#24 – Mookie Wilson: Rewatching Game 6

Opening Day 2011 will be the 50th Opening Day in Mets history. To honor that, around here we’ll be counting down the top 50 Mets in team history, one every weekday from now until we’ve done ‘em all. Today, #24, Mookie Wilson:

Some random thoughts about this at bat from my mostly modern perspective:

1. Bob Stanley is working fast, at least when compared to the baseball I’m used to watching. Keep in mind that this is Game 6 of the World Series, Boston is one out (and at times one strike) away from clinching, and there are men on base the entire time. I would assume that at least one of these things should be slowing Stanley down, but he goes ahead playing hot potato anyway. I have him timed at about 17 seconds between pitches — that pace would make him one of the ten quickest workers among today’s pitchers. Was Stanley a particularly fast worker, or was everyone pitching that quickly 25 years ago? Or is it just that Mookie Wilson never steps out on him?

2. Wilson doesn’t have an earflap on his batting helmet — earflaps were made mandatory for new players three years earlier, but older players could continue using flapless (unflappable?) helmets. Roger Clemens started this game for the Red Sox. I would not want to face Roger Clemens, but I particularly would not want to face Roger Clemens if I didn’t at least have an earflap protecting my skull.

3. You can see the “25th anniversary” patch on Wilson’s sleeve. I have trouble with the anniversary thing myself, but I’m pretty sure someone did the math wrong on that one: 1986 was the Mets’ 25th season, but it wasn’t their 25th anniversary. They’re not the same thing. The Mets began life in 1962, so if you assume 1963 was the team’s 1st anniversary, then 1972 would be their 10th anniversary and 1982 would be their 20th anniversary, which means 1983 is the 21st anniversary, 1984 is their 22nd, 1985 is the 23rd . . . and 1986 is their 24th anniversary. Similarly, 2011 is the Mets’ 50th season, but 2012 will be celebrated as their 50th anniversary. So I think they jumped the gun on that 25th anniversary party. I’m too young — did people mention that at the time?

4. After Kevin Mitchell scores, a large amount of what appears to be toilet paper falls on the field (3:05 mark). Just, you know: toilet paper on the field!

5. You can’t actually see this in the video, but color commentator Joe Garagiola points out that Marty Barrett had Ray Knight picked off at second base, after Mitchell scored. Stanley never looks back, and I don’t think he ever bothers to check on a runner during the entire at bat. That was a pretty masterful choke job on all fronts, wasn’t it?

6. Watch the way that ground ball bounces — Wilson hits the top of the ball, it bounces once near home plate, takes a big hop with a lot of top spin, and then jumps on the second bounce. It’s not the easiest play, and it’s not really a slow roller, as it’s sometimes described.

7. Wilson would claim that he was going to beat out the ground ball anyway. Bill Buckner was suffering from an ankle injury at the time, and Wilson was obviously busting out of the box. It certainly would have been close, but it’s not really important. Had Buckner fielded the ball cleanly, Knight would have had to stop at third, keeping the game tied. But, you know, he didn’t.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “#24 – Mookie Wilson: Rewatching Game 6

  1. 8. The NES/RBI Baseball recreation of this half-inning is one of the greatest things ever.

    9. Gedman should have gotten a passed ball on that play. And really, Stanley gets a bit of an unfair rap for this whole meltdown; Schiraldi was really Mrs O’Leary’s Cow here.

    10. Not for nothing – these are both blah uniforms. Imagine the Mets in their cream and blue home duds and Boston with their ’04 road greys, with the red numbers (though I could do without the player names on back).

    • Patrick Flood

      The pitch wasn’t that far inside. Wilson falls down trying to make sure he doesn’t get hit by it, which makes the pitch look wilder than it really was. It’s a catchable ball.

      Also, if you watch in the video, Stanley is having trouble with the mound. I don’t know if that’s related in any way, but it could be.

  2. Patrick, that video made my day. Here are some of my own random thoughts:

    1. I was 6 years old when this game was played and I wish that someone would have told me that the next 24 years of my existence as a Mets fan would entail one excruciating kick to the groin after another.

    2. Stanley and Gedman don’t take nearly enough of a hit for this loss as they should. The passed ball/wild pitch prior to the Buckner play was far more important, in my opinion. Once Mitchell scored, all of the pressure was on the Sox.

    3. They were replaying Game 6 of the 86 NLCS the other night on MLB network and I was thinking the same thing about the 25th anniversary patch.

  3. There were comments about their patch at the time. The explanation was that it was their 25th season; they called it an anniversary.

    I actually was planning to go to sleep before the bottom of the inning — the game and series was lost, but there was next year. My wife convinced me to keep watching until the end.

    • Patrick Flood

      I’m glad I’m not the first person to notice — they said it was an anniversary as their 25th season? But it’s not like the patch says 25 seasons, which would be ambiguous. It says 25th anniversary. Nice to know they’ve always been the Mets.

  4. Oddly enough I always applauded them for getting it right with the 25th anniversary, but thinking on it now it really was a big mistake. The WWE did the same thing two years ago with Wrestlemania XXV, repeatedly referring to it as the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania. This annoyed me to no end – the first WM was in 1985, WM XXV was in 2009, so clearly it was the 24th anniversary.

    The thing about that play that bugs me is that people still act as though it was Buckner’s error that saved the Mets bacon. As all Mets fans know, the game was already tied, and besides I do think Wilson would have beaten Buckner to the bag.

    I did go to bed after Henderson’s homerun, but turned the game back on because I could hear Vin Scully’s excited voice coming from my brother’s tv after Mitchell tied it. Turned it on just in time to see the little roller up along first.

  5. Unfortunately, I was born in ’90, so i have never seen true greatness from the Mets,although there have been some memorable moments.However every time i see this game on Mets classics i get goosebumps. I can’t even imagine citifield getting CLOSE to that loud. One day this franchise will win again, and I will cherish that day forever, because i know that it doesn’t happen too often on this side of town. Until then, i just gotta roll with the punches, and support my team while they are in one of their darkest hours. LGM

  6. In 1986, I was 16 and living with my folks in Staten Island. I was at home watching the 10th inning unfold pretty much believing, like everyone else, that the Mets were dead in the water. Then, IT happened. For those too young or not born yet, there is really no feeling to compare this win to. I still get tears in my eyes watching Mitchell then Knight come home. The exuberance of the crowd at Shea was the same thing happening in my home in Staten Island back then. I am lucky to have been mature enough to experience a Mets championship firsthand. And though I feel sorry for younger Met fans who have no clue how sweet it is to see a championship come home, I know one day, it will happen again. Right?

  7. 1986 was my ‘re-introduction’ to the Mets. I started following them during the 1969 playoffs, then stuck with them through 1981. I quit paying attention to sports entirely for some years, but my Mom’s Mom became a Met fan while living in her assisted living facility, and when they made the playoffs in 1986 she browbeat me into paying attention.

    I actually enjoyed game seven more than six, because I was in deep denial about the Mets’ chances up until, oh, maybe half an hour after they won.

    That’s the first good memory I have of the house I bought and moved into on the Fourth of July that year: Pacing back and forth in front of the set, and studiously avoiding looking at the screen while imagining another seventeen years of failure.

    And I LIKED Bill Buckner. He was on my Longball team.

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