The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Darryl Strawberry’

The 1986 Mets — amazingly unlikeable

Posted by keithosaunders on June 26, 2011

When the Mets won the World Series in 1986 I, along with the rest of the city, was enthralled.  It did not quite compare to the unbridled joy I felt in 1981, when the Dodgers finally beat the Yankees, but it was close.  To this day the two game sixes, versus the Astros in the NLCS, and of course, the Redsox in the Series, are among the most dramatic, and improbable games I have ever seen. 

We in New York thought that the Mets of the ’80s would be good for at least another two or three Series victories, but of course it was not to be.  Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry were taken down by drug and alcohol addiction, Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez were soon to be on the downside of their careers, and a series of bad trades, and unfortunate signings (can you say Kevin McReynolds?)  did the team in. 

Recently I watched a documentary called The Rise and Fall of the 1986 Mets.  As the title implies, it deals largely with the demons of that team — the drugs, fighting, and carousing.  They interviewed Strawberry, Gooden, Carter, among others.  Glaringly absent was Keith Hernandez, who any Met fan knows, was the leader of that team.  I can imagine that the Mets, who employ Keith as an announcer, nixed his involvement in a show that was going to be decidedly negative.

While it was a poorly produced documentary that had an agenda, it did bring up some valid points about this team.  The Mets of the mid-80s should have won more, or at the very least, been in position to win more.  

To hear Strawberry talk about what his routine was like. is eye-opening to say the least.  According to Straw, he would be out until the wee hours of the morning, drinking, snorting, hanging out with celebrities, and making the most of being the toast of the town.  He would arrive at the ballpark and pop six greenies before batting practice, washing them down with coffee, since that seemed to strengthen their effect.  After batting practice he would pop three more greenies right before the game.  Repeat and rinse for a 162 game season.  Gee, I wonder why his and Doc’s career fizzled so soon?

The worst was the story that Straw told of the plane trip coming back to New York from Houston after winning the pennant.  The entire team was smashed on champagne, and they began ripping up the seats from the plane, even managing to dislodge one.  They received a bill for $20,000 dollars, which Davey Johnson ripped up.  And you wonder why he was a considered a player’s manager…

The thing that bothered me about all of this is the way Straw looks back on all of this.  While he says he regrets his actions, and acknowledges the harm they did to his career, you can hear in his voice a kind of pride he took in those wild times.  To me it’s not funny to hear about vandalism.  I can understand being young, wanting to party, and sow wild oats, but when you put it in the context of the wasted potential, it’s merely sad. 

What a waste.  That team may have one day been mentioned in the same breath as the A’s of the early 70s, or the Big Red Machine.  Instead, they are a blip on baseball’s radar.  At best they are a testament to the gogo 80s; a shitty decade if there ever was one.

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Revisiting Mets vs Astros: Game 6

Posted by keithosaunders on June 27, 2010

The game was played in the Astrodome on Wednesday, October 15th.  I was at game 5 which was played at Shea Stadium the previous day.  Nobody remembers game 5 because of the magnitude of the following game, but it was a beauty as well, featuring an epic matchup of Dwight Gooden and Nolan Ryan.  Darryl Strawberry tied the game at 1 with a home run in the 5th and the score remained knotted until the bottom of the 12th when Gary Carter drove in the winning run with a single up the middle.

I never saw Game 6 because of  my then steady gig playing solo piano for yuppies at a Wall street watering whole called St Maggie’s Cafe.  I ended up listening to most of the extra innings on the restaurant’s transistor radio.  (how quaint!)  

24 years ago postseason day games were not uncommon, especially when both leagues were playing on the same day.  The Mets game had a 3;30 start time because the ALCS game 7 between the Redsox and the Angels was scheduled for 8pm that evening.  The result was that New York City, on a crisp fall afternoon, ground to a halt.  People literally stopped working and flocked to office TVs.  On the streets people ducked into the nearest bar or watched department store televisions. 

After playing for an hour or so I was politely asked to stop.  I gladly took a seat at the bar and listened to one of the most gut wrenching post season games ever.  The game matched  Bobby Ojeda and Bob Knepper.   Ojeda did not have his best stuff allowing 3 early runs, but he settled down.  Knepper pitched a gem shutting down the Mets offense for 8 innings.

The details:  The Mets finally solved Knepper in the 9th inning putting up a 3 spot off of him and reliever Dave Smith.  When the ‘stros failed to score in the bottom of the inning the game headed to extras.  The Mets went ahead in the 14th on a Wally Backman RBI but Jessie Orosco blew the save allowing a home run to Billy Hatcher.  Finally, in the top of the 16th the Mets exploded for 3 runs silencing the rabid Astrodome crowd.  But the Astros would not go down easily and they battered a tired Orosco for 2 runs before Kevin Bsss struck out to end the game.

Living in New York City I have always looked at this game from a Mets perspective.  It was a tough, gritty win — an improbable win given how dominant Knepper was.  Ojeda was hittable but managed to get the key outs keeping the score within reach.  The bullpen was almost flawless and Keith Hernandez made several sparkling plays at first. 

From an Astros, perspective, however, the game looks much different.  In the bottom of the first Houston scored 3 runs and had the Mets on the ropes when Alan Ashby botched a squeeze play, swinging through a pitch and leaving Bass hung out to dry between third and home.  Just that one run would have made the difference.

The 16th inning rally began with a high fly pop up by Strawberry which dropped between three fielders.  Center fielder Hatcher had taken one step back before realizing that the ball was going to be in front of him.  This was probably a catchable ball.  When Ray Knight singled to left.  third base coach Bud Harrelson aggressively sent Darryl home.  The throw from Bass was up the line and Strawberry was safe, but a good throw may have gotten him. 

Imagine being an Astros fan watching this game.  Could there have been a more excruciating loss?  Boston Redsox fans would soon have an answer to this question.   

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