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Where's the Angst?

What you have just witnessed may have been the most boring 'important series' in Mets history.
Important series being defined as: September series having direct, significant impact on postseason race, played between two teams both chasing the same goal.

Why do I say that? Because there was no true moment of angst. Not a nailbiting victory or agonizing defeat. This is how the rest of the baseball world lives sometimes. But never the Mets.

In Game 1, a pitcher on a great roll beat a pitcher on a great roll. But this wasn't Gooden vs Tudor. It was a 3-0 game, and the Mets never really had a good shot, save for Ryan Church's final swing.

In Game 2, an aging, crafty lefty, beat an aging, uncrafty righty. The game wasn't close.

In Game 3, the Mets took a first-inning lead and never trailed again.

Yawn.

Granted, the baseball gods have given us plenty to fret over during the last two months, but this series lacked a defining moment that we'll fret over, or remember fondly, for years to come.

Consider

In 1969- The Mets were 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs when Chicago came to town. The series opener was a 1-run game, a 3-2 victory. Tommie Agee won the game by himself, with a two-run home run vs Bill Hands, and a nifty slide to avoid Randy Hundley's tag, to score the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.

Looking for angst? How about a situation in which the Cubs had two on and nobody out in the eighth for cleanup hitter Ron Santo. Jerry Koosman induced a 6-4-3 double play, than struck out Ernie Banks to end the threat. The Mets carried that momentum over to a 7-1 victory the next day, part of a 10-game win streak that pushed them into first place to stay.

In 1970- The Mets trailed the Pirates by 2 1/2 games with seven games left, but had a chance to defend their title and control their fate with a three-game series in Pittsburgh. The Mets lost all three games by one run.

Looking for angst? It came in the opener, with the Mets down a run, with a runner on second and one out in the ninth. Not only did Art Shamsky strike out, but Tommie Agee was caught stealing trying to go to third, and the Mets were losers, and 3 1/2 back.

In 1973- The Mets trailed the Pirates by 2 1/2 games again, but this time there were 13 games left, and the series with the Pirates was five games, split between the two cities. The Mets lost the opener, but won the next four, en route to an improbable NL East title.

Looking for angst? How about in the second game of the series, with the Mets down 4-1 in the ninth inning. The Mets scored five runs to take the lead (key hit: Don Hahn's two-run single), then survived a dicey ninth in which Buzz Capra got Manny Sanguillen to fly out with the bases loaded to end the game.

Looking for more angst? How about "Ball on the Wall?" in the series finale.

(editors note: I'm not counting 1984. The Mets were 7 back with 22 left when they faced the Cubs. That doesn't meet the definition.)

In 1985- The Mets had two late-season showdowns with the Cardinals that proved pivotal to the pennant race. The Mets won two of three one-run games in the first go-round to take first place by a game, but won only two of three in St. Louis when a sweep would have put the two teams in a first-place tie heading into the final weekend.

Looking for angst? In that first series, you had a 0-0 pitchers duel between a 24-game winner and a 21-game winner, won by the bad guys on an extra-inning pinch-hit home run. That game was followed by one in which the Mets blew a 6-0 lead (Willie McGee's home run tied it in the ninth), but won on a Keith Hernandez walk-off single.

Looking for more angst? How about another 0-0 game against the 21-game winner, with the winning home run being clocked by Darryl Strawberry in extra-innings? Or the series finale, in which the Mets lost by one, but had the tying run on base in each of the last 5 innings?

In 1987- The Mets lost two of three to the Cardinals in mid-September, when winning two of three would have left them within 1/2 a game of first place.

Looking for angst? The Mets were an out away from winning the series opener, but Terry Pendleton's two-run home run off Roger McDowell changed the complexion of the season, and the Cardinals won in extra innings, then buried Dwight Gooden the next day to grab command of the race.

In 1990- The Mets took two games from the Pirates in mid-September, trimming Pittsburgh's NL East lead to 1 1/2 games.

Looking for angst? How about the one-run nailbiter between David Cone and John Smiley in Game 1? Or that the Mets trailed eventual 22-game winner Doug Drabek in the opener, before Darryl Strawberry bailed them out with a three-run home run in the fourth inning.

In 1999- The Mets trailed the Braves by a game with 12 to play, heading into a three-game series in Atlanta. Chipper Jones won the MVP award in that subsequent series, as the Braves swept and sent the Mets on a downward spiral that nearly cost them a postseason spot.

Looking for angst? Jones snapped a tie in the eighth inning of the opener with a home run. He ended up going 4-for-9 in the series with four home runs and seven RBI.

(editors note: I'm skipping 2000 as well. The Mets had the cushion of a wild card lead in their matchups with the Braves that season, thus reducing the angstiety)

In 2001- The Mets had two late-season showdowns with the Braves after baseball returned following September 11. The same player did them in on two occasions, preventing the Mets from sweeping the first series, then crushing the team's spirit in the second set.

Looking for angst? In their first game in New York following September 11, the Mets trailed in the home eighth, before Mike Piazza hit his dramatic home run. The Mets won the next day, and had a 4-1 lead with two outs in the ninth of the series finale. But Atlanta scored three to tie, then won on Brian Jordan's extra-inning home run. A Mets win would have gotten them within 2 1/2 games with 12 to play. Instead they were 4 1/2 back, and in desperation mode when Jordan's walk-off grand slam capped a comeback from four runs down in the ninth inning of their second series.

In 2007- The Mets followed up getting swept four games in Philadelphia (in late August) by getting swept three straight at home, cutting their NL East lead to 3 1/2 games. That didn't seem so bad at the time, except ...

Looking for angst? The Mets lost the opener in extra innings on a Greg Dobbs (hey!) sacrifice fly. They blew a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning of the middle game when Jimmy Rollins drove in three with a two-out triple. They got swamped 10-6 in the finale.
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So history dictates that there be angst, though we didn't see any in this series. Could that mean that our most angstful moment with the Phillies is still to come?

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