(*Note: I love discussing this story with people. I love talking about it. I love the fact that, twenty years after the fact, the spectre of history of being made again looms large).
…was the chant of Houston Astros fans across the country on Wednesday, October 15, 1986. On that day, Game 6 of the National League Championship series between the New York Mets and Houston Astros took place. The Mets, before the game, were winning the best-of-seven series three games to two. The Astros had home-field advantage, meaning that if the Mets lost Wednesday’s game, the two teams would meet again the following day in the Astrodome, where they met for games 1 and 2, for the decisive game 7.’
The Mets were scared to death of the possibility of a game 7. Their reasons were well-founded. The Astros’ two victories against them, in Games 1 and 4, were delivered courtesy of Astros’ ace pitcher Mike Scott (“Scotty”), who shut the Mets out in Game 1 and held them to one run in Game 2. Scott, a former Met, was the NL’s premier pitcher in 1986. This fact naturally led to allegations throughout the year, and by Mets during Game 1 in particular, that he was scuffing the ball. The allegations went nowhere. Irony of ironies, Scott began his career as a Met, but was traded to the ‘Stros in the early ’80’s, when the Mets felt he didn’t live up to his potential. Soon after he joined the Astros, he learned the split-fingered fastball, and in 1986, he chalked up over 300 strikeouts and clinched the NL West title for the Astros on a night in which he pitched a no-hitter.
Game 6, then, as far as the Mets were concerned, was really do or die. To the Mets, the very idea of forcing a Game 6, let a Game 7 – was something of a joke. After all, the Amazins’ had a regular season record of 108-54, which was not only the best record in the NL in over 70 years, but which was handily better than that of the Astros. No one was invincible in the Mets’ regular season onsluaght, not even Mr. Scott.
Thus, when Game 6 rolled around, the Mets were ready to kick some serious ass. The Astrodome (which later became demolished, as the Astros next played in, yes, Enron Field; they now play in Enron Park; that should tell you everything you need to know about baseball and corporations) was packed. The game-lasted four hours and forty-two minutes, and sixteen innings. That’s why I’m writing about it. By the way, the game was on during the mid-evening, EST. I was in Hebrew School that night from 4:30-7. My mother fondly remembers this night as “the night she almost forgot to pick me up from Hebrew school.” The game, which ended right around the time school did, was that riveting. I, of course missed it, and have never seen it in its entirety – until now, thanks to the magic of the Internet. Snow White and Game 6 of the ’86 NLCS. What more to life is there?
Let me tell you how great this game was. Newsday, just yesterday, did a retrospective of the Mets’ 1986 season, and described the game as possibly “the greatest MLB game ever played.” Numerous people who know far more about baseball than I do have called the game the best post-season game ever played. I have seen hundreds of baseball games, and have attended dozens. This game unquestionably was the best of them all. From what I saw of it in 1986, over the years, and now, in its completeness, it qualifies as the most suspenseful, the most draining, the most thrilling baseball game ever captured on television. Let’s put it this way: those who are advised to stay off amusement park rides and to avoid horror movies because they are “faint of heart” should keep their distance from this one. It’s as white a knuckler as any suspense film I’ve ever seen.
Want to find out the details? Look them up!