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Nothing ever happens in a vacuum around the Mets, so you knew Frank Francisco was going to come trotting out of the bullpen in the top of the ninth inning, seeking to protect a two-run lead on the day he helped land Derek Jeter on the front page of this newspaper in a chicken suit.
You knew Francisco wasn’t going to get out of it 1-2-3, either, because he it goes against his code to do things 1-2-3, and so when it was two on, one out, with Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez awaiting …
Well, that figured, too.
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And even after he blew a fastball past the startled Curtis Granderson for the second out, you knew there had to be something extra, something excruciating, so there it was: a towering ball off the bat of Teixeira, Raul Ibanez and Derek Jeter roaring around the basepaths, the ball hovering over the infield, a million Mets fans enduring a million instant flashbacks …
And faster than you could say “Luisbleepincastillo,” the ball was in Omar Quintanilla’s glove, and it was over, and for a day at least Frank Francisco had called the mighty New York Yankees chicken and lived to tell about it.
And even quasi-apologize for it.
“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings,” Francisco said.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Mets pitcher Frank Francisco reacts after the final out of his team's 6-4 win Friday against the Yankees.
Of course, because he apparently can’t help himself, a few seconds later, asked again if he thought the Yankees might be a bit too quick to complain about calls – the genesis of his poultry proposition in the first place – he smiled a half smile, half-nodded in the vicinity of the visitor’s clubhouse, and said, “They may be complaining right now.”
And, of course, because he clearly knows that he can’t help himself, a few seconds after that, he said, “I’ve got a lot of respect for those guys. There’s a lot of winners in that room.”
And thus ended another chapter in the wonderfully unpredictable and entirely unscripted world of Frank Frank, the Mets closer who not only enjoys turning the ninth innings of baseball games into something straight out of a Six Flags, he has now become the first participant in this 15-year Subway Series to dare to engage in a little bit of trash talk.
Sure, you can ask: does calling someone a “chicken” actually qualify as trash talk? Do six-year-olds called chicken in sandboxes even get their feelings hurt over that kind of thing anymore? Do you even need to summon the sticks and stones to salve those wounds?
And, yes: in the long history of intramural New York baseball, this hardly qualifies as a ripple. Hell, back in the day, back before there was even a name for it, the Giants and the Dodgers used to engage in epic spasms of trash talk.
Let’s rewind things almost 80 years, OK? It was 1934 when Bill Terry, managing the defending-champion Giants, was asked about his team’s most bitter rival and the odds they’d be heard from that season. Terry’s reply? “Is Brooklyn still in the league?” [ital] That’s [ital] quality trash talk, especially if you consider the Dodgers, managed by Casey Stengel, wound up knocking the Giants out of the pennant by winning two of three from the Terrymen in the season’s final week.
Not that anyone learned from that (thankfully for all). For it was 17 years later when, after his Dodgers stretched their lead in the National League to 13 ½ games, Brooklyn’s manager, Charlie Dressen, famously declared, “The Giants is dead!”
Which they wasn’t, as it turned out.
THAT is quality trash talk.
Maybe this is the start of something. Maybe today, we’ll show up at the ballpark and Ike Davis will want to declare that his father could beat up Derek Jeter’s father. Maybe the Yankees, unwilling to take it any longer, will tell the Post exclusively that the Mets suffer from an unrelenting case of cooties.
It could get ugly. You have to be ready for anything.
Frank Francisco, Francisco, Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mets, Mark Teixeira, Mike VaccaroFollow Mike, Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees, the Mets, Raul Ibanez, The Giants