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Stitch in Time Saves Conine

Don't know if you've seen this "Actober" contest that FOX has been promoting all season, inviting fans to recreate famous moments in baseball history. Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Orlando Hudson joined in the fun, staging his version of Kirk Gibson's limp-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

The Mets could stage their own version given that they now have three integral parts from one of the most infamous moments in postseason history. The connection between Luis Castillo and Moises Alou regarding the "Bartman ball" from the 8th inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS has been well-documented, but oft forgotten among baseball historians is that it was new Met Jeff Conine who hit the sacrifice fly that gave the Marlins a 4-3 lead in an eventual victory.

It was also Conine, then the Marlins left fielder, who made the throw to cut J.T. Snow down at the plate to end the 2003 NLDS in dramatic fashion. This is a guy with a knack for the big moment. He went 4-for-4 in the first game in Marlins history, hit a go-ahead home run in the 8th inning of the 1995 All-Star Game (remember when the NL used to win that thing?), and was, prior to "retirement", a championship-level racquetball player. Hopefully Mr. Met won't be disturbed that the club has added a player known as "Mr. Marlin," but other than that, Conine should get along with the rest of the squad just fine.

I think the thing that I like best about Jeff Conine (besides his being a 58th-round draft pick in 1987) is that he's due for a true walk-off moment. On April 17, 1997, Conine collected his 684th career major-league hit, a walk-off home run against Cardinals pitcher Mark Petkovsek. He's had 1,290 regular-season hits since, but none have been in walk-off fashion. (he has since won games via a walk-off E1 and a walk-off fielder's choice). Perhaps it will be of an Actober variety.

True Metnines know...Conine was hardly the only Mets-connected player with a role in the first game in Marlins history. The pitcher whom Conine first faced as a Marlin was then-Dodger Orel Hershiser, and the pitcher/catcher combo against whom Conine recorded the Marlins first stolen base was Rick Trlicek/Mike Piazza. Others of Methood to play in that game of April 5, 1993: Jose Offerman, Brett Butler, Darryl Strawberry, Roger McDowell and Lenny Harris for the Dodgers, as well as Dave Magadan, Chuck Carr, and ex-pitching coach Charlie Hough for the Marlins.


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