The 1986 Mets are a large part of baseball lore. Mainly, due to the unforgettable Buckner play in Game 6 of the World Series that year, but also to the vast collection of talent that was on the roster.
Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, the list goes on and on. There’s a reason the team won 108 games that season en route to winning the World Series. Many people who aren’t even Mets fans, enjoyed watching that team as they conquered the baseball world.
Why is that?
“It just was a cast of characters, a locker room full of type A personalities,” said former Mets pitcher and current Mets TV analyst Ron Darling on CBS Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb show. “Each one you could root for or root against. I think that was part of it. It was just a team that love them or hate them, you were compelled to watch them.”
Darling stopped by the studio to discuss his new book Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life. Aside from the reminiscing on some of the stories about former teammates and that season, Darling did give his thoughts on this year’s Mets team as well.
One of the biggest questions among those following the team for the past two seasons now is whether they should trade one of their young pitchers to add another big bat to the line-up. Darling doesn’t believe that will happen.
“I don’t think they’re going to trade any of these arms,” said Darling. “They almost came close to trading Wheeler last year. Having this many arms is unprecedented. After the All-Star break, they’re going to get Zach Wheeler back. If you look at all of baseball 27 years old or younger, there’s maybe 20 guys that are elite status. The Mets may have five of those in their own rotation.”
The biggest challenger to the Mets National League crown this season is the Chicago Cubs, who, like the Mets, have had a massive infusion of young talent over the past two years. Some experts have picked the Cubs to end their World Series drought, but the pressure of 100+ years without one can be a heavy burden. That’s where having a manager like Joe Maddon helps.
“If they had anyone else but Joe Maddon at the helm, I would say that is an incredible burden especially for young players,” said Darling. “It’s part of the foundation and DNA of being a Cub fan. Joe Maddon doesn’t buy into any of that stuff. He is the most forward thinking manager I’ve seen in baseball in quite some time. If anyone can do it, he can do it with the talent that he has.”