Underdog New York's Time: 1986 Mets & Jets

The Mets felt like 1986 had to be their year. They finished second in the NL East the previous two years to the Cubs and Cardinals respectively (prior to the 1994 realignment both leagues were split into two divisions with the current Central teams divided out East and West). The ’85 race had been both exhilarating and disappointing, as they won 98 games, saw 20-year old Dwight Gooden completely dominate hitters on his way to 24 wins and a Cy Young Award and the continued emergence of another young star in rightfielder Darryl Strawberry. A perennial All-Star in Keith Hernandez was at first, and Ray Knight was a steady veteran presence at third. Future Hall of Famer Gary Carter handled the catching duties and feisty sparkplug Lenny Dykstra patrolled centerfield. Behind Gooden was another quality starter in Ron Darling. Prior to the ’86 season the Mets swung a deal for another starter, dealing reliever Calvin Schiraldi to Boston for lefthander Bob Ojeda. They were two pieces of an eight-player swap that would prove to be more than a little ironic by season’s end. At the season’s beginning, the Mets were everyone’s pick to win not only the division, but the franchise’s first NL pennant since 1973 and its first World Series title since 1969.