Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times has a new piece up, detailing his system for determining the best postseason series of all time. He uses a similar theory to Bill James’ game score for pitchers, and the Mets placed two series in the top ten ever. At number 6, the 1986 NLCS. And at number one… the 1999 NLCS.
Color me surprised that the 1986 World Series didn’t make the top 20, and that 1999 NLCS made it to number 1. But it makes sense, if the full series is analyzed.
The 1986 World Series had a close 1-0 pitchers’ duel in Game 1, but it is easy to forget just how lopsided Games 2-5 were. Only Game 5’s 4-2 Boston win looks close, and those watching remember it wasn’t particularly eventful or suspenseful. Game 6 makes up for a lot- and Game 7 did feature the Mets coming back from an early 3-0 deficit- but up against all postseason series ever, I can see why it didn’t make the cut.
Meanwhile, that 1999 series was just ridiculous. Writes Jaffe:
“What’s really sets the 1999 NLCS series apart is how much late-inning drama it contained. Three times, a team tied the score in the eighth inning. Three times, a team took the lead in the eighth inning. Twice a contest went into extra innings. Both those contests ended in walk-off wins.”
I was privileged enough to go to Game 4, a battle that saw the Mets lead 1-0 into the eighth inning, fall behind 2-1, then execute a double steal to help power a game-winning rally in a 3-2 win. I assumed that game would go down as one of the greatest in Mets history. Instead, it was the third-best game they’d play within 96 hours, thanks to the Grand Slam Single in Game 5 and the heartbreaking Kenny Rogers Walk in Game 6.
That Game 6 would be a regular on SNY if only it had ended differently. Al Leiter, remember, got bombed pitching on two days’ rest. The Mets trailed 5-0, but rallied to 7-7 on a Piazza homer off of John Smoltz. The Mets lost two leads after that- one thanks to John Franco, the other by Armando Benitez- before Rogers came in and gave the series away.
There’s a reason that 1999 team is so beloved by Mets fans. That postseason provided more excitement than nearly any other in team history, even in the team’s elimination game.
And if history is any judge, that series stands up to any played by anyone.