For Mets fans, October 19 is a day of postseason heartbreak. This is the anniversary of two of the more crushing playoff losses in Mets history. Today, the T7L staff will relive those nights.
First up...October 19, 2006.
The Team. The Time. The Mets.
That was the promise for the 2006 season. Going into Game 7 of the NLCS, I felt like this was going to hold true.
At the time, I was a sophomore at Towson University. Whenever the Mets took the field down the stretch of the season and playoffs, homesickness was in full effect. But I made the best of my surroundings that night, and got together with fellow Long Island transplants at a bar named Reefers in Fells Point, Baltimore.
I didn’t even really know how the 2006 Mets got to this do-or-die situation. I never thought the series would get this far. The Mets were far and away the better team, as the 83-win Cardinals limped into the playoffs. Simply falling behind in the series 3-to-2 was a shock to me. But after winning Game 6, knowing the decisive game was at Shea, I already had the World Series on my mind.
Oliver Perez was the unlikely starter for the Mets, opposed by the Cardinals’ Jeff Suppan. It felt as if the game would come down to the bats and the Mets held a clear-cut edge in that department. I was feeling good.
My then-girlfriend was also with me that night. When we got to the bar, she had this misconception that we would be lovey-dovey, socialize with friends, maybe even dance. No, no, and definitely no. I was there to watch baseball, and watch baseball only. We broke up later that night due to the “lack of attention” I had given her. That was the least of my worries by night’s end.
That battle of the bats I predicted? I was wrong. After exchanging early runs, it turned out to be a pitcher’s duel. Suppan and Perez kept both offenses in check.
We all remember when Scott Rolen stepped up to the plate with a runner on in the top of the 6th and delivered, what appeared to be, a knockout punch. At a speed that would make Usian Bolt blush, Endy Chavez raced to the left field wall and leaped to make a fully extended catch to bring back Rolen’s would-be home run and fired the ball back in to double Jim Edmonds off first base.
To this day, I don’t know how to explain the emotions I was feeling after that catch. It was all so surreal. I had no real money to my name, but if you were standing around me at that very moment you received a drink on me (Thanks, dad).
The Mets wasted a bases loaded, one out opportunity in the bottom of the sixth, and it all seemed like a blur until Yadier Molina, at the time, a young, soft-hitting catcher that had yet to really establish himself became a household name, strode to bat. What happened next felt as if Mike Tyson had given me a right hand to the gut.
Prior to the bottom of the ninth, a few of us ordered car bombs (remember that I was in college and it was 2006). We made the decision that they were not to be taken until the inning’s completion, for better or worse.
Jose Valentine and Endy Chavez produced back-to-back singles to start things off, and Willie Randolph turned to Cliff Floyd as his pinch hitter. Floyd was battling injuries, but I still felt like letting him swing away was the right call.
He stuck out.
Jose Reyes followed that up with a screamer to center, right at Edmonds. Down to their last out, Paul Lo Duca drew a walk. It was set up for our best hitter, Carlos Beltran. Based loaded and two outs. You couldn’t write a better script.
My dad had already promised to fly me home and pay for World Series tickets if the Mets advanced. That was what was going through my head at that very moment.
“I can’t believe I’m actually going to the World Series…”
I took that car bomb, now warm and disgusting, and honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t throw up, either from the drink or what I just watched. Needless to say, I had many, many more drinks that night to forget about life for a while.