NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when the Mets owned New York City.
Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden were larger than life; the biggest stars on the bad-boy, mid-80s Amazin’s. Gotham’s back pages were plastered with piping from the Mets’ now-classic uniforms. Older fans can remember how Shea Stadium would rock, how its concrete structure swayed during nearly every home game.
And at the center of it all was Davey Johnson, manager of the 1986 championship Mets.
In town this week with his first-place Washington Nationals, Johnson couldn’t help but notice the difference between then and now.
“Citi Field is like a morgue here,” Johnson told 106.7 the Fan on Wednesday. “I remember when I was here, we had 50,000 packed in Shea.”
Johnson’s club would later complete the three-game sweep, adding to the post-All-Star-break misery of the Mets.
And while fans haven’t exactly been heading out to Nationals Park in droves, Johnson insisted the juice is there for his team.
“Let me tell you, I love our ballpark, man,” he said. “The fans have been outstanding. I mean, they’re into it. It’s great. I’ve seen a big change since I’ve been there. … I really like the fans. I love the ballpark.”
There was much talk recently about the Mets’ so-called goals: .500 ball. Building optimism. Third place?
For Johnson, keeping his players motivated won’t be as challenging.
“Guys, we’re in a pennant race,” Johnson said. “These guys come to the ballpark and they’re flying high, man. They can’t wait. The energy is there. Trust me. I don’t have to do a Knute Rockne on these guys. They’re pumped. Believe it.”
Mets fans — do you have any response to Davey? Sound off in the comments below!