Friday, October 20, 2006

A Completely Unnecessary But Vivid Account of the Inning During Which the Mets Broke My Heart Into Infinitesimal Pieces.

Disclaimer: the word "crack" is used about 50 million times in this post, and can either signify the sound that is made when a bat and ball come into contact with one another, or the sound my heart makes when it endures one too many Yadier Molina hits and/or Carlos Beltran strikeouts.

I really should have been prepared for this. I've spent the last several days saying how proud I was that the Mets had even gotten to the second round of the playoffs with Tom Glavine and a bunch of random people picked off the street. And yet.

When I took a look at the probable pitching matchup for Game 7, I od'd on underenthusiasm. If such a word exists. Oliver Perez versus Jeff Suppan. My prediction was that the game would be all but over by the end of the third inning. In terms of ERA and win-loss record, Oliver Perez is the worst starter EVER to take the mound in a Game 7 game. Ever. Jeff Suppan is really underrated and has actually been pitching extremely well for most of the summer/fall. This should have been a cakewalk for the Cardinals.

Realizing the chances of the game being close, much less in favor of the Mets, was minute at best, I promised Inna that I would go see a free sneak preview of Marie Antoinette, a movie I would never pay to see in a million years. Apparently, a lot of people voluntarily WANTED to see a Kirsten Dunst movie, because by the time we got there - 45 minutes before the show, I might add - the line stretched all the way from 2nd and 12th to 3rd and 12th. While we waited, Weenie Brian showed up with a ridiculous facial hair Halloween experiment on his face, and now looks EXACTLY like Adam Morrison from the Gonzaga Bulldogs/Charlotte Bobcats.

Adam Morrison.

They're white-people-with-Asian-facial-hair twins. <3.

Marie Antoinette was a no-go (shocked face.), so after poking a strange pinkish concoction at a tea establishment down the street, I managed to return home in time for the top of the 5th inning - and what I saw defied...everything.
The Mets were not losing.
Oliver Perez was pitching well.
The game was tied 1-1.
After dousing my head in cold water/rubbing my eyes/slapping myself silly and still seeing a low scoring, brilliantly pitched game, I settled in to watch the most intense/dramatic game of the postseason by any team in either league.

In the top of the 6th inning, with Jim Edmonds on first courtesy of a one-out walk and Scott Rolen facing a tiring Oliver Perez, the most amazing catch in the history of Met playoffdom occurred. CRACK. Rolen hit a fastball that was clearing the left field fence by a good foot or so. And then Endy Chavez, with his tiny little body and absolutely perfect timing - IN THE RAIN - snagged it back and then had the foresight to throw it back to the infield to double up Edmonds at first. Absolute brilliance. And thanks to the wonder of YouTube, you can watch it over and over:

Sigh of happiness.

Now that I know how to post YouTube shizzle, expect ridiculous posts containing Dominque Moceanu's Olympic floor routine and Meryl Streep accepting an Oscar for Sophie's Choice.

Once Endy Chavez catapaulted over the wall and brought back a Rolen game-winner, I knew we were dealing with mad quality Mets shizzle. The next three innings crept by, some runners getting on base, none of them scoring.
Then it was the 9th inning.
In a move that even in hindsight I agree with, Willie Randolph left Aaron Heilman in for a second inning to face Edmonds, Rolen, and Molina. Surely it was a better option than Billy "I Don't Close Games, I Open Them!" Wagner. We will never know.
Inna called for moral support and whatnot as Edmonds came up to the plate. Heilman struck him out. I hooted and hollered. Then something happened that made me question whether Inna is a divine entity. As Rolen came up to bat, I whistled the first line of "The First Noel," which is the only way we can get Olivia to jump up on our laps. Inna made a wretching sound and said, "Stop! Whistling is a bad omen!" Crack. Rolen singled. Crack. Molina hit a two-run homer to left that even Endy Chavez couldn't catch. 3-1, Cardinals.

Crack. No, not the bat.

As devastating as that was, it didn't compare to the seemingly intentional manipulation of my heart strings in the bottom half of the ninth. Drunk Erin pretty much packed it in, getting up and wandering over to the bathroom for teeth brushing and activities traditionally allotted to that moment when the recently ended day's obligations are done and the only thing left to do is prepare for a pleasant snooze. Ingrid had also relegated the Mets game to a position of relative unimportance, drifting off to sleep on the futon. Olivia and I sat perched on the edge of our seats. You know. Because of a Tug McGraw 1973 oft-repeated phrase regarding a belief system.

First up - Jose Valentin. Crack. Valentin is on first. Ingrid wakes up. Endy Chavez, defensive wizard of amazigness comes up. Crack. Another single. Runners on first and second with nobody out and the winning run at the plate. Drunk Erin comes back. Then Willie Randolph does something that made absolutely no sense at the time, and makes even less sense now. The pitcher's spot comes up, and rather than going with a dependable bench player to either a) bunt the runners over for Jose Reyes and the top of the lineup or b) hit the ball, Randolph pegs Cliff Floyd to pinch hit. What? But...Cliff Floyd can't run. And Cliff Floyd hasn't been in a game for a week and is clearly going to be rusty. So that means that he's either going to strikeout or hit into a double play, because fo rizzle - he has one good leg. He is as good to the Mets as Kerri Strug would have been as a pinch runner after her second vault in '96.
What happens? Cliff strikes out. Crack. One out.

Hey Willy, remember the players on your bench who have seen live pitching in the last week AND have two working legs? Christ.

Next up? Jose Reyes. The leadoff hitter. The spark at the top of the lineup. He hasn't had a hit all night. He's due. Crack. He sends a screeching liner into center field. Right into Jim Edmonds' glove. Crack. Two outs.

Paul Lo Duca comes up to bat. The Cardinals look despicably excited. Ball four. Lo Duca walks to load the bases. The crowd gets back into it.

The Mets' best hitter strolls up with the winning run at first and the tying run in scoring position. Carlos Beltran sees strike one. Carlos remembers that Adam Wainwright has a curve ball that he would love to use in an 0-1 count. He swings and fouls off the curve on the inside half of the plate. 0-2. Maybe Carlos didn't think Wainwright would throw another curve. Maybe he was looking for a fastball - he obviously wasn't looking for the 0-2 curve ball that made his legs and the Mets' World Series dreams buckle. Crack.

R.I.P. 2006 Mets.


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