You are Mets manager Willie Randolph. Congrats! Despite a tragic string of injuries, your team has successfully scrapped its way to Game 7 in the NLCS. Unfortunately, now you have no one left with functioning arms to throw the ball. What pitching decisions will you make to try to reach the golden paradise of the World Series? To start journeyman pitcher Oliver Perez, turn to page 9. To concede the game, turn to page 12.
Page 9. Clearly, you are a risk-taker with a great sense of humor! Perez starts the first inning strong, walking two batters, then hits Albert Pujols in the buttocks. Bases loaded. To keep Perez in the game in hopes that he’ll settle down, turn to page 30. To replace him with long-reliever Darren Oliver, turn to page 6.
Page 30. Funny guy! Those Subway commercials don’t do you justice! Perez walks the next six batters, throwing the last ball (a hard slider to Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan) into the visitors’ dugout. Still bases loaded, no outs, Cardinals lead 6-0. To bring in Oliver, turn to page 6. To bring in Game 5 pitcher Tom Glavine on short rest, turn to page 60.
Page 6. Your wisdom is unsurpassed. Oliver gets out of the jam, then pitches two more scoreless innings before surrendering back-to-back triples in the third inning. Cardinals lead 7-0. To replace Oliver with historically bad Game 3 loser Steve Trachsel, turn to page 12. To replace him with Glavine, turn to page 60.
Page 12. Trachsel takes the mound to a chorus of boos. Four consecutive batters hit line drives off his left thigh. Cardinals lead 9-0. To bring in Glavine, turn to page 60. To bring in submariner Chad Bradford, turn to page 90.
Page 60. Glavine gives you two innings of one-hit ball before fainting on the mound. Inspired by his gutsy performance, the offense rallies for eleven runs. To bring in Pedro Feliciano, Roberto Hernandez, Aaron Heilman, Chad Bradford, and Guillermo Mota in rapid succession, turn to page 65. To bring in comedian Jon Stewart, turn to page 12. To take the mound yourself, turn to page 22.
Page 22. Bad move! Although you retire the side with your deceptive off-speed pitches, Major League Baseball regulations state clearly that only players on the official playoff roster can pitch. Your team is disqualified. In the off-season, you make another Subway ad in which you help Joe Torre choose the right cheese for George Steinbrenner’s sandwich (provolone), only to discover that he didn’t want cheese in the first place. You shake your head wryly and shrug your shoulders while Torre is fired. ( To go back and bring in closer Billy Wagner instead of yourself, turn to page 86.)
Page 86. Wagner dodges a bullet, allowing only twelve runs on nine hits. Carlos Beltran hits three grand slams in the ninth to make up the difference. Congratulations! You’ve managed one of the weakest pitching rotations in playoff history all the way to the World Series! Turn to page 19 to lose to Detroit in five games. Turn to page 71 to lose to Detroit in six games. Turn to page 77 to get swept by Detroit!
— Sam Anderson