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October 21, 2011

Friday 5: Jeff Pearlman

A quarter of a century ago, the Boston Red Sox were up 2-0 on the New York Mets and just days away from falling victim to one of baseball's biggest blunders.

And while most people just remember Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner misplaying a routine grounder in Game Jeff Pearlman reminded us in his book The Bad Guys Won! that there was so much more that made the Mets winners.

HOVG: The Bad Guys Won! came out in long did you plan to write about the 1986 Mets and what prompted the desire to tell their story?

PEARLMAN:  It wasn't exactly a lengthy process. I was a writer at Sports Illustrated, and I'd never written a book. A literary agent named Susan Reed said, "How about the '86 Mets?" and I immediately loved the idea. That was my team growing iconic bunch from an iconic era. I wish I could say, "I knew from the moment I held a pen that one day I'd write their story"...but I didn't. That said, sure glad I did.

HOVG: I followed the team religiously throughout the 1986 season and, obviously, the stories you uncovered were ones that most of us had never heard.  What is your favorite story?

PEARLMAN: Hmm...probably the flight back from Houston after the NLCS, which opens the book. It was just pure craziness, which you never see in today's game. This raw, carnal, unleashed joy. I always remember Ron Darling telling me about the woman throwing up on their leather outfits. Still an image that can't escape my mind.

HOVG: Were there any stories you couldn't include in the book (legal or otherwise)...that you wish you could have?

PEARLMAN: Hate to be lame...but, no. None come to mind.

HOVG:  A lot of people are familar with the backlash you're receiving with your current tome Sweetness.  What backlash, if any, did you receive from the Mets or their fans?

PEARLMAN:  Very little. Just the opposite. Of all my books, that's the one that has attained a certain cult status. It's among Mets fans, and maybe cult is too strong. But I always have people come up or write me and say, "Man, that book!" Which gives me such great feelings. It's very meaningful, because the book was a genuine labor of love.  Oh, wait, almost forgot. There was one tiny backlash. I appeared on the "Best Damn Sports Show" in LA. My co-guests were supposed to be Ron (Darling) and Len Dykstra. Dykstra never showed up...supposedly he was pissed.

HOVG:  Lastly, of all the members of the team...who would you LEAST like to meet face-to-face in a dark alley?

PEARLMAN:  Easy...Tim Corcoran. He only played a handful of games, and we never spoke. In an alley I'd be embarrassed, because I wouldn't recognize him.

Jeff Pearlman has had a pretty storied career as a writer having written for,, and Sports Illustrated.  In addition to The Bad Guys Won!, he's penned books about the 1990s Dallas Cowboys, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

His most recent offering, Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton, is on the New York Times bestseller list.

You can follow Pearlman on Twitter at @jeffpearlman.  You can also check out his shenagins on the internets at

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