Game 7: Delirium or Denouement

Game 7: Delirium or Denouement

The following is an email I just received from my buddy Chris.  He's a Mets fan.  I'm posting it here, with his permission, because I thought some of you would enjoy it.  (I'm pulling for the Mets)

October 16th, 2003

October 20th, 2004


Those two dates represent that last two times that a game 7 of an LCS was played in the city, state, and
county of New York. The
first was a great victory for the New York Yankees who reveled late
into the night thanks to the crack of Aaron Boone's bat and the
stubbornness of one slight Dominican hurler (not to mention the
ineffectualness of one hill-billy manager).
The second was the death knell of an era and the last
gasp of a suffocating curse—invincibility had been shattered and a
region learned who their daddy was, and his name was Big Papi.


October 27th, 1986

October 19th, 2006


The New York Mets have played only one previous Game 7 at Shea Stadium. It's
destined to be a footnote to the irrepressible memory of Game 6, of
Mookie, of Buckner, of the Kid not wanting to make the final out in the
World Series.


In 1986 the Metropolitans came back from Boston trailing 2 games to 3 in the best of 7 series. The Red Sox had their ace, a young Roger Clemens (about to win the AL Cy Young Award), on the mound for Game 6. It seemed all set for them on that night. The champagne was on ice and every bar from Brookline to Quincy was packed and ready to celebrate.


Mookie slaps the ball down the first base line, it gets by Buckner and the Mets forced a Game 7.


The Mets never made it to Game 7 in 1999. With
one out in the last of the eleventh inning of Game 6, Kenny Rogers
walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded and the Braves won the game
and sent us home.
Those 1999 Mets looked like a team of destiny, from
Leiter's two-hit shutout against the Reds to secure the Wild Card,
Robin Ventura's walk-off grand slam single, and Todd Pratt's late
inning heroics off the bench.
However, the Gambler let us down.  It
would seem only fitting that in the Baseball Gods (who I can only
imagine to be Peter Gammons, Vin Scully, Hank Greenberg, and the Head
of Ted Williams) allowed Kenny Rogers to rewrite his life story that
they would lavish the same favor upon the team he so recently derailed.
It would only seem fair. Right? 


here we are twenty years after the last Game 7 at Shea and Mookie's son
plays for the Cardinals (it hurt to see Mookie seemingly half-asleep in
the stands in St. Louis wearing a garish, red cosby-sweater). In 2006 the Metropolitans came back from St. Louis trailing 2 games to 3 in the best of 7 series.
The Cardinals had their ace, a young Chris Carpenter (who had won the
NL Cy Young Award the previous year), on the mound for Game 6. It seemed all set for them on that night. The champagne was on ice and every bar from one side of that Arch to the other was packed and ready to celebrate.


The rookie from Virginia named Maine out-pitches the ace and the Mets forced a Game 7. 


October 27th, 1986

October 19th, 2006


Twenty years down the road how will tonight be remembered?
Delirium or denouement? Will I drink champagne on the seven train? Or will I be crying on the Grand Central Parkway? Will
I make plans to drive to Detroit this weekend or will I be fielding
taunting phone calls from my friends who support other teams.


The answers to these questions will largely be decided by Oliver Perez. Yes,
the fate of the team that steam-rolled through the National League in
2006 rests largely on the left arm of the person who holds the
distinction of having the worst regular season ERA (6.85) of any
pitcher to start a playoff game in the history of baseball.


: Willy, who will be your starter for Game 7? And why?


: Oliver Perez will start, because I like him.


Is there any reason for the faithful to believe Willy? Well, yes. Yes, there is. In
2004 Perez ranked fourth in strikeouts and led all major league
pitchers with a strikeout/per 9.0 innings ratio of 11.0 (239 K's in
196.0ip). He held opposing hitters to a .202 batting
average—the second-best mark in the league behind Arizona's Randy
Johnson (.197)—and just a .187 average in 16 home starts. His 2.21
ERA at home was the best among all National League pitchers.


Perez shut out the Braves a few weeks ago and has a more strikeouts than he has innings pitched over his young career.
A shutout is a likely as a Trax-out (see Game 3). Randolph
and Rick Peterson know this and I would imagine that Darren "the other"
Oliver is ready to enter this game before Reyes takes a swing if needs
All hands in the bullpen are on deck. It feels like Glavine really wants into this game too. He doesn't want his unraveling in Game 5 to be the last time he pitches in 2006.
In any case, there are too many good arms out there for this loss to get hung on the pitchers. It comes down to the bats and the gloves, to fast moving cleats and being clutch.


Will Shawn Green play a fly-out into a triple? Can David Wright hit a bases clearing double? Will he do it going the opposite way? Will the Carloses dominate like they have shown themselves capable?


will this game come down to the Ghost of Blown Saves Past versus the
Ghost of Blown Saves Present as Braden and Billy duke it out in the
late innings?
If we miss out on the World Series because Wagner hearts his slider so much then he will be no better than Armando Benitez. In fact, he may be worse.
Benitez, at least, stuck with his fast-ball even when it was arrow-straight and getting pounded into gaps, left and right. Meanwhile,
Wagner is throwing off-speed stuff to an injured Scott Rolen who hasn't
hit a high fastball since Duaner Sanchez was still on that scoreless
innings streak.


No matter what happens tonight, these Mets are great. They are young, experienced, exciting and proud.
They are New York's team. And New Jersey's too.


I'll be there in the mezzanine, screaming until I can't scream anymore.


Let's go Mets!

In long-awaited NBA debut, Joel Embiid treats Sixers fans to a show

In long-awaited NBA debut, Joel Embiid treats Sixers fans to a show

The crowd erupted as Joel Embiid stepped to the free throw line. They chanted a phrase Embiid has been repeating for the past two years, a fitting welcome to his NBA debut.

“That was great,” Embiid said after the Sixers' 103-97 loss to the Thunder on Wednesday in the season opener (see Instant Replay). “That’s my motto, 'Trust the process.'”

After two years of rehabbing foot injuries, Embiid has his first regular-season game behind him. Embiid scored a team-high 20 points, shooting 6 for 16 from the field, 1 for 3 from long range and 7 for 8 from the line. He also recorded seven rebounds, two blocks, four turnovers and four fouls in over 22 minutes. 

“The beginning I was nervous, but once you make that first shot, it just goes away,” he said. “The fans were so into the game that it was fun. I love having fun.”

Sixers head coach Brett Brown enjoyed watching Embiid on the court as much as the big man liked being on it. Brown has seen the 7-foot-2 center grow and develop during his rehab. Finally, he was able to utilize his versatile skills in a real game setting.

“I can't say this loud enough,” Brown said. “For the city to be rewarded with a player that we all understand has unique gifts, special gifts, for him to go through all the things he has been through and play like he did on opening night, the city deserves it. Most importantly, he deserves it.”

Now that Embiid has been cleared to play, he would like to do so for longer periods of time. He began the preseason at 12 minutes and was increased to 20 in segmented spurts for opening night. Even though he exceeded that limit by over two minutes, Embiid is itching to be cleared to play more extensively. 

“It sucks,” Embiid said. “I feel like I could have played more but you know you’ve got to trust the process, got to trust those guys. If I have my minute restriction at 20 minutes, I guess I’m going to go with that. But obviously I want to play more and more and I think it can help the team better. But they have a plan for me and I’ve got to follow it.”

Embiid has maintained he wants to be a clutch player. Brown looked to him toward the end of the game as the Thunder pulled ahead late in the final quarter. He drained a fadeaway jumper to tie the game at 97 apiece with 50.7 to go. 

Later trailing by four with 10 seconds left, the Sixers went to Embiid. While he was whistled for an offensive foul, Brown was glad to have a go-to unlike in years past. 

“You have a target,” Brown said. “We tried to get the ball to him a lot. … By and large, to have somebody like Joel, where the mystery is solved like, 'What do you do?' You get him the ball as much as you can.”

The more the Sixers found Embiid, the more the Thunder had to try to defend him. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan knew what his team was going up against. He watched Embiid as a high schooler and coached against him during his tenure at Florida. 

“He’s gifted and skilled,” Donovan said. “It was probably our guys' first time seeing him … I knew the talent, the gifts. The one thing with him is, he’s got great footwork. He’s hard to guard because he’s herky-jerky. He moves. He’s got a lot of [Hakeem] Olajuwon to him.”

Opening night had been two years in the making. Even though the Sixers didn't win, the significance of the evening didn't disappoint. 

"I thought this moment was going to be special," Embiid said, "and it was just great."

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

NEW ORLEANS -- Jusuf Nurkic scored 23 points, Will Barton added 22, and the Denver Nuggets survived a dominant performance by Anthony Davis to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-102 in both teams' regular season opener Wednesday night.

Davis had 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks. His production helped New Orleans trim a deficit as large as 14 late in the second quarter down to two points in the waning minutes. He simply didn't have enough help.

The rest of the Pelicans combined to shoot 21 of 58. Tim Frazier scored 15 for the Pelicans. E'Twaun Moore added 10 points, but missed a 3-point attempt that could have tied it with 24 seconds left.

Danilo Gallinari scored 15 for Denver and Wilson Chandler added 12 points (see full recap).

Celtics top Nets in Horford's home debut
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas had 25 points and nine assists, Jae Crowder added 21 points and Al Horford pitched in 11 in his Boston debut on Wednesday night as the Celtics survived a late scare to beat the Brooklyn Nets 122-117 in their season opener.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 for Brooklyn, including a 3-pointer to make it 120-117 with 47 seconds left after the Nets erased most of a 23-point deficit against the Boston bench. But he missed one with a chance to tie it after Joe Harris intercepted Thomas' cross-court pass, and the Celtics were able to hold on.

Justin Hamilton came off the bench to score 19 points and grab 10 rebounds for the Nets in coach Kenny Atkinson's debut (see full recap).

Turner's opening act leads Pacers past Mavs in OT
INDIANAPOLIS -- Myles Turner scored 30 points, tied his career high with 16 rebounds and made a 3-pointer with 1:18 left in overtime to start an 8-0 run that allowed the Indiana Pacers to close out a 130-121 victory Wednesday night over the Dallas Mavericks.

Three-time All-Star Paul George added 25 points, including another 3 with 55 seconds left to seal Indiana's fifth season-opening win in six years.

Deron Williams scored 25 points, while J.J. Barea and Dirk Nowitzki each added 22 as the Mavs lost their fifth straight in the series. They still haven't won in Indianapolis since February 2014.

Dallas didn't tie the score or take a lead until the fourth quarter, yet still forced overtime when Harrison Barnes' open 3-pointer made it 115-all with 2.3 seconds left.

Turner could have won it with a long buzzer-beating 3, but it bounced off the back of the rim (see full recap).