Mets Card of the Week: 2014 Howard Johnson



There is a parallel universe where Buckner fielded Mookie‘s grounder.

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.

1 comment for “Mets Card of the Week: 2014 Howard Johnson

  1. July 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    After the shock of losing the World Series when they were by far the best team in baseball, the players on the Mets came back hungry and management did not do its best to divest the club of talented players with big personalities. Ray Knight was brought back and so was Kevin Mitchell.

    The Mets responded with back-to-back World Series teams and won the division eight years in a row and captured two more Series. Cone, Dykstra, Gooden, Mitchell and Strawberry were around for all four WS winners.

    Buddy Harrelson took over when Davey Johnson retired to become the GM, and has been the manager for six years. He is beloved by the fan base, even though he’s yet to win a World Series. At age 70, some fear the game has passed him by and much like Casey Stengel 50-odd years earlier, Harrelson is frequently caught taking naps in the dugouts. But he runs a good bullpen and the infield defense has consistently been the best in the game under his watch and everyone looks at the naps as an endearing quirk.

    The Dallas Green era never happened. Bill Pulsipher still got hurt but Jason Isringhuasen and Paul Wilson had lengthy MLB careers as starters. Wilson retired last year and we were overwhelmed with stories about how he was the last 300-game winner we’ll ever see.

    Nelson Doubleday learned not to take anything for granted after the near-miss in 1986 and he maintained his majority ownership through the 2012 season, when he sold the team to hedge fund manager David Einhorn. The Mets play in a refurbished Shea Stadium, one without the ugly pennants on the outfield wall but with the beautiful placards back on the outside of the stadium. The sellout streak ended two years ago but they play to 95% capacity in a spacious stadium. Former minority owner Fred Wilpon got in trouble with some questionable investments and no one knows his whereabouts today.

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