Judge Ryan Keefer also sees a big apple when he hits home runs. Mr. Furley, what are you doing here?
Meet the Mets, greet the Mets, come on out and see the Mets!
Shea Stadium was named after William Shea, who helped bring a New York Yankees baseball alternative back to New York after the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles in 1958. The New York Mets were created in 1962 and started playing at Shea in 1964, and for several years the ballpark was better known for being part of ground zero for Beatlemania in 1964, as the boys from Liverpool played to tens of thousands of fans.
The Mets' on-field product gradually improved though, and in 1969 they managed to surprise everyone and reach the World Series, where they played the Baltimore Orioles and won four games to one, in an improbable Series win. It stings this longtime Orioles fan to this day, and I wasn't even born yet. After some chasing of success which was fleeting at best, followed by some leaner years, the Mets had a resurgence of sorts, becoming a rather impressive core group of youngsters like Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Len Dykstra (to name a few), while bringing in free agent all-stars like Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez. The Mets won another Series in 1986 and came close in 1988, but the success combined with New York's ever enduring glare from the spotlight cast some of the players of those teams to the wayside. Several became addicted to drugs and alcohol, while internal strife seemed to be a near constant distraction. After unsuccessful attempts to rebuild the team through free agency, the team has seemed to find some consistent success during the regular season, however, they have not been able to seal the deal in the postseason, appearing in the playoffs twice since 2000, and not reaching the World Series since 1986.
However, I'm not here to bury the Mets per se, as Shea is about to disappear from baseball fans lore and reverence: 2008 is the last season the Mets will be playing there (they will be moving to a new stadium in 2009). A&E has dusted off some forgotten classic Mets games played at Shea, and threw them into this steelbook case that looks pretty sharp for holding some memorable games. As opposed to the Essential Games of Fenway Park games, which were supposedly chosen by fans, I see no mention that the Essential Games of Shea Stadium were chosen by Met lovers. Perhaps there are none anymore? Either way, the six games are one to a disc, starting with one of the games in the 1969 "Amazing Mets" run, where Tom Seaver pitched ten innings en route to a 2-1 win over the Orioles. Moving on, the next disc focuses on the 1986 National League Championship Series, and twice the Mets had to pull themselves off the floor from 4-0 and 5-4 deficits to win 6-5 on a walk-off home run by Dykstra that was, well, amazing. Disc four takes us ahead to 1999 and the National League Championship Series where Robin Ventura helped the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves in extra innings. Disc six brings us to a matchup with the crosstown Yankees, and David Wright's walk-off game winner in a tight regular season win.
I know I've skipped a couple games here, but I'm addressing them now if that's OK. Disc three holds Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and as I've touched on this a little bit in the 1986 World Series Set that is currently available, why should I bother, right? I mean, repeating the game's inclusion on another set if you're a Mets fan just seems sloppy and not really worth the time or energy, and I was about to slaughter A&E for the selection. But disc five includes a game that was special for other reasons. It was a game between the Mets and Braves, but it was the first game for a New York sports team playing at home since September 11, 2001. Played on September 21, both teams wore hats with New York's first responder logos on them, and in a close affair, Mike Piazza's late home run won the game for the Mets, perhaps rightfully so all things considered.
I've gotten used to the presentation of these games by A&E over the years, and technically there are no real surprises here; the quality is as cheesy or as nostalgic as expected, depending on your tastes. And as is normally the case with these sets, there's extra footage on the last disc which captures other Mets moments at Shea on tape, including Division and Pennant winning highlights, including clips of the '69 and '86 Series not included on this set.
Bottom line? Well if you're John Rocker and aren't the biggest fan of all things Shea, then perhaps this set isn't worth it for you, but as a baseball fan I'd give this a soft recommendation to buy. You've got two great games here, one for sports drama in the '86 Series, and one for purely emotional drama in the 9/21/01 game, so if you're driven by that kind of stuff, 1 for 3 makes for a respectable batting average kids. And if you're a Mets fan, well, you probably stopped reading when you saw the title and grabbed it already, didn't you?
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