July 5, 2001
My oldest son had a Little League game that afternoon, so before leaving, I popped in a videotape around the 7th inning and started taping. Turned out to be a great move - my youngest son's all-time favorite videotape moment (which gets rewound and replayed ad infinitum) is watching Steve Finley look in his glove and NOT see the baseball that had just come off of Todd Pratt's bat. The most priceless moment is watching Johnny Franco prance out of the dugout as Pratt rounded the bases and crossed the plate, ensuring that the Mets would meet the Braves in the LCS.
October 25, 2001
A very strange game. . .the Mets benefit from Tony Womack's late inning muff of an easy fly ball. . .Cookie Rojas is tossed for arguing a foul-ball call down the 3rd base line (it looked fair to me too Cookie!). . .defensive super-sub Melvin Mora cuts down a runner at the plate in the late innings to keep the Mets in it. . .and then. . .TODD PRATT! Tank manages to turn around Mantei's best fastball and drive it 411 feet to dead center! No one at Shea knows if its gone until the fireworks go off and Finley checks his gloves and slumps dejectedly. What a wierd, wonderful game!!!
January 25, 2002
I was at this game, scrambed down from Binghamton that morning, and risked academic ruin as I had a paper due Tuesday, but I had a chance to go and I took it. Not to nitpick with the last comment, but Mantei had thrown 2.2 innings by time Pratt hit his HR, and he's a short man, so I think his fastball was lagging. Pratt would later say he was sitting dead red, especially after Mantei bounced a splitter into the stands on the first pitch. And then it happened, Pratt smoked it out of the ballpark and somehow, I managed to stay composed enough to snap some pictures of the moment while everyone else went berserk. What a fabulous game!
February 19, 2002
Where do I begin...It was an odd game, satisfying but tense. When the game began many seats had remained empty(traffic problems it turns out)and the sky was kind of hazy. I don't think many of us there were very confident since Piazza had the bad hand and could not play. Lots of memories, from the blast down the line that got Rojas canned, to Hamilton's sliding catch in center, to Benny's blast to right center and finally to Pratt's picture perfect punch to center. But what I will never ever forget was how the upper deck vibrated with the jubilent rhythmic stomping of feet. I feared that Shea would fall apart, I really did. Long Live Todd Pratt! Lets Go Mets!
June 5, 2003
Sitting behind the plate in Section 1 or 3 of the upper deck, this was the best game I have ever seen in my lifetime. Back and forth battle until the bottom of the 10th. "Mantei sets, the pitch swing and a high fly ball deep CF hit pretty well Finley goes back at the track jumping... and its OUTTA HERE, Pratt hit it over the fence, Finley jumped and he missed it the Mets win the ballgame!" by Cohen, or Berman's call "(crack) hit pretty well, Finley goes back back back...it's over, it's over, Todd Pratt, one of the most unlikely heroes wins it in the 10th."
October 20, 2004
I was at this game and what a classic it was! It was Game 4 of the NLDS, where the Mets had the chance to clinch with a 2-1 series lead. I had my regular seats (behind home plate on the third base side). It stayed close but the D- Backs threatened in the eighth but a great throw by Agbayani and an even better job by Todd Pratt of blocking the plate saved the Mets from having Jay Bell, a future Met, score the go-ahead run.
In the bottom half of the inning, a Met (who I think was Darryl Hamilton) hit a ball down the line that would have brought home a run if it were fair. Everyone stood up and I couldn't see but it was called foul and the fans groaned but then Cookie Rojas started arguing the call and he got ejected, suspended, and fined.
I think in the same inning, Shawon Dunston had the most incredible at-bat I've ever seen, fouling off EVERY SINGLE PITCH before finally hitting one up the middle.
Then, in the tenth, Todd Pratt stepped up against Matt Mantei and hit a shot with that helicopter swing of his and it was back to the wall and I was scared because I knew Steve Finley was an incredible center fielder (which was where the ball was) and it was BACK BACK BACK! and Steve Finley jumped and came down and I thought he had the ball but he looked down at his glove and the ball wasn't there and that's when I knew the Mets were going to the NLCS and I watched John Franco (who had gotten the win) coming jumping and hopping out of the dugout and it was the greatest Mets moment I had ever experienced and then I was on eyewitness news screaming "Let's Go Mets!" so that was cool too.
April 8, 2005
I was sitting in the third to last row in the upper deck way down the right field line. Lousy seats but it gave me a perfect view of Todd Pratt's homer, which was hit to the right of the 410 sign. What most people at Shea and everyone on TV didn't see was that the ball actually GRAZED THE TOP OF STEVE FINLEY'S GLOVE as it went over the fence. The ball clearly changed trajectory (flattened out) as Finley leaped for it. Everyone remembers those few agonizing seconds when they didn't know whether to cheer or cry, but few people realize how close Finley actually came to pulling it back into the park. What a game!
September 6, 2006
As is becoming a habit of mine, I go back to posts I have made and feeling as though I was a bit too terse in leaving my memories of a particular game. This is no different. Looking back 7 years later, and having attended many games over time, this was by far the best game I have ever attended, and my memories of this game, aided by videotape and by pictures I took are far more vivid than most other games.
...Driving down from Binghamton the previous night, a Friday, and listening to game 3 on the radio, knowing Piazza was out and then arriving home around the 6th inning and seeing the Mets slowly put the game out of reach and knowing that I would be there for game 4 and a potential clincher.
...Being so amped up for the game that I left my house around 9AM and arrived at the stadium around 10:30. The gates had just opened and I was outside waiting for my friend until 11:30. Noted the banners outside that read "ARE YOU READY FOR THE POST-SEASON."
...Finally going into the stadium and up to my seat in the Mezzanine, section 12. Watching the Dbacks take batting practice, snapping some pictures and watching as the crowds coming off the train got larger and larger as game time approached.
...Keith and Mookie throwing out the first pitches to more ovations and more anticipation. The stadium was electric. I noted that after so many years of bad Mets teams the stadium would look so large when it was empty and how it seemed so much smaller now that it was full.
...The Mets taking the field at 1:07 PM charging out to the field not to the intro to Pink Floydís "Time" as they had during the season but the outro to The Beatles "A Day In The Life." Everything seemed different about this game.
...Fonzie homering into the LF bleachers in the 4th and the crowd going bonkers.
...Leiter taking a no-hitter into the 5th before Colbrunn homered to break it up and tie the game.
...Henderson fouling off every deuce from Anderson before blooping a single to right. Agbayani doubled to right center to score Rickey and giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.
...Leiter making it through 7.2 innings before allowing a walk to Turner Ward and a questionable infield single to Womack which Fonzie booted before throwing to first just late. Leiter would then exit to one of the largest and loudest standing ovations I have ever bore witness to.
...Benitez giving up the double to Jay Bell scoring Ward and Womack and feeling like I was just suckerpunched. I felt like crying.
...Williams drilling a single to Left shortly after Bell rounding third to score but Melvin Mora throwing a perfect strike home and Pratt diving to tag out Bell to end the Dbacks threat.
...The bottom of the 8th being the longest inning I have ever sat through. Mind you, nobody in the stadium is sitting at this point, as Greg Olson walks Fonzie to lead off, then is removed for Greg Swindell to pitch to Olerud. And Olerud putting forth an incredible at bat, working the count to 2-2, fouling off pitch after pitch before finally lofting a fly ball to right, and seeing Womack drift back, thinking itís going to be caught, but it keeps drifting and drifting...suddenly Womack is on the warning track...lines it up...and drops it. He dropped the ball and Fonzie scampers all the way to third, and Olerud to second. Cedeno then lofting a fly to center, Finley cutting in front of Womack to make the catch, Fonzie scoring easily to re-tie the game. Ventura then walked, and Showalter then made a peculiar move. He double switched Matt Williams, his best hitter and fielder out of the game, for Mantei. Mantei would get Pratt to hit a comebacker, and Olerud was tagged out at 3rd. 2 out. Darryl Hamilton, on 3-2, hit a slicing liner down the left field line which bounced on the chalk...And the crowd went nuts because to just about everyone it looked fair. Everyone except Charlie Williams, the LF Umpire. Cookie Rojas and Williams then engaged in a legendary argument. Bobby V. had to come out and restrain Rojas, Rojas then shoved Williams in the chest and finally had to be pulled away by Valentine, Mookie and Ventura. Bobby V. would end up coaching third after everything settled and spent the rest of the inning glaring directly at Mantei. Mantei walked Hamilton on the next pitch to load the bases. Then Ordonez struck out...I then had to take a deep breath and make sure I hadnít died during the inning.
...Benitez getting through the 9th 1-2-3.
...Fonzie batting in the last of the 9th with Matt Franco on 2nd and being sure he would drive in the winning run...He didnít.
...John Franco coming in for the 10th and making a great play on a Lenny Harris chopper.
...4:33PM...Pratt smoking a drive to deep center on the 1-0 pitch...and Finley going back...and Iím reaching for my camera...And Finley at the wall...And jumps...and comes down...and slumps down...And Pratt is jumping around the bases, and Ordonez and Luis Lopez come streaking across the infield, and everyone is going crazy...And the whole time I remember thinking to myself "Did I just see that? Did Pratt just do that? What in the world!?"...And fireworks are going off, and "LA Woman" is blasting.
...And the scoreboard reads in giant letters "CONGRATULATIONS NEW YORK METS ON ADVANCING TO THE NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES!!!"
...And nobody wanting to leave the stadium just yet...and walking down the ramps and hearing mock tomahawk chops and varied chants of "LARRY" and "ROCKER SUCKS" and knowing that the Blood feud was about to begin.
And you look back on a game like this and think about how many times the Mets had high hopes and tanked or never had hopes at all, and you wonder why you stick with a team. This is why. Itís all for games like this. But theyíre fleeting, and time passes, you come to appreciate games like this more and more because they donít happen very often.