Thirty years later, one team stands out more than any other team in the history of the New York Mets franchise. It was a team known for their bad boy personas. They were arrogant. They were cocky. They were vengeful. They were unapologetic in how they played and behaved. It was who they were and New York City loved them for it.
At Citi Field, members of the 1986 team walked down a red carpet onto the field Saturday (5-28) evening as fans stood and cheered. Tears were shed for Gary Carter, who lost his battle to cancer in 2012, as his wife and son waved to the fans representing the Hall of Famer.
Former players reminisced about how the game of baseball was played in comparison to today’s game. Rules be damned. If you messed with one of their own, you messed with all of them.
Fast forward to 2016 where the game is now played like little league.
It started with the ejection of Mets starting pitcher, Noah Syndergaard. Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman and forever Mets enemy, Chase Utley, was at the plate. Tensions were high with memories of his dirty takeout slide on Ruben Tejada last year in the National League Division Series. Fans were looking for some revenge.
Syndergaard stood tall on the mound. He knew what had to be done. If no one else would do it, he would. Protect your own, past and present. Send the message.
Pitch delivered. Ball went behind Utley. No contact. The fresh faced umpire walks around home plate. Syndergaard is ejected. No warning! Just tossed him without a thought. Must be a new jack. Syndergaard stood there stupified by what just occurred.
Mets manager Terry Collins was not standing for it. Red-faced and on a mission to protect his player, he ran out from the dugout and stood nose to nose with the umpire. He gets thrown out too. Collins did not back down. He was going to get his money’s worth. No question he did.
The 1986 players watched dumbfounded as it all unfolded before their very eyes. Players from yesteryear stood up for Syndergaard and this team.
Former stud pitcher, Doc Gooden, was so disgusted he left the ballpark. He told the NYPost:
“That’s weak. He didn’t hit the guy. He didn’t try to hurt him. Issue a warning, let ’em continue playing. What he did was right.”
They talked about what would’ve happened if it was one of their own. As a matter of fact, it did happen. Wally Backman told this story:
“I can remember Ozzie Smith coming in, taking me out at second base, and Doc saying, ‘You want me to get him for you?’ And I said, ‘No, that’s OK, just give me a double-play ball, I’ll try to get him myself.’”
Ray Knight said the ’86 team never would’ve waited so long for revenge. It would’ve been instant. There would’ve been a brawl right then and there when it happened.
Take out slides. Retaliation. All for one and one for all. No apologies. A simple, “You f*** with my teammate, you f*** with all of us.” It was a different time. It was the 80’s and it was hardcore baseball.
Watch Jesse Orosco recreate ’86 win with Gary Carter’s son, TJ Carter here.