Play of the year forgotten less than a week later
You know that terrible U2 song, ""Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out of,"" where in the music video, John Madden is ranting about something and some field goal kicker pulls a Norwood and misses the game winning kick and he can't stop thinking about it? Yeah, the song sucks, but that was me Thursday night.
With the bases loaded at Shea Stadium, down by two, bottom of the ninth, two outs, two strikes, in the seventh game of the National League Champion Series, the New York Mets' best player, Carlos Beltran, took strike three. While Carlos is probably stuck in the moment a little more than I claim to be, he gets paid $117 million more than I do to attempt to cut down on the moments in which I get stuck.
With that backwards K, there went memories of the most dominant team in the National League, and installed in their place were memories of a gigantic bust. Losing to St. Louis was inexcusable. The Cardinals had had a bad year, a year most fans would complain about.
But with that called strike three went another memory. A memory that would be more lasting than the Mets mobbing Beltran for his pennant-winning double to clear the bases. A memory that would be etched into baseball's lore with Kirk Gibson's homerun, Willie Mays' catch and Jack Morris' '91 game seven dominance.
When Mets pitcher Oliver Perez, throwing the game of his life, gave up a one-out walk to Jim Edmonds in the sixth inning, in a 1-1 game, manager Willie Randolph came out to talk to him. And when Perez convinced him that he was OK to go on, Randolph walked back to the dugout.
The next pitch? A sure home run over the left field wall. But someone just didn't tell Endy Chavez.
Chavez took off from the beginning of the warning track, about a foot before the wall, threw his right arm up in the air, and snow-coned the ball over the wall. He then came down, checked that the ball was in his glove and that he had just made the play of his 28-year-old life, and promptly doubled Edmonds off first for an inning-ending double play.
Now, we won't detail my reaction to the play, but it was frightening. A combination of girlish squeals and some hyperventilating is a little too embarrassing to get into. But you simply don't see plays like that ... ever. The Mets had to win the game after that catch. It was just that simple. And that catch would go down as the greatest play ever seen on a big stage. The name Endy Chavez would be remembered forever.
But that didn't happen. Beltran struck out and the season was over. Just like that.
The question becomes: Would that play still live on? Well, would Derek Jeter's flip play live on if the Oakland A's had taken out the Yankees? Would the ""Immaculate Reception"" even have a nickname if the Oakland Raiders returned a kickoff for a game-winning touchdown with the five seconds that Franco Harris and the Steelers left on the clock?
The answer: no one would really remember them just like hardly anyone recalls Tim Duncan hitting an unreal fadeaway 18-footer in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals over Shaq with .4 seconds remaining, only to be outdone by little ol' Derek Fisher's miracle heave. Furthermore, that image of Michael Jordan hitting the jumper over Craig Ehlo and then jumping in the air and pumping his fist is always remembered, but nobody recalls Ehlo's shot the possession before to put Cleveland up by one with three seconds left. Same thing happened for Kentucky before Grant Hill's Hail Mary to Christian Laettner and the turn around that Rick Pitino probably still wakes up in cold sweats dreaming about.
Teams have to win games for amazing feats within the games to truly be remembered. Sure, I have YouTube to remember that Chavez catch, but to the rest of the baseball world, it was dead. It never happened.
Look, I'm bitter. I'll admit it. If you were to tell me that Perez and John Maine would pitch great back-to-back in games 6 and 7, that Beltran and Carlos Delgado would have three homers apiece in the series, and that Chavez would make a crucial play like that, I would have told you there was no chance the Mets would lose.
But they did, and only fans that are true to the Orange and Blue will remember that play.
Well, here's to February. Pitchers and catchers report and this whole thing starts all over again.
To commiserate with Sam over the Mets' loss, e-mail him at email@example.com.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter