Mets still believe they can pull off another miracle
Posted: Monday October 18, 1999 03:08 PM
Halleujah! Bobby Valentine (left) runs to greet the Mets players after Robin Ventura's amazin' hit in Game 5. AP
ATLANTA (CNN/SI) -- Are they truly Amazin'?
Or are the New York Mets just postponin' the inevitable?
Tuesday night, in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series -- a place few expected the Mets to ever get -- New York's fieriest earn yet another chance to make the non-believers believe.
And, of course, they get another chance to keep the hated Atlanta Braves, up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series just three short days ago, from their pre-supposed place in the World Series.
One more must-do, in a season that has been full of them?
No sweat for the Mets.
"We just play another day. It seems like we've been saying that for a month and a half now," said Mets third baseman Robin Ventura, the hero of Sunday night's 15-inning, 4-3 Mets' epic that brought New York to within 3-2 in the series. "But it's the truth. We're happy to just keep playing another game."
The Mets face something in this series, though, that no team ever has been able to overcome. No team in baseball postseason history ever has drug itself out of an 0-3 hole in a best-of-seven series. In fact, no team in that perilous postseason position has even forced a seventh game.
A Mets' win Tuesday night in Atlanta's Turner Field in Game 6 can change half of that.
And if it gets to Wednesday ...
"When players come up big and do the right things," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said after Sunday's game, "you're able to play a great team like Atlanta tough as long as we played them until they crack."
The series so far has been a gut-churning, pitching-rich, hitting-poor nail biter, five close games where managers play lineup roulette, pitchers go up and down like so many beers in the outfield and fans and rival players have learned to hate each other.
In a sold-out Shea Stadium for Games 3, 4 and 5, mouth-strong Atlanta closer John Rocker incited the rowdy crowd, further lathering them up Sunday by proclaiming, "I would say the majority of Mets fans aren't even human."
The series, whatever is left of it, will now shift to Atlanta, where the fans have been a little less abusive -- much to the chagrin of the Braves. Atlanta didn't come close to selling out Game 1 or 2 here, though Turner Field figures to be filled much closer to capacity Tuesday night.
Empty or full, the Mets have been miserable in Turner Field. They've played 14 times here in the last two years, including twice this postseason, and have won only one game.
There also seems to be some evidence of infighting on the Mets. Reliever Turk Wendell accused outfielder Rickey Henderson of quitting on the team. Henderson told a New York paper that Wendell can kiss his ... well, you get it.
In the middle of the whole mess is Valentine, a dictatorial skipper who can get on players' nerves, but who could be on the verge of managing the biggest comeback in postseason baseball history.
"All of us went to the edge and looked over," Mets pitcher Orel Hershiser told reporters after the 5 hour, 46 minutes of game the Braves and Mets slogged through Sunday. "Fortunately, all of us got scared and came back to land."
To play one more game. At least.