Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Ballclub's Top Ten of the '00s

I've been on sort of an unplanned, unannounced hiatus, not so much because I'm tired of writing about the Mets, but moreso because the Mets simply haven't given me anything to write about. But given that there are only 3 days left in the decade, and many of my brethren have been musing about what the Best Mets Moment of the '00s was, I thought I'd chime in with a few lists. These aren't necessarily the definitive Top 10s, because that's boring. Instead, these are The Ballclub's Top Tens. You can make your own opinion. These are mine.

10) April 9, 2001
The Mets raise the 2000 Championship Banner in the Braves' faces, then go out and hammer the Braves 9-4. Piazza hits 2 HRs and Tsuyoshi Shinjo and his orange wristbands hit his 1st in the US.

9) December 17, 2004
Pedro Martinez signs with the Mets. Though Martinez's Mets tenure was marred with injuries and unfulfilled promise, the signing itself re-legitimized the Mets, showed the fans and other players that the team was serious about winning, and was the catalyst that ultimately propelled the Mets to their success in 2006.

8) September 25, 2008
An odd choice, you might think, given the way the next three days ended up panning out. But this frenetic double-comeback against the Cubs in a game the Mets desperately needed to have was my final victory at Shea Stadium, the final Walk-0ff at Shea Stadium, and a game that featured just about everything, including Pedro's Last Stand, Ryan Church's Dive and Carlos Beltran basically hitting one through Micah Hoffpauir's glove at 1st base to win it. The 2008 Mets ultimately were submarined by themselves, but for one night provided one last gasp of magic at Shea.

7) August 22, 2006
Another one of my favorites, the Pujols-Delgado-Beltran game. I consider this to be the mother of all walk-off wins the Mets would pull off in '06. Pujols almost singlehandedly sank the Mets on this night, hitting a 3-run HR and a Grand Slam in consecutive innings. But the Mets didn't quit. Delgado matched Pujols' slam with one of his own, and in the bottom of the 9th brought Carlos Beltran to the plate, down 7-6, with LoDuca on 1st. And everyone in the stadium was up, because you could sense that something big was about to happen. Beltran smoked the 1st pitch from Jason Isringhausen into the Bullpen. Game over.

6) October 5, 2000
Most fans tend to remember Benny Agbayani's HR in Game 3 as the signature moment from the 2000 NLDS against San Francisco. I prefer to remember Game 2 of this series. Down 0-1, Al Leiter took the ball and basically shut down the Giants for 8 innings. Alfonzo hit a 9th inning HR that proved to be clutcher than clutch when Benitez gave up a 3-run shot to JT Snow in the last of the 9th (which prompted my non-baseball savvy roommate to remark "It's a sad day for Derek Jeter!"). Now tied and playing in a ballpark where they had yet to win, it would have been a good place for the Mets to curl up and die. But they didn't. In the 10th, Daryl Hamilton doubled and Jay Payton singled him home with 2 outs, and the Mets survived a Giant rally in the last of the inning, the game ending when John Franco turned over that signature changeup one more time to freeze Barry Bonds.

5) September 18, 2006
Nothing needs to be said.

4) October 8, 2000
Much like Game 2 of this series, Game 4 gets very little respect as well. And I'm not sure why, because as Bob Murphy said following the game, "The Mets have never had a better ballgame pitched, in their 39-year history!" Given that the Mets have never thrown a no-hitter, and given that, on this day, Bobby J. Jones was probably the absolute last person you'd think would go out and throw a 1-hit shutout, including 8 of 9 perfect innings, Murph might very well be right.

3) October 4, 2006/October 7, 2006 (Tie)
I hold the 1st game in similar esteem to #7. There was simply no way the Mets would allow themselves to lose this game. Even after losing both Pedro Martinez and El Duque, the Mets rallied behind John Maine, Paul LoDuca tagged out 2 Dodgers at home on the same play and Carlos Delgado stole the show with a HR off Derek Lowe that may still be traveling. But Guillermo Mota blew a 4-1 lead in the 7th, and things seemed a little tense. I remember being at this game with El Guapo, and he was apoplectic when LA tied it. "Relax," I told him. "It's in the bag. We got this." And sure enough, they did, behind Reyes coaxing a leadoff walk in the last of the 7th, stole 2nd and scored on Delgado's 4th hit of the game. Wright followed with an RBI 2B of his own, and the Mets willed themselves over the Dodgers. Game 3, same thing. After staking themselves to an early lead, Trachsel turned around and handed it back. But trailing 5-4 in the 6th inning, the Mets did what they had done all season. They got up, dusted themselves off, strung together a bunch of hits and basically overwhelmed the Dodgers, breaking their spirits and eventually pushing them off the dance floor.

2) October 12, 2006
At no point during the 2006 season did I ever feel the Mets were more invincible than on this night, and it's probably true. Glavine pitched what was probably his best game with the Mets (even if Pujols didn't think he was any good), and he was backed up by some of the best defense I've ever seen. Carlos Beltran doubles Pujols off 1st on a routine fly to center. Wright robs Scott Rolen to start a DP. Endy Chavez dives all over the place, including in the seats. Carlos Beltran's monstrous 2-run HR is all the offense Glavine, Mota and Wagner need as they shut out the Cardinals and grab the lead in the NLCS. For now, the Mets appear poised to cruise into the World Series. For now...

1) October 16, 2000
...But nothing can top the game where they actually got to the World Series.

Honorable Mentions
September 21, 2001
Anyone who wonders why Mike Piazza is so revered and loved by Mets fans need only look at this game.

February 1, 2008
Johan Santana, who I expect will figure heavily in the next decade for the Mets, is acquired from the Minnesota Twins.

10) Pedro Martinez, 2005
9) Johan Santana, 2008
8) David Wright, 2006
7) Carlos Delgado, 2008
6) Carlos Delgado, 2006
5) Edgardo Alfonzo, 2000
4) Jose Reyes, 2006
3) David Wright, 2007
2) Carlos Beltran, 2006
1) Mike Piazza, 2000

Hon. Mentions: Al Leiter, 2000 and Mike Hampton, 2000, Cliff Floyd, 2005

TOP TEN WORST MOMENTS (No links to spare everyone's sensibilities)
10) Bobby Valentine's pothead news conference, September, 2002.
9) The Kazmir trade and ensuing fallout, August, 2004.
8) Omar Minaya petulantly picking a fight with the media, August, 2009.
7) Roberto Alomar's entire Mets tenure, 2002-2003.
6) Brian Jordan vs. Benitez, Brian Jordan vs. Franco, September, 2001
5) Duaner Sanchez's Taxi accident, July 31, 2006.
4) Carlos Beltran watches Strike 3 vs. Wainwright, October 19, 2006.
3) The entire 2009 season.
2) Tom Glavine's 1/3IP on September 30, 2007.
1) Losing the last game at Shea Stadium in meek fashion, September 28, 2008.

That's it. Comments and arguments appreciated. Here's hoping the next decade is a little better.