Forget the Florida Marlins on final days of the season. As Mets fans, what really ought to make us shiver is the thought of playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC.
Before everything went straight to hell tonight, Emily and I were lying in bed admiring the vistas of PNC and all those unoccupied seats and we agreed that next year we would join the hordes of blue-and-orange fans to invade the Pirates' home. How soon we forget. The Pirates promptly rose up against J.J. Putz, battering him like a steelworker with doubts about unionization, and I remembered. Oh yeah, this is the last place any sane Mets fan would want to be.
The Mets are 12-14 at PNC since it opened; 6-8 in the less-remarked Faith and Fear era. But oh, the gag jobs we've seen. Take some Dramamine and buckle up — we're going down Bad Memory Lane.
July 8, 2005: After eight very good innings by Victor Zambrano, Aaron Heilman comes in and gets two outs, but also allows three runners to take bases. Handed a four-run lead and needing to get one lousy out, Braden Fucking Looper proves the wisdom of his middle name by allowing a two-run single to Tike Redman and a sinking Matt Lawton liner that gets past Cliff Floyd for a tie game. Looper, sent back out for the 10th because Willie Randolph doesn't hate us enough, is victimized by “defenders” Miguel Cairo and Jose Offerman, two ex-Mets I'd gladly kick in the head if I could get away with it, then allows the game-winner to Humberto Cota.
July 9, 2005: The not-yet-useful Heath Bell and the long-proven-useless Danny Graves conspire to allow seven Pirates run in the seventh, with the big blow a Jack Wilson grand slam. Mets lose, 11-4.
September 15, 2006: With the Mets on the verge of clinching the NL East title, Pedro Martinez returns from a month on the DL with a sore calf. But that's as good as the storyline gets — Pedro is not himself, or more accurately (though we don't know it at the time) is what he will be from this point forward. The Pirates lead 4-0 after three and don't look back. Insult to injury: The Mets spend the evening batting in front of a bizarre banner for something called Pup-Peroni.
Sept. 16, 2006: Keep that champagne on ice. This one's 2-2 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Ronny Paulino drives in Joe Randa with a long double off Heilman, who bites his lip and makes his I Just Ate a Big Lemon face. (At least I'm assuming. How long will it be before I can no longer instantly summon up what Aaron Fucking Heilman looks like just after losing a game? HOW LONG, GOD?)
Sept. 17, 2006: Oh, fuck. For the third day in a row, the Mets are beat by a Pirate left-hander and denied a chance to clinch their title. Afterwards, David Wright says all the right things. Greg Prince, on the other hand, has had it. The Mets will clinch the next night, but the memories of PNC and the reverse broom will endure.
Aug. 16, 2007: Mets up 5-0 after three. And then … oh, for fuck's sake. There's no link for your own protection. Greg and I could only manage total denial and curt surliness, respectively. If you remember, you don't need another poke with a sharp stick. If you've forgotten, leave it that way.
June 1, 2009: Mets up 5-0 after three. We should've known, shouldn't we?
Need to deal with the pain? Call our office in the morning, but for now, read two chapters of Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.