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A Shiny What?

The NHL is unofficially officially back and I have to imagine that Mets radio broadcaster Howie Rose is grateful for that, because it provides him with employment calling New York Islanders games during the winter months.

Rose, for a long time, was the New York Rangers radio voice, splitting duties with Marv Albert. It was in this job that he crafted one of the most famous goal calls in all of sports.

If I may digress for a moment and talk hockey (a sport I covered very intensely at the minor league level), Game 7 of the 1994 NHL Eastern Conference Finals is basically the equivalent of Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS and Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS wrapped into five gut-squashing periods. The best word to describe that game would be "Metsian."

I watched Game 7 of that series, one in which the winner would go to the Stanley Cup Finals and the loser would go home, with my dad and three good friends, the previously-mentioned David Cooper, Daniel Gordon and Hubert Chen. I am an extraordinarily superstitious fan, and to the best of my knowledge, I watched that entire game on May 27, half-lying down, legs outstretched, on the floor, about 19.40 inches from my television set (my dad sat in his chair and my friends sat on the couch).

Those who know about the tortured existence of the New York Rangers over a 54-year period between Stanley Cups know the story of this game well. Brian Leetch gave the Rangers the lead with a second-period goal, and it looked like that would be the only tally, until the Devils scored on a crazy scramble with just over seven seconds remaining in the third period to tie it (picture three friends crushed, mouths agape, as this writer chuckled, knowing it was appropriate that this ultimate game would be decided in walk-off fashion).

The game stretched deep into the evening, into a second overtime, with each shot providing gasps, groans, and phews. In the second overtime, the Devils had a great scoring chance, in which the puck was kicked just wide of the net. After the Rangers managed to work the puck into the Devils zone, an errant clearing attempt came to Rangers forward Stephane Matteau. In a moment of Mookieesque glory (and good fortune), Matteau's wraparound attempt banked off the stick of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur and into the net for a conference-clinching walk-off goal (picture three 19-or-so year-olds and a 190-pound 47-year old tackling this writer before he could get off the floor).

Those who were watching on TV got a nice call from Sam Rosen, but that was more a case of the pictures telling the story. If you were listening on the radio, you heard the hockey equivalent of "The Giants win the Pennant!" from Rose, who screamed "Matteau!!! Matteau!!! Matteau!!!" Rose admitted that he was a little nervous afterwards, because, before seeing a replay, he had a ghastly vision that the goal was actually scored by Esa Tikkanen. Fortunately, Rose made the right call, one that will live in hockey history.

Now, what does this have to do with baseball? (this is what we call "burying the lead.") Well, Howie Rose's second-most famous call, in my mind, is one that I still puzzle over to this day. It came on September 13, 1997, in the third game of what was an amazing four-game series with the Expos (the Mets lost the second game in 15 innings and won the finale, 1-0, throwing out a runner at the plate in the 9th inning, with the help of a blown call by the home plate ump).

As baseball games go, this one was pretty ugly for the first eight-and-a-half innings. The Expos buried the Mets early, scoring three runs in the first and two more in the fifth against starter Jason Isringhausen. The Mets only got one hit off Dustin Hermanson through eight innings, a cheap one at that, as Carlos Mendoza (remember him??) dunked a single off the glove of Expos left fielder Brad Fullmer (witnesses told me it probably should have been scored an error), and it was 6-0 in favor of Montreal heading to the last of the ninth.

Those who saw the bottom of the ninth probably won't ever forget it. Those who missed it, well, we live vicariously through writing blogs about such moments (I was in on an NJ Transit train from Trenton to NYC). The Mets were still down six runs with two on and two outs after human rally-killer Brian McRae flied out, and it took an unlikely combination of batsmen to produce what was thought unproducable.

Roberto Petagine singled in two runs off Hermanson (Petagine's only hit in 15 at-bats that season), whose day ended with that at-bat. Luis Lopez (0-for-7 in his previous two games) singled off Shayne Bennett, and Matt Franco (for whom the hit would be his only one in a skid that spanned 24 at-bats), did likewise against Ugueth Urbina, loading the bases and giving the Mets some desperate hope. That brought up Carl Everett as the tying run. Everett hadn't homered in a little more than a month, and was dealing with some rather ugly issues related to whether he and his wife should retain custody of their kids, so he was hardly the people's choice for the moment.

Everett went the Cliff Floyd route, crushing an early Urbina offering for a foul home run (missed the pole by 15-20 feet). The count worked full before Everett worked his magic.

Now, I've seen the replay of this long fly ball several times. It is a pretty fun moment. I don't remember too many of the details of the home run call, which is odd, because I tend to remember those things very well. What I do recall is that when the ball cleared the right-center field fence, then-tv broadcaster Rose yelled out the magic words.

"And we've got a brand new shiny one!!!"

In the annals of well-known home run calls, I think of phrases such as "Going, Going, Gone!", "That one is long gone!", "Open the window Aunt Minnie, here she comes!" "It is high, it is far, it is gone!" and "It's outta here!"

When I think of "And we've got a brand new shiny one!!!" I wonder the following:

Did Howie Rose find a quarter on the press box floor?

Did someone's wife just give birth in the press box?

Was Howie going for the most unique home run call in the history of baseball broadcasting?

Or am I, someone who routinely botches song lyrics, imagining this?

Ever in search of answers, I've made a request through a contact at WFAN to effort an answer. We'll see how that works out. I like the call, actually. It was high energy and it strikes me as spontaneuous. Howie wasn't expecting a home run there. No one was. His call reflected the moment. It was pretty funny and pretty bizarre. It certainly was memorable.

The Mets won the game, 9-6, in the 11th inning when Bernard Gilkey, bothered by injuries, came off the bench to hit a three-run walk-off home run to keep the Mets tease (Bobby Valentine said afterwards "You might have had the obituary written, but we're not dead yet.) I've heard the home run call, but it doesn't stick out in my mind at the moment. It must have been more along traditional lines. It wasn't a brand new shiny one.

True Metaphors know...That I made a mistake in a previous post when I said that George Foster was the only Mets player to win two games via walk-off fielders choice in the same season. Carl Everett has done it as well.

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