The Bad Guys Won

The Bad Guys Won

4.1 45
by Jeff Pearlman

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Once upon a time, twenty-four grown men would play baseball together, eat together, carouse together, and brawl together. Alas, those hard-partying warriors have been replaced by GameBoy-obsessed, laptop-carrying, corporate soldiers who would rather punch a clock than a drinking buddy. But it wasn't always this way ...

In The Bad Guys Won,

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Once upon a time, twenty-four grown men would play baseball together, eat together, carouse together, and brawl together. Alas, those hard-partying warriors have been replaced by GameBoy-obsessed, laptop-carrying, corporate soldiers who would rather punch a clock than a drinking buddy. But it wasn't always this way ...

In The Bad Guys Won, award-winning former Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jeff Pearlman returns to an innocent time when a city worshipped a man named Mookie and the Yankess were the second-best team in New York. So it was in 1986, when the New York Mets -- the last of baseball's live-like-rock-star teams -- won the World Series and captured the hearts (and other select body parts) of fans everywhere.

But their greatness on the field was nearly eclipsed by how bad they were off it. Led by the indomitable Keith Hernandez and the young dynamic duo of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, along with the gallant Scum Bunch, the Amazin's won 108 regular-season games, while leaving a wide trail of wreckage in their wake -- hotel rooms, charter planes, a bar in Houston, and most famously Bill Buckner and the eternally cursed Boston Red Sox. With an unforgettable cast of characters -- Doc, Straw, the Kid, Nails, Mex, and manager Davey Johnson (as well as innumerable groupies) -- The Bad Guys Won immortalizes baseball's last great wild bunch of explores what could have been, what should have been, and thanks to a tragic dismantling of the club, what never was.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drugs, sex and groupies abound in this book by Pearlman, a reporter for Newsday. Only the author isn't a rock critic chronicling the wild escapades of a band; he's describing the very successful 1986 season when the New York Mets won the World Series. As remarkable as the team's performance on the field, the players' escapades outside the stadium are perhaps more memorable, in a far less flattering way. Pearlman, an unabashed Mets fan, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the team, including an insightful portrait of Frank Cashen, the general manager at the time. Pearlman discusses the trades, the players' abilities and unforgettable games. But much of the book is about the difficulties and the unprofessional behavior of many of the players. For example, on one rowdy flight back to New York, United Airlines billed the team an additional $7,500 for damage resulting from food fights and other unruly antics and said the team couldn't fly the airline again. Cashen was upset, but the manager, Davey Johnson, laughed as he tore up the bill in front of the team. The drug use that would become public later was not addressed at the time, though it was obvious to reporters. When asked whether Dwight Gooden was healthy, despite several minor car accidents, Johnson had nothing to say: "As long as Dwight Gooden was smiling and in good physical shape, Johnson required no knowledge about the pitcher's private time. Johnson was a manager, not a babysitter." Pearlman's book isn't simple nostalgia-some of the players have virtually disappeared from the public eye-and much of the wild off-field behavior is still part of the game today. Baseball aficionados, especially Mets fans, will enjoy this affectionate but critical look at this exciting season. Agent, Susan Reed. (May) Forecast: Pearlman's reputation (he wrote about John Rocker for Sports Illustrated) may boost sales, but the book's target audience is New York fans, rather than national. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Seldom does the title of a book capture its essence as well as this one does. Best known for his revelatory Sports Illustrated article on relief pitcher John Rocker, Pearlman tracks the ascendancy of the 1986 New York Mets while foreshadowing the team's inability to resemble anything approximating a dynasty. Blessed with a terrific manager in Davey Johnson, luminous young stars like Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, top-flight veterans in Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter, and gritty ballplayers on the order of Ray Knight and Lenny Dykstra, the Mets cruised to 108 regular season victories before winning a riveting playoff series against the Houston Astros and an unforgettable championship over the ill-fated Boston Red Sox. But this apparent team-for-the-ages included all too many athletes prone to excess and addiction involving alcohol, drugs, sex, and all-around bad behavior. Particularly sad are the accounts of Gooden's and Strawberry's falls from baseball grace, as they became ensnared in a vicious cycle involving late nights, round-the-clock partying, substance abuse, and temper-laden explosions. All this makes for a fascinating read. Recommended for general libraries. Robert C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Read an Excerpt

The Bad Guys Won

A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo-Chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, the Kid, and t
By Pearlman, Jeff

HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 0060507322

Chapter One

Food Flight

It wasn't just guys destroying a plane. It was guys destroying a plane after an emotional roller coaster. There's a difference.
-- Randy Niemann, Mets pitcher

Ray Knight's arms were numb. Not just numb as if he'd spent a few too many minutes in the snow. Numb numb -- as if he'd just swum two thousand laps in an Olympic-sized pool. As if he'd just sparred eight hundred rounds with George Foreman. As if someone had grabbed a 10-foot machete, reared back, and sliced off both limbs. "Maybe someone did," he says with a laugh. "I wouldn't have known."

It wasn't just his arms, either. Inside the head of New York's third baseman a drum was beating. His hands were shaking. His mouth was cotton-dry. His feet were on fire. His uniform must have held twenty pounds of sweat. "I couldn't walk, I couldn't talk, I couldn't move," Knight says. "I couldn't even think." It was exhaustion, more pure and painful than any he had ever felt before. Than any he would ever feel again. "I haven't been in war," he says. "But ... "

But this was war. Or at least the next closest thing.

Sixteen innings. In 16 beautiful, electric, heart-wrenching, gut-churning, bladder-bursting, finger-twitching, eye-bulging, throat-burning innings of baseball, the New York Mets had been pushed to the brink over and over again. On enemy turf, no less. Finally, they had pushed back.

Game 6 of the 1986 National League Championship Series:

Mets 7
Astros 6

The Mets were going to the World Series. It was everything they had dreamed of, but now -- what? The hardest-living players in baseball entered the visiting clubhouse of the Houston Astrodome and didn't know what to do. Scream or cry? Party or pray? A couple of the men had tears streaming down their cheeks. Others slumped in front of their lockers, sandbags for shoulders and rocks for feet. "I could have slept for twenty hours," says Ed Hearn, New York's backup catcher, "and I hadn't even played in the game."

Then and there the Mets reached a collective decision. Perhaps it was inspired by the popping of a champagne cork. Or the cracking open of a beer can. Or the lighting of a cigarette. Or the primal "Whoooo!" bursting from Wally Backman's throat. Whatever the stimulus, the message was clear and powerful: Before they went to the World Series, the Mets would party their fuckin' brains out.

There was one problem: time.

Although the game had begun early enough, at 3:05 P.M., 16 innings was 16 innings. After four hours and forty-two minutes of baseball, it was 8:20 when the first Mets players stumbled into the clubhouse. Even as the bottles of Great Western bubbly were being distributed, Arthur Richman, the club's traveling secretary, was doing everything he could to hurry people along: Congratulations, Ray -- now get dressed! Good job, Keith -- and don't forget your shaving kit! The team had to fly back to New York immediately, and the trip was a long one. Yet in the aftermath of triumph, it didn't matter. Richman was ignored. Kevin Mitchell, the barrel-chested rookie, grabbed Bobby Ojeda around the neck and doused his head with champagne. Ojeda, in turn, doused Jesse Orosco, who doused Doug Sisk, who doused Rick Aguilera, who doused Dwight Gooden, who doused Backman. The Mets didn't just let loose, they bear-hugged and gang-tackled. They were a fraternity without classes to attend, a rock-and-roll band without instruments. Shortly after he entered the clubhouse, journeyman reliever Randy Niemann snatched a bottle of bubbly and poured it on the head of bow-tied general manager Frank Cashen, who responded with a bitter glare of death. As Phil Mushnick of the New York Post wrote, "Cashen's candid crankiness ... created a national image as a party-pooper."

No matter. Some ninety minutes after the victory, a sticky, drenched Cashen, surrounded by empty bottles and crushed cans, made an announcement to his sticky, drenched players: "The World Series bus is leaving! Anyone not on it gets left behind!" This was not a joke. The Mets and their entourage piled onto a pair of buses that went to Houston's William P. Hobby Airport. En route, beers were chugged. The remaining champagne bottles were polished off and then tossed to the ground. Even manager Davey Johnson was indulging.

It was mini-mayhem.

Then they reached the plane.

Women are bad news. Very bad. They take real men -- ball-playing men -- and turn them to mush. They transform ruggedness and determination into sentimentality and passivity. Yes, there are good women in the world. But they are at their absolute best away from the ballpark, preparing dinner over a hot stove and tucking the children into bed. It's a simple equation, really:

Women + Baseball = Trouble

In the mind of Frank Cashen, this was established. Cashen was old school, and he wore the reputation proudly. When Rusty Staub, longtime Mets star, commonly referred to the players' wives as "cunts" and the players' extramarital girlfriends as "special cunts," he was speaking Cashen's language. In his eighteenth year as a baseball executive, Cashen was a throwback to the good old days when a ballplayer would never use the opposite sex as an excuse. Baby due any day? Tough luck -- you're staying with the team. Wife sick? Send her a note. Honeymoon? Not during the season, kid. Cashen's philosophy could be summed up in one sentence: Frank Robinson never missed a day for no friggin' broad, and neither should you. Now, in the midst of the playoffs, this news: The Mets players wanted their wives to fly with the team.

Cashen knew there had been rumblings concerning this issue, but he tuned them out until two of the more respected Mets -- Knight and pitcher Ron Darling -- requested a meeting. In Cashen's office they made an impassioned case for women in flight ...


Excerpted from The Bad Guys Won by Pearlman, Jeff Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Jeff Pearlman is a columnist for, a former Sports Illustrated senior writer, and the critically acclaimed author of Boys Will Be Boys, The Bad Guys Won!, and Love Me, Hate Me.

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Bad Guys Won 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really inconsistent from chapter to chapter. The writer appears to change his opinion of the players from one page to the next. He starts off claiming to be a fan, and occasionally this comes through, but most of the time you get the impression he hates them. Indeed, if they are as much scunbags as he indicates, who wouldn't? Plus, the book often seems to be a paean to the Mets' opponents. Since i bought it to read about the M ets, I didn't much appreciate that.
LTBASS More than 1 year ago
As an original Met fan this book is both nostalgic and insightful of that team in 1986. Although I haven't completed it it brings back great memories of those times and being a sports fan in New York. Unfortunately, our town and the sports world lost one of the main ingredients of that team, Gary Carter. A few years ago I had the pleasure to meet him at our health club. This meeting only reinforced what everyone said about him. This pleasant and cordial man will be greatly missed. To ALL baseball fans and especially Met fans, read the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a woman with little knowledge of baseball I happened on this baseball book about the Mets win in 1986. I loved the humor and perspective Pearlman gave to those outragously bad boys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading the stories about the Mets and how the different personalities of the players galvanized to help them win. Not a Mets fan but a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read yrs ago as met fan remember series was12 when it happened
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pretty much garbage. i realize the truth is outrageous and crude in this case, but it is written for the the lowest common denominator of American society. i quit on this one 100 pgs in.
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I could not put this book down. Very fun read for any eighties baseball fan.
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joseph forlizzi More than 1 year ago
Alot of good info
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john inzalaco More than 1 year ago
This looks like a good book.
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