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Young and the Restless (another self-indulgent tale)

I am a graduate of Stuyvesant High School (Class of 1993, the first to graduate from the "new building" in Battery Park) and that is a label I sport with pride. Stuyvesant is not only one of the best high schools in New York City, it is one of the finest academic institutions in the country.

Stuyvesant has graduated many Nobel Prize winners (forgive me for not knowing their names), TV and movie stars (Tim Robbins, Lucy Liu, and Paul Reiser), sportscasters (Ted Husing, Len Berman, and Sam Rosen) and even baseball executives (Mets president Saul Katz and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria).

I really enjoyed my time at Stuyvesant, and I always get a kick out of pulling out my high school yearbook and reading some of the inscriptions from my fellow alums, ones that would have to be explained if I ever showed them to my grandchildren. There's "Yellow Team!!!" (the name of our gym class championship co-ed lacrosse squad, a.k.a. the "Running Slashers")"I'm sure I'll be running into you at an awards ceremony at Columbia" (a future rabbi apparently thought I'd win a Pulitzer) and "Basketball Rotisserie-- Bad!!" (one guy thought I was a little too obsessed with our fantasy hoops league).

One of my favorites came from a classmate named Jonathan Wilensky, whom I haven't seen since graduation, and whom I believe has fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a plastic surgeon. Within a list of inside jokes ("at guard, at 4-foot-2 from Stuyvesant..."), Wilensky included the phrase "Only the good die Anthony Young."

The Mets got progressively worse during my time at Stuyvesant and a lot of people had fun kicking them while they were down and by 1993, they were a pathetic joke. That didn't matter much to me. I was just as much a fan as I always was, and the neat thing about that season was that it was one in which I began "broadcasting" games from my $6 seat in the upper deck (usually in the section adjacent to the "Section 1 Fan Club").

Anthony Young (no relation to Cy)was basically the cult goat of the 1993 team. Young's problem was that he was too good. If he had stunk, he wouldn't have been pitching. But, relatively speaking, he was better than most else the Mets could throw out there, so he became a symbol of both ineptitude and bad luck. He did what you could call "Youmans work." (not yeomens...Young follows ex-Mets farmhand Floyd Youmans in Retrosheet's player database). In 1992, he lost 14 straight games to close out the season. In 1993, he lost games in manners both hideous and heartbreaking.

One of my favorite memories at Stuyvesant is basically of what amounted to our "breakfast club." (minus the food). That was a gathering of half-a-dozen of us, in the cafeteria every morning (or the auditorium in the pre-Battery Park Stuy) before classes to read the newspapers and talk about sports (our own version of "Mike and the Mad Dog"). I had pretty much established myself as a mini sports encyclopedia, someone who had the definitive word on every issue (foreshadowing my future career, basically) Those discussions continued at lunchtime, and Wilensky must have mocked Anthony Young a few times within them (otherwise, why would he have written what he did?).

Young's losing streak was still alive after graduation and I remember making a deal with one Brooklyn-based classmate, Eddie Lieber (yearbook quote: "If you come to a fork in the road, take it.")that if Young won a game, we would call each other to celebrate.

It looked like that day was going to be July 7, 1993 against the Padres when Ming Hui Kuang played Bob Murphy to my Gary Cohen and Anthony Young, loser of 25 straight decisions, dueled with Padres starter Andy Benes. For seven innings, this was one of the great pitchers duels of all-time (or at least, that I had ever seen) Both Young and Benes had allowed only one hit. Young retired 23 consecutive batters before rookie catcher Kevin Higgins singled with two outs in the eighth. Wouldn't ya know it, the next batter, Archi Cianfrocco hit one that carried just over the right field fence (My home run call was one of despair and impatience, "Anthony Young is running out of chances!") Benes and Gene Harris finished up their one-hitter, handing Young consecutive defeat number 26 and dropping the Mets to 25-57 for the season.

Some may remember that game for other reasons. Apparently afterwards, Bret Saberhagen thought it humorous to toss a firecracker at the reporters who were interviewing Young (the 1993 Mets specialized in embarassing themselves off the field as well).

Anthony Young would have to wait a few more weeks (and through one more defeat), until July 28 against the Marlins, to snap his losing streak. The triumph came in very Metsian fashion Young didn't exactly earn the win. It just happened that he was the last man on the mound for a walk-off win.

The two teams were tied 3-3 in the ninth inning and with Young in the game, only bad things could happen. The Mets botched two bunts to help the Marlins load the bases, and after getting a double play, Young allowed a bunt hit to Chuck Carr, one that gave the Marlins a one-run lead.

The Mets rallied in the ninth in improbable fashion against Marlins closer Bryan Harvey (who entered with a 1.66 ERA). Two singles sandwiched around a sacrifice, the second by Ryan Thompson, plated the tying run and got Young off the hook. With two outs, Eddie Murray, lined a double into the right field corner and Thompson came home with the winning run. I did a victory lap in my bedroom while Young was telling reporters "This wasn't a monkey (on my back). It was a zoo," than called Eddie Lieber, who didn't share my enthusiasm. The Mets were 30 games under .500, so I guess he (and probably Jonathan Wilensky as well) had better things to do now that high school was over.

True Metvesants know- Prior to Murray's hit, the last three times the Mets had won by walk-off, Bobby Bonilla got the winning hit. That is the only time in Mets history in which a string of three straight walk-off wins (though not in three straight games) ended on hits by the same player.

P.S. "Yellow Team!!!"


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