Tuesday, October 10, 2006

2006: Is it 1986 Again? [J. Mark English]

In 1986, New York was home to the World Champion New York Mets as well as the World Champion New York Giants.
In week 8 of the 1986 football season the Giants were playing a key divisional game against the Washington Redskins. The date was October 27, 1986. On that same night, the Mets were playing the Boston Red Sox in game 7 of the World Series. The Giants defeated the Skins 27-20, and the Mets wrapped up the series with an 8-5 victory.
With the Giants win over the Redskins, they locked up the division, and would eventually also lock up homefield advantage...on their way to winning Super Bowl XXI.
It was said that of the nearly 80,000 fans at the Giants game, many were holding hand held televisions watching the Mets defeat the Red Sox.
Both teams became the darlings of the city. The stars on both teams were big enough for a Broadway billboard sign. There was Phil Simms, Darryl Strawberry, Lawrence Taylor, Doc Gooden, Mark Bavaro, Gary Carter, Harry Carson, and Keith Hernandez.
They were similar in their tremendous talent, but also in their failure as people. Taylor, Strawberry, and Gooden (as well as many of the other Mets) were caught up in drugs that dragged down their careers.
Both teams were also fairly young and full of promise. And both teams followed up their Championship seasons with frustration. The 1987 Giants, were first of all hurt due to a players strike, and second they could not overcome a five game losing streak to start off the season. They finished 6-9. It would take several years for them to regain championship form.
The 1987 Mets finished in second place with only 92 wins on the year. The team played below their talent, and were dogged by off the field controversy. The following year in 1988, the Mets seemed made comeback, but lost in the NLCS to the Dodgers...a team they had beaten 10 out of 11 times in the regular season.
In the 1990's, following another Super Bowl victory from the Giants, and more frustrating second place finishes by the Mets, both teams entered a period of mediocrity.
The Mets and Giants shared brief success in 2000, when the Mets lost to the Yankees in the World Series, and the Giants lost to the Ravens in the Super Bowl.
But now in 2006, both teams are set to have winning seasons in the years to come. The Mets have advanced to the NLCS, and they hope that this will only be the beginning. They are built around young talent like David Wright and Jose Reyes. Both of these players are expected to be around for a long time.
The Giants, although off to a slow start, have built their team around the promise of Eli Manning. If Eli continues to mature, they will be good for many years to come.
And so, just as in 1986, this past weekend the Mets took care of business in the NLDS, and the Giants handled the Redskins. Hopefully this go around, twenty years later, personal failures will not get in the way of dynasties on the rise.