MEET THE MESS
Does Mets manager Willie Randolph
look unhappy or what? Well, maybe
he's remembering what it feels
like to be in the minors again.
How to blow a lead?
Just consult the '07 Mets
By BUCKY FOX
Not Amazin, the cute Casey Stengel spin on the new Mets of Marvelous Marv and 100-loss seasons in the early 1960s.
Just Amazing. The 2007 Mets turned into a record-setting mess--blowing a seven-game lead with 17 to play.
And to whom? The Phillies, who blew a similar lock in 1964.
We Mets fans are used to comebacks, not comedowns. 1969: back from oblivion to club the Cubs and win it all. 1973: from last place and hearing It aint over till its over from manager Yogi Berra to the pennant. 1986: rockin rallies in the playoffs against Houston and in the World Series vs. Boston.
This seasons sinking stinks. The Mets spent the past two weeks building big leads every night, only to wilt. Relief pitching? It was more flamethrower than fireman. As soon the bullpen opened, New York went up in smoke.
Call them the Ablazin Mets.
Since misery loves company, what about other big leads that disappeared? Here are baseballs greatest comebacks:
1914 Braves. The original owners of the Miracle tag.
In Boston in those days, they steered a turnaround worthy of a stuntman--from 15 and a half games behind in July to 10 and a half ahead for the pennant.
Then they rode Hank Gowdys .545 hitting in the World Series to sweep the Philadelphia As.
1951 Giants. The definition of comebackers.
They stood in a 13 and a half game hole in August--and climbed out with a 16-game winning streak.
All would have been for naught if not for Bobby Thomson. The man without a P in his name popped a three-run homer in the ninth inning of the last playoff game to erase a 4-2 deficit and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Forget that silly MasterCard celebration at the 2002 World Series that credited Cal Ripkens consecutive-game streak as the greatest moment in baseball history. Thomson owns that.
The jack at New Yorks Polo Grounds put the perfect exclamation point on a crazy comeback.
It also produced the craziest call in radio history: The Giants win the pennant! Ad infinitum. That from Russ Hodges, the coolest voice of them all.
And one of the finest leads in newspaper annals: "Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic can ever be plausible again." That from Red Smith, the sultan of scribes.
1978 Yankees. If the 77 team led to The Bronx Is Burning on ESPN, this New York version could one day flash The Bronx Is Churning.
The 78 Yanks sure spun their stirrups at midseason. They slumped 14 games behind Boston. The Boss, George Steinbrenner, was so bummed, he evicted Billy Martin and hired Bob Lemon. The new skipper had to tame this Bronx Zoo, a tag that third baseman Graig Nettles coined.
The Yankees simply turned wild. They streaked to a one-game playoff with the Red Sox and won it on Bucky Dents three-run climb over the Green Monster. New York capped its ride by vaulting over L.A. in the World Series.
Other teams flew from way back to raise pennants.
The 1935 Chicago Cubs rose from 10 and a half behind the Giants, who were involved in so many of these comebacks.
The Giants also bounced back in 1936 and 1962, which might have been the most stunning of all reversals. That 62 bunch trailed by four games with seven to go--the tiniest of windows. By now in San Francisco, the Giants rallied to tie the Dodgers and force a three-game playoff. Shades of 51. Again, the Giants trailed 4-2 in the ninth inning of Game 3, won 5-4 and set off broadcaster Hodges on another pennant-winning frenzy.
The St. Louis Cardinals were another team jersey deep in comebacks. They rebounded in 1930 and 1942--and were at it again in 1964. Thats when they wiped out an 11-game deficit on Aug. 24. On the way to the pennant, the Cards passed Philadelphia, which led the National League by 6 and a half games with 12 to go.
Then there were the Miracle Mets of 1969 and Ya Gotta Believe Mets of 1973.
Bring them back.
©2007 by Bucky Fox. This column first posted Oct. 2, 2007.
Bucky Fox is the author of The Mets Fans Little Book of Wisdom. You can visit Bucky Fox's website at www.BuckyFox.com
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