The theme this week across SB Nation sites, including Outsports, is to answer the question: What is the most memorable sports moment that made you cry?
Well, I cry at just about everything, even TV commercials, songs that recall a certain memory or a person, and again and again because of my loveable losers, the New York Mets.
Emotional outbursts on account of the Mets aren’t limited to members of the LGBTQ population, of course. Even the animated comedy “Family Guy” milked this for yuks:
I’ve been crying on account of the Mets since 1973, when they lost the World Series to the Oakland A’s. I was nine.
But I got over it, so let’s put that aside. Here are three moments from the history of the Metropolitans that still bring me to tears.
Tom Terrific Traded
1. We fans called him “The Franchise.” In my home on Long Island, the poster of Tom Seaver was by far my bedroom’s most prominent. It was taped to a wall not far from where Farrah Fawcett smiled at me, acknowledging that she knew my secret: that I actually wanted to be her, not be with her.
Even Fonzie signaled it was okay to have these feelings, giving me a “thumbs-up” from his poster on the closet door (hello, foreshadow much?). This was a year before “Star Trek” beamed into my bedroom to tell me being different was actually cool, and Christopher Reeve stood atop a skyscraper as Superman, inspiring me to keep my secret identity a secret. Little did I know they’d soon take the place of the iconic Number 41, who was and since the age of five had been my personal hero.
“The Franchise” was sent to Cincinnati in exchange for four middling Reds: right-hander Pat Zachary, infielder Doug Flynn and outfielders Steve Henderson and Dan Norman. Hardly an equal trade, given Seaver was our best pitcher, a three-time Cy Young Award winner who was 7-3, and would finish the ‘77 season 21-6, and exactly one day and a year later, would throw a no-hitter.
Oh, yes, I cried. Compounding the loss, that same night, the Mets also traded Dave Kingman to the Padres for Paul Siebert and Bobby Valentine, and Mike Phillips to the Cardinals for Joel Youngblood. Our sister site Amazin’ Avenue has the full story, including how at the dawn of free agency, a combination of Mets ownership cheapness, chairman of the board M. Donald Grant’s stupidity, and the nasty gossip spread by a baseball columnist named Dick Young, all factored into the Seaver trade.
When he was traded back to the Mets five years later, in 1982, it wasn’t the same, and yet two years later, another stupid management move left Seaver unprotected and he wound up with the White Sox, and then the Red Sox, where ironically he sat out the amazing 1986 World Series with the Mets.
Kenny Rogers and The Walk That Ended The Mets’ ‘99 Season
2. In 1999, I was 35, and the happiest I had been at that point in my life: I was happily married to my college sweetheart, we had bought our first home, our first-born child was happy and healthy, I was earning six figures at CBS producing the news and, frankly, I had relegated what I later learned was called gender dysphoria to something akin to allergies; I knew what I was, but I rationalized that since there was no cure for this condition, that I’d just have to live with my secret. I didn’t even know the word “transgender” yet.
And then came October 19, 1999. My Mets were in a fight to the finish for the National League pennant and the chance to face the Yankees in the World Series. Game 6 of the NLCS had seen the Atlanta Braves leading 5-0, after just one inning of play, but the Mets rallied in the 6th and 7th. They even took the lead by the 8th. But with the game tied 9-9 in the 11th inning, Mets manager Bobby Valentine told relief pitcher Kenny Rogers to intentionally walk two of the Braves batters to load the bases, thinking there would be a potential force out at any base.
And so, with the count 3 and 2 on Andruw Jones, Rogers threw an outside pitch and walked in the winning run. He single-handedly ended the Mets’ playoff hopes and punched the ticket to the Bronx for the Atlanta Braves. My reaction was just like Valentine’s in the dugout.
Two Words: Armando Benitez
3. I could write a book about how much Mets fans hate relief pitcher Armando Benitez. Fortunately, I don’t have to, because Amazin’ Avenue’s Matthew Callan expertly weaved readers through the many positives of the reliever’s career, as well as the unbelievably bad moments, in a blogpost eight years ago. I myself never hated Benitez, or anyone, but I did curse a lot, and eventually cry, every single time he was called from the bullpen.
Every. Single. Time.
For more, I encourage you to read Callan’s 2012 examination of Benitez and how Mets fans view him. Here’s an excerpt, and [SPOILER ALERT] this is how he concludes his investigation.
Benitez unquestionably had a negative impact on the Mets at the worst possible times in 1999-2001. But he was no small factor in the fact they were competing for championships in those years. Is it fair to give him absolutely no credit for that? Is it fair to judge him solely based on the Mythical Status we have arbitrarily assigned to the Ninth Inning? My inclination is to say no, it’s not fair, and to afford him a modicum of respect for what he did accomplish.
And then I wake up in the middle of the night with terrifying visions of the [Yankees’ Paul] O’Neill walk, or the [Braves’ Brian] Jordan grand slam, and I think, no, I can extend you no mercy.
HATE VERDICT: Justified
I also encourage my fellow Mets fans check out Complex.com’s 50 Biggest Fails in Mets History, and both the Los Angeles Times (focusing on pitcher Al Leiter) and The New York Times’ excellent perspectives on that World Series I still cannot discuss without crying, a decade later: Game 5 of the 2000 Subway Series against the Yankees. Somebody, quick, get me some tissues...
What moment in sports made you cry? Tell us in the comments!