It's August 23, so that means that we wish a happy 48th birthday to Julio Franco, a current Met whose exploits we previously chronicled rather tidily in the offseason at this link
Unbeknownst to us at the time, Old Man Baseball actually has five walk-off hits, though he's been waiting more than 10 years since his last one.
Anticipation was actually the theme of his most recent walk-off, back on July 2, 1996.
Franco sat out that day with a bum hamstring against the last-place Royals and his teammates struggled a little bit with the bats against Tim Belcher. Indians starter Chad Ogea kept his team in the contest, despite 3 hits by current Met Michael Tucker and 2, with an RBI from wannabe Met Jose Offerman.
The Indians took a 2-1 lead in the 8th when Omar Vizquel's sacrifice fly plated ex-Met Jeromy Burnitz, but the Royals tied the game with 2 outs in the 9th on Tom Goodwin's hit off struggling closer Jose Mesa.
Belcher remained in the game for the 9th and got the first 2 outs, but than surrendered consecutive hits to Manny Ramirez and still-useful Roberto Alomar, prompting skipper Mike Hargrove to call upon Franco to pinch-hit for soon-to-be Met Alvaro Espinoza. Belcher fumed when removed by manager Bob Boone, as did the Baseball Gods. As Hipolito Pichardo trotted in from the bullpen, a rather strong storm necessitated an immediate postponment.
The wait was 50 minutes for 3 pitches. On the last one, Franco singled to right, bringing Ramirez home with the winning run.
The delay didn't bother me," Franco told the media afterwards. "I know that pitcher, but it doesn't matter who the pitcher is. I don't hit the pitcher, I hit the baseball."
That philosophy is one that has stood the test of time, so who are we to quibble with it?
True Metcos know...Paul Simon (he of the songwriting referenced in the title...with slight alteration of the last word) sang the National Anthem prior to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The reference to "Anticipation" was thrown in because this blogger wanted to be clever, and as a means of working in a reference to another singer with a Mets connnection- Carly Simon- who once dated Keith Hernandez.