The 1986 New York Mets were defined by their swashbuckling, we'll kick
your ass and like it arrogance, and scintillating talent. General Frank
Cashman built this World Championship team through incredible
drafts, selecting players like Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and
Lenny Dykstra and making superb trades, acquiring stars like Gary Carter,
Keith Hernandez, and Ray Knight, who had plenty left in the tank.
Cashman drafted and traded for players who were not only supremely
talented, but ones who had the moxie and thick skin to handle playing
in the pressure cooker that is New York City. This team feared no
one and played with reckless, and almost helter-skelter abandon.
In the clubhouse, they had a collection of "Idiots" long before Kevin
Millar rode into Boston with his "Cowboy Up" mantra and Johnny
Damon grew a beard and his hair long and played centerfield like Jesus.
The son of God did have a much better arm, though. The New York
version of the "Idiots", were reckless on and off the field. They
challenged and punished opponents, and weren't afraid to tell them
about it. After the games, they'd paint the Big Apple red and close
many a bar down, damn the consequences. During that championship
season, four members of the team were arrested after getting
into a bar brawl in Houston after a game.
That was then, but not much has changed now for many of the players who
brought the Mets the second World Championship in franchise history.
When I read that Roger McDowell, now the pitching coach for the Atlanta
Braves got into trouble for making homophobic comments to fans in
San Francisco and threatened to knock the teeth out of one of them, I
couldn't say I was surprised. McDowell, when he was a reliever with
the 1986 Mets, was half-clown and half-clutch performer. He ignited
a pack of matches taped to a teammates foot before the the game, then
put out fires during it. He was always playing pranks and pushing the envelope
with his antics. McDowell, will most likely be served with a big suspension,
or perhaps, even be fired from his job after an investigation is conducted
by Major League Baseball
This incident with McDowell came less than two weeks after Lenny Dykstra
found trouble with the law. "Nails" as he was called for his gutty, and fearless
style of play, was accused of of telling a masseuse to give him an on-the-spot
massage as part of the job interview. Oh yeah, he stripped down to nothing as
part of the "informational interview." "Nails" has turned into a total train wreck
over the past year, filing for bankruptcy, accused of fraud, charged with grand
larceny, and sued for failing to pay his bills. You can't make this stuff up.
What is it with the '86 Mets? Can anyone of us say that we're really
surprised that these guys are still doing stupid things and getting in trouble
with the law? Are most of them afflicted with the disease affecting a lot
of athletes known as "terminal adolescence". Or is it just "arrested
That team was made up of characters, but that should never be confused
with "character". It wasn't just McDowell and Dykstra who made headlines
over the years. Kevin Mitchell has been arrested for attempted rape and
battery, where he was charged with attacking someone at a golf course
in San Diego. Wally Backman, the gritty and gutty second baseman
of the championship team, lost a managing job with the Arizona
Diamondbacks after it was discovered he had an arrest for a DUI and
domestic battery on his record. Tim Teuffel is get sued for netting profits
in the Madoff ponzi scheme. Dwight Gooden has been in and out of
prison so many times, he's starting to look more familiar in an orange
jumpsuit, than his baseball uniform. And Darryl Strawberry's struggles
have been well-chronicled: Tax cheat, drug and alcohol problems,
domestic abuse, it's just crazy.
Oh, teams still have players who get in trouble with the law. Where there is
Pac-Man Jones, there is usually an arrest. Perhaps, the Cincinnati Bengals
are the modern day version of the Mets, except the only thing they capture
are the headlines for their plethora of players arrested. They are a
terrible team, at least the Mets won a championship.
The '86 Mets weren't the first team made up of players with questionable
character who had problems long after their they hung their spikes up,
and they certainly won't be the last. They had players "with the guts of
a burglar", who played with no fear, and said damn the consequences. And
it appears that's how many of them are playing in the game of life.