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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 that a 5-time Gold Glove winning centerfielder kick the ball away after barely missing the type of shoestring catch that he usually makes. It required that a rightfielder with the strongest throwing arm in the league be out of position to chase the ball down. It required the Mets third base coach, the most aggressive since Bobby Valentine, never hesitating in sending his baserunner, even though a perfect throw probably nails his man at the plate.

There was a lot of good luck involved in Anderson's 13th pinch-hit of the season and there was some bad luck involved in Doug Mientkiewicz's second error of the season, which set up the deficit the Mets faced in the bottom of the 10th. Hard to figure that something like that was going to happen, considering how good Mientkiewicz has been defensively all season.

Moving ahead to the bottom of the 10th, let me start by simply saying that Jose Reyes' at-bat to lead off the inning was Dunston-esque, and if you know your Mets walk-off history, you'll get the comparison (see 15th inning 1999 NLCS, Game 5). Reyes battled Brendan Donnelly through a host of two-strike fouls, in a situation in which he normally strikes out, to get a base hit. Once he got on base, what followed made a little more sense, even the idea that Mike Cameron would walk by resisting a pitch that was inches off the plate on 3-and-2, and that Carlos Beltran and Mike Piazza would both strike out.

A lot has been made of the long foul ball that Cliff Floyd hit, in the middle of his at-bat. There is a prevailing feeling in this sport that the baseball Gods dictate that a strikeout follow any foul home run. However, as one astute observer pointed out to me on Sunday, it is not totally unprecedented for something good to happen. Rusty Staub's last Mets home run, on June 22, 1985, came after a tantalizing long foul ball down the right field line. Staub's home run was merely game-tying, and not game-winning, but was nearly as dramatic as the one on Saturday night, because it seemed just about as unlikely at the time.

Floyd's at-bat was a heck of a battle, similar in nature to one between Derrek Lee and Heath Bell at Wrigley Field a few weeks ago. The longer the at-bat goes, it always seems that the edge goes to the hitter big-time. Floyd alluded to that in his postgame comments, noting that even though he had struck out three times previously that in this appearance "It felt like I was starting over, like it was the first inning. He threw some pitches that locked me in."

Floyd had a lot to say as he was peppered with postgame questions. He talked about wishing his foul ball was a home run because he could see fans in the stands cringing. He talked about the character of the team being such that it could come back in such scenarios. He talked about wanting to pick up a teammate who was down because of an error, but right before he did so, he said what might have been the best statement about the way things ended up.

"It felt like it was meant to be."

True Metsamaniacs know- Floyd's home run came on the 25th anniversary of Mike Jorgensen's walk-off grand slam, which came in a 6-2 10-inning Mets win over the Dodgers on June 11, 1980


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