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The Life of Brian

I can remember a time when Brian Giles was a Met, beating the Padres in extra-inning walk-off fashion, rather than a Padre doing such to the Mets, as he did on Friday night.

I'm referring of course to a Brian Giles of a different time (and race) than the one that plays now. That particular middle infielder looked a little like my childhood friend, Daniel Caraballo (or maybe Carabello, whose acquaintance I don't believe I've made in more than 20 years), and unfortunately if that's the best thing I can say about him, it tells you that he was a long way from having the talent of the outfielder who currently goes by that name.

The baseball game that took place on September 3, 1983 bore some resemblance to that of the one that occurred this past Friday night. particularly in the quality of relief pitching.

Jesse Orosco relieved Mets starter Tom Seaver in the seventh inning and allowed an inherited runner to score, tying the score at three. After that, the game turned into a bullpen battle. Orosco, Carlos Diaz, Doug Sisk and Tom Gorman combined for eight innings of scoreless labor. That effort was matched by the combination of Luis Deleon, Gary Lucas and Sid Monge, behind Tim Lollar, who hurled zeroes until the last of the 15th.

Also similar to Friday: The home team left a lot of men on base. The final tally for the Mets was 16 stranded, to nine for the Padres, who left the bases filled in the 14th when Kurt Bevacqua grounded into a force play.

People gripe a lot at the length of games nowadays, but Friday's affair was only four minutes shy of four hours, pretty impressive considering the contest concluded in 14 innings. This game went an inning longer, but was considerably lengthier at 4 hours and 36 minutes.

It finally concluded in a rather tidy fashion when Elias Sosa relieved Monge in the 15th. The Mets greeted him with back-to-back singles by Bob Bailor and Ron Hodges, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Tucker Ashford, pinch-hitting, drew an intentional pass to set up the force play at any base.

That brought up Giles, who had whiffed in his two previous trips, but realizing he just needed to make contact, was able to lift the first pitch into centerfield. Rupert Jones made the catch but Bailor was able to score without issue, giving the Mets a 4-3 triumph. It was part of a run of extra-inning and close contest success that the Mets had during the 1983 season. As the newspapers note, they won 11 of their last 12 extra-inning games that year, as well as 21 of their final 32 one-run contests.

As for Giles, he had a four-hit, four-RBI game for the Mets a few weeks later, but didn't show enough to fit in the teams long term plans. He struck out too frequently, got thrown out stealing too often, and didn't hit for a high enough average to stick around for that long, though he was able to find future employment in baseball over the next few seasons. He finished his career with 162 hits, a number that the current Brian Giles figures to surpass on a regular basis.

True Mettles know...One of the reasons that we had no posting on Friday (we'll revisit "Redeeming walk-offs" at some point) is because I was attending the retirement roasting of a favorite college professor (a "walk-off" ceremony, if you will...). Dr. Robert Cole, a friend of this blog, and a native West Virginian, is a huge baseball fan and thus, it might interest him to know that no natives of West Virginia have ever had a walk-off RBI for the Mets.

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