Work in Sports
'A helluva year'
Mets send Giants gently into Shea night
By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated
NEW YORK -- Minutes after the Giants lost the National League Division Series to the Mets, there were no tears in the visitors' clubhouse at Shea.
A couple of hugs were exchanged, and many players sat silently in front of their lockers accompanied by their own thoughts. If they hadn't done so already, perhaps all they needed was a little more quiet time to fully put their loss in perspective.
If they were students of baseball history, surely they would have expected little more than to lose. After all, since 1989 only the 1998 Yankees have finished the season with baseball's best record and gone on to win the World Series. Oddly, even if that particular fact escaped the Giants, its implication -- that the playoffs are an entirely different season -- did not.
Asked if the loss was any more frustrating given that the Giants beat the Cardinals for baseball's best record by two games, Barry Bonds seemed completely resigned to having lost the series.
Quietly, gamely, he stood in the center of a media horde and stuck around until the question mill had been exhausted. "It's no more frustrating -- we were only one game [sic] better," he said, all the while toying with the hooks in his locker. "Nobody thought we'd get this far, and we did. They played better than we did. That's the bottom line."
Ellis Burks offered a similarly pointed perspective. "It's a disappointing time for us, but we have to keep our heads up," he said. "We had a helluva year."
Completely rational, yes, but there's a reason the Empiricists took issue with the Rationalists. One might expect Livan Hernandez, 5-0 in postseason play, to win Game 1, 16-game winner Al Leiter to take Game 2 at Pac Bell, and Russ Ortiz and Rick Reed to play to a draw and let fate -- or Benny Agbayani -- decide the Game 3 victor.
But Bobby Jones turning into Bobby Gibson was a shocking coup de grace. On the 44th anniversary of Don Larsen's World Series perfect game, Jones -- he of the 5.06 ERA -- threw the first postseason one-hit shutout since Jim Lonborg did the deed for the Boston Red Sox in 1967.
Said Giants GM Brian Sabean, "We thought we'd get to Jones, and we didn't. He was masterful."
Jones called it the best he'd ever pitched. "Tonight I just felt like I could throw the ball where I wanted to," he said. "I had confidence in all my pitches, and then again, there was some adrenaline."
For two years, adrenaline has been the Mets' great equalizer, and with it they earned the right to share champagne in the locker room with one another. They will find out soon enough that the Cardinals have a little juice of their own.
The Giants, after whom the Mets wear the orange on their uniforms and whose exodus to San Francisco pulled National League baseball out of New York, leave New York again -- ironically on New York's terms.
Said Bonds after the game, "Now we just have to go through another 162 games. Whatever it takes, I'll be back." A true student of baseball history might have put it more succinctly: Wait 'til next year.