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Didja Ever Notice: Rice Storm

It's a good thing those 3-way rumors between the Mets/Dodgers/Red Sox involving Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, and Jim Rice, never came to anything.

Otherwise, the Mets may never have won the 1986 World Series.

Jim Rice, a legit inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame played a significant role in Mets history, albeit one overlooked because of the actions of others.

Rice went 9-for-27 with 6 walks and 6 runs scored in his only World Series appearance. But most significant were his 0 RBI, and the runs he didn't score.

The Red Sox scored five runs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. If Rice was a little faster, they might have scored seven.

Rice had two chances to add to the Red Sox tally on a day in which he went 0-for-5. His first inning walk put runners on first and second with two outs. On a 1-1 pitch, Dwight Evans launched a double to left center field, plating the first run for Boston. Rice held at third after Len Dykstra played the carom off the fence perfectly. Rich Gedman flied out on the next pitch to limit the damage to one run.

"I have no idea how he didn't come home," Bob Ojeda told Jeff Pearlman in the book, The Bad Guys Won. Pearlman refers to the play as "a shameless display of lazy base running."

By the seventh inning, the score was tied, 2-2 and it was a frame that featured a pair of key mistakes. The first was an error by Mets third baseman Ray Knight on Rice's ground ball.

The second was Rice failing to score an insurance run, getting thrown out at home, after the Red Sox took the lead.

To his credit, Rice beat a throw to second base on a hit and run, allowing the Red Sox to go ahead initially, but his lack of fleetness afoot cost him. Rice had a good secondary lead, and a fast runner would no doubt have scored on a hit by Rich Gedman that took three hops before it reached Mookie Wilson in left field.

Wilson hit catcher Gary Carter a little off target with an on-the-fly throw, but Rice was moving at a glacial pace (In The Bad Guys Won, Pearlman quotes a story in Sports Illustrated saying "Rice cut the bag like a 16-wheeler turning into a McDonald's"), and once Carter caught the throw, he rode Rice to the inside, and tagged him out on the arm before the plate could be reached.

People also tend to forget who the last out was for Boston in the 10th inning of Game 6. It was Rice who, after the Red Sox had scored twice, flew out to right with a pair of men on to put an end to what was a disastrous half-inning for the Mets. Fortunately, some pretty good things happened just a few minutes later.

Rice hit .324 with 110 RBI in what was the last good season of a Hall-worthy career. He was an eight-time All-Star and one of the most feared hitters in the game for an extended period of time. But October 25, 1986 was not one of his better days, and for that, Mets fans should be quite thankful.


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