Warm Thoughts for a Cold Winter: “1986: A Year to Remember”

One year, for my grandfather’s birthday, my brothers and I “bought” him (despite not having any money at all) “1986: A Year to Remember”, an hour-long highlight video of the newly minted world champion Mets. Grampa–who lived next door to us–had a VCR, and we did not. So we invited ourselves over to watch it with him. Even if he wasn’t home. Every day. For two years. That is not hyperbole. I will swear on the holy book of your choice that this is true.

I can probably recite every word in this video, from beginning to end. I acquired a not-at-all legitimate copy on DVD a few years back, and I still watch it every now and then. It is wall-to-wall awesome, pure and simple. Watching it over and over again at an early age did permanent damage. It is probably the biggest reason why I became such a huge baseball fan.

Why? It’s hard to say, because it’s ingrained in my consciousness so much. I can’t identify why this video is so great any more than I can comment on the greatness of The Beatles or a sunset. But maybe we should start with the musical montages. They are many and varied. This video contains:

  • A segment about the team’s hotfoot pranksters, like Roger McDowell, to the tune of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s “Karn Evil 9”
  • The leadership of Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter, as exemplified by
    Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock” (a good decade before it was adopted as
    Chevy’s anthem)
  • A montage of “partners in grime” Wally Backman and Lenny Dykstra set to Duran Duran’s “Wild Boys”

As you might expect, the video does not allude to the Mets’ hard partying ways, and it glosses over controversies like the Houston bar fight and George Foster’s carcinogenic clubhouse presence (though a doc about 1986 produced by SNY a few years ago does). But who wants downers like those when you can watch a chock full of unbelievable clips from an insane season?

Though not commercially available, a body can track down this video in one form or another on the interwebs. If you just want to view it, it’s still available in streaming chunks on the Mets’ official web site. Just point your browser here and pick a month from the drop-down menu in the lower right corner.