July 7th, 2016 by Lou
So I turn on the TV around 5:45PM last evening to discover Matt Harvey has been placed on the disabled list with discomfort in his shoulder. Of course SNY was covering it like there was another terrorist attack or something just as abominable. The banter was mostly that of the sky falling for the Mets who an hour earlier finished off winning the series from the Marlins two games to one not to mention six wins in their last seven games. WHAT WILL THE METS DO?
Can we first see what’s ailing Harvey before we take tickets to see whose jumping off the top of Citi Field first? Also, has anyone noticed that Harvey is 4-10 and hasn’t exactly been a major force this season anyway? The Dark Knight seems more like the Dark Slight. Maybe his shoulder, which the Mets feel could be suffering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), is the reason why Harvey has struggled all season to begin with. Matt is headed to St. Louis today to get an opinion from a shoulder specialist. His recovery could include anything from rest to surgery. We really know nothing yet.
This is why a team can never have enough pitching. Even though the Mets have major studs in their rotation, there is never a guarantee they will live up to all the hype. The last time a team had four twenty game winners was the 1971 Baltimore Orioles. It just doesn’t happen too often.
Anyway, what I really want to get to is why I turned the TV on to begin with. I was set to watch “Lenny Dykstra: All or Nothing”, a half hour interview with the former Mets and Phillies center fielder hosted by Ron Darling. I was shocked when the Harvey coverage extended past the starting time of the interview. I mean the media really knew nothing about Harvey and yet ala CNN, they just continued to talk about nothing for another fifteen minutes. Breaking News, Breaking News kept appearing at the bottom of the SNY screen. It should have read Breaking Wind because all these talking heads were doing was farting around and delaying the Lenny Dykstra interview I wanted to see.
Around 6:15, the show finally started and let me tell you, this is a must see. It’s one of the best sports interviews in a very long time. Dykstra is promoting his new book “House of Nails – A Memoir of Life on the Edge”. The interview with Darling is a no holds bar account told by Lenny about those years with the Mets and Phillies. Ron Darling, always the consummate professional, leads his former teammate to express what was going through his mind during those tumultuous years. And Lenny does not hold back or sugarcoat anything, including his obvious disdain for former Mets manager Davey Johnson. I also got a kick out of Lenny calling Ron “Dude” throughout the interview. Plus good work by the SNY editors to not cut Lenny’s rather colorful use of language. Although the volume tailed off appropriately, Lenny was not really censored and that added to completing the picture for the type of guy Lenny is—a gutsy down-to-earth former all-star clearly not afraid to discuss or apologize for his actions.
Dykstra talks about his childhood, growing up without a lot of money and his desire to do the only thing he really knew he could and that was to play baseball professionally. His goal from the outset was to make as much money as possible so he would never have to answer to anyone. Money is what drove the Mets’ center fielder, who garnered the nickname Nails, to do whatever it would take to reach his goal.
The most fascinating aspect of the interview was Dykstra’s recounting of his use of steroids and what led to the decision to start using. He claims his steroid use turned him from a scrappy very good player into an all-star.
Dykstra was traded from the Mets to the Phillies mid 1989 during a game between the Mets and Phillies in Philadelphia. Lenny welcomed the move, feeling intense anger at Johnson for never letting him become an everyday player. Dykstra knew that if he was to be an elite player, he had to do something to help him be bigger and stronger like other players in the game who were naturally larger than him.
The interview also extends beyond baseball and gets into his development of a chain of car washes and his incredible run on the stock market. At one point, Dykstra’s wealth reached fifty-eight million dollars but his reckless behavior had finally taken its toll. After a shattered marriage, legal issues sent Dykstra off to prison. Dykstra talks of how that experience was a turning point in his life.
This is an interview not to be missed regardless if you are a Mets fan, baseball fan, or a fan of any sport. It’s about someone who felt so compelled to succeed at wealth that he stopped at nothing to achieve it. Ultimately Dykstra paid the price for the people he trampled over along the way. There is a lesson in Dykstra’s life and one that is appropriate for many people today who believe money is the answer to everything.
In an era where players are coached to say all the right things, it was a breath of fresh air to listen to a former player tell it exactly like it was. I don’t admire how Dykstra went about reaching his goal but I don’t hate the man either. I do appreciate his honesty and candor. Hopefully Dykstra is helping to remove the vail over athletes and show they really are very human. Dykstra’s book is available at Amazon.
Now back to Harvey. Look, I hope Matt is okay. Hopefully his condition is minor and can be managed without season ending surgery. But the idea that Matt could be gone for the season is no reason to assume the Mets are cooked. As I mentioned in a post recently, the successful teams are the ones with depth. The Mets have that now. In terms of pitching, they have many candidates that can be a fifth starter and realistically, according to the numbers, that’s what the Mets have gotten from Harvey. He’s been a fifth starter. Hopefully this turns out to be a good thing. The doctors will uncover what is wrong, fix it, and eventually Harvey can get back to the pitcher we all know he can be.
Now the Mets need to figure out a way to at least split the four game set with the Nationals. Heading into the All-Star Break, four out isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Hopefully the Mets will continue their current winning ways and do better.
Update: Ok, news has come down that apparently Harvey does have TOS and is considering season ending surgery. If that’s the case so be it. Get healthy Matt and become a cheerleader for you teammates. While it’s a blow to the Mets now doubt, it is not the end of the season. The Mets have the talent to persevere.
October 25th, 2012 by Lou
26 Years ago tonight was game six. Click here to read Bob Murphy and Gary Thorne’s radio call of the bottom of the 10th inning.
October 28th, 2011 by Lou
October 28, 1986 – On this date in ’86, thousands of New York Mets fans lined the canyon of heroes as the 1986 World Champion Mets were given a ticker tape parade. It was the second time in their history such an event was thrown in their honor. In fact, it was the last time Mets fans experienced a parade for the Mets. Many Mets fans today are too young to remember. And while it was a glorious celebration as the Mets players road in convertibles in the parade, it wasn’t without some controversy. After all, these were the ’86 Mets, the fighting Mets who intimidated all of the National League and eventually survived and won the World Series against the Boston Red Sox…
Click here to read the entire final post of 1986: Day by Day
October 27th, 2011 by Lou
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Mets last World Series championship (click the 1986: Day by Day link for the clinching game details). That’s a quarter of a century. Do you remember it? Were you even alive? I was 30. Today I am 55. In those 25 seasons since then, the Mets returned to the post season just 4 times. Here’s a summary of results of those post season seasons since 1986.
The Mets won the eastern division in 1988 winning 100 games. The Mets were leading the Dodgers in the NLCS 2 games to 1. On Sunday evening, October 9th at Shea Stadium, the Mets led the Dodgers by a score of 4-2 heading to the top of the ninth. Dwight Gooden was still on the mound to start the inning. Up to that point Doc had given up 2 runs on 4 hits but he had walked 4.
Gooden started off the 9th walking Dodger center fielder John Schelby. In retrospect, I as well as a lot of Mets fans wondered why Davey Johnson did not pull Gooden at that point. But Doc had earned the right to be there. He was still one of the best pitchers in the National League.
Catcher Mike Scioscia came up and the course of history was about to change. Sciscia homered into the Mets bullpen to tie the game. This was the turning point of the game and of the series. Kirk Gibson homered in the 12th innings as the Dodgers won 5-4 to tie the series. Had the Mets won it in the 9th, they would have taken a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the series. Instead they knew they would be heading back to Los Angeles to determine who would win the pennant.
The Mets lost their second consecutive game the next day at Shea. In Los Angeles they knew they had to win both games 6 and 7 to get to the World Series.
David Cone who made some remarks about the Dodgers he shouldn’t have earlier in the series pitched a complete game in game 6 as the Mets tied the series with a 5-1 win. But in game 7 Ron Darling did not have his A game. In fact he was downright awful giving up a run in the first and 5 in the second. Oral Hershiser shut the Mets down 6-0 ending their season. Frank Cashen’s Mets never got to face Sandy Alderson’s Oakland A’s. The Dodgers defeated the A’s in five games. It took another 11 seasons for the Mets to get back to the post season.
The Mets won the wild card by defeating the Cincinnati Reds in a play-in game. Al Leiter pitched the game of his Mets career, a complete game 5-0 shutout. The Mets then traveled to Arizona for their first National League Division Series ever.
The Mets won the series against the Diamondbacks in 4 games when Todd Pratt hit a 10th inning game winning home run at Shea Stadium. Mike Piazza was hurt and could not play. It was Pratt’s shining moment as a Met.
In the NLCS, the Mets fell behind 3 games to nothing against Atlanta, the team that had bullied the Mets for years. But the Mets fought back winning the last two games at Shea Stadium. Robin Ventura (now the manager of the Chicago White Sox) hit the now famous grand slam single in the 15th of inning of game 5 in the rain to keep the Mets alive.
In game six in Atlanta, the Mets fell behind 5-0 as Al Leiter had nothing remotely close to what he had back in Cincinnati. Trailing 7-3 in the 7th inning the Mets fought back to tie the game. In the 8th and 10th inning, the Mets went ahead by a run only to see the Braves tie it in their bottom half. Finally in the 11th, the Braves won the pennant when Kenny Rogers walked in the winning run. 1999 was one of the great Mets’ seasons. The team that won 97 games had great heart fighting all the way to the bitter end. The Braves lost to the Yankees in the World Series in 4 straight.
The Mets returned to the post season after winning 94 games, again as the wild card. It was the first and only time in the 50 year history of the Mets that they went to the post season in back to back seasons.
The Mets faced the Giants in the NLDS. Like the year before, the Mets defeated their opponent in 4 games. This time the Mets dropped the opener at Pacific Bell Park (now called AT&T Park) but then won the next three. The clinching game was a gem.
Bobby Jones, a better than average pitcher but no superstar pitched the game of his life as he shutout the Giants almost throwing a no-hitter. Jones gave up just one hit and walking 2. Meanwhile the Cardinals defeated the Braves in their NLDS meaning the Mets would not have to face their nemesis as they did the year before.
The Cardinals proved to be no match for the Mets, winning just one game in the series. The Mets clinched their last pennant on October 16th, a Monday evening when Mike Hampton shut the Cardinals out much the same way Jones took care of the Giants. Hampton allowed 3 hits to Jones’ one.
The Mets faced the New York Yankees in the first subway series since 1956 when the Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Mets led in game 1 heading into the 9th inning. Paul O’Neil had an unbelievable at bat fouling off pitch after pitch against Mets closer Armando Benitez. He refused to make out and worked out a walk. That ultimately led to the Yanks tying the game then eventually winning in extra innings against John Franco.
The Yanks defeated the Mets in the series 4 games to 1. What would have happend had Benitez been able to save that first game? If only Timo Perez busted it around the bases when Todd Zeile’s fly ball hit off the top of the wall. Perez was thrown out at the plate for what could have been a crucial run. We’ll never know but it was the closest 5 games series imaginable.
Omar Minaya’s Mets steamrolled through the eastern division with 97 wins then swept the Dodgers in the NLDS.
It all ended in a game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals however when Endy Chavez saved the game temporarily with one of the greatest post season catches ever which he turned into a double play. But trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the 9th with the tying and winning runs in scoring position, Carlos Beltran took one of the nastiest curve balls ever from Adam Wainwright to end their season. In a weird twist of paybacks, the Mets got back at the Dodgers for ’88 but the Cardinals paid the Mets back for 2000.
The Mets have not made it back to the post season since and it is likely it will be a few more seasons before it happens again.
For those of us that remember, today is a day to celebrate one of the two greatest days in Mets history. At the end of this day 25 years ago the Mets stood atop the heap of all of baseball.
October 25th, 2011 by Lou
It was 25 years ago today that the New York Mets played in one, if not, the greatest game in franchise history. With the Mets trailing the Red Sox 3 games to 2 in the 1986 World Series, the Mets fell behind in game six 5 to 3 in the top of the 10th inning. What happened in the bottom of the tenth inning was simply amazin. While most of us recall the play by play of Vince Scully and Joe Garagiola on NBC television, the most wonderful account of the action occurred in the Mets radio booth. The following is an exact transcript of the last of the 10th inning featuring the great Bob Murphy with Gary Thorne. Although the words are exact, the inflections and excitement of Murph’s voice is obviously missing. If you have an account with MLB.TV, you can hear the entire Mets radio broadcast of game 6 as part of their classic games library. Enjoy…
Date: October 25, 1986
Time: Approximately 11:15PM
Where: Shea Stadium, Flushing, New York
What: Bottom of the 10th inning, game 6, World Series
Murphy: Fifty-five thousand standing at Shea, Wally Backman leading off…strike called on the outside corner. Crowd standing at Shea now hoping to give the Mets a big send off as they try and rally one more time. Twice they have come from behind in the game tonight. It would take a huge effort here in the bottom half of the 10th inning. Wally Backman leading off against Cal Schiraldi. Schiraldi’s third inning of relief work. Fouled back into the crowd and a two strike count. Schrialdi has worked the last two innings allowing one run and only one base hit. Lee Mazzilli has the only hit off Cal Schiraldi. That was a pinch hit single in the eighth inning. The Mets missed their big chance to win it all in the bottom half of the ninth inning. They had first and second and nobody out. Keith Hernandez on deck and then Gary Carter. Now the pitch on the way…hit in the air, a fly ball to left field, Rice running toward the line—is there and has it for the out. And the Red Sox are two outs away from a championship. Mets have to get a base runner to get that tying run to bat. One out and nobody on, Hernandez the hitter. Keith one for three, a single in the sixth inning. If Hernandez can get on…it will bring Gary Carter to the plate. Now Schraldi getting his sign from Gedman. And the pitch on the way…off the outside corner, strike one called. Keith Hernandez with five hits in the World Series. The Mets have been badly out hit in this ballgame tonight…13 to 5. They’re trailing 5 to 3. Next delivery…outside high, one ball and one strike. The Mets have had 7 left on base. The Red Sox have had 14 men left on. They’ve set a new World Series record for men left on base. One and one on Keith Hernandez. Mets badly in need of a hit to set the stage. One-one delivery, outside high, two and one to Keith Hernandez. Gary Carter tied the game in the bottom half of the eighth inning when he hit a sacrifice fly, a line drive to left. Mazzilli tagged up, scored the tying run. Waiting on a 2-1 delivery…and a fly ball to center, Henderson going back, going back, under it now…he has it, two men down. Hernandez hit it to the warning track, straight away in center field, run down by Dave Henderson. Two outs and nobody on. Marty Barrett and Dave Henderson have been the big hitting stars for Boston. They are now one out away from a World Series Championship. They have not had one in 67 years. (It was now that the diamond vision board in left field displayed “Congratulations Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Champions”) Last time was 1918. Now Gary Carter carrying the final hopes. Pitcher is due up next, Kevin Mitchell is out on deck. And the pitch by Schiraldi…high pop foul, it might be playable. Gedman coming back, coming back…no play. Into the crowd and the game is still on. Red Sox now one out away from their World Series Championship. Gary Carter without a hit in the game tonight, oh for 3 and an RBI, the RBI, his eighth RBI of the series. He’s had his share of RBIs. Pitch on the way—look out, up high, one ball and one strike. Kevin Mitchell is out on deck, he would bat for Rick Aguilera. Now Schiraldi will check it out. Infield and the outfield very deep. Low and outside, two balls and one strike. Everybody sitting very quietly in that New York Mets dugout, hoping against hope that something will start to happen. The two one delivery—line drive, it’ll be a base hit to left field. The tying run, Kevin Mitchell, will come to bat. So Carter keeps it going with a single to left field. And Kevin Mitchell will be the pinch hitter. And Mitchell does have home run power. Nothing going in the Red Sox bullpen. That’s only the second hit Schiraldi has allowed. Doug Sisk is up in the New York Mets bullpen.
Thorne: Darryl Strawberry got to wonder sitting over there, if the double change had been made, it might have been him coming to the plate right here.
Murphy: Strawberry came out. Davey did not make a double change at that point in time…So the hopes now have shifted to Kevin Mitchell. This rookie from San Diego California had a superb rookie year. The stretch by Schiraldi…and the pitch on the way…check swing, foul ball, strike one. Five to three Boston, bottom half of the 10th inning, two outs and one on. Red Sox won 96 games to win the American League Eastern Division title. Went to the seventh game before beating California. Here’s the pitch…and a line drive base hit into center field. Now the tying runs are on base. Mitchell delivers…a single to center…and Ray Knight will be coming up. So Gary Carter singles, Kevin Mitchell has singled. Tying runs are on first and second, two down and Ray Knight will be the hitter. Ray earlier in the game after getting off to a good start…driving in a run with a single off Roger Clemens, made a high throw that allowed one of the Red Sox runs to score. Now in this game of redeeming features, Ray Knight stands in with his biggest chance of all. Bill Fisher, the pitching coach, has been dispatched to the mound by John McNamara. And they’ll have a little strategy talk here about how they’re going to go about pitching to Ray Knight.
Thorne: They’ll get the bullpen up and active. Nobody had been throwing however so there is nobody ready out there and they didn’t make a change here, probably in any event with a right handed batter up.
Murphy: Ray Knight, one for three and a walk in the game tonight. Davey has pretty well used up his bench. He’s had to do that playing catch up ball—all night long. Now Ray Knight is the batter, he is the winning run at bat. Tying runs are on base, the stretch by Schiraldi…the pitch on the way…fastball, a strike called. They’re going to play straight away against Ray and pretty deep in the outfield. And the third baseman, Boggs, is not really playing the line, he’s more or less moving away from the line now to try and chop off a single. Schiradli is ready…the pitch to Ray Knight…and a ground ball slowly hit, foul, no a…foul ball down the third base line. Boggs had first started to come in for it, realized the best play was to let it role foul and he did… and now my friends the New York Mets…are down to their final strike. Two strike count on Ray Night. The Red Sox were down to their final strike in their game with California, their series with California. They were behind three games to one and down to their last strike in the ninth inning. Dave Henderson, the same Dave Henderson who homered in the 10th inning here tonight, hit a two run homer and the Red Sox went on to win it and to win the American League championship. Now the Mets are down to that final strike. Cal Schiraldi who went to Boston on the Bobby Ojeda deal trying to get the biggest win of his young Major League career by far and away. Now he blows on his pitching hand. Gary Carter on second, Kevin Mitchell on first. Mookie Wilson is the on deck batter if Ray Knight can keep the ballgame alive. Ray taking plenty of time, now he’s in the batter’s box and ready. Here’s the stretch by Schiraldi…now the pitch on the way…and a soft line drive…it’ll be a base hit…into center field. Carter around third will score. Mitchell will go to third! A base hit by Ray Knight. The Mets now have the tying run on third! Ray Knight, with the Mets down to their final strike…gets a base hit to center field. It is now five to four. Still two men down and Mookie Wilson is coming up. Second RBI of the game for Ray Knight.
Thorne: Well Knight has come through in tough situations after making that fielding mistake. That’s the veteran hanging in and John McNamara is coming out and he’s seen enough of this.
Murphy: I think he’ll bring in the right hander Bob Stanley. Mookie Wilson is going to be coming up, we will get a pitching change here in the bottom half of the 10th inning. It is now five to four, Bob Stanley, a ten year pro, real veteran out of that bullpen is coming in, so with a break in the action, and the tying run 90 feet away on third, we pause for this message…
After commercial break…
Murphy: Veteran relief right hander Bob Stanley being brought on now by John McNamara. Stanley has pitched affectively in this World Series. He’ll be pitching to Mookie Wilson. The Mets were down to their final strike. Ray Knight kept it going with a base hit. Bob Stanley…with the World Series, making his fourth appearance. He has not given up a run. Now the tying run is on third, that’s Kevin Mitchell. The winning run, Ray Knight, is on first. The hitter is Mookie Wilson. Mookie, one hit in four times at bat. Boston 5, New York 4. The first two batters up in the home 10th inning were retired. Three hits in a row. Gary Carter, a single to left, Kevin Mitchell a single to left, Ray Knight with a two strike count, a single into centerfield…scoring Gary Carter. Now one more hit and the Mets for the third time tonight would have come from behind and tied this ballgame.
Thorne: Mookie Wilson had a single against Bob Stanley in his last relief appearance in game three.
Murphy: Now the stretch by Stanley, the pitch…fouled upstairs, strike one. The Mets have one run in. The tying run is on third, Kevin Mitchell. The winning run, Ray Knight is on first. But they have so little working room. Stanley is ready, the pitch…outside high, one ball and one strike to Mookie Wilson. Howard Johnson is the on deck batter. The Mets so badly needing one more base hit. Stanley ready, the pitch…up high. Two balls and one strike to Mookie Wilson. Howard Johnson loosening up in the on deck circle. Bottom half of the 10th inning. Red Sox one out away from a World Championship. Stanley in the set position, the pitch…foul ball skidding off the bat handle and again, the Mets are down to their last strike. Count two and two on Mookie Wilson. Kevin Mitchell at third base. Ray Knight on first. Three hits in a row. One run in, they need one more. Now the pitch…swing and a foul tip. It looked like he had been struck out. He just barely ticked the ball. And Mookie stays there with a count of two balls and two strikes. A very memorable sixth World Series game. Stanley…working very quickly, the pitch…fouled out of play behind third. Stanley really anxious to get it over with, he’s getting the ball back and almost quick pitching. So Mookie will step out on him to slow him down a little bit. Two balls and two strikes, Mets have only one strike left. Stanley is ready, the pitch…Gets away! Gets away! Here comes Mitchell! Here comes Mitchell! Tie game! Tie game!
Thorne: Unbelievable! A wild pitch!
Murphy: The game is tied, five to five. Mitchell comes in to score, Knight the winning run is on second. Either a wild pitch or a passed ball, we’ll wait for the official scoring. But it’s a tie ballgame Gary.
Thorne: The pitch came low and inside. Gedman did get a glove on it…slowed it down but it went all the way to the backstop.
Murphy: Now Wilson with a chance to win it. Three two delivery, popped the ball up foul, probably out of play. Gedman coming over, coming over, it will be in the crowd, a foul ball. The winning run is on second base. For the third time tonight, the third time in this ballgame, the Mets have come from behind. It was scored a wild pitch by Bob Stanley…allowing Mitchell to score. And its five to five, the winning run is on second. Mets are down to their final strike. Three and two on Mookie Wilson. The pitch…hit down the left field line foul. Foul ball off the bat of Mookie. If that been fair, the Cinderella story would had been all over and the Mets would have been the happiest guys in the world.
Thorne: Two pitches…twice the Mets have had just one strike left in this game.
Murphy: As mentioned, the Red Sox were in that position against California. The Mets in that position here tonight, and they have dodged a huge missile. They’ve tied it up. The worst that could happen is to go to the eleventh inning. Mookie Wilson still hoping to win it for New York. Three and two the count. And the pitch by Stanley…and a ground ball…trickling…it is a fair ball…gets by Buckner, rounding third Knight, the Mets will win the ballgame! The Mets win! They win!
Thorne: Unbelievable, the Red Sox in stunned…disbelief!
Murphy: A slow ground ball went right through the legs of Buckner down the right field line. The Mets have won the ballgame. Three runs in the bottom half of the 10th inning. Three runs in the 10th inning. They were down to their final strike twice in the bottom half of the 10th inning, they win the ballgame. I thought the ground ball was going to be foul, it stayed fair. It went right through the legs of Billy Buckner and down the right field line.
Thorne: Bob, what is Billy Buckner doing in the game in the bottom of 10th inning?
Murphy: …with a three run lead.
Thorne: Do not understand it (talking over Murph who corrects himself saying a two run lead)
Murphy: We talked about that earlier saying they usually put Dave Stapleton in to play defense. This crowd, and not a soul had left, they’re all here, they can’t believe what they’ve just seen. Mets were down and out, it was all over. Some how, some how they managed to get three runs and they win it…it’ll be a very costly error but none the less the Mets are delighted that it came about that way. A slow ground ball hit by Mookie Wilson…went through the wickets on Billy Buckner. Ray Knight at first didn’t realize it when he rounded third, Buddy Harrelson said keep it going, keep it going. And he came racing in and in to score and the Mets have won…what must be the most amazing game in their 25 year history. I can’t imagine a more remarkable victory. It’ll be an error charged to Billy Buckner. It was an amazing play, Buckner came over, it was a very slow ground ball. I though it was going to be foul, maybe he thought so. He had the glove down. It went right under the glove, it rolled very slowly down the right field line, fair ball. And around to score the winning run came Ray Knight. That’ll be an error charged on Billy Buckner. In the 10th inning, 3 runs…3 hits…the biggest error of the World Series and a man left on. We’ll be back with the happiest recap of them all in just a moment. The final in 10 innings, New York 6 and Boston 5.
October 18th, 2011 by Lou
On October 18, 1986, the New York Mets played in their first World Series game in 13 years. Follow all the action at the 1986: Day by Day link above.
October 15th, 2011 by Lou
October 15, 1986 – On this date in ’86, the Mets knew that if they did not win game 6, they would have to face Mike Scott in game 7. In two games against Scott in the series, the Mets scored 1 run on 8 hits. The single run was scored on a sac fly. There was the issue of scuffing the ball. Was Scott cheating? The Mets were convinced he was. So convinced, they sent a bag of balls to the National League Office for evaluation. Nothing came of it but one thing was clear. Whether Scott was cheating or not, he clearly was in the Mets head. But on this day, the Mets were sending lefty Bob Ojeda to the hill to face Astros lefty Bob Knepper who gave up 4 runs in game 3. Knepper was outstanding. Ojeda was too but not in the first inning. The Astros jumped all over Ojeda in the first inning scoring 3 runs on 4 hits. After that inning, Ojeda settled down and gave the Mets a chance to get back into the game. Unfortunately, Knepper had other ideas as he continued to keep the Mets at bay. Both pitchers found their groove. Ojeda got in a bit of a jam in the 5th but got out of it when a runner was thrown out at third. The Mets were retired 1-2-3 in 6 of the first 8 innings. And after the Astros got 3 in the 1st, they were pretty quiet as well. Rick Aguilera came in the game in the 6th and kept the Astros from scoring any further. It seemed to everyone watching on the TV back in the New York area that the Mets would have to face their nemesis Mike Scott the next evening. The Mets waltzed to the playoffs winning 108 regular season games but were facing the possibility of not reaching their ultimate goal of getting to the World Series. That’s how spooked Mets hitters were of facing Scott again. But then came the top of the 9th inning of game 6. Bob Knepper was cruising. Lenny Dykstra pinched hit for Aguilera. Dykstra stroked a long drive to center that went over Billy Hatcher’s head for a triple. For the first time in the game, the Mets had a runner on third. Mookie Wilson singled to right scoring Dykstra, the Mets were on the board. After Kevin Mitchell grounded out for the first out of the inning, Keith Hernandez doubled to deep right center. Wilson was able to score making it a one run game with the Astros leading 3-2. Quickly Dave Smith was summoned to relieve Knepper. Smith walked Carter and Strawberry loading the bases. That brought up Ray Knight who hit a fly ball to right, deep enough to score Hernandez to tie the game. Unbelievably, the Mets who looked completely flat and beaten through the first 8 innings rallied to tie the game. Danny Heep struck out to end the inning. Roger McDowell retired the side in the 9th. Game 6 was headed into extra innings. It was almost like a double header, as if the first 8 innings was one game and the 9th onward was another. The Mets had new life with the score tied. It was indeed a new game. The next 3 innings were rather quiet. Carter reached on a walk but was left at first. Kevin Bass singled but was thrown out trying to steal second. That was the only action until the Mets came up in the top of the 14th. Gary Carter led off with a single. Darryl Strawberry walked. Ray Knight attempted to bunt to get the runners in scoring position but Carter was thrown out at third. Wally Backman who entered the game late singled to right. Strawberry scored giving the Mets a 4-3 lead. Backman went to second on a throwing error by Bass. Howard Johnson pinched hit for McDowell and fouled out. After Dystra was walked intentionally, Mookie Wilson struck out to end the inning. Jesse Orosco came in to hopefully save the game and give the Mets their third NL pennant. He struck out Bill Doran but Billy Hatcher fought Orosco until he drilled a ball high and deep down the left field line. Everyone held their breath then the ball struck the foul pole screen. The game was tied once again. Orosco got out of the inning without any further damage. In the 15th, Carter ended the inning trying to stretch a single into a double. Orosco retired the Astros in the bottom half. Then came the 16th inning, one of the most exciting innings of baseball in Mets history. Darryl Strawberry led off the inning with a double to deep center field. Ray Knight followed with a base hit to right that scored Straw. On the throw to home, Knight went to second. The Mets had taken the lead again. At this point Hal Lanier brought in Jeff Calhoun to pitch. Calhoun threw a wild pitch allowing Knight to get to third. An all important insurance run was just 90 feet away. Wally Backman came up and walked. With the pitcher Jesse Orosco up, Calhoun threw another wild pitch. Knight scored and Backman went to second. The Mets took a 6-4 lead. Orosco sacrificed Backman to third. Lenny Dykstra came up and singled to right scoring Backman. The Mets now led 7-4. The rally ended with Mookie Wilson grounding into a double play. Obviously with Davey Johnson leaving Orosco in the game to sacrifice, he was out on the mound trying to get the final 3 outs of the NL season. Jesse struck out Craig Reynolds to lead off the inning. But then he walked Davey Lopes who batted for Calhoun. The crowd began to stir. Bill Doran singled to center and just like that, the Astros had the tying run at the plate with Billy Hatcher coming up. Hatcher singled, Lopes scored as Doran went to 2nd. The Mets lead was cut to 7-5. Every bar in Manhattan grew quiet. Denny Walling grounded to Hernandez who fired to short to get the force. Doran moved to third. The tying run was on, the winning run was at the plate but the Astors were down to their last out. Orosco was obviously tired as he surrendered a single up the middle to Glenn Davis. Doran scored, it was now a one run game. Kevin Bass came up next, a great fastball hitter. There was a conference at the mound. Both Carter and Hernandez told Jesse under no circumstance could he throw Bass a fastball. Orosco knew it and fed Bass nothing but breaking balls. Finally Orosco got Bass to swing and miss on a nasty breaking ball to end the game and give the Mets their 3rd National League pennant in history. Nobody celebrated like the Mets. There was a huge champagne celebration in their Astrodome clubhouse followed by a flight back to New York for the ages. The players pretty much tore up the plane and were presented with a bill for the damage by GM Frank Cashen. The story goes that Johnson tore it up. The Mets were National League champions and finally headed back to the World Series. Box score — That evening in Boston, the Red Sox handedly defeated the Angels in an unbelievable come back of their own as they won 3 straight after being down to their last strike in game 5. It would be an all northeast series with the Red Sox coming to Shea three nights later.
Every day of the 1986 Season is chronicled in the 1986: Day by Day section. Click the link at the top of this page.