Aug. 4 (UPI) — Mookie Wilson played a huge part in defining the 1986 New York Mets, but he says the current version of the squad is still learning how to “redefine themselves.”
The Mets legend was the man behind the bat during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, hitting a ground ball down the first base line in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Boston Red Sox. The ball went through the legs of Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, allowing the Mets to score the winning run and eventually win the championship.
Buckner will forever be known for the gaff, which was said to be part of the Red Sox’s championship “curse.” That hex was snapped when the Sox won it all in 2004. Boston would win again in 2007 and in 2014. Now the Mets are the franchise searching for their first title in nearly two decades.
Wilson told UPI that he thinks the franchise made the right decision in staying stagnant at Tuesday’s trade deadline, despite the team sitting in last place in the National League East.
“For right now, I think that the strategy was ‘Let’s wait and see whats going on,'” Wilson said. “Because if you make a trade now, what are you making a trade for? You’ve traded for the future, and you don’t know what you are going to get.”
“You only have a couple guys that have the value to trade to bring back the kind of prospects that you want and those guys are going to be there at the end of the year. They are going to be there this winter. They are going to be there next year, if that’s the direction you want to go.”
Wilson said he wants to know what the Mets’ core is really capable of before the franchise retools the roster.
Buddies with Buckner
It took three years for Wilson to reconnect with Buckner following the famous folly. The men are tied together forever in baseball lore and have gotten close.
“We are very good friends,” Wilson said. “He has been a dear friend for years. We do some things together, some charity work together. We do radio shows, TV shows together.”
“We have a lot more in common than the ground ball in ’86. That’s for sure we found that out. I enjoy my time with him.”
Wilson, 62, made $90,000 during his third season with the Mets. He salary elevated slightly every season, before reaching $1 million in 1989. Buckner, an All-Star and the 1980 American League battinc champion, never had an annual salary reaching the $1 million mark.
The ball that went through Buckner’s legs in ’86? It sold for nearly $420,000 at an auction in 2012.
The clubhouse was a safe haven
Wilson, who is working with StubHub to provide fans with guides for experiences at CitiField and ballparks throughout baseball, said players consider the Major League Baseball clubhouse a “safe haven.”
But social media has opened the door to that clubhouse, illuminating transgressions from players’ past. Fans have witnessed that frequently in the last few months as old tweets from several players were uncovered on social media, including racist and homophobic content.
Several players have apologized, while others offered statements regarding the trend, including Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester.
“If you’re on Twitter, please spend the five minutes it takes to scrub your account of anything you wouldn’t want plastered next to your face on the front page of a newspaper. Better yet, don’t say stupid things in the first place. Too many young guys getting burned,” Lester Tweeted on Monday.
Wilson said players are inviting eyes into their world on their own accord.
“I think that transparency is good but there are also some things you should keep to yourself,” Wilson said. “I think that social media has taken some of that privacy away. The clubhouse has always been a safe haven for ballplayers. This is where you can go and kinda be yourself and whatever is happening outside the walls, you can leave it out there, but social media has changed that.”
“That’s the new ballplayer as well. Nobody asked them to get Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and all those other things like that so they do it by choice. So they are inviting people into their world.”
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for baseball on twitter. It sucks to see racist and homophobic language coming from inside our league – a league I’m so proud to be a part of that I’ve worked really hard to make a more accepting and inclusive place for all our fans to enjoy.
— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) July 30, 2018
Wilson said its beneficial for fans to see what players are thinking, but can be bad if players hit send in moments of frustration.
“Players do and say things that sometimes they don’t really mean and doesn’t reflect who they really are,” Wilson said.