|Andrew McCutchen would've looked good in orange and blue, right? It could've happened...|
When the Mets lose in heartbreaking fashion, as they did Friday night in Pittsburgh, I tend to think of what might have been. Did Daniel Murphy's caught stealing prevent the Mets from a potential big inning? Could a Terry Collins ejection in the 10th provide the spark for an extra-inning rally? Tonight I'm not thinking of those questions. Instead, I'm going back a decade to see what might have been had the Mets not gotten swept by the Pirates in a doubleheader in late September. Confused? You won't be after reading this.
On September 19, 2004, the Mets and Pirates were both finishing out the season knowing that they were all going to playing golf in October rather than baseball. New York and Pittsburgh were both near the bottom of their respective divisions entering the Sunday doubleheader at PNC Park. Aaron Heilman and Ricky Bottalico combined to pitch a two-hitter against Pittsburgh in the first game. The Mets lost, 1-0. In the second game, New York's Kris Benson (the Bucs' first overall pick in 1996) got rocked for six runs against his former team. The Mets lost both games to the Pirates, and ended the season with a 71-91 record. Pittsburgh ended up with one more win than the Mets, finishing the year at 72-89 (they did not make up an earlier rainout).
The Mets earned the ninth overall draft pick by finishing 20 games under .500, while the Bucs got to select 11th in the 2005 June amateur draft. New York drafted Mike Pelfrey. Two picks later, Pittsburgh chose Andrew McCutchen. Yeah.
So had the Mets split that late-season doubleheader with the Pirates in 2004, they would have finished the year with a 72-90 record, while the Bucs would have posted a 71-90 mark. New York would have picked after Pittsburgh, rather than before them.
Would the Mets have drafted McCutchen had Pelfrey been taken off the board? Would the Pirates have gone with Big Pelf had they been presented with that opportunity? No one will ever know. But it sure is interesting to consider how different these teams could have been had they flip-flopped their draft choices in 2005. And that could have happened had the Mets played better in just one of two "meaningless" games against the Pirates at the tail end of the 2004 campaign.
We should all hope McCutchen doesn't continue to haunt the Mets the way he did Friday night at PNC Park. And more importantly, we should all hope the Mets don't have any more heartbreaking losses that make me come up with crazy "what might have been" scenarios such as the one presented here.
Let's go Mets. And go Big Pelf...
|Wow, someone actually bought that shirt?|