I actually bought Matthew Berry's Fantasy Life book last year when it was published, but I didn't get around to reading it until I bought an extra copy for my brother at Matthew's book signing on the Upper West Side just a few days ago. It was an awesome time, and Matthew is even cooler in person than he is in his in his column, podcasts, on television, etc.
But what you're really here for is a John Maine story. There are a lot of fun stories in Fantasy Life, but the one about Maine should be especially amusing to Mets fans who suffered through the bitter end of the 2007 season.
On September 29 of that year, the Mets had lost five games in a row and were one game behind the Phillies for first place in the National League East. Although it seemed like the decimation of the Mets was complete, they still had two more days to catch the Phillies and save their season.
What happened next was incredible. Maine pitched the game of his life, striking out 14 Marlins and walking just a pair in 7⅔ innings. He had a no-hitter going with two out in the eighth inning, but Florida catcher Paul Hoover rolled a weak ground ball down the third-base line for an infield single. The Phillies lost to Washington that day to create a tie for first in the division, and the Mets controlled their own destiny again.
Was the outstanding pitching all Maine's doing, though? According to Fantasy Life, the Mets may have had some help from an unlikely ally that day. Berry relays a story about a fellow fantasy baseball player, "Zac," who was working for the Marlins that season.
The night in question was Friday, September 28, 2007 and all Zac need for his title was one last great starting pitching performance along with a win. From John Maine of the Mets. Who was pitching the next afternoon at 1:00 PM versus the Marlins. It was against this backdrop that Zac and his buddy arrived that Friday night at a bar with some of the team and shared a drink with a few Marlins players. And after they all hoisted a few, an interesting, if not exactly kosher, idea occurred to Zac.
"All we need to do is get a few more of them drunk and my boy Maine should cruise through the lineup."
Fast-forward to midnight that night. "Some front-office staff, a lot of players, a couple of female sales interns, and myself meet up at a trendy bar called Whiskey Park. Drinks were flowing. The bullpen was buying... but I was buying more to make sure they got extra rowdy."
Back at the hotel room...
"We proceeded to play 'Mexican Shotgun,' which was a game I made up on the spot. It consisted of shotgunning a beer and chasing it with tequila... The next morning I felt like shit, but I also felt confident in unleashing Maine as my last starter to grab a title. I also called all my compulsive gambler friends and let them know that the Mets' money line was the play of the century."
The rest, as we know, is history. Maine defeated the apparently hungover Marlins to give Mets fans hope that the 2007 season wouldn't be a total bust. Even if this story is of questionable authenticity, I'm still disappointed (but not devastated!) that "Zac" couldn't find it in himself to go out one more night for some drinks with the team. Tom Glavine could have used some help on September 30.