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8 For 8

Every few hours, I like to check and see if our magic number has decreased…

it has [1].

All day it’s been like this. We keep reducing our number every 3 hours and we have 8 left, therefore, at this rate, we’ll clinch by this time tomorrow.

Not really.

An alert to our affiliates along the Faith and Fear network: We cannot clinch this weekend. Repeat, we cannot clinch this weekend. Even an optimal quartet with the Dodgers, by no means a given, combined with a Phillies’ 4-game drop on top of what they lost tonight wouldn’t do it because, while you were flinging rocks and garbage at the Braves’ team bus, the Marlins were winning and pulling into a tie for second.

Boy were they ever.

8.01: Halfway There. In Miami, Anibal Sanchez threw the 4th no-hitter in Marlins’ history [2]. He joins Al Leiter, Kevin Brown and A.J. Burnett in having turned the trick in the past decade and change. Keep it up and they’ll have 8 no-hitters by early 2017. And of course we’ll never have any.

8.02: Why Couldn’t Have McCovey Just Hit the Ball Two Feet Lower? On October 8, 2000, a line-drive double off the bat of Jeff Kent eluded Robin Ventura’s leap. Bobby Jones had to settle for a 1-hitter to clinch the National League Division Series for the Mets. Not a bad little consolation prize.

8.03: Do You Have a Nephew Named Anthony? On July 8, 1969, Cub centerfielder Don Young misplayed two balls at Shea, turning a 3-1 Chicago lead into a 4-3 Met win on the afternoon many point to as the day the home team became a legitimate contender. If it wasn’t that day, it was the next night when Tom Seaver no-hit Young’s teammates but not his replacement, Jimmy Qualls.

8.04: Eric Byrnes Looked Safe to Me. NBC chose to televise the Mets-Cubs game of September 7, 1984 and Doc Gooden did not disappoint. He no-hit the Cubs, with his biggest scare coming when Ray Knight couldn’t handle a fairly routine ball off the bat of Keith Moreland. What? They ruled that a HIT? YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS! The next day, September 8, Flushing Meadow hosted a dramatic day and night of U.S. Open action, none of which mattered to me except that I called the Copper Top pub on Fowler Avenue and asked if they were showing the big Mets-Cubs game via satellite. “No,” the woman who answered the phone told me. “We’re watching tennis.” So was Walt Terrell: Rick Sutcliffe beat him 6-love and the Mets dropped 7 back. The next day, the Mets took the rubber game and native Chicagoan Brent Musberger smirkily played “Cubsbusters” during The NFL Today, because all our win got us was 6 back with 3 weeks to go.

8.05: Of Course He Would Debut in Spring. Preternaturally sunny Gary Carter, our greatest No. 8, was born on April 8, 1954. He would grow up to catch no no-hitters for the Mets.

8.06: Daddy, What’s an Expo? Montreal joined the league of Major cities on April 8, 1969, defeating the Mets in New York 11-10. The Montreal Expos would gain their 1st no-hitter a mere 8 games later when Bill Stoneman tossed one at Connie Mack Stadium. Their 2nd no-hitter came against the Mets on October 2, 1972 at Parc Jarry, also Stoneman’s. The Expos, Connie Mack Stadium and Parc Jarry no longer exist. But the defunct franchise has 2 additional no-hitters to tits credit, by Charlie Lea in 1981 (caught by Gary Carter) and Dennis Martinez (a perfecto against L.A. in which 5 past or future Mets — none of them then-Dodger Carter — accounted for 15 outs) in 1991. The Expos and Marlins, connected mainly by hellbound Jeffrey Loria, have combined for 8 no-hitters.

8.07: An Exclusive Club. When Sanchez retired Byrnes, the entire Marlins’ dugout emptied to congratulate him. So did the Dolphin Stadium stands. My bad — the Dolphin Stadium stands were empty. Paid attendance for the 4th no-hitter in Florida Marlin history on a night when the team was fiercely and miraculously competing for a playoff spot: 8. Check the highlights; I’m exaggerating only slightly.

8.08: It’s Complete. Growing up, I saw Yogi Berra wear No. 8 for the Mets. I saw him coach for the Mets. I saw him manage the Mets. I saw him withstand a torrent of criticism as he guided the Mets in the last-place summer of 1973. And I read all his allegedly nonsensical statements about when it’s over and when it’s not after he made them, as a Met in prelude to the magnificent pennant-winning autumn of 1973. Imagine my surprise to learn we were just a detour for him and that the most famous thing he ever did was jump into Don Larsen’s arms on October 8, 1956, wearing somebody else’s No. 8. No Met catcher embraced any Met pitcher for any similar reason during Yogi’s 11-season rest stop with us.