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Swing and A Drive

OK, in the words of Phil Mickelson "I'm such an idiot." For some reason, I thought he went from 1-ahead to 2-behind when he actually went from 1-ahead to 1-behind...Oh well, still a good piece...

I'm not a big golf follower and I think it has something to do with the fact that I don't like wearing collared shirts, but it was hard to avoid media coverage of Phil Mickelson's Gak-Off at the U.S. Open on Saturday.

Not having a real firm grasp on what constitues "major gak" in the world of golf, I wondered what some comparable moments would be in other sports. WFAN's Mike Francesa compared it to Ernest Byner's fumble for the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Championship against the Broncos a few years back.

I asked aloud if the baseball equivalent would be that of Game 7 of the Yankees-Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series, in which the infallible Mariano Rivera yielded two runs in the ninth inning to give Arizona the championship. A colleague told me that wasn't "gak" enough, and that the only similar comparison would be had that Indians-Mariners game from a few years ago, in which the Indians rallied from 12 runs down been a World Series game.

Game 6 of the 1986 World Series seemed too easy as far as Mets comparables go, as did the comeback from a 6-0 9th inning deficit against the Expos in 1997. So I decided to look for the rough Metquivalent of what Mickelson did.

On the 72nd hole of the competition, Mickelson went from 1-up to finishing 2-down, and you could basically trace the start of the collapsitude to the swing of his driver off the tee.

In the history of the New York Mets, they have had only three walk-off wins in which their opponents went from 1-up to finishing 2-down with the work of one swing. The first came on Ron Swoboda's 3-run pinch-hit HR to beat the Giants on August 4, 1966. The most recent came on June 11, 2005, when Cliff Floyd hit a dramatic 3-run 2-out HR to beat the Angels, and if you want to read about either, click on the links (pardon the golf pun).

The one other occurrence took place on May 31, 1995 against the Padres. This was one of those games that didn't really get going until right around the 71st hole, or in this case, the last of the 8th inning. The Mets trailed 3-1 entering that frame, but scratched across a run to cut the lead to 3-2. With two outs and two on base, they caught a major break. Joe Orsulak struck out to apparently end the inning, but a wild pitch enabled Orsulak to reach safely and his fellow baserunners to advance, loading the bases.

Jose Vizcaino, in a little foreshadowing of some future key hits, than came through with a 2-run single, putting the Mets ahead 4-3. The joy that swept through Flushing at that particular moment didn't last long. John Franco surrendered a game-tying home run to Padres first baseman Eddie Williams leading off the ninth, and we were headed to extra innings.

The Padres took the lead off Franco in the 10th, with the help of an Edgardo Alfonzo miscue, as Ken Caminiti brought in the go-ahead run with a groundout. They brought Trevor "Hell's Bells" Hoffman in to close out a would-be win, but Hoffman was only able to get them one-third of the way there.

Bobby Bonilla grounded out to start the home 10th but Jeff Kent and Orsulak each singled, putting runners on the corners. Dallas Green called on Chris Jones to bat for Franco and as he often did, Jones came through. Hoffman avoided throwing a fastball to Jones, and was able to work the count to 2-2. His pitch of choice for strikeout was a slow curve, but Jones was ready for it. John Giannone, covering the game for the Daily News that day, had the right choice of world when picking out a description for Jones swing.

"The final curve, on a 2-2 pitch, appeared headed for the dirt when Jones GOLFED it 340 feet, or two feet farther than the left-field wall, for the winner."

True Metkelsons know...The Mets have only had two players from Australia, birthplace of U.S. Open champ Geoff Ogilvy. Craig Shipley played four games in 1989 without being involved in a walk-off. Graeme Lloyd lasted a little bit longer than Shipley during the 2003 season, and pitched in two of the Mets four walk-off wins that season.


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