Dusty Baker removed Russ Ortiz with a 5-0 lead, after Ortiz had allowed consecutive dribbler singles to start the 7th inning of Game Six in the 2002 World Series. Ignoring the season-long success Ortiz had had in just such a situation, Baker chose to bring in Felix Rodriguez, one of the hardest throwing, and most successful relief pitchers in all of baseball, to face Angels first-baseman Scott Spiezio; a slightly better offensive first basemen than JT Snow, which is to say; a mediocre hitter. One could hardly have faulted Baker for making the switch.
Speizio was a switch-hitter, like Snow (for most of his career), and had slightly better power numbers batting lefty than righty, but little else to offer as a southpaw. I remember it like it was yesterday. As the at-bat began, Tim McCarver immediately picked up on the fact that the Giants, that Rodriguez and catcher Benito Santiago, were pitching right into Spiezio’s strength as a left-handed hitter. McCarver came right out and said it; Spiezio, his team down 5-0 in the game, 3-2 in the series, two men on, 7th inning…. had but one goal: hit a home run. He also said that the Giants were playing right into his hand, by pitching him down and in. The at-bat had to be at least 10 pitches; and as Felix pounded the same location, over and over, McCarver said, over and over, that they were playing with fire. Down and in, down and in, pitch after pitch; McCarver must have said it was a mistake about twenty times. We all know how that turned out, right? Nobody who pays attention to baseball could ever forget what happened that night, that at-bat, right?
Wrong. The Mets just lost Game Two of their NLCS with the Cardinals, largely because, apparently, no one associated with the organization this season was alive in 2002. Leading 6-4 in the seventh inning, two outs and one man on, after getting him into an 0-2 count by throwing up and away; the Mets decided it was time to stop that old “shit that’s working” routine and get creative. “Let’s pound Spiezio down and in for about ten fucking pitches in a row,” is what they decided to do. How great is that??!!! Let’s go “outside the box.”
What was extra special great was that, once again, Tim McCarver was the announcer. So, we got to watch, as McCarver not only reminded us that everyone in the AL West knows that Spiezio likes the ball down and in when batting left-handed; and that they’ve known that for, oh, I don’t know, something like 8 years; he also reminded us that he’d already told us that, out loud, on national TV, four fucking years ago!!
Oh, but that wasn’t great enough. No, then we had to watch as FOX showed us THE FUCKING REPLAY of Spiezio changing baseball history in 2002. BUT WAIT!! It gets better. Then we got to see Spiezio DO IT AGAIN!!!!! Yes, that’s right, he hit a DOWN AND IN PITCH FOR A GAME-TYING TWO-RUN TRIPLE!!!!! It was, essentially, an EXACT REPLICA OF WHAT HE DID TO THE GIANTS FOUR YEARS AGO!!!!!!!
How could that possibly happen? How in the world can a major league team’s coaching staff and managerial staff not be as well-informed as a fucking TV analyst? How in Jesus Christ Almighty can no one on the Mets have remembered what happened just four years ago in the FUCKING WORLD SERIES!!?? How could I have just sat there and watched them go after Spiezio in the same exact way the Giants did four years ago? How could that happen?
McCarver saw the mistake immediately. Immediately. He came right out and said it was a mistake, FIRST FUCKING PITCH THEY THREW TO THAT SPOT. How could the Mets not have known this, WHEN TIM-FUCKING-McCARVER KNEW IT FOUR YEARS AGO???!!!!
Horrible, horrible loss. Wagner’s folderino in the ninth hardly mattered. Spiezio’s home run in 2002 left the Angels 2 runs back. Whatever. They won the game on that at-bat. Same deal tonight. All he did was tie it up on the scoreboard, but that was a game-winning hit, no fucking doubt. With the series going to St. Louis for the next three games, the Mets are in a lot of trouble. Coming into the game, the TV guys were wondering if this was a must-win game for the Cardinals. Well, with a 6-4 lead in the 7th, it was a must win for the Mets.
Oh, and by the way, the 2-3-2 format is a joke. It’s a huge advantage for the “road” team.