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Crying Uncle

I got into a discussion at work on Wednesday about the idea of leaving a baseball game early.

Let me say that I am EXTREMELY opposed to ever doing so (Would you walk out in the middle of a Broadway show???), but have, on two occasions missed a walk-off due to early departure.

In one case, staging my own walk-off was justified. It was a game that bore little significance to the standings, and I had to be at work by a certain hour. I was already on pace to be an hour late, and didn't think it appropriate to risk job status for my Mets fanhood.

I have a harder time with my other memory of walking-off prior to a walk-off, because the reasons for which were never explained to me.

It was June 4, 1988 a Saturday afternoon, and my Uncle Zachary and Aunt Carol took me and my friend David Cooper to see the Mets take on the Cubs. Aunt Carol used to get great seats through the company she worked for, and we were sitting in box seats, guessing maybe 15 rows off the field, on the left field line.

The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the second on a Barry Lyons sacrifice fly. They added two runs in the sixth on an RBI triple by Darryl Strawberry and a run-scoring single by Howard Johnson.

Ron Darling pitched a terrific seven innings, yielding only a fifth inning single, but departed for Randy Myers after giving up three consecutive singles to open the eighth. The Cubs ended up scoring twice that inning, then, down to their last out, scored twice in the ninth with two outs on a Manny Trillo two-run single.

Now this was 1988, and the Mets always found ways to win games like this that season. They evened things against Goose Gossage on Gary Carter's pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

The Cubs plated the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th off Terry Leach, scoring on a Johnson error. But rookie righty Mike Capel couldn't close the Mets out in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Lyons reached on an error and after Mookie Wilson hit into a force play, Gary Carter singled to right to get Wilson to third.

With Len Dykstra up, Capel worked the count to 1-2, but uncorked a wild pitch. Though the ball didn't roll too far away from Davis, Wilson scored. (based on newspaper description, it must have been similar to the wild pitch that Jose Reyes scored on, last Friday night). Dykstra flied out, forcing a 12th inning.

Now, I'm guessing it was at this point that we left, because I have a vague recollection of that comeback. I still don't know why we departed. There had been a 44-minute rain delay earlier, and this was a long game, so maybe that had something to do with it.

Supposedly Uncle Zachary and Aunt Carol had another commitment, but once we got back to their apartment in Forest Hills, we sat there, probably for at least an hour. That was enough time to watch the news highlights of the game and see Kevin McReynolds lead off the bottom of the 13th with a first-pitch home run to left field (we would've had a great view of it, if I remember our seat location right).

It was the Mets third walk-off win of the week (I wrote about one of the other two, last month) and there was a great quote from Keith Hernandez in Marty Noble's game story in Newsday.

"We're like the Great Wallenda," Hernandez said, describing the Mets tightrope-walking ways. "We don't score until we have to."

The good news for me (though not for David Cooper) was that I got to go the Mets game the next day as well, with my dad, his friend Marty Palefsky, and his son. That Sunday afternoon, Dwight Gooden homered and flirted with a no-hitter, so we had a pretty good time at the ballpark.

But I still regret that I never got to see the end of this game, the first major-league win for submarine-style reliever Jeff Innis. I was at Innis's major-league debut (and subsequent first loss) and this would have been a nice way of evening the scales.

Uncle Zachary and Aunt Carol: If you ever happen to stumble on this blog, please clue me in on why we walked-off that day. Thanks!

True Metslievers know... Kevin McReynolds ended eight games with a walk-off something (in his case, home runs, singles, and a sacrifice fly). By my unofficial count, he is the Mets all-time leader in that category.


Kermit said…
The only way I could see a road game getting honrary walk-off status would have to involve a non-force play at the plate for the third out at the bottom of the inning. Otherwise it's just not the same. On the flipside, maybe someone (not me) could start a walk-off loss blog dedicated to all those great lights-out closers we've had through the years.
Kermit said…
Post 1 is just waiting to be written.

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