In the mid-nineteen eighties, the New York Mets were building a dynasty. With just one season removed from an emotionally charged 1986 World Championship season, the hometown heroes were at it again.
September 22, 1988, Manager Davy Johnson is still at the helm alongside his trusty pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyer. An RC Cola billboard enters the television screen, horns are blaring, and the both of them are shown standing in amazement as their starting pitcher, Ron Darling, bats in the bottom of the eighth inning.
In the previous top half of the inning, Stottlemyer had just paid a visit to the mound to check on the strength of his right-hander. At first glance, with runners at the corners, you could easily sense that Darling may have run out of gas. On nothing more than fumes, Darling then proceeded to retire the side by inducing a six-four-three double play.
Champagne about to blow, “We are the champions of the world,” close to drowning out the exhilarating roars of the Shea Stadium crowd, a quick cut to the NYPD in riot gear riding horseback, the Mets would go on to win the ball game and earn Ron Darling a complete game victory.
After clinching their second NL East division title in three years, the 1988 NY Mets set their sights on the California coast. Their arrogance was obvious. Their confidence none other than a layer of hard-fought determination to prove that that magical ’86 season was no fluke. Unfortunately for the Mets, they were unable to reach the World Series in ’88.
It’s now September 22, 2010, Mets left-hander Johan Santana is in the batter’s box in the bottom of the eighth inning. A broad smile is showing on the face of Pitching Coach Dan Warthen, an even broader smile on the face of their skipper, Jerry Manuel. Citi Field is shaking. The inevitable has finally materialized. The unthinkable has found itself front and center. The bottom half of the eighth inning has run its course. Santana is then asked to take the hill in the top of the ninth with the hopes that he will be able to finish what he started.
Ron Darling, who is now coincidentally sitting in the SNY broadcast booth watching and listening to the screams and hollers of all the rabid Mets fans, decides to take a backseat to Santana’s gutsy performance. After an earlier run scoring double by left fielder Jason Bay that all but secured the Mets 6-2 lead, Santana completes the final three outs in one-two-three fashion.
Raising his arms to the sky, tackled by his teammates, the negative force now lifted, the southpaw turns towards those Mets fans in attendance and shouts, “anything is possible.”