Skip to main content

The Summer of False Hope Continues

New York Times writers are very picky when it comes to choosing words, so when the three-year embargo was finally lifted, allowing the words "rousing" and Mets to be used in the same sentence, it must have caught the attention of a lot of readers picking up their Sunday editions on June 8, 1980.

This was in reference to the story of the game the day before, a nationally televised contest on a Saturday afternoon at Shea against the defending champion Pittsburgh Pirates. After winning in walk-off fashion on Thursday, the Mets carried that momentum into a nice victory on Friday, a 9-4 triumph featuring an eight-run second inning against Bert Blyleven and a long shutout relief stint from Tom Hausman. The Pirates had drubbed them by the combined tally of 18-3 in their prior two meetings, so this was a nice way to turn the tables.

Saturday, the Mets started John Pacella, whose major-league tenure is best known for his pitching motion, which caused his cap to fly off on every follow through. Pacella had good days and bad days for the Flushing 9 and this was one of those that leaned in the negative direction, as he left after four-plus innings, charged with three of Pittsburgh's four runs, putting the Mets in a 4-1 hole at the midpoint. The Mets had looked like their old selves earlier in the game, as among other things, Frank Taveras was thrown out trying to steal home.

The Mets rallied for two runs in the seventh inning, chasing Pirates starter Jim Bibby, but missed out on a chance for more. John Stearns doubled in one run and Elliott Maddox brought home another with a sacrifice fly, but then Stearns, the goat horns barely removed after a failed bunt attempt in a key spot two days previous, got thrown out at the plate after Doug Flynn's single.

Considering that the Pirates were the defending champs, most probably figured that would be the Mets best shot at tying the score. Rookie pinch-hitter Jose Moreno drew his first major league walk to lead off the eighth, stole second, and scored on Steve Henderson's two-out single.

Mets reliever Neil Allen got through the ninth, and after the Mets failed to cash in a scoring threat in the bottom of the frame, the 10th, but ran into trouble with the score still even in the 11th. With two on and two outs, Phil Garner singled home the go-ahead run, giving the Pirates a 5-4 lead.

Pirates manager Chuck Tanner chose Grant Jackson to get the last three outs of an expected win, but after a one-out single by Alex Trevino and a walk to John Stearns, Tanner pulled Jackson in favor of Friday's blown-out starter, Blyleven. This was of no consequence to the next batter, Joel Youngblood, who ripped a ground-rule double to left center field. The ball hopped over the fence, preventing the likely scoring of Stearns, but that was okay, considering that the hit tied the game. With runners on second and third, Blyleven intentionally walked Elliott Maddox to load the bases.

I know Ron Hodges as an over-the-hill backup catcher who towards the end of his career wasn't capable of much at bat and in the field. Older Mets fans know that Hodges had a history of big hits, his biggest coming against the Pirates during the Mets title chase of 1973 (we'll get around to this one). Mets manager Joe Torre knew Hodges as a lefty bat, who hadn't played much in the last two weeks, but who had a better chance of getting a hit than Flynn, for whom he pinch-hit.

Hodges came through, singling between first and second to plate Stearns, arms raised skyward, with the winning run. Joe Torre described the triumph as "gratifying," a word with which he has refamiliarized himself with this season. That's another word you didn't hear too often in those days regarding the Mets. But these were the "New Mets" and some people actually started to believe in the truth of the slogan, "The Magic is Back!" The Summer of False Hope was in full swing.

True Metlievers know...The Mets have had a walk-off win against the defending World Series champions in five different seasons: 1966 (1965 Dodgers), 1972 (1971 Pirates), 1980 (1979 Pirates), 1996 (1995 Braves), and 1999 (1998 Yankees).


Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers? So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example: He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but thei

Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day , the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time. I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like " Faith and Fear in Flushing ," Mets Guy in Michigan " and " Metstradamus ," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic. The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for