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The Bad Guys Won! A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo-chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, The Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform--and Maybe the Best Hardcover – April 27, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Drugs, sex and groupies abound in this book by Pearlman, a reporter for Newsday. Only the author isn't a rock critic chronicling the wild escapades of a band; he's describing the very successful 1986 season when the New York Mets won the World Series. As remarkable as the team's performance on the field, the players' escapades outside the stadium are perhaps more memorable, in a far less flattering way. Pearlman, an unabashed Mets fan, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the team, including an insightful portrait of Frank Cashen, the general manager at the time. Pearlman discusses the trades, the players' abilities and unforgettable games. But much of the book is about the difficulties and the unprofessional behavior of many of the players. For example, on one rowdy flight back to New York, United Airlines billed the team an additional $7,500 for damage resulting from food fights and other unruly antics and said the team couldn't fly the airline again. Cashen was upset, but the manager, Davey Johnson, laughed as he tore up the bill in front of the team. The drug use that would become public later was not addressed at the time, though it was obvious to reporters. When asked whether Dwight Gooden was healthy, despite several minor car accidents, Johnson had nothing to say: "As long as Dwight Gooden was smiling and in good physical shape, Johnson required no knowledge about the pitcher's private time. Johnson was a manager, not a babysitter." Pearlman's book isn't simple nostalgia-some of the players have virtually disappeared from the public eye-and much of the wild off-field behavior is still part of the game today. Baseball aficionados, especially Mets fans, will enjoy this affectionate but critical look at this exciting season.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In 1986, the New York Mets won the World Series, taking it from the Boston Red Sox in some of the most memorable baseball ever played. Pearlman doesn't really want to talk about that. He wants to tell you what terribly bad boys these Mets were. There is no boozing, drug use, or bimbo eruption that he does not describe, nor does he miss a single evil quote from one player about another. Doc Gooden's and Darryl Strawberry's silken and glorious talents are not examined nearly so much as their wastrel paths to drug and alcohol use are scrupulously detailed. Rampant sexism and underhanded racism were certainly part of the baseball scene in 1986, but must Pearlman revel in them with such glee? And the prose? Perlman goes purple at the slightest provocation: Bill Buckner's left ankle "throbbed like a transplanted heart." There is a lot not to like here, which is exactly why it will draw media interest and may well become one of the hottest-selling baseball books of the season. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
This was a fun book to read about a truly great team during a fun season.
The book is basically a chronological history of the Mets' rise to prominence in the early to mid-80's, beginning with Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday's purchase of the club, to the hiring of Frank Cashen as the club's General Manager, to the jettisoning of of malcontents and has-beens and acquisitions of Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter, all the way through the 1986 season and the dismantling of the championship team. And while it could have been another treatise on "how NOT to run a ballclub", Pearlman for the most part avoids that and delves into the interpersonal relationships between the players and the dominating baseball team that it created.
It is THIS aspect of the book that drives the narrative, and turns it from merely a decent book to a good one. Everyone knows who the players on that 1986 team were. But not everyone knows who they WERE. And that is, a collection of ragtag men who gelled at the right time and at the right place. Which is not to say that it was perfect. For every nice guy on the team, like an Ed Hearn or Tim Teufel, you had a guy like Darryl Strawberry, who is described by one teammate as the nicest guy on the ballfield, but when liquored up, perhaps the most miserable SOB on the planet. In one anecdote, Pearlman describes a scene between Strawberry and pitcher Bruce Berenyi that is sure to make some cringe at the ruthlessness and disrespect with which Strawbery treats a teammate and fellow human being. You had guys like Kevin Mitchell, who came from a rough gang-infested neighborhood, and who had no problem bringing that rough attitude on the field and nearly killing a player during one of the team's (many) bench-clearing brawls. You had guys like Bob Ojeda, whose brashness and outspokenness put him on bad terms with ownership and his fellow teammates in Boston in 1985, who gets traded to the Mets in the offseason and literally foams at the mouth at the prospect of facing the Red Sox in the World Series. And who could ever forget Gary Carter? To the casual observer "The Kid" was the driving force behind the 1986 Mets, but to his teammates he was as phony as a $3 bill, a shameless self-promoter who didn't see a camera he didn't like and a guy who was the main reason behind at least one of the bench-clearing brawls.
These character studies are what REALLY get to the heart of the team, and reveal why, however unstoppable they were in 1986, by 1987 they were already a team on the decline and, despite their return to the playoffs in 1988, the Mets were a franchise on the verge of collapse heading into the 1990's. Whether it was the ill-advised trade of Kevin Mitchell (shipped out because management feared that he would be a bad influence on Dwight Gooden and Strawberry, despite the fact that those two were already heavily into drugs and alcohol) or the constant tinkering with Gooden's mechanics and pitch selection in order to make him a "better" pitcher (despite his coming off a 1985 in which he dominated NL hitters en route to the Cy Young Award), you get a firsthand view of just how the 1986 Mets were destined to be a team for the ages and then fizzle out just as quickly.
Some fans may be shocked when they hear some of the stories and realize just how flawed those Mets were (and how some STILL are), but for anyone who lived through the summer and fall of 1986, this book is required reading.
I don't know if you would enjoy this as much if you weren't a Met fan but I blew through this in a weekend of really enjoyable reading. I highly recommend this book.