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Isiah It Ain't So

It feels the slightest bit appropos, on a night in which there is Knickerbocker jubilation (James Dolan is said to be dancing in the streets) thanks to a walk-off buzzer beating finger roll by Stephon Marbury over Jazz center Mehmut Okur (translation of which is "My Ogre"), that we find some sort of Mets tie in. Wouldn'tcha know, I found one?

I suppose it would make sense to use this space to find a Metsian equivalent to this Knicks victory, but I choose not to write about the 26 instances in which the Flushing 9 went from a 1-run deficit to a 1-run win on one swing of the bat, or the subset of 16 occurrences in which they accomplished that down to the final out (closest thing to a clock winding down we've got). One of the reasons for that is because I've already penned essays on nearly all of them already.

It would also seem logical for me to use this space at some point for one of my rant-and-rave sessions about the Knicks president/general manager/coach/waterboy/excuse-maker, but this seems to be not the right time for that, coming off such dramatics. Instead, the humanist in me (inspired by Diane Chambers) has found the good in Isiah. Or at least an Isiah.

Based on a search of Baseball-Reference.com, only one player in major league history has spelled either his first or middle name "Isiah" (others have had a similar pronunciation, but different spelling, which comes into play later in our story). That would be Ron Isiah Calloway who made the big leagues with the Expos in 2003 as an outfielder and was reasonably decent, at least for a few months.

Calloway's best moment that season (and for all intents, his career) came on June 5, 2003, where the Angels and Expos were tussling in an interleague clash in Puerto Rico. With Vladimir Guerrero out of the lineup, Calloway started in his place. The Expos had a 4-1 lead with ace Javier Vazquez on the hill, thanks to Calloway's three-run home run off John Lackey, but couldn't hold it through the end of regulation.

The Angels rallied from a 5-2 deficit with two runs in the 8th, then tied things with two outs in the top of the 9th in odd fashion. Closer Rocky Biddle struck out Jeff Da Vanon but the pitch got away from Michael Barrett, allowing Chone Figgins to race home with the tying run.

The result was a game that dragged on for a total of more than 5 hours. Neither team scored until the 14th when the Angels loaded the bases, thanks in part to back-to-back errors. Troy Glaus then singled in two runs, giving Anaheim a 7-5 lead into the last of the 14th.

Our good friend Endy Chavez started the rally for the home team, with one out in the bottom of the frame, with a single. Orlando Cabrera and Jose Vidro followed with hits, with Vidro's scoring Chevez, to cut the deficit to 7-6. Though Brad Wilkerson struck out, Vidro stole second. Wilfredo Cordero then walked to load the bases and stretch the game out to a conclusion.

The interesting thing was the matchup: Calloway against the Angels pitcher, Mickey Callaway (same pronunciation, different spelling). Newspaper accounts describe Calloway's subsequent two-run walk-off single as "stroked" to left center, but I prefer the term "driven" since it fits the golfing nature of the last name. Regardless, it was a nice moment for a guy who survived four years of playing Class-A baseball to make the minor leagues.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya, then with the Expos, must have taken notice of such moments from Calloway, because he claimed Calloway off waivers and got him to spring training in 2005. Alas, Calloway couldn't make the big league roster and spent the year in Norfolk, thus earning him status under the category "NeverMets." After a year with Norfolk in which he hit .263 with 10 home runs, Calloway departed as a minor league free agent and signed on with Pawtucket, for whom he played in 2006.

For those who need reminding, a NeverMet is someone who is indirectly part of the team (either through spring training invite, temporarily on roster via trade, claim or signing, or other such purpose) who never actually plays for the squad in a meaningful game.

It's also the term I wish I could use to describe the relationship between James Dolan and the other Isiah, but unfortunately, that's not the case. Sorry, couldn't resist the cheap shot even on a happy night.

True Metsiahs know...Frank Thomas (no relation to the Knicks president/general manager/coach/excuse-maker) had three walk-off hits for the Mets, including one of those 26 "One run down to one run ahead" winners. Here's the link to my write-up

http://metswalkoffs.blogspot.com/2006/02/doubting-thomas.html

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