NEW YORK — “What will be?” you say.
“Will be,” I say.
“Huh?” you say.
“What will be will be.”
“No, no,” you say, “with the World Series. What will be? You picked the Mets, didn’t you?”
“Well, I . . . “
“You picked the Red Sox, didn’t you?”
“Well, I . . . “
“So now tell us. How will it go? Game by game. Thrill by thrill. What will be? You must have a prediction. You must have some thoughts.”
“Well,” I say, “I have a vague idea. . . . ” GAME 1: Absolutely nothing happens in this game until two outs in the ninth. Then Dave Henderson hits a 3-2 fastball for a home run. It is followed by a Spike Owen home run. Which is followed by a Wade Boggs home run. In fact, the entire Boston lineup hits solo home runs, and takes a 9-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth. The Mets then score 10 and win the game, 10-9. GAME 2: Roger Clemens takes the mound for Boston, and the Mets counter with Dwight Gooden. “Oh what a pitching duel!” coos Joe Garagiola. “A heck of a pitching matchup! Wow! Just an unbelievable pitching matchup! Really! It’s some kind of pitc–.” Oops. Somebody pulled Joe’s plug. Meanwhile, the game goes to the bottom of the 11th — a grounder to shortstop Owen, which could be a game-ending double play. Except Owen can’t get the ball out of his glove. Frustrated, he throws the glove instead, which Marty Barrett catches and relays to first in time to make the play. The Red Sox win, 1-0, and award Owen the game ball, er, glove. GAME 3: The Series shifts to Boston for a game the players will call “the greatest of all time.” It lasts 17 innings and ends on an-inside-the-park homer by the Red Sox. Unfortunately, not a word is written about it, as the entire press corps of the free world is stuck circling over Logan Airport. GAME 4: The Mets receive a strange gift from last year’s NL pennant winners, the St. Louis Cardinals. It is a 300-foot red tarp. “Hmmm,” says manager Davey Johnson. Not long after, Boggs mysteriously disappears. Without their best hitter, the Red Sox seem out of sync. The game is won by the Mets on a Gary Carter single with the bases loaded. Afterward, Carter gives an interview that lasts four hours and 25 minutes, until the last reporter passes out. Carter, talking about his first bicycle at the moment, fails to notice. A mysterious lump is spotted in the tarp. GAME 5: Controversy erupts when several Mets accuse Boston pitcher Oil Can Boyd of scuffing the baseball. “We’ve got socks full of his scuffed balls in our clubhouse,” says Ray Knight. Boyd says he didn’t even notice his socks were missing. Meanwhile, the Red Sox accuse the Mets of stuffing their bats with cork. “We’ve got socks full of their bats in our clubhouse,” says Rich Gedman. As the pressure mounts, Mets infielders Tim Teufel and Howard Johnson disperse to a Boston saloon, where they get in a fight over how to pronounce
“Park your car in Harvard Yard.” Both are suspended until the question can be resolved. Game 5 comes and goes, with the Mets winning easily, 9-3. GAME 6: The series shifts back to New York for the final two games. By now, the media throng works out to approximately 347 reporters per ball player. Desperate for a new angle, the Boston reporters interview Mr. Met, the team mascot, who is really a cartoon, although he doesn’t tell them that. Clemens starts, although his flu bug has developed into a severe case of chicken pox.
“I’ll be fine,” he says. “Which one of these spots is the mound?” Mets manager Johnson arrives early and consults his office computer, which tells him to start Sid Fernandez, and to invest all his money in pork bellies. The game is decided early, when Fernandez gets rocked by the Red Sox, and the Mets suffer their worst series defeat, 9-2. Afterward, Johnson is calm, even smiling. “You have to take these things in stride,” he says. It is later learned that pork bellies reached an all- time high that afternoon. GAME 7: A star-studded affair that could only happen in the Big Apple. The paparazzi are out in force, snapping photos of Carlos (Rafael) Santana, Bobby
(Ray) Knight, Mary (Mookie) Wilson and Jimmy (Gary) Carter. George Steinbrenner is found putting glue inside the Mets’ gloves and is promptly ejected. Boston starts Bruce Hurst, who the Mets claim scuffs his baseball.
“We’ve got socks!” yells Teufel. Meanwhile, New York goes with its ace, Gooden, and the sold-out crowd holds up cards with the letter “K,” which stands for “KILL SOMEBODY! ANYBODY!” Boston rallies in the ninth.
But the Mets, unfazed, win the game and the series on a Darryl Strawberry triple with the bases loaded. In the frenzied locker room afterward, the team signs a three-album deal with Columbia records, and agrees to guest-host MTV for the entire winter. Carter begins his interview in the shower. “We always knew we would win!” hollers Wally Backman to a crowd of reporters. “Here, hold these socks full of scuffed baseballs, will ya?”
“Whose are they, really?” he is asked.
“Gooden’s,” he says.