Dozens of books have been written and countless stories already have been told depicting the 1986 Mets as a play-hard and party-harder squad that boozed and brawled its way to a World Series championship.
That doesn’t make the upcoming ESPN “30-for-30” documentary about one of the most memorable teams and eras in New York sports history any less fun or fascinating.
The Post was able to get ahold of the screeners this week of the four- part “Once Upon a Time in Queens” — which was directed by Nick Davis and will hit the air on Sept. 15-16.
While there aren’t too many earth-shattering revelations for fans who’ve heard and read everything about that wildest of rides 35 years ago and everything that came before and after, there were plenty of anecdotes and noteworthy quotes from more than three dozen players, coaches, front-office executives, media members and celebrity fans that surely will make this the latest worthwhile view among ESPN’s acclaimed series.
Of course, there is another heavy dose of Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, who already received a 30-for-30 chronicling in 2016, but also some terrific and insightful stories from Davey Johnson, Keith Hernandez, World Series MVP Ray Knight and so many others associated with that team.
All the bases are well-covered, from the personalities, to the on-field brawls, to the drugs and debauchery, to the wild plane rides, to the NLCS against alleged ball-scuffer Mike Scott and the Astros to the World Series comeback against the Red Sox, especially Games 6 and 7, and the breakups and troubles that followed.
Here is a sampling of our favorite quotes and observations from the doc:
- Episode 1 opens with Keith Hernandez making the second out in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the World Series and eventual hero Mookie Wilson smiling and saying: “It was like we blew this thing. But then the rest of it, you probably saw the rest of it,” as his grounder trickling through Bill Buckner’s legs is shown for the first time.
The majority of the episode, though, is about the team’s and the city’s demise following the 1969 Miracle Mets’ title, including the trade of ace Tom Seaver in 1977, which Public Enemy rapper Chuck D calls “such a punch to the grill,” and the bottoming out of seven straight losing seasons from that season through 1983.
- Billy Beane, a first-round pick in 1980 later portrayed by Brad Pitt as GM of the A’s in “Moneyball,” compared joining the Mets to the cult-classic gang movie “The Warriors,” saying, “That’s what I thought New York City was like, that I was going to run into guys on roller skates in Yankee uniforms.” He also says he frequented the punk club CBGB.
- Strawberry on being compared to Ted Williams: “I had no idea who Ted Williams was.”
- Hernandez on his trade from the Cardinals to the Mets in 1983: “[St. Louis manager] Whitey [Herzog] wanted to trade me to Siberia and I thought he did.”
- Hernandez on acquiring Gary Carter in 1985: “Kid was hated around the league, but that was the last piece we needed to get on our way.”
- Lenny Dykstra, one of the most troubled Mets off the field after his playing career ended, claimed the team “put the S in speed,” referring to amphetamine use, which a former equipment manager estimated as “90 percent of the team.” (Dykstra specified Carter wasn’t among them.)
- Dykstra, on his self-dubbed nickname Nails: “By the way, not a bad f—ing nickname. Better than thumbtacks.” Hernandez: “He made plays and got dirty. He was like Pigpen.”
- Bob Ojeda, on his offseason acquisition from the Red Sox: “I first got to spring training and was like, ‘Whoa, these guys are nuts.’ I had no idea what I was getting into.”
- Ron Darling on the Mets’ four bench-clearing brawls in ’86: “That summer, the fan base and the city had been whipped up into a frenzy.” Wally Backman: “Right, wrong or indifferent, we had your back.”
- Queens-raised singer Cyndi Lauper: “It was a big year for people from Queens. We were on top of the world.”
- Chuck D laughed and shook at his head at mention of the Mets’ awful rap record, “Get Metsmerized.” Mets fan Gary Dell’Abate of “The Howard Stern Show” showed off his vinyl copy of their other song that season, “Let’s Go, Met’s Go.”
- Kevin Mitchell on a story in Gooden’s book “Heat” with Bob Klapisch that he once decapitated a cat: “We should set the record straight, stop talking crazy. … Think I’d do something like that? I’m an animal lover, bro.”
- What was the Mets’ mantra that season against opponents? “Drink their beer,” Sid Fernandez said. “Screw their women,” Strawberry said. “And kick their asses,” Gooden said.
- Mets longtime PR man Jay Horwitz: “I never met any [women]. There weren’t any Jewish PR groupies.”
- Ojeda on the May ’86 incident when he, Darling, Tim Teufel and Rick Aguilera were arrested following a bar fight at Cooters in Houston: “We came back to the locker room the next day and they’d taped bars on all our lockers and put a bar of soap and a razor [inside].”
- Terrific and timely 1980s soundtrack throughout the four episodes, including songs by Tom Waits, Beastie Boys, Tears for Fears, Violent Femmes, Billy Joel and many others.
- Mike Tyson on hanging out with Strawberry and Gooden: “It was debauchery back then. Anything goes. New York was on fire in 1986 because we had the Mets.”
- Dykstra to VJ Martha Quinn during an MTV appearance: “I like the Rolling Stones. I like you better.”
- Strawberry on accusations Scott was scuffing the ball during the NLCS: “It was like, ‘How is he getting us out so easy?’ Then you started looking at the baseballs.” Gooden: “It was a like a Wiffle Ball coming in at 90 miles an hour.”
- Fernandez on the costly damage done on the plane ride home from Houston following a 16-inning clinching win in Game 6: “All anyone wants to talk about is the plane ride. That statute of limitations has run out, yeah?”
- Backman, on the parachutist landing on the field before Game 6 of the World Series with the Mets trailing 3-2: “They arrested that guy. He was a hero.”
- “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin on the top and bottom of the 10th inning: “There’s something about shared emotions in large crowds. … I only felt it a handful of times in my life. Two of them were in Game 6.”
- Hernandez on retreating to Johnson’s office after making the second out with the Mets trailing 5-3 in the 10th: “I didn’t want to see them celebrate on our field. I should have been in the dugout until the very end, no matter if we win or lose. … I’m not proud of it.”
- Gooden: “You’re taught as a kid, the game’s never over ’til it’s over. But I thought it was over.” Wilson: “We were in panic mode. We’re in trouble right here.” Ojeda: “We blew it. All this for nothing.”
- Gary Carter’s wife, Sandy, on him starting the two-out rally with a single against former Met Calvin Schiraldi: “Gary hated to make the last out.”
- Mitchell on coming down from the clubhouse and getting the next single: “In my mind, they’re setting me up for failure. The last out of the World Series, I’m not going to be the zero. I’m gonna be a hero.” Ray Knight, before his RBI single: “Failure never entered my mind.”
- Comedian Bill Burr on the Red Sox bringing in Bob Stanley to face Wilson: “That was our closer, a guy who looked like he never did a sit-up. He had no shoulders. He looked like a f—ing beanbag.”
- Mitchell, on scoring the tying run on Stanley’s wild pitch to Wilson, said third-base coach Bud Harrelson told him to “be ready, because this guy always bounces balls.”
- Mookie’s mindset after the game was tied: “I don’t care what happens now. I’m off the hook. I can’t lose this game now.” He smiles watching the Buckner roller and listening to Mets radio announcer Bob Murphy’s call and then NBC’s Vin Scully yelling, “Behind the bag! It gets through Buckner. Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!”
- Knight: “I saw the ball trickle into right field and I felt like I was on a magic carpet.” Mookie: “I went into the clubhouse and said “What just happened?”
- There was still one more game to go, one more win to get: “People think that was it. But you don’t want to blow it after that,” John McEnroe says.
- The Mets won Game 7 after trailing 3-0, but Ojeda said Fernandez “saved ’86, saved the season” with 2 ¹/₃ scoreless innings in relief of Darling. Knight later belts the go-ahead homer and Strawberry adds an insurance blast before Jesse Orosco seals it with a strikeout of Marty Barrett, as Billy Joel’s “This is the Time” plays. “There is no feeling like that,” Johnson says. “But it was a sigh of relief.”
- The final 15 minutes are dedicated to Gooden’s subsequent missteps — missing the parade, his first drug rehab stint the following spring, etc. — and the breakup of the team beginning with Knight not being re-signed, Mitchell (a future NL MVP) getting traded, and the departures in the next few years of Johnson, Carter, Hernandez, Dykstra, Darling, Wilson, Strawberry, Backman and others, without winning another title.
“To win a World Series in New York, that’s it, bro,” Dykstra says at the end. “It’s OK, do you want to know why? I played in New York and won a World Series. Where do you go from there?”