1988… Taking Down a Dynasty in the Making… Taking The Baaaaad Boys Down

Leading Off…

1988. A year that puts a smile to many a Dodger fans face. It’s time to bring that same glee to those born after 1988… As for 1988, the Mets we’re atop the National League East once again, winning 100 games, second in the majors behind the Oakland A’s. 

The ’88 Mets still had much of that swag carried over from 1986. Heading into the NLCS, having won 10 of 11 against our Boys in Blue during the regular season, the contrast between those two teams could not have been any more drastic. The Mets we’re everything that represented what’s evil about New York, brash, bad boys, lawbreakers… The backyard bullies that always took away your lunch money… ( Yes folks, there was a time the Mets had that title over the Yankees… ). The Dodgers, well, they we’re as humble as mom and apple pie. With a lineup that included the lovable goofball Mickey Hatcher, Steve Sax, Mike Scioscia, and of course the church-going Orel Hershiser, you would have thought this was a match-up of Convicts vs. Choir Boys, with Orel leading the choir. In the eyes of the experts, the Choir Boys didn’t stand a chance. Ah, but we all do know every choir has at least one badass in the group. 

gibson Kirk Gibson. The one badass every team should have. Jesse Orosco, acquired in the off-season from the Mets, a team know for it’s badass image, would soon find out…

gibson-hershiser Bulldog and Gibby… The contrast between night and day couldn’t be any more evident…

The Mets, only 2 years removed from their ’86 championship, dominated The Boys in Blue during the 1988 regular season, winning 10 of 11. It was no surprise that they we’re heavy favorites over the Dodgers heading into the NLCS. However, if there was one thing the Dodgers had going for them, it was Orel Hershiser’s 59 inning scoreless streak, a a streak that’s been talked of a lot lately. Orel would be the Game One starter and would ride his hot streak for 8 plus innings as The Blue would carry a 2-0 lead into the 9th. Attending my first playoff game ever, at the innocent age of 14, I was having the time of my life. I’m even confident that Darryl Strawberry could hear me among the pavillion faithful… ” DARRRRRYL !!!! DARRRRRYL !!! “

DARRYL STRAWBERRY DARRRRRRRYL !!!! DARRRRRRYL !!!

After allowing a run, Hershiser be replaced by closer Jay Howell. One strike away from taking the first game, with two runners on, future HOFer Gary Carter ( R.I.P. ) would bloop a double just eluding a diving John Shelby to give the Mets a 3-2 lead and eventual win. If the Dodgers we’re ever so devastated, perhaps some words of anything but flattery from Mets Game 2 starter and 20 game winner David Cone would light up the fire as the Dodgers would even the series heading to New York for Games 3-5 5. As for Cone’s words, this is one of those moments I look back at and say to myself ” Imagine if twitter was around…”

Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple

DWIGHT GOODEN Dwight Gooden. He and Fernando produced plenty of Ks in the 80s…

With Game 3 being rained out on it’s original Friday date, Tommy Lasorda would start The Bulldog on 3 days rest. Like Game 1, Jay Howell would be called upon with a 1 run lead, this time in the 8th inning. Howell would once again find himself in more hot water amidst a controversial 8th. The Mets would win Game 3 to take a 2 games to 1 lead. The situation would only get more dim, as the Mets, behind Doc Gooden, would take a 4-2 lead into the 9th, 3 outs away from a 3 games to 1 lead in the series. Doubt. Reality. OK, maybe both were starting to set in the minds of even the most devout Dodger fan, ( If it wasn’t already there before the start of the series…). After all, the Mets we’re a dynasty in the making. The Bad Boys of Baseball that dominated the Dodgers in the regular season. 3 more outs and they all but have the series locked up. Of course, not everything always goes according to script… Especially Baseball. Let’s just say two future managers, Mike Scioscia, and Kirk Gibson, would hit two of the biggest home runs in Dodgers history to that point. Of course, our Boys in Blue would have to make things dramatic in the Mets 12th, with the Good Guys clinging to a one run lead… Bulldog even made a cameo appearance in that 12th…

With the series now tied at 2, Kirk Gibson would once again come through with another huge home run ( Somehow, I don’t see Gibby hitting a bigger HR in the 1988 post-season than the one’s he’s hit at Shea… )

With the series heading back to L.A, David Cone, his days of columnist behind him, would toss a gem in Game 6, setting up a decisive 7th game at Dodger Stadium. With The Bulldog taking the hill, Game 7 was not even close, as The Blue would score 6 runs in the first two innings and well, you know the rest. Baseballs Bad Boys, The Brash New York Mets, two years removed from their ’86 triumph, the backyard bullies that bullied the Dodgers around in 1988, would be dethroned. The 80s Mets, whom many felt we’re a dynasty in the making, had it all gone. Gone before it could even reach it’s prime.

It’s been said by many Mets fans that the events of 1988, starting with Scioscia’s home run in Game 4, was the beginning of the Mets downfall. The Mets would be lead baseball in wins from 1984-1990. They we’re a colorful bunch. A dynasty that never happend ? It makes for good discussion among baseball fans when not gleefully looking back on just the events of ’88. The Oakland A’s teams of the late 80’s. lead by Bash Brothers, Jose Canseco and some future Dodgers hitting coach, certainly could be discussed in the same sentence as well. 

It would be 11 years before the Mets would return to post-season play. The Mets would only appear in the post-season 3 more times since. Doc Gooden and Dodger to be Darryl Strawberry, would go through a series of on and off the field struggles. ( Both would win another World Series in New York wearing blue pinstripes, just not Dodger Blue pinstripes.. ) .

When looking back upon 1988, it’s easy to look back on the World Series. To get there though, The Blue would have to get past The Mighty Mets, a team in the eyes of many… A Dynasty That Never Happened. Of course, our Boys in Blue would play a huge role…

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