"What can I say?" says the Mets' Darryl Strawberry. "I don't understand it. It's very confusing this season."
SATURDAY, SEPT. 22
The pregame show for CBS's national telecast of the Pittsburgh- St. Louis game comes on the two TVs in the New York clubhouse, and Strawberry turns the volume way up. This, dear diary, could be quite entertaining. Studio host Pat O'Brien says Pittsburgh has "taken command" in the division. No reaction from the audience of Mets. O'Brien asks Van Slyke via satellite what has been the "glue" holding the Pirates together through their losing stretch. "I would have to say the Mets," says Van Slyke. Nothing. Tim McCarver comes on and concedes the division to Pittsburgh while mentioning that the Mets have a "magical number of their own—a five-game losing streak."
" Tim McCarver: 'The Mets are done,' " says shortstop Howard Johnson. "Thanks, Tim," comes another voice. By the time CBS shows a tape of Pirate fans purchasing playoff and World Series tickets, a small chorus of raspberries can be heard in the clubhouse. CBS then rolls a tape of Bonds stealing his 50th base on Friday night, which made him the second alltime member (along with Cincinnati's Eric Davis) of the 30-50 club. Bonds is shown uprooting second base in midgame and sauntering off the field with it. The Statmonger does not go over big here. "Wonder if he'll keep a base today when he joins the 30-51 club," says one Met.
Harrelson forsakes the fireworks today, and so do the Mets until the fifth inning, when they score six runs to take an 8-2 lead. This is shortly after they see that Pittsburgh had lost 3-2 to the Cardinals and, according to Strawberry, someone on the bench announced. "It's time to go to work." New York goes on to win 11-5 and cut the Pirates' lead to 2� games. Strawberry, who hit his 36th homer in the fifth inning, says afterward, "We're going to win it." Then, after a pause: "I'm not going to tell you we're going to lose, that's for damn sure."
Strawberry is right: It's very confusing this season.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 23
If you hadn't spent the last six days in Friendly Confinement, you might think the Mets, who hammered the Cubs 7-3 today, were the Mets of old. Dwight Gooden struck out nine and won his 18th game. Strawberry hit his 37th homer to take a share of the league lead and break a scoreless tie in the sixth, and six more runs quickly followed. "Ever since I've been here, even when we had [Gary] Carter and [Keith] Hernandez, if Straw hits, everybody feeds off him," says Gooden.
But Pittsburgh put a 7-2 pasting on its opponent, St. Louis, to remain 2� games in front. On Monday, in the series finale, the Mets will leave nine runners stranded in the last four innings, and lose to the Cubs 4-3, to drop three behind the Bucs.
"All I know," says Chicago first baseman Mark Grace, "is one of 'em is taking our title away. They both laid some pretty good whippings on us. They both look pretty good tome."