Last night, the MLB Network aired a special about the 1986 Postseason. While we’ve already been inundated with highlights, interviews, and tributes in honor of the 25th anniversary of the 1986 Champion Mets, this special presented a couple of new/rarely explored angles on the ’86 World Series.
At the top of the show, host Bob Costas said there was a late change of plans. Instead of reviewing the entire ’86 postseason, they would focus on the World Series, and dedicate another show in “the very near future” to the ALCS and NLCS.
In studio were Costas and Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, Red Sox pitchers Calvin Schiraldi and Bruce Hurst, and Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson. Costas and Verducci interviewed the former players about key highlights that were played throughout the show. Recorded interviews with the Mets’ Keith Hernandez, Boston manager John McNamara, and pitcher Roger Clemens were played at appropriate times during the special.
Here are a few things that caught my attention:
Schiraldi has put on some weight since his playing days. He showed up wearing a sweatshirt and dress pants. He sported an untrimmed gray beard which contrasted with his close-cropped dark hair. He seemed to be very much at peace with himself, and happy to be the coach of a high school baseball team in Austin, TX. He said he uses his experiences in the ’86 playoffs to teach his players.
John McNamara/Roger Clemens
In a classic he said/she said argument, John McNamara insisted that Roger Clemens asked out of Game 7 of the World Series due to an unspecified malady on his left hand (no truth to the rumor that it was a third ear). Roger Clemens insisted that he did not ask out, but was taken out by McNamara. Since Clemens has gained a reputation for being an expert denier, it’s hard to believe Roger on this one.
John McNamara/Dave Stapleton
McNamara defended his use of Bill Buckner in Game 6. He did not lift Buckner for defense in the bottom of the tenth in favor of Dave Stapleton, because he felt Buckner was his “best first baseman.” He went on to claim that Stapleton’s nickname was “Shaky.”
Two things about this. First, it was pretty classless for McNamara to bring up that nickname. Second, McNamara had used Stapleton as a defensive replacement at first all postseason long. Was he “shaky” then? McNamara sounded like he was making an excuse, and not a very good one.
If you saw Bruce Hurst walking down the street, you’d think he worked in the office building down the block. He was well-dressed, and hasn’t changed much since that 1986 season. He handled tough questions about the above controversies with class. He tried hard not to throw anyone under the bus, but did admit he had never heard anyone call Stapleton “Shaky,” contrary to McNamara’s story.
Keith Hernandez was shown watching highlights from the ’86 World Series while he gave his commentary. To this day, you could see the intensity in his eyes as he talked. It was as if he was right back in that moment when he drank a Bud, and superstitiously stayed in Davey Johnson’s office seat during the Game 6 comeback. Or when he belted a high Hurst fastball into left-center field to put the Mets on the board in Game 7. Or when he gave Jesse Orosco advice on how to get out of a jam to preserve the Mets’ 6-5 lead.
Hernandez is still the most competitive, intense ballplayer I have ever seen.
As for the special as a whole, even if you’re sick of the endless 1986 coverage we’ve seen this year, this special was worth a watch. Knowing the MLB Network, it will be replayed at some point. Do yourself a favor and check it out.