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Gardner's Gaffe

Yesterday we wrote about Merkle's Boner in regards to its lessons in how not to walk-off.


Today, in an effort to cheer ourselves up about our current fate, we write about Gardner's Gaffe.


I'm referring to Game 4 of the 2000 NLDS, better known as The Bobby Jones Game, which would rank among my all-time favorite events attended at Shea (a list is coming, eventually).


The Mets had a 2-games-to-1 lead at the time and the momentum pendulum was swinging totally opposite the direction it's in these days.


We didn't know in the bottom of the first inning that Jones was going to pitch a one-hit shutout. But we did know it was going to be a good day for the Mets pretty quickly.


Giants starter Mark Gardner, a good friend of Jones from their sharing Fresno, California as a home, got the first two Mets out in the home first inning.


Gardner then got ahead of Mike Piazza 0-2 and threw a knee-high fastball near the outside corner of the plate. From my TV viewing today, it looks like a REALLY good pitch, aided by Doug Mirabelli's careful repositioning as he caught it. It was such a good pitch that Gardner leaned forward, thinking it was strike three.


Home plate ump Brian Gorman didn't flinch. He called the pitch ball one. Gardner, realizing his faux pas, motioned to the ump as if to say he was sorry.


"That's a veteran move there," ESPN announcer Joe Morgan said, "because he knows he's not supposed to walk-off before the umpire makes the call."


The next three pitches were about as close to home plate as the ceremonial toss by the Premier of Bermuda on Monday night. Piazza walked, bringing up Robin Ventura.


Ventura was waiting for a first-pitch fastball and got one, crushing it off the right field scoreboard to put the Mets ahead 2-0.


You could tell from the look on Gardner's face that the game was lost right there. His premature walk-off, along with the super-terrific pitching from Jones finished the Giants season for good, and put the Mets into the NLCS.

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