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Someone Forgot To Tell the Mets They Had No Chance

Mike SteffanosThursday, October 5, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 6 - Dodgers 5
Mets lead NLDS 1-0

A funny thing happened on the way to the Dodger's expected NLDS series win -- they forgot to win the first game. The Dodgers' bandwagon may be rocking with all of the geniuses jumping aboard, but the Mets sent notice this afternoon that they are alive and well, and might actually have something to say about who wins the National League. Sorry this is so late, but I took a long time savoring this win.

This is my 38th year of following this team, and today's win ranks up there with some of the sweetest. I've never seen a team's regular season achievements discounted so utterly and completely as with the Mets this season. This was based on an offensive slump in September and the loss of a couple of starting pitchers on a team that was never built around starting pitching in the first place. The Mets undoubtedly have some things to overcome, but they've been doing that all season.

The game? Well, let's put it this way. Derek Lowe was supposed to shut us down tonight. He didn't. John Maine was supposed to be easy pickings for the Dodgers. He wasn't. The Dodgers were the hot team that was supposed to be the one to make the plays. They didn't.

John Maine ran into some trouble in the second when Jeff Kent and J. D. Drew led off with soft singles. Russell Martin followed with a shot over Shawn Green's head in right, but Green made a nice play fielding the carom off the fence. Kent inexplicably held up for way too long, with the result that Drew was running right on Kent's heels. It led to the famous bonehead play that I'm sure everyone is aware of by now where both Dodgers were tagged out a home plate. Then Marlon Anderson doubled on a cue shot down the RF line to put the Dodgers up 1-0. The irony was that the Dodgers had 4 hits in a row and came away with one run, and the only well-hit ball led directly to 2 outs.

Meanwhile, Lowe was sailing along, but I just had the feeling they were going to get to him. Sure enough, in the fourth both Delgado and Floyd hit rockets off of him to put the Mets up 2-1. When Maine drifted back into trouble with one out in the fifth, Willie gave him the hook and got out of the inning with the tag team of Feliciano and Bradford. The Mets were able to expand their lead to 4-1 in the sixth when David Wright doubled in a pair.

Then Guillermo Mota was betrayed by a rare bad play by Jose Valentin and his own failures to keep his changeup down in the zone, and the Dodgers were able to come back and tie the game at 4 in the seventh, but the Mets came right back with 2 more on RBIs by Wright and Delgado in their half of the seventh. Heilman persevered the lead with a perfect eighth, but Wagner made it interesting, as he often does in the ninth. Still, he saved the win, and that's all that counts in the post-season.

Thoughts on the game
I heard and read in more than one place that the Dodgers second inning baserunning follies cost them the game, as if it didn't happen it's a foregone conclusion the Dodgers would have won. Get real. Those voicing this opinion undoubtedly picked the Dodgers in the series.

I'm Italian, so I feel entitled to say that, rather than looking at Tommy Lasorda as some sort of baseball treasure, I prefer to think of him as a fat, obnoxious, phony blowhard. Please go away. I console myself that my family came from a different part of Italy.

Delgado and Wright were terrific in their playoff debuts, driving in 5 of the 6 runs. Delgado's ice-breaking homer was huge, as was Cliff Floyd's later in that inning. That game took on a whole different feeling offensively after that -- the Mets had a lot of good at bats.

Look, we could nitpick some of the moves. I thought Willie should have pinch hit for Mota and used Heilman for 2 innings. He had a chance to break the game open there and should have taken it. I thought most of the moves he made were the right ones, however, and this was a great win. I'll be back with more after I get some sleep.

Box Score

Comments (6)

Hi MIke- I don't know if Willie should have pinch hit for Mota-it really was the error that hurt him, besides they need to save some fresh arms for tonight's game. I think this is the first post season game I have seen where like the said on TV the Mets were managing to get into their pen. I suppose it they can pitch by committee and they keep hitting they can win it, even behind Trachsel.

The Mets pulled out all the weapons for this one, didn't they? Good win!

I'm glad someone else got to say his piece about Lasorda. That guy has bothered me practically forever. And the worst of it is the way baseball establishment felt, apparently still feels, it has to kiss up to this clown.

Really, now; the man was a fringe major leaguer (a minor league star, it should be noted), an OKAY manager, nothing more -- does anyone seriously rate him higher than Davey Johnson or Whitey Herzog, not to mention Earl Weaver? -- and a laughable general manager; and in order to get him to step down from the Dodger's manager job without raising a stink they bribed him by suspending the rules and immediately inducting him into baseball's Hall of Fame! This without the necessary plane crash, mind you. Now, why would anyone care about the Hall of Fame after such a sellout? And how could one ever forgive Bud Selig for trashing baseball's highest honor?

Davey Johnson took over weak teams with disfunctional ownerships in Baltimore and Cincinnati and took them into the postseason; he also built a pretty decent team in Flushing, never finishing lower than second in seven seasons. Herzog went against the prevailing grain of the sport to build some of the most exciting teams ever to play the game, and won with his formula in St Louis; he also did some pretty decent work in Kansas City. When Lasorda's teams were weak, they finished 73-89 or something.

I'll repeat a thought that occurred to me the other day on reading of Northwestern University graduate Joe Girardi's dismissal: baseball simply doesn't like smart guys. Particularly the owners; only they are allowed to be smart.

Ah, screw it. Today is no time to be dwelling on Tommy Lasorda. Way to go you Mets!

Shari - I just think when you have a chance to bust a playoff game open you take it. I thought Mota was pitching great, and understood the move. I certainly can't kill him for it.
dd - I'll give Lasorda credit for being a showman, but never thought much of him as a manager. Sports is entertainment, though, so in that respect I guess he was great. I have to give him that, but I never could stand him, and really wish he would go away.

some thoughts:

1. The paper today dramatized the fact the Mets carried 12 pitchers ( yes, i am throwing beer nuts at u), and the dodgers have 10 (?).
2. Willie may not quite have done the best job yesterday, but the he wanted that win. A win in the first gm is huge especially a short series.
3. Beltran and reyes were relatively quiet as was Green and Valentin. AND the Mets left the bases loaded in the 7th AND 8th. Mota and delgado guilty there so it could have been more.
4. The three runs charged to Mota could have been minimized if not for the Valentin throw.
5. Royce ring; I think he could really step out here.
6. Ollie: Yes I could not resist. He finished 3-13. But easily could have been a .500 record. Several of his loses were really tight ones in Pitt and his 3 wins were absolute gems (st Lou/Cincy/Atl). his 2/3 of his last starts in Pitt were actually quite respectable. His biggest glaring losses were in Colorado. The dodgers have beaten him this yr but I cant see them being happy to face him. Plus I like that he would be away from Questec.
7. I requiem for Armando: Billy makes it interesting with Armando there was a forecast of rain. That was a fantastic pitch to end the game...take note Ollie.

Is that you and Tommy Lasorda? I hate Tommy Lasorda.
Fletch is a wise man eh?

Anyhow, the experts will continue to say the Dodgers will win. They will say they would have won had the DP not happened (though, dontcha think Willie would have pinch hit for Mota had they been losing at the time or if the game was closer). Let them. Dig your own graves guys. Then, you can do the same the next round. And in the WS.

Yes, the starters are not great. So what. The pen is. The lineup is. The guys are pumped, and probably annoyed that they are being written off. Not to minimize the losses of Pedro and Duque, but they used a lot of starters this year, and still won 97 games. Leads me to think they might be able to get by in the playoffs.

Derek Lowe - beaten
Kuo - he's next.
Maddux - does not own the Mets like he did when a Brave.
Penny - um, you think they might be able to hit him?

Maine - well, he's one rookie who did pretty well.
Glavine - pitched well since the clot scare
Trax - say what you want (and I have) but he came up big in the clincher. He is pitching for a contract.
Ollie and the pen - Let Ollie go 4, then use the pen.

I still say the Mets win.
I love being the underdog. Makes it that much sweeter at the end.

Micalpalyn - The Mets are carrying 12 pitchers because of El Duque's injury, as is Perez. Given the new situation, I agree with it. If El Duque didn't get hurt there would be 11 pitchers and Perez would be in St. Lucie. Hopefully he can give us a game like the one against the Braves.
Ed - They're not only continuing to pick the Dodgers, the Mets are barely getting credit for winning the game.

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