It’s Not How Much, It’s How Well

I rarely listen to sports talk radio.  I find it to be a vast wasteland of angry fans that are angry at the world because their team is not winning.  However, by accident my radio was tuned to WFAN sports talk radio the day after the Jay Bruce trade.  There was a Mets fan railing about how the Mets are a cheap organization and that they only traded Bruce to the Cleveland Indians because they were the only team willing to pay the entirety of his remaining salary.  If they had traded Bruce to the Yankees, the fan went on to say, the Mets would have received two prospects instead of one even though the Yankees wouldn’t pay all but some of Bruce’s salary.  The fan’s point being that the Mets are cheap and the deal was nothing more than a salary dump.

Well I think this Mets fan’s sentiment is not unique.  And he’s right, the deal was a salary dump.  Keith Hernandez said as much during last night’s telecast.  Yes, the Mets have a reputation of being a cheap ball club.  However, it’s hard to defend that stance when you delve into the facts.  I know we live in a world where facts are unpopular however, I still go by them.

The Mets’ team salary this year was 115 million on opening day.  That ranked as 12th in the majors.  It’s quite a bit more than the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Houston Astros, the Colorado Rockies, and the Cleveland Indians—all teams certain to be in the playoffs.  In addition there are eight other teams with lower salaries that have a better record than the Mets.  Therefore I conclude that making the argument that the Mets are cheap is not a valid one.

Furthermore, the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox are the top three spending teams in baseball and all three of them will make the playoffs, almost a guarantee.  This evidence supports’ the fan’s conclusion that spending more means winning more.  But consider that the Giants, Blue Jays, Rangers, Tigers, Orioles, and Angels all spent more than the Mets and they are having just dreadful seasons.  The point of this is that it is not how much money a team spends but it’s how well the money is spent.

I think a better argument could be made that the Mets did not spend as well as they could have during last off season.  The post mortem of this season will be that the highly talented pitching staff of the ages exploded on the launch pad.  The Mets are almost in danger of having a worse team ERA than the 1962 Mets.  That takes some doing.  I’m not saying that the Mets should have spent money to retain Bartolo Colon but perhaps a veteran starter or two would have been warranted especially considering so many injuries the Mets starters were recovering from.   But once again to defend the Mets, they thought they had good insurance in Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.  The best laid plans…

Also let’s not forget the 110 million dollar contract the Mets doled out to Yoenis Cespedes.  Was that being cheap?  Perhaps if Cespedes worked harder to be in baseball playing shape as opposed to being the next Charles Atlas, he wouldn’t have had such a disappointing injury plagued season.  Neil Walker was a disaster and Travis d’Arnaud, although hitting better lately, was again a big disappointment when it could have counted.  Suffice to say, a lot went wrong during this 2017 season, a year the Mets were supposed to go to the playoffs for a third straight season.  Instead Mets fans had to watch the team across the river that was supposed to be in a rebuilding year do everything right.  Every call-up was great, they could do no wrong.   So in regard to the Bruce trade, did you honestly want to see him belting home runs over that high school right field fence in the Bronx, especially next week against the Mets?  How much of a beating are you willing to take?

I get the fan’s frustration.  Given the media mecca of New York, the available revenue streams, there really is no reason that Mets fans must suffer the way other small market teams do like the Cincinnati Reds.  The fact that the Yankees have not had a losing record since 1992 while the Mets have had only a handful of winning seasons during that same time is simply unacceptable.  I do not blame any Mets fan for complaining about how the team is run.  Their record speaks for itself.  The Mets organization is lacking in many respects.  But they do spend enough money.  They just need to figure out how to spend it better, how to get maximum value in their investment.  And if the money they save not having to pay Jay Bruce for the last month and a half of the season helps net them a good piece for 2018, then it was a deal worth making.  More importantly I won’t have to watch Bruce embarrass the Mets next week more than they already have embarrassed themselves in 2017.

Dodgers 86 the Mets

The title of my post is very clever don’t you think?  You see to “86” something means to get rid of or throw something out.  You can google it and see the various claims to its origin.  And of course I’m making a reference to the ‘86 Mets because they steamrolled over everyone in 1986 like the Dodgers are doing this season.  However, the Dodgers are on pace to blow past the Mets 108 wins of 1986 and the Mariners’ all-time record of 116 wins of 2001.

The Mets were no match for the Dodgers the past weekend and would have been better off having forfeited the entire series and take a nice rest over the weekend.   The thought that crossed my mind while the Mets were being bludgeoned was why Sandy Alderson ever let Justin Turner get away.  But the reality of the Mets season squarely falls on the pitching.  What in the world will Sandy do over the winter to correct this mess?  Can he stay pat and just hope the pitching finally gets healthy.  I think not.

The Mets will hopefully have learned a lesson and go out and get some serviceable veteran pitchers to complement the young Mets staff, at least the ones that remain healthy.  Alderson has already started to re-fortify the bullpen by bringing in pitchers from the Lucas Duda and Addison Reed trades.  Plus he got AJ Ramos from the Marlins for prospects.  So Sandy has already begun to build the bullpen for 2018.

The Mets will need to figure out who plays second, third and catches.  Can the Mets honestly count on Travis d’Arnaud anymore?  It was one thing to live with his defense if was hitting to the potential that had been placed on him.  But the reality is he’s not much of an offensive threat either.  Face it, the Mets need a catcher.  Forget David Wright.  Even if he were to come back, what can the Mets expect from a third baseman that has severe back and neck issues at the age of 35 years old?  Even a healthy 35 year old third baseman is suspect.  It’s time the Mets figure out who’s going to play third on a daily bases.  And no, it can’t be Jose Reyes or Asdrubal Cabrera.

Second base, any ideas?  Dilson Herrera, the prospect to inherit the position was traded last season for Jay Bruce.  Herrera has had shoulder issues this season and has not played for the Reds’ AAA club since July so he may have not been the answer anyway.  Neil Walker looks as if he’s lost a lot since his back surgery a year ago.  He will likely not be back next season.  Could Wilmer Flores play second on a daily basis?  Maybe but I suspect the Mets will be looking at options outside the organization.

And who will manage this team.  Will the Mets really bring back Terry Collins?  I think a new voice is needed in that clubhouse.  Not sure who that voice might belong to but hopefully it’s someone new.

The sooner this disastrous season is over the better.  This has to be one of the most disappointing baseball seasons in Mets history.  With 52 games left it’s time to start thinking about next year.

Moves Begin

The Mets traded Lucas Duda, clearing room for future first baseman Dominic Smith but he’s not coming up just yet.  He will be up in the next several weeks.  So will Amed Rosario, the highly touted future Mets’ shortstop.  Right, because what’s the rush?

I think the Mets are just way too conservative.  If the Mets really believe this is a lost year, and it is, then why not bring them up now?  What is a couple more weeks in Las Vegas going to do for these two players?  Vegas is about a million games under .500 and going nowhere.  I really don’t understand this lack of urgency, even if only symbolic.  At least give Mets fans something to be excited about.  Or are we still overly concerned with Asdrubal Cabrera’s feelings?

I liked Duda but he was never going to evolve more for the Mets than he already had.  He was a mediocre fielder and a very streaky hitter.  When he got hot, he was a marvel to watch but when he went cold, you wondered what ever happened to Ike Davis.  Of course in the American League and mostly hitting as a DH, don’t be surprised if his power numbers rocket.  That could be especially true playing home games in Tampa Bay with no pressure matching anything like playing in New York.  Of course his stay in TB will likely be temporary since Lucas will be a free agent after this season.

Meanwhile the Mets prod along never being able to serious threaten to get to the .500 mark.  It’s ho-hum as they win a couple then drop a couple.  With the trade deadline just a few days away it’s likely the Mets will move Cabrera, Addison Reed, and perhaps Curtis Granderson.  What they will get back won’t be much but perhaps it will help bolster a farm system clearly needing some new talent.  Most of the Mets farm clubs are not having great seasons but one should never judge a farm by win loss records.  However I do judge them by top 100 players and only the soon to be promoted Smith and Rosario make the list.  Meanwhile the Yankees, Braves, Nationals and other clubs seem to have many.  I thought Sandy Alderson was about a strong system.  What happened?

On the bright side, and if you can judge talent by wins and loss, the Mets two minor league clubs in the Dominican Summer League are doing exceptionally well.  The DSL Mets 1 and DSL Mets 2 clubs have identical records of 31-15. Mets 1 is in second place in their respective division and Mets 2 lead their division.  Again, I’m not saying that means anything but perhaps the Mets are doing well in the international draft.

Of course players in the DSL do not help us today as we already head into the last two months of the baseball season.  But maybe the promotion of Smith and Rosario will.  Let me know when they come up.  I’m going to take a nap.

How Did We Get Here Again?

There are many categories to look at when discussing a team’s success during the course of a baseball season.  One that I have been harping on since April has been low scoring games or specifically when scoring 3 runs or less.  After last night’s 3-0 loss to St. Louis, the Mets record at home has dropped to 21-27.  Their record in July is now 4-8.  Add to that 3 under .500 at night.  On and on, the Mets splits look pretty bad but the one stat that stands out the most this season is the win-loss record when the offense scores three runs or less.  For the Mets it is now 3-30, a .091 winning percentage.  That’s simply terrible.

That inability might suggest the Mets’ overall record should be far worse than the current 41-50 they sit at after 91 games.  The fact it is not worse is a testament to the Mets’ offense except for last night when they were shutout for the fourth time this year.  The Mets score four or more runs a lot of nights but no one can expect any offense to not be shut down by good pitching or a slump once in a while.  That’s where the Mets’ “good” pitching was supposed to make a difference.  The Mets had such a corral of stud pitchers that they were going to win those low scoring games to propel them into the post season.  So far the pitching is propelling the Mets into the off season.  And when will the Mets bring up anybody else but Rafael Montero to start a game?  Why must we watch this disaster every five games?

Consider where the Mets might be if in those 33 games when scoring three runs or less, they had some pitching.  Ok, any team can get shut out so obviously if a team doesn’t score, they’re not going to win.  Let’s concede the four shutouts, leaving the Mets at 3-27 (.100) when at least scoring 1 to 3 runs.  Suppose in those 30 games, the Mets had won half of them (15-15).  That would mean today instead of 41-50, the Mets would be 56-35. Assuming the Nationals would have their current record, the Mets would be trailing them by one game.  But five of those losses when scoring 3 runs or less were against the Nationals so if the Mets won just two of those games, they would be leading the division.

That’s the difference this season.  The pitching completely collapsed and is the number one reason why the Mets are where they are and why they will end the season with another losing record.  But why has the pitching been so bad?  Of course the number one reason is injuries yet again.

Noah Syndergaard who started out looking like the sure ace of the staff tore his right lat muscle and was placed on the disabled list on May 1. He has now just started throwing off of flat ground.  Matt Harvey came back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery that removed a rib from the pitchers right side.  While his velocity was good, he could never get control of his command and struggled in most of his starts.  Then Harvey went on the DL with a scapular injury and he too has just starting playing catch.  Steven Matz missed most of the first half of the season with elbow soreness and has been up and down since finally getting his season going.  The guy who has been healthy all season is Zach Wheeler but he missed the previous two seasons from Tommy John recovery and he continues to struggle each outing.  He throws way too many pitches having difficulty getting into the sixth inning.  Robert Gsellman who dazzled at the end of last season was virtually ineffective all season and has since been replaced by Seth Lugo who also missed most of the early schedule.  Lugo is pitching with a partially torn UCL and Gsellman is on the DL with a pulled hamstring.  That’s just the starting staff.

The bullpen has also been a disaster.  All Star closer Jeurys Familia missed thirty games because of domestic violence then he was placed on the DL and had surgery for an aneurysm in his shoulder.  The rest of the pen is very unpredictable and has had huge difficulty holding slim leads.   The true bright spot of the Mets pitching staff has been Jacob deGrom but even he struggled earlier in the season.

The Mets defense is to blame too.  The Mets give the opposition too many extra outs and that also works against the pitching staff.  All the Mets seem able to do is to hit homeruns.  But no team can simply homer their way to the post season.

Certainly the players take the brunt of the blame but the front office deserves some ire as well. They could have done more in the off season to guard against so many pitchers that were coming off injures and/or surgery.  The front office should have better communication with trainers and their players to make sure that the off season work they are doing doesn’t hurt their baseball playing abilities.  Why in the world was Syndergaard allowed to add so much extra muscle that likely contributed to his injury.

Once again, the perception around the Mets is one of dysfunction.   We were supposed to be enjoying the fruits of the rebuilding now but instead we are likely headed to a selloff and another rebuild or at least a partial one.  Meanwhile the Atlanta Braves and the crosstown rival Yankees appear to be rebuilding quickly and will soon steal the thunder away from the Mets, one team within the division and the other in the same market.  More importantly the Nationals are miles ahead of the Mets in every category and it’s going to take some monumental work for the Mets to get back to post season contention.

And what of the Mets farm system?  Their AAA team in Las Vegas is 24 games under .500.  While double A Binghamton is 12 games over .500, they trail the Yankees double A club by 10 games.  St. Lucie is 17 games below .500 and Brooklyn, the short season A club is 8-20 while the Staten Island Yankees are 20-8. Do the Mets have some scouting challenges or what?  Kingsport and the Gulf Coast Mets rookie teams are also playing horribly wallowing far under .500 at the bottom of their respective divisions.  The Columbia club of the South Atlantic League is having a poor second half as well sitting in last place.   While no one should ever get crazy over minor league records the Mets’ farm teams are reflecting an overall talent pool that is not too good.  So unless there are diamonds in the rough or the Mets plan to spend some money over the off season (unlikely), we may well have already had our decade moment in 2015.

The Mets, a team in the primary baseball market of New York City can never sustain success and they continue to confound its fan base generation after generation.  Really how much can we take?

Murphy’s Law

Why did so many of us Mets fans not be that concerned that the Mets did not retain Daniel Murphy after the 2015 season?

I admit to being one of those fans.  I convinced myself at the end of the 2015 World Series that Murphy’s ridiculous wild ride through the playoffs could not be sustained into the future.  How wrong I was but my decision was nowhere near as important as Sandy Alderson’s.  In hindsight am I blaming Sandy?  Why of course I am, I have to blame someone.

While with the Mets, Murphy was known as kind of a boneheaded player who could flat out hit.  His play at second base was less than adequate and on a team that so much wanted good infield defense to support its fine young pitching, it was clear Murphy would not be retained after his contract expired.  His level of offensive play, while always good, got much better in 2015, especially when the playoffs began.  Suffice it to say, without Daniel Murphy, the Mets would not have gone as deep into the 2015 post season without him.

In the division series against Los Angeles, Murph hit 3 homeruns and batted in 5 run.  In the deciding game, Murphy doubled in the first run of the game against Zach Greinke giving the Mets the early 1-0 lead.  With the Mets trailing 2-1 in the fourth inning, Murphy singled.  With one out, and Lucas Duda up, Murphy stole second on a pitch that ended up to be ball four to Duda.  Because the Dodgers employed the shift against Duda, no one was defending third base.  Murphy saw that and as he nonchalantly went into second, he turned on the afterburners and took third base.  It was an absolutely brilliant move from a player not really known for his head being in the game once he stepped out of the batter’s box.  Travis d’Arnaud’s sacrifice fly scored Murph with the tying run.  Then in the sixth, it was Daniel Murphy front and center again, launching a high drive into the right field stands off of Greinke giving the Mets a 3-2 lead.  All three runs scored were the result of something that their second baseman did.  The Mets won the series in five games against the Dodgers thanks to Murphy.

He did it again in the league championship series, facing a very good Chicago Cubs ball club.  Murphy homered in all four games, the same number of games it took the Mets to sweep the Cubs.   All in all, Murphy drove in six runs and had a double to go along with his four dingers, nine hits total and ended up winning the NLCS MVP award.  The New York Mets reached their first World Series in sixteen years, fifth overall because of Murph.

After a stellar division and league series, it was hard to think that Murphy would not be back.  But the Mets faltered in the World Series only managing to win one game against the American League champion Kansas City Royals.  Murphy only mustered three hits, none of them for extra bases and he drove in no runs.  The magic Murphy rode through the playoffs disappeared in the fall classic.  It became a little easier to accept that Daniel’s performance was a fluke and the Mets hierarchy should not be fooled into giving him a long term contract with him being such a liability in the field.

The Mets ultimately offered Murph the qualifying offer meaning if he accepted, he would return to the club for one year then become a free agent again at the end of 2016. Of course he refused, realizing his value would be more with another team.  New Nationals manager Dusty Baker may have had some input to Washington’s brain trust.  Seeing the possibility of Murphy seeking revenge on his old team nineteen times a season might work wonders for the Nats.  The gamble paid off.  Murphy signed a three year deal with Washington and his improved hitting style he gained from Mets batting coach Kevin Long continued.  As the Mets faltered in 2016, Murphy with very consistent hitting around him won another division title, this time wearing red.  Although the Mets made the wildcard, the Nats played in the division series but lost to the Dodgers.  Murphy had as many hits (7) in the 2016 division series as he had in the ’15 series but with no homeruns.  He did drive in six however, and was not the reason that Washington failed to advance.

So in the last laugh category, it appears Murphy is the winner.  This season, Murphy’s Nats are running away with the division as the Mets flounder seven games under .500.  There has not been one game played yet between Washington and the Mets that Murphy has not gotten a hit against his former team.  The Mets may want to put up a sign the next time they play the Nationals that says “No Bully Zone” because that’s what the Nats do to them every time they meet.  They are to the Mets what the 1990’s Atlanta Braves were, a team the Mets just can’t beat and part of that is because they let a consummate hitter of their own go play for a division foe.  It was a gamble that many agreed with but it has burned the Mets for two straight seasons now.

Meanwhile back in Flushing, the Mets have had Neil Walker play second base.  He is better than Murphy with the glove and he provided the Mets with very good offence in 2016 but not so much this season.  Unfortunately both seasons were marred by injury.  Last year’s season ending back surgery may be the reason why Walker has not been as good offensively.  Others who have played second include Wilmer Flores, Kelly Johnson, Ty Kelly, Eric Campbell, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Gavin Cecchini, and now reluctantly Asdrubal Cabrera while Walker is on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring.  There are some good hitters in that group but none of them including Walker seems to provide that feeling of a sure hit as Murphy does.  In 78 games this season, Murphy is hitting a Major League leading .341 with 14 homeruns and 60 RBI.  That’s the third highest RBI total on the Nats.  The closet player the Mets have to those numbers lies with Jay Bruce with 21 homers and 57 runs batted in.  But realize that Bruce is likely gone before the trade deadline unless the Mets get serious about this season very soon.

So it’s easy to criticize after the fact.  That’s what we fans do it all the time.  I’m not really blaming Alderson for not offering a similar contract but had he done so, Murph would have taken it because he never really wanted to leave.  It just infuriates me that the Mets are where they are and the Nats are once again dominating the division.  This was supposed to have been our year, the Mets year.  With their pitching staff for the ages and resigning Yoenis Cespedes to a long term deal, this was supposed to be another exciting pennant drive between the Mets and the Nats.  Instead, it seems as if the Mets are where the baseball gods always want them to be: looking up at .500, another season, another waste of our time.

It confounds me that a team from New York with the media and money available to them, consistently fail to sustain success.  I’m not a basketball fan and I often feel bad for my friends who are Knicks fans and the misery they go through.  Then it dawned on me that they must feel the same empathy for me.

Is David Wright’s Career Over?

With all the turmoil the Mets have dealt with this season, the story that has gotten lost in the shuffle has been that of the Captain, David Wright.  David has not played in a baseball game of consequence since May 27, 2016. Shortly after that date, Wright was placed on the disabled list for a herniated disk in his neck and has not played a regular season game since.  David did make a couple of spring training appearances this past March before a shoulder impingement shut him down once again.

Spinal Stenosis, a herniated disk that required season ended surgery, and now a shoulder impingement (that is apparently being attributed to his herniated disc according to MLB.com) has had Wright see action in only 75 games between the 2015 and 2016 season.  He is currently on the 60 day disabled list and his return is nowhere in sight as once again, he continues to rehab in California, far from where he wants to be.

It’s very possible and very sad that Wright just might be the Mets’ Don Mattingly.  The Yankee star first baseman of the late 1980s’ and early 1990s’, like Wright, was a perennial all-star and a fan favorite. And like Wright, Mattingly suffered from Spinal Stenosis, had his career shortened and never got to enjoy the fortune of the late 90’s Yankee championships.  Mattingly got a taste of the post season in 1995 and so did Wright in 2015 as well as in 2006. David was not able to play in last year’s wildcard game and if the Mets do become a consistent winner (which seems doubtful based on the body of work this season), he’s likely to suffer the same fate as Mattingly in that he will not be around to enjoy some great seasons to come.

Wright will be 35 years old this December.  Had he not suffered these debilitating injuries, he would still be facing a time in his career when his skills would be diminishing. It’s normal for a 35 year old player to lose a step, not have the same bat speed, and experience more difficulty in making the throw across the diamond.  In fact even a healthy Wright would have to be starting to consider a move to the outfield or first base.  So realistically what can Wright hope to achieve given his tremendous uphill battle as he works so hard to get back into playing shape.

There are two possibilities, Wright works his way back and perhaps sees some action late in the season, or next season but at less playing time with diminished skills.  Or the more realistic result is Wright retires from the game.  It’s sad and almost unthinkable for that to happen but it has to be a consideration in the back of the Captain’s head with all he has gone through the last three seasons.

If Wright chooses retirement, he will leave holding some of the Mets all-time records that include at bats (5996), total hits (1777), runs (949), doubles (390), RBI (970), walks (761), total bases (2945), and sac flies (65).  He is currently second in home runs (242, ten behind Darryl Strawberry), hit by pitch (45, Lucas Duda leads with 47), and games played (1583).  With over 5000 at bats, Wright also leads the Mets in average/slugging/OPS at .296/.491/.376.  Wright shares the best RBI season (2008) with Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza at 124. Wright also hit 42 doubles in a season three times and had more than 30 homers twice.  At third base, Wright is way ahead having played 1583 games at third compared to Howard Johnson who played 835 times at the hot corner.  And in 2012, Wright was voted as the Mets All-Time third baseman.

Wright is a seven time All-Star and batted .379 with a home run in the 2006 All Star game in Pittsburgh.  He’s appeared in two post seasons as a division champion in 2006 and a NL Champion in 2015. Wright won two silver slugger awards in 2007 and 2008 and two gold gloves in the same years.  Wright was player of the month twice and player of the week three times.  Wright will never be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown but rest assured he will be a member of the Mets Hall of Fame shortly after he does finally retire from the game.

I honestly hope that Wright makes it back.  He epitomizes what every Mets fan wants to see in the players they root for.  Wright is a fan favorite not only because of his outstanding play and effort but because he is proud to wear the orange and blue and never wanted to play anywhere else.  Wright will never be considered in the class of Derek Jeter but when it comes to team loyalty, Jeter has nothing over the Mets all time third baseman.

On a personal note, I brought my son, then 10 years old to his first Met game on July 22, 2004. It was a blistering hot Thursday afternoon when the Mets took on the Montreal Expos.  The Mets lost the game however David Wright playing in his second game got his first major league hit, a double down the left field line.  We got to see Wright’s first and second career hits that afternoon and could tell the Mets had something special in their new third baseman.  We’ve been fans ever since and my son, now 23, still occasionally wears his David Wright tee shirt.

I continue to hope that Wright will beat the odds and make a meaningful comeback.  But as the days drag on it is going to be more difficult for that to happen.  Regardless of how it all ends, Wright has made his mark on the Amazins and will always be remembered with the likes of Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, Keith, Dwight, Ron, and so many others.  Wright will be a Met forever and I’m so grateful we got to enjoy the many thrills from his playing days with just one team, his favorite team as well as ours.

Can 1973 Happen Again?

I’ve heard comparisons to 1973 regarding the 2017 Mets.  Look, they say, the Mets were terrible all season then stormed back in late August through September and won the National League East, defeated the Big Red Machine in the playoffs before losing the World Series to Oakland in seven games.  Anything is possible they say.  Well yes, anything is possible but that doesn’t mean it’s likely.  Never the less, let’s look back at 1973 and see what was going on after 75 games played by the Mets.

On July 3, 1973, the Mets had played their seventy-fifth game of the season.  They lost to the Montreal Expos by a score of 19-8 at Parc Jarry.  The Amazins found themselves 11 games back in sixth place with a record of 33-42.  By comparison, today’s Mets are 34-41, one game better, in fourth place 10.5 games back.  Why can’t the Mets right their ship and pull another “seventy-three”?

Here are some other interesting similarities. The ‘73 division leading Chicago Cubs had a record of 47-34, very close to Washington’s 45-31 record.  Also the rest of the division in 1973 was kind of like the division today.  Most teams were mediocre to bad.  Only the St. Louis Cardinals had a winning record other than the Cubs at two games over .500. They trailed the Cubs by 5.5 games.  Today, no one except the Nats has a winning record in the NL East.  The Braves are in second, three games under .500, nine games back of Washington.  One thing is clearly obvious, if you did not know the outcome of 44 years ago, looking at the standings today and then would lead you to believe the Mets were having two very bad seasons.  After 75 games, there still is a lot of baseball to play and anything can happen.

While I may have painted somewhat of a rosy picture, here’s something else to consider.  By the end of July ‘73, the once dominating Cubs sunk to just four games over .500 and were out of first place.  The Cardinals took over the division lead and the Mets were still wallowing in the basement of the NL East at 10.5 games behind.  By the end of August the Cubs had wilted to five games under .500 and the Cardinals had fallen to just two games over but still in first.  The Mets now in fifth place and still nine games under .500 had gained five games on the division lead and were only 5.5 games back of St. Louis.  The Mets still had a long way to go but the leaders of the division for most of the summer were fading fast.

On the season’s last day back in ’73, the Mets won the first game of a double header in Chicago and clinched the NL East by one game.  They did it with the worst record ever (up to that time) with just 82 wins.  The Cubs had sunk all the way to fifth place and St. Louis ended at .500. From the end of August to the end of the season, the ’73 Mets went 20-8 while the Cardinals went 13-15. The Mets stormed to an improbable championship and while their success should not be minimized, it’s fair to say it could not have happened without the collapse of the Cardinals and Cubs.

Another similarity the current Mets club has with the ’73 team is pitching.  Led by Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Jon Matlack, the Mets pitching of 1973 was never a question.  Certainly the current staff led by Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zach Wheeler has the potential to be as formidable.  Therefore a number of things have got to happen for another 1973 to be possible.  Essentially Syndergaard and Wheeler have to get healthy and be the pitchers they can be.  Perhaps Matt Harvey can step in too once he’s healthy.  Plus and completely out of the Mets control is the Nationals.  They are going to have to play poorly down the stretch.  The fact is if the Nats play .500 ball the rest of the season they will end with a record of 88-74.  The Mets would have to go 55-32 to win by one game.  That’s a mighty tall order and one really dependent on Washington falling apart in a season where Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Steven Strasburg, Matt Scherzer, and Gio Gonzalez are having great seasons.

So while anything is possible, the probable is likely to play out.  The Mets should just focus on winning series and see where the chips fall.  I’m doubtful that when all is said and done, we will be marveling at another miracle in Flushing.