2014 TOPPS ARCHIVES DECKLE EDGE HOWARD JOHNSON
In that universe, Buckner’s atrophied leg muscles still prevented him from beating Wilson to the bag. He was back on his heels, and he hopped toward first base in his ankle-high cleats, but Wilson was too fast out of the box and down the line. So what next?
Let’s imagine that Howard Johnson moves toward home from the on-deck circle, but stops in his tracks when he sees John McNamara heading to the mound. Bob Stanley seems a bit unnerved, so McNamara opts to bring in the left-handed Joe Sambito to face Johnson.
And here maybe Sambito strikes out Johnson on a curve in the dirt, and Dave Henderson comes up third in the top of the 11th and fulfills his stubborn destiny as the postseason hero of 1986. Sambito then pitches a shut-down bottom of the 11th, throws his mitt in the air, and mints a lasting legacy in New York as not only a Bethpage boy who made it to The Show, but as the partial author of more Mets heartbreak and misery.
Or perhaps Johnson cracks a liner over the head of Spike Owen. Ray Knight trots home with the winning run, and separate bands of celebrating Mets mob Johnson at first base and Knight at the plate. Johnson will be remembered fondly forever by Mets fans for this hit, and cursed as Howard “Bleeping” Johnson by the Nation.
Let’s hear your vision of this parallel universe in the comments below. The best entry (as judged by me, possibly while sober) will win this 2014 Topps Archives Howard Johnson Deckle Edge insert.