Tonight should be the night that SHR, Erik, and Dave were heading to Shea for Game 3 of the World Series. Instead, I get to hunker down and watch sluggers hopped up on Human Growth Hormone (David Eckstein I'm looking at you) face pitchers with shit on their hands.
I'm slowly getting over the sting of the Mets not making the World Series. It is tough though. I've not been this disappointed since 1997. There have been plenty of other teams that have broken my heart but I haven't been as upset as this in years.
The teams that have disappointed me the most:
The team was three games behind the Brewers with 4 left in Balt. The Orioles took 3 in a row to set up the final decisive game of the season. The Orioles lost but I was too busy playing outside to even notice too much.
The disastrous '88 season led directly to the wondrous' 89 one. The team held first most of the year and was close all the way. It went into the last series in Toronto one game behind. It lost the first two games and that was that. Still how could I be too upset by a team that got as close as it did when it had no right to get that close?
Lost in the ALCS to the Yankees. After the whole Jeffery Maier bullshit, this team wasn't that close to making the World Series. The Yankees were better anyway. This was the first Orioles playoff team in 13 years so I was just happy that the team had made the playoffs. Especially since they had almost traded away some of its veterans in July.
My first time rooting for the Mets for a full season after moving to NY the previous September. The scrappy team needed a star and got one by trading for Piazza in May. They had the Wild Card in their grasp. I had playoff tickets. Then the team lost its final 5 games, including the last 3 to Atlanta. What a disaster. Still, I was just happy to have moved to a new city and have a fun team to root for. Plus the team wouldn't have gone that far anyway so I wasn't completely devastated.
The Mets were great but they just couldn't beat the Braves. When they went down 3 games to nothing against the Braves in the NLCS, it seemed like things were over. Inexplicably, they won Game 4 which set up the best game I've ever seen in person - the Robin Ventura grand single game - 15 innings of tension filled baseball in the rain. Then they had the lead in Game 6 after Super Republican Al Leiter had shit the bed to start the game. Of course, Benitez blew it and then Kenny Rogers walked in the season ending run.
I was crushed this year too but even if the Mets had won this game, they still had one more to do. I was just happy about the thrills the team had given me that postseason already (Todd Pratt Division Series winning homerun, Game 5 of the NLCS) that I wasn't as crushed that year as I was this year. Or maybe I simply have forgotten the pain. But there is something so incredibly awful about the way Mets lost this year with the tying run on 2nd base, a great hitter at the plate, and in Game 7 that surpasses the hurt from the '99 Mets.
That World Series was such a downer. I'm not saying that that team would have beaten the Yankees but they would have done better than the Braves who got swept. My two least favorite teams squared off in the World Series and I don't remember being too enamored about watching it.
Whatever. The Mets never really were close in that Series. And, at least, when it was over, there was no more baseball season left to torment me. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Game 1, soul crushing, 12 inning loss was Armando Benitez's fault.
Mediocre all season, the Mets started winning all the time about 10 days before 9/11. Then they carried on their winning ways afterwards as well. 12 days after 9/11, the team returned to NY for the first game in the city after the awful day. Piazza hit a big homerun and the Mets beat the Braves. They won on Saturday as well. On Sunday, they were on the verge of winning again and closing the Braves lead to 2 1/2 games with 9 left. Of course, Benitez blew the lead and the Mets lost in 11. The team never recovered and finished at 82-80.
That was a disappointment but considering that I had written the team off by mid May, it was still nice to see the team make a late run. A month later I wrote, "As horrible as this game was, it was such a nice feeling to be so depressed about a baseball game. For the first time since September 11, I was truly able to focus completely on something other than tragedy and disaster. I was able to focus completely on the tragedy and disaster that is Armando Benitez in a big game."
Which leads me to the last time that I was so distraught about a postseason. It was the 1997 Orioles. Like the '06 Mets, this team dominated over the competition all season and the playoffs were never in doubt. Like the '06 Mets, the '97 Orioles were led by a former second baseman. The '97 Orioles won one more game than the '06 Mets.
This was the year for the team to finally make it to the World Series. They boasted three good starting pitchers (Mike Mussina, Jimmy Key, and Scott Erickson) and they breezed through the Division Series just like the Mets.
In the next round, they faced a vastly inferior team (on paper) just like the Mets did. However, they weren't reeling from injuries like the Mets were this year. Instead, they suffered from something even more dastardly - they had Armando Benitez on their team.
Dave N. and I drove to Baltimore after work to see Game 1 in person. We arrived back to NYC at 3:30 am and I got a few hours of sleep before going back to work. Things looked great. Cleveland had no chance. In Game 2 with a 2 run 8th inning lead, Davey Johnson brought in Benitez to bridge the gap to Randy Myers. Benitez put 2 runners on and then gave up a 3 run blast to Marquis Grissom. Series tied. I was watching this game by myself in an empty apartment (except for the TV on the floor) that Balgavy had just moved into in Brooklyn.
In Game 3, Mike Mussina pitched 7 brilliant shutout innings. Benitez actually escaped unscathed and the game went into extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th with Marquis Grissom on 3rd, backup catcher Lenny Webster couldn't corral a Randy Myers pitch and Grissom scored the winning run on a passed ball. What the fuck? I still remember watching the completion of that game with Stone Groove in stunned silence.
In Game 4, the Orioles actually overcame a 5-3 7th inning deficit by scoring a run in the 7th and the 9th. Of course, in the 9th, things went badly. Alan Mills put a runner onto start the inning. With 2 outs and the winning run on 2nd, Mr. Benitez was brought in. He walked a hitter and then gave up a game winning single to Sandy Alomar. I hate Armando Benitez!
The Orioles won Game 5 and headed back to Baltimore down 3 games to 2. Game 6 was a doozy. Mike Mussina was brilliant. 8 innings, 1 hit, 2 walks, no runs. Great, right? Too bad the Orioles couldn't get any hits when it mattered. They stranded 14 runners on base in the game. The game went to the 11th tied at 0. I had tickets for Game 7. I was so excited to be able to go to it with my dad. Scott Erickson on the mound for Game 7, the Orioles would have momentum, things would be golden.
Enter Armando Benitez. With 2 outs, he gave up a homerun to Tony Fernandez. I felt as deflated as I did on Thursday night when Molina's ball disappeared into the Shea night. In the bottom of the inning, the Orioles had the tying run on 1st with 2 outs with Roberto Alomar at the plate. Like Beltran, Alomar struck out looking. Ugly. Like the '06 Cardinals, the '97 Indians went onto the World Series to face a Jim Leyland led team.
I had a hard time watching the World Series that year. It should have been the Orioles, not the Indians! I couldn't even bear to care about that Series until Game 6. I feel similarly this year. Usually, I love the World Series. This year, it is just a painful reminder of what could have been.
The '97 Orioles were not the most likable team. Cal Ripken was a stubborn prick. Rafael Palmeiro was a boring crybaby. Randy Myers was too busy reading "Guns and Ammo" to even give flowers out to moms at the gate on Mother's Day (the only member of the team to refuse). Roberto Alomar was fresh off his spitting incident. Mussina was always an arrogant selfish player but at least he was great. Mike Bordick was boring. Who can get that excited about players like BJ Surhoff and Geronimo Berroa?
The team was a bunch of mercenaries with only three key players developed by the organization and one of them was from the early 80's. Although I'll give the team credit for sticking with Brady Anderson through his early tough pre-steroids years. Plus, who doesn't like Harold Baines and Erik Davis? Overall though, not the most likable team. And did I mention Armando Benitez?
Peter Angelos began the destruction of the team through stinginess and ineptitude after this season. He already drove away Jon Miller but now the onfield stuff was on its way. On the day that Davey Johnson was named AL Manager of the Year, he resigned by fax (if memory serves correctly) because he was about to get fired.
The team began 1998 as the oldest team in the majors and they played like it. The one memory that sticks out for me about this season was when Benitez started a melee in the Bronx by drilling Tino Martinez after giving up a big homerun to Bernie Williams. The whole team was embarrassed and didn't do much to prevent the likes of D. Strawberry from using Benitez as a punching bag. After the season, Benitez was traded to the Mets so he could continue to torment me in New York.
Soon, Albert Belle was on the team and then we had to suffer through the likes of Marty Cordova being touted as key acquistions. The list goes on and on about the crap that is the Orioles organization and I don't really feel like going into it. The team has not had a winning season since 1997.
Even then there was a sense that '97 was it. Do it or don't. There is no such feeling with the '06 Mets. Disappointing yes but this team will be back next year. The core is still young. Minaya is smart, Wilpon has open pockets, and the team should be competitive for years. It doesn't make the sting of the loss any better right now but come April, this team should be even hungrier to win. Unlike the '97 Orioles, this Mets team was extremely likable. Any team with Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Delgado, and Pedro is off to a good start on the likeability factor.
This was therapeutic, thanks for bearing with me.
4 days ago