Mets: What to expect from the 1986 Mets “30 for 30” ESPN documentary

FLUSHING, NY - OCTOBER 27: The New York Mets celebrate after winning game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Shea Stadium on October 27, 1986 in Flushing, New York. The Mets won the series 4-3. (Photo by T.G. Higgins/Getty Images)
FLUSHING, NY - OCTOBER 27: The New York Mets celebrate after winning game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Shea Stadium on October 27, 1986 in Flushing, New York. The Mets won the series 4-3. (Photo by T.G. Higgins/Getty Images) /

What can fans expect from the 30 for 30 ESPN documentary about the 1986 New York Mets?

On Thursday July 9, ESPN Films announced that they are producing a multi-part 30 for 30 documentary series about the 1986 New York Mets. This comes about four years after the 30 for 30 documentary “Doc and Darryl,” which focused specifically on the experiences of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry as they rose to stardom with the Mets in the 1980s and dealt with the painful aftermath.

This time around, it sounds like ESPN will be turning their attention to the 1986 team as a whole. The series is being produced by Jimmy Kimmel, Sal Iacono, Scott Lonker, Jordana Hochman, and Nick Trotta, and directed by Nick Davis.

Since Jesse Orosco sealed the deal by striking out Marty Barrett, the 1986 Mets have been well chronicled in books such as The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman and Game 7, 1986 by Ron Darling. This documentary series will hopefully be the most extensive look yet at perhaps the most Amazin’ team ever in Queens.

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As a younger fan, I was not around when the ’86 Mets were strutting around New York and demolishing every opposing team in sight. I have only learned about them in retrospect, from books, interviews, and of course, the fabulous Game 6 watch party that SNY held back in May with several members from that team.

In this upcoming documentary, I would love to get a sense of how fans in 1986 experienced the Mets in real time. Who were really the fan favorites on the team? Who did the Flushing Faithful think was underused out of the bullpen or off of the bench? What were these guys like off the field to their fans?

The ’86 Mets have a storied history among baseball historians and former players, but I want to hear what the Mets fans in 1986 had to say about their team.

I would also love to hear more stories from the 1986 regular season. We all know about the NLCS against Houston, the 16 inning game in Game 6 that is among the greatest Mets games ever played. We’ve all seen the replay of the 10th inning of Game 6, and hopefully have Vin Scully’s famous “a little roller up along first” call memorized.

Amidst the postseason heroics and overall dominance of the 1986 Mets, I feel that many less historic regular season moments have gotten somewhat lost in the shuffle. There must be a remarkable story about a masterfully pitched complete game, a five-RBI performance, an unexpected comeback, or a tense conversation between manager Davey Johnson and one of his players that hasn’t gotten airtime since ’86.

I’m also hoping that some of the players on opposing teams who faced the club in 1986 will get a chance to share their perspective on the “bad guys” who won it all that year. Were the Mets really as brash and nasty to their opponents as they seem in historical retrospectives? What did Tom Seaver really think about playing on the Red Sox the same year that the two teams faced each other in the World Series?

Seaver is currently retired from public life due to dementia, but I’m hopeful that the ESPN film crew can dig up an old interview with him from ’86 to include in the series.

As for specific people featured in the 30 for 30, I’m expecting many of the familiar “86 Mets” faces we tend to see on SNY. Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Bob Ojeda are all likely interviewees for this documentary.

I would also love to hear from Ray Knight. He gets far less airtime these days than his teammates, but he was, of course, the World Series MVP and scored the winning run in Game 6. Perhaps we hear less from him because he has not worked directly for the Mets or SNY in recent years, but he should absolutely have a large role in the interviews conducted for this series.

Along with Knight, Sid Fernandez should get significant screen time in this 30 for 30. For whatever reason, he is rarely mentioned in the list of “best Mets pitchers ever,” but he, like many of his teammates, had a fantastic season in 1986. Fernandez went 16-6 with a 3.52 ERA, finishing 4th in the NL with 200 strikeouts and ended up 7th in Cy Young voting that year. He was one of the linchpins of the dominant 1986 rotation and deserves just as much celebration as Gooden, Ojeda, and Darling.

Finally, if anyone is going to narrate this documentary, it absolutely has to be Gary Cohen or Howie Rose. There simply are no other worthy candidates for this role.

Of course, with the amount of entertaining content out there surrounding the 1986 Amazins, there may be no need for a narrator. The 1986 Mets are unique in baseball lore for defining both on-field greatness and a wholly distinct team personality. They rewrote the history books on how a team can come together and achieve baseball’s ultimate goal. The ’86 Mets created their own genre of autumn glory.

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No matter what specifics shake out from the production of this 30 for 30, Mets fans should expect hours of nostalgia, candid interviews, heroic highlights, and truly Amazin’ memories.