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History Rhymes, Repeats, Lets Us Down

“Everywhere I went,” Marvin Gaye [1] and, later, James Taylor [2] sang, “it seems I’d been there before.” In that spirit of history either repeating or rhyming [3], I’d have to say that on Wednesday night, I kind of got what they were getting at.

On October 25, 1986, though the result didn’t go final until the earliest hour of October 26, the Boston Red Sox were defeated by the New York Mets in the village of Flushing, 6-5, despite holding the Mets to only eight hits while registering thirteen hits themselves; the visitors left fourteen runners on base. This happened to be the sixth game of the World Series, a Series the Red Sox had been leading three games to two. Those Red Sox were managed by John McNamara. At several junctures during that game’s tenth inning, McNamara was no more than one swing away from forever being known as the manager of the 1986 world champions.

On July 29, 2020, though the game felt like it dragged until October 26 (it went 3:44), the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Mets in the village of Flushing, 6-5. This also happened to be the same day John McNamara, forever known as the manager of the 1986 American League champions, died at the age of 88 [4].

On June 10, 2003, well-regarded Mets prospect Jose Reyes, hours shy of his 20th birthday, made his first major league start at shortstop in an Interleague game. Young Jose produced a pair of hits, including one for extra bases, in a Met loss.

On July 29, 2020, well-regarded Mets prospect Andres Gimenez [5], all of 21 years old, made his first major league start at shortstop in an Interleague game. He produced a pair of hits, including one for extra bases, in a Met loss. This also happened to be the day Jose Reyes, now 37, officially announced his retirement [6] from a baseball career that encompassed sixteen seasons and myriad accomplishments.

In the 1950s, when they were both writing for Sid Caesar, newcomer Woody Allen was introduced as “the young Larry Gelbart,” to which Larry Gelbart quickly responded, “I thought I was the young Larry Gelbart.”

On July 29, 2020, as Andres Gimenez made his case to be thought of as the next Jose Reyes, 24-year-old Mets shortstop Amed Rosario, described during the night’s broadcast as Reyes’s protégé, watched Gimenez play at Citi Field from a socially distanced seat in the stands.

On August 28, 2015, in a game between the Mets and Red Sox at Citi Field, Mets ace Matt Harvey allowed only two hits over six innings, but Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart (2-for-4) ultimately upstaged his brilliance with an inside-the-park home run off reliever Carlos Torres. The ball actually left the park, but was mysteriously ruled to have done otherwise. Either way, the Mets wound up losing a game it felt like they should have won.

On July 29, 2020, in a game between the Mets and Red Sox at Citi Field, Mets ace Jacob deGrom [7] allowed only three hits over six innings, but Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez ultimately upstaged his brilliance with a home run off reliever Seth Lugo. The ball was definitely out of the park, but earlier, deGrom had Mitch Moreland struck out, yet his pitch was mysteriously ruled a ball, and after that at-bat continued, Moreland snapped deGrom’s long-running scoreless streak. Either way, the Mets wound up losing a game it felt like they should have won.

On too many nights to mention [8], deGrom deserved better than a no-decision in a game the Mets went on to lose.

On July 29, 2020, deGrom deserved better than a no-decision, and the Mets went on to lose.

In too many games to fully enumerate, I looked up at the line score midway through and wondered how the Mets could have so many hits yet so few runs and was certain they would pay for leaving so many runners on base.

On July 29, 2020, at the end of the sixth inning, the inning when Andres Gimenez tripled in Robinson Cano with the go-ahead run, I looked at the line score, and instead of being thrilled that the Mets were up, 3-2, I noticed the Mets had 10 hits and was pretty certain they would pay for leaving so many runners on base.

On September 15, 2019, with the Mets clinging to a one-run lead over the Dodgers, their manager counted on the oft-used Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo to keep them ahead late, and I had the feeling Mickey Callaway was going to each generally dependable well once too often. Wilson gave up the tie, Lugo gave up the lead, and the Mets lost by one run.

On July 29, 2020, with the Mets clinging to a one-run lead over the Red Sox, their manager counted on the oft-used Seth Lugo [9] and Justin Wilson [10] to keep them ahead late, and I had the feeling Luis Rojas was going to each generally dependable well once too often. Lugo gave up the lead, Wilson gave up the tie, and the Mets lost by one run.

On October 19, 2006, with the Mets down two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the ballclub that we love in spite of how much it can frustrate us began to mount an improbable rally against Cardinals closer Adam Wainwright. With runners on first and second and one out, Jose Reyes stroked a line drive into center field that looked certain to score at least one run and drive the Mets toward tying and potentially winning the National League Championship Series. Except St. Louis center fielder Jim Edmonds caught the sinking liner, impeding the Mets’ momentum in what was about to become, two batters later, a 3-1 loss that ensured the National League pennant would fly somewhere other than Shea. Had the 2006 Mets gone to the World Series, perhaps their manager, Willie Randolph, would have gone on to a lengthier managing career instead of never getting another shot after the Mets let him go in June of 2008.

On July 29, 2020, with the Mets down two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning — not long after I listened to a fascinating interview between Howie Rose and Willie Randolph [11] touching somewhat on the disappointment of the Mets losing the 2006 NLCS — the ballclub that we love in spite of how much it can frustrate us began to mount an improbable rally against Red Sox closer Brandon Workman. With their deficit cut from two runs to one and the bases loaded with two out, Robinson Cano [12] stroked a line drive toward into center field. It was more like a humpback liner that looked like it might make it into center field. Still, it looked like it was gonna fall in, maybe, at least until Boston shortstop Jose Peraza picked it out of the air without much trouble, snuffing the Mets’ momentum in what had become, as mentioned above, a 6-5 loss [13]. The Red Sox scored their six runs on eight hits. The Mets scored their five runs on fifteen hits while leaving eleven runners on base.

Just because you get the feeling you’ve seen everything before, it doesn’t mean you won’t keep coming back to watch some more.