Saturday, June 13, 2009 | Posted by Weinstein
In an impassioned, epic post to the always excellent Faith and Fear in Flushing, Greg Prince suggests that Luis Castillo's shocking failure to secure a routine, game-ending pop-up off the bat of Alex Rodriguez last night marked "a Pisarcik moment" for the embattled second baseman.
It's been more than 30 years since Joe Pisarcik's colossal blunder cost the Giants a sure win over the Philadelphia Eagles, yet with all due respect to Mickey Owen and Trey Junkin, the fumble stood until last night as the most memorable individual failure in New York sports history.
Pisarcik's humiliating gaffe, as Prince notes, led to the immediate firing of offensive coordinator Bob Gibson and, at season's end, head coach John McVay and general manager Andy Robustelli. Gibson never worked in football again. Pisarcik, the goat, never won another game as the Giants starting quarterback and was released after the 1979 season.
It is unlikely, however, that Castillo's error will carry the same (or similar) consequences for the Mets. Roughly 17 hours after his monumental miscue, Castillo was back in the lineup today, leading off and playing second. Jerry Manuel's and Omar Minaya's jobs both seem safe for now. Accountability, it would appear, isn't all that high on Fred Wilpon's list of virtues.
One of the great things about baseball, though, is that it's a game that offers its participants the opportunity for almost immediate redemption, and Mets fans are, generally speaking, a forgiving lot. So hopefully it won't take Castillo—a three-time Gold Glove-winner—30 years (or more) to live down his infamous error.
There's still 103 games left in the season, and despite all the injuries and schizophrenic play, the Mets entered today's contest in the Bronx only 4 games out of first place. Last night's loss certainly hurts. It's the most painful loss in a season thus far filled with painful losses. But as Carlos Beltran said after the game, the Mets aren't kids, they're professionals. They "have to move on and play better." They "can't go home and cry."
Last night's dropped pop-up may well have been Luis Castillo's Pisarcik moment, but today's game represented a chance to put it behind him and play ball. He took advantage of that opportunity, singling twice and fielding his position without incident. But baseball is a team game, and Castillo's Mets teammates rallied behind him today, banging out a season high seventeen hits while pitching surprisingly well. They got a great start out of Buffalo call-up Fernando Nieve (who?), which was followed by an outstanding inning and a third from the suddenly lights-out Sean Green. This time around, K-Rod allowed no baserunners in the ninth, got the final batter (Melky Cabrera) to ground to third, and David Wright made the routine play to end the game.
Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?
Having seen the abyss and avoiding its depths, I'm hopeful that these resilient Mets will continue to rally in the wake of last night's horrorshow. Sure, they're still down Delgado and Reyes, and they're going to have to continue relying on guys like Tim Redding and Nieve for the time being, but after bouncing back after one of the worst losses in franchise history to win in convincing fashion they showed the kind of resolve and character winning teams must possess if they are to be considered serious pennant contenders. Exactly the kind of character some said was missing earlier this season.
Of course, the Mets can undo all of this by going out and laying an egg tomorrow afternoon. But with Johan the valiant taking to the hill, I don't see that happening. A true ace, the only eggs Johan associates with are the golden goose eggs he is known to post on major league scoreboards.
Now let's put this whole thing behind us and never speak of it again.