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El Duque’s Calf & October 3rd’s Revenge

The Giants won the pennant, won the pennant 55 years ago today.

Brad Clontz didn’t even do as well as Ralph Branca 7 years ago today, unleashing a wild pitch that turned Melvin Mora into a de facto Bobby Thomson as the Mets tied for the Wild Card, tied for the Wild Card.

And on this date in 2004, Todd Zeile hit the shot heard ’round the Zeile household.

October 3 has been a fun date to take to a baseball game in my lifetime, even my pre-lifetime. Thomson’s swing in the Polo Grounds ensured the New York Giants would become my historical fetish. Clontz’s errant throw ensured the Mets would live to see another day in 1999 (it turned out they survived clear to past midnight on October 20). There was nothing more at stake than a warm feeling on 10/3/04, but in retrospect, your co-bloggers and their friends wound up watching a horrible Met era end on a poignant up note.

I was going to tie all of this together. I was going to plug [1] a remarkable new book by Joshua Prager called The Echoing Green, I was going to tell you how last week I saw the author along with his prime subjects, Mr. Thomson and Mr. Branca, in Manhattan and how astounding that was. I was going to tie the Brooklyn Dodger fan festering wound from that one-game playoff to something I just watched on HBO about the Cubs’ sorry history and I’m sure I would have woven in Melvin Mora and Ralph Branca’s son-in-law Bobby Valentine and Joe Hietpas and the death of the Expos and something about the Marlins and I would have helped us count down the hours until 4:09 tomorrow afternoon.

But now, unfortunately, I have real news to report: El Duque might not go tomorrow. Willie announced at his press conference that Orlando was running in the outfield, felt something in his right calf, is receiving an MRI and his start may be up for grabs. No definitive word on Hernandez’s health or who might replace him.

October 3 giveth. Let us hope it doesn’t taketh away.