Thirty years ago, the Mets won a World Series with a team that was loud, braggadocios, hard-nosed and extremely talented. It was also a team that embodied the excess of NYC in the 1980s—with all the snorting, drinking and fornicating one could hope for—in a way no other sports team from that era could. Part of that legend was captured in Jeff Perlman's The Bad Guys Won, a seminal history of the team that steamrolled its way to 108 wins.

One of craziest stories of that legendary team was their destruction of a charter flight from Houston to New York following their harrowing extra innings Game 6 win against the Astros in the NLCS. That story has been given new life thanks to The Best Last Plane Ride Ever, an animated short by James Blagden, who previously turned Dock Ellis's no-hitter on acid into a cartoon.

Blagden and producer Christopher Isenberg used interviews with four Mets from that 1986 team—Kevin Mitchell, Lenny Dykstra, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry—to get their perspectives on a flight that hosted massive amounts of drinking, drug use, property destruction and even a food fight.

In an interview with Gothamist, Isenberg said that the story of the charter flight was something he and Blagden had been "wanting to do for a long time," and had even hoped for it to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the '86 team instead of the 30th. But in having to take the time to "crack the code" on how to get players to talk to them, as Isenberg put it, the film wasn't released until this year. Once the duo spoke to Kevin Mitchell, they were able to get the process rolling and talk to the film's other three narrators (as well as relief pitcher Doug Sisk, whose role was cut due to time constraints).

"It was funny the way they talked about it, it was almost as if they were talking to the police and they were kind of protecting each other. Nobody wanted to say overtly, 'So and so was snorting coke in the bathroom,'" Blagden said laughing.

Once they got the players going though, they talked so much that Isenberg and Blagden have plans to release a podcast of the interviews with the five men (that will feature audio that didn't make it into the film). They even got a quote from Doc Gooden in which he blamed the team going into an 0-2 hole in the World Series on this particular flight.

According to what Gooden told the duo, "Losing the first two games to Boston of the World Series at home definitely was caused by the partying we did. Everything that took place in that game, now you throw partying on top of that. We definitely weren’t prepared, physically for the first game of the World Series or the second game."

The duo readily admitted that the cartoon was inspired by the opening chapter of Perlman's book, but one of the most impressive aspects of it was that the movie wasn't just a rehashing of Perlman's words. "We definitely wanted to add something rather than regurgitating something," Isenberg said.

"We were able to use our imaginations about what it looked like and what it could imagine it would have felt like," Blagden said. "The cool thing about the kind of visualizing of any story and experience with animating storytelling is like it's illustrating a book, and I guess in a way that's what this was."


Even such a deft recap of the flight wound up missing pieces, with Blagden telling me that they tried to talk to Mets' pitcher and current TV broadcaster Ron Darling, who "seemed to be somebody that they all mentioned in regards to being just primed for New York. He was just such a star and such a charismatic dude." And while the duo got close to talking to Darling, Isenberg noted that he wasn't "100% sure that someone who participates very actively in Major League Baseball could be in this."

Ultimately, what Blagden and Isenberg were trying to do was to bring to life what it was like being on this team in one of their most triumphant moments. "From what I saw in researching, they look like they were having such a good time, it was one of those magical confluences of the time and place and the guys," Blagden said.