Hawaiian Punch-Out


OCTOBER 25—After the conclusion of Game 3—won by the Mets 4-2 with some eighth-inning heroics by their two most currently dependable hitters, Todd Zeile and Benny Agbayani—manager Bobby Valentine did one of his patented double takes when he was asked to “Talk about your decision to go with Agbayani against the right-handed pitcher (Orlando Hernandez, off whom Benny clubbed what proved to be the game-winning hit).”

“I’d love to talk about Agbayani,” bristled Valentine. “I was a little baffled by people who followed our team all year thinking maybe he shouldn’t be playing today. I never considered him not playing, and I never considered pinch-hitting for him, and I’m glad about that.”

As well he should. A quick look at Agbayani’s 2000 stats reveals that not only did he hit better against righties (.293 in 259 at-bats vs. .275 in 91 at-bats against lefties), but he also clubbed three times as many extra base hits when facing righties. In any event, be it a righty like El Duque or a lefty like Aaron Fultz (the victim of Agbayani’s extra-inning walk-off blast against the Giants in the Division Series), he’s bopping them all, and continuing to embellish his folk-hero status as “The Kahuna With the Cajones.”

Meanwhile, our quote of the day come from Mr. Zeile, who knocked in the Mets’ first run with a double, and singled and scored the winning run on Agbayani’s shot to the gap. Asked about his success in both the League Championship Series against the Cardinals, and his (so far) continued hot hitting in the Fall Classic, Zeile—who’s played on eight teams in both leagues over the last six years—deadpanned that his postseason success is based on his age. Said Zeile, who’s 35, “One big benefit of being old: At some point, you’ve faced everybody.”