James Blagden is an awesome illustrator and baseball fan. He takes real accounts of events that occurred in baseball history (example: Dock Ellis talking about throwing a no-hitter while on LSD) and animates it with the narration being heard in the background. He used his unique talent to capture the flight back to New York after the Mets beat the Houston Astros in six games in the 1986 National League Championship Series.
The series against the Red Sox was so historic that some forget what an extraordinary series the Mets played against the Astros and their world class baseball scuffer extraordinaire Mike Scott.
To make matters worse, Scott had been a Met, a mediocre pitcher from 1979 to 1982 compiling a 14-27 record. The Mets traded him to the Astros, and mastering the art of scuffing the baseball he went 18-10 with a league leading 2.22 ERA. He also beat the Mets twice in the series, by scores of 3-1 and 1-0. He actually won the MVP of the NLCS despite the Mets winning the series.
On October 15, 1986 the Mets were leading the series 3-2 but with Mike Scott looming in Game 7, we were trailing the Astros 3-0 in the ninth. We scored three that inning to tie it then went ahead in the 14th – only to see the freaking Astros tie it. We came back again and scored three runs in the 16th, but the Astros wouldn’t go quietly. They scored two runs in the bottom of the inning until their luck finally ran out. Jesse Orosco would strike out Kevin Bass with the tying run in scoring position to put us in position for our showdown against the Boston Red Sox.
It was a game for the ages, and James Blagden captured several Mets—Daryl Strawberry, Kevin Mitchell, Lenny Dykstra, and Dwight Gooden, discussing the ensuing celebration. It started in the locker room, poured into the team bus, and settled onto an airplane which would never be flyable again.
That was not a PG team and this is not a video to share with the young kids. Kevin Mitchell starts it with a laugh as he says, “I don’t think this incident would have happened if it wasn’t for the hard liquor.”
Mr. Blagden captures with streaming animation and sound effects the story as told by those Mets. So many tales have been told about that Met team, but this really captures the anarchy, fun and rebelliousness of the team and its manager.
Some of the details are fantastic—listening to Doc and Darryl and Nails explain that the plane was split between the brass and the players, with the ‘milk section’ in between, the players that didn’t drink. That entire section was made up of…Mookie Wilson.
The back of the plane? Whether it was Roger McDowell making a salad (and eating it) off passed out Barry Lyons’ bald head; or the back row of the plane, nicknamed ‘the scum bunch’, which consisted of Danny Heep (who, ironically, we got in the Mike Scott trade), Doug Sisk and Jesse Orosco creating complete anarchy; to the food fight that led to over $100,000 worth of damage to the plane, this was a group that was very resistant to the idea of authority. (And I didn’t mention what they said the wives were doing on the plane…as mentioned, this video is not for the little kids).
And when a furious Frank Cashen handed Davey Johnson a bill for the damage the next day? Kevin Mitchell reports he was slinking in his locker, only peeking out to see Davey rip up the bill and growl, “You pay it. They earned it.”
It has been a long 30 years since we Mets fans have been able to celebrate like we did in 1986. Many of us hoped this would be the year we recaptured the magic. Without leaning on excuses, certainly injuries and some steps back from our young players kept that from happening. Maybe 2017 is the year we regain the magic. Until then check out James Blagden’s great short video “The Best Last Plane Ride Ever” and remember one of the most successful and wildest teams in baseball history.