The Tragedy, This Night, Of The New York Mets

What a beautifully nightmarishly operatic thriller the game of baseball is.

The New York Mets were only three outs away from winning Game 5 of the World Series and sending the fall classic back to Kansas City. But at that moment, the real battle wasn't even on the diamond. It was in the Mets dugout, where starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who was 90-ish pitches in and two runs up, was informed that manager Terry Collins was taking him out of the game and handing the ball to Mets closer Jeurys Familia.

"No way!" an agitated Harvey was seen to say to the deliverer of the message, the team's pitching coach.

Harvey did not accept the verdict. He went directly to the skipper and pleaded his case. On international television. As the home crowd, sensing the drama unfolding below, chanted in one voice: Har-vey! Har-vey! Har-vey!

Harvey trades lines with Collins
When it was Harvey who ran out of the dugout for the top of the 9th inning, and not Familia from the bullpen, the mob went wild, and it was there for all to see that Collins had, on video review, changed his mind.

There were good reasons for Harvey to take a seat. He was approaching his limit of pitches. He had given his teammate closer a 2-0 lead to clean-start an inning and get the save. Above all, his manager had decided it was his time to sit and cheer on the specialist for the occasion.

But passion is another force.

And the baseball gods made their displeasure known.

Harvey walked the first batter and surrendered a double to the next hitter, which brought one run in, cracking two things, one of which was his shutout. Collins then made the right decision at the wrong time, removing his starter. Maybe it was just me, but as Harvey walked back to the dugout, there was about him a sense of dread. The story was turning out not to be whether he should pitch the top of the 9th inning. The story was an epic battle and the characters were Pride (Harvey) and Doubt (Collins) and Passion (the crowd). And now it was coming into a terrible focus.

An evil double switch was being effected as actors became playthings. Harvey the pitcher turned into the cast. Collins the manager turned into the stage managed.

Fantastically, the mound Harvey walked down from seemed to be made from freshly dug earth. The bench he was walking back to now felt like a freshly dug hole.

What followed was, for Harvey and Collins, who are now and forever linked in this passion play, an excruciating purgatory where they paid for their all-to-human decisions to put the power of a popular story over the fact of a sixth game.

First the Royals tied it, then forced extra innings, then went ahead, then Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy blew an easy grounder to keep the Royals rolling (call it Murphy's Flaw), and by the stroke of 12:34 am EST, the Royals had won 7-2. And won the World Series.

The winning RBI came from pinch hitter Christian Colon, who had spent the previous 41 days in the RBI Desert before his 12th inning heroics.

For sure, the Mets had other things go wrong, things that some will argue should decrease the importance given to the Harvey-Collins tête-a-tête. The sad fact they scored only one run in the 6th inning when the bases were loaded is high on that list.

But that showdown between two men with two understandable reactions in a pitched emotional atmosphere made for the tragedy, this night, of the New York Mets.



Comments

  1. It was brutal. Kinda 1986 in reverse. Next year.

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    Replies
    1. You are right! Woke up this morning still thinking about it. Thanks!

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  2. Fun analysis. Really liked your "Murphy's Flaw" bit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for the kind read and the kind word! For their decisions, the Mets got paid back in spades. Which they promptly used to bury themselves!

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