It’s been a few months since I’ve written about the 1986 Mets. Put simply, it’s been hard to find many memories of the regular season that really are worth the space I usually devote to an entry around here. My most vivid memories–as I think is the case with most people–center around the postseason, although when I think hard I do remember a few great regular season moments. For instance, there was a four-game series against the Braves in mid-July where I watched Darryl Strawberry charge the mound after Dave Palmer plunked him after Gary Carter launched one into the seats en route to an 11-0 win. It was the first time I had ever seen a brawl in a baseball game live on TV, and I didn’t really understand why Straw charged the mound but it was cool to see a fight.
The Sunday game of that series featured a tribute to Rusty Staub, where the team came out during the pre-game ceremony wearing red wigs and a 2-0 victory which featured Gary Carter tagging out Ken Griffey, Sr. at home plate, a tag that was so awesome it wound up in promos for at least another year or so (it shows up in the music video at the 3:30 mark). But aside from those and the whole mess in Houston where Tim Teufel, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda, and Rick Aguilera were arrested for a bar fight, I spent the summer watching games and checking the paper whenever I could to see how far ahead the Mets were. Then, as August started to drag on, I started checking their magic number and then learning what a magic number and “clinching” meant (I was nine and new to following baseball, so sue me).
There was no magic number in the daily news yet when we went to a game against the Expos on August 2, and I honestly don’t remember much about the game, except that Uncle Lou and Aunt Geri took us, it was the first time I had ever been to a night game at Shea Stadium, and it rained. My aunt and uncle will at least be able to confirm that–it seemed like it rained every single time we bought a bunch of tickets to go as a family. But still, sitting in the upper deck, watching the Mets win 4-2 under the lights was pretty cool. Plus, my dad and I had tickets for another game a few weeks later, against the Cardinals, a team I had hated since last season when they downed the Mets en route to a World Series appearance.
However, by this time, the Cards were toast and the Mets’ magic number sat at 33. We had tickets to the first game of an impromptu doubleheader (meaning that one of the games was a makeup of a rainout) and my dad took me and my “cousin” Vic (“cousin” meaning that our families were such good friends we might as well be related). It was a 2-1 loss and made me concoct a theory that perhaps I’d go to one losing game and one winning game every season. Anyway, it was a “down” time for the team–Gary Carter had just been placed on the DL the day before with a torn thumb and Ed Hearn hadn’t completely started to rise to the challenge of being the everyday catcher like he would. Rick Aguilera started the game but wound up leaving with an inflammed right knee (I always thought Aguilera was a decent pitcher with the Mets but not as steadfast as Doc, Darling, and Ojeda … Aguilera would wind up hitting his stride with Minnesota years later), and it was one of those games that just sort of sputtered out.
We intended to leave between the games of the doubleheader (after all, we needed to beat the traffic), but we stuck around because between the games, a guy took the field and made the crowd do all sorts of shouting and cheering and even The Wave. Yes, we did The Wave. Why was the guy there? Well, he was doing crowd shots for “Let’s Go Mets,” the official 1986 Mets music video, which premiered later in the season as the team was gearing up for its playoff run. Unofficially titled, “Let’s Go Mets Go” (because of the “Let’s go Mets go!” shout throughout the song), the video features the team, its fans, as well as some highlights and is set to a tune written by Shelton Leigh (“Shelly”) Palmer, who lately more notable as a technology columnist for sites like CNN.com and The Huffington Post, but composed several theme songs for television productions back in the 1980s.
It is, more or less, a huge PR piece with better production value than the local television promos. We begin in one of the parking ramps of Shea where three kids are playing some game where you flip baseball cards and the winner keeps all the baseball cards, which is something I never knew how to do when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure that a relative once tried to teach me but I never picked up on it. The rules of the game didn’t matter in the video anyway, because after the two kids lose all of their cards to a bully-type who looks like a cross between Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story and Jason Hervey’s character in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Doc Gooden, Gary Carter, and Kevin Mitchell (because they couldn’t sober up Straw and who is rocking 1980s eyeglasses and a track suit that I can only describe as “Sharpton-esque”) show up.
Garysays, “Go ahead, Doc.”
Doc says, “Do it.” (more…)