Well, the Mets just beat the Yankees 6-2, and much of the anger, despair and devastation I felt after last night's ridiculous, inexcusable, crushing defeat has been swept away (or at least, under the rug) with a nice rebound win. Not the first time I've experienced that myriad of emotions in a 24-hour period and probably not the last. So, yay, and LET'S GO METS! But still.... goddamn, that was a rough loss, and it got me to thinking... over the years, I've reminisced and written a lot about the BEST and most memorable Met games I've ever attended, as I have been fortunate to have attended many. But how about the WORST games that I wish I could forget? Indeed, I have attended my fair share of those, too... and I think the time has come to take a sordid trip down bad memory lane. Mets fans, grab a bottle of vodka and join me if you dare....
HONORABLE MENTION: GLAVINE'S INAUSPICIOUS METS DEBUT (3/31/03) -- Perhaps the most miserable live baseball game experience I've ever had. Opening Day '03 was bitterly cold and windy -- I think it was, like, 7 degrees outside, seriously -- and in the very last row of the Upper Deck, it felt even colder. The Mets introduced their latest acquisition, former hated Atlanta Brave, Tom Glavine..... who then got shelled and couldn't get through the 4th inning. Not a good start. The Mets ended up losing 15-2 to the Cubs (my first Opening Day loss since my streak began in '98), but my friends and I left after the 6th inning, which, in itself, is almost unthinkable. And of course, it's interesting to note that Glavine's Met career began almost as horrendously as it ended on the final day of the '07 season -- I'm still convinced that he was working for the Braves all along and was only here to sabotage the Mets from within. Dammit.
5. ONE OF MANY ARMANDO MELTDOWNS (6/14/02) -- Armando Benitez blew so many important and crushing games for the Mets, and I'm sure there were others that I attended that I have forgotten or simply blocked out... but this is the one that most comes to mind. On a rainy, nasty night at Shea, the Mets were clinging to a 2-1 lead over the Yankees. Steve Trachsel battled into the 6th and the bullpen kept the Yanks at bay, with Armando entering in the 8th to get out of a jam. But in the 9th, Armando gave up a game-tying hit to Derek Jeter that deflated the Mets faithful and brought the Yankee fans out of hibernation. Then in the 10th, to add insult to injury, the Yanks took the lead on a two-run homer by none other than former Met favorite Robin Ventura. Ouch.
4. FRANCO SUCKS THE LIFE OUT OF SHEA (9/18/98) -- Fresh off an amazing, dramatic series in Houston, loaded with game-tying homers, walk-off bombs, clutch pitching performances and more, the Mets came home and were greeted by the first legitimate playoff-like atmosphere at Shea in years. They were in the thick of the post-season hunt -- and earlier in the day, the Cubs had lost, so if the Mets won, they would suddenly be TIED for the wild card spot, and the crowd knew it. I was there, in the field level (courtesy of a college friend who had access to primo seats), and the place was simply electric. This was really the first time I'd experienced such a feeling in my adult life, since the Mets had sucked for so long. The Mets held a 6-4 lead in the 9th and handed the ball to John Franco...... who promptly coughed up THREE runs, giving the Marlins the win and basically crushing any hopes we may have had. Though the Mets came back and won the next two games vs. the Marlins, they ended up losing the final FIVE games of the season to the Expos and Braves (despite only needing ONE win to force a three-way tie with the Cubs and Giants) and the first of many disappointments to come over the next 11 years was complete.
3. 2000 WORLD SERIES, GAME 4 (10/25/00) -- The first and only World Series game I've ever attended. It sucked when the Mets lost the first two games of the Subway Series at Yankee Stadium, but we felt a glimmer of hope when they came back and won Game 3 at Shea. We figured, hey, if we can win Game 4 and tie this thing up... well, who knows. Unfortunately, the game got off to a bad start with Jeter homering on the very first pitch off Bobby Jones. The Yanks took a 3-0 lead before Mike Piazza jolted some life into the crowd with a bomb of his own. But then came the key moment that will forever live in infamy in my mind. I never considered Joe Torre to be a good manager -- to this day, I maintain that he was, at best, a mediocre manager who happened to be surrounded by awesome teams. (Hell, I could've managed the '98 Yanks to a World championship.) But in this game, Torre made the one truly smart managerial move of his Yankee career: In a key spot in the 5th inning, with Piazza at the plate, he yanked Denny Neagle and brought in none other than David Cone.... who proceeded to induce a harmless fly ball and get out of the jam. The Yanks won the battle of the bullpens the rest of the way, won the game, and of course, won the World Series the next day.
2. WAGNER MELTDOWN vs. THE YANKS (5/20/06) -- Pedro pitched a gem for 7 innings and Duaner Sanchez kept the Yanks at bay with an easy 8th. With a 4-0 lead, everyone figured they'd bring Sanchez back to start the 9th and keep Billy Wagner ready just in case. But no -- "Enter Sandman" began to play and here came Wagner in a non-save situation. Red flags immediately popped up in the back of our minds, but we figured, naaah, we're safe. Well, we weren't. Two hits, 3 walks, a hit batsmen and 4 earned runs later, Wagner walked off the mound having suffered one of the most monumental meltdowns I've ever seen and the crowd sat in stunned disbelief. The Yankees ended up winning in the 11th... and I trudged back to my apartment and this is what happened next.
1. 2006 NLCS, GAME 7 (10/19/06) -- After Endy's catch set the crowd into a state of pure bedlam, after Shea shook like I'd never felt it shake before, 56,000 fans were convinced that the World Series was within our grasp. But then, Aaron Heilman served up a two-run homer to Yadier Fucking Molina and you could feel the air get sucked out of the place. I'll never forget the pathetic, "...no...!" that squeaked out of my throat when that ball sailed over the wall. It was like being punched in the gut. But still... in our minds, there was NO WAY we could lose this game after that Catch. Molina's homer was just one last bump in the road to victory. After all the stirring comebacks throughout the year... hell, it was the 20th anniversary of 1986!... all the signs pointed to a Mets miracle. But then came the 9th, and... well... yeah. The Mets get two men on base, but Willie plays with his heart instead of his head by letting banged-up Cliff Floyd swing the bat instead of bunting the runners over. (Yes, it would have been an unspeakably awesome Kirk Gibson moment if he'd launched a walk-off bomb, but come on.) Then, with the bases loaded and two out... Beltran... ughhh. Carlos, I know that Wainwright's curveball was a killer, but couldn't you have at least TRIED to swing? Even if you were nowhere close, it might've hurt a TINY bit less if you'd at least made some kind of effort. And who knows, maybe you would've gotten some wood on it and found a hole. But no.... with the bat on his shoulder, Carlos struck out with the bases loaded and the Cardinals celebrated while we all stood there in stunned disbelief. I know I haven't fully recovered from this defeat yet, and I think it's safe to say that the Mets haven't, either. Ugh.
Um, yeah, so there you have it... now let's move along. And as always, no matter how difficult it gets and how bleak it looks... BELIEVE!