As the prospect of the 2021 New York Mets missing the postseason becomes more and more of a tangible outcome, ESPN is providing frustrated and downtrodden fans with an opportunity to re-live the glory days.
Once Upon A Time In Queens, directed by Nick Davis, will be the latest of ESPN’s acclaimed “30 for 30” documentary series, providing an in-depth and sometimes never-before-seen look at the 1986 Mets — the last team in franchise history to win a World Series — with the two-night special premiering on Tuesday.
The fact that the Mets haven’t won a title since then still mystifies one of the heroes of that ’86 team, starting pitcher Bobby Ojeda, who won a career-high 18 games that season with a 2.57 ERA — both career bests — and started both infamous Game 6’s of the NLCS and World Series.
“We’re the last team that won it,” Ojeda reiterated to amNewYork Metro. “Are you kidding me?”
That’s a question Mets fans have probably asked millions of times over the last 35 years, especially this season. But Ojeda is a bit more qualified to weigh in on things in Queens. After his playing career, he worked as a pitching coach within the organization and spent five years as the lead analyst on the team’s regional sports network, SNY.
Despite the arrival of new owner Steve Cohen, the bolstering of an already talented-looking roster on paper thanks to the acquisitions of Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, and James McCann, and playoff expectations, the Mets nosedived this summer as injuries and inconsistencies proved too much to handle.
So, what does Ojeda see?
“The problem with the Mets when I was there as a player, there as a coach, there as an analyst, is they get too high and they get too low,” Ojeda said. “In other words, when they’re going good, they’re high-fiving and taking their shirt off and it’s ‘we’re going to win the next 16 World Series.’ When they’re going bad, they hang their heads, they pout, they go inside, the whole thing. You can’t do that.”
A prime example of how they should carry themselves — much to the chagrin of Mets fans — according to Ojeda, can be found a few decades ago across town in the Bronx.
“The best teams — those Yankees teams from the 90s — those teams were steady and consistent,” he continued. “A lot of that had to do with Joe Torre, and I’m not a big Joe Torre fan, but Joe Torre managed all those egos. You have to manage egos, you have to manage people, and you have to be the guy in charge and not let get guys get too high, too low; sort of tamp down some of the antics.
“The Mets fail to do that year after year after year after year. It’s uncanny, no matter who’s running them or who’s owning them. It’s the same philosophy on the field and it’s embarrassing, quite frankly.”
The latest regime in the clubhouse to try and reverse that trend is second-year manager Luis Rojas, who is sitting on a hot seat that continues to warm with each passing game. Prior to Sunday night’s series finale against the Yankees, the Mets were five games out of first in the NL East with 19 games remaining.
“If they had like, nine rings, you do whatever you want. If you’re winning World Series, do whatever you want. But they’re not doing that,” Ojeda said. “New York Mets fans are the best, most true fans in the world. They deserve better than what they’ve been getting for the past 35 years.”