Amidst a terrible roadtrip the ’86 Mets, who seem to cast a bigger shadow each season, were outspoken again. This time the whistle blower was Bobby Ojeda. “Bobby O” was once a far cry from the lighthearted commentator you can watch on the SNY pre/post game. In 1986, the former Red Sox starter was a rough around the edges pitcher and arguably the best of a staff of aces. One of his teammates joined the nudging when Darryl Strawberry, for the second time this year, had something to say about the latest installment of disappointing baseball. The last team to win a championship in Queens has been consistently vocal about the Mets’ clubs and their shortcomings. The arrogant and noisy ’86ers won with their ability to talk and back it up on the field. Their brash , no nonsense, say what I want attitude has continued to show up years since they have retired. It must be said however, that there is something about their blunt and impulsive action that still inspires New Yorkers. The shadow only grows with Jerry Manuel’s Mets skidding and Wally Backman hit and running teams to death with the Brooklyn Cyclones. Here are some verbal lashings from the ’86 Champs directed at Mets’ clubs.
Keith Hernandez – 2002
Dubbed by The Seattle Times as “Keith Hernandez VS Mike Piazza” the two traded verbal blows when the disappointing club looked asleep at the wheel. Hernandez, who’s job it was and is still to analyze, might have gone overboard with his quote “The club has no heart; The Mets quit a long time ago. Bobby Valentine could’ve chewed this team out in June when this stuff started creeping in”. Piazza, angered by the comment, shot back with “He’s just trying to make a name at our expense” he continued to add “like he’s a judge of character, who quit or didn’t quit?” Keith stood by his comments but admitted he could have found a better way to put it.
Gary Carter – 2008
“The Kid” angered not only the Mets, but Hernandez with a comment he made in 2008. The noted promoter of himself, saw an opportunity for advancement when Omar Minaya was looking to fire Willie Randolph early in the season. Gary let Sirius Satellite radio know that he reached out to the team when he found out Willie’s job was in jeopardy. The former premier catcher in the game caught an onslaught of backlash for his comments and was called everything from selfish to egotistical. Hernandez, from his SNY booth, called his former battery mate “unconscious” and said that this “happens too many times”. The Hall of Famer later tried to clear up the mess saying that he was not campaigning for a job, but couldn’t help to add “I’d love the opportunity to get back to the big leagues as a coach or as a manager”.
Darryl Strawberry – 2010 May/July
The former first rounder and stud right fielder was once one of the most promising players in baseball. Despite his past, The Wilpon’s have welcomed “The Straw Man” and rightfully so. That doesn’t mean the former ROY can’t still ruffle some feathers. In May, Brandon Tierney reported that Straw upset two big name Mets with his advice “stop worrying about the media criticism and get out on the field and perform.” Later it was reported that the same two players asked Jay Horowitz, VP and media relations legend, to make sure Straw is kept away from them. Some have argued that the players took his concern the wrong way and Darryl was doing his best to motivate. The upset players did not appreciate the remark “it was rough watching them play” and “you’re better than last place.”
Strawberry obviously wasn’t phased by the incident in May and has continued to talk openly. In a recent article, Straw told the Post “I see them going through the motions.” He continued to say that “other teams don’t fear them” and “they beat all over them and they laugh at them”. The most stinging blow might have been his acknowledgment of some previous sore feelings when he was quoted saying “I’m sorry, I love those guys and I’ve been with them. I want them to win”.
Bobby Ojeda – 2010
The climax for the ’86 sermons may have come from the gutsy former starter. The Daily News took notice of Ojeda’s post game analyzing on Thursday and called it a rant. The game was well deserving of a rant, but once again it came from the fire breathing Mets of old. The Daily News article called Ojeda’s post game “shock theater” and “the harshest offered”. There are so many great quotes from his tirade that it may be impossible to include all of them. Here are just a few…Ojeda may still be on his soapbox.
“Eleven walk off losses? There’s no place for that, and you’re not going to get past that. Unfortunately, it sets a tone that’s awful. What they do to overcome it? I don’t know.”
“So far everything that Jerry’s done isn’t working. How do I know that” Look at the record.”
“This is when it hits home. This is when the men in the locker room realize this is for real, we’re awful. We’re going through the motions. We face the worst bullpen in HISTORY and manage one hit.”
“There were people laughing in the locker room. Are you kidding me!? Laughing!?”
“After he (Pagan) clearly outplayed Jeff Francouer he still wasn’t given a vote of confidence. That spreads through the ball club.”
Met fans are fiery people and we always appreciate hearing it exactly how it is. However, what kind of effect does this have on the players and coaching staff? The shadow of the ’86 team clearly looms on a daily basis. Players from the legendary group of villains are sprinkled throughout the team’s day to day operations and they are ever-present. Although we may not know what this does to the clubhouse, it makes for some amazing entertainment.