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Mets Honor ’86 Greats; Get Blown Away by D’Backs

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Sunday, August 1, 2010, started as a nearly perfect day for the Mets and their fans at Citi Field in New York. The Mets organization honored some of the key members of the 1986 World Series Champions by elevating them to the team’s Hall of Fame. On hand to accept the honors were Darryl Strawberry, Dwight (Doc) Gooden, Davey Johnson (Manager), and Frank Cashen (GM).

It was a golden moment for the fans as they vigorously cheered the heroes of ’86, but it also seemed incongruous that the current team, watching with perhaps a bit of envy from the dugout, could not expect to have similar adulation coming its way any time soon. Predictably, the current Mets (53-52) went out and got crushed 14-1 by the Arizona Diamondbacks (39-66).

The legendary sports cartoonist Bill Gallo created Basement Bertha, a kind of sympathetic figure who helped fans who felt down in the dumps. Bertha cheered up Mets fans through all the tough years, but it now seems like Bertha needs to be brought back, because the 2010 team is starting to look an awful (emphasis on awful) lot like the hapless Mets of long ago.

Who in the stands couldn’t help but wish for Doc Gooden to pick up a ball and stride out to the mound? All of us were wishing so. Wouldn’t it have been even more grand for Doc to look over his left shoulder and see the lanky and reliable Strawberry standing in right field, basking in the shouts of “Darryl! Darryl!” as he always did? I personally would have loved to have seen Davey Johnson walk into the dugout, suit up, and stand on the top step as he used to do while the Mets’ brass showed Jerry Manuel the door.

Yes, Mets fans can’t help but think about the past because the present is so confoundingly depressing. This 14-1 loss ruined any good feeling the day started with, and thoroughly exposed this team for what it really is: one that, at best, can hope to have an 81-81 record when all is said and done (but even that may be too much to ask at this point).

Finally, what about Frank Cashen going into Minaya’s office and teaching an abbreviated GM 101 course? Cashen was the architect of the ’86 Mets, swinging very good deals to bring Howard Johnson, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and Ray Knight to the team, pushing them into the playoffs and ultimately winning them a World Series.

Those were the days my friends, as the old song goes, and sadly it had to end. Now, it breaks this old Mets fan’s heart to see what’s happening on the field. Manuel had to lift Jonathon Niese who got pounded, and then Elmer Dessens who also got punished. But the worst offense of all was for him to insert Oliver (Space Cadet) Perez into the mix. Besides the terrible booing that followed, Perez allowed four more runs, and that’s just rubbing salt into the wounds.

So on a day that should have been a celebration for the Mets and their fans, what we got was a day that highlighted the ruination of this team. No trade was made to help them, and now it looks like we’re going to have to settle for much less than anticipated. Can someone call Basement Bertha and ask her to get the place ready for the Metsies? It looks like they’re coming back home to live for a spell.

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charlie Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.