(apologies to The Frogs for the above headline).
Former Mets starter / current SNY analyst Ron Darling’s latest tome, “Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life” hit the shelves of the nation’s few remaining book sellers today, and in excerpts published by the Wall Street Journal, details surrounding the Amazins’ drug use make up, well, the entire preview :
Each pill had its own name. The five-milligram amphetamines were known as white crosses—and these were passed around like candy, if that was your bag. The heavier doses were black beauties. Remember, this was well before the common use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs; in many ways, you could make an argument that the drugs of choice in our clubhouse were more performance reducing than anything else. But most starting pitchers were loath to mess with any chemicals that might mess with their mind-set—anyway, I was. You’ve got all that time between starts, the last thing you want is to be anxious and on the edge for four days; if anything, you want something to take the edge off.
Still, the jar was very much in evidence, very much a part of our team “chemistry,” even though the jar itself had disappeared by the 1986 season. We continued to use the same language, though, so you could still hear the terminology on the team plane and in the clubhouse, but the pill-taking became much more secretive. You either understood the euphemism—or you didn’t, because it didn’t apply. It was no longer out in the open. The talk went underground, but even there you’d continue to hear comments like, “Hey, I did a couple of white crosses but that didn’t do it so I threw a black beauty on top and it was perfect.” You’d see guys toward the end of a game, maybe getting ready for their final at bat, double-back into the locker room to chug a beer to “re-kick the bean” so they could step to the plate completely wired and focused and dialed in. They had it down to a science, with precision timing. They’d do that thing where you poke a hole in the can so the beer would flow shotgun-style. They’d time it so that they were due to hit third or fourth that inning, and in their minds that rush of beer would kind of jump-start the amphetamines and get back to how they were feeling early on in the game—pumped, jacked, good to go. How they came up with this recipe, this ritual, I’ll never know, but it seemed to do the trick; they’d get this rush of confidence that was through the roof and step to the plate like the world-beaters they were born to be.