Judge Ryan Keefer would like to meet the Mets and greet the Mets, but he's not entirely sure if he wants to see the Mets.
"If one picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million words. But more than that, you have seen an absolutely bizarre finish to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series."
Long before baseball had three divisions in each league, along with wild card teams in the postseason system, there were only two divisions in the American and National leagues who would square off in the League Championship Series before the World Series. In the modern era, the New York Mets would be immediate beneficiaries of such a structure. But as it stands, they weren't, and their run of success in the mid '80s that culminated with their World Series championship in 1986 is remembered more by the team that lost the series than the winning team. Most Met fans are liable to tell you that the most memorable play in the series was Ray Knight rounding third and heading for home based on the ground ball to first that went through Bill Buckner's legs.
Buckner's fielding error perhaps stands as a larger symbol of the Mets' success, so that the team itself seems a little incidental. In retrospect, that can't help be a little bit true, as the team's two star players (outfielder Darryl Strawberry and pitcher Dwight Gooden) were rumored to be on drugs for most of the season (Gooden and Strawberry have run into countless brushes with drugs and law enforcement in the two decades since the championship season). There was another instance when a fight broke out at one Mets spring training camp between Strawberry and first baseman Keith Hernandez. And with the media fishbowl that is New York City, these issues were few in a seemingly never ending sea of turmoil and drama that plagued the team known as the Metropolitans.
There was no denying that the team was talented. Gooden's season in 1985 was jaw-dropping, as he compiled a win-loss record of 24-4, giving up less than two runs a game while striking out almost one batter an inning (268 strikeouts in 276 innings pitched). With Gooden were pitchers Ron Darling, lefthander Bob Ojeda and plump Hawaiian Sid Fernandez while Rick Aguilera, and Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco shared the relief duties for the team. On offense, Strawberry led the team with 27 home runs while catcher Gary Carter hit 24 and drove in 105. Perennial excellent hitter Hernandez had a .310 batting average, while the team received significant contributions from Knight, Howard Johnson (and his teammate Red Roof Inn ha!) and Kevin Mitchell. The team won two of every three games over the course of the 162 game season (that's 108-54 to the younger readers), and met the Houston Astros in the League Championship Series. In a classic game that saw a Mets rally in the 9th inning, along with a subsequent monster home run hit by Astros player Billy Hatcher in the 14th inning, the Mets held off another Astros comeback to clinch their World Series birth in a 16 inning, 7-6 classic. Then it was on to play the Boston Red Sox.
Boston came into New York's Shea Stadium and took Game 1 in a classic 1-0 pitchers' duel, and won Game 2 in a more convincing 9-3 result; even with the Mets' Gooden on the mound (the Sox had a young Roger Clemens). With the next two games in Boston, one would assume that the Red Sox were bound to win their first series in the televised age, but even with the Red Sox fans' mocking chant of Strawberry (saying "Dar-ryl," "Dar-ryl" at every possible opportunity), the Mets managed to win Game 3 by 7-1 and Game 4 6-2 with solid starting efforts by Ojeda and Darling, respectively. Gooden's Game 5 effort was sub par, and the Red Sox won 4-2, with a chance to win the series in one of the next two games.
[Editor's Note: This disclaimer has been given as a courtesy to Red Sox fans to omit Judge Keefer's retelling of Game 6 for the Red Sox Nation. We here at DVD Verdict understand, nay, sympathize with those Red Sox fans who still cannot forget. While the Red Sox Series win in 2004 does take the sting out of most of the pain of the last eight decades, never let it be said we don't care for all people. You may now resume reading this judgment.]
Game 7 was a huge deflation for the Sox, and while they held a 3-0 lead in it, the Mets roared back and steamrolled over Boston, scoring 8 runs in the last three innings, including the final run that was driven in by Orosco. Not only did victory seem assured, but for the Mets it was inevitable, and well worth the celebration.
With this latest package of complete broadcasts of series specifically for the sports fan, the broadcasts from 20 years ago look as cheesy and graphically silly as possible. But in this case, it's worth it, as famed broadcaster Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola sound as crisp and clear as they did in '86. Wanna know how great Vin and Joe are? In Game 6, from the final play, they don't say a word for almost four minutes while the cameras show the replays and the alternate shots of joy and dejection. A just and honest God will keep Vin Scully alive from now until there is no more baseball. It takes one back to the glory days, that's for sure. With all of the games, there's a separate disc (the ninth in this set) full of memorable Met moments from the Division clinching win to various interviews with the Mets now. Mookie Wilson, Len Dykstra, Hernandez and Mitchell are among those who reflect on various moments of the 1986 series, capped off with the ring ceremony and banner unfurling at the opening of the 1987 season.
The bottom line is that this is another in a solid line of video releases from the archives of Major League Baseball. Met fans should definitely have this in their library, as this is as good as these moments are going to get presented (unless of course, you were there).
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