Mike Scioscia hit .191 against Dwight Gooden in 72 plate appearances. You are excused for not remembering 71 of them.The one that mattered was in Game 4 of the 1988 National League Championship Series, Dodgers vs. Mets. It came in the ninth inning and purged the Mets of a 3-1 series lead they were already digesting.The Dodgers would win in seven games and then knock off Oakland in five for their last world championship.“We thought the Mets were the best team in baseball,” Mickey Hatcher said. “After that, we pretty much knew we’d win the World Series.” Claire consulted with scout Reggie Otero, who had signed Griffin in the Dominican. “Fred, you should do this,” Otero told him.Howell saved 21 games with an excellent 1.000 WHIP. He normally had rosin on his glove, “but pine tar worked better in the cold,” he said. It was 43 degrees, with cutting winds and a saturated field, in Game 3.With Kevin McReynolds hitting, Mets’ coach Bill Robinson spotted the pine tar. “The Mets pitchers all changed their gloves after that,” Hatcher said.The Mets’ Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez said the ejection was excessive. That didn’t soothe Howell. The next day he and Gene Orza, from the Players Association, met with N.L. President Bart Giamatti.“I’m terrified,” Howell recalled. “And Gene and Bart are in there cracking jokes. I finally say, ‘Bart, what’s going on?’ He says, ‘You’re suspended for this one game tonight. But don’t worry. Something is going on right now that is going to make everyone forget about this.”Baseball was already investigating Pete Rose, whom Giamatti, as commissioner, would suspend the next August.Howell watched Game 4 in Manhattan, with Marty Gottlieb, an actor, and Tom Litkovich, who worked for Merrill Lynch.The first thing he saw was the last thing that sticks with him to this day. The Dodgers came out wearing “50” — Howell’s number — on their sleeves.“That’s the way that team was,” he said. “People had each other’s backs. We’d follow Orel around, trying to get some of that magic. He would protect the hitters. Dave Parker had said something about me and Orel said, ‘Watch,’ and he struck him out on three pitches, made him look bad.“But the stuff people did to win games, unlikely people … You’d sit there and say, ‘Really? Did I just see that?’ It wasn’t momentum. Something was pulling us forward. People say, ‘Well, they had the will to win.’ Everybody has the will to win. It’s just hard to explain.”No harder than Scioscia’s home run in the ninth inning, on Gooden’s first pitch behind John Shelby’s walk. Scoscia had hit three homers all year. It was tied, 4-4, but without Howell. Alejandro Pena handled three innings that led to Gibson’s go-ahead homer in the 12th.It took starter Tim Leary, Orosco and finally Hershiser, on zero days’ rest, to get through the 12th, with McReynolds popping up, bases loaded.“Orel went down to the bullpen,” Hatcher said. “Tommy said, ‘What’s he doing?’ Then he said, ‘Is he throwing good?’”The series was tied, 2-2. “But the Mets had to wonder why we were still hanging around,” Hatcher said.The Dodgers won six of their next seven games, and a World Series title.In Hallandale, Fla., Reggie Otero went to sleep knowing he was part of a championship franchise. He suffered a heart attack and never woke up.“I sometimes wonder if there’s anybody who hasn’t heard all these stories,” Howell said.He shouldn’t. On Oct. 22, there will not be a single 27-year-old who was alive when the Dodgers won this last championship. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error But Jay Howell, the Dodgers’ closer, was not in Shea Stadium for Game 4. He had a reason, if not an excuse.Poised to save Game 3 the day before, with a 4-3 lead in the eighth, Howell instead was ejected when home umpire Harry Wendelstedt found pine tar on his glove. The Mets then beat the Dodgers, 8-4.“Harry looked at the glove and turned around and gave it the old-school, ‘You’re outta here!” Howell said. “I thought maybe he’d just throw out the glove.”The next day-and-a-half sent Howell through the looking glass, cascading past guilt, fear, anxiety and wonderment. Howell got death threats. Free agency was imminent. He wondered if he had sabotaged his team’s 94-win journey, or even his own career.The Dodgers had signed Kirk Gibson as their headline free agent. General Manager Fred Claire also had swung a three-team deal that brought Howell, shortstop Alfredo Griffin and lefty reliever Jesse Orosco. But it would cost him starter Bob Welch.