Today marks the one-week anniversary of It, and the sting of Game 6 has just now begun to fade. Will it ever really go away?
To answer this question, I called a man who knows something about losing Game 6: Spike Owen. He was the starting shortstop for the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. They had the Mets down to their final strike in Game 6 before fate screwed everything up.
Twenty-five years have lapsed since that immortal game. But some days 25 years can feel like 25 seconds.
"You just... life goes on," Owen said Wednesday. "I still get asked about that a lot. There was nothing more I wanted than a World Series championship. To get that close, there is a lot of pain to it, knowing we had it right there and it got away from us.
"Time heals the hurt and the pain, but I'll be somewhere and someone will talk about it again. There is no bitterness toward anyone on our team because we had a great club and you do get over it, but it's still in the back of your head. You just move on, but you don't forget about it."
For the fans, or even some members of the media, the hurt of Game 6 will be an event forever recalled in vivid detail. We should all expect every time a postseason is played for the rest of our lives that highlights from this game will be a part of the package. This is one of those bonding where-were-you-sports moments that is so fun to relive, if you are on the right end.
On a personal level, I badly wanted this for any number of people, including various members of the Rangers organization, players, Randy Galloway and former Star-Telegram columnist Jim Reeves, and the countless friends who have rooted for this team since they were kids.
But after talking to Owen, I learned that these memories fade, but never go away.
Owen was the shortstop for the Red Sox that led the Mets 3-2 at Shea Stadium on Oct. 25, 1986. The Red Sox registered the first two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning before Mets catcher Gary Carter started the rally with a single on a 2-1 count. Two batters later, Ray Knight was down 0-2 before dumping a pathetic single into right-center. The next batter was Mookie Wilson, and Bill Buckner landed on the cruel side of history.
When Owen watched the Rangers-Cardinals Game 6, he could easily see his own Game 6 from 25 years ago.
"All you need is a little luck -- hit it at somebody, a grounder, anything," Owen said.
The difference, of course, is that the Rangers had the Cardinals down to their final strike with a two-run lead -- twice.
"I was watching that game on TV and, I don't know, you could sense it [the loss] in a way, which is weird," Owen said. "It happened really fast. It was the same way in Boston. It was like, 'Man, this just didn't just happen did it?' And the next thing you know, we're walking off the field and you've lost. It was really quiet in that clubhouse after that game."
Much like the Rangers after their own Game 6, the Red Sox said the same thing -- there was still another game to play and they could still win the World Series. In truth, to come back from losing that type of game when everything is within a single strike is too much to ask.
"In the regular season, it's another game and we'll come back," Owen said. "When you take a loss like that in the World Series... to know you are one strike away and it all snowballs away from you, it's tough to come back."
The Rangers had a 2-0 first-inning lead in Game 7, but it never felt secure. The Red Sox led 3-0 in the sixth inning before coming apart in their Game 7.
"You are a professional and you do come back, but the momentum swing is so big and the Mets were riding so high that, even when we got the lead in [Game 7], you are by no means comfortable," Owen said.
Owen, who is from the Cleburne area and lives just outside of Austin, is 50 and manages the Round Rock Express.
He was the sixth overall pick of the Mariners in 1982 out of Texas and played 13 major-league seasons for five teams. In 1988 with the Red Sox, he again reached the playoffs. Boston was swept by the Oakland Athletics, who were managed by Tony La Russa.
Owen played for seven more seasons after that series, but never made the playoffs again.
"You do move on," Owen said. "There is that side of me that really wanted that -- a World Series and to be that close and to not get it, that is really hard."
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Mac Engel, 817-390-7697