Wednesday, October 07, 2015

2015 NLDS Preview: Worrying About The Mets

We're a couple days away from the start of the 2015 NLDS, and I'm starting to get nervous again. Watching yesterday's Wild Card game and feeling the palpable tension in the air has reminded me of how nervous I've felt at NLDS games, hanging on every pitch, not willing to exhale until the final out is made.

I won't be there in attendance for the 2015 NLDS, but our opponent is worrying me sick. And it has nothing to do with superstitious drivel from Steve Dilbeck. No, this one is because I still am scarred by the 2006 NLDS, specifically Game 1 in the top of the second inning, when things went off the rails.

I was watching the game at SoSG Orel's house on his larger-than-life television (which in today's television dimensions is probably a bathroom tv, but back then it was huge). I had just busted out of work early in order to come watch the game, and given the 1pm start time, that was kind of a bold move at the time. And in the first moments after my arrival, this disaster occurred:

It was a double play unparalleled in postseason history (thank goodness).

A double play in which both outs came at home plate. About 2½ seconds apart.

A double play on which one catcher (the always-gymnastic Lo Duca) caught one throw and then applied tags on two different baserunners -- one of which he never even knew was there until he tagged him.

But if Lo Duca didn't know what the heck was going on out there, he wasn't the only one.

The Dodgers had runners on first (J.D. Drew) and second (Jeff Kent), with no outs in the second inning, when all this insanity began.

It started routinely enough, with Martin whacking what looked like an RBI double off the right-field wall. But what it looked like and what it turned out to be were two very different things.

Kent thought the right fielder, Shawn Green, might catch it. So he headed back to second to tag up.

Drew instantly decided this ball was going to take a crazy carom off the fence, and that he was going to be able to score from first. So he quickly revved into a full sprint.

You can see the dark clouds gathering over this mess already, can't you?

Meanwhile, in the third-base coach's box, Dodgers third-base traffic cop Rich Donnelly watched intently as Green scooped up a perfect bounce off the wall and wheeled to throw.

So Donnelly looked up and got ready to throw a giant stop sign up there to hold Kent at third. Then he realized they were all in big trouble.

"As I was about to hold Jeff up, I said, 'Uh oh,' " Donnelly said, "because here came J.D., about 10 feet behind him. So what am I supposed to do? I can't hold them both. And I can't send them both. So I said, I'd better send Jeff and hope they screw up the relay or something." [...]

"Third-base coaches," continued Donnelly, "are like air-traffic controllers. Nobody says anything until there's a wreck. Well, there was a wreck out there, and it was awful. The worst part was, that should have been a four- or five-run inning, and it wasn't."

No, it wasn't, Rich Donnelly. We ended up losing 6-5 and were swept by New York in three games. I remember going back to work for the late afternoon, and being in a stunned sense of disbelief, knowing we were doomed, and brutalized by the fact that the Mets' double play came at the hands of three former Dodgers (Shawn Green, Jose Valentin on the relay, and Paul Lo Duca).

And for weeks afterward, I kept flashing back to the car wreck that was Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew both tagged out at home, like some sort of little league / Keystone Kops scene. You could hear Jeff Kent's bones creaking as he feebly tried to belly flop at home and tag the plate with his left arm. And then Drew's flop was more fit for a slip-and-slide than a playoff game; he looked like an idiot. It was horrible.

Fast forward a decade, and we're again facing the Mets, except now we've got Ron Roenicke as our third base coach. Yes, that Ron Roenicke.

I'm nervous all over again.

photo: Travis Lindquist / Getty Images. GIF of the play also found here.


Fred's Brim said...

me too, Saxy

I remember parts of that third game, in particular getting nickel and dimed with chipshots and popfly singles. Looking back at the boxscore, I can't believe we actually had a lead in that game after going down 4-0. I guess I just assumed we would blow it and a lead just wasn't a lead. And that's what Jonathan Broxton does. Current St Louis Cardinal Jonathan Broxton...

Fred's Brim said...

I have a SRO ticket to Game 4.

Steve Sax said...

Sweet, FB! How much did it cost you?!

karen said...

What a horrible, dark day that was. Seems that whatever we did to piss off the baseball gods was a doozy. This plague that they have placed upon us is in it's third decade and it's that time of year when we all need to suck it up and start kissing some baseball god ass (again).

spank said...

i remember that double play very well. seemed like it all went down in slow motion and took forever to unfold on my telly screen. unfuckingbelievable. it still haunts me to this day.

Fred's Brim said...

@Saxy I paid $130. It's up to $180 right now for Game 4, Game 3 are at $280. For standing room.

Steve Sax said...

$130!!! For SRO?!?! Holy smokes, Uribe better be giving you a back massage during the game for that price