Michael Baron, ContributorWhat a moment this was for the Mets.
Seconds before, when Scott Rolen connected off Oliver Perez, Shea Stadium literally went silent. It was gone, and the Cardinals were going to take a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning of Game 7 of the NLCS.
But then, Endy Chavez leaped up, made a snow cone catch above the wall, and Shea erupted. The Upper Deck was literally swaying and shaking. The classic roar of the Shea crowd was as loud as it had ever been, potentially exceeding the volume of the crowd let out after that ball rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs 20 years earlier.
Chavez had saved the Mets’ season with one of the most amazing plays in Postseason history. I turned to the random Met fan to my left, and we hugged each other. And, so did everyone else. There was such joy in the ballpark after that catch – the Mets were alive, and well, and they were winning that game. Or, so everyone thought after Chavez made that catch…
There’s no need to recap what happened after that. We all know: squandered opportunities, Willie Randolph, Aaron Heilman, Carlos Beltran, and Adam Wainwright. We’ve recapped it a million times over, and there are a million different opinions on what the Mets could have and should have done to win this game, including what Beltran should have, could have, or could not have done to prolong the last inning against the Cardinals.
I remember taking the Subway back to Manhattan after the game. As I walked to my sister’s apartment on the east side, it had all of a sudden started to pour. It was a fitting end to a bitterly disappointing playoff series. I remember feeling so deflated and tired from that series, and both sickened and angered by the loss. Not even how the Mets lost, but the shock of losing a series I truly expected the Mets to win.
When I look back on Endy’s catch, it seems as though – outside of Johan Santana’s no-hitter this past June – it was the last moment of greatness in Mets history. The rest of Game 7 is representative of what could have been, both in 2006 and the years that followed. I often wonder what the state of the Mets would be today if they had won Game 7, and advanced to the World Series instead of the Cardinals. Where would the Mets be today if they had one more win in 2007, and one more win in 2008?
Anyway, it is time to look forward. This was six years ago. A lot has happened (mostly negative) since this play. And, as long as the bad seasons continue to mount, the negativity and the reminders of failure won’t go away. Winning is the cure-all, but it’s time the Mets show the progress which is needed for both the team and the fans to enjoy more moments like Endy’s catch and the many others in Mets history. And, that time is now…