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Live Demonstration of How My Brain Works, Retro Edition

Trust me that this was much more fun than watching Friday's game...the details of which are buried at the bottom, if you're really interested...

Just got a review copy of the new DVD "The New York Mets Essential Games of Shea Stadium," a 6-disc set from A&E Home Video, for which my only complaint is that there's no way to know which discs contain which "extras" (and there are a good number of "extras.") Games included, in full original broadcast are
- Game 4 of the 1969 WS
- Game 3 of the 1986 NLCS
- Game 6 of the 1986 WS
- Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS
- September 21, 2001 (Piazza HR in 1st game back)
- May 19, 2006 (Mets beat Yankees on Wright walk-off)

I have some quibbles with the selections, but I have a pretty good collection of Mets video, so I'm not going to be as annoyed that Benny Agbayani's walk-off home run and Bobby Jones 1-hit NLDS clinching shutout aren't included, even amongst the many extras (some might be).

Instead, I'll move on to the business at hand, a live blog of me watching Game 3 of the 1986 NLCS...

End of 1/2 inning- Astros 2, Mets 0
Ron Darling looked a little nervous. A couple of things unusual for him, in that he hit a batter, and yielded a stolen base. Darling had only hit three batters all season (remember his 1983 debut, when he hit Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, and Joe Morgan?), and with Gary Carter catching had allowed only 17 stolen bases in 32 attempts.

Strike zone from Frank Pulli looks pretty big, particularly down around the feet. We'll see if that's a factor.

End 1st inning- Astros 2, Mets 0

The broadcast crew of Keith Jackson and Tim McCarver mentioned that Bob Knepper pitched a shutout against the Mets. He was one of only four pitchers to do so, with all four going the distance in their home ballpark.

Pitched shutout vs 1986 Mets
Regular Season/Postseason

Bob Knepper Astros
Kevin Gross Phillies
Bob Sebra Expos
Mike Scott Astros<< >> Postseason

McCarver is really into minutiae-dropping. He's already fired off two odd nuggets, presumably obtained from Elias. Kevin Mitchell the first player to play six positions in a season since Alan Bannister in 1984 (2 years ago), and Astros shortstop Craig Reynolds is one of two members of the team to be an All-Star in both leagues (Phil Garner being the other).

End of 1 1/2 innings- Astros 4, Mets 0
Bill Doran's homer makes it 4-0 and that's troublesome. The Astros went 5-1 during the regular season when Doran homered. But somewhat comforting: Ron Darling made 8 starts during the 1986 regular season in which he gave up at least 4 runs. The Mets went 4-4 in those 8 games.

End of 2 innings- Astros 4, Mets 0
Darryl Strawberry noted as being 2-for-20 against Bob Knepper in regular-season play. Dig a little deeper and you'll see that he was 0-for-10 with 5 strikeouts during the 1986 regular season. Add the first playoff AB and that's 0-11 with 6 K. Yikes.

Cheat a little bit and delve into the future. Of the 38 pitchers whom Strawberry faced 35+ times in his MLB career, his lowest batting average was .140 against Bob Knepper.

End of 2 1/2 innings- Astros 4, Mets 0

The Astros now have 3 stolen bases. Darling, who we mentioned did a good job of nailing baserunners with Gary Carter behind the plate, had 2 regular-season games in which he allowed 3 steals.

Rick Aguilera has been warming almost since game's beginning, and it would be pretty disappointing if he came in the game this early. Ron Darling made it into the 4th inning of every start this season.

End of 3 innings- Astros 4, Mets 0

Mets look pretty meek against Bob Knepper, whose shutout of the Mets was referenced earlier. Knepper and Mike Scott led the NL with 5 shutouts in the regular season, and Scott had the shutout in Game 1. The only pitcher with more shutouts than those two was Jack Morris, who had 6 for the Tigers.

End of 4 innings- Astros 4, Mets 0

Better inning for Darling, who does in fact get through 4 innings. Meanwhile, they announced Mike Scott was just confirmed as the Game 4 starter for the Astros. He'd pitch on 3 days rest, not uncommon for him, but of benefit to the Mets that he does start. His ERA in 13 regular-season starts in 1986 was 2.60. His ERA in 17 starts on 4 days rest was 1.96.

Bob Knepper gets his nemesis Ray Knight to squash the Mets 2-on, 2-out threat. Knight, the opposite of Strawberry when it comes to facing Knepper, though his success was halted by a 2-for-10 against him in 1986. Again, future gaze...Of the 22 pitchers Knight faced at least 35 times in his career, his highest batting average was .391 against Knepper.

End of 4 1/2 innings, Astros 4, Mets 0

Nearly a web gem for Ray Knight, going into the Astros dugout to try to make a catch. That led to Tim McCarver telling a story of how Phillies manager Gene Mauch knocked a ball out of Jerry Grote's glove, when Grote was involved in a similar play during the 1966 season, and it led to a rule change in which a team could not interfere with a fielder, even if he went into their dugout to make a catch. The story was mentioned in Mauch's obituary in 2005, though a date for the incident was not cited. Darryl Strawberry closes the inning with a quasi-web gem, a fine running catch in the rightfield corner.

End of 5 innings- Astros 4, Mets 0

The offense looks pretty anemic against Bob Knepper at this point, but it's worth the possible foreshadowing to note that the Mets won 25 percent of their games in which they trailed entering the top of the 6th inning, so it's not totally a mission impossible situation.

End of 5 1/2 innings- Astros 4, Mets 0

Good piece of trivia worth noting from the ABC graphics folks. Rick Aguilera, who pitched a scoreless 6th, actually had the lowest ERA of all the Mets regular starters after the All-Star Break (2.76) and tied for the team-high in wins with Dwight Gooden (8). The man he relieved, Ron Darling, was second in ERA, at 2.78. Interesting that Sid Fernandez had a 4.69 ERA post 1986 All-Star Break. Forgot about that.

End of 6 innings- Astros 4, Mets 4

Wow, what an inning...

Kevin Mitchell got it started with a leadoff single. The Mets leadoff hitters had reached base twice (1 hit and 1 walk) in the first 22 innings of the series. That's a far cry from the regular season, when they reached base 31.6 percent of the time.

Craig Reynolds averaged an error every 98 innings in 1986 but picked a bad time to make one, on the pitch prior to Strawberry's home run. Might've changed the whole inning if he'd picked it clean.

Darryl Strawberry: 1st Mets postseason HR since Rusty Staub homered in Game 4 of the 1973 World Series. The Mets had not homered in their previous 5 postseason games.

Top of 7th ongoing, Astros 4, Mets 4

They repeat a stat I'd heard before. Darryl Strawberry went 0-for-45 at Shea Stadium in the month of August. Good thing they play postseason games in October.

They also bring up a new stat I'd never heard before. Entering this game, no team had ever rallied from 3 or more runs down to win an NLCS game.

End of 6 1/2 innings, Astros 5, Mets 4

Ah, they giveth and taketh with equal force. Ray Knight averaged an error every 71 innings during the regular season, and he makes a costly one on a bunt that leads to the Astros getting the lead back.

Good thing the Astros didn't pad their league, or else Dutch Rennert would have faced some grief over blowing that close call at first base (batter out, called safe). Future gaze...they'd make up for it with a call in the Mets favor (batter safe, called out) 2 games later.

End of 7 innings, Astros 5, Mets 4

Len Dykstra enters as a pinch-hitter and strikes out. Twas an interesting choice to go lefty-lefty there, but he's 3-for-6 against Knepper coming in, and I guess they want to get Dykstra into the game presuming that the Astros will go to Kerfeld/Smith to try to close this game out. Davey Johnson still has Danny Heep and Howard Johnson left on the bench. Hernandez got a good swing to try to put the Mets ahead, but the wind killed that last out and made it easy for Hatcher to catch.

End of 7 1/2 innings, Astros 5, Mets 4

Future gaze: Jesse Orosco, who entered to start the top of the 8th, went 2-2 for his career in 36 career appearances against the Astros. He went 3-0 against them in the 1986 NLCS. How funny.

End of 8 innings, Astros 5, Mets 4

The Mets won 2 games during the regular season in which they trailed entering the 9th inning. They'll have to do it again. Problem is, the meat of the order ain't gonna be hitting.

Web gem for Charlie Kerfeld too...and he rubbed it in to Carter by showing the ball. Wonder if there will be payback for that at some point.

End of 8 1/2 innings, Astros 5, Mets 4

Reasons to believe:

The Mets had 39 comeback wins in the regular season.

Dave Smith had 6 blown saves in 1986, including 1 against the Mets.

Bottom of 9th ongoing, Astros 5, Mets 4

Don't know if this is an official tally, but Baseball-Reference has 9 bunt hits for Wally Backman in 1986. Good time to get one.

If Danny Heep tries to bunt, it will be his first bunt attempt since he reached on an error in that kooky 16-13, July 4, 1985 win against the Braves, and could be his first successful bunt since September 24, 1984.

Unproductive out by Heep, flying to centerfield. Dykstra coming up...

FINAL SCORE, METS 6, ASTROS 5

What do I put in my books?

* Len Dykstra hits the 15th walk-off home run in postseason history, the first for the Mets.

* It's the first time in postseason history (to that point) that the walk-off home run came with the team trailing. Important reminder: Bobby Thomson's 1951 walk-off home run to clinch the pennant is not considered a postseason home run. The only two other such homers to occur since Dykstra hit his are pretty well known. They were hit by Kirk Gibson (1988) and Joe Carter (1993) in the World Series.

* Dave Smith had only allowed 1 walk-off home run in his career to that point, having been beat 3-2 by an Eric Davis 2-run walk-off home run on June 18, 1986. He'd later allow two more in the regular season- including one to Kevin McReynolds in the first game of a doubleheader on May 6, 1990.

* It is in fact the first game in NLCS history in which a team came back from 3+ runs down to win. The Mets would replicate that in Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS.

* Len Dykstra had never hit a walk-off home run to that point in his career. In fact, the famous quote is that his last walk-off home run came while playing Strat-O-Matic with his brother. Dykstra's career spanned 1,310 regular season and postseason games. That was his only walk-off home run.

* The home run made Dykstra 3-for-3 with a double and a home run for his career against Smith (2-for-2 in regular season). Dykstra ended up 4-for-6 against Smith in regular season play, but with no home runs.

Slight quibble with DVD...There was a post-game interview with Dykstra. I've seen it and have it on tape. The DVD concludes without showing that interview.

True Metkstras know...That the Mets walk-off loss on Friday night was walk-off loss #373 (postseason included) all-time and their second in 2008.

* It was the Mets first walk-off loss against the Rockies since July 24, 1996 (!) and their 5th walk-off loss against the Rockies overall. Be forewarned that the other 4 walk-off losses were pairs...ie the Mets lost on April 26 and 27, 1995, and July 23-24, 1996. That doesn't bode well for Saturday.

* The Mets fell to 9-10 in games in which their starting pitcher walked at least 8 (glad I didn't see that!), which actually is a pretty good record under those circumstances.

* The last player to get a game-tying RBI in the 9th inning and a walk-off RBI in extra innings of the same game, against the Mets, was Ryan Langerhans for the Braves, on September 7, 2005. In fact, in Mets history, this has only happened 3 TIMES.

Walk-Off RBI vs Mets

Also had game tying RBI in 9th inning

Matt Holliday 2008 Rockies

Ryan Langerhans 2005 Braves

Milt May 1974 Astros

* Now that the Rockies have ended their near 12-year drought, which NL teams are on the clock to walk-off against the Mets?

Longest Time Since Last Walk-Off Win vs Mets

NL Teams

Giants May 11, 2001

Nationals April 13, 2093

Diamondbacks August 9, 2003

Comments

Stormy said…
I had no idea this existed! I have the '86 WS box set.

You should list all of the games you have on tape, if possible. I'd love to see that list.
Anonymous said…
For copyright purposes, the webmaster can't sell any tapes, Stormy. There are trading sites for sports collectors online.
As for 1986, has it ever seemed any further away than right now? Yanks in a resurgence. Phils and Braves ahead of the Mets. The Mets look like a team that could go 1,000 years and never win again. Poorly run franchise. Too many mental errors. Manager without a clue.
Sad sad sad.
-- JBF

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