New York Mets

Dickie Thon described it this way: “It was like a boom … a dead sound. Like a thud.”

Today, the boxscore reads HBP (hit by pitch) but, for Thon, it was more than that. The Astros All-Star shortstop had been hit by a pitch major league pitches four times prior to April 8, 1984. No. 5 — a fastball by New York Mets pitcher Mike Torrez — fractured Thon’s orbital bone around his left eye, changing his life and career.

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It’s just past 10 p.m. (edt) and I begin toggling through the channels looking for the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners game. I pass by the short schedule of West Coast games — the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics — before I reach my destination.

Welcome to Safeco Park.

As I lean back on the sofa, I think to myself: How many baseball fans are interested in this game? I mean, really, outside the hardcore Mets and Mariners fan bases. Is this what former MLB commissioner Bud Selig had in mind when he convinced every major league team owner that interleague play was good for the game? Was he envisioning a late-July Mets/Mariners showdown to generate new fans and higher attendance?

I think not.

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Howard William Cohen was labeled by peers, sports fans – even some allies – as arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose and a show-off.

Cohen, known better as Howard Cosell, agreed with every one of those infamous personal adjectives. In fact, Cosell embraced the name-calling and coveted the attention, for better or worse. The more emotional viewers would get, the more Cosell felt reassured he was doing his job.

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Even in hindsight the story is hard to fathom. The New York Mets came to bat in the bottom of the 10th inning, at home, trailing the Boston Red Sox 5-3 in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. They were three outs away from losing the Series. Hold on, this isn’t the story you’re thinking it is.

Wally Backman led off the inning slicing a line drive into the glove of Dave Henderson. One out. Keith Hernandez then hit a hard line drive to centerfield for the second out. The Mets were, as Len Dykstra would later tell Peter Golenbeck in Amazin’, “one out away from wasting the whole f—ing season.”

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