Bumped from FanPosts. --Eric
Last week’s post by DanDotLewis asked the members of AA about, among other things, their most memorable Mets moment. Mine was a little unusual because not only was I not at the game, I didn’t even see it, unless you count, as Terry Cashman or Charles Osgood would say, seeing it on the radio.
For those of you who weren’t around or don’t remember it, the Mets went into Houston for Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS leading the series 3 games to 2. Normally, the team trailing at this point would be feeling the pressure to win a Game 6. But this time was different. The Astros had won games 1 and 4 behind dominating performances by ex-Met Mike Scott. Actually, it was more than dominating – the belief that Scott had been doctoring the ball had gotten into the Mets’ heads. No one wanted to see him a third time.
So that was the situation as I turned on my radio at 3:00 that afternoon at my workplace at the NYS Department of Taxation & Finance in Rego Park. (No worries about my supervisor; he stayed late with me the previous afternoon after work ended, just so we could hear Gary Carter’s single win Game 5 in the 12th inning.) The game did not start out well, as the Astros got three runs off Bob Ojeda in the first. And while Houston would not score for the next seven innings, thanks to Bobby O and Rick Aguilera, we were held scoreless for eight innings by Bob Knepper. (Bob Knepper?)
As 5 o’clock approached and the 8th inning ended, I left the office with an impending sense of doom. No staying late this time – it was our office bowling night. (Not a competitive league; just a way for some of us to have some fun after working hours.) I took my Walkman with me, so I wouldn’t miss anything between the office and my car. As I got into the car, things began to happen. Lenny Dykstra led off the 9th pinch hitting for Aguilera (Nails didn’t start against the left handed Knepper) and promptly hit a triple. Mookie Wilson singled home the first run. Kevin Mitchell grounded out, moving Mookie to second. The next batter was the first baseman, who proclaimed "I’m Keith Hernandez" and doubled to score Wilson to make the score 3-2. Out came Knepper. In came Dave Smith, the Astros’ closer – and, more importantly, the anti-Scott. If Smith threw a pitch to a Met, the ball was usually: a) hit; b) hit hard; and c) landing in fair territory. Maybe Smith realized it too; he walked Carter. At the very moment I parked by the bowling alley; Darryl Strawberry hit a long, long fly ball that was foul. (To this day, I am certain that had my trip taken just a little longer, the ball would have been a home run and we would have won the game in 9 innings.) As it turned out, Strawberry also walked to load the bases. Ray Knight hit what Vin Scully would call a scoring fly ball (aka a sacrifice fly) to tie the game.
Time to go to the lanes. I figured I’ll go into the bar and see what happens, but the bar’s absolutely jam packed and I can’t see the one TV screen, so it’s back to the lanes with my Walkman. (At least I’ve got Murph and Gary Thorne.) The league session starts, and I keep listening when it’s not my turn to bowl. McDowell throws five shutout innings. (Take that, K-Rod.) But we can’t score either until the 14th, when Wally Backman gets an RBI single. Now it’s three outs to go and here comes Jesse Orosco to save it. He gets the first out, and I go up to bowl. Nothing bad’s going to happen; it’s only Billy Hatcher, right?
Freaking Hatcher hit a homer. Tied again.
On we go. Finally, we get 3 runs in the top of the 16th. Jesse goes out for his third inning. He’s not going to screw it up again, right? Well, I bowl again and the Astros suddenly remembered everything they forgot about hitting for the last 14 innings. By the time it’s my turn again, there’s two out, but Houston’s got 2 runs in, there’s two men on, and Kevin Bass is up.
Now let me explain something here. This is a fun league. Nobody’s trying to set any bowling records here. But I had one pet peeve: when it’s your turn to bowl, get up and bowl. Then you can sit down and have more fun.
I stayed in my seat, trying to hear the play by play above the sound of the pins. I was met by an icy stare. It was Dianne from the other team. Dianne, who was president of the league. Dianne, who was a supervisor at work, while I had only finished my traineeship a year before. Dianne, who was also a Mets fan, but was still ready to rip me a new one if I didn’t get up off my ass and bowled.
Uh-uh. Every time I got up something bad happened to the Mets. I wasn’t getting up until Jesse got this guy out. So I held up the game. Sue me. I kept listening for something above the din until, finally, Murph said the magic words: "Struck him out! Struck him out!" I yelled out, "We won!" And I got up and bowled. Funny how I don’t remember what I did in that frame, or anything I bowled that night…
And that’s how the Mets won the 1986 NLCS. Sorry I made it so difficult for the rest of you.
This FanPost is dedicated to the memory of my longtime coworker, bowling opponent and fellow Mets (and Jets fan) Dianne. Several years later, Dianne got another promotion to the Manhattan office at 2 World Trade Center, where she was killed on September 11, 2001. May her soul continue to rise through the heavens.