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The Bad Guys Won: A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo Chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, the Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform--and Maybe the Best [Paperback]

Jeff Pearlman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 22 2011

The Bad Guys Won, award-winning Sports Illustrated baseball writer Jeff Pearlman returns to an innocent time when a city worshipped a man named Mookie and the Yankees were the second-best team in New York.

It was 1986, and the New York Mets won 108 regular-season games and the World Series, capturing the hearts (and other assorted 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 left a wide trail of wreckage in their wake—hotel rooms, charter planes, a bar in Houston, and most famously Bill Buckner and the hated Boston Red Sox.

With an unforgettable cast of characters—including Doc, Straw, the Kid, Nails, Mex, and manager Davey Joshson—this “affectionate but critical look at this exciting season” (Publishers Weekly) celebrates the last of baseball’s arrogant, insane, rock-and-roll-and-party-all-night teams, exploring what could have been, what should have been, and what never was.

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The Bad Guys Won: A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo Chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, the Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform--and Maybe the Best + Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty
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From 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In 1986, the New York Mets won the World Series, taking it from the Boston Red Sox in some of the most memorable baseball ever played. Pearlman doesn't really want to talk about that. He wants to tell you what terribly bad boys these Mets were. There is no boozing, drug use, or bimbo eruption that he does not describe, nor does he miss a single evil quote from one player about another. Doc Gooden's and Darryl Strawberry's silken and glorious talents are not examined nearly so much as their wastrel paths to drug and alcohol use are scrupulously detailed. Rampant sexism and underhanded racism were certainly part of the baseball scene in 1986, but must Pearlman revel in them with such glee? And the prose? Perlman goes purple at the slightest provocation: Bill Buckner's left ankle "throbbed like a transplanted heart." There is a lot not to like here, which is exactly why it will draw media interest and may well become one of the hottest-selling baseball books of the season. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful book about the rowdy 1986 Mets June 26 2004
Pearlman tells the tale of the '86 Mets, how they were put together by brilliant GM Frank Cashen, the turmoil and triumphs of the '86 season, and how this team with so much potential for dynasty status managed to win only one championship.
Pearlman begins with a bang--the near destruction of the interior of an airplane by the newly crowned NL champion Mets, returning from Houston after the classic 16 inning battle which won them the NL crown.
Much of the focus in the early part of the book is on how GM Frank Cashen built the Mets piece by piece, taking them from the no-hopers of the early 80s to the great championship team of '86.
The discussion of the regular season (since the Mets won by some 20 games, not that exciting) is livened up as we meet the individual members of the team.
We see the behind the scene tumult as well. Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden display early signs of the flaws that would mar their careers. Manager Davey Johnson seems blissfully unaware of the turmoil which will eventually shatter the Mets, making the Mets of the late 80s one of the greatest teams to win only one championship.
Time slows as we reach September, with the Mets' mini-collapse that prevents them from clinching the division against the distant second-place Phillies, leading to a Tuesday night riot at Shea as Mets fans storm--and nearly destroy--the field after the Mets beat the Cubs for the division title.
Time slows further for the postseason, where the Mets meet their most severe tests, and two opponents--the Astros and Red Sox--each convinced that they can beat the Mets--and each nearly does.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Okay Overview May 31 2004
It's hard for me to believe that more time has elapsed since the Mets last championship in 86 than elapsed between 69 and 86. I suppose 86 still seems fresh and recent to us thanks to the endless video replays we've seen over the years. That's why it was interesting to get this book and see a perspective of looking back on this dominant team with the benefit of nearly 20 years hindsight now upon us.
Jeff Pearlman's book almost delivers. The overview of how the team is put together and what they went through is fine. He also hits the nail on what kind of team this 86 club was in terms of attitude.
Unfortunately, Pearlman's problem is like so many of those overawed by the 86 Mets, he seemingly keeps looking on this "bad guys" side of the 86 team as some kind of asset to be admired, and in the process overlooks the simple fact that the me-first bad-guy attitude of this team explains why they were nothing more than a one-season wonder, who squandered a chance to become a truly great baseball dynasty. Sure, Frank Cashen made bad trades that made that possible, but just imagine what kind of a better club would have resulted if there'd been a bit of discipline exercised to keep Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry from wrecking their one-way tickets to Cooperstown, and the Mets chance at greatness in the process? Ultimately, that lack of discipline that they could get by with for one year in 86 came back to haunt them in more ways than they could have imagined.
That is why this 86 club will never be confused with the real great New York teams of all time like the 27, 61 and yes, the 98 Yankees. Pearlman's contemptuous dismissal of the late 90s Yankee dynasty as a bunch of "boring" players misses one elementary point.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Looooooooooong SI Article May 19 2004
I don't want to start a baseball holy war, I'm giving the book three stars, not the '86 Mets. In my opinion, which interestingly enough is what a review is, the book is simply average.
It basically reads like a long magazine article, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, considering that the author was on the Sports Illustrated staff. I only mention it because I payed full price for the hardback and would have liked something more than something I could have read in SI for free.
My main criticism of the book is that it is completely anecdotal. A string of stories over the course of a season which never captures the whole. Everything is breezed over; a few stories here, a few stories there. Lack of depth is the main evil of this book. He gives you enough information to interest you, then leaves you high and dry when you want more.
I don't want to draw this out too long because I have only one real problem with the book, and you probably already know what it is. It is just too short, and not in the good way where it is just so good that you wish there were more. There should have been more. Too many things were quickly glossed over.
That said, the book was entertaining and thoroughly interesting. If you are interested in baseball, I would reccommend this read, but please wait for the paperback or borrow it from a library. Paying cover price on this thing is robbery.
To sum up, it's a by the numbers account of a championship season. You won't get much depth, but you will read some funny stories about Tim Teufel.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great behind the scenes view of the '86 Meta
Great anecdotes and stories from many different players and managers. Also context of NYC at that time.
Kept me interested from start to finish .
Published 2 months ago by EA
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading
In depth read on the psyche of a sports - truly demonstrates both the beauty and beast of sports teams
Published 7 months ago by frank biancucci
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Jeff Pearlman book!
Probably Jeff Pearlman's best book, 'How The Bad Guys Won' details the 1986 New York Mets season. Very entertaining from the opening chapter on, it's another page turner from... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jeff Morant
5.0 out of 5 stars Baseball in the 80's.....
I'v bever been disappointed by Jeff Pearlman so far...a good account of the 86 Mets...It is too bad that this bunch won....the bad guys won indeed!!!!
Published 9 months ago by Steff66
3.0 out of 5 stars after awhile nothing shocks you
The way the book started out you wanted to put it down and take a shower just to rid yourself of the creepiness of the opening chapter which focuses on a a binge drinking session... Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2010 by Brian Maitland
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Metsmerized!
This book is priceless merely for the description of the recording session where some of the Mets try to cut a "Super Bowl Shuffle" style rap song, titled "Get... Read more
Published on July 16 2004 by Victor Catano
5.0 out of 5 stars Great baseball history book
If you are a fan of the Mets or a baseball history book, this is a must read. The book is very entertaining and an easy read.
Published on July 7 2004 by Mark A. Haas
5.0 out of 5 stars ha ha ha
this is the funniest baseball book ever!! i couldn't put it doown.
Published on July 7 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars very funny book that i enjoyed a lot
This was a very funny book that I enjoyed a lot. My wife bought it for me for father's day, even though i'm more of a yankee fan. still it was worth the time put into reading it. Read more
Published on July 7 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars If Kevin Elster were a book!
If Kevin Elster were a book, he'd be "The Bad Guys Won." I write this because Kevin is my favorite player ever, and this is one of my favorite baseball books. Read more
Published on July 6 2004
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