Amazin! John Milner Stomps On First Punctuating The Mets Improbable Division Title

By Michael Lecolant

Unbelievable?  Incredible?   Yes, but above all, the 1973 New York Mets were Amazin!  How else can you explain this?  Another miracle?  In any event, Tug McGraw was right all along.  You just Gotta Believe!  If this report seems tardy to you, blame the raucous celebration in the visiting club house.  And why not?  On August 30th, the Mets were in last place.  This afternoon in Wrigley Field, the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club completed their most improbable climb atop the division, and clinched their second ever National League East title in four years.

Sep 29, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Fans cheer for the New York Mets after the final game of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field. The Mets won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Seaver climbed the hill this afternoon without his best stuff, and tried holding on to a 5-0 lead as best he could.  The Franchise however, was clearly fatigued.  The Cubs strung together four hits and plated two runs against Seaver in the home fifth.  After the Mets picked up an insurance run in the top of the seventh, Cubs second baseman Dave Rosello led-off the bottom of the frame with a single, then was followed by center fielder Rick Monday‘s twenty-sixth home run of the season.  That made the game an uncomfortable 6-4 affair.

In order to keep the Cubs where they stood, Yogi Berra called upon who else but his fireman, Tug McGraw.  The Mets eccentric southpaw screw-balled all New York’s division opponents throughout this September run.  Today was no different as Tug McGraw finished out Chicago over the final three innings, allowing only one hit and striking out four.  Pinch-hitter Glenn Beckert lined Tug McGraw’s final pitch of the afternoon to John Milner playing first base, who emphatically stomped his left foot upon to bag, completing a season ending double play, and division clinching victory over the Cubs at damp, overcast Wrigley Field.  Ice cold champagne showers soon followed.

Weather, and victory made the second game of today’s scheduled double header unnecessary.  The Mets will end the season with 161 games played with an apparently good enough for first place 82-79 record.  That’s baseball!

Tom Seaver received credit for his nineteenth victory (19-11) of the season.  He finishes the season with a league best 2.08 ERA and 251 strikeouts.  He additionally led the league with eighteen complete games this season, and stands as a formidable candidate to win this season’s Cy Young Award.

In the top of the second inning, Cleon Jones put the Mets on the board with his eleventh home run of the season.  Earlier this season, and in a manner of speaking, the mercurial Jones was taken to task, implored by his manager to stay on the field more and in the line- up.  Cleon missed sixty-nine games this season, and there were times when the club was a bit miffed as to why.  Cleon Jones responded with a marvelous home stretch, clubbing four clutch home runs in the last six games, and six in his last ten games.

Rusty Staub and John Milner drove in runs, while catcher Jerry Grote drove in a pair.

No Tug McGraw, no division title – it’s that simple.  The Mets loudest cheerleader and biggest believer earned his tenth save since September 5th, and his twenty-fifth of the season.  In fourteen appearances down the stretch, Tug pitched 31.1 innings and allowed only two earned runs for a 0.57 ERA.  Amazin’.

Starting Lineups

After tonight’s continuing celebration winds down, the Mets will begin preparations for battle versus Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine in the National League Championship Series.  This “reporter” will now seek out more champagne, followed by some quality recovery time at some local hotel in Chicago’s Loop.  The last month has been excruciatingly and exhaustively wonderful.  Check back with Rising Apple for our Amazin’ 1973 NLCS preview…., eventually!

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