Game One: Heartbreaker
I started to write this in the eighth inning last night. My lead was on the order of "back in April, who could have imagined the winning rally of a World Series game being built on Benny Agbayani, Jay Payton, Todd Pratt, and Bubba Trammell?" Toss in a few musings on how wonderful it was for Leiter and Franco, the two Met fans on the Mets to be involved in this win and how resilient this team has been all week and it was going to be a happy way to top off the evening.
Now I sit here the next morning, having required a night's sleep to get past it. Even at that moment of euphoria, I was uncomfortable. I never like it when my team blows that many opportunities in a close game. We're not that much better than them. Then there was Armando Benitez. The single biggest edge the Yankees have this Series is the absolute confidence in their closer. He never gives up a meaningful run in October. Hell, he almost never gives up any run. Our closer is a loose cannon. A sub-.500 save percentage is unacceptable. My fears were realized, as once again, he failed us. I have learned to stop second-guessing Bobby Valentine, but he has to stop using Benitez this way. His confidence is gone, you can see it every appearance. We're fortunate enough to have another potential closer, let's use Franco in that job.
While we're on the subject of Rivera, I really wanted us to score in the ninth. Not just because I thought (rightly, it turned out) that we needed more to win, but because we had to prove that we could score off him. But when push came to shove, he got Timo Perez on a weak grounder, struck out Alfonzo, and headed to the dugout still one run behind. As Yul Brynner said in "The Ten Commandments", their god is god.
Timo's failure in the ninth was part of a long night for the fans' latest darling. You celebrate after you score, after the umpire signals a home run, not as you run to second base. He runs on that play and we win, it's as simple as that. Is this what they taught him in Japan? If he had done something like that with his Japanese team, he would have been washing the clubhouse floor the next day. While Timo-mania may be a lot of fun, I guess I don't have both my feet on the bandwagon yet. I just want a leadoff hitter to walk more than once every two weeks. He only walked 16 times in 307 appearances in AAA, but that didn't matter much when he hit .357. He has one in 47 post-season appearances, 3 in 54 in September. Combine that with a lack of power and he's not all that exciting.
So we threw away a win. That means, in effect, that we have to beat them five times to win this. Not a situation you want to be in against a team that never beats itself.
Hero: Jose Vizcaino -- I wasn't too upset when he got up with the bases loaded, how many hits could he get, he already had three.
Goat: Tie, Armando Benitez and Timo Perez -- bad pitching and bad baserunning. Clearly Benitez deserves the horns for blowing yet another post-season save, yet if Timo had scored the run on Zeile's double, or had managed to get a run home from third in the ninth, that run the Yankees got wouldn't have mattered.