Welcome to Flashback Friday, a weekly feature devoted to the 20th anniversary of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets.
Twenty years, 43 Fridays. This — originally written in my journal during the early hours of July 23, 1986 — is one of them.
The Mets and Reds began playing while I was on a train somewhere between Oceanside and Long Beach, I’m guessing. Somewhere along the way, Dave Parker hit a two-run homer off Ojeda. Dykstra tripled in Ojeda. Bell hit another off Ojeda. Strawberry was thrown out for arguing.
Undefeated Ron Robinson struck out HoJo to start the ninth which was OK cause Bo Diaz dropped the ball, HoJo kicked it away, ran inside the baseline and was hit by the throw but called safe. Which was for naught when Mookie grounded into a tough DP. The unhittable John Franco walked the unconquerable Lenny Dykstra. Tim “Tex” Teufel hit a ground-rule double. Second and third. Two outs.
Up steps Keith. I think the count was two and two thanks to a bad call on a held swing. No matter. He hits a deep fly ball to Parker in right. Is it? Nope. The ball hits Parker’s glove. The ball bounces away from Parker. Dykstra scores. Teufel scores. We’re tied in the ninth.
Orosco follows Anderson, Myers and Sisk to the mound, all having pitched scoreless ball. Orosco shuts ’em down in the ninth.
Mets don’t score in 10th. Bottom of inning. With one out, Rose pinch hits for Franco and singles. Davis pinch runs for Rose. Davis steals second. Orosco strikes out Milner. Davis goes. Safe at third on a close play. Knight argues. Davis elbows Knight. Knight punches Davis.
Now the fun starts. Knight ejected. Davis ejected. Everybody’s goin’ at it. Mitchell and Soto ejected. Shades of ’73, eh? Mets lose their rightfielder (they would use five) and third baseman. The following lineup moves ensued:
— Eddie Hearn, the last regular player on the bench, comes into catch.
— Gary Carter becomes the 80th Met to play 3rd.
— Roger McDowell will pitch.
— Jesse Orosco, who had been pitching, will now play rightfield.
McDowell gets the last out of the 10th.
It’s hard to quite pick out what happened in innings 11, 12 and 13. I do know some girl with a tough Serbo-Croatian name won a box of Garcia-Vega cigars. I did see Pete Rose and company searching through the rule book because Jesse Orosco was taking warmups. Why was that bad? Oh, yeah, he came in from right, switching places with McDowell. McDowell also switched places with Wilson.
It was in the 12th, I believe, that Gary Carter made an incredible diving stop of a line drive. He’s the catcher with bad knees who was playing 3rd. When there were no outs, I saw Keith grab a bunt in front of the plate and throw it to Gary at third who threw it to Teufel at 1st for a, uh, 3-5-4 double play. I also saw Perez, 43 or so, make a big play. He got several hits and what looked like a shiner.
History majors will recall HoJo kind of starting the madness in the ninth. So, appropriately, with Hearn (I think) on second and Orosco (!) on first, he hit one toward Dayton. Mets 6 Reds 3. 14 innings. 5 hours.
McDowell gets the win but you should give something to Jesse who not only overcame whatever pitching problems he might have had, but also did what Parker couldn’t do — catch a fly ball to right.
As for me, I watched on four different TVs, listened on two radios, including one in my car. I shopped at Waldbaum’s and pulled another car into the garage. I ate dinner, cleaned up the kitchen and talked on the telephone. In the 10th or so, I ripped the sheets off my “office” bed. Didn’t help. In the 14th I put on my rally cap. It helped. I nearly fell asleep in the ninth and would be sawing wood right now if not for the higher force that ticked Hernandez’ ball out of Parker’s glove. I’m a little hyper right now, despite three days of Drowsiness drugs and a sore throat.
To all my loved ones who have hopped aboard the Pennant Express Bandwagon, I never promised being a Mets fan was going to be easy. The All-Star game, a week ago, which Dwight Gooden lost, seems like it took place in 1970.
Last Thursday, the Mets trailed Houston 1-0 through six and scored 13 in 7th, 8th and 9th. Craig Reynolds pitched.
Saturday, the Mets were being shut out by strikeout king Mike Scott (a former Met, I dimly recall) until the ninth when Babe Dykstra and Darryl homered. What a comeback. Oh yeah, McDowell gave up his first homer to — Craig Reynolds to lose it.
Between Saturday and Sunday four Mets went to jail.
Sunday, another game I wasn’t paying much attention to grabbed me by the throat when We overcame a 4-2 lead in 8th and 8-4 lead in the 9th to go into extras. What comebacks. Oh yeah, McDowell lost again but on a bad call in the 15th.
Then tonight. What a comeback. AND we won. AND the Expos were beaten by the silly score of 1-0 by Houston in 10. Two more ex-Mets, Ryan and Youmans, threw goose eggs.
We led by 13 at break. We now lead by 13 1/2, biggest ever, blah, blah, blah. In the Mets 25th season, we are being rewarded for almost every injustice suffered over the past 2 1/2 decades.
And soon we’re gonna party like it’s 1969.