There are three postseason games scheduled this October 7. By definition, they are all lacking a certain something. What is it? Oh right — us.
Once upon a time the Mets played postseason games on October 7. Once upon three times, actually…or thrice upon a time. However you measure it, let us recall the three best October 7 games in Mets history (all tied for first):
October 7, 1973. Tom Seaver had been sublime in the National League Championship Series opener, striking out 13 Big Red Machinists, walking none and allowing just six hits in a complete game. Alas, the last two safeties on his docket were a Pete Rose home run with one out in the bottom of the eighth and a Johnny Bench home run in the bottom of the ninth. As the totality of the Met attack that day at Riverfront Stadium was accomplished via a Tom Seaver double, the result was a heartbreaking 2-1 Met loss. Thus, on October 7, the next Met pitcher would somehow have to be even better than Seaver. And he was. Jon Matlack quelled the Reds even more effectively than his more celebrated rotationmate. The sophomore lefty struck out nine, walked three and surrendered no hits at all to the likes of Rose, Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez. He did give up two hits to the likes of journeyman right fielder Andy Kosco, but nobody wearing red scored that Sunday. The Mets were about as blue offensively as they had been the previous afternoon, clinging to a 1-0 lead most of the game (thanks to a solo home run off the bat of Le Grand Orange), but they finally broke it open with four much-needed runs in the top of the ninth. Appropriately cushioned, Matlack went out to complete the game: Morgan flied out, Perez flied out, Bench struck out. Mets win 5-0, tie NLCS 1-1.
October 7, 2000. Sure, I could tell you all about this one, too, but I’ve done that before. You’ll recognize it as the Benny Agbayani Game, the one our electrifyin’ Hawaiian won with one swing of his magic bat in the bottom of the thirteenth inning. For a fresh perspective/special treat, I direct you to Amazin’ Avenue, where Matthew “Scratchbomb” Callan has been expertly recreating the entire 2000 season and postseason these past few weeks. You’ll get tenth-anniversary chills when you read his account, appropriate given not just the subject matter but how cold it grew in the Upper Deck of Shea as that particular Saturday turned to night turned to ice. Don’t worry, you’ll feel warm all over by the end. Mets win 3-2, lead NLDS 2-1.
October 7, 2006. Has it been four years already? I’m afraid it has. The Mets returned to Dodger Stadium for their first playoff game in Los Angeles in eighteen years. The last one hadn’t worked out so well, but this was going to be different. Orel Hershiser wasn’t on the mound for the Dodgers and the Mets’ backs weren’t against the Chavez Ravine wall. With a 2-0 series lead, Willie Randolph handed the ball to Steve Trachsel. Trachsel…he was no Matlack, but his opposite number, the late-period Greg Maddux, was no Hershiser. The Mets piled on the relief pitching and the runs and slightly before midnight EDT they avenged 1988 with a rousing victory that sent them soaring to the NLCS. Several hours earlier, the Detroit Tigers won their ALDS matchup, which would be neither here nor there, except the Tigers ushered New York’s other baseball team to the postseason exit, which made us understandably and uncontrollably giddy. The legend of Holy Saturday (fleeting but fantastic) was thus born. Mets win 9-5, win NLDS 3-0.
Speaking of births and October 7, Faith and Fear in Flushing wishes a most happy birthday tonight to a reader whom we hope enjoys a longer and ultimately more successful run this fall than the aforementioned beloved Mets clubs did in their respective autumns, Sharon Chapman. She’s one month from lacing up her running shoes and taking on the New York City Marathon and, as you may know, she’s been making her strides under the auspices of official blog sponsor FAFIF. She’s got the wristband to prove it, as she showed just the other week while acing Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Mile.
Most inspiring of all, Sharon has used her year on the run to raise funds for the Tug McGraw Foundation, which is devoted to fighting the scourge of brain tumors. You can read about their great work here. Thanks to Sharon and everybody who has contributed to her cause — including readers like you — nearly $6,000 has been raised to help battle the disease that felled 1969 and 1973 Met hero Tug McGraw and remains too much of a factor for too many others. The Foundation seeks effective treaments and attempts to make the lives of those who suffer tangibly better. It isn’t easy, and they need all the help they can get.
You know how you’re not spending a dime on Mets postseason tickets or gear in 2010? If you could take just a smidgen of that windfall (let’s call it the Fourth-Place Dividend), whatever you can afford, and direct it toward the Tug McGraw Foundation here, I think you’d find yourself revisiting that “warm all over” feeling once again.
You Gotta Believe you’ll like how you feel, no matter who’s not playing ball this October 7.