One of the most famous songs by the Irish singer Van Morrison is called “Wild Night.” Philadelphia has had its share of wild nights in the sports world. Just for starters: the night Gene Tunney upset Jack Dempsey for the heavyweight championship in 1926; the night a bloodied but unbowed Matthew Franklin knocked out Marvin Johnson to begin his road to the light-heavyweight championship; countless wild nights at the old Spectrum as the NHL’s Broad Street Bullies won Stanley Cups. And last night was the latest of many wild nights which have happened in baseball in Philadelphia. There was the game in 1985 when Mets’ announcer Bob Murphy famously said “The Mets win the damn thing anyway,” after a near meltdown by the bull pen. There was game 4 of the 1993 World Series, which the Phillies lost to the Bluejays 15-14 on a 6-run 8th inning.
Then there was last night. All the talk early on was the return of Mets’ captain David Wright, out since April with a serious back problem. Many of the Mets’ 7-Line Army came down I-95 to build the crowd to some 37,000 to see Wright and pitcher Jacob DeGrom. But DeGrom will always be an afterthought in this game. He didn’t finish the third inning and left with his team down 7-2 in spite of a 417-foot cannon shot by Wright. Six weeks ago, a 7-2 deficit would mean “game over,” for the Mets. Not now.
In the fourth, Wilmer Flores launched a 2-run home run and Travis D’Arnaud crashed a solo shot that would have been a home run in an airport. In the fifth, Flores struck again, this time with two teammates aboard, and Michael Cuddyer launched one, belying the sarcastic nickname “Cadaver,” hung on him by at least one frustrated Mets fan in the days when John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell filled the middle of the Mets order. And on it went. When the dust had settled, the Mets had unloaded a franchise-record 8 home runs in a game. The Phillies hit 3 of their own, making a total of 11 to equal a national league record. The total of 11 home runs combined had been done 4 times, the last one a wind-blown affair in Chicago on May 17, 1979 between the Cubs and Phillies. The two teams were one short of tying the major league record. Twice-in 1995 and 2002, the White Sox and Tigers combined for a dozen dingers in a game.
The 7-Line Army, the Mets’ traveling road show got to the usually even-tempered Phillies color commentator Larry Anderson. When they roared their approval of Wright’s rocket, he said on the air that Mets fans were obnoxious, and he’d prefer Nationals fans to Mets fans. The Mets have spent 50 years building up a passionate fan base who, as early as 1963 were heard to chant “Let’s Go Mets.” The Nationals have only been around since 2005, have only become good in the last few years, and play in a city of transients. There’s a lot less chance Nationals fans will get as worked up as Mets fans do-especially this year when the Mets are playing their best baseball in years, and the Nationals are in the process of flushing their season down the drain.
What to Catch in the Man Cave
Tonight features two matchups of playoff bound teams. The early game, starting just after 7 PM Eastern, brings together the Yankees and Astros in the Bronx. The Yankees won the first of this 3-game series last night, 1-0 on a Carlos Beltran scoring fly ball in the last of the 9th. The MLB network will carry this game, as they did the one last night. Then, for you night owls who have either the MLB package or a satellite, there’s a late late show at 10:15 between the Cubs and the Giants. If you haven’t seen Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta, you ought to between now and playoff time. He’s after his 16th win tonight, and is on a roll with a dozen quality starts in a row. Meantime, his foe Matt Cain has struggled mightily, up until last Wednesday’s start against the playoff-bound Cardinals. Arrieta, the Dodgers’ dynamic duo of Greinke and Kershaw and the amazing Mets starters will make this the toughest choice for the Cy Young award in years. But that’s just baseball as I see it.1