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The Little Man and the Billy Goat

When's the Tike Redman press conference?

On back-to-back days, the Mets paraded their newest acquisitions- Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner- in front of the New York media, eager to gloat about the bold moves that management hopes will make this a banner summer for the Flushing 9.

Alas, baseball is a 25-man game and pennants are not won in November. The best moves aren't necessarily the ones you don't make, but rather the ones that go unnoticed (Raise your hand if you were at last year's press conferences announcing the signings of Roberto Hernandez, Marlon Anderson, and Chris Woodward).

That brings us to Redman (his real first name is Julian), who has a connection with Mets closers past and the Mets closer of the future. By purchasing Redman's contract from the Pirates, the Mets made a bold and smart move. They prevented the 29 other teams from picking him up.

You remember Redman, don't you? It was this past July 8th when the Mets suffered one of the most pathetic, humiliating losses in franchise history, in Pittsburgh. New York held a 5-1 lead in the ninth when Redman came to bat with the bases loaded and two outs, against freshly inserted closer Braden Looper (we'll leave out the part about Ramon Castro ridiculously getting thrown out at the plate in the top of the inning). Redman had struck out twice the previous day with the bases loaded and had all but conceded another move into goathood when Looper got ahead 0-2.

What follows is both rather fuzzy (many a mind has tried to block it out) and rather fugly. Looper missed with a couple of pitches and than Redman pulled a Shawon Dunston circa 1999, fouling off six straight high fastballs before plating two runs with a single. It was either one of the best or worst at bats you'll ever see, depending on your perspective. Matt (later suspended for steroids policy violation) Lawton followed with a line drive that Cliff Floyd misplayed into a game-tying double. The Pirates won it in the 10th in equally fugly fashion after a hideous Miguel Cairo throwing error and a walk-off hit by hero-of-the-moment Humberto Cota.

Give the credit to Tike," Cota told reporters after the game (quote found in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). "He had the at-bat that won the game, not me."

This was not the first time that Redman got stuck in the middle of a miraculous comeback victory. Let's harken back to July 28, 2001 when the Astros and Pirates had a zany finish to the opening game of their doubleheader.

The Astros had an 8-2 lead with two outs and nobody on the ninth inning, which 9,999 times out of 10,000 means that the game is over. Perhaps the sign of bad karma equivalent to Castros's basepath blunder, came when Pat Meares followed a double with a two-run homer, making it an 8-4 game. Adam Hyzdu followed with a single, bringing Redman up against Mike Jackson.

Redman had walked just three times (compared to 64 at bats) during the season, but to Jackson, he was apparently the equivalent of Babe Ruth. Redman picked the right time to be patient. He was passed on four straight pitches. After Jack Wilson singled in a run to make it 8-5, Astros manager Larry Dierker had no choice but to bring in his closer, Billy Wagner. Clearly Wagner wasn't mentally ready to pitch because the first thing he did was hit Jason Kendall with a pitch to load the bases.

That brought up Brian Giles. When you're down 8-2 with two outs and nobody on in the ninth, you don't expect your best to come up against their best, with a chance to win the game. But hey, this is baseball, a sport in which anything can happen. To almost quote Peter Gammons, anything did.

Giles crushed a 1-0 pitch to right field for what we like to call an "Ultimate Grand Slam" (homer down 3 with 2 outs in the bottom of the last inning), an extraordinarily rare feat that ranks with any we'll track in walk-off land. Redman was the first of four to touch home plate after that final swing and we can only imagine how good it felt for him, and how bad it felt for the newest Mets finisher.

Mets fans are happy today and rightfully so, considering they've added megastars at two very significant positions. But my advice to them is to keep an eye out on every move, because baseball is a 25-man game and you never know which roster filler will end up playing the most important role of the season. You never know which will get a chance to be like Tike.

True Metner's know...Fellow blogger Metstradamus reminds us that Billy Wagner got a walk-off win against the Mets as recently as July 8, 2004, when the Phillies beat the Flushing 9 on a walk-off home run by Bobby Abreu off former Mets reliever John Franco.

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