Archive for the '1969 Mets' Category

The Baseball Gods and the New York Mets

Maybe it’s just the way it was meant to be, that the Mets will never be a perennial winner. The Mets were supposed to get back to the World Series this season after falling four games to one in last season’s fall classic. Like the Royals, their Series counterpart, the Mets were supposed to get back and win the whole thing this time. Alas the Mets sit in third place a game over .500 with realistically no shot at winning the division and a fading chance at making it as a wild card. But really, what did you expect?

It doesn’t matter the reasons. Sure the Mets have had a ton of injuries and it sure seems like every hard hit ball finds a glove. The pitching that was supposed to be so dominant hasn’t been. The hitting with runners in scoring position is the worst in baseball. But really I think there is far more going on here than meets the eye. Somewhere in the Cosmos the gods of baseball simply have decreed that the Mets will never be that team, that team like the other New York team. That team that wins constantly, that team that provides its fans with gratification year in and year out. Nope, it’s not in the cards for us, we Mets fans.

Just look at our history. From the beginning in 1962 we were loveable losers until the magical season of 1969, who could forget it unless you weren’t born yet. With a pitching staff of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, and Nolan Ryan, how could that team not win the next two to three World Series that followed? Well they didn’t. After winning 100 games in ’69, the Mets immediately fell to mediocrity finishing in third place with an 83-79 record in 1970. The identical record followed in 1971 before the Mets got off to a fantastic start in 1972. But devastating injuries curtailed Mets hopes as they finished in third place yet again.

Then the Mets got somewhat lucky in that the entire eastern division floundered in 1973. It gave the Mets the opportunity to win an improbable division title on the last day of the season followed by an even more improbable win in the NLCS over the Big Red Machine of Cincinnati.  They fell a game short in the World Series but there were high hopes for the future. After all, the Mets still had a pitching staff featuring Seaver, Koosman, and Jon Matlack. How could there not be winning seasons to follow.

But of course there wasn’t as the Mets slid into their worst period in history. Mets management failed to embrace free agency, traded Tom Seaver, and neglected the fan base as attendance reached an all-time low. Shea Stadium became dilapidated and was known as Grant’s Tomb in honor of the nefarious M. Donald Grant, cheapskate chairman of the board. Meanwhile the Yankees stole New York’s baseball hearts by signing top free agents and winning two worlds series and participating in four over the next several years.

Under new management, the Mets rebounded in the 80s with seven consecutive contending seasons. But even with those powerhouse clubs, the Mets were still unable to reach the playoffs in back to back seasons. The critics agreed the roster the Mets fielded at that time should have won three World Series. Yet they won just one that required a miracle finish in game six. In fact the team of that era only made the post season one other time but failed to get out of the NLCS. However, the mid to late 1980s remain the Mets most successful period in Mets’ history.

After another draught, finally manager Bobby Valentine with the help of Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza got the Mets to the post season in back to back seasons as the wild card. That happened in 1999 and 2000, the latter culminating in a World Series loss to the mighty Yankees, still the kings of New York. What followed the success of ’00 was of course another several years of sub .500 play.

Under new general manager Omar Minaya, the Mets made another quick assent to the division title in 2006 but lost a heart breaking game seven in the NLCS to the Cardinals. Poised to repeat division titles in back to back seasons for the first time in 2007, the Mets suffer the worst collapse in baseball history with a seven game lead and just seventeen games to play. It took until last season to get back to the post season.

I have been patient with the regime of Sandy Alderson. I knew he was rebuilding the farm, stockpiling great pitching. That includes the pitchers here now as well as ones traded to get the offensive help the Mets so desperately needed to make their run. So after the Mets came so close to a world championship last season, with all that is in their history, how can we really be surprised that it looks like the team is headed into mediocrity yet once again?

Sure, there are lots of reasons as I indicated but never the less, here we are. While the Mets were supposed to have all the great prospects, it’s the Yankees who look more ready to contend with their call ups of Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, and Aaron Judge. Plus they will get Greg Byrd back next season. The Mets offensive prospects remain suspects. Is Michael Conforto the player he was last season during the playoff run or is he another broken promise based on his performance this season?  Brandon Nimmo was Sandy’s first round pick back in 2012. He looks to be a nice player but not like Judge looks to be for the Yanks. Travis d’Arnaud was supposed to be the Mets answer behind the plate for years to come. It appears that opportunity looks more and more tarnished. And front office favorite Keven Plawecki (“he can flat out hit”) remains an enigma at Las Vegas. We heard that Dilson Herrera was a star in the making at second base. Well if that’s true he will be staring in Cincinnati now that he was traded for Jay Bruce who has been very disappointing so far.

For whatever the reasons are, bad decisions, bad luck, or simply the galactic plan of the baseball gods, the Mets franchise simply has not been able to sustain success. If history is a guide then we know that the Mets are going to be in the post season roughly once a decade. If that’s true then we received our most recent allotment of post season play last year. Boy I can’t wait for the 2020s.

 

Don’t Forget About Koosman and Cardwell

As you know by now, because only a die hard Mets fan would be reading this website from the boondocks, Noah Syndergaard hit two home runs that accounted for all four Mets runs in the game last night against the Dodgers. During the telecast, Gary Cohen and Ron Darling made mention of the only other Met to do so. That was Walt Terrell back in 1983 at Wrigley Field. The right handed pitcher, who was eventually traded to Detroit for Howard Johnson, hit two two-run home runs. Like Noah’s bombs last night, Terrell’s dingers accounted for all runs scored in the game, a 4-1 Mets victory over the Cubs.

But did you know there was another strange pitcher generated run occurrence in Mets history? It happened during the magical season of 1969, the season that this site’s name is dedicated. It happened on September 12th. The Mets were in first place two games ahead of the Chicago Cubs with a doubleheader scheduled in Pittsburgh. That day, the Mets won both ends of the twin-bill by identical scores of 1-0.

Mets lefty Jerry Koosman started the first game of the Friday night twi-nighter against the Pirates at old Forbes Field. Koosman pitched a complete game shutout and drove in the only run of the game when he singled to right driving in Bobby Pfiel in the fifth inning.  In the night cap, veteran right handed pitcher Don Cardwell pitched eight scoreless innings and like Koosman, drove in the only run of the game. With two outs in the second, Bud Harrelson doubled. Cardwell then singled to center scoring Harrelson. Tug McGraw got the save and the Mets swept the doubleheader by scores of 1-0 over the Pirates. With the wins, the ’69 Mets gained a half game on the Cubs who also won that evening. Twelve days later the Mets would clinch their first division title in history on their way to their first world championship.

I don’t know what is more impressive, the Mets winning two games with the pitchers driving in the only runs or the fact that only three pitchers were needed to get through eighteen innings of baseball. How times have changed.