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Laborious

It makes sense, at least to me, that since I wrote about the quickest Mets walk-off wins a few weeks ago, that on Labor Day, it is appropriate to write about the slowest Mets walk-off wins (or rather, the ones they had to work the longest to get).

Having already penned a lengthy essay on the true longest walk-off (Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS vs the Braves, 5 hours and 46 minutes), I shall skip that contest for now and limit my lookings to regular-season contests only.

In their 44-season history, only twice have the Mets won via walk-off in a regular-season affair that required more than five hours to consumate. The first took place on April 28, 1985, with my best recollection being that I attended a Sunday street fair and listened to the conclusion on the radio.

I missed quite a bit that day, apparently, 18 innings worth of baseball as a matter of fact. Though if I had watched just the beginning and ending, I would have been rather satisfied, though I would have missed a lot of minutiae in-between.

This was the 1st of two career big league starts for Roger McDowell and the Mets gave him a nice early cushion, courtesy of another 1st, in the 1st-Darryl Strawberry's 1st career grand slam- off Mike Bielecki. Little did the Mets know then that it would be several hours before they would get another base hit.

The Pirates chipped away, scoring once in the second, than three times in the sixth off the combination of McDowell and reliever Calvin Schiraldi (yes, Mets reliever Calvin Schiraldi) to tie the score. The Pirates bullpen, already stellar since the second inning, defused every Mets opportunity to end this game in regulation, with John Candelaria getting the most notable out, a bases-loaded fly to left by Kelvin Chapman to end the 8th inning.

The Mets bullpen was up to the challenge as well, as Jesse Orosco bailed out Doug Sisk from a bases-loaded no-outs jam in the ninth (partly set up by a balk called againt Keith Hernandez, for an illegal pickoff maneuver), getting the final out itself by tagging Rafael Belliard attempting to score on a wild pitch.

Extra innings proved to be extra eventful. The Pirates threatened first, but leftfielder Clint Hurdle (the same one who manages the Rockies) threw George Hendrick out at home to extinguish that attempt at victory. Rafael Santana got the Mets 1st hit since the 1st inning to lead off the 12th and that led to the hosts getting into a bases-loaded, no-outs scenario of their own. Cecilio Guante escaped, with Ray Knight and Gary Carter unable to bring the run home. Pittsburgh had another runner nailed at the plate in the 14th, then couldn't score with the bases loaded later in the inning.

We'd be remiss at this point if we didn't mention the work of Mets reliever Tom Gorman and octogenarian pinch-hitter Rusty Staub, who was pressed into extra-inning outfield duty. Staub rotated between right and leftfield with Hurdle, depending on whether a righty (Staub played right) or lefty (Staub played left) was at the plate. By the time we got to the 18th, Gorman had pitched six shutout frames (he wouldn't pitch again for 2.5 weeks). The reason it extended to seven zeroes was because Staub made a running catch against pinch-hitting pitcher Rick Rhoden, saving Pittsburgh from scoring a run.

The only way this game was going to end was if one team made a mistake on which the other could cash in. That finally happened in the last of the 18th. Gary Carter walked against Pirates reliever Lee Tunnel and then pinch-runner Mookie Wilson (not playing outfield because of a shoulder injury) went to third on Darryl Strawberry's single. With the infield in, Hurdle followed with a ground ball to first, one that perhaps could have resulted in Wilson being thrown out at the plate. Pirates first baseman Jason Thompson, foreshadowing the events to take place a year later, made a play on the ball, which ended up rolling right through his legs. Wilson, who would be the beneficiary of such an action the following October, scored the winning run.

The time of the contest: 5 hours and 21 minutes. That stood as the Mets longest regular-season walk-off win until May 23 2006, when with the help of lengthier commercial breaks, the Mets beat the Phillies 9-8 in 16 innings on Carlos Beltran's walk-off home run. That game lasted one minute longer- 5 hours and 22 minutes.

Those who have MET the proper criteria know...The longest NINE-INNING Mets walk-off win by time was the one lasting 3 hours and 47 minutes, against the Yankees on July 10, 1999 (9-8 final, won by Matt Franco's 2-run single off Mariano Rivera).

I've written about the only Mets Labor Day walk-off win here:

http://metswalkoffs.blogspot.com/2005/09/getting-your-phil-of-labor-day-wins.html

And one piece of one-hitter minutiae related to Sunday's one-hitter loss. The last time the Mets lost when pitching a one hitter was on September 14, 1991, when they fell to the Cardinals, 2-1. The game ended in "Agony to Ecstasy" fashion, with Gregg Jefferies getting thrown out at the plate to end the game.

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Cliff Notes

Alright, so it's 2 days later and the challenge for me now, after reading through about a dozen game stories and listening to talk radio, is to provide a fresh perspective on walk-off #324. If you're going to be a serious reader of this blog, you know what happened already, so let's look at what made this particular walk-off stand out. It would seem that the place to start is with the idea that everything broke just right on both sides of the ball. Particularly, I'm talking about Carlos Beltran's catch in the 7th inning, where he went over the center field fence to rob Jose Molina of a home run. Every no-hitter seems to have one defensive gem that makes it possible and perhaps that's true of great walk-off moments as well (We'll be looking into that!) Marlon Anderson's home run required a remarkable combination of events. It was only the sixth inside-the-park home run at Shea Stadium by a Met and the first since Darryl Strawberry in 1989. It required t