November 19, 2008

THINKING?:

Game 6 (Peter Gammons, 4/06/87, Sports Illustrated)

"Answering questions about that game is something I'll always have to deal with," says McNamara . More incredibly, Johnson will always have to answer questions about screwing up a World Series he won. A month after the game, Larry Bowa , a friend who played with and for Johnson , called him and asked, "What in the world were you thinking?"

Regardless of the managing, there was still very little art to this game. Aside from a sinking Marty Barrett liner that Lenny Dykstra stabbed in the first, a long fly by the star-crossed Buckner that Darryl Strawberry ran down on the warning track in the second and Wade Boggs 's dive into the stands in the fourth to catch a Keith Hernandez pop-up, there was small cause, defensively, for Vin Scully to raise his voice. The Red Sox ' go-ahead run in the seventh inning and the Mets ' tying run in the eighth came after wild throws, and the Mets ' tying and winning runs in the 10th came on a wild pitch and the croquet shot through Buckner 's wicket. The winning pitcher, Rick Aguilera , had a 12.00 ERA for the Series. And when you look at the box score, your eye immediately falls on the line that reads, " Stanley pitched to one batter in the 10th."

"We lost that game," said Barrett , the Sox' second baseman. "They won the seventh game, but we lost on Saturday night." That's why the game's legitimate heroes, players like Wilson and Orosco, seem to have played only supporting roles. And that's why you wonder if Buckner , McNamara , Bob Stanley and Calvin Schiraldi will forever be scarred, like Fred Merkle , Mickey Owen and Ralph Branca before them.

"Shots," Buckner calls media reminders of what happened. Ten days before spring training he told The Boston Globe , "I'm not going to talk about what happened anymore." But Buckner did point out that Stanley wasn't covering first when Wilson 's grounder went through his legs. For his part, Stanley took some off-season shots at McNamara 's decision-making process, and the pitcher's wife, Joan, was quoted as saying that Rich Gedman "blew it" because he had failed to stop Stanley 's inside pitch to Wilson . Roger Clemens , the Boston starter, publicly wondered why McNamara took him out of the game with a 3-2 lead after seven innings, and Baylor privately seethed at not being used. "All season long we won as a team, and as soon as we lost, some of the guys started pointing fingers," says Baylor .

And the Mets ? "We had accomplished so much and had come from behind in such dramatic fashion in the playoffs that the sixth game just seemed like a good bounce that gave us the chance to win what we believed we should win," says Wilson . But even Hernandez , who went to the manager's office and popped open a beer after he made the second out in the 10th inning, admitted, "I couldn't believe what I was watching on TV." Says Bobby Ojeda , who was traded from the Red Sox to the Mets the winter before, "Even though we knew we deserved it, we know we won because of Stanley 's wild pitch and Buckner 's error."

Unlike Game 6 of the '75 World Series, which was about as lively as a Lennon Sisters Special until Bernardo Carbo's eighth-inning, three-run home run tied the game for the Red Sox , this game was filled with might-have-beens from the outset.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2008 7:05 AM
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