Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Forgotten Game

Those who tend to look at history through the vignettes and attention deficit disorder colored glasses of modern sports networks probably think that the 1986 World Series ended with the ball through Buckner's legs.

Those of us who carried the banner of the orange and blue knew that there was one more game to go.

And that mostly forgotten game took place 19 years ago today.

Now this of course was years before the legend of "Red Sox Nation" was born...and I bring that up because of the rain that fell soon after Game Six that pushed the deciding game back to Monday, which gave the Red Sox their best chance to bounce back from their tenth inning collapse on Saturday. It was the rainstorm that almost gave Bruce Hurst back his MVP award that he lost down the right field line on Saturday night. It was the rainstorm that allowed Hurst one more shot at the Mets.

And if that had happened in 2005, it would have been hailed by Red Sox Nation as a sign from the Almighty that the Red Sox were destined to beat the Mets. God wanted to make up for playing his cruel joke on Bill Buckner, so he rained out the Mets and their arrogant fans on Sunday, they would claim, because surely God wouldn't want the Red Sox to endure Bill Buckner and Dennis Boyd on back to back nights.

Those who do remember that there was a seventh game probably think that the Red Sox had no chance anyway and were simply rolled over by the Met machine in Game 7.

We know better.

Because Bruce Hurst was steamrolling towards that MVP award...for the second time in the series. He was given three runs and he romped through five innings while he looked to make Bill Buckner a distant memory.

But Sid Fernandez pitched the greatest 2 and 1/3 innings in Met history after he replaced an ineffective Ron Darling, striking out four of those seven batters, keeping the Mets close for a three run rally off of Hurst in th sixth.

Then Calvin Schiraldi entered the 3-3 game in the seventh.

You would have thought Red Sox manager John McNamara had learned by then.

Schiraldi claimed that the perception that he was a deer in the headlights...that he had a scared look in his eye, was in his words: "bull s**t". Obviously, Calvin never saw the tape of that game. Deers laugh at how scared Calvin looked as Ray Knight strode to the plate amidst a backdrop of "Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal-viiiiiiiiiiiiiin."

"Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal-viiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin."

"High fly ball into deep left field, back goes Rice at the waaaaaaaaall...

Gone!"

As Ray Knight gave the Mets their first lead of the game, and the last lead they would ever need, Vin Scully did what all of his contemporaries should learn to do: he shut up. He let the insaneness of the crowd wash over you as Sinatra's "New York, New York" blared on the sound system. Ray Knight's fist pump was the exclamation point of the series. It was the first home run of the World Series by a home player. What better time?

And thank goodness that nobody back in 1986 was insane enough to come up with an idea which involved giving home field advantage in the World Series to the team whose league won that year's All Star game. Or else Game 7 would have been at Fenway Park...and Rich Gedman's place on that Sports Illustrated cover might have been much more prominent.

At that moment, the game was kaput. Sure, the teams traded four runs, and Strawberry hit a home run at the very moment that Joe Garagiola wondered aloud: "Whatever happened to Oil Can Boyd", (a home run off of Al Nipper by the way...one that Strawberry took about 15 minutes to round the bases on which caused a 1987 spring training altercation between Strawberry and Nipper) and the last run of the 1986 season was driven in by none other than Jesse Orosco (I know you forgot that), but Ray Knight ended the World Series, and got himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated (and wound up on the Baltimore Orioles over a contract negotiation which had a gap between the two parties of about $25,000; which should be proof enough that the SI jinx is no joke).

Just as the White Sox are celebrating at this moment...celebrating their seven game series win which was compacted into a four game sweep, the Mets would celebrate nineteen years ago today...two days after the general population thinks that World Series ended.

5 comments:

Kyle in Newport News said...

Has there ever been a "Met machine"?

Excellent article, btw.

Darth Marc said...

Very well written as always...infidel...

Love,
Darth Marc

Anonymous said...

Thanks MsD.

It's amazing how everyone forgets the Mets came from behind in Game 7 -- a game forgotten even more than 1975's. Even I've forgotten most of it, though I do remember thinking even during the game that noone would remember that Sid was the player of the game.

And on my bedroom wall for years would be the great Newsday cover of the following day: Front and back covers combined, sideways; no words; just Jesse Orosco, arms raised, glove flying off right hand, spikes a full two feet above the mound, that look of shock and joy on his face...

He had a freakin rbi??!
m

mr. met said...

Good shit. Very, good shit.

The Metmaster said...

The Metmaster was there for every single inning of every single game, both in New York and Boston. My biggest memory was the press room at Shea Stadium after Game 6. When Davey Johnson, Mookie Wilson and Ray Knight walked in the place erupted, prompting the National League press representative, Katie Feeney, to admonish everybody about cheering in the press box. Winning that game, being down to the last strike, was like being a condemned man standing in front of a firing squad with the blindflod on and a cigarette dangling from your lips, only to have the squad fire over your head. The joy of living to tell about it was unbelieveable.
Game 7 was indeed a nail biter. The sight of Wade Boggs bawling like a baby in the Sox dugout when it was all over was priceless. Thanks Calvin Shiraldi, wherever you are.