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  1. Whitey Herzog used to do that trick with the two closers, with the mid-‘80s Cardinals.  He usually used lefty Ken Dayley and righty Jeff Lahti.

  2. I guess you had to be there.

    These types of games, unfortunately, don’t happen anymore.  Players and managers don’t care, there’s too much guaranteed money to worry about trying on the field.

  3. That was great!  As an Astros fan I remember a great deal about 1986, and still feel very much like Parker did about those Mets.

    Hey, I do a weekly baseball youtube channel called Sunday Baseball, and this story would make a heck of an episode one day.  If I do make such an episode I will give a shout out to you for inspiration (and I don’t know if you’ve seen our show, but the channel page is if you feel so inclined.)

    Very nice piece.

  4. “Chris Jaffe did cover this game once, in one of his many THT Live anniversary posts. (I begin to wonder if there is any game he has not touched on there.)”


    I’m getting there, Shane.  I’m getting there.

  5. As a teenager in NYC living within the shadow of Shea, just loved that game on tv.  Did not like Eric Davis and all the hoopla his rookie year and was glad Knight just popped him.  Had forgotten about Carter playing third and had remembered the fight, Parker’s drop, and the switching relief pitchers.  Foster had been off to a hot start and not fighting so put him in the dog house he had to go shortly thereafter.  Never understood how he claimed race was an issue given that he was losing his starting LFer job to another african american.  This article made things clear. Thanks for the memories.

  6. Ah, fun times.  I do wonder why more teams did not go with tandem lefty/right closers.  These days it probably wouldn’t work in the sense that pitchers are rarely used for multiple innings and closers want their Saves, but at the time it made sense to use the platoon advantage this way.  Assuming you could find two good closer type pitchers, of course.

    Kevin Mitchell was a third baseman coming up through the minors and teams tried to play him there on the major league level, but, yeah, it became apparent that as a third baseman he made a good outfielder.  Well, not good.  Tolerable.  On a good day.  As to why he ended up playing so many games at short, I think you need to look no farther than the incumbent Rafael Santana.  Rafael was one of those unique talents that combined “meh” defense with a pathetic bat and still managed to hold onto a job.  When that is Plan A, trying to find an upgrade in defensively challenged sluggers like Mitchell and Howard Johnson, or youngsters like a 21-year-old Kevin Elster, definitely fall into “worth a shot” territory.  It amazes me that Santana not only managed to hold on but remained the starter in 1987.

  7. Davey Johnson would put bat-first (Mitchell, later Ho JO) in at SS when “El Sid” Fernandez was pitching.  A high K – high FB pitcher, the SS would get at most 1 – 2 chances per game, so Johnson went with a good hitting “SS” in those games.

  8. Most of the Mets’ pitchers in the 1980s had fly-ball tendencies. Sid Fernandez was the most notable, but nearly all of them were fly-ball pitchers. This is why Davey Johnson, who understood sabermetric principles even if he never used the term, loaded his team up with poor-fielding middle infielders who could hit. Backman, Teufel, Mitchell, and HoJo on the championship teams, and before them, he played Hubie Brooks at short. And he got away with it, thanks to the high grass and big outfield at Shea, and fast outfielders.

    The only reason Santana lasted as long as he did was because the team’s GM, Frank Cashen, was an old-school guy who stressed strong defense up the middle. Johnson got his way most of the time, but only because he won.

  9. OK, this is crazy late, but one nitpick: In the ninth, Dykstra did not stop at third because he was being conservative. Teufel’s double bounced over the fence and Dykstra was sent back to third.

  10. Two more late nitpicks:

    1. “Orosco made his eight warm-up tosses—and Rose pounced. You get eight warm-up throws only when you’re entering the game, he argued to Gerry Davis, and Orosco was already in the game. Getting no satisfaction, he protested the game on those grounds, meaning that both teams were now playing the game under protest.”

    He actually argued with Doug Harvey, the crew chief.

    2. ” With righties coming up in the home half, McDowell went back to the mound (no word on how many warmup tosses he took)”

    Rule 8.03 grants 8 “preparatory pitches” to a reliever under either of 2 conditions: “when a pitcher takes his position at the beginning of each inning, or when he
    relieves another pitcher”. McDowell qualified under both conditions, so no protest available there.