Remembering Mets History (1999): NLCS Game #4: Mets Silence John Rocker & Avoid Sweep

Saturday October 16th, 1999- NLCS Game #4- Shea Stadium New York: A full house showed up at Shea (55,872) for the prime-time playoff night game. The hometown Mets were trying to avoid a sweep by the rival Atlanta Braves led by manager Bobby Cox. 

Mets manager Bobby Valentine sent Rick Reed (11-5 / 4.58 ERA) to the mound to face off against Atlanta's John Smoltz (11-8 / 3.19 ERA).

The Mets Braves rivalry of that era was in full swing. Prior to the series, the Braves Chipper Jones had made comments about the Mets being dead, weeks ago. Bobby Valentine commented "the Braves better be ready to play some ghosts". 

The Mets fans let Jones have it, as they would forever "Boo" & hiss at just the sight of him. It was here where the Mets fans began to call him by his birth given name: "Laaaarrrry". Also, they began clever references to the Three Stooges- Larry Fine as well.

This was also the series where obnoxious Braves pitcher John Rocker, began making his rude comments about New York & the folks who live here. On the field Rocker would also pretend to throw ball into the stands, taunting the fans. 

This brought the ugliness out of the Shea Crowd as Rocker & Chipper both became Public Enemy #1.

Astoria Queens native, Cyndi Lauper sang the National Anthem, to get things started & it was the on to a classic Mets post season night.

Both pitchers retired the opposing sides in order in the first two innings. 

In the home 3rd, the Mets Roger Cedeno singled with the game's first hit but went nowhere as Smoltz got two ground outs & then struck out Rickey Henderson to end the inning.

Rick Reed retired the first ten batters before giving up a hit to Bret Boone. Boone was nailed trying to steal second. He went on to retire the next ten in a row as well.

John Smoltz matched zeros on the board giving up a hit to Roger Cedeno in the 5th after retiring eight in a row.

In the bottom of the 6th inning, Jon Olerud connected off Smoltz with a HR giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Reed went into the 8th inning, with a one hit shutout. But then he ran out of gas as he surrendered back-to-back HRs to Brian Jordan & Ryan Klesko. Bobby Valentine came to the mound & brought in Turk Wendell. Wendell retired the next three batters. The Mets were down 2-1 going into the 8th inning.

John Smoltz came on for the 8th inning, up to that point he had allowed just one run on four hits, striking out seven & hadn't walked anyone. Roger Cedeno led off the inning with a base hit. 

After Rey Ordonez failed on a sacrifice bunt Bobby Cox came to the mound & pulled Smoltz, bringing in Mike Remlinger. He struck out his first batter, Benny Agbayani. Then Roger Cedeno stole second base & Melvin Mora drew a walk.

The Sad demented Person Who is John Rocker: Bobby Cox again went to his bullpen & brought in public enemy #1 in New York, John Rocker. 

Rocker had made comments to Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman criticizing the driving skills of Asian women, his dislike of foreigners & saying he'd never play in New York for any team.

Quotes- John Rocker: "Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're riding through Beirut to some kid with purple hair, some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some twenty-year-old mom with four kids, it's depressing".

After his Game #3 save at Shea, Rocker taunted the fans & shouted back at them as they were letting him have. The Shea fans threw whatever they could at him & shouted back as loud as they could any time, he was visible. 

But no justice was better than what happened when he came to the mound in Game #4. 

Bobby Valentine put on the double steal. The Mets made it look easy as both Cedeno & Mora were safe. Braves manager Bobby Cox later said he knew it was coming.

Jon Olerud stepped back in & then delivered the deadly blow to Rocker, a two-run single up the middle, putting the Mets ahead for good with what was the game winning hit. The crowd went absolutely crazy & gave it to Rocker as loud as they could.

Quotes- Turk Wendell: " He got everything that was coming to him. That was very pleasurable to see. It's too bad we didn't leave him standing on the field. That would have been the ultimate".

Armando Benitez came on for the save & had one of his best post season performances retiring the side in order, striking out Keith Lockhart to end the game. The Mets still down three games to one, had life.

Quotes- Mike Piazza: "It doesn't look good, but you hope it's a momentum change. We're still in a tough position, but we're not rolling over & dying. We're going to battle, that's the way we've played all year."


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