Saturday, October 17, 2015

N.Y. Mets NLCS Preview: Citi Code - No Billy Goats Allowed

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

* * 2015 * *

Chicago Cubs
New York Mets
Roosevelt Avenue

For the first time in their respective histories, the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs face off in a post-season series.  They open the 2015 National League Championship Series today at Citi Field.

Terry's Kids ensured their place in the senior circuit finals with a resilient, if not grueling Game 5 victory over the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine.  The Chicago Cubs pulled off an astonishing defeat over MLB's lone 100-win team, the St. Louis Cardinals, whom also posted baseball's lowest team ERA.

NEW YORK METS: Tom Seaver's imperfect game, Shea Stadium's resident bad luck charm, and the first ever chase for the National League East flag = The Miracle of 1969.

In the Miracle season of 1969, the Mets trailed the 1st place Cubs by 5.5 games as they opened a three game series at Shea Stadium in early July.  The Mets took 2 of 3 games, closing the gap to within 4.5 games.  That series featured Tom Seaver's famous Wednesday night imperfect 1-hit complete game shutout.  Chicago's Jimmy Qualls broke up Seaver's bid at a perfect game with 2-outs in the 9th.  Otherwise, Seaver faced 28 batters, walked none and fanned 11 batters, while improving his record to 14-3 on the season.

Just a few days later, the Mets took another 2 of 3 games from the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

After an 8-2 loss against the Astros, the Mets found themselves 10 games out of 1st place. Then things started turning around in Amazin' fashion.  The Mets went on to win 12 of their next 13 games to close back within 2.5 games of the Cubs.

On September 8th, the teams finally met again at Shea Stadium.  The Mets entered the short 2-game series a mere 2.5 games back.  The Mets took the opener 3-2 behind Jerry Koosman's complete game, 13 strikeout effort.

On September 9th, Bad Luck walked up on the Cubs dugout and stared manager Leo Durocher square in the eyes.  A black cat ponderously appeared from under Shea Stadium's field level stands and headed straight towards the Cubs dugout with little apprehension to speak of.  Many Cubs fans will say that's when Chicago lost the N.L. East pennant to the Mets.

In truth, from August 4th forward, the Mets posted a 38-11 record through the end of the season.  The Cubs meanwhile went 18-27 over the same stretch.

On September 10th, the Mets finally assumed their place atop the N.L. East with a 3-2, extra-inning victory over the Montreal Expos, and never looked back.  They ended the regular season winning 9 of their last 10 games, and finished a full 8 games ahead of the distant 2nd place Cubs.

The rest, as they say, is amazin' New York Mets history.

Mets Sweep Hank Aaron and Atlanta Braves in First Ever National League Championship Series.

This will be the eighth time in the Mets 54-year history they will vie for a Senior Circuit title. The Amazins captured the very first (expansion era) NLCS championship in 1969 over the Atlanta Braves.

1969 - 1973 - 1986 - 1988 - 1999 - 2000 - 2006

Prior to 1969, winning the regular season resulted in an automatic berth to the World Series. Then baseball's continued expansion necessitated each league split into two divisions, and conduct a playoff for determining a respective champion.  Those teams would then meet in the World Series.

After their regular season triumph over the Chicago Cubs, the Mets faced the West Division champs Atlanta Braves, whom featured Phil Niekro, Orlando Cepeda, and Hammerin' Hank Aaron.

The Mets swept them in three games.  Tom Seaver outlasted Phil Niekro in Game One on the road. Hank Aaron homered in the 7th off Seaver giving the Braves a late 5-4 lead.  The Mets rallied for 5 runs in the 8th to arrest a 9-5 victory.

In the Game Three clincher, manager Gil Hodges pulled starter Gary Gentry in the 3rd inning after allowing a lead-off single and double.  Gentry was ineffective, allowing 2 earned runs on 5 hits and a walk.  With 2 runners on base and no outs, Nolan Ryan pitched the next 7 innings, allowing the Braves 2 earned runs on just 3 hits and 2 walks, with 7 strikeouts.

New York Citi Code: No Billy Goats Allowed!

The Cubs are an original National League member club established back in 1876 as the Chicago White Stockings.  From 1890 through 1897, they were known as the Colts, then between 1898 and 1902 they called themselves the Orphans.  They finally adopted the Cubs moniker beginning with the 1903 season, and have remained such ever since.

1984 - 1989 - 2003

The Cubs will be participating in their 4th ever NLCS.  Only the Mets stand between them and their first World Series appearance in the last 70 years, or put another way, not since 1945.  

That was the year when loyal Cubs fan, and Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis, was asked to leave a World Series game at Wrigley Field against the Detroit Tigers because fans complained that his lucky pet goat (Murphy) stunk!  On his way out of Wrigley Field, the vexed Sianis swore, "Them Cubs.. they ain't gonna win no more."

Well, New York CITI codes prohibit goats on Roosevelt Avenue too!


Nearly 60 years later, along came a dude named Steve Bartman, whom a whole city still believes ruined the Cubs chances of returning to the Fall Classic in 2003.  It only seems like yesterday he interfered with Moises Alou's attempt at a foul fly and sure out.  I'm sure Cubs fans, and Bartman himself, feel likewise.

Two years prior to the infamous Bill Buckner play of 1986, Chicago's chances of securing the 1984 N.L. pennant rolled under the legs of their own first baseman.  About that - the Cubs blew a 2-0 series lead against the San Diego Padres leading up to Game Five.  Then, with the Cubs ahead 3-0 after the top of the 6th, San Diego finally struck for 2 runs in the bottom of the frame.  In the 7th inning, with 1-out and a Padres runner on second, first baseman Leon Durham's E-3 opened the door for 4 unearned runs to cross the plate en route to an astonishing 6-3 victory over the Cubs.

Game One Pitching Match-Up:

Saturday's Game One match-up will feature the Dark Knight, Matt Harvey against Jon Lester, whom learned what it takes to win post-season games from his days with the Red Sox.

Matt Harvey vs. Cubs:
  • May 13th: 7 innings, 3 hits, 0 earned runs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts.

Jon Lester vs. Mets:
  • May 11th: 6 innings, 5 hits (2 HR), 3 earned runs, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts.
  • July 1st: 7 innings, 5 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts.

Let's Go Mets!

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