1. GAME 6, 1986 WORLD SERIES, BOSTON AT NEW YORK (METS)
This was a game so mismanaged that Peter Gammons wrote an entire Sports Illustrated article about just that five months later. This was a game that lasted more than 274 minutes, most of them laborious, nerve-wracking, and excruciating. This was a game in which the winning team scored the tying and winning runs of the game on a wild pitch and an error. This was a game in which the Red Sox pitchers Calvin Schiraldi and Bob Stanley threw 13 two-out pitches that could have won the World Series for Boston, including four separate pitches in which Boston was just one strike away from victory.
Yes, this was the closest a team could get to winning a World Series without actually winning it. Up 3 games to 2 in the Series, Boston threw ace righty Roger Clemens (24-4) against Bobby Ojeda at Shea Stadium in the potential clincher, and Clemens left Boston's bullpen with a 3-2 lead in the seventh. (manager John McNamara said Clemens had a blister; Clemens said he wanted to stay in the game). The Mets tied the game in the eighth, but Dave Henderson (who could have enjoyed Paul Revere–type status in Boston had the Sox won) gave Boston a 4-3 lead in the 10th inning with a leadoff home run, right as the clock at Shea Stadium struck midnight. When Wade Boggs doubled home another run later in the inning, it was up to Schiraldi to get three outs in the bottom of the 10th.
He couldn't. After he got the first two Mets on flyouts, Gary Carter and Kevin Mitchell stroked singles. Then Ray Knight broke his bat on an 0-2 bloop single that landed just over the head of Sox second baseman Marty Barrett. Sox 5, Mets 4. McNamara brought Stanley in to face Mookie Wilson. (Two things here: one, McNamara managed this game so poorly that he should have been imprisoned, and two, Stanley's the only man to pitch both this game and the '78 playoff game, which has fueled rumors that he might be the Antichrist.) The Steamer got two strikes on Wilson before throwing a ball. Wilson fouled off the next pitch.
(Keep in mind that the action in the preceding few sentences all took place with Boston needing just one out to clinch the entire %#$@&$ series!!!)
With the count 1-2, Stanley uncorked a wild pitch that got by catcher Rich Gedman and brought home Mitchell with the tying run. Wilson fouled off the next three pitches before rapping a ground ball to Boston's Bill Buckner.
And you know the rest.
Why did McNamara take Clemens out? Why did he let Buckner bat against lefty Jesse Orosco in the eighth inning with two men on, two outs, and righty slugger Don Baylor on the bench? Why couldn't they get the last out? How could Knight keep the Mets alive with a broken-bat single? Why was the hobbled Buckner in the game when McNamara had replaced him with backup Dave Stapleton in similar situations throughout the playoffs? How could the Mets win the game on a wild pitch and an error. Is there a God? Is there a God?
Bill Simmons is a frequent contributor to the Boston Phoenix.