The world at large is slowly starting to wake from its self-imposed slumber. Nations, states, cities, and towns everywhere are beginning their attempts at resuming life – whatever that may look like in a pre-vaccine COVID-19 world. For sports leagues around the globe, plans are already in place or currently being hammered out to resume competition. While details are still being discussed, negotiations are still being had, and logistical challenges are being addressed, we at The Turf are continuing our “Filling the Void” series. Since mid-March, we’ve been looking back on remarkable, historic, inspiring and noteworthy sports stories of days gone by.
Today: 2000 NLDS – New York Mets vs. San Francisco Giants
Over the years there have been quite a few notable pitchers to take the mound in the orange and blue of the New York Mets. You’ve probably heard names like Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Bob Koosman, and Johan Santana. This game isn’t about them.
Goodbye Darryl – Hello Bobby
In 1991 Darryl Strawberry left the Mets for the sun and surf in Los Angeles. Most Mets fans were pretty bummed about it – and Daryl himself ultimately admitted he should’ve stayed in Queens. When he headed west, the Mets were awarded a compensatory draft pick. They used that pick on a California kid named Bobby Jones. He would turn out to be one of the best draft picks the Mets made in the 1990s.
After making his MLB debut on August 14th, 1993 (a win vs. PHI – allowing only 1 ER over 6 innings), Jones would find himself a regular member of the starting rotation. His rock steady performances in the early 90s culminated with his best career season in 1997. He started the season going 10-2 and was named to the All-Star game. In that game, he struck out a couple of guys named Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mark McGwire – no biggie. Despite tailing off in the second half, he finished with 15 wins – the best mark of his career. As the 1990s were coming to a close, however, Jones found he was less of a “sure thing”.
Riding the Roller Coaster
The 1999 season was a difficult one for Jones. He battled injuries throughout and only ended up making 12 starts that year. Ultimately, he was left off the postseason roster. Things got even more challenging at the start of the 2000 season, when he was demoted in June after getting off to a rough start. Thankfully, he was able to “right the ship” and was back in the bigs by the end of the month. This time around, his name was a part of the postseason squad, despite posting the worst season ERA of his career.
Stepping Up Under Pressure
The Mets entered the playoffs as a Wild Card team, and had to head to San Francisco to kick off their race to the World Series. The opening game went to the Giants 5-1, but games 2 and 3 both went to extras. On both occasions, the Mets emerged victorious in breathtaking fashion. In Game 2, John Franco struck out Barry Bonds with the tying run on base to give them a 5-4 victory.
Game 3 was even more exhilarating. Back in New York, the teams went to the 13th inning before folk hero Benny Agbayani crushed an Aaron Fultz pitch into the left-field bleachers. Mets fans went home to dream of closing out the series in Game 4.
Shining Brightest in the Spotlight
In what would end up being the best outing of his career, Bobby Jones took the bump to try and send the Giants back home and move the Mets forward. It was also the first postseason start of his career. There have been many memorable pitching performances by the guys I named earlier in this article, and this one joins the list.
See You Tomorrow. Stay Safe. Stay Smart. Wash Your Hands.
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