It all came down to the towels.
If you believe superstitious Mets fans, that’s why the Amazins lost Game 7 in the National League playoffs against the St. Louis Cardinals last Thursday night at Shea Stadium, robbing them of a trip to the World Series.
Entering Shea that night, fans were given a small hand towel with the message, “Lets Go Mets!” Many grumbled that such rally towels are bad luck, but nevertheless swung them wildly during the game, as instructed by the large message board.
No question, it was an emotional game with fans rising for almost every Mets pitch and cheering on their team. Sitting under the overhang in the mezzanine became a little nerve wracking, when it swayed from all the movement upstairs. And those twirled towels looked like a swirling snowstorm during nail biting game play.
The night started out promising with the home team scoring the game’s first run in the first inning. It was slightly foggy and something about the breeze was different, carrying the pungent aroma of hot dogs even when the neon shirted vendors weren’t near your seats.
Orange and blue were the colors of choice with practically every Mets fan wearing a team logo on caps, hats, shirts, jackets and tote bags. There were a lot of homemade signs cheering on the team and numerous orange balloons that wafted down from different levels of the stadium. One even made it onto the field, where it was quickly removed.
And then, of course, there were the fans, with orange and blue paint covering their faces and others wearing bright orange wigs. Painted on tattoos proliferated on faces and many female fans donned special jewelry, especially dangling baseball earrings.
One woman, apparently lost, wandered onto an area of the mezzanine looking for her seat. Her situation was worsened by the large leather baseball headgear she wore, obscuring her vision. She looked like a miniature Mr. Met.
Things quieted down considerably when the St. Louis Cardinals scored in the second inning, but the crowd erupted with joy in the sixth when leftfielder Endy Chavez made a once in a lifetime catch, robbing Scott Rolen of a home run. His throw made it possible for an unbelievable double play.
Fans hugged and high fived each other. They couldn’t believe it happened. Chavez’s extraordinary leap helped him snatch the ball as it went over the fence.
Many in the Mets crowd kept pointing out “good omens” of the series: it was the seventh game, star player Jose Reyes wears number 7 and the No. 7 subway goes to Shea. They were also encouraged by the selection of actress Glenn Close to sing the national anthem.
In 1986, when the Mets won their last World Series, Close sang the anthem at Game 1. Former Mets pitcher Ron Darling threw out the first pitch Thursday and was the Game 7 pitcher against the Red Sox in the 1986 series.
But victory was not meant to be. “Those white towels are the kiss of death,” said one disappointed fan after the game. Cardinal fans were given rally towels before Game 4 in St. Louis and their team lost to the Mets 12 5.
So the real culprit in the Mets loss was those small squares of terry cloth. Not the pitching. Not the hitting. Just those damn towels.