Click here for an intro/manifesto on The 1999 Project.
Orel Hershiser reminisced fondly about his heroics in the 1988 NLCS before making quick work of a young Marlins lineup. He used only 10 pitches to work through the first two innings, and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth. The Mets gave him a lead on RBI doubles by Todd Pratt and Edgardo Alfonzo, a bases-loaded walk, and a homer by Robin Ventura.
All of this allowed John Franco to notch his 400th career save. It was an atypical Franco save–that is to say, nigh-drama free, except for a two-out double. After the game, the Brooklyn native felt like celebrating his milestone:
The Mets gave Franco three bottles of Dom Perignon and he poured it into plastic flutes as his teammates clapped. Franco held up the Champagne and said, ”This is the first of many celebrations, boys.”
With reliever Greg McMichaels ailing, Steve Phillips was rumored to be interested in the Braves’ Mark Wohlers. I found it amazing that such a trade could even be contemplated back then. But then I remembered that there was really no Mets-Braves rivalry to speak of until this season.
The Mets’ five-game winning streak ended in embarassing fashion. Starter Masato Yoshii was cuffed for eight hits and four runs in five innings, then the formerly spotless bullpen was torched for seven runs of their own. (Granted, most of those relievers were mopper-uppers like Rigo Beltran and Jose Manzanillo.) Future Met Luis Castillo reached base six times. The most humiliating run was the Marlins’ 11th and final one, as it was driven in by reliever Brian Edmonson.
Backup-backup catcher Mike Kinkade symbolized the Mets’ futility when he tried to toss the ball around the infield after a strikeout, but only succeeded in sailing a throw into the outfield. The gaffe drew mocking applause from the crowd, the only kind heard at Shea that day.
The day’s only good news came from a pregame batting session with Mike Piazza, who took 50 swings in the cage and proclaimed he “felt good”.