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A Heightened Perspective

Awhile back I was granted a unique perspective on Len Dykstra's walk-off home run that won Game 3 of the 1986 NLCS. A colleague of mine showed me some footage from a camera positioned in, of all places, the upper deck in right field. When given the chance to peek at this discovery, I took careful notes, such that I can almost tell you what it was like to be there (even though I wasn't). Here's some of what I jotted down in the form of both suggestions and observations.

Why is it that the No. 7 train still looks exactly the same as it did nearly 20 years ago? (the footage opened with a shot of a train passing just prior to the start of the last of the ninth)

They should bring back "Let's Go Mets!" as the ninth-inning rally theme music. It works much better than "I Need a Hero" or the theme from "Rocky." Speaking of which, whatever happened to "The Curly Shuffle?"

On that note, bringing back the Rally Cap might be something fun and retro for the 2006 Mets to do to celebrate the 1986 team. A quick pan of the crowd shows at least half a dozen fans with their hats turned inside out, and I'm guessing that there were a few appearances of such in the dugout. Since people nowadays treat their hats like gold (if you're gonna pay $25 for one, I guess you might as well), perhaps it would make for a neat freebie. The Mets do a specialized hat giveaway each year. How about giving away rally caps in 2006?

What I really wanted to get to was the end of the video segment. It's hard to do the description justice, but I'm guessing this will be more intriguing to you than my rehashing the details of the game.

It's an incredible visual to watch the sequence from pitch to swing to celebration on the final moment of the game. Bob Murphy described the swing as a golf-like and you can even tell from what must be around the top of section 39 or 41 that Dykstra was a little off-balance, and out in front of Dave Smith's pitch.

Most Shea Stadium home runs are really cranked. If you're a veteran viewer of Mets games, you can almost always tell from the swing whether or not it's going to be a home run, a long out, or a double off the wall (I was wrong twice this year...on Cliff Floyd's foul 'home run' vs the Angels, a few pitches before his walk-off, and on Brian Schneider's game-tying double off Braden Looper in the game in which the Mets blew an 8-0 lead, but still won).

The Dykstra shot is pretty neat because no one knew the ball was going to go out. Keith Jackson's reaction on TV was mild at first. Murphy hesitated on it, never going into home-run call mode..."And a high fly hit to right field (can of corn)...it is fairly deep (maybe a double)....it's way back (wow, look at it carry)...it's by the wall (perhaps?)" The Astros radio broadcaster, Milo Hamilton seemed rather surprised..."Fly ball right field...this ball is deep...this ball is..." I can vividly recall that the reactions of my dad and I were delayed as well.

But nothing I've seen quite nails the viewpoint from the upper deck in right field. From where those people sat, they had no idea. The ball shoots skyward off the bat, on what appears to be a loop. It gets pretty good height, but there's no way from these seats to gauge either distance or legitimacy. The ball goes up, climbing and climbing and then it parachutes down, and out of view. From contact to descent, takes about six seconds in real time, but the real fun comes in the two seconds after the ball drops out of view. No one has any idea what is happening. Did Kevin Bass reel it in? Did the ball carom off the fence? That kind of susepense is more than most fans can take. I'm glad our usual seats are right off home plate.

Suddenly One fan jumps up , screams, and raises his arms. There are a few more yelps. Reality sets in and it's a scene of Flushing bedlam. Pretty cool stuff, I must say.

True Metstras know...Including the postseason, Len Dykstra went 5-for-7 in his career against Astros reliever Dave Smith.

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