From Bob Klapisch and John Harper's entertaining book about covering the Mets in the early '90s, The Worst Team Money Could Buy:

More than ever, teams need some sass in the clubhouse—players who aren’t consumed with their public personas. Is it coincidence that the only teams that have won in New York since free agency came along is the hard-ass Yankees of Munson and Nettles and Reggie and Billy, and the fuck-you Mets of Backman and Dykstra and Hernandez and Carter? In some ways that’s all chemistry is, having enough players with the balls to say, Fuck you, I don’t care what they think or you think, I don’t care what’s in the papers, I don’t care if this guy throws at my head, I’m going to kick their ass and yours too if you’re not right there with me. That’s why the Mets missed about Knight and Mitchell and Backman and the others who were dismissed too quickly. It’s an attitude no amount of earnestness can buy, a toughness you can feel around certain teams and certain players that isn’t defined in numbers or character references .The Mets had it, and management didn’t appreciate it–that was the sad part.

The Mets of the '80s were assholes, just like the Bronx Zoo Yankee teams, just not as funny:

Little by little, the Mets were becoming the old Yankees, the original press haters. Billy Martin had been the leader, a virtual dictator, even after he’d been humbled so many times by George Steinbrenner. Norman MacLean, then of the United Press International, once walked into Matin’s office and asked him for a few minutes’ time.

“Get lost, Norman,” Billy said pleasantly.

“Just a quick couple of sentences,” MacLean persisted.

“Norman, get the fuck out of here,” Billy said, his face darkening.

“Look, all I need is three sentences,” MacLean said, panicking.

Softening, Martin smiled and said, “Okay. You want three sentences? Turn on your tape recorder.” When MacLean obliged, Martin leaned into the microphone and said, “Fuck you. You’re an asshole. Get out of here.” Billy leaned back in his chair and said, “How’s that Norman?”