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Didja ever notice the look on his face?

Part II of a series of oft-forgotten notes regarding the most famous walk-off win in Mets history. Part I can be found here

Every story you read about Game 6 of the 1986 World Series will tell you that John McNamara screwed up big-time when he didn't bring Dave Stapleton into the game at first base as a defensive replacement for Bill Buckner. Those pieces cite how Stapleton played first base at the end of every other Boston win that postseason, and how Buckner, dealing with a myriad of injuries, had no business being in the game. The decision was a total no-brainer for McNamara and he blew it, particularly after what happened in the next-to-last at-bat of the final frame.

Most people stop their videotape after Dave Henderson's home run, and fast forward to the bottom of the 10th. They miss two moments of significance. One is the single by Marty Barrett that bring in Boston's second run. The second is Bill Buckner's at-bat.

Buckner came up with Barrett on second and two outs. He battled Rick Aguilera to a 1-2 count with a couple of foul balls. Then, Aguilera did something unexpected. He came about as far inside with his next pitch as Bob Stanley did when he was a strike away from ending the series a few minutes later. Bill Buckner wasn't quite as nimble as Mookie Wilson was. He couldn't get out of the way. The pitch nails Buckner just below the belt buckle, by his right buttocks. When ball hits flesh, you can actually hear a scream, perhaps his. If you pause the tape to catch Buckner's reaction as he coils backwards slightly, he looks like a man in the midst of a visit to the proctologist. He is in agony. Clearly a pinch-runner was needed, but none was proffered. Instead Buckner walked to first base. He didn't run, because it doesn't look like he could. Before he did, he said something to Aguilera (perhaps along the lines of "I'm still gonna be on the field when we win the World Series, nyahh, nyaah, nyaah,nyaah, nyaah, nyaah").

So while we're handing out roses to all the Mets who contributed to the bottom of the 10th rally, don't forget to praise Aguilera, because his hitting Buckner in just the right spot ensured that Boston's first baseman wouldn't be able to fully bend over to field a ground ball when it became necessary in the course of that frame.

(this is the second post of the day. You can read the other one if you keep scrolling)

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