TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Could Game #6 give us another classic?

The champagne was on ice. Baseball officials were setting up the congratulatory phone call from the President of the United States. A makeshift stage was set-up in the Boston clubhouse.

And, for a few seconds, the Shea Stadium scoreboard flashed the message, “Congratulations Red Sox On Your World Series Victory.’’

The Red Sox never tasted champagne that night because in the words of Mets catcher Gary Carter, in describing what happened and also the essence of his sport, said, “none of us wanted to make the last out.’’

``It gets through Buckner ... ''

``It gets through Buckner ... ''

Carter might not have meant it as such, but he acutely described the beauty of baseball seen in no other sport. Football and hockey have sudden death, but mostly their games have a foreseeable ending when clock winds down.

Not so in baseball, which only ends with a last out.

Game 7 is the glamour game, but there’s more a sense of urgency, of tension, of finality in Game 6. Tonight marks the 23rd anniversary of the night Mookie Wilson’s ground ball went through the legs of Bill Buckner in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Eleven years earlier, Carlton Fisk’s homer in arguably one of the greatest World Series games ever, prolonged the 1975 Series with Cincinnati. The Mets played that night because they survived a memorable Game 6 less than two weeks earlier at Houston.

Whom will the fates choose tonight’s Game 6 between the Yankees and Angels?

Unfairly, but that’s how sports sometimes can be, today’s game could define a career as that play did the careers of Buckner and Wilson, who’ll forever be linked in time in the manner of Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson.

However, baseball history is rarely that precise and measurable. The Red Sox lost that night for several reasons, including Roger Clemens leaving the game with a blister and manager John McNamara mis-managing, Bob Stanley’s wild-pitch and Calvin Schiraldi’s bullpen meltdown.

Let us also not forget, that the 5-3 lead Boston kicked away in ten innings was their third blown lead of the game.

``Here comes Knight ... ''

``Here comes Knight ... ''

Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez flew out to open the inning, and as the story goes, the latter, not wanting to see the Red Sox celebrate, retreated to the manager’s office to watch the rest of the game on television.

“When you’re down two runs in the last inning against their ace reliever, it’s not the most comfortable feeling in the world,’’ Wilson said that night. “But you don’t give up. Two runs is not a great deficit to make up. How did we do it? Mirrors, maybe. Whatever, but we did it.’’

But Carter singled to left, and Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight followed with singles for one run. Enter Stanley, who promptly wild-pitched in the tying run.

Defeat for Boston was a formality, with Buckner’s slow roller only to delay the inevitable. Wilson still insists he would have beaten Buckner to the bag, and it was bearing down hard on the injured Red Sox first baseman, of whom it is often forgotten should have been removed for defense.

No, Buckner was not distracted by Wilson.

“I did concentrate on that ball,’’ Buckner said that night. “I saw the ball bounce and bounce, and then it didn’t bounce. It just skipped. It didn’t come up. I can’t remember any time I missed a ball like that, but I’ll remember that one.’’

So too, will history.

NOTE: This was posted early. I’d love for you to tell me what you remember from the Buckner game, the Houston Game 6, or anything on your mind. Then, keep it here for the Yankee game. Talk with you tonight.

106 thoughts on “TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Could Game #6 give us another classic?

  1. My Game Six memories revolve around that two-out rally in the fourth that was started by Kevin Millar and ended with the controversial three-run homer by Mark Bellhorn. I’ll never forget how that just sucked the air out of the Stadium. That and Schilling’s bloody sock.

  2. Tiffany (1): The staged Bloody Sock game? Wouldn’t leave anything past Schilling, one of the great shameless self-promotors of all time. What I will never understand is why the Yankees never bunted on Schilling. I would have bunted on him until his foot gave out.-JD

  3. Wild game in Pittsburgh. Two fourth-quarter returns for scores by the Steelers against Minnesota. The last was a tipped pass for a pick of 80-plus yards with the Vikings driving for the go-ahead score.-JD

  4. that was a crazy game and not good for the ravens of bmore…

    i was happy to see valentine didnt go to cleveland cause i wouldnt mind him managing the mets but for that to happen a slow start is necessary and im not rooting for that

  5. Looking back on it all, I think the 1986 Mets, who won the World Series that year, were just one of the coolest teams I ever saw play. They had a cast of characters on that team, that I’ve never seen equaled. Something for everyone – Thanks for the memory, John.

  6. Thank goodness for the Game 6 miracle, because it proved once and for all my girlfriend at the time wasn’t right for me. It was parents’ weekend where I was going to college and her folks joined my mother and me that night for dinner at a hotel restaurant. There was a TV in the dining room tuned to the game, so of course my attention was on every pitch. I couldn’t wait for the dinner to be over — and by the time the 6th inning rolled around, I got the sense my mom felt the same way.
    After enduring the evil eye from my then-girlfriend throughout the meal, we finished dinner I bolted to my mom’s hotel room, where mom and I witnessed the miracle. She jumped up and down on the bed when Knight crossed the plate, as I was jumping up and down on the floor. We hugged each other and we were jubilant as we walked down to the lobby, where we saw my then-girlfriend, unmoved by the whole thing.
    We had some challenges, but her not understanding how passionate I am about the Mets and how rare and special it was for the Mets to be in the World Series and her attitude was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.
    I broke up with her a couple of weeks later.
    Thirteen years after Game 6, I met a wonderful woman and one of our first dates was a Mets-Dodgers game. It was there at Dodger Stadium she uttered those magic three words that let me know, no doubt, this was the woman for me: “Let’s Go, Mets!”
    By the time Opening Day 2000 rolled around, I popped the question and the rest is history.

  7. Gil (7): These are important things to know. …. Jim will relate to that if he saw the movie Diner about rooting for the Colts in Baltimore.-JD

  8. In covering both the Mets and Yankees, I have come to learn Mets’ fans have a sense of unbridled passion for their team. There are passionate Yankees fans, too. But, there are so many with a sense of entitlement.-JD

  9. Gil (7) I particularly liked the jumping on the bed part of the story – do you still use that move for ensuring winning games?

  10. 10 Nah, Annie. My mom only jumped up and down on the bed AFTER the ball went through Buckner’s legs.

  11. Someone wanna explain why Guerrero was so far off first base on that shallow pop up that caused him to get doubled off first base?
    Did he forget who he’s playing against and what time of year this is?

  12. 13 Y’know, both the Mets and Red Sox deserve a lot of credit for their efforts in Game 7: The Sox for shaking off their collective meltdown and the Mets for sustaining the momentum after the rain out between Games 6 and 7.

  13. Gil (16): The Red Sox had a 3-0 lead in Game 7. They obviously blew that game, too. … Of course, the Mets were lucky to be there in the first place. The odds were the Mets wouldn’t have beaten Mike Scott in Game 7 of the Houston series.=JD

  14. SECOND INNING: The stats are so misleading when it comes to postseason hits because of the extra rounds of the playoffs. It’s possible these days to have 19 postseason games as opposed to seven back when Mantle played.-JD

  15. 17 I dunno, JD, about luck. The Mets fought hard as hell to win Game 6 in Houston and it’s unfair of Sox fans to blame their loss on Buckner. The Mets fought hard to win that one, too. Everyone from Gary Carter to Kevin Mitchell and Knight to Mookie deserves credit.
    As for the Sox, plenty of blame…
    1) Manager John McNamara for sending a hurt Buckner out there in the first place, instead of inserting Dave Stapleton, Buckner’s season-long defensive late-inning caddy.
    2) Closer (and ex-Met) Calvin Schiraldi, for not being able to slam the door.
    3) Wade Boggs, for letting Knight’s two- strike, slow grounder roll foul, instead of gunning the ball to first for what very well have been the third out and Series-ender.
    4) Bob Stanley, for that game-tying wild pitch.

  16. Gil (20): Absolutely. I touched on a few of those. Clemens could have gutted it out. Clemens could have also pitched in relief in Game 7. I forgot about the Boggs play. But, Buckner should’ve been replaced for defense. …. The Sox had two earlier leads they gave up. … I realize how the Mets gutted it out in Game 6, but they had it in their heads they couldn’t beat Scott. … Both Darling and Hernandez said as such.-JD

  17. THIRD INNING: A crappy at-bat. They should’ve have bunted him over. Aybar swung at five pitches in that at-bat. None in the strikezone.-JD

  18. Way to go, Bobby! Finally pulling the ball instead of playing pepper with Johnny Damon in left field.

  19. Neil Best reporting that Steve Phillips is out at ESPN.

    The network’s statement: “Steve Phillips is no longer working for ESPN. His ability to be an effective representative for ESPN has been significantly and irreparably damaged, and it became evident it was time to part ways.”

  20. 21 Kinda hard to beat a pitcher sandpapering baseballs to make them break like Wiffle Balls! :)
    What made Scott’s performances so hard to stomach was that he was atrocious before that, as a Met.

  21. 25 Only fair, Annie. I mean ESPN kicked Harold Reynolds to the curb after an intern he claims he merely hugged lodged a sexual harassment claim against him. HR is now a key part of MLB Network.

  22. Gil (26): They were convinced he was doing something. But, didn’t the Mets collect a bunch of balls, turn them over to MLB, which found nothing? Or maybe, they didn’t do anything.-JD

  23. 30 LOL! Uh…nada. Heard through the grapevine she’s a lawyer in Manhattan these days. Hope she’s happy in her life. :)

  24. 29 Interesting note on Mike Scott. The next time the Mets faced him after the ’86 post-season, on April 29, 1987, the Mets beat him, 2-1. Sid Fernandez out-pitched him and Keith Hernandez tagged Scott for a solo homer and an RBI single. Fernandez himself was 2-for-2 against Scott in that game…

  25. I’ve become very impressed with Mike Scoiscia and his managerial temperament over the past weeks. There’s a bit of charm involved.

  26. Just put him on! Why waste four pitches? Jeter’s too smart to chase bad pitches.

  27. Why go through all that just to walk him? Should’ve just put him on intentionally.

  28. Angels better watch Jeter on second. Wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to swipe third.

  29. Posada probably makes it on the first ballot, though, as long as he doesn’t go in the same year as Luis Sojo. I could definitely see Sojo stealing some of Posada’s votes.

  30. Sterling Hitchcock belongs in the Hall. It is a true miscarriage of justice that he has to wait year after year.

  31. 56 Tiffany, you’re killing me! LOL! Who’s next on your list? Brien Taylor? Luis Polonia?

  32. 62 Didn’t know about Mel Hall. He was almost a Met. He and Lee Smith were going to come to Shea just before the ’82 season for Lee Mazzilli. Cubs nixed the deal and the Mets instead traded Maz for Walt Terrell and Ron Darling.
    So funny how things turn out, isn’t it?

  33. SIXTH INNING: World Series starts Wednesday. Cliff Lee already named the starter for the Phillies. Against Sabathia if the Yankees win. Guessing Weaver if it is the Angels.-JD

  34. 65 IF the Angels are still in the game by then. Jeter walks on a borderline pitch, Damon gets a cheap hit and now Teixeira’s up.

  35. 70 Not re-signing Bradford was even dumber because Minaya gave Schoeneweis the same money and years Bradford was looking for.
    And let’s not forget Minaya’s dealing Heath Bell and getting two scrubs in return who didn’t contribute and then doing the same with Matt Lindstrom.
    Those guys sure helped out their new teams.
    And then Minaya traded Brian Bannister for fireballing, homicidal driving, girlfriend-abusing, psychopath Ambiorix Burgos to bolster the bullpen.
    Let’s add Minaya’s re-signing reliever (for two years!)Guillermo Mota AFTER he admitted to taking steroids, which likely helped him be so lights out for the Mets down the stretch in ’06.
    Last but not least, Minaya promotes Joe Smith from college and then Willie Randolph overworks him.

  36. 72 Taking out Mathis makes ZERO sense — unless he’s hurt, or Scioscia believes Napoli can tie the game with a bomb if the score’s still close when he comes up.

  37. Gil (75): The only one I don’t have a real problem with is Heath Bell. He didn’t make the most of his chance. But, in hindsight, they all blew up. Willie overworked Smith because he didn’t have many other options.-JD

  38. 77 OK, I’ll give you Heath Bell. He’s a SoCal dude who didn’t fit in in NY and didn’t seem to take to The Jacket’s and Willie’s tutelage. Guess Padres’ pitching coach Darren Balsley and manager Bud Black deserve the credit for getting through to him.

  39. Out of curiosity: Anyone out there know how hard is it to attempt a bunt single against Rivera’s cutter?

  40. EIGHTH INNING: McCarver is off base on that analysis. No way are the Angels trying to steal third down by two runs in the eighth inning. … Why was Cano there? I’m not sure, but I can’t believe the Angels were thinking steal in that situation.-JD

  41. Boy, Vlad’s head is really in this game, isn’t it? He gets doubled off first and now forgets that walks are issued only after four balls.

  42. OK, Vlad! Way to go. You got your head back in the game. Now…do you run for him at first?

  43. OK, the Angels may have just beaten themselves in this series for the last time. Is that the aroma of toast I smell?

  44. If the Angels lose this series, and that’s where it is heading, I’ll think about all the misplays and missed opportunities. For a team that prides itself on fundamentals and crisp play, the Angels have been sloppy this series. At times they really have reminded me of how the Mets were this series. Hell, if I’m the Yankees, I’ll keep bunting until the Angels get it right.-JD

  45. This is total BS. Is this being scripted? Are we watching a reality show about a team’s meltdown? How do both Kendrick and Kazmir make such ridiculous mistakes?
    This almost makes me believe in conspiracy theories about the mob and players fixing baseball games.

  46. 93 How about Brian Fuentes gift-wrapping that 0-2 fastball to A-Roid in Game 2, complete with a bow and a love note?

  47. Gil, loved your Game 6 story.
    My own story is this: I was watching and becoming increasingly disconsolate as the bottom of the inning progressed, and it appeared inevitable that the Mets were about to lose. I couldn’t bear to watch. I switched the VCR on to record and went into the kitchen, where my wife was holed up because she couldn’t bear to watch either. I asked her to take a look and see if it was all over; she snuck a peek back into the living room and said, “I don’t know…it looks like something happened.” I couldn’t imagine what it could be. I said, “What do you mean? They should be doing the post-game wrap up or showing the Red Sox celebrating” and she said “No, I’m telling you, it looks like the crowd is cheering.” I gingerly stuck my head around the corner — and the rest is history. I still have the VCR tape, with Vin Scully talking over a shot of a downtrodden looking Davey Johnson in the dugout, saying “When you’ve made a move that’s going to stick in your craw forever…”

  48. 96 Thanks for the kind words, Jeff. I like your story, too. If only you could’ve done what you did in ’86 in 2006…and speaking of not watching the ending…I really am in no mood to see The Corporation celebrate another paid-for pennant. Starting Wednesday, I’ll start a one-week stint as a Phillies fan. Good night, everyone!

  49. And so The Day has finally arrived – back in the World Series for the Yankees and all that means in the world of baseball. No one deserves more credit for this than Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera both on and off the field.

    Final Score: Yankees:5 Angels:2

    Next Game: Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium – Yankees vs. Phillies

    See you then.

  50. The Angels might have dangled the ALCS, but the Yankees took it, which is what championship teams do. The breaks did go the Yankees’ way, but World Series teams apply the pressure that makes those breaks.-JD

  51. As much as I would like to hate the Yankees, I can’t really bring myself to do it. I never liked Steinbrenner, but he’s hardly part of the equation anymore. Saying that they “bought” the pennant rings a little hollow when Mets fans complain bitterly that they don’t have a competitive team because the Wilpons lost money to Madoff or, in any event, won’t open the purse strings — even though they already have a higher payroll than nearly every other MLB team.

  52. Let’s count the horrors of today

    1) Yankees vs Phillies in the November classic
    2) Mets pull out of the bidding for Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Anybody remember how in 2007 the Mets outbid the Yankees in the Dice K posting sweepstakes…only to blown away by the Red Sox??
    3) Worst of all, Mets minor league 1B Rafael Castro, 18, died of an apparent heart attack.

    I was surprised that Brian Cole’s death in an auto accident happened why back in 2001. Googling it, I came across a “NY Times” article by Tyler Kepner saying “When the Mets thought of their future, they believed the two prospects they could count on were Cole and Alex Escobar”. Escobar did very little, except bring Roberto Alomar in a trade, which was also very little.

    Manny Acta beats out Bobby V as “former Mets 3rd base coach who gets a manager’s job”. What other Mets 3rd base coaches have become managers: Bud Harrelson, Sam Perlozzo? I don’t think Razor Shines will make the list.

  53. Jeff M (104) A reasonable man – which is why I always give careful consideration to your posts. I think sports fans are entitled to split loyaties due to issues that occur in every franchise, and in every sport. What we all want at the World Series level is the highest level of play and fairness – let’s hope that’s in the cards here.