Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Metsography: Terry Pendleton Causes A Seat Malfunction

1987 was the first season that I was involved in a Mets ticket plan. Obviously, 1986 had something to do with that...but it was more. It was the guy in my orchestra class who was parading around his two World Series tickets while swearing up and down that he had two more that he would sell me. But as the day of the game came, he told me that he "lost" the tickets.

I never went to the 1986 World Series.

And the game that this kid had tickets for? Yes, it was Game 6.

I decided that I would never let that happen again...so I bought a Mets ticket plan...and on a February day in 1987, I took a tour to see where I would be sitting on Tuesday and Friday nights. There was snow on the field...snow covering the spot where Billy Bucks did his imitation of the St Louis Arch during the game I never went to. Got to sit in the old Jets lockerroom as well that day...but what I remembered most was the snow. Can you imagine snow on a major league baseball field?

Now after 1986, most scribes warned of inactivity during the offseason..."look what happened to the 1985 Royals" they said...they stood pat and look what happened. So the Mets were proactive that season and traded for Kevin McReynolds...the perfect big bat to compliment Straw, Keith, and the Kid. Now there was no doubt in my mind that 1987 was going to be bigger and better than 1986...and that I would be there for the repeat.

For a while, all of us were severely disappointed as the Mets stumbled out of the gate...thanks in part to Dwight Gooden's stint at the Betty Ford Clinic for overindulgence of all sorts...and the Mets were behind the division leading Cardinals by a good 6 or 7 games at the first of August.

But with August came the Mets...as a 22-12 run thrust them to a game and a half back of the Cards, and a big series coming up at Shea starting on a Friday night. This game, was the very reason I bought season tickets. And the atmosphere was well worth the price for the entire season. Every regular was there, the crowd was jumpin' off the hop...like a playoff game. You can't tell me that there was still a 1986 hangover in the crowd that night.

The start was not indicative of how this one would finish. After a Keith Hernandez RBI double, Darryl Strawberry homered in the first inning to give the Mets a quick 3-0 lead. Ron Darling started, and had a no-hitter through six innings even though he gave up a run in the second (typical Cardinals...scoring a run without a hit). Darling was cruising. Mookie Wilson made it a 4-1 game with a homer in the second.

Then came the seventh inning. Now unwritten rules say you don't bunt to break up a no-hitter...but these were the damn Cardinals...that's all they knew how to do was bunt. So in a bit of cruel foreshadowing, Vince Coleman (future hall of hated member) drag bunted his way on base as Darling made a valiant dive to try to keep Coleman off the bases. This accomplished two things...it ended the no-no, and it helped knock Darling out of the game because he sprained his finger on the dive. Coleman, however, was picked off second and didn't score.

It was still 4-1 in the ninth as Roger McDowell entered his second inning of work...an era when closers were closers, men were men, and sheep were scared. He walked Ozzie Smith to lead off the inning, but got two quick outs after that. And at this point, Shea Stadium was going absolutely insane. Insane! The Mets were one out away from moving to within a half game of the Cardinals, and being on the verge of taking what was rightfully ours. Remember, this wasn't just a rivalry, this was speed vs. power...this was little things vs. Earl Weaver baseball. This was baseball blood war.

Willie McGee singled home Ozzie in the ninth to bring up the tying run, which was Terry Pendleton. McDowell went to his bread and butter, the sinker, to get two strikes on Pendleton. You couldn't blame McDowell for sticking with the sinker...much like you can't blame Terry Pendleton for moving up in the box to get a hold of hit...and boy did Terry Pendleton get a hold of it. He got a hold of it to center field to tie the game.

After the shot heard 'round Queens, came the shot heard 'round Shea Stadium. As Pendleton rounded the bases and a Shea crowd was stunned, the guy in front of me, who I had gotten to know that season and over the next few seasons, raised his hand angrily and thrust it down with such force on the seat next to him that the seat lowered farther than it was supposed to go...the edge of the seat was touching the floor! That's how bad that Pendleton home run was...for as bad as the Mets losing game 5 of the Subway Series was, at no other time did I see a seat bite the dust as this one did.

Now all was not lost mind you. The game was only tied, and the Mets had a crack to win it in the 9th. When Bill Almon of all people got a hit with one out and was on second with two outs I thought that the gods were just angling to make the victory sweeter for us. I mean, Keith Hernandez was at bat. Now to me, Keith Hernandez, he of the more game winning RBI's than anyone in the history of the game (well, more than anyone since they kept track of that statistic), was like Larry Bird...money in the bank. Surely, Hernandez would knock home Almon with a sweet stroke to left field and bedlam would once again wash over big Shea.

Well, you know how that ended...Hernandez grounded out to first, the Cards scored two runs in the tenth and won the game 6-4.

The Mets never recovered, as Dwight Gooden started the next day and got beat in a cold, rainy Shea as St. Louis took the series and went on to the World Series.

As for the seat? Well, at least through 1988 and 1989, every single person who sat in that seat would take an unsuspecting fall to the ground somewhere around the fifth inning. Now imagine about ten people giggling uncontrollably as the guy next to the seat helped the victim du jour up to their feet, telling them that it's a shame that seat never got fixed, and that he can't imagine why that seat keeps doing that...

The same guy who broke the seat in the first place.

Now I'm not 100% sure that seat was ever fixed. I'm almost sure though. But you know legend has it that there's a strange aura surrounding that seat...perhaps that of a ghost...that haunts that very seat to this day. So if you're in section 29 and something out of the ordinary happens, and all of a sudden you find yourself sitting on the floor with the popcorn kernels and the spilt beer, and someone comes up to you and tells you they don't know how that could have happened...

Well just remember the legend of Terry Pendleton.

Next week: Why a road trip to Baltimore almost sparked Civil War II...


G-Fafif said...

The passage of time has allowed me to downplay Terry Pendleton's home run in the pantheon of awful moments. Well, I've reasoned nearly two decades on, there were still three weeks to go. Four years later, when Pendleton was leading the innocent, feelgood Atlanta Braves to their first National League West title since 1982, it didn't even occur to me to hate their third baseman. It's not that it wasn't a brutal loss, but there were so many other villains (in and out of Mets uniforms) that I felt blaming it all on Sept. 11, 1987 was a tad unfair.

Until tonight.

Oh my fucking god. Oh my fucking god. Oh my fucking god do I hate Terry Pendleton. And, for good measure, Bill Almon.

I threw a shoe at the wall that night. It left a gash. When my father sold the house in 1991, the gash was still there. I've often wondered if the family who bought it discovered it later and figured it out.

"Honey, there's some kind of dent in this wall."
"Let me have a look. Oh yeah...that appears to have been left there by a flying shoe. Probably flung out of frustration regarding some monumental, life-altering event."
"Really? Which one."
"Well, judging by the outline of it, it was pretty violent, so I'm guessing it must have been pretty important."
"How important?"
"Important enough to leave a mark. It's not so much the damage to the physical plant here. We can touch that up. But you can just feel the psychic pain."
"Say, you're right. It's like a wound!"
"Yes. Obviously somebody was pretty upset by something. Maybe a war or an assassination or a stock market crash. This house is pretty old."
"Hey honey?"
"Yes dear?"
"Who's 'Terry Fucking Pendleton'? And why would his name be carved into the back of the linen closet and circled in dried blood."
"Get the kids. I'm calling the real estate agent."

Thanks for bringin' that back. I mean nice job.

The Metmaster said...

So, what you're saying is that since you bought your tickets the Mets have not been back to the Promised Land? Let me guess, you were there in 1988 for the Scioscia dinger off Gooden? How about the Jeter lead-off, first pitch of the game crusher in 2000? Perchance were you in Atlanta for Kenny Rodgers' meltdown in '99? Do you see a connection here, Metstradamus? Do you have plans to park your fanny in the new park in 2009? Perhaps a petition by Met fans is in order.

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Awesome stories, Metstra and Greg!

And I get to see a game at Shea next season, I think I'd better sit with Greg -- lest I need a cushion somewhere around the fifth inning!

A great read!

Metstradamus said...

Metmaster, eerily enough now that you mention it, I was at the Scioscia game. Cold as hell. That might be the subject of another "Metsography". And although I wasn't at the Jeter game, I was at Game 5.

But I'm perfectly willing to run a diagnostic test on my soul to see if I have evil demons inside me like in "Ghostbusters", which jinx the very organization I root for when I'm inside it's lair. My demon would probably not come in the form of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man though...it would probably look more like Charlie O'Brien.

Burke said...

I can't believe how fucking kick ass this blog is. I love the mets, and I love this blog. Oh hell yeah!

Metstradamus said...

Tim Burke? Is that you??? WOW!!! TIM BURKE READS MY BLOG!!!

jabair said...

i lost my baseball virginity in 1987... (watched my first ever ballgame @ shea that summer from the upper deck as a day camper.. day game, ron darling was pitching.. came from behind to beat the braves.. day game.. carter had the day off... )

i also got my first set of baseball blue balls in 1987...

thanx for reminding me why i hate terry pendleton...

metswalkoffs said...

I was there. I'd have to find the stub to check the section (mezz near home plate), but my dad kicked the railing that was in front of us. alas, it did not break.

Metstra...If you want Murph's call of the HR, let me know...I have it on a tape I call "ecstasy and agony" (it's adjacent to red sox radio call of buckner E3 I believe)

If your baltimore road trip involves the jets/ravens game to end the al groh era, I will laugh (I drove to that one), but alas this seems to be a Metsography and not a Jetsography...

Metstradamus said...

Good guess Mark, but incorrect. I do remember that Ravens game...Vinny actually threw deep for two TD's to go up 14-0, one on a flea flicker. Then the Jets became the Jets, and the Ravens became the Ravens and that was that.

I'm sorry you drove all the way for that. But take heart, I took two buses and hitched a ride on the back of a pick-up truck from New York to Foxboro to get to a Jets/Pats game on a Monday night (not to mention stayed in a dive of a hotel in Providence with a strip club in the lobby, no locks on the doors, and the strippers did the laundry during the day. Thankfully, the Jets won that game.

Metstradamus said...

And by the way, do you have the "Mets win the damn thing 10-9" call? That's the one I've been scouring the net for but with no luck.

Metstradamus said...

Mark, never mind on that last one...my brother actually has it.

Derek Kiss said...

I was there too! My father and I were sitting on the first base side....can't remember exactly the section? I was 16 at the time and in the bottom of the ninth, my father and I made our way to the left field side of the stadium (Mets up 4-1 and my father wanted to get a jump on the traffic). We watched Pendelton from one of the third base side tunnels and then quicly grabbed two open seats in that area for extra innings. Devastating. What a memorable game. Darling flirting with the no-no and then having it broken up with a bunt/injury. Very weird that the date was 9/11