By Joe Rini
After Yoennis Cespedes kicked Alcides Escobar’s long fly ball across the outfield of Kauffman Stadium for an inside the park homerun (by the way, how is missing and kicking a flyball not scored an error) to lead off the bottom of the first inning, a Facebook friend posted “uh oh” to which I replied, “Fear not” because the 1969 World Series opened in a similar fashion with an outfielder misplaying a ball into a homerun. Forty six October ago, Don Buford homered off of Tom Seaver to lead off the 1969 series in large part because rightfielder Ron Swoboda did not back all the way to the wall, thus allowing Buford’s blow to clear the wall for a homer. The Mets were stunned but they ultimately won the series and became the Miracle Mets.
Unfortunately for the Mets, Jeurys Familia allowed a gut-punching game tying homerun to Alex Gordon in the ninth inning, and much like the 2000 World Series, when Armando Benitez could not close out the Yankees in Game One of that series, the stage was set for grueling extra inning losses 15 years apart.
With the Mets having lost the first two games in Kansas City to the Royals, the pessimists pointed to 2000 in despair and the optimists looked to 1986 for hope. As I sit here writing during the opening inning of Game Four, hope is edging out despair as the Mets dropped the Royals in Game Three a la 1986 against the Red Sox and now trail the Royals 2 games to 1.
So which will it be, 1986 or 2000? Well, we’ll have a better idea if the Mets win Game Four tonight behind rookie starter Steven Matz. One thing I know, if the Mets take three straight at Citi Field this weekend and go back to Kansas City up 3 games to 2, I hope we don’t see a repeat of the seven game loss in 1973 when they dropped Games 6 and 7 in Oakland.