Daniel Murphy isn’t Bill Buckner, but is history repeating itself all the same?

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NEW YORK — History wasn’t repeating itself perfectly, but it was tracking closely enough for the Mets. At least for a while.

In 1986 the Mets lost Game 1 of the World Series by one run, lost Game 2 by six runs and won Game 3 by six. This year they lost Game 1 by one run, lost Game 2 by six runs and won Game 3 by six.

Right on track, yes?

The 1986 Mets won Game 4 behind two homers from Gary Carter. On this night’s Game 4 the Mets got two homers from Michael Conforto. I don’t believe in signs, omens or nonsense like that but that is, at the very least, a good bit of synchronicity. If we played that pattern out long enough we’d see some big disastrous, Bucknerian error from Eric Hosmer in Game 6, but thanks to Daniel Murphy‘s disastrous error in the eighth inning the Mets may not even get to a Game 6.

To be clear, Murphy letting the ball hit to him off the bat of Hosmer was not a Bill Buckner moment. Buckner’s error was in what would’ve been the clinching game in extra innings. This was in the eighth and the Mets, even if they had won, would have to play tomorrow and then again on Tuesday. And it’s not like it’ll have the same sort of impact as Buckner’s play either given that more people were probably watching various college football games this evening than this game. The lack of similar leverage and cultural fragmentation will render this more of an “oh yeah” moment than an “I remember where I was” moment. This was just everyday clown shoes. It’s also worth noting that if it wasn’t for Murphy’s heroics in the NLDS and NLCS, the Mets wouldn’t even be here.

But there is one comp to 1986’s Game 6 that is worth making, and that was the losing team’s bullpen decisions. Bullpen decisions that were quite opposite in form, but equivalent in effect. While Buckner was the goat, in 1986 Red Sox manager John McNamara left reliever Calvin Schiraldi in way, way too long in most observers’ eyes, allowing that game to go into extra innings in the first place. In this game, Terry Collins might’ve done better if he followed McNamara’s lead.

Before the game, Terry Collins was asked about why he used Jeurys Familia in a blowout in Game 3. He said that he wanted to get Familia some work given that he hadn’t pitched in two nights. Then he said, “we don’t have that many more games to play, and he’s a big, strong guy that has to pitch. So I thought one inning wouldn’t hurt him, and he didn’t use that many pitches so he’ll be ready tonight.”

If he’s so big and so strong, why not use him for two innings to protect a one-run lead in Game 4? Why start with Tyler Clippard in the eighth to walk two guys, forcing Familia to come in and get five outs instead of six? After tonight’s game Collins said “we talked about going two innings with Jeurys, but we might not have had him tomorrow.” When asked if Familia pitching in Game 3 affected the decision to have Clippard start the eighth tonight Collins said, “yeah, a little bit.”

I suppose “big and strong” has its limits.

As it was, Familia had to come in with two men on. He induced the grounder that Murphy flubbed to allow the Royals to tie the game and that gave Familia one of the tougher blown saves you’ll see. Two singles later and, in a nice little recovery, a nifty Daniel Murphy-led double play that ended the inning, perhaps it was academic. Ned Yost wasn’t taking any similar chances. After grabbing that lead he decided that getting cute with setup men wasn’t the smart play and called Wade Davis in for a two-inning save. And, because he’s amazing, Wade Davis saved it. The Royals now possess a commanding 3-1 lead and can wrap this business up in Game 5 on Sunday night.

History doesn’t really repeat itself. Time is not actually a flat circle. And if you look at the definition of the world synchronicity, you realize that the coincidences it attempts to describe only appear to be related. But after thinking so much about 1986 lately and after seeing how this game was unfolding before the eighth inning, you have to wonder if we saw some temporal weirdness here. Patterns being followed and then the streams being crossed.

Whether whatever is happening is a repeat and whether, if it is, it’s tragedy or farce is probably in the eye of the beholder.