Cover image for 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
Title:
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
Author:
Pearlman, Jeff.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
287 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Conference Subject:
ISBN:
9780060507329
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The Bad Guys Won, award-winning Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jeff Pearlman returns to an innocent time when a city worshipped a man named Mookie and the Yankees were the second-best team in New York.

It was 1986, and the New York Mets won 108 regular-season games and the World Series, capturing the hearts (and other assorted body parts) of fans everywhere. But their greatness on the field was nearly eclipsed by how bad they were off it. Led by the indomitable Keith Hernandez and the young dynamic duo of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, along with the gallant Scum Bunch, the Amazin's left a wide trail of wreckage in their wake--hotel rooms, charter planes, a bar in Houston, and most famously Bill Buckner and the hated Boston Red Sox.

With an unforgettable cast of characters--including Doc, Straw, the Kid, Nails, Mex, and manager Davey Joshson--this "affectionate but critical look at this exciting season" (Publishers Weekly) celebrates the last of baseball's arrogant, insane, rock-and-roll-and-party-all-night teams, exploring what could have been, what should have been, and what never was.


Author Notes

Jeff Pearlman was born in New York in 1972. He graduated from the University of Delaware and began his journalism career at a weekly newspaper in 1989. He is the author of numerous books including 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 to Ever Put on a New York Uniform--and Maybe the Best; Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty; Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s; and Gunslinger: the remarkable, improbable, iconic life of Brett Favre. He is a columnist for SI.com, a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and other publications, and blogs regularly on jeffpearlman.com.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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 2004 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Agent, Susan Reed. (May) Forecast: Pearlman's reputation (he wrote about John Rocker for Sports Illustrated) may boost sales, but the book's target audience is New York fans, rather than national. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Seldom does the title of a book capture its essence as well as this one does. Best known for his revelatory Sports Illustrated article on relief pitcher John Rocker, Pearlman tracks the ascendancy of the 1986 New York Mets while foreshadowing the team's inability to resemble anything approximating a dynasty. Blessed with a terrific manager in Davey Johnson, luminous young stars like Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, top-flight veterans in Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter, and gritty ballplayers on the order of Ray Knight and Lenny Dykstra, the Mets cruised to 108 regular season victories before winning a riveting playoff series against the Houston Astros and an unforgettable championship over the ill-fated Boston Red Sox. But this apparent team-for-the-ages included all too many athletes prone to excess and addiction involving alcohol, drugs, sex, and all-around bad behavior. Particularly sad are the accounts of Gooden's and Strawberry's falls from baseball grace, as they became ensnared in a vicious cycle involving late nights, round-the-clock partying, substance abuse, and temper-laden explosions. All this makes for a fascinating read. Recommended for general libraries. Robert C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

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 to ever put on a New York uniform--and maybe the best Chapter One Food Flight It wasn't just guys destroying a plane. It was guys destroying a plane after an emotional roller coaster. There's a difference. -- Randy Niemann, Mets pitcher Ray Knight's arms were numb. Not just numb as if he'd spent a few too many minutes in the snow. Numb numb -- as if he'd just swum two thousand laps in an Olympic-sized pool. As if he'd just sparred eight hundred rounds with George Foreman. As if someone had grabbed a 10-foot machete, reared back, and sliced off both limbs. "Maybe someone did," he says with a laugh. "I wouldn't have known." It wasn't just his arms, either. Inside the head of New York's third baseman a drum was beating. His hands were shaking. His mouth was cotton-dry. His feet were on fire. His uniform must have held twenty pounds of sweat. "I couldn't walk, I couldn't talk, I couldn't move," Knight says. "I couldn't even think." It was exhaustion, more pure and painful than any he had ever felt before. Than any he would ever feel again. "I haven't been in war," he says. "But ... " But this was war. Or at least the next closest thing. Sixteen innings. In 16 beautiful, electric, heart-wrenching, gut-churning, bladder-bursting, finger-twitching, eye-bulging, throat-burning innings of baseball, the New York Mets had been pushed to the brink over and over again. On enemy turf, no less. Finally, they had pushed back. Game 6 of the 1986 National League Championship Series: Mets 7 Astros 6 The Mets were going to the World Series. It was everything they had dreamed of, but now -- what? The hardest-living players in baseball entered the visiting clubhouse of the Houston Astrodome and didn't know what to do. Scream or cry? Party or pray? A couple of the men had tears streaming down their cheeks. Others slumped in front of their lockers, sandbags for shoulders and rocks for feet. "I could have slept for twenty hours," says Ed Hearn, New York's backup catcher, "and I hadn't even played in the game." Then and there the Mets reached a collective decision. Perhaps it was inspired by the popping of a champagne cork. Or the cracking open of a beer can. Or the lighting of a cigarette. Or the primal "Whoooo!" bursting from Wally Backman's throat. Whatever the stimulus, the message was clear and powerful: Before they went to the World Series, the Mets would party their fuckin' brains out. There was one problem: time. Although the game had begun early enough, at 3:05 P.M. , 16 innings was 16 innings. After four hours and forty-two minutes of baseball, it was 8:20 when the first Mets players stumbled into the clubhouse. Even as the bottles of Great Western bubbly were being distributed, Arthur Richman, the club's traveling secretary, was doing everything he could to hurry people along: Congratulations, Ray -- now get dressed! Good job, Keith -- and don't forget your shaving kit! The team had to fly back to New York immediately, and the trip was a long one. Yet in the aftermath of triumph, it didn't matter. Richman was ignored. Kevin Mitchell, the barrel-chested rookie, grabbed Bobby Ojeda around the neck and doused his head with champagne. Ojeda, in turn, doused Jesse Orosco, who doused Doug Sisk, who doused Rick Aguilera, who doused Dwight Gooden, who doused Backman. The Mets didn't just let loose, they bear-hugged and gang-tackled. They were a fraternity without classes to attend, a rock-and-roll band without instruments. Shortly after he entered the clubhouse, journeyman reliever Randy Niemann snatched a bottle of bubbly and poured it on the head of bow-tied general manager Frank Cashen, who responded with a bitter glare of death. As Phil Mushnick of the New York Post wrote, "Cashen's candid crankiness ... created a national image as a party-pooper." No matter. Some ninety minutes after the victory, a sticky, drenched Cashen, surrounded by empty bottles and crushed cans, made an announcement to his sticky, drenched players: "The World Series bus is leaving! Anyone not on it gets left behind!" This was not a joke. The Mets and their entourage piled onto a pair of buses that went to Houston's William P. Hobby Airport. En route, beers were chugged. The remaining champagne bottles were polished off and then tossed to the ground. Even manager Davey Johnson was indulging. It was mini-mayhem. Then they reached the plane. Women are bad news. Very bad. They take real men -- ball-playing men -- and turn them to mush. They transform ruggedness and determination into sentimentality and passivity. Yes, there are good women in the world. But they are at their absolute best away from the ballpark, preparing dinner over a hot stove and tucking the children into bed. It's a simple equation, really: Women + Baseball = Trouble In the mind of Frank Cashen, this was established. Cashen was old school, and he wore the reputation proudly. When Rusty Staub, longtime Mets star, commonly referred to the players' wives as "cunts" and the players' extramarital girlfriends as "special cunts," he was speaking Cashen's language. In his eighteenth year as a baseball executive, Cashen was a throwback to the good old days when a ballplayer would never use the opposite sex as an excuse. Baby due any day? Tough luck -- you're staying with the team. Wife sick? Send her a note. Honeymoon? Not during the season, kid. Cashen's philosophy could be summed up in one sentence: Frank Robinson never missed a day for no friggin' broad, and neither should you. Now, in the midst of the playoffs, this news: The Mets players wanted their wives to fly with the team. Cashen knew there had been rumblings concerning this issue, but he tuned them out until two of the more respected Mets -- Knight and pitcher Ron Darling -- requested a meeting. In Cashen's office they made an impassioned case for women in flight ... 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 to ever put on a New York uniform--and maybe the best . Copyright © by Jeff Pearlman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from 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 to Ever Put on a New York Uniform--And Maybe the Best by Jeff Pearlman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1 Food Flightp. 7
2 The Road to 1986p. 18
3 "We're Going to Dominate"p. 41
4 Metsmerizedp. 56
5 Drinking Daysp. 74
6 "The Kid" and the Black Hatsp. 87
7 A Lonely Time to Be Wholesomep. 103
8 Cooter's-gatep. 109
9 Doc and Dwightp. 125
10 Out of Left Fieldp. 140
11 Hot Stuffp. 150
12 Please Stay Off the Fieldp. 166
13 Great Scottp. 174
14 "It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This"p. 181
15 The Passion of Bill Bucknerp. 205
16 Boston and New Yorkp. 212
17 Revengep. 223
18 Near Deathp. 232
19 World Champsp. 246
20 What Dynasty?p. 261
Epiloguep. 271
Acknowledgmentsp. 285