New York City, as we all know, has a plethora of things to do at all times of the day and night. But for baseball fans, the choices are rather clear. You are either a New York Yankees fan i\or root for the crosstown New York Mets.
In the first half of the 1980s, the Yankees were the far superior of the two teams because the Mets were really bad. But at the end of the decade, the fortunes turned around as the Mets were good and the Yankees had slipped into the basement of the baseball world. It was in the middle, 1985, that this story gives us a glimpse of the two teams and their fans concerning the level field of talent from both of them became the story of the city. The Yankees level was going in a downward spiral while the Mets saw theirs rising.
This crazy season is the focus of author Chris Donnelly’s book. We have the Yankees owned and operated by George Steinbrenner who was always sticking his nose into the decisions made by his general manager and field boss. He made it public when he didn’t like something and went on a rant about it to the media. He would feud and insult is star player Dave Winfield in the newspapers and radio waves and also fired Yankee legend Yogi Berra after two weeks into the season to hire Billy Martin. This would be the fourth time he hired him after firing him three previous times.
The Mets were under the control of owners Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon who stayed out of the way and allowed general manager Frank Cashen run the club as he was hired to do. Cashen always asked for approval of the big deals from the two owners such as reigning in two players from other teams that became integral parts of the successful season. He acquired Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter.
The book takes us inside the dugouts of each team with the Mets leaning heavily on two young stars in Darryl Strawberry and Dwight “Doc” Gooden. In fact, Gooden was very good and was a strong Cy Young candidate while Strawberry led several offensive categories.
The Yankees has a young star in Don Mattingly but a team that is run by Billy Martin is likely to become a traveling circus. This is a fact. It was veterans such as Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield that was expected to lead the team in the twilight of their careers.
Both teams were in first place in their respective divisions at times during the 1985 season but each failed at the end. Ironically, the Mets and Yankees were eliminated on the next to last day of the season. The Mets lost to the Cardinals and the Yankees were chasing the Blue Jays.
The city was a battle of baseball fans from the beginning of the season to the very end as which would rule supreme in Gotham. Some of the parts of the book have hilarious anecdotes from the clippings of the local paper and the year was very entertaining to read.
This is a book that baseball fans would like but mostly caters to the fans of New York and especially those that lived through it. The book is well researched and captivating at times.
I enjoyed reading the book and giving my honest opinion of it and the University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of it.
-The book has 312 pages and was first published on April 1, 2019.