Thoughts and notes from Game 2 in the wee hours before flying to St. Louis:
The best news for Billy Wagner is that there is no customary travel/media day between the second and third games. He will not be asked repeatedly to explain how he came into a tie game in the top of the ninth and gave up a leadoff homer to So Taguchi and three runs in the inning to take the loss. If the situation calls for it, he will merely go straight back into the closer role the next night, typical of the regular season.
Taguchi’s game-winning homer in a pivotal moment reminded me of Ozzie Smith’s homer in the 1985 NLCS.
It will be interesting to see how both teams respond tonight, considering their travel schedules. The Cardinals’ team bus left Shea at 1:28 a.m. ET, meaning players probably would hit the sack back home in St. Louis perhaps around 5 a.m. CT. Then they get to the ballpark perhaps in the 3 or 4 o’clock hour. As for your friendly blogger, this one officially goes down as an all-nighter, with some attempted Zs on a 6 a.m. flight from New York.
Here’s something I had to pass along because Preston Wilson asked me to. He was taking a peek at ESPN Baseball Tonight on the clubhouse monitor before heading to the team bus, and they were showing a Web Gem. "Why do they always have to be diving plays to make a Web Gem?" he asked. "Show a guy who gets a great jump on a ball and doesn’t have to dive." He specifically cited Endy Chavez’s diving catch in Game 1 as an example. "Endy first broke backwards on the ball, and then he had to hit the ground to make the catch. It was a nice catch. I’m just saying, watch outfielders who get a great jump. Make that a Web Gem. Everyone wants to see a player having to hit the grass." Sounds logical to me, especially coming from an outfielder.
The 2006 NLCS Game 1 ticket was kind of cursed. If you bought one of those for Shea Stadium, then first of all you came out to the ballpark on Wednesday night and waited through rain and then learned that the game was postponed. And it was sad enough that night with the news of Cory Lidle’s fatal plane crash. Then those same Game 1 ticket holders were required to use that ticket for Friday, as Game 2 ticket holders were the ones who saw the Mets’ series-opening victory behind Tom Glavine and Carlos Beltran. The Game 1 ticket folks sat through four-plus hours on a cold night and saw the team somehow lose this one.
Many people are thinking that the Cardinals are in the driver’s seat because they now go home to face Steve Trachsel (who gave up Mark McGwire’s 62nd homer at old Busch in 1998), Oliver Perez and Tom Glavine, who is expected to pitch on short rest. But from what we are seeing in this series, forget expectations. This has the makings of a surprising, go-the-distance dogfight, in contrast to the ALCS.
It’s still hard to imagine that Carlos Delgado wasn’t the man of the night. Two big homers and it didn’t matter in the end. Baseball is that way sometimes. Do you think this guy is enjoying being in the playoffs after all those years, or what?
What do you think? Did the Taguchi homer cost the Mets the series? Are the Cards in control back home? Or are the Mets still the best team in the NL? And if this series goes the distance, could the winner have a leg up on what could be an overly rested Tigers team?