#Popups: Mets ‘rap’ it up

Part of the POP UPS series
Written by: Nate Tweedie

Baseball and pop culture have intersected in America for more than a century. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum takes a look at these cross-over stars and events in our web feature #PopUps.

The 1986 New York Mets were good – very good, and not just at baseball. The ’86 Mets were also good at fights – they appear to have won all four of their on-field brawls that season against the Dodgers, Pirates, Braves and Reds.

They were not just good in a fight, but also good at destroying a flight. After beating Houston in the National League Championship Series to advance to the 1986 World Series, the Mets flew back to New York in a chartered plane…and proceeded to celebrate so heartily that they damaged the interior.

Whatever the New York Mets did in 1986, for better or worse, they excelled at it. That is, except one thing: The Mets could not rap.

On Saturday, May 28, 2016, the New York Mets will be honoring the franchise’s most recent World Series Champions – their 1986 incarnation. As this is the 30th anniversary season of when Darryl Strawberry, Dwight “Doc” Gooden, Keith Hernandez, et al won the World Series, not only is this the perfect time to honor the team that won it all, but also to critique their musical abilities.

In the spring of 1986, the Chicago Bears had just dominated the NFL with a 15-1 Super Bowl winning season and celebrated with the famous Super Bowl Shuffle. The song peaked at #41 on Billboard Hot 100 Chart and netted $300,000 for the Chicago Community Trust – a charity. In the world of baseball, the New York Mets were the favorites of many to take a deep run into the playoffs, if not win the World Series. This led the Mets to record their own celebratory album, Get Metsmerized. When the Bears recorded their album, they were owners of a 12-1 record and had already clinched a playoff berth. When the Mets recorded their album, it was a bit sooner in the season.

A 1986 "Get Metsmerized" album. B-114-2016 (Milo Stewart Jr. / National Baseball Hall of Fame)

The Mets opened the 1986 season in Pittsburgh on April 8 as they defeated the Pirates 4-2. The Mets had the next day off. Many of the team members used this opportunity to record Get Metsmerized. That’s right, with a 1-0 record the Met’s recorded the single that started with, “I’m George Foster, I love this team, the Mets are better than the Red Machine...this year we’re gonna win the series ring.” That is quite the statement coming from a team that was yet to finish a single series in the season, let alone win a World Series.

Anyone who was a baseball fan in 1986 knew that the Mets were a confident group of players. Nevertheless, supporting their claims of greatness was the strength of the ’86 Mets. Third Baseman Ray Knight won the Babe Ruth Award for MVP of the Post Season and MVP of the World Series. First Baseman Keith Hernandez won a Gold Glove Award in 1986 and Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter won the Silver Slugger Award. The Mets would also send five players to Houston for the 1986 All-Star Game, four of whom were starters. Pitching also dominated the 1986 season. The Mets had four pitchers with 15 or more wins and reliever Roger McDowell had an impressive 14 wins and 22 saves.

The Mets organization had been propelled by their young talent from finishing last in the division in 1982 and 1983 to second in 1984 and 1985. General Manager Frank Cashen had built this team to win. While the young stars drove the team, their veteran leaders were able to guide to team to come out on top in 1986. However, as is evident in Jeff Pearlman’s book 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 the1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform--and Maybe the Best, the leadership of the Mets seemed not to mind the rowdiness and confidence.

Despite the World Series win and the pile of awards and accomplishments earned by the 1986 Mets, the Album Get Metsmerized is proof that the team did not have a Midas touch. Despite being recorded in April, the album was not released until August. By this time, the team member responsible for promoting the idea of Get Metsmerized, George Foster, was no longer a Met and was playing in Chicago. The delay was due in part to the Mets franchise refusing to promote the album. Once the album was finally released, one thousand copies were printed in a special “collector’s edition”. Additionally, unlike the Super Bowl Shuffle, Get Metsmerized was not recorded to raise funds for charity, it was strictly for profit. Between the lack of a charitable benefit and apparently complete lack of tone and music ability, the album initially sold only around one hundred twenty copies of the original one thousand printed.

Despite Get Metsmerized being a musical failure, the idea of a song stuck with the Mets. In July and August of 1986 the song Let’s Go Mets! was written, recorded, and a music video was shot. Unlike Get Metsmerized, Let’s Go Mets! was created by the franchise, performed by professional musicians, and had a music video that was premiered at Shea Stadium before a late August game against the Dodgers. While the video and song were viewed by many of the cool players as geeky, the video and song have stood the test of time and are beloved by many Mets fans, even after 30 years.

Mets stars Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry both released their own singles in 1986 and 1987 respectively. Doctor K and Chocolate Strawberry were both better in the musical quality than Get Metsmerized, but were still far from the quality the two put out on the field in 1986. This furthers the assessment that the world champion New York Mets likely should have stuck to playing baseball and left their input to the music industry to appearing in music videos.

Unless you are looking for a good laugh, you should hope that you never have the infamous tune Get Metsmerized pop up on your radio.

Nate Tweedie is the manager of on-site learning at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
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Part of the POP UPS series