If the New York Mets baseball organization was a super hero, then Turner Field would be their arch nemesis. It seems no matter the year, day, month, time of night, or talent on each team, the New York Mets just cannot seem to beat the Atlanta Braves on their home turf.
Going into Wednesday nights' game against Atlanta the Mets were 52-97 in the 17 year history playing at Turner Field.
Many times over the years have Mets' fans watched Chipper Jones trot around the bases, have playoff contention slip through their grasp, Bobby Valentine and Bobby Cox challenge each other to the brink, and witness utter heart break in Turner Field.
July 5th, 1998: As the game crept into the bottom of the 11th inning, the Mets called upon their closer – Hall of Famer John Franco – to keep the game tied and push it into the 12th inning. Franco loaded the bases with an infield single and two hit batters with only one out. A shallow fly ball out was hit to left field and Michael Tucker tried to tag up and score the winning run for Atlanta.
Bernard Gilkey's throw to Mike Pizza at the plate beat Tucker and Pizza tagged Tucker before he touched home plate. The home plate umpire – Angel Hernandez – called Tucker safe. John Franco and the rest of the Mets were livid at this call and the rest of the umpiring crew left the field without any conference to confirm that Tucker was safe.
September 25th – 27th, 1998: It was simple. Win the series in Atlanta, clinch the wild card, make the playoffs. The Braves had nothing to play for as they had already clinched the National League East and were going to the playoffs no matter what the outcome in the series was.
But Bobby Cox wasn't going to lay down to their division rival. The Braves threw all they had at the Mets and New York missed a number of chances with runners in scoring position during the series. Atlanta swept New York and the Mets missed the playoffs by one game.
NLCS Game 6, 1999: The New York Mets fell behind Atlanta 0-3 in the best of 7 series that year. Losing two in Atlanta and then one at Shea Stadium, everybody believed that it was over. Somehow, someway the New York Mets staved off elimination multiple times to send the series to a Game 6 at Turner Field.
John Olerud's two-run single in bottom of the 8th inning in Game 4 and then Robin Ventura's bases-loaded blast off from Kevin MgGlinchy in the bottom of the 15th inning gave New York the hope to win games 6 & 7.
A season filled with come backs for the Mets, it was only right for them to claw back here. In Game 6, Atlanta jumped out to a swift 5-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning.
But this gave ink to the already detailed fairy tale the Mets had been living the last couple months. New York capped off the incredible comeback to tie the game on Mike Pizza's two-run homer in the top of the 7th inning. The Mets then took the lead in top of the 8th off from rookie Melvin Mora's RBI single.
The Braves squared things back up in the bottom of the inning.
The game entered extra innings and in the 10th, Melvin Mora once again came through with another RBI single as the Mets led 9-8. Then, once again, New York couldn't put Atlanta away as they knotted things at 9-9.
Finally, in the bottom of the 11th inning, the 'happily ever after' was never found. Kenny Rogers walked Andrew Jones on a 3-2 pitch with the bases-loaded that ended the game and clinched the pennant for the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves stormed Turner Field in celebration and the New York Mets' magic carpet ride had finally come to an end in between the confines of Turner Field.
“Seldom has a losing team in a playoff series emerged with such enhanced regard as have the Mets,” Bob Costas said about that 1999 New York Mets team. “They have made fans not just in New York, but all around the country with the wild ride they took us through in late September and early October.”
As these few horrors and many others continue to rekindle themselves each time the orange and blue take that field, the future can't come soon enough. Atlanta has already announced the construction of their new stadium in Cobb County coming sometime soon in the next few years.
A new place for the Braves, a new home for their fans, and hopefully a new history for the New York Mets.