On this date in 1986, surely the most memorable Mets game ever played...
Keith Hernandez sat in Davey Johnson's office with a can of Budweiser and a Winston Light. He stared thoughtfully, puffed. "Well, we've only got one thing going for us. Schiraldi is pitching."
Kevin Mitchell picked up the clubhouse phone to call his travel agent. He was in his underwear. When the news came down that he was pinch hitting, there was no time to put on a cup. Or zip up his fly.
Jesse Orosco, Bob Ojeda, and Ron Darling were in the equipment manager's office, moaning about the now-certain loss. They didn't know they would soon don football helmets as rally caps.
Gary Carter was in the batter's box, playing baseball. And thinking to himself, "I'll be damned if I'm gonna make the last fuckin' out in this fuckin' World Series."
Down two runs with two outs and nobody on in the tenth inning of a potentially deciding game, the Mets strung a rally together that's been described and mythologized so thoroughly I surely have nothing to add. But it went like this:
Carter singled. So did Mitchell. Hernandez issued the order that no one in the clubhouse move. A. Stinking. Muscle.
Schiraldi, by this time "sucking serious wind" (his words), let up his first 0-2 hit of the season, a blooper from Ray Knight that scored Carter and moved Mitchell to third. Mookie Wilson was the next batter and with a two-strike count leaped away from a late-breaking palmball and guided Mitchell to the plate, some might say spiritedly.
And then. Oh hell, just watch (starts 7:50)
After the "delirious tenth inning," Bob Ojeda was grateful to run across two Red Sox executives in the parking lot, looking forlorn. Ever the sportsman, he approached in friendship. "I was like, 'F you and eat shit, assholes. And you know what? You're gonna lose tomorrow, too.'"
Who are the all-time greatest players (not Mets) to spend any time at all in blue and orange? #1: Willie Mays, by a moonshot over the Polo Grounds' center field wall. The second spot, though, that's interesting. My contenders are Tom Seaver, Rickey Henderson, and (admittedly trailing behind) the birthday boy Pedro Martinez, 41 today. Seaver and Henderson each have between 100-107 rWAR, Seaver in 20 seasons and Rickey in 25. Pedro lags well behind with 82.6 rWAR in 18 not-all-healthy years, but then nobody had seasons like Pedro, who in his prime was probably the best ever. In 2000, he struck out 313 batters, walked 37, and had an ERA+ of 291! In 1999, he allowed 2.7 fewer baserunners per nine innings than the next best pitcher in the AL. What does this have to do with his Mets career? I'll answer that with a question: How can you not have fun beholding those statistics?
Sid Fernandez was granted his free agency after a decade with the Mets in 1993. In '94, the team got rid of Kevin McReynolds (again), granting him free agency.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
"My mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.' Instead, I was a pitcher, and became Dickey."
- Imagined quotation, as adapted from a real one by today's none too modest birthday boy, Pablo Picasso.