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Not So Grand

I'm a little slow to react as I've been quite busy, but I see that on Wednesday the Mets lost a spring training game against the Red Sox via walk-off grand slam.

For the record, this is a fate that has befallen the Mets on six different occasions in regular season play. The culprits have been, for the most part, as unlikely as Boston's wannabe rookie Ed Rogers.

Most will probably single out the walk-off grand slams by Bo Diaz (1983, trailing by 3 runs), Tom Herr (1987, set the tone for the season) and Brian Jordan (2001, basically finished off hopes of a miracle finish) as the least Metmorable in team history, but there's another one that stands out in my mind as having caused great anguish.

I'm referring to the particularly painful clash with the Phillies on Friday, August 13, 1993. That, for those who forget, was a misery-filled campaign, which hit the lowest of low points on this unlucky day.

I was a few weeks away from going off to college for the first time in the Philadelphia suburb of Trenton, NJ, but in those days, my idea of a fun Friday night was to sit in my bedroom with my tape recorder and "broadcast" Mets games with the telecast muted. Others would join me in this endeavor from time to time, but often I would venture solo. For some reason, I decided to torture myself with this contest.

Frank Tanana gave the Mets six good innings, but the team still trailed 3-2 entering the 8th. Then, the Mets caught the kind of fluky break that had eluded them all season. With two outs and nobody on, Terry Mulholland gave up a hit to Eddie Murray and walked Bobby Bonilla. Dave Gallagher, a very nice man (friend of a friend) who by no means should have been batting behind Bonilla in any circumstance, followed with a single to right. Phillies rightfielder John Kruk, eager to try to end the inning, made a throw to third base that went so far astray that both runners and Gallagher would cross the plate, giving the Mets a 5-3 lead.

Now normally, such a highlight moment would make for a memorable clip on a future broadcaster's resume tape, and I'm sure that at the time, I got really excited. But I have no idea what I said, and don't think I've ever gone back and listened, because of what happened next.

The Mets let their two-run lead become a one-run lead, allowing a tally in the 8th, but that wasn't such a big deal. They went meekly in the ninth, setting up a scenario in which they held a slim advantage against a team that needed a win a heck of a lot more than they did.

Manager Dallas Green got ripped in the papers the next day for bringing struggling southpaw Pete Schourek in to start the inning, but Schourek's showing was respectable. He walked John Kruk to start the inning but got the next two hitters out. With righty Pete Incaviglia up, Green switched pitchers for the patron saint of distressing defeat, Anthony Young, who had just recently won to snap a 27-game losing streak.

Green should have known better than to tempt the Friday the 13th fates like that. Young went to 3-2 on Incaviglia and threw a sinker that didn't tempt the free swinger, who trotted to first with a walk. Next up was Jim Eisenreich, and when his grounder to short was handled by Kevin Baez, the game was basically over. Except that Baez made like John Kruk and his throw went awry, a bit short. Gallagher, the first baseman, couldn't scoop it, and the Phillies scored to tie the game.

"The game should have been over," I wailed, in Charlie Brown-esque fashion.

With the winning run now at third and Eisenreich having reached second on the misplay, Green ordered the next hitter walked, to load the bases for pedestrian utility man Kim Batiste, who came in for defensive purposes in the top of the inning. Young got ahead in the count 0-1, but as the game story recounts, he threw a lousy slider on his next pitch and Batiste crushed it.

I can still hear my home run call: "And he hits it to deep left! It's way back! It might go!! It is gone!!!! A game-winning grand slam by Kim Batiste!!"

I was in such a rage that those were my last coherent thoughts for awhile. I couldn't even get the final score out properly, but ever the "professional," I called up my friend, Ming for our own promised post-game "Mets Extra" in which we mocked the team for its futility and patheticity.

As an aside, I can tell you that I recently exhibited similar such feelings of disgust the other night when the Knicks lost to the Supersonics on the walk-off free throw miss by Stephon Marbury, which I also intended to write about, but now I feel almost as if I have.

True Metslammers know...The other players to hit a walk-off grand slam against the Mets are: Bob Bailey (1970) and Javy Lopez (2001)


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