By: Heather Quinlan
July 8, 2023

One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of reconsidered passions, reassessed hates, and reversed feelings everywhere in-between. Series edited by Adam McGovern.



I loved the Mets. I dog-eared the anvil-sized Baseball Encyclopedia to keep up on stats. Rejoiced at the team’s every win, was unbearable to deal with when they lost. Celebrated their ’86 World Series victory at the Canyon of Heroes in NYC with my mom and grandma. Listened to Steve “The Schmoozer” Somers overnight on the ’FAN. Listened to Bob Murphy and Gary Thorne when games were on Sports Channel (which I learned to my horror went off the air so long ago that 30somethings who now work in sports never heard of it).

I thought Davey Johnson was a serviceable manager but relied way too much on playing the percentages. Prove me wrong.

And then, like so many young loves, it began to fade as the team was traded away, almost piece by piece, their replacements good on paper but only adequate on the field. There were so many bad decisions made by the same people who’d assembled this fantastic team in the first place that my devotion waned. It was unearned. Eventually I went to college, moved away from NYC for a while, always called myself a Met fan (especially when Yankee fans were around), but basically felt like the Mets and I were a couple who’d broken up yet stayed friends.

I maintain that the best stories are sports stories, the best writers sportswriters. Homer, Ring Lardner, Roger Angell, Joyce Carol Oates — epic battles that can leave players and spectators tortured in their own respective ways. And as a documentarian, I was a huge fan of ESPN’s 30 for 30, which started in 2009 as 30 sports docs by 30 different directors, but continues to this day. “Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks” is a 30 for 30 that’s one of my favorite documentaries of all time, and I don’t even like basketball. But it’s a great story.

So when I had the opportunity to direct a doc about the ’86 Mets and show it to ESPN, I thought I’d hit the grand salami. I was warned MLB were awful to deal with and I believed it, but I also believed I had the baseball gods on my side. (Ya Gotta Believe — Met fans will get that.) They said the players would never talk to me. They talked to me. Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Ron Darling, Mookie Wilson — we even interviewed Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys, Susie Essman, Charles Grodin, and the ’86 Mets chaplain. As was sung in the “Let’s Go Mets Go” video from ’86, “We’ve got the teamwork to make the dream work!” (We also interviewed the guy who directed that video.) We were unstoppable.

And then it stopped. I can’t pinpoint a moment because there were so many all at once. But this was the worst: when an agent who wanted payola didn’t get it, he sent an email to the ’86 team — my heroes — telling them under no circumstances should they talk to me. That I was in it for the money. And for middle-aged guys who had to supplement their income by doing autograph shows, this was the worst indictment of all. (FYI: No documentarian is in it for the money.)

I had done a ton of press to show MLB what we were capable of, sent them a spec trailer, and raised $50K on Kickstarter (it was “Project of the Day”!) but all that did was antagonize MLB and the Mets organization. And now no players were returning my calls, even one who’d started to become a good friend.

The intent had been to release this film in tandem with the 30th anniversary of the Mets’ World Series victory. But ESPN, Netflix, and HBO were a no without MLB, and when I heard our last hope, Fox Sports, also came back with a “no,” I knew it was time to put down my sword and shield.

Coincidentally, just then I got a phone call from my boyfriend. He told me he wasn’t sure he was ready for a relationship anymore and wanted to take a break. I hung up the phone and laughed hysterically. And then I screamed.

[N.B. The story does go on, at 86’d: A Podcast About the ’86 Mets Film that Didn’t Get Made]


CURVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Adam McGovern | Tom Nealon on PIZZA PURISM | Holly Interlandi on BOY BANDS | Heather Quinlan on THE ’86 METS | Whitney Matheson on THE SMITHS | Bishakh Som on SUMMER | Jeff Lewonczyk on WHOLE BELLY CLAMS | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER | Nikhil Singh on LOVE ISLAND UK | Adrienne Crew on CILANTRO | Adam McGovern on MISSING PERSONS | Art Wallace on UFOs | Fran Pado on LIVERWURST | Lynn Peril on ELTON JOHN’S GREATEST HITS | Marlon Stern Lopez on ADOLESCENT REBELLION | Juan Gonzalez on STAN & JACK or JACK & STAN | Christopher-Rashee Stevenson on BALTIMORE | Josh Glenn on FOOTLOOSE | Annie Nocenti on SIDEVIEW MIRROR | Mandy Keifetz on BREATHLESS | Brian Berger on HARRY CREWS | Ronald Wimberly on GAMING AND DATING | Michele Carlo on HERITAGE FOODS | Gabriela Pedranti on MADONNA | Ingrid Schorr on MAXFIELD PARRISH AND SUE LEWIN | Mariane Cara on ORANGE.