Watchdog

Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Mookie! Buckner! 1986!

There is not much left to say about the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

We've heard it all before, and we hear it all again at 7 p.m. Sunday on MLB Network's "20 Greatest Games" series, in which the events of Oct. 25, 1986, came in third - complete with an in-studio sitdown with, yup, Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson.

(Bob Ojeda, too.)

The real strength of the show is not what it tells us about the 10th inning but its look back at the mostly forgotten first nine innings, during which important things happened and other important things did not happen - things that might have altered the directions of Buckner's and Wilson's lives.

The breakdown of a series of strategic moves in the eighth inning is particularly interesting, including John McNamara's decision not to pinch hit for Buckner and Davey Johnson's decision not to remove Wilson in a double switch.

Wilson is tough on Red Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi, making it clear how happy the Mets were to see him replace Roger Clemens.

"We all knew Schiraldi very well," he says. "I tell you what, it was like Christmas."

Adds Ojeda: "They were fighting over the bat rack. No disrespect to Calvin Schiraldi, but it was like the clouds had parted."

Later in the show, inevitably, Buckner talks about missing Wilson's little roller up along first.

"I was the best defensive first baseman we had," Buckner says, dismissing the notion of replacing him with Dave Stapleton for defense. "Was I Keith Hernandez? No, but I was the best we had."

After watching the video yet again, Buckner turns to Wilson and says, "That did happen, huh?"

Says Wilson: "It did."

(Did I mention I was there? I was. Game 7, too!)

One more thing: Ojeda tells an interesting story about pitching on three days' rest.

"[NBC analyst] Joe Garagiola said as far as [pitching on] three days’ rest, 'This time of year, it means nothing,' and he was spot-on," Ojeda says.

"It meant nothing to me. And at that time, no one knows, but I had two cortisone shots. Right after I threw the complete game in Houston [NLCS Game 2], we came home – this is pre-9/11 – I went to the ballpark, I got the needles, I got the cortisone, put it in my pocket, went to LaGuardia, flew down to Washington, where [team physician] Dr. Parkes was.

"He shoots my elbow in the bathroom, I get back on a plane, fly back and I’m at the yard for [NLCS Game 3] that night. So on the short rest, [Garagiola] couldn’t have been more correct. My arm was killing me, but I wasn’t gonna miss it. Everybody who gets to play in a World Series feels that same way."

Tags: MLB Network , Mets

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