Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Baker's Dirty Dozen

It's now official.

The Mets have backed out of the playoffs.

Aaron Heilman closed out the Phillies and severely damaged their playoff hopes with a 3-2 victory at Citizens Bank Park tonight. But the Astros, who brought in Brad Lidge in the eighth inning against St. Louis tonight, defeated the Cards 3-1 and mathematically knocked the Mets out of contention.

Let's not kid ourselves, we all knew this was coming.

But the fact that the Mets crept this close makes it excruciatingly clear that a few games here and there might have made the difference between being right there with Houston, and being knocked out on the final Tuesday of the season. Looking back, there were plenty of these moments...and half of them going the other way would have made a big difference.

What's sad is that I thought that I would struggle finding enough games to put together a top ten list, but instead I came up with extras...and I had a hard time leaving any of these games off the list. So here now, are the thirteen potholes that turned the Mets' 2005 Cadillac into a Lemon:

April 4th (Joe Randa cooks Mets well "Dunn"): It should have been the perfect way to start the season, with Pedro Martinez treating the Reds like obedient dogs (sit, stay)...but Braden Looper was sunk by Adam Dunn and Joe Randa home runs in the ninth, blowing a three run lead. Considering how bad the Reds became, the Mets really should have taken two of the three games in Cincy (if not all of them)...but opening day was the one that hurt.

May 23rd (Taken off the board): The Mets actually tied this game at 8 apiece, but in a call that could only be made against the Mets, and could only be made in Atlanta, David Wright was called out as he slid too far away from second base. The Mets lost 8-6.

June 12th (E-5): David Wright's error gave the Angels a 4-3 victory in the ninth, and killed all momentum from the Mets' breathtaking walk-off victory from the night before.

June 15th (Rung out to dry): Reliever Royce Ring gets squeezed on a 3-2 pitch to Bobby Kielty in the ninth, and he comes home on Marco Scutaro's two out base hit. This was the other road trip that killed the Mets this season.

June 19th (The Hitaway Debacle): Aaron Heilman holds the Mariners after they take a 6-1 lead, and the Mets cut the gap to 6-5 in the sixth. Inexplicably, Willie Randolph replaces converted starter Heilman with Mike "Hitaway" DeJean in the bottom of the sixth, and the wheels fall off for the Mets. Hitaway is soon released.

June 26th (Subway derailment): The Mets are on the verge of a sweep at Yankee Stadium, when Braden Looper has his second big meltdown of the season, and in the process saving the Yankee season, and Jason Giambi's career by giving up the game winning hit to him.

July 8th (Fluffed): Ramon "Fluff" Castro fails to score from second base on a double in the ninth, and it proves to be the difference as Looper gives up 4 in the ninth and one in the tenth for perhaps the most gut wrenching loss of the season...well, second most.

July 28th (Homecoming Horror): Carlos Beltran begins a horrific four game series at the Juice Box as a visiting player, as Brad Ausmus beats Roberto Hernandez with a two out hit...Ausmus had two RBI's in the game that led off three straight losses against the Houston Astros.

August 4th (Gassed): Roberto Hernandez, closing for Braden Looper who had pitched a million days in a row, gives up 5 in the ninth to the Brewers as the Mets go down 12-9. Hernandez, 126 years young, had also pitched a few days in a row...but that was a minor detail.

August 11th (Crash): A 2-1 loss is overshadowed by a frightening outfield collision between Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron. Cameron's face is shattered and he is lost for the season, Beltran misses a handful of games before coming back.

August 14th (No hitter? No, no): Pedro Martinez pitches a no hitter into the eighth inning, but the Mets lack of offense, a theme throughout the rest of the season, ensures that Pedro's lone hiccup is costly as the Mets lose 2-1.

September 3rd (We lost the funk): Willie Randolph brings Shingo Takatsu in with the bases loaded and Miguel Cabrera at the plate...nice spot for a debut. Takatsu, instead of throwing his "funk" throws a magnetized fastball that turns into a bases clearing double for Cabrera and another road trip loss for the Mets.

September 7th (The Collapse): Looper seals his fate as Mets closer by blowing one run leads in the ninth and tenth to the Braves in Atlanta. The fate of the Flushing nine is sealed.


Anonymous said...

i was at the June 15th game in oakland, went to all 3 games and interestingly enough, i think the mets series turned things around for the A's...

Oakland won the series 2-1

The sweep in seattle didnt help any either...

The worst loss was the melt down in pittsburg. The game was signed and sealed, but looper delivered a pooper.

The other 3 game series i attended @ pacbell, right after the arizona series where trax made his debut... after all that hitting in arizona, the mets bats fell silent in SF and they scored 3 runs in 3 games. SF won the series 2-1

My record this year attending mets road games is 2-6 a .333 winning percentage..

the worst part was watching them choke against teams they could have & should have beat... all they needed this year was an additional 5-7 wins and they would have been in it....

oh by the way!! willie sucks!!!!

G-Fafif said...

Bless the prophet who has never forgotten the ill will that was Luis Aguayo. I've never understood why Terry Pendleton takes all the heat and Aguayo has been lost to history.

Darnell Coles wasn't any help that month either.

Observing the Red Sox and thinking that RSN could withstand a playoff disinvite because they did win last year reminded me that I didn't feel that way for one second in 1987. It wasn't as if 1986 didn't happen but it was irrelevant. Losing in '87 was painful. Not as painful as winning in '86 was awesome, but it wasn't an "oh well".

Watching the pathetic Padres keep the gelatinous Giants at bay reminded me that Joe Randa is in all likelihood going to play in October. I think I just ruined the entire post-season.

Metstradamus said...

Luis Aguayo gave birth to the "Jesse Orosco dartboard", distributed at Shea on Opening Day of 1988.

And if you think about it, better Joe Randa than Armando Benitez, no?

metswalkoffs said...

Thanks for getting Luis on there, Metstradamus...Did you know he apparently managed against Gary Carter this year, as skipper of the Reds entry in the Gulf Coast League?

Saw video of the Aguayo HR a couple wks ago...first time i'd seen it in 18 yrs...still exactly as I remember it...

erik love said...

Met$tra, Fran Healy was in vintage Fran form today. Atleast twice he yelled for Reyes to "go for it"! On his 2 doubles and he even gave us a "watch him run!" on the triple

What a performance by Fran...oh yea and Reyes too

Anonymous said...

oh by the way.. the trax 1-0 shut out against the giants on 8/26 was the high water mark... they were 8 games over .500 and i dont think they've been that far from .500 before or after that date.

witnessing that moment will sustain me through the short days and the long nights of the off season...

Joe said...

I was at the July 8th game in Pittsburgh. I screamed so hard at Castro. At that point, even with Castro killing that inning where the Mets turned on the offense, it was a beautiful evening. The weather was perfect and lets face it, PNC is a beautiful ballpark. Then . . . it just hurt so much to leave that game.

That has got to leave some hope for next season. I mean we really are just a few close decisions away.

Kyle in Newport News said...

There were external forces working against the Mets, too. Take the April 30th game of two rain delays, when the RFK groundscrew poured 5 million pounds of powder on the 1st base side and had just one guy raking the deepening swamp around third. Mets were in the middle of a big rally; Mets lost 5-3 in 7 or 8 instead. Willie protested the game, to no avail.

Jaap said...

Metsra, another brilliant article.

I'm sure that in time, we'll all begin filing our post mortems from the Mets coroner's office but I'd just like to say that compared to the last several seasons, at least this one provided us with a modicum of excitement, a few days scattered like brief showers along the summer when we thought we had a realistic chance.

I didn't see it mentioned anywhere - (perhaps I misread?) that worse than the Mets getting eliminated by the Astros victory, their own victory over the Phillies clinched the NL East for the Braves. What more bitter irony can there be, clearing the path for the success of our enemies?

I would also like to give thanks for having the wisdom to have subscribed to mlb.com's radio version rather than television version so my Mets games were experienced through WFAN, without the braying foghorn of Fran Healy stupidity destroying my experience.

And I want to second the "anonymous" contention that the west coast humiliation against the A's and Mariners was one of the low lights of the season and agreement that it was our series against the A's that propelled them towards their second half success.

My last great Mets memory at Shea was seeing them clinch a tie for the Wildcard against the Pirates in 1999 to take the Reds in that one-game playoff and advance. Heady days indeed.

And what I remember most about that Pirates-Mets finale was trying to keep the goddamned scorecard straight with all of Bobby V's double switches. Oh, how I miss that manager!