Former Met Could Be the Key that Brings Team Venezuela into the Next Round

March 10, 2009

When Mets fans recollect on some of the greatest catches in their history, Ron Swaboda’s diving grab in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 1969 World Series comes to mind. Swaboda’s catch kept the Baltimore Orioles at bay by allowing just one run instead of two from scoring and holding the score tied at one. The Mets would eventually become victorious in extra innings and take a three-games-to-one lead on the heavily-favored Orioles. They would go on to win the following game and take the championship that season four games to one. However, for more contemporary Mets fans, there is one play that stands out as quite possibly the most exciting defensive play of the last decade.

Endy Chavez’ snow cone catch at the left field wall during Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS at Shea Stadium will never be forgotten. Not only did the leaping grab rob Scott Rolen of the St. Louis Cardinals of a homerun, but Chavez had the wherewithal to throw to first baseman Carlos Delgado and double up the runner to end the inning.

Unfortunately, Mets fans know all too well that the outcome of that season was not as glorious as in 1969. The Mets lost Game 7 and the Cardinals went on to the World Series. But there isn’t a day that goes by when Chavez, now part of the Seattle Mariners’ organization, reminisces about that outstanding play.

“Every day,” Chavez said with a huge smile. “And it’s still amazing.”

From that unbelievable play, Mets fans will always have a special place in their hearts for the 31-year old utility outfielder. Chavez is currently participating in this year’s World Baseball Classic as a member of the Venezuelan national team. In their first game against Italy on Saturday which they won, 7-0, Chavez played the whole game. He went 2 for 5 with a run scored and started in center field. He was then moved over to left in the eighth inning in place of Magglio Ordonez.

Unfortunately, on Sunday, Chavez and his countrymen did not fair so well against Team USA. Venezuela lost, 15-6, evening their record at 1-1. In Chavez’ defense, he did not play and had to watch his team’s defeat from the dugout. Valenzuela will be facing elimination if they fail to win against an Italian team looking for payback from the other night. Italy knocked the Canadians out of the Classic with a 6-2 win last night. With the added pressure, I would imagine that Chavez will be back in the lineup.

Maybe Venezuelan fans will be able to share in the same feelings that Mets fans felt by witnessing another jaw-dropping defensive play by Chavez which could carry his team into the next round.

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