There are few debates that just about every New Yorker is able to strongly assert their opinion on, but one stumbled across our radar over the weekend. No, not the question of whether or not lox is kosher -- we'll leave that to the rabbis and merely stipulate that it is darned tasty -- but the question of who would win a series between the 2009 Yankees and the 1986 Mets.
According to Darryl Strawberry, it is, unsurprisingly, the 1986 Mets. It came up during an interview with Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record, wedged in between Klapisch's decision to out Straw as a lover of menthol cigarettes and fatty foods. Strawberry may have rescued his legacy with the Yankees in the 90's, but he still looks back fondly on his days with the mad, bad and dangerous to know Mets of the previous decade.
"Doc would’ve destroyed them. We would’ve beaten them. They’re a great team, but we wouldn’t have been intimidated. We could hit, we could pitch and we could definitely fight."
Perhaps it's an outgrowth of that third thing, but the '86 Mets have also turned out to be some of the greatest cautionary tales in baseball history. From drugs (Strawberry and Gooden) to financial speculation (Lenny Dykstra) to domestic abuse (Wally Backman) to safety while gardening (Bobby Ojeda), the Mets offer a winning primer on what not to do.
These historical battles are, obviously, impossible to settle. It is interesting to think about them, though, if only because of how different the game was in each era. The Mets had nowhere near the power of last year's Yankees team nor did they have the same kind of depth that was in the Bronx, but their starting rotation beyond Gooden was pretty strong and the Roger McDowell/Jesse Orosco bullpen tandem was mighty effective.
For giggles, we took the lead of Kevin Kaduk from Big League Stew and ran a simulation of a best-of-seven series using the same pitching schedule that each team used in their respective winning seasons. The Mets, by virtue of their 108 regular season wins, got home field advantage.
It was a heckuva series that went down to the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game when Keith Hernandez doubled home Backman to end the game. These things are far from scientific -- we're guessing Joe Girardi uses Mariano Rivera and not Phil Hughes in that situation and Kaduk had the Yankees taking the series in five games -- but they're a lot of fun.
Tune in next time to finally answer the question about the 1986 Yankees against the 2009 Mets. Ed Whitson against Omir Santos is a matchup made in heaven.