Monday, October 27, 2014

How Long It's Been: The Mets Won a World Series

October 27, 1986: The New York Mets beat the Boston Red Sox 8-5, at Shea Stadium, to win Game 7 and take the World Series.

They haven't won another title since. Indeed, they've only won 1 more World Series game, and only reached the National League Championship Series 3 times.

It's been exactly 28 years. That's 336 months, or 1,456 weeks, or 9,947 days. On December 19, 2014, it will have been 10,000 days. Ten thousand days.

For now, it's been 28 years since The Other Team won a World Championship.

Here's how it compares to the New York Tri-State Area's teams:

1. New York Giants: 2 years, 8 months, 23 days.
2. New York Yankees: 4 years, 11 months, 23 days.
3. New Jersey Devils: 11 years, 4 months, 19 days.
4. New York Rangers: 20 years, 4 months, 13 days.
5. New York Mets: 28 years, 0 months, 0 days.
6. New York Islanders: 31 years, 5 months, 10 days.
7. Brooklyn Nets: 38 years, 5 months, 14 days.
8. New York Knicks: 41 years, 5 months, 17 days.
9. New York Jets: 45 years, 9 months, 15 days.

(Of course, in the Nets' case, that's only if you count the ABA. If you don't, then it's actually never.)

Since the Mets were last even in their sport's finals, 14 years ago, the Yankees and Devils have each made it 3 times, the Giants and Nets twice, and even the Rangers once. Though the Jets, Knicks and Islanders haven't.

Without a title, 28 years. How long has that been?

*

Of the 25 players on their World Series roster, 24 are still alive. Only Gary Carter has died. It's (pardon the choice of words) an Amazing thing that none of the other '86 Mets has died. Accidents and illnesses can happen, before you consider the substance abuse issues of Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra and, lest we forget why Whitey Herzog chased him out of St. Louis, Keith Hernandez. Not to mention the eating habits some of them developed. (Seriously, Hernandez and Ron Darling put on a lot of weight. Ironically, the fattest guy on the team, Sid Fernandez, has lost weight. He looked great the last time I saw him.)

For perspective: While all members of the 1996 and 2000 World Champion Yankees are still alive, they've also lost 1 member of their 1998 and 1999 World Champions, to suicide: Hideki Irabu. In contrast, from their 1978 World Champions, 3 of them -- Thurman Munson to a plane crash, Catfish Hunter to Lou Gehrig's Disease, and Jim Spencer to a heart attack -- died within 24 Opening Days of that title.

When the Mets won the 1986 World Series, they beat the Boston Red Sox, who hadn't won the Series in 68 years. The Chicago White Sox hadn't won in 69. The Giants hadn't won since moving to San Francisco, the Braves since moving to Atlanta, the Twins since moving to Minnesota. The team then known as the California Angels, the Toronto Blue Jays had never won. The Blue Jays and the Houston Astros hadn't yet won a Pennant.

The Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers had never even made the Playoffs. The Montreal Expos hadn't moved to become the Washington Nationals. The Colorado Rockies, the Miami Marlins, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays hadn't yet begun play. MLB hadn't yet seen a stadium with a retractable roof, or Interleague play, or, with 1 exception in the mid-1960s, a player from an Asian country. All of those things have since happened.

Comiskey Park (built in 1910), Tiger Stadium (1912), the original Yankee Stadium (1923) and Cleveland Municipal Stadium (1931) were all still standing and hosting Major League Baseball. They're all gone now. Only 6 ballparks in use then are still being used: Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, the Oakland Coliseum, and both Los Angeles-area parks, Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium. And all of those 6 (some more so than others) have undergone, or (in the case of Wrigley) are undergoing, major renovations.

In addition to the old Yankee Stadium, the Mets have replaced Shea Stadium, the Giants and Jets have moved out of Giants Stadium, the Devils and Nets have moved out of the Meadowlands Arena, and the Islanders are about to move out of the Nassau Coliseum. The Knicks and Rangers haven't moved, but Madison Square Garden has undergone 2 major renovations.

There was an NFL team in St. Louis, but it was the Cardinals, not the Rams. There was an NFL team in Houston, but it was the Oilers, not the Texans. The Rams and the Raiders were both in Los Angeles, and both have left. Baltimore was without a team. Phoenix was trying to get one (supposedly, they nearly got the Eagles a couple of years earlier), and so was Jacksonville, but they hadn't yet. Charlotte wasn't even trying to get in the picture: The best stadium within 50 miles of downtown had just 21,000 seats and was already 50 years old. (It was American Legion Memorial Stadium. Oddly, it still stands, although one side of it has been replaced.)

The NBA was planning an expansion, but hadn't yet selected Charlotte, Miami, Orlando and Minnesota. The NHL still had teams in Quebec City and Hartford. There was a team in Minnesota, but it was the North Stars, not the Wild. The Edmonton Oilers ruled the league, the Islanders weren't that far off of their dynasty, and the Rangers had just reached the Conference Finals. The Devils? At the time, they were a joke, and the idea that the Devils would win a 1st Stanley Cup, let alone a 3rd, before the Mets won a 3rd World Series would have gotten you laughed out of the room.

Edd Roush, star of the Cincinnati Reds team that won the 1919 World Series (with a little "help" from 7 Chicago White Sox), was still alive. So were 1926 St. Louis Cardinals player Specs Toporcer, 1930s Yankee stars Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Frank Crosetti, and 1930s Giants stars Bill Terry and Carl Hubbell.

The defining players of my childhood had either hung 'em up or were in the process of doing so. Carl Yastrzemski and Johnny Bench retired 3 years earlier. Tom Seaver was playing out the string -- ironically, for the Red Sox against the Mets in the World Series, although he did not appear. Pete Rose never really announced his retirement, but he had played his last game a few weeks earlier. Reggie Jackson and Steve Carlton would play 1 more year, Mike Schmidt 3.

Derek Jeter was 12 years old, Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz were 11, Albert Pujols and CC Sabathia were 6, Robinson Cano had just turned 4; David Wright, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera were 3; Matt Kemp was 2, and Felix Hernandez was 1. Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper weren't born yet. Neither were 24 of the players on the Mets' current 40-man roster.

Current Mets manager Terry Collins was managing in the Dodgers' minor-league system. Joe Girardi had just graduated from Northwestern University, and was playing minor-league baseball. Tom Coughlin of the Giants was coaching wide receivers for the Green Bay Packers. Rex Ryan of the Jets was a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky University. Lionel Hollins of the Nets was an assistant coach at Arizona State. Alain Vigneault of the Rangers was coaching a junior hockey team, the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs. Peter DeBoer of the Devils was playing for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. Jack Capuano of the Islanders was playing for the University of Maine. And Derek Fisher of the Knicks was 12 years old.

The team the Mets dethroned as World Series winners was the Kansas City Royals. The other defending World Champions were the Chicago Bears, the Boston Celtics and the Montreal Canadiens. Between them, those 4 teams have won just 2 titles since (the 1993 Canadiens and the 2008 Celtics). The Heavyweight Champion of the World was Michael Spinks, but Mike Tyson was coming.

The Olympic Games have since been held in America and Canada twice each, Korea, France, Spain, Norway, Japan, Australia, Greece, Italy, China, Britain and Russia.
The President of the United States was Ronald Reagan. George H.W. Bush was Vice President. His son George W. had recently quit drinking (or so he says), but was still a 40-year-old businessman who couldn't find oil in Texas, and had run for office once and lost, having failed at everything he'd ever done to that point. Bill Clinton, the same age, was about to be elected to his 4th term as Governor of Arkansas. Barack Obama was at Harvard Law School. Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, their wives, and the widows of Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy were all still alive. (Mr. and Mrs. Carter still are.)

The Governor of New York was Mario Cuomo, and his son Andrew was one of his aides; he's the Governor now. The Governor of New Jersey was Tom Kean, while current Governor Chris Christie was at Seton Hall University School of Law. The Mayor of New York, uh, was, uh, Ed Koch. Current Mayor Bill de Blasio was working for the City's Department of Juvenile Justice.

The Pope was John Paul II. The Prime Minister of Canada was Brian Mulroney. The monarch of Great Britain was Queen Elizabeth II -- that hasn't changed -- and the Prime Minister was Margaret Thatcher. England's Football League title and its FA Cup were both won by Liverpool; for all that club's achievements, this is the only time they've ever won both in the same year, the only time they've "done The Double."

Major novels of 1986 included The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising and Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Supremacy. Major films released in the fall of 1986 included Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Hoosiers, Blue Velvet, Crocodile Dundee, Children of a Lesser God, Peggy Sue Got Married, The Mosquito Coast, An American Tail, and the film that finally got Paul Newman the Oscar for Best Actor, the sequel to the film that should have, The Hustler: The Color of Money.

Saturday Night Live did a parody of it, The Hustler of Money, turning Newman's Fast Eddie Felson and Tom Cruise's Vincent Lauria into bowlers. Newman and Cruise were both played by newcomers to the show, Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey, respectively. Kevin Nealon had also recently debuted on the show. The Fox Network had just become the 4th major network, and The Oprah Winfrey Show had just gone to national syndication after 2 years as a Chicago-only show. Shows debuting that fall included L.A. Law, Head of the Class, Matlock, Designing Women, ALF, It's Garry Shandling's Show and Pee-wee's Playhouse.

The Smiths broke up. Metallica's bus crashed, killing bass guitarist Cliff Burton. The Beastie Boys released License to Ill, and every teenager who'd ever said, "What a drag!" about his parents failed to realize that "You Gotta Fight for Your Right (To Party)" was a joke, a parody of that kind of teenage boy. Cyndi Lauper released True Colors, Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet, Slayer Reign In Blood, and Stryper To Hell With the Devil.

Michael Jackson was recording his album Bad. Paul McCartney had a hit with the theme from the Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd film Spies Like Us. Bob Dylan was getting bad reviews for his album Knocked Out Loaded. Frank Sinatra had recently collapsed onstage in Atlantic City, and was diagnosed with diverticulitis.

There were home computers and desktop computers, but they were still pretty bulky. The idea of a computer fitting on your lap, let alone in your pocket, was ridiculous. Hardly anybody had heard of the Internet, and there was no World Wide Web, to say anything of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wikipedia, Pinterest or Vine. And portable phones were still of the large "brick" variety.

In the fall of 1986, Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met in a summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. Queen Elizabeth became the 1st British monarch to visit China. Novelist and historian Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of his fellow Holocaust survivors -- and was invited to throw out the ceremonial first ball at one of the World Series games at Shea Stadium.

The M25 motorway, London's answer to a capital beltway, was completed. Earthquakes shook Greece and El Salvador. Former supermodel Gia Carangi died of AIDS. So did Jerry Smith, a former tight end for the Washington Redskins, who never came out of the closet during his lifetime.

The Democrats regained control of the U.S. Senate. And just 1 week after the Mets won the World Series, it was revealed that Reagan had sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of American and other Western hostages. A few days after that, it was revealed that the money made from these sales had gone to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. Either was an impeachable offense; had Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama done these things, conservatives would have wanted them impeached, imprisoned and hanged, not necessarily in that order. But it was Reagan who did it, and he completely got away with it.

Vyacheslav Molotov, and Cary Grant, and Hank Greenberg died. Emilia Clarke, and Shaun White, and Olivier Giroud were born. So were a pair of murderers, Oscar Pistorius and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. And, on the very day the Mets won it, one of their current pitchers, Jon Niese, was born.

October 27, 1986. The last time the New York Mets won the World Series.

And I truly do mean the last time. It will never happen again.

Curse of Kevin Mitchell, people.

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