Billy Goat: How Wagner Blew the 2008 All Star Game

The 2005 season had come to an end, and the Mets had not made the playoffs in their first year with big-ticket additions Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. Omar Minaya's strategy in his second winter with the team was the same as his first: spend big money on free agents to quickly and drastically improve the team. In November 2005, Minaya inked Billy Wagner, formerly of the Houston Astros and not-yet-hated-rival Philadelphia Phillies, to a four-year, $43 million deal to become the Mets' new closer.

Wagner was, for the most part, an excellent relief pitcher with a tendency to speak his mind during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. His struggles, however, came at very inopportune times for the Mets: the 2006 NLCS and the last couple months of 2007 in which the team saw its firm grasp on the division disappear as the season came to an end.

Once the 2008 season got started, Wagner resumed his excellence on the mound and earned himself a spot on the All Star team. The only other Met on the roster that year was David Wright, who wound up going 1-for-3 with a walk after pinch hitting for Albert Pujols, the National League's designated hitter, in the eighth inning.

The American League was still dominating in All Star Games in 2008, not having lost since 1996, but it looked like the National League might finally turn the tide. The NL picked up a run in the fifth and another in the sixth to take a 2-0 lead, but the AL tied it up shortly thereafter on a two-run home run by J.D. Drew in the bottom of the seventh.

In the top of the eighth, Adrian Gonzalez hit a one-out sacrifice fly to put the NL back up by a run. Clint Hurdle called upon Brian Wilson to begin the bottom of the inning, and he got two quick outs.

With two outs and nobody on base, Hurdle brought in Wagner to face Grady Sizemore, who singled. Despite the fact that he threw left-handed, baserunners didn't have a particularly hard time stealing with Wagner on the mound, and Sizemore did just that. Evan Longoria came up next and belted a ground-rule double to tie the game, and Wagner was charged with a Blown Save. Justin Morneau grounded out weakly to end the inning, but the NL's chances of getting a win were dramatically lower than they had been when Wagner entered the game.

The game went to the fifteenth inning before the AL ultimately won once again, this time on a one-out, bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Michael Young. If there was any consolation for Mets fans, whose closer had blown the game earlier, it was that the Phillies' Brad Lidge had loaded the base and given up the run that lost the game.

If Wagner hadn't allowed the run in the eighth inning, there's no guarantee that the NL would have won the game, but obviously the odds would have been heavily in their favor. Still, Wagner's outing goes down as one of the more memorable, and infamous, All Star Game appearances by a New York Met.

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