Am I just a sucker? Is it because I like the drama? What is it about my personality that so greatly enjoys rooting for the sadsack, the downtrodden, the losers? Why do I revel in the pain that rooting for a losing team brings? I guess this is why I'm not a Republican. Actually, I like rooting for the storybook type team, not just boring losers. Thus I'm not a Cubs fan.
My two favorite baseball seasons have been rooting for the 1989 Orioles and the 1999 Mets. Both were underdogs and were not supposed to win. Neither did go all the way but both were so incredibly memorable. The '89 O's were fresh off a 107 loss season - the year that they started 0-21. They set the tone on Opening Day by beating the division champ Red Sox at Memorial Stadium in ten innings. Rookie Steve Finley (still not implicated in the steroids debate by anyone other than you Jamie) separated his shoulder and missed the next three months or so while making an amazing catch at the wall. The punk Roger Clemens couldn't destroy the inept Birds. No Eddie Murray? No problem.
That team was in first place for most of the first half of the season. They hovered near first for the rest of the year. They went all the way to the final weekend against the Blue Jays in Toronto down by one game. Phil Bradley hit a homerun on the very first pitch to start the series but that was all the good news. Greg Olson blew a save in the late innings. Saturday's starter Pete Harnisch stepped on a nail after the game and that was all she wrote.
The Mets in 1999 were below .500 in June. GM Steve Phillips fired two of Bobby V's coaches. Bobby V responded by saying that if the Mets didn't go 40-15 in the next 55 games then he deserved to get fired. The team promptly caught fire and if memory serves correctly, they did go 40-15 in the next 55 games. Ricky Henderson was unstoppable. Piazza carried the team. Masato Yoshii was a quote machine. Things looked good but they just couldn't beat the Braves. Even the wild card almost slipped from their grasp. Inexplicably, the team fell apart during the last week for the second straight season. In '98, the Mets let the Wild Card disappear while getting swept over the last weekend. Could it happen yet again?
They went into the last weekend two games behind two teams. They needed to sweep three games at home against Pittsburgh while needing luck from other teams. The first two days of the weekend went well. On Sunday, the Mets won on a passed ball and then everything else broke okay. They ended up needing to play a one game playoff on Monday against the Reds. Al Leiter was masterful and the Mets won.
In the NLDS, Todd Pratt won the series on a dramatic 10th inning homerun in Game 4. Melvin Mora was called up in September and dominated October. Robin Ventura's grand single game in the rain in the 15th inning to win Game 5 in the NLCS was unbelievable. I was lucky enough to be at both the Pratt and Ventura games. The Mets should have been the first team to come back from a 3-0 deficit if Kenny Fucking Rogers hadn't walked Andruw Jones.
Not that I didn't enjoy this Mets season. Of course, I did. But it was nothing compared to 1999 during the regular season. I love teams coming from behind, not the teams winning all season. The 1997 Orioles weren't nearly as exciting as the '89 O's. Granted, the playoffs were gutwrenching and exciting but nothing beats '89.
The '82 season was almost a perfect example of what I want out of a season. The Orioles were down three games to the Brewers with four left in Baltimore. They won the first three over Milwaukee. It went down to the last game. Don Sutton vs. Jim Palmer. The Orioles lost. Earl Weaver in his last game before retirement gave a tearful speech to the 55,000 fans who stayed and cheered him. Granted, I was too busy playing outside to watch the game but you get the point. Stone Groove and I did go to the Saturday game though.
Even when I watched football (seems like a very long time ago) I was more interested in the underdog seasons. I loved the '86 and '87 Redskins because nobody thought they could win. The '86 team lost to the Giants three times including 17-0 in a windswept Giants Stadium in the NFC Championship game and I still remember how empty I felt afterwards. The '87 Redskins won the Super Bowl but I was kind of bored at the ease of the win. I wanted to see them win on a 98 yard drive at the end of the game, not on 42 2nd quarter points. The 14-2 '91 Skins kind of bored me with their dominance.
So this Mets team should be favored to at least make it to the World Series. But now that Pedro and possibly El Duque are out for the duration, the Mets seem to be in a bit of trouble. I'm worried. I'm very worried. I don't like this at all. But I do like that the team is now considered a bit of an underdog. Let's see what this team can do with two of their three best starting pitchers out.
I can not wait for Game 1.
Mets starting pitcher Steve Trachsel after his weekend in San Diego. I'll bet Jose Lima is available to pitch tomorrow.
Mets 11 Padres 2
1 day ago