Brawl in 1989 Ends Promising Era for Mets
- Updated: January 21, 2016
Fan favorite Roger McDowell and not-so fan favorite Gregg Jeffries ended the 1989 season with a brawl at Shea Stadium that had the benches clearing and Mets fans talking. It’s no secret that McDowell hated Jeffries because of his diva persona, and it was most likely inevitable that the two would come to blows. This was the perfect ending to a season filled with turmoil for the Mets, and the beginning of dark times that lied ahead.
September 27th, 1989 was the last time fans saw Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter in Mets uniforms. Both pinch-hit during the game and promptly tipped their caps to the crowd when the left the field. What Hernandez and Carter meant to the franchise could never be measured frankly because heart is a statistic you can’t put in a book. They both left plenty of themselves on the field and Mets fans still honor them to this day. Unfortunately, this was not the end of the break-ups.
Davey Johnson, the 1986 World Series champion manager, was fired during the 1990 season. When a team is not doing well, managers are more often than not to blame and when it’s over the course of a couple of years, replacements are made promptly. Darryl Strawberry also left after the 1990 season, taking his talents to the West Coast when the Dodgers offered him more than the Mets did for four years, but it was to be expected. Strawberry’s quote from that night in 1989 let us know the writing was on the wall:
“I’ve been thinking about this and I’m not going to demand a trade, but I’m going to talk with Frank after the season’s over,” Strawberry said. “I’ve got a lot of pride. I play baseball for fun, but as long as I’m here, I’ll be the guy blamed for everything. I’ve stood up to it. I’ve taken it. But I think it’s time for a change. I have nothing against the fans or New York. But the only thing that will probably make me happy is a change in scenery.”
Strawberry’s quote that he gave to the NY Times gave you an insight to what that clubhouse must have been like with the team faltering and characters like Strawberry and Jeffries poisoning the waters. Jeffries diva persona was so bad it actually made it’s way around the league. Phillies managers Nick Leyva defended Roger McDowell’s behavior that night by giving us the following:
Nick Leyva, Philadelphia’s manager, defended McDowell by saying that Jefferies is not popular among his own teammates, then Leyva said, ”There were 30 guys on our side rooting for Roger and 20 guys on their side rooting for Roger.
Though this was only seen as a fight back in 1989, it ended up being an almost perfect ending to an era in Mets baseball that had high hopes of producing more than one championship. With the upcoming 2016 season upon us, you can’t help but wonder if signing a player like Yoenis Cespedes would be the right move for the Mets. They seem upbeat, they love paying the game, and the hope to get back to the playoffs this year behind their strong rotation. Having another diva persona in the clubhouse might cause a rift they definitely do not need and like they always say, those who do not learn history, are doomed to repeat it.