A popular Mets Blogger, Joe Janish of Mets Today, recapped yesterday's heart wrenching loss...
"After going ahead 8-7 in the top of the eighth — against the immortal Mariano Rivera no less — the Mets appeared poised to take the game, with their perfect closer Francisco Rodriguez heading to the mound.
Indeed, K-Rod dispatched of Brett Gardner to get the initial out of the ninth, gave up a single to Derek Jeter, then struck out Johnny Damon for the second out of the inning. However, Jeter stole second on the strikeout, putting himself in scoring position and leaving first base open — giving Rodriguez the luxury of pitching around Mark Teixeira, which he did. That brought up Alex Rodriguez, who was ahead of the count 3-1 when he popped a routine fly ball to short right field. It appeared to be an easy out, but Luis Castillo stumbled a bit, lost sight of the ball, and the horsehide bounced off the side of his glove, falling safely on the outfield grass. Meantime, Mark Teixeira took nothing for granted, and was busting it full tilt on contact, and scored easily from first base on the dropped ball. Just like that, game over, Yanks win. Ouch."
Now Mr. Janish had a few fine points on the game and I thought I'd give my rebuttal to a couple:
"What a shame … Luis Castillo seemed to have finally found his way back into the hearts of Mets fans with his slick glove work and much-improved offense. But all that has been erased thanks to one little popup. Honestly, he should be traded as soon as possible — not because he’s a bad ballplayer, but because the fans will never, ever forgive him for this one."
"Trade him? That would be reacting out of anger and Management can't do that. Granted fans will never, ever forgive him for this one but to replace a pretty decent 2nd baseman at this point in the season seems like a difficult task and an unnecessary one. What to do then? You move on. Furthermore, all his hard work has not been erased, if anything - he will work even harder than he's been doing until now."
"Where was Ryan Church on that popup? He should have been nearby, maybe close enough to back up the play. Instead, he assumed — like the rest of us — that the game was over and thus he was jogging toward the dugout. Maybe, just maybe, had he continued charging in and been nearby when Castillo dropped the ball, he would’ve been in position to pick it up and keep Teixeira at third base. Then, who knows?"
Eli adds a picture:
and then writes,
"Ben Shpigel of the NY Times shed some light on this matter when writing, 'Aside from Castillo, Church had the best view in the ninth as Rodriguez skied a ball to shallow right center. Castillo ranged back, staggering somewhat, before preparing to make a one-handed catch. From contact, Church said he knew it was not his ball because he saw Castillo’s uniform number — a sign, according to him, that Castillo was not in danger of misplaying it.'
It's a wonder to me how Shpigel didn't comment on the fact that, yes, Church saw Castillo's uniform number but he saw it while Castillo was turned towards the right field seats, as was Church (which is evident in the picture), who at that time was heading off the field. My point is, Church did in fact see Castillo's uniform numbers and USUALLY that would be a all-is-good sign, but here Ryan saw his numbers while they were both turned sideways, meaning Castillo wasn't under the ball as he would be with a regular popup.
In other words, Joe is right. Church should have been there backing the play up, as opposed to heading towards the post game dessert table a tad too early. I just fail to understand Church's logic there.
Ah, failure, lack of clarity and frustration... the life of the (even) casual Mets fan.