When things are as bad as they have been with the Mets, one might as well look back at a good time. Last night’s loss was typical of how this season has gone, from poor managing to inept playing.
However, on this date in 1986, the Mets clinched the NL East with a 4-2 win over Chicago at Shea Stadium on a Dwight Gooden 6-hitter. The Mets went on to win 108 games that season, the most in the league since the 1975 Reds.
The Mets survived the NLCS with a dramatic Game Six victory over Houston, and used Game Six in the World Series to stay alive – “and the ball gets by Buckner” – to beat Boston.
Two years earlier on this date, Gooden struck out 16 batters for the second straight start, but balked home the winning run in the 8th inning in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies. It marked the fifth straight start in which Gooden struck out at least 10.
I saw Gooden pitch several times and there was such an electricity at Shea whenever he took the ball. Every start you wondered if this would be the one where he’d throw a no-hitter. He never did for the Mets, but did for the Yankees.
If you have a favorite Gooden moment, or memory of the 1986 team, let’s hear them.
SHEA: Honor its legacy.
There is one remaining wall of what was Shea Stadium that’s still standing. I know it won’t happen, because such decisions are never made on the fly, but I’d like to see it remain standing. It would make a great gesture to the past.
However, the Mets could still honor their Shea history by outlining a replica of the playing field in the parking lot and denote where some of the most memorable plays occurred with statues. Such of Seaver on the mound when he struck out 19 Padres, or Buckner, or the Swododa and Agee catches, of Cleon catching the final out of the 69 Series.
In Atlanta, the Braves have a replica of an outfield wall and mark where Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record, so it’s not like this hasn’t been done before.
Preserve Shea memories
You can still see her, Shea Stadium, when you drive to LaGuardia. Pretty soon, she’ll only be in photographs and memories.
What is now Shea Stadium will become a parking lot, which is how these things work, but I wish there would be a way to prevent an old Volvo from leaking oil on the site where the ball got by Buckner, or where Cleon Jones caught the final out of the 1969 World Series, or where Tommie Agee made those catches, or the mound where Tom Seaver excelled for so many years.
Go ahead, make it a parking lot, but on those spots and others, block off the area and preserve it with a plaque, or small statue, or something that reminds future generations something special happened here.
I called Mets the other day and asked them their plans, and was told they don’t know what they plan, yet. I just hope they don’t get so caught up in the new place that they fail to preserve some special memories.