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The Emmy for Best Walk-Off goes to...

The memories of the 1992 Mets season are ones best forgotten. That year is a story of bad, ill-timed decisions with no sense of logic, history, or appropriate behavior.

I'm not even talking about the squad itself. I'm referencing what that took place in the Simon residence on August 30, 1992. The Mets were playing the Reds that evening on "Sunday Night Baseball." The Flushing 9 were a hot team at the moment, having won six straight, though they were languishing at an ugly 60-67, while the Reds were in second place, five games back of the lead in the NL West.

My dad tends to lose patience when his teams are sub .500 and facing a double-digit deficit after the All-Star Break and since he has been watching baseball for 50+ years, I guess that's understandable. August 30 wasn't just any night. It was the night of the Emmy Awards, those given to the best television performers of the day. I was reminded of this because this year's Emmys are being awarded on Sunday night.

Emmy Night and Academy Awards Eve have been a really big deal in the Simon household ever since my sister, Lisa, hit adolescence (she was 11 then. I was 17). She's carving out her own career in the entertainment field as a production assistant for both television shows and movie productions and has had an interest in doing so ever since I told her that I thought she'd make a good director(she was very bossy). My family has a history of enjoying its fair share of tv programs, movies, theatricial productions and concerts, though my interest in the latter two is pretty minimal by comparison.

Anyway, on this night, the Emmys won out by a 3-1 vote and if I recall correctly, I decided that if I couldn't watch the Mets in the living room, I wouldn't watch them at all.

The 44th Annual Emmys was not a particularly exciting production, so there was the occasional flippage of channels during commercial breaks. This was not a particularly good night for the Mets, who after scoring once in the opening inning, could do nothing against Reds starter Tim Belcher, a pitcher who haunted them in the NLCS four years prior. A two-run double by Glenn Braggs against Mets starter Sid Fernandez gave the Reds the lead and Cincinnati tacked on an insurance tally in the sixth inning.

The most significant thing to happen in the first two hours of the Emmys was that Richard Dysart won for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series for his work on L.A. Law, a show my family watched with interest on Thursdays at 10pm. Other winners in supporting roles included Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne), Valerie Mahaffey (Northern Exposure), and Michael Jeter (Evening Shade).

The star of the baseball show taking place at Shea Stadium was Belcher. After allowing one run and three hits in the eighth inning, Belcher allowed nothing more. He retired 23 consecutive hitters, setting the side down in order from the second through eighth innings. It was a performance of a similar ilk to that which Bobby Jones would have on that same mound in the playoffs eight years later.

The Mets went on the stage, up to bat in the ninth wishing to thank Lou Piniella for making a comeback possible. Inexplicably, Piniella decided that Belcher wasn't capable of finishing what he started, and with a 3-1 lead, replaced Belcher with closer Rob Dibble, who was in the midst of a strong run of success, but who had no reason to be utilized.

It should be mentioned that the Reds were wearing 1962-style throwback jersey vests that night and that alone should have given Piniella reason not to make this move. Dibble was very superstitious during his playing days and didn't feel anyone should mess with anything of his, particularly a uniform top. He was in a bad mood already, from having been forced to don the throwback.

Dibble threw 99 miles-per-hour back then, and that was good enough to whiff Daryl Boston, but not the next hitter Chris Donnels, who drew a walk. Jeff Kent, representing the tying run, tried to kill the rally by striking out, but his fellow teammates would have nothing of it. With two outs, Eddie Murray worked out a walk as well. That brought up mean-spirited rightfielder Bobby Bonilla, who was lugging a pretty big bicycle tire around the gut and a 1-for-10 skid in this series as he came to bat against Dibble, against whom he'd never had a hit in a regular-season meeting.

Bonilla did a lot of things wrong in his Mets career (perhaps a list will be a good Minutiae break entry). I can still remember the crowd chanting "Bobby Bo" for his pinch-hitting appearance in the 12th inning of Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS, thinking "Boy, if he homers here it would almost be hypocritical to cheer his trip around the bases." (He struck out.)

This was one of the few days in which Bonilla did something right. He crushed Dibble's first pitching, sending it high enough and far enough to clear the right field fence for a game-winning three-run homer. Dibble had his jersey in his hands by the time he reached the Reds dugout. Neither he nor Piniella were particularly happy and they took their frustrations out on a soda machine and water cooler

If memory serves me right, that home run coincided with Candice Bergen being awarded the Best Actress in a Comedy Emmy for Murphy Brown or Craig T. Nelson receiving his Best Actor nod for Coach. Regardless, the other members of the Simon family were much more interested in those goings on rather than the ones at Shea Stadium. A quick flip of the channels showed a glimpse of Bonilla circling the bases with a joyous trot, but that was followed by an immediate cry of "Change it back!!" It wasn't until a few minutes later that I deduced what we had not seen.

Bonilla was in a particularly good mood after this game, rare for his tenures with the Mets. He told the media afterwards that "This is the kind of game that makes memories."

It did. Except that mine are of a moment missed for something that I now consider rather trivial. I'm willing to venture a guess that none of my fellow family members can tell me what two shows won for Best Dramatic Series and Best Comedy on that date in 1992 (Northern Exposure and Murphy Brown). Walk-off wins make for much better remembrance.

True Metnilla's know...The only other "Bobby" to hit a walk-off home run for the Mets is Bobby Klaus.

Comments

I saw that game! And I don't get to watch too many Mets games here in Michigan, so it must have been on ESPN or something. But I remember watching Dibble literally rip off his vest as he walked back to the dugout, buttons going flying. And since I'm a uniform junkie, I remember thinking "What an idiot! That's a cool turn-back-the-clock jersey he's ruining. And I remember thinking that the Mets retro jerseys were so much better than the regular ones they were wearing that season.
Metstradamus said…
I was present at that game...I remember thinking when Bonilla batted "How about one cool moment this season?"

Next pitch: Boom.

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