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Notes: Past history may serve as guide

Notes: Past history may serve as guide

NEW YORK -- With all that happened with -- and to -- the Mets on Tuesday, manager Willie Randolph had too many pressing, present-tense issues to bother with the past, no matter how many lessons or how much positive reinforcement it could have provided. But there is, in his own history, a scenario that might be of some use to the Mets when they assemble on Wednesday afternoon for Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

It comes from the Yankees, of all people, and it comes from Oct. 3, a date that lives in infamy for a Dodgers team from another town, er ... borough, and the day before the Mets engage the Dodgers in 2006.

It was on that date in 1978, the 27th anniversary of Bobby Thomson's home run, that the Yankees met the Royals in the first game of the American League Championship Series in Kansas City. The Yankees were scheduled to start Ron Guidry, the eventual Cy Young Award winner that year, but the lefty had been forced to pitch on short rest against the Red Sox the previous afternoon in Boston in what became the Bucky Dent Game.

Yankees manager Bob Lemon had almost as few options the following night as Randolph has now, with the injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez. Ed Figueroa and Catfish Hunter had started the two games that preceded Dent's Game. The option was Jim Beattie, a rookie -- like John Maine -- who had produced a losing record, having gone 6-9 in 22 starts.

No one other than Guidry, Hunter, Figueroa and Beattie had started for the Yankees for 12 days by the time they flew to Kansas City, tired and emotionally spent, to face the Royals, George Brett and 21-game winner Dennis Leonard.

Moreover, the Yankees were playing again without their No. 2 hitter and second baseman, one Willie Randolph, who was injured.

So what happened? The Yankees beat up Leonard (nine hits and three runs in four innings) and his successor, Steve Mingori (three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings), and won, 7-1. Beattie (5 1/3 innings) and Ken Clay combined for a two-hitter.

Cliff Floyd was told that tale on Tuesday night.

His reaction: "Tell me again tomorrow afternoon. I want to hear it again."

Game 1 prediction: One Met's prediction, taking all of the days' developments and all the uncertainty into consideration: "We're either gonna win 16-1 or lose 16-1."

Well, at least, he knew the score.

The new Yogi: Randolph will have been a member of 16 postseason teams as a player, coach and, as of Wednesday, manager -- a rather extraordinary resume.

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"It's been a blessing for him," veteran Julio Franco said. "It would be a great story if he wins again, now as a manager. Great for him, great for his career and great for us."

Relief writer: The bullpen temporarily has a different meaning for Mets closer Billy Wagner. Wagner and the author of his forthcoming book -- probably entitled "Late Innings" -- are working together in another publishing venue. They're writing a column for The New York Post. Beware David Cone vs. Dodgers, 1988.

Lest we forget: The Mets' rotation is a mess for the postseason. No surprise. Before they played their 50th game on May 29, they had used 10 starters: Tom Glavine, Martinez, Steve Trachsel, Victor Zambrano, Brian Bannister, Maine, Jose Lima, Jeremi Gonzalez, Alay Soler and Hernandez.

Not since 1956 -- the Cardinals -- had a team used so many starters in 50 games.

The Mets had Martinez, El Duque, Glavine, Maine and Trachsel start -- in that sequence -- twice from Aug. 9-18. They haven't had a set five-man rotation since then.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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