Scioscia … Gibson … Pendleton … Jorda
salted the earth with enough bad retro karma to keep evil spirits at
bay for the balance of 2005. I took virtually the same tack as you
regarding the '88 World Series, peeking in only very occasionally (a
plan I found myself employing eleven years later under similarly
sickening circumstances). I'm guessing a lot of Mets fans were absent
from NBC's audience that week.
My whole life October meant watching the World Series whether we were
in it or not, but after the NLCS collapse, I just couldn't. The
immortal Fred Bunz and I treated Game 1 as just another Saturday night
of aimless late-'80s cruising the highways and byways of Long Island. I
couldn't help myself, though, from flipping the car radio from Johnny
Hates Jazz to Jack Buck's broadcast from Los Angeles for the ninth.
When Eckersley walked Mike Davis, I felt the same kind of “uh-oh,”
albeit a far more benign version, that I had when John Shelby's
fricking bases on balls quietly harbingered doom a week prior. And sure
enough, Gibson won Game 1, a moment that was pretty dramatic but
dramatically overrated in all those Greatest Moments surveys. It was
the first game, not, say, the sixth game with his team about to be
eliminated with two out in the tenth and down by two. Plus, I'm still
sore that hothead won the MVP over Strawberry.
When ninth-inning do-or-die situations arise this season, I hope Braden
Looper is up for them. He was the most dependable Met all of last year
and yet I still don't quite trust him — maybe he was waiting for this
year to start blowing games in earnest because he knew doing so last
year would be a waste of time, what with nobody watching. I read his
save percentage in 2004 was 85%, which pales in comparison to his
predecessor's rate. That was thrown around by Armando apologists when
we handed him to the Yankees in July 2003 in exchange for a tube of
eyeblack and Jason Anderson.
Remember that whole delightful midsummer purge and all the “prospects”
it wrought? Have you noticed that except for Victor Diaz, none of those
guys have made the slightest impression or figured into anybody's
pretend rosters? Not that dumping Benitez, Alomar, Sanchez, Lloyd and
Burnitz wasn't worth it for the cheap composite thrill alone, but the
eventual return on those trades probably tells us bulk veteran dross
doesn't magically transform itself into future gold.
Diaz I'm looking forward to when the exhibitions start. A couple homers and it could start a Huskey-type tease and they'll have
to take him north. Maybe then he starts in right if Cameron isn't
healed or doesn't make peace with Willie's ways. Anything to get him on
the team is fine. Once he's here, he's going to play, right or
left (eerie that Bill Iannicello's plea to buy New Mets tickets arrived
in the mail Saturday and didn't mention Cammy or Floyd; for that
matter, Tom Glavine was demoted from star attraction to “control
specialist”). One more young guy to join Reyes and Wright and Pope
Carlos I would make me believe this is a team on a true upward
trajectory, not just the same lousy Mets plus a couple of better
Yes, yes, I'm a touch overinfluenced by what he did against the Cubs
last September. Don't believe what you see from a rookie in the final
month — unless it suits your worldview. With one two-out, ninth-inning
swing, this Diaz kid rescued his team from certain defeat, shut up
Chicago's vast traveling party (which comprised half of Shea that
afternoon, ugh, ugh, ugh) and derailed a pennant contender's hopes.
After failing miserably against everybody with an agenda the previous
September, the Mets actually did what fourth-place teams are supposed
to do when they face their betters. To the spoilers belonged the Victor.