I would like to argue that tonight's loss by the Mets to the Yankees was perhaps the worst June loss in the history of the sport of baseball. Sure, it can't compare to some of the worst September or October losses suffered by this team or others, but I don't see how a loss in June could get much worse. Let's review the facts.
The starting pitching matchup was Livan Hernandez vs. Joba Chamberlain. In spite of this epic mismatch, the Mets entered the bottom of the ninth with a one-run lead. They had this lead because they came from behind on three separate occasions. They had this lead because Chamberlain was so wild that he only lasted four innings and the Mets scored two runs in the third without a hit or even a sacrifice. They had this lead because, with two outs in the top of the eighth and the score tied at seven, Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera to face Carlos Beltran and David Wright and the Mets' two studs proceeded to put a run on the board against the greatest closer who ever lived with a walk and a double.
Then Francisco Rodriguez, heretofore perfect in save opportunities, put a couple of runners on base in the bottom of the ninth, as is his wont. But he got a couple of outs, too. The game came down to a New York Post headline writer's dream matchup of K-Rod vs. A-Rod. The Met closer threw three straight balls to the three-time MVP. But then he got a strike. And then, at long last, he got a lazy pop up to second base. The kind of pop up that would likely have, had there been fewer than two outs, caused an umpire to call the infield fly rule, declaring A-Rod out. But in this case, no umpire could declare A-Rod out. Because there were two outs. And, oh yeah, because LUIS CASTILLO DROPPED THE BALL.
The Mets' losses to the Phillies this week were pretty disheartening in that a Mets team half-full of scrubs came agonizingly close to winning two or three from the defending champs. But this game against the Yankees, where the Mets had the lead in the bottom of the ninth against all odds and got the third out only to have it taken away in this most unlikely manner this side of bird interference, is even worse. It would be easier if I could blame Jerry Manuel for his terrible bullpen management or Omar Minaya for assembling a team that has Omir Santos on the field in the bottom of the ninth in a tight ballgame, but no. The Mets were put together and managed well enough to win this game except that Luis Castillo forgot how to catch a baseball. If I hadn't watched the Mets for the last three years and the twenty before that, I could hardly believe this happened. It's too ridiculous a series of events to actually take place in the real world. But any long time Mets fan can believe it. This is just a little worse that what we've seen so many times before. Could this happen to any other team?