingling in his hands at times. His bat looks slow and if this were the regular season, he would not be in. Rickey runs on a 1-2 pitch, but Piazza strikes out.
And this would be the last normal moment in the ballgame.
Back for the bottom of the 1st. The only change in Atlanta's lineup is Brian Hunter starting at first instead of Klesko, against the lefty Leiter. A sign in stands reads "That's Mr. Larry to you!" The signs at Shea were much more imaginative. Nobody in Atlanta seems to have much of a sense of humor. On the mound, Leiter needs to get off to a good start. He relies on his cutter inside, his trademark. The bat breaker. But if the Braves lay off it, he could fall behind hitters and get in trouble. The Braves swung at a lot of bad balls from him in Game 3. He only lost on that damned unearned run, when neither he nor Piazza could make a play in the 1st. Tomahawk chop as Gerald Williams leads off and takes the first pitch inside. On the 1-1 pitch, Williams is hit by the pitch. Great start. It was a breaking ball, it tailed down and in and hit him on the right foot. Williams hops out of the box and walks down to first. Boone follows. He takes the first pitch inside. Atlanta batters are clearly taking all the way against Leiter early. That can't be good. Williams attempts to get Leiter to balk. He dances back and forth at first. Once again, Costas reminds us that Leiter's pickoff move isn't nearly as good as Rogers'. On 2-0, Boone takes a strike. Nobody's swinging here. At all. 2 more balls outside and Boone is on. 8 pitches by Leiter, 0 swings by the Braves. Not good. The crowd is getting louder and here's Larry. Not Hello Larry in Atlanta. Now, it's Chipper the beloved. Valentine won't wait long to go to his bullpen. He can't afford to. The first pitch is low inside, as the runners go. Piazza's throw to 3rd is low and off to the side. It bounces off Ventura's glove, into foul territory, Williams hops up and scores easily. Boone holds second. Just like Game 3. Fucking hell. Another run off an error. The fans are chopping away. It's about to get worse. Next pitch, Larry is hit on the right knee. What the fuck!?! The cutter tailed inside and got him, almost in the same place Williams was hit. This is a debacle already. Someone needs to talk to Leiter or someone has to get up in the bullpen. Finally, Dave Wallace comes out. The entire infield is at the mound. Pat Mahomes is frantically warming up. Costas notes that this isn't like the old days, when pitchers were expected to go on 3 days' rest. 10 pitches by Leiter, 0 swings from the Braves. Jordan up. On the 1-0, Jordan grounds the ball foul. 12 pitches from Leiter before the Braves swung at one. Leiter gets to 1-2 on Jordan, but Jordan then singles under Ventura's glove. Boone scores. 2-0 Braves. Andruw Jones is next. He's taking the first pitch also. He swings wildly on 1-0. If Leiter can make him swing at bad pitches, maybe it'll be OK. He chops the 1-1 pitch back to Leiter. Leiter spins for 2nd, but he throws wide and pulls Alfonzo off the bag. Jordan slides in, but even with a good throw, he would have been safe. Morgan says this was bad communication between Piazza and Leiter. Leiter should have gone to 1st for the sure out. His throw was immediate, but Jordan is already at 2nd, and he slides right into Alfonzo. It's a fielders' choice, no error on Leiter. Still no outs. This is starting out like a more horrible version of Game 3. Now, the bases are loaded, and Eddie Perez is up. He's only hitting .471 in the series. Leiter gets ahead of Perez, but he cannot put him away. Annoyingly, Perez is fouling everything off. Finally on the 8th pitch of the at bat, Perez lines a clean single over Alfonzo's head, into center field. Oh Fucking Shit. Jones and Jordan both score easily. Perez and his fucking hideous mole are on first. The crowd is chopping and cheering and I want to vomit. This inning is now officially a total fucking disaster. Leiter has thrown 25 pitches, gotten 0 outs, given up 2 hits, hit 2 batters, there's 4 runs home, and that is it.
"Pitching on 3 days rest, and now may have all fall and winter to rest," is the only thing Costas can say as Leiter is removed. Leiter slumps off the field and tosses his glove on the bench. Stunning. No team has scored more than 4 runs in a game in this series, and Atlanta has now scored 4 in this inning, with 0 outs, and Andruw on 3rd.
Pat Mahomes takes over and gets Hunter to fly out on the 1st pitch. Hamilton catches it in medium deep CF, but it's easily deep enough to score Jones. 5-0 Atlanta. Oh my God. They're even scoring on outs. They made Leiter work, they took pitches, and they turned this game into a romp. Dammit. Right now, I'm seething. I hate the Braves. Fuck Atlanta. Fuck Larry. Fuck Rocker. I hate all of the South. Jordan, Andruw and Williams are laughing on the bench. Just to turn that knife a little more, Costas reminds us that Millwood hasn't allowed more than 2 runs in a start in over 2 months. Mercifully, Weiss grounds to Alfonzo, and the Mets turn a 4-6-3 DP to end the inning. I don't know if this inning could have possibly gone any worse.
Then again, the Mets haven't rolled over and died yet, and they could have done so very easily on Saturday and Sunday. Can they pull off another comeback? It's a longshot, but there's a lot of game left to be played.
Boy, is there ever a lot of game left.
"What a difference between Robin Ventura's last at bat and this one," says Costas as the top of the 2nd begins. Ventura's last AB, of course, ended the game on Sunday. The Mets do make Millwood work somewhat. Millwood seems to be a little wild, but he's throwing strikes when he needs to. He falls behind Ventura 3-1, but gets him to pop out. In the Mets dugout, Craig Sager has spoken to Leiter. Apparently, Leiter confirmed when he came off the mound that he could not throw any of his pitches for strikes. "He is a tremendous competitor, but tonight is perhaps the greatest disappointment of his career," Costas adds. Witn 1 out, Hamilton singles, but Cedeno and Ordonez both ground out. Still, Millwood doesn't look his sharpest, and perhaps the Mets can wait him out. With 2 outs, Masato Yoshii is warming in the bullpen. Valentine worked his pitchers to the max in Game 5, and he seems prepared to do so again tonight.
Mahomes hums right along in the bottom of the 2nd. He retires Atlanta 1-2-3. But will he stay in the game? According to Sager, Dunston will bat for Mahomes in the 3rd.
Meanwhile, Costas and Morgan give us the following bit of information: In Game 4, Atlanta did not strand any runners on base. In Game 5, they stranded 19. Bobby Cox says this shows you that there are many ways to lose. Mahomes strikes Boone to end the 2nd, and appears to be done for the night.
But it's not Dunston in the top of the 3rd. Mahomes bats for himself. Valentine changed his mind at the last minute. If Mahomes can remain effective, it's not a bad idea. You have to keep the Braves where they are, and chip away. Morgan says that the Mets need to break the game into 3's. 123, 456, 789. Get 1 run here, 1 run there, chip away at the lead, and go from there. Costas says that the Mets came back from 6 runs this season in Philadelphia. That was their largest comeback of the season. On the other side, the Braves blew a 5-0 lead in Philadelphia. Leiter started the game where the Mets came back. Millwood started the game Atlanta blew. Perhaps a coincidence? But the Mets can't get anything going. Mahomes strikes out looking. Henderson grounds out. Alfonzo flies out on a 3-1 pitch.
NBC's cameras show that Brian Jordan has a bloody knee from his slide in the 1st. The trainers can't stop the bleeding. Good for him. Jackass. Larry singles to lead off the last of the 3rd. He's running with Jordan up, but Jordan fouls off some pitches. The Braves, obviously, would like to tack on more runs. The Mets absolutely have to keep Atlanta where they are. Turk Wendell is now warming up for the Mets. On 1-2, Larry runs again, but Jordan protects him and chops the ball to the right side. Ordonez was running to cover 2nd, but when the ball is hit, he cuts in front of Alfonzo on the right side of 2nd base, and throws Jordan out. Andruw follows. On 0-1, Larry breaks for 3rd. Piazza's throw is there, but it's low and in front of the base, and Larry slides in safely. Now, the Mets have to bring the infield in. Piazza looks disgusted. Fortunately, Andruw can only chop to the right side, Alfonzo looks Larry back to 3rd and throws out Andruw. Huge out. Perez grounds out to Ordonez on the next pitch, and the Braves are turned aside.
Meanwhile, the Mets can't do anything against Millwood. In the 4th, Olerud starts off by striking out on 3 pitches. With Piazza coming to the plate, NBC shows a montage of him getting knocked around in the 3 games in New York. Costas jokes that if something happened to Pratt, the Mets would have to re-activate Jesse Gonder and Choo Choo Coleman. Piazza is sawed off and busts his ass to 1st, but is thrown out by Hunter. Ventura flies out on the 1st pitch.
Mahomes walks Hunter to start the last of the 4th. Once again, it's up to Mahomes to stifle a Brave rally. The Mets pitch out on the first pitch to Weiss. Hunter is running, Piazza's throw is good, but Hunter is safe anyway. Ordonez thought he had him. He slaps his glove against his leg and yells to the umpire, Jeff Kellogg. Weiss grounds to Ordonez, behind the 2B bag. Hunter runs on contact and moves to 3rd. Once again, the Mets have to bring the infield in, even with Millwood up. Wallace runs out to the mound, to try to plan for a potential squeeze play. To this point, Mahomes has retired 9 of 11 batters. He's been outstanding. More importantly, he's kept the Braves from extending their lead. And here, he gets Millwood to break his bat and hit a soft liner right back at him. Hunter broke from 3rd on contact, and is easily doubled off 3rd. Once again, the Braves are turned away.
If the Mets get a man on in the 5th, Mahomes' spot would be up, and Valentine would probably have to pinch hit for him here. Mahomes has done his job and then some. Hamilton leads off with a clean single to center on a curveball. It's not a good curve from Millwood. It hung up over the middle of the plate and Hamilton whacked it for his 2nd hit of the night. But Cedeno flies out and Ordonez strikes out. Ordonez has been basically an automatic out in the postseason. He is 1 for 21 in this series, and has failed miserably on several bunt attempts. Bonilla pinch hits for Mahomes, with the hopes that he can get a hold of one and cut into the lead. Wendell is warming up again. Bonilla hits a sharp single to right on the first pitch, and now, finally, a viable threat from the Mets. Now, it's Rickey, with a hit sorely needed. It's gotta be Rickey Henderson time now. But just as he has done throughout the game, Millwood has not looked sharp until he has absolutely had to. After barely missing on 0-2, he comes back on 1-2 and freezes Rickey with a curve to stop the rally. It's a pretty pitch, the exact opposite of the hideous curve he threw Hamilton. Still 5-0. The Mets are now officially running out of time.
Wendell enters the game in the bottom of the 5th, but let's not forget the outstanding job by Mahomes. He stopped the Braves where they were and has kept the game at 5-0. Much like Hershiser was able to do on Sunday. But the Mets, although outhitting Atlanta 4-3, have not come up with the key hit and have not cut into the Braves lead. Wendell continues the strong bullpen work from the Mets with a 1-2-3 inning.
Smoltz and Maddux are grinning and laughing in the Atlanta bullpen. But it's the Mets who come out firing in the top of the 6th. Alfonzo works Millwood before ripping a long double in the Left Center Field gap on the 6th pitch. That's Fonzie's first good hit since Game 2. Olerud follows by working Millwood as well before bouncing a single just under Weiss' glove, again on the 6th pitch of the AB. Alfonzo moves to 3rd. Now, it's Piazza, in a spot where the Mets desperately need him to bust out. Costas notes that Atlanta was 4 outs from the World Series on Saturday, and 3 on Sunday, and didn't get them. Now, they're 12 outs away. Morgan notes that Piazza is missing pitches that he usually hammers. Valentine says Piazza "has been playing through clenched teeth." Millwood's pitches are flat right now. Piazza puts what looks like his best swing in weeks on an 0-2 pitch and hits it high and deep to left, but playable for Williams. Williams catches it in front of the warning track, but it scores Alfonzo and the Mets are finally on the board. Terry Mulholland is warming for Atlanta. Ventura follows by drilling a shot into the RF corner. Now, the Mets are really getting to Millwood. Piazza would have hit that last pitch to the moon if he were going good. Ventura's double moves Olerud to 3rd. Now, Hamilton's up and Leo Mazzone makes a quick trip to the mound. Costas says the Mets are a single away from getting back into this game, and they get it when Hamilton hits a single right back up the middle on the first pitch, a roller under Boone's glove, scoring Olerud and Ventura to make it 5-3! Now, we're talking! Now, I'm back in the game too. Morgan puts it succinctly: "The Mets will not die. They have showed that they will get up off the carpet as many times as necessary to prolong their season." Hamilton is 3 for 3, the Mets contingent is now up and cheering once again, and Millwood is done. Mulholland is coming in, and Agbayani bats for Cedeno. Once again, the Mets are playing this game in thirds, just like Morgan said they had to. The Mets have managed to cut Atlanta's lead to 5-3. It's drizzling in Atlanta as Benny Agbayani steps in. It looks somewhat like the rain in New York on Sunday. They played through that, and there's no reason why they wouldn't play through this. In the bullpen now for Atlanta are Russ Springer, Mike Remlinger and John Smoltz. They're all throwing. Agbayani battles and battles and draws a walk. The rain picks up, and umbrellas and slickers are now sprouting up out of the crowd. The tying runs are on base, but now it's Ordonez up. Dunston steps on deck. Ordonez is not bunting here. Morgan is baffled as to why he's not bunting. Quickly, Ordonez falls behind 2 strikes. Even worse, on 1-2, he hits a line shot right at Weiss who quickly runs to 2nd base and doubles off Hamilton. Fucking ass hell. That's the best ball he's hit this entire series, and even that screws everything up. Ordonez slams his helmet down and kicks it off. Killed the damn rally.
Still, the Mets chipped away a little. Now, it's up to Wendell to continue to hold Atlanta where they are.
NBC is late coming back from commercial for the bottom of the 6th, and as they return, Brian Jordan is glaring at Turk Wendell after Wendell came inside with a fastball and hit him on the right hand. Jordan slowly walks down to 1st, still glaring at Wendell as Cox and the trainer look at him. This particular wrist has been bothering Jordan all season. Jordan said something to Wendell as he walked up the first base line, but Jerry Crawford, the Home Plate Umpire, walked up the line with him to diffuse any situation. Agbayani has take over in Right Field for the Mets. Andruw Jones is bunting. Cox would really like to get another run here. The rain has stopped in Atlanta. Andruw hits a 20 foot single in front of Wendell. The ball dies on the grass in front of the mound. Wendell slides to get it, but his throw is late to 1st. The fans Chop. Shut up you A-holes. Perez follows with a sacrifice. Costas says that this is the largest crowd ever at Shitforbrains Field, at 52,335. I'd bet that most of the 6,000 empty seats from the first two games were filled up by Mets fans. Brian Hunter is walked intentionally to load the bases with 1 out. Take your chances with Weiss and try to get out of this inning without giving up more runs. Set up the DP. Then again, this has all the makings of another disaster. Fortuitously, Weiss hits the first pitch to Olerud, with the infield in. Olerud comes home for the force, but Jordan cuts out Piazza's legs with his slide before another throw can be made. Piazza goes flying and lands on his backside. He immediately hops up and glares at Jordan. Piazza and Jordan share an icy moment. Morgan says it's a clean play, but Piazza wasn't looking, and Jordan went straight for his legs. Piazza is hurting, he's tired, and now, he's fucking pissed. Lockhart is announced to pinch hit for Mulholland, and here comes Wallace, and here comes Dennis Cook for Wendell. With Cook in the game, Lockhart is pulled back for Jose Hernandez and his copious strikeout ratio. This is a move that Cox seemed to make Valentine do several times in New York. Kenny Rogers is now throwing for the Mets. Hernandez lines the 1-0 pitch through the hole into left, just barely between Ventura and Ordonez. Motherfucker! God-Fucking-Dammit! Jones and Hunter have scored, it's 7-3, and they're chopping again in Atlanta. Go away! Ugh. Ned Yost, Atlanta's 3rd base coach is wearing a microphone, and he's just squealing like a pig on the replay. This is just galling. Cook gets Williams to pop out. The damage has been done. Finally, the Mets get back in the game only to give the runs right back.
Or do the Mets have the Braves exactly where they want them?
John Smoltz is in the game for Atlanta in the 7th, as opposed to a relief pitcher. He looks totally flat. His pitches seem to be weaving in and out and all over the place. Matt Franco leads off hitting for Cook, and on the 2-2 pitch, he drills a double up the gap in right center, well over Andruw's head. Rickey takes a few pitches. Smoltz doesn't look good at all. On 3-1, Rickey hits a shot down the left field line, easily scoring Franco. Here we come again. Alfonzo hits a deep drive to right, but it's caught by Jordan. Rickey moves up to 3rd. Olerud hits a hard single to right, scoring Henderson. 7-5. Now, it's Piazza. Lazarus at the plate, representing the tying run. We don't need to hear about how banged up he is right now. It's been said too many times. Now, he's got to summon up the adrenaline, and the anger, and the fact that that Fucking A-hole Jordan just undercut him. Morgan again talks about how the Mets will not die. And then Smoltz comes in with a meatball on 2-1...
The 2-1 to Piazza...Hit in the air to deep right center! Way back! And...GONE!!! TO TIE THE GAME AT 7!!! Tied at 7, hoping for Game 7!Now, it's fucking on. I'm leaping around the common room. Piazza is stone faced as he rounds the bases, just a ball of intensity. Ventura high fives him and slaps him on the helmet. The ball sailed way over Jordan's head, over the wall, bounced off an aisle and bounced back onto the field. The Mets dugout is out. Leiter kisses Mickey Brantley. The pitch tailed back right over the heart of the plate and Piazza just smoked it. Once again, the heart of this team came out when they needed it most, overcoming the Braves, overcoming the early deficit and evening up the game. Cox immediately removes Smoltz for Remlinger. Smoltz was counted on to eat up a couple of innings and instead incinerated the game. The Atlanta dugout is stunned. The fans are stunned, except for the hordes of Mets fans, who are now screaming and yelling and drowning out everything else.-Bob Costas
Remlinger is now in the game. 7-7 in the 7th. Holy Shit. Even Costas and Morgan are dumbfounded. NBC shows a shot of Jerry Seinfeld in the stands, sitting right behind Ted Turner. Jerry's got a smug grin on his face right now. This team just never quit. On 2-2, Ventura drills one deep to right that looks for a second that it could get out, but it drops into Jordan's glove at the wall. Shots in the Mets dugout show them jumping over the dugout railings when Piazza's ball went out, and they jump around again when it looks like Ventura's ball might have a chance. Hamilton grounds out to end the inning, but the damage has been done. No team has come back from 0-3 to get to a Game 7. Because they refused to give up, the Mets now have a chance.
The entire series has played out like a Shakespearian Drama. Now, with the game tied, and left in the hands of two exhausted bullpens, the final act is about to play itself out, dissolving into some sort of horrible Baseball version of an Ali/Frazier fight.
Orel Hershiser takes over for the Mets in the bottom of the 7th. Costas welcomes us back by saying, "In case you're just joining us, where've you been?" Hershiser, after his tremendous outing on Sunday, once again is on to keep the Braves at bay. Morgan says that the Braves need to respond immediately. But Boone grounds out, as the "LETS GO METS!!!" chants have gotten louder and louder. Orel pitches around Larry and falls behind 3-0, but he swings on 3-0 and grounds weakly to Alfonzo. They play the Tomahawk Chop music, but nobody's chanting. Where are your fans, Atlanta? Nobody feels much like chopping right now. Jordan pops out to Agbayani on the first pitch. The Mets charge off the field, raring to take their hacks again.
Rocker tosses in the OF in between innings as we move to the 8th. Remlinger is still on for Atlanta. Another fine job from Hershiser in the 7th. Yet another strong outing for a Mets reliever. Agbayani leads off. On 1-0, he nails a single in front of Jordan, picking right up where the Mets left off. Attack, attack, attack. He has thoughts about second, but thinks better of it. Ordonez squares on the first pitch and Holy Shit! He got the bunt down! It's good and right to Remlinger who tags him out. Agbayani moves to 2nd. If even Ordonez can come through, maybe the Mets really are charmed. Melvin Mora hits for Hershiser. Russ Springer is warming. Mora looks to add to his legend, after already becoming a standout in this series. And damned if he doesn't rip the 1-0 pitch hard into Center Field!
He lines this one hard! The Mets are gonna have the lead! Agbayani being sent home! And Melvin Mora, who only a few years ago was playing in the Chinese Professional League in Taiwan, gives the Mets the lead in Game 6!-Bob Costas
Agbayani scores easily! Every pinch hitter has delivered for the Mets tonight. Mora pumps his fist as he rounds first. He's done it again! I'm running up and down my hall yelling "MELVIN FUCKING MORA!" The "LETS GO METS!!!" chants are abound again. What a team, what a year. What a game! The Atlanta Bench looks like a morgue right now. Morgan and Costas are running out of ways to describe how this game has played out.
Morgan: "This is a Big League Baseball game. This is really a Big League Baseball game."
Costas: "And what was Sunday night?"
Morgan: "I like this one better because I've seen some line drives, I've seen some guys run around the bases, I've seen some hitters do everything."
Rickey bats next. On 3-2, Rickey calls time just as Remlinger delivers. The pitch was well outside as Mora ran. He breaks his bat on the next pitch and rolls to Weiss. The throw is close, but Mora is just barely out. Remlinger deked Mora with his delivery. Mora broke back to first instead of towards second. Without that, he would likely have beaten the play.
"The Yankees finished off the Red Sox last night. They might have been thinking about packing for Atlanta. Not so fast," says Costas as Alfonzo steps to the plate. On 2-0, Henderson runs and steals 2nd. Perez's throw is low and hits Rickey in the stomach as he slides into 2nd. The ball ends up rolling in between his legs. Remlinger misses on the next two to walk Alfonzo.
Craig Sager reports from the Mets dugout. On the message board in the Mets locker room, Bobby Valentine wrote "Why not?" before the game. Why not the Mets to come back from 0-3 and win? More shots of Mets on the top step of the dugout. A shot of Millwood staring blankly out onto the field. Olerud inside outs one to left, but it hangs up for Williams. But finally, improbably, the Mets have the lead.
Jim Gray chimes in from the Braves dugout at the start of the bottom of the 8th. He says that "The Braves in the dugout are shell shocked. Nobody has said anything to anybody." On the other side, Craig Sager says that "This dugout has been like a pep rally." Hershiser has his arm wrapped around Leiter. Mets fans in the stands, are standing and cheering. One holds up a sign that reads "THE MAGIC IS BACK." I can taste Game 7 right now.
John Franco on the mound now for the Mets, as Agbayani moves to left and Mora takes over in right. Henderson is out. The Mets are 6 outs from Game 7. If you're the Braves, you have to do something quickly. Benitez is warming. Andruw grounds out to Ordonez. Morgan surmises that if Franco can get 1 more out, they will go to Benitez. Atlanta batters are 1 for 30 against Benitez this season. Eddie Perez is the only one with a hit, in the 11th inning on Sunday, and he's hitting right now. He whacks a single to left, in front of Agbayani. The Mets just can't get him out, which is baffling because he's not good. Otis Nixon comes in to run for him. Damn, two games in a row with an Otis Nixon sighting. I guess he really is still alive. Hunter follows. Franco works in and out, but Hunter is nicking the strikes and working the count. Rocker is warming for Atlanta. Howard Battle is on deck. Nixon runs on 2-2. The pitch is inside, Piazza's throw is low and hops into center field. Ugh! Alfonzo can't knock it down, Nixon hops up and moves over to 3rd. Piazza is disgusted. Hunter flares the next pitch into center field for a hit. Nixon claps his hands as he crosses the plate.
"It doesn't get any better than this. Guys coming through and getting the job done this late in the ballgame. This is just beautiful," says Morgan.
Franco made his pitch, it's off the outside corner, but Hunter just goes out and gets it. It's 8-8. The crowd is chopping again. The Braves have come back to life. Weiss bats for himself and Battle remains on deck. Weiss is up there to bunt. Cox's plan is now to move Hunter over and have Battle drive him home, and bring in Rocker with a chance to win it. Weiss does his job, bunting to Franco, who throws to Alfonzo for the sacrifice. But Franco gets Battle swinging to stop the rally and end the inning.
Well, shit. Here we go again. If Sunday didn't kill you, I hope you're ready for another heart attack. At this point, I'm amazed I can form a coherent sentence.
Here's Rocker, in a tie game in the top of the 9th. Greg Myers is in to replace Eddie Perez behind the plate. On the Atlanta bench, Perez is pretty mad. Andres Galarraga calms him down. Nobody wants to come out of this game, but Nixon ran for Perez, stole a base and scored the tying run. Piazza leads off and pops up to Larry just a shade down the 3rd base line on the first pitch. The crowd is standing. Piazza still looks pissed off. But he overextended on that swing. He sits on the bench and rips off his gloves as Costas says of Piazza, "His previous at bat produced a Home Run of Heroic proportions. Not just because it tied the game 7-7 in the 7th. But it was his first extra base hit in a Postseason in which he has been bruised and battered, and if there was not so much at stake, he would have been pulled from the lineup."
Meanwhile, Morgan talks about how Ventura and Olerud have had better at bats against Rocker as this series has progressed. But Ventura still doesn't have a hit off him, and he pops up to Weiss. Hamilton is next. The crowd is trying to outshout each other right now. Mets fans are making noise, and Braves fans are chopping, in an effort to drown them out. Hamilton remains in for his defense, even against the Lefthander. Morgan says that if you are going to go down, you want your best defense out there. If they hit for Hamilton, it would be with Shawon Dunston, who was exposed in Center Field in Game 5. Hamilton lines to left.
Craig Sager comes on as we move to the Bottom of the 9th: "Back in Atlanta where a double switch has been made by the Mets. Mike Piazza is out of the game. Todd Pratt goes into the game. He will bat in the leadoff spot, Rickey Henderson long gone, he is in the clubhouse, Armando Benitez the pitcher will hit in the 4th spot, and Melvin Mora remains in the 9th spot. Mike Piazza, we were told, did not hurt his shoulder, but he is wearing down, and he did come out of the game."
Benitez in, Pratt in. Piazza, on the bench, has not changed the expression on his face in 3 innings, at least. Who knows what's going through his mind at this point? I'm holding my breath now. Any margin for error is gone. But then, this has been the case for 4 days now. Any run eliminates the Mets, but the Braves have not been able to touch Benitez this season. Of course, Benitez immediately goes 3-0 on Williams to start. Williams, though, takes two strikes. On the second one, he takes all the way and thinks it's ball 4. But it is a good fastball that catches the inside corner. He fouls off another pitch before grounding out to Ventura on what would have been Ball 4. Williams almost threw his bat at it. Boone follows. Morgan says that it's not easy to be patient with Benitez, especially with his fastball. His splitter has been sharp too, and Boone appears over matched. Right now, both teams are on the top steps. Fans of both teams continue to stand as well. Boone fouls off pitches on a pair of emergency swings before Benitez strikes him out on a splitter. Boone made a half-wave at the ball and foul tipped it into Pratt's glove. Larry follows, with "Crazy Train" blaring. Pratt goes to the mound. How fucking scary is this? Benitez works him away away, away. Valentine in the dugout has his face buried in his sleeve. Armando will not give in to Larry and walks him on 4 pitches. Chop. Bobby clenches his fists towards Benitez, as if to say go right after Jordan. Go get him. Wallace and Pratt come to the mound. Morgan says Larry will try to steal a base. This conversation is to guard against that. Wallace has his arms on Benitez and Pratt's shoulders. This is no time to fuck around. Costas says as much. "Any pitch could be the last of the Mets season. What they have done in this series and in this game is nothing short of amazing. But they are in a sudden death spot. Any extra base hit would send the Braves to the World Series."
Jordan is up there hacking. He fouls off the first pitch. Larry runs on 0-1. Pratt's throw is high. The pitch is a strike, but Jordan took it and allowed Larry to steal. Now, Jordan is looking for the hit that could win the series. It's the 6th steal in 6 attempts in this game for Atlanta. Jordan whacks a ball deep to right, but foul on 1-2. Armando throws 2 balls before yakking Jordan with another splitter that Jordan waves at. It's in the dirt, but Pratt quickly slaps a tag on Jordan. Armando pumps his fist as he walks off.
This game is not a war of attrition and a test of wills like Sunday's game was. This is a battle of life and death right now. And once again, this war is extending deeper and deeper into the night, into extra innings.
"Extra innings. We haven't done this in a while," says Costas as we go to the top of the 10th. Costas and Morgan again discuss the pitching situation for both sides. Rocker is still on for the Braves, and Benitez will probably continue for the Mets. How long do you stick with Rocker and Benitez? Cox can still think about a 7th game. Valentine cannot do so. This will likely be the last inning for Rocker. Greg Maddux is walking around in the Atlanta bullpen. They still have Springer and McGlinchy as well. The Mets have Rogers, Yoshii and Dotel, all of whom have started games previously.
Agbayani against Rocker to start off the 10th. Agbayani hangs in against him, and works out a 6 pitch walk, as Rocker begins to miss high and away. Ordonez is next, again up to sacrifice. His first bunt rolls foul. Costas tells us that "Agbayani at first, despite his heft, is not slow. He runs pretty well." Ordonez's second bunt is a liner right to Hunter. Trademark Ordonez bunt. Hunter might have had a play on Agbayani at 1st, but he slips on the infield grass. Benny is able to get back. Mora follows. The upstart. Can he come through again? Mora works the count to 1-2. Agbayani runs, but Rocker has him picked off. Agbayani appears to be dead, but Hunter's throw pegs him right in the back. Hunter did a good job getting in position but his throw was awful. Agbayani is safe at 2nd on the error. Valentine is dancing and juking and flashing signs, and Mora lines the next pitch into center field for another hit! What a job he has done. He takes the fastball off the inside corner and smacks it right through the box. But Agbayani cannot score on the play. He holds third, and Todd Pratt is up. Once again, I'm up on the crack of the bat. The Lets Go Mets chants are loud once again. Valentine is once again making faces and gestures. "You could make a movie just based on Valentine's reactions during an important game," says Costas.
Pratt is up in yet another big spot. Atlanta plays for the DP on the infield. Rocker now is starting to look gassed. He's wild with his slider and he falls behind Pratt. But he comes back with a fastball and Pratt can't catch up. On 2-2, Rocker misses inside. Mora will probably be running, making it difficult to turn a double play. Atlanta's infield pinches in at the corners. Rocker looks in for the sign. He rears back and delivers just as the clock strikes Midnight...
Wednesday, October 20
...and Pratt hits a fly ball to medium center. Agbayani runs back to 3rd to tag up. Andruw Jones makes the catch and fires the ball home. But his throw is up the 3rd base line. Myers cannot handle the throw as Agbayani belly flops across home safely. Mets lead! Mets lead! Agbayani pops up and gives Pratt a giant bear hug as they head back to the dugout. The ball was shallow, but Jones had to throw immediately and his throw was not accurate.
Costas's call: "It's exactly midnight and the 3-2 pitch with the runner going is hit in the air to medium center. Jones with a good arm is charging. Here comes Agbayani, and the throw to the plate us up the line, Myers can't handle it, Agbayani scores!"
On the 0-1 pitch to Alfonzo, Mora breaks for 3rd and Myers cannot handle the pitch. Mora steals without a throw. Morgan is just gushing right now. "How good is this guy Mora? I mean, he is good."
"Who has it been in this inning?" adds Costas, "Agbayani, Mora, Pratt. As unlikely as this whole run in September and October has been for the Mets, some of the names contributing have been just as unlikely."
Alfonzo strikes out. But we are 3 outs away from Game 7.
A shot of Orel Hershiser's grabbing his chest in the dugout as the bottom of the 10th begins. Rocker is fuming in the Atlanta dugout as he talks to Mazzone. Andruw Jones leads off against Benitez. Benitez appears to be working Jones inside. Benitez would like him to chase a bad pitch, but Jones isn't swinging. The count runs full and Jones nails a fastball right back up the middle for a leadoff hit. Here we go again. Rocker was a bit worn out in his second inning, and I wonder if Benitez is as well. In this particular situation, that is a scary thought. He's thrown 30 pitches so far, much more than his usual load. Greg Myers follows, perhaps bunting, or perhaps Jones will steal. But Myers is not bunting. The Mets bullpen is now quiet, a rare sight in this series. Ryan Klesko is in deck to hit for Hunter. On 2-2, Myers hits it off the end of the bat, a fly ball out to left. Agbayani puts it away. Klesko is up. And Klesko has pop. It's another scary, scary moment. Benitez right now isn't popping his fastball in there as well. Instead of 97-98MPH, it's 93-94MPH, and he falls behind Klesko 3-0. Ozzie Guillen is on deck to hit for Weiss, as the moves continue to come fast and furious. Guillen battled Benitez well on Saturday at Shea, almost hitting a Home Run before flying out deep to Right. Benitez walks Klesko on a high 3-1 fastball. Wallace is out as the winning run is now on base. Chop. Benitez is up to 40 pitches and it's going to be up to him to get through this inning, and these have been pressure innings of the highest order. Larry can't watch on the bench. He has his head in his hands. Cox's last man, Jorge Fabregas, moves on deck to hit for Rocker. On 0-1. Guillen steps out as Benitez was winding up. The next pitch is hit just barely past Alfonzo's glove into right field. Another hit. Jones races home with the tying run, and Klesko makes a beeline towards 3rd. But Mora charges the ball and comes up firing towards 3rd, not Home. His throw is a perfect peg and it nails Klesko with ease. Huge. Huge play keeping the winning run off 3rd with less than 1 out. Mora does it again. Now, Fabregas bats with 2 outs and Guillen on 1st. The game is once again tied 9-9. "No end to the heroes in this game," says Morgan. Kenny Rogers is now throwing for the Mets. Russ Springer warms up for Atlanta. Fabregas hits a lazy fly out to Agbayani in left. Fucking A. Benitez threw 45 pitches, and stressful pitches. He can't be blamed for looking gassed in his 2nd inning. Neither can Rocker. Not the way this game has played out.
It's 12:20AM now, and on a school night no less. Russ Springer on for Atlanta, Olerud up for the Mets. 9-9 game in the 11th inning. Greg Maddux continues to walk around in the Atlanta bullpen. Ozzie Guillen remains in at SS for Atlanta, Klesko stays in at 1B. Shawon Dunston, the last man off the bench for the Mets, is on deck to hit for Armando. On 2-1, Olerud flies out to center. Dunston is next, as Costas recaps his incredible 12-pitch at bat in the 15th inning on Sunday. Valentine paces around the Mets dugout with his hat off. Dunston hacks at the 1st pitch and pops out to Klesko. Stark contrast to Sunday. From 12 pitches to 1 pitch. Ventura follows. On 2-2, Ventura is just barely ahead of a high fastball, which he drills deep to right, but foul. On the next pitch, he grounds out to Boone at 2nd.
"How about this as an encore to Sunday," says Costas as the bottom of the 11th begins. After 5 games where neither team scored more than 4 runs in a game, we are 9-9 in the last of the 11th. Kenny Rogers is now pitching for the Mets, after he threw 2 scoreless innings on Sunday. Gerald Williams leads off. Rogers comes right after him with curveballs low and outside. Williams watches one for a strike, and waves at the second. On 0-2, Williams reaches for a curve that hung a little, and pokes it just barely fair down the 3rd base line. Williams digs around first and cruises into 2nd for a double. The pitch hung just a little bit. Rogers left it up. The Braves are now up and alive. Ventura goes in to talk to Rogers. Boone is probably up there to bunt. Dotel is warming for the Mets. No fucking around now. Boone squares and bunts the first pitch right to Olerud on the first place line. His only play is to tag Boone. Now, the winning run on 3rd and 1 out, with Larry and Jordan coming up. Don't think Larry's hitting here, they throw him 4 wide, and probably 4 wide to Jordan as well. The season is now 90 feet away. On the bench, Don Bayor, the Atlanta hitting coach, talks to Andruw. Valentine comes to the mound. You know this situation is pretty fucked up here. My fingernails were gone on Sunday. I now have my face buried in my shirt. The entire infield convenes on the mound. Valentine talks and kicks some grass as he walks back to the dugout. Pratt crouches down and they apparently will pitch to Jordan. First pitch is a pitchout, as if they might squeeze. The second pitch is also a pitchout. Now, Pratt stands and they finish the intentional walk to Jordan.
This isn't good. Costas reminds us that "Rogers is one mistake away from adding another terrible chapter to his already horrid postseason history." NBC has now put their olympic peacock logo on the screen. Ball 1 to Andruw Jones is a curve low. Pratt goes to the mound. The next pitch is a curve in the same place. Low, ball 2. Now, you just have to throw a damn strike. Throw a strike! Rogers does, and Jones taps the 2-0 pitch slowly down the 3rd base line. Fans start to squeal as it rolls, and if it stays fair, the game is over. But it rolls foul. The Mets appear to be playing in on the corners, but medium up the middle, as if to try for the DP on Andruw. The crowd chants "ANDRUW! ANDRUW!" The 2-1 pitch is high outside and the crowd is delirious.
"It's been a 173 game wild ride for Valentine and the Mets," says Costas.
"And Bob, you hate for it to end on a walk," says Morgan.
Rogers fires in strike 2. This game can't end like this. I turn to my roommate and repeat what I said Sunday: "If it has to end here, so be it. It's been one hell of a ride...
...But, man, wouldn't it be sweet if they could get out of this?"
Rogers winds back for one more pitch...
* * *"Oh Dear," is all I can say. I'm basically frozen in my seat. I don't move or speak for some time afterwards.
Someone is hauntingly screaming "Mets suck!" over NBC's feed. It is screamed 13 times over shots of Braves celebrating, and Mets slowly walking around in the dugout.
Bobby Valentine smashed the dugout railing twice, screaming "NO! NO! NO!" Morgan says that "We've finally reached the closing night on the greatest Mets show since 1986. And that's why. (shot of Valentine) He didn't want to lose it that way. And I must admit I hate for the game to end that way."
Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordonez and Melvin Mora remain in the dugout, after much of the team had moved inside. They can only sit and watch. Jay Payton wraps his arms around Benny Agbayani. Valentine continues to pace back and forth.
On the other side, the Braves celebrate. It makes me sick. Both teams expended an incredible amount of energy in this game and this whole series. But when you come out on top, it seems to feel a hell of a lot better, doesn't it. Joe Garagiola said it in 1986, during Game 7 of the World Series. "Losing hurts worse than winning feels good."
The focus is on the Braves. The cameras show them celebrating and spraying champagne on each other. But the Mets cannot be ignored after the fight they put up. Costas acknowledges this: "Seldom has a losing team in a playoff series emerged with such enhanced regard as have the Mets. They have made fans not just in New York, but all over the country, with the wild ride they took us all through in late September and October."
Morgan follows with, "The Mets just would not die. They played a great series, but I think history caught up with them today Bob."
Meanwhile, NBC plays some shots of Yankees/Braves games from the regular season. Costas has no idea what's on the tape. It seems hastily put together. I'm nauseous, and frozen in my seat. I cannot move or speak until this is put up, when I get up and kick over my chair. No way will I come anywhere near that World Series.
Ted Turner accepts the Warren Giles trophy. The trophy that could have been ours. The trophy that will be ours one year later. Bobby Cox interview takes some veiled jabs at Valentine and the Mets, talking about Character. I'm not really interested in anything he has to say. Larry and Rocker get interviewed. Blah blah blah. The sight of them is beginning to make me irrationally angry.
Finally, NBC cuts to Craig Sager outside the Mets clubhouse with Bobby Valentine. Valentine seems surprised that someone is talking to him. Sager asks what Valentine said to his team.
"I said Congratulations. I told the they played like Champions and they should feel like Champions. We don't have a trophy, I know that, but I don't think you can play better than they did right now and for this season, they did everything they had to do. Congratulations to the Braves and Bobby Cox, they did a little more than they were able to muster, but I said Congratulations."
Bobby's voice is cracking and he has to clear his throat. When asked when he will be back, all he can do is smile and say "This is my life."
Brian Jordan is the first Brave to say anything complementary of the Mets. "Those guys never quit, they never died, they never rolled over," he says. Smoltz also talks about how well the Mets played, and how "They're not going to go away, and they're not going to go away next year, either." They look happy now, but the Braves players look pretty damn exhausted too. Once the elation of victory wears off, the exhaustion will come out. Physically and mentally spent following this series, the Braves will barely make a peep against the Yankees in the World Series, getting swept in 4 games.
The Mets are also totally spent. In his press conference, Valentine reiterates himself. "I told my guys it might be a long winter or a short winter, but heck with it. Those guys played like Champions and they should feel like Champions." Shawon Dunston will deliver his famous, "I am so proud to be a Met" speech. Piazza remains slumped in front of his locker, too exhausted to speak. Many Mets follow suit. The ones that do speak can only speak slowly, and with disappointment. They too are hurting, physically, but the emotional pain appears to cut deeper.
John Franco: "We had a good feeling about everything. We just didn't get it done. It's a shame that it had to end that way. But I think everyone in this room should be proud of the way we played the last 2 1/2 weeks. we came through like champs. But we didn't get the job done tonight. "
Darryl Hamilton: "We played as hard as we could...Never give up. Never give up. This is just one of those things that ran out a little bit, but New York should be very proud right now. It's tough, but I'll wake up tomorrow morning, and we'll go back to New York, and we'll be back. We'll be back."
Valentine: "We left it all out on the field and gave everything we had. It wasn't enough to get us to another game or get us to play the Yankees, and it's a damn shame."
Kenny Rogers: "I had to get the ball over to Andruw and I didn't. You just have to deal with it. You can't reverse it. I can't go back out there. It just didn't happen. I couldn't get the ball to go where I wanted it to."
Al Leiter: "I'm harder on myself than I should be because I didn't do my job as the starter of this game. But my teammates have supported me...I believe that we feel that we're as good as that team that's going to the World Series."
Todd Pratt: "A lot of teams would have packed it in, especially against Kevin Millwood, but every time they come to the bench, the bench players try to pick them up, let's get some hits, walks, and try to get a big hit and pull it together. We battled. We had some real clutch hitting today. I'm not disappointed at all. We played our hearts out. I'm sure there are some players here that are sad, but I always believe that if you give it your best, you can always look at yourself in the mirror."
As they prepare to sign off, Morgan tries to sum it all up. He says, "I don't think any series has been more exciting than this."
Costas and Morgan plug the World Series. It's their World Series. We're not going, and I'm not watching. The pride comes later. Right now, it's too painful. But the hurt of this loss will fade over time. The memory will not. And what remains is tremendous pride for the way the Mets hung in there and never, ever quit until the final pitch was thrown. But for the past 20 days, the Mets have taken myself, and every Mets fan on a wild, unforgettable ride. When any other team might have folded up their tents, the Mets got off the mat and battled and battled and damn near accomplished the impossible. There's a lot of sadness and disappointment now. But I have never been more proud to be a Mets fan.
Braves - 10
Mets - 9
Braves Win Series, 4-2
To Be Continued...
Part IX - Postscript