Craig Calcaterra

Steven Matz

Steven Matz is young, you guys

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NEW YORK — Live from Citi Field for Game 3 of the World Series! And, as you typically see in these situations, the next day’s starter is brought out for a press conference. For the Mets, that’s Steven Matz.

Matz, as you probably know, is from Long Island so there’s understandably a lot of local interest in him. To that end, most of the questions asked of him were about growing up as a Mets fan.

The first question was who his favorite Mets players were as a kid. He said Mike Piazza and Johan Santana then gave a shoutout to Endy Chavez’s catch from the 2006 NLCS as a particularly memorable moment from his youth. Then he was asked what it was like to be a Mets fan when “the Yankees seemed to win it all every year.”

I am fully aware of how old I am and how young Matz is. And I am further aware that Matz, at 24, is older than Noah Syndergaard and lots of other players around Major League Baseball. But it sure is jarring to me to hear the Johan Santana-era and the Yankees dynasty referred to as stuff that happened when a World Series starter “was growing up” or “was a kid.” That stuff happened about 15 minutes ago, didn’t it?

Here’s hoping Bartolo Colon, who is about two months older than me, is asked similar questions at a presser before this thing is over. I don’t know who he rooted for or if he even cared about U.S. baseball then, but I’d love to hear him talk about Andy Hawkins Yankees or something.

World Series experience? Bah, who needs it?

Noah Syndergaard
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A couple of tweets from MLB.com’s Richard Justice are probably worth thinking about the next time you hear commentators going on about World Series experience:

 

Those four, he notes, are Madison Bumgarner, Jaret Wright, Michael Wacha and Livan Hernandez, all of whom have been noted for their postseason heroics.

Also, to the extent your views on unwritten rules and respecting the game are premised on the need for players to conform to the local norms when playing, this is worth noting:

 

Viva the International Pastime.

A New York team down 0-2 in the World Series? It’s been done.

1986 Mets
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NEW YORK — We talked yesterday and this morning about how dire a thing it is to be down 0-2 and, heaven forbid, 0-3 in a World Series. And, to be sure, most Mets fans are walking around with a knot in their stomach over how bad things have started out for them.

But rather than dwell on the negatives of that predicament, let’s think positively. For, as many have noted, teams have come back from being down 0-2 before. Indeed, the last two teams to do it called New York their home.

1986: From Snoozer to Thriller 

The 1986 World Series between the Red Sox and Mets started out a decent bit like this one. Game 1 was close and Game 2 a six-run blowout. It wasn’t exactly the same, of course. Boston’s Bruce Hurst absolutely dominated the Mets in the opener so they never had the chances this year’s club had in Game 1. Whether that makes you feel better or worse about the current club’s lot is probably a matter of taste. Personally, I think the 1986 team had a much bigger reason to feel demoralized after the first game. That team had a hell of an offensive attack — they lead the NL in offense that year — and it was totally neutralized.

That year’s Game 2 had at least a little in common with Game 2 on Wednesday, at least if you squinted a little. Johnny Cueto is no 1986 Roger Clemens so his facing off versus Jacob deGrom was not billed as a matchup for the ages, but deGrom can fill the Dwight Gooden role well enough, at least insofar as he is the best of the Mets’ young aces. But, as was the case in 1986, the young ace was not on his game and the opposition took advantage. The Mets left New York and headed for Boston that year having to have thought that they had fired their best shots but missed.

Everything changed in Game 3, however, when the Mets were jump-started by Lenny Dykstra’s leadoff homer, after which they put up three more in the first inning. Yordano Ventura is a demonstrative, colorful and arguably excitable guy. Can this year’s Mets team get to him early like the 1986 edition did against the demonstrative, colorful and excitable Oil Can Boyd? If they do, we’re back to a competitive World Series by 9pm this evening, just as we were back in 1986. The gloom of the past two days lifted.

1996: The Birth of the Yankees Dynsasty

Ten years later the other New York team found themselves in the same boat, down 0-2 to the Braves. We think of the late 90s Yankees as some inevitable juggernaut and the 1990s Braves as the team that couldn’t win the big one, but at the time the Derek Jeter Yankees hadn’t won anything yet and the Braves were the reigning World Series champions. Having been utterly blown out in a 12-1 Game 1 and then shut out 4-0 by Greg Maddux and Mark Wohlers in Game 2, there was every reason in the world to write off the Yankees. And those of us who are old enough to remember that Series vividly remember the Yankees being written off by many, many people.

Everyone remembers Jim Leyritz hitting his dramatic homer in Game 4 which totally broke the Braves’ back, but Game 3 is what Mets fans should be thinking about today. There David Cone put up a gutsy, solid performance and the Yankees’ then-moribund offense manufactured a couple of early runs — one by taking advantage of a Braves’ error — to get to Tom Glavine. Mariano Rivera wasn’t yet MARIANO RIVERA and he gave up a run in the setup role, but the Yankees held on. It wasn’t a terribly dramatic game. It had little excitement to it, really. But it was baseball survival at its best. Doing little things, getting a little good luck and simply not folding. The next night Leyritz would jump on that Mark Wohlers slider (A slider?! Why a slider?! ARRGH!) and the dynasty would be born, but Game 4 would arguably have been academic if the Yankees didn’t hang tough in Game 3.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, but as the 1986 Mets and 1996 Yankees showed, it doesn’t take much to change the momentum in the third game of a seven game series. One big inning. A few balls bouncing in your direction. Just some ordinary plays in what, all of the pomp and circumstance of the World Series notwithstanding, is still an ordinary baseball game.