Skip to main content

A Brief History of "Agony to Ecstasy Finishes"

Monday's Opening Day win ended in rather unusual fashion, even for the Mets, with Jose Vidro getting thrown out by Carlos Beltran trying to extend a single into a double.

The good folks at Retrosheet, led by David Smith, sent us a list of Mets contests that ended in a similar manner. Originally, I referred to the manner of contest conclusion as a "Slide-off" and then "tag-off" but hastily realized that in my request to Retrosheet, I left certain possibilities out of the equation (A runner could get thrown out attempting to advance on a flyout or groundout, which also could involve a tag play). Thus, in searching for a new name, I came up with the idea of the "Agony to Ecstasy Finish."

The definition of the "Agony to Ecstasy Finish" is a game in which your team won, in which the final out of the game came as the byproduct of a base hit. Agony to ecstasy seems like the ideal phrase to describe the emotions of the fan whose team emerges victorious (particularly if the game is close).

Opening Day marked the 9th time in Mets history that team won by an Agony to Ecstasy finish. Amazingly, all of them took place in games decided by one run. Here's a capsule summary of those games, in order starting with the most recent...

Feeling Chipper...I can't believe I forgot about May 23, 2003, which was the last such A to E conclusion. The Mets edged the Braves, 5-4, clinching the win when Tusyoshi Shinjo threw Chipper Jones out at the plate, on a base hit by current Met Julio Franco. When Armando Benitez thanked Shinjo for the bailout, Shinjo jokingly replied he'd like a massage as his reward.

Grand Ole' Win....May 20, 1999 is better known as the date in which Robin Ventura hit a grand slam in both games of a doubleheader. Less remembered is the way that Game 1, an 11-10 Mets victory, concluded. With the score 11-9 and two men on base, Sean Berry hit a pop up to shallow right that second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo couldn't catch. Lead runner Marquis Grissom scored, but trail runner Alex Ochoa, not running at full speed because he appeared to think the game was over, was nailed at the plate by right fielder Roger Cedeno. Bobby Valentine told the media afterwards: "I'm just glad we got the third out. We didn't catch it, but we threw it, and tagged it, and got it done."

Brian McRae does something right...We've previously used this blog as mocking space for Brian McRae's various absent-minded antics, but we'll give credit, at least a little bit, for the 1-0 September 13, 1998 win over the Expos. McRae threw Shane Andrews out at the plate for the final out, after Mike Hubbard singled off John Franco. McRae made a rare winner of Willie Blair, and a mini-hero of Todd Hundley, who was on the receiving end of the throw, playing catcher for the first time in nearly 12 full months.

Victory Spehr'ed from Defeat...The year of misery that was 1993 had one of its more entertaining wins on August 2, 1993. With two on and two outs in the ninth inning, and the Mets clinging to a 4-3 lead, Wil Cordero's infield single turned into a game-ender. After Cordero beat Bobby Bonilla's throw across the diamond to first base, Mike Lansing edged slightly off second. Lansing was able to get back to second, but when the Mets tried to nail him there, lead runner Tim Spehr embarked on a mad dash for the plate. Spehr (the last Met not named Mike Piazza to start at catcher on Opening Day, prior to Lo Duca) ended up getting caught in a rundown, with Tim Bogar applying the tag that concluded the contest.

A 'Routine' Win...We mentioned this one earlier in the week. On August 27, 1986, the Mets won at San Diego, 6-5 in 11 innings. The game ended in an unusual fashion as Len Dykstra threw Gary Templeton out at home plate on Tim Flannery's single. When Templeton bowled over catcher John Gibbons, Flannery, who went to second on the throw home, tried to advance to third base. Gibbons promptly rolled over and fired to third baseman Howard Johnson, who slapped a quick tag on Flannery for the final out of a wild win. As announcer Tim McCarver noted, it was "Just your routine double play."

Just Gooden-ough...On May 25, 1984, Dwight Gooden tied Nolan Ryan's club rookie record by striking out 14 Dodgers in eight innings of work. Gooden left with a 2-1 lead, one that nearly slipped away. With two outs in the ninth, Jesse Orosco allowed a single to Jose Morales and then a double to center by R.J. Reynolds. Pinch-runner Dave Anderson tried to score, but was gunned down at the plate, thanks to a nice relay throw from underappreciated second base platooner Kelvin Chapman.

The Wacky World of Mets...Ever see those blooper shows hosted by Jay Johnstone? Wonder if he ever included the time he was on the Padres, playing the Mets on July 21, 1979. With the Padres trailing by a run in the ninth inning, Johnstone batted against Andy Hassler with two on and two outs. Johnstone grounded in the hole between first and second. The ball was fielded by Doug Flynn, but with no one covering first, all hands were safe. Seeing the confusion, lead runner Paul Dade got caught straying a little too far from third base and was thrown out. The tag was applied by defensive replacement at third base, Sergio Ferrer, who somehow played 32 games that season without getting a base hit (he went 0-for-7 with 2 walks). That's a club "record."

This game ended too late for morning editions...Because Game 2 of a quasi-meaningless September 26 doubleheader between the Mets and Phillies at Veterans Stadium, went extra innings I'm left without an archived newspaper account of this contest. What I can tell you is that the Mets won, 3-2 in 12 innings. The Phillies trailed 3-1 with two on and two out in the 12th. Pinch-hitter Mike Rogodzinski doubled, bringing home one run, but in trying to score the tying run, Tim McCarver was thrown out at the plate, on Felix Millan's relay of a Rusty Staub throw.

Comments

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 walk-offs...so 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