I was taking in all of the variables – the game, the inning, the circumstance, Game 7, etc. – in making the always over-the-top pronouncement of “greatest of all time.” But, of course, for a catch to go down as the greatest ever the team has to win the game.
The Mets didn’t do that so Endy Chavez just made a really, really dynamic catch.
By now, not even 12 hours after it occurred, most people have seen Endy Chavez’s catch to rob Scott Rolen of a potentially pennant-winning home run. Actually, when the ball left Rolen’s bat I thought a couple of things. One was why did Oliver Perez throw an inside pitch to Rolen? It’s the only thing he can hit.
The thing I thought was look at Rolen doing it in a Game 7 again. First the home run to beat Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS, and now this.
Then Endy Chavez did his thing and everything went crazy.
Endy Chavez? Wasn’t he so bad for the Phillies last season that Charlie Manuel simply refused to use him? Wasn’t he the team’s designated pinch runner, a la Herb Washington for the Oakland A’s in the mid-1970s? Didn’t Phillies want the season to end as quickly as possible just so they didn’t have to bother thinking about not putting Chavez on the playoff roster and they could let him become a free agent?
Didn’t Chavez make the Phillies pine for Marlon Byrd to return… well, actually, no. But the point is made. Chavez was not a good player in 2005.
But he was in 2006 where Chavez got off to a hot start during the World Baseball Classic with a couple of big home runs for Venezuela. From there he got a deal with the Mets and filled in very well for a team that came a few outs and a run away from making it to the World Series.
Actually, Chavez was a big part of that in spite of his 5-for-27 in the NLCS. But in Game 7, Billy Wagner was not.
hough manager Willie Randolph used Wagner in the ninth inning of a tie game in Game 2, the closer remained in the bullpen to watch the ninth as Aaron Heilman worked a second inning and gave up the pennant-winning home run to Yadier Molina with one out and one on.
Surely Randolph was asked quite a bit why he chose not to bring in the struggling Wagner for the ninth. That’s fair, especially since it was a move he routinely made all season long. To be sure, Randolph answered it logically and adroitly. But maybe the real reason Randolph didn’t use Wagner in the ninth was because Rolen was due up in the ninth? Rolen doubled off Wagner in his two-run ninth the night before.
"With all the righties coming up, I thought we could get through another inning with him and bring in Billy after that," Randolph said.
Who knows? Maybe Randolph was saving Wagner for the 10th or for when the Mets got a lead. After all, the bullpen was full since it was an all-hands-on-deck Game 7.
"He wanted to go with length there," Wagner said, defending his manager's decision. "He's done it both ways. It's easy to understand, knowing he's done it both ways. Besides, you don't know what you're going to get with me."
But in the end, Wagner found little consolation in how things ended.
"It's all for nothing," he said. "We ain't here to get to the playoffs and play good. We're here to go to the World Series.
"You never know when you're going to get another chance."That's the trouble. Nothing is ever given. Neither is a lead. Now the Mets are finished and the Cardinals are heading to chilly Detroit in a rematch of the 1968 World Series.
Maybe we’ll see Mickey Lolich there? Denny McLain?
Did you know that Molina’s homer was just the fifth go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later of a decisive postseason game? (By decisive we mean the seventh game of a best-of-seven series, the fifth of a best-of-five and so on.) The others were hit by Bill Mazeroski (1960 World Series), Chris Chambliss (1976 ALCS), Rick Monday (1981 NLCS) and Aaron Boone (2003 ALCS).
Or that the first-inning squeeze bunt by Ronnie Belliard was the eighth time a Tony La Russa team used such tactics in the playoffs?
Check it out.
World Series predictions
Scott Rolen will get a hit while the announcers will talk about his feud with La Russa. Albert Pujols will hit a home run. It will rain in Detroit. Phillies fans will talk about Jim Leyland and Placido Polanco because the Tigers will win in 5.