Shades of 62? Or Shades of 73?

An article by posted on June 19, 2009
There have been seasons where everything seemed to fall into place. There have also been seasons when we just went through the motions of a seemingly irrelevant and rigorous 162 game schedule. But I cant recall a season as perplexing as this one.

We have played 64 games. The end of June is quickly approaching and before we know it, we’ll be at the All-Star Break. However, I have to admit, I don’t know what the hell to make of this team.

In some ways we have played incompetent baseball reminiscent of our very first season. The 62 Mets were a laughing stock. They were bad, awfully bad, but you had to love ‘em. Those 120 losses that season was the most in the modern era and the 2nd most in the history of Baseball. Only the 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134) lost more. The 62 Mets dropped fly balls, missed bases, threw to the wrong base. And so on. It prompted Casey Stengel to say, “I’ve been in this game one hundred years but every day I see new ways to lose I never even knew existed.”

So far this season, we’ve seen Ryan Church miss 3rd. We’ve seen Mike Pelfrey balk repeatedly. We saw Luis Castillo drop a routine pop-up that handed the Yankees–the YANKEES–a come from behind victory and also gave Frankie Rodriguez his first blown save. Shades of 62?

We’ve been hit by a rash of injuries. But yet, somehow, someway, we are still in this thing. We are struggling to stay above 500 but yet the Phillies are still within our sights. Although much of our boneheaded play has stirred up painful memories of 62, I also see some similarities to 1973 when we won the NL pennant.

That 73 club was going nowhere quickly. They were okay, but not great. We’d had better teams. But yet, somehow, someway, that 73 team stayed close and got hot at the right time. On August 26, the Mets were 12 games under .500, 58-70, and sat in last place. Our closer, Tug McGraw, had been struggling all season and his ERA stood at an unheard of 5.14. But we got hot, we started to ‘believe’ and down the stretch we won 21 of our last 29 games. When all was said and done, we won the division. However, our stats were not impressive. Our #2 and #3 starters, Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack, both ended the season under .500 and the SPer with the highest winning percentage that year was not Tom Seaver, but rather George Stone. In spite of winning only 82 games, we nearly went on to win it all. After winning a 5 game war over the heavily favored Big Red Machine, we lost to the defending World Champion A’s and even managed to get the tying run to the plate with 2 outs in the top of the 9th in Game 7.

Although this season resembles 62 in many ways, it also resembles 73. That year, just like this year, we flew under the radar all season long. That year, just like this year, no one ran away with the division. That year, just like this year, we muddled along all season–and then suddenly found ourselves playing into late October.

Right now, 2 of our 5 starters–40% of our starting staff–are injured. Our biggest HR threat is out and most likely wont return until late in the season. And even then we cant expect Carlos Delgado to immediately recover his potent bat. Our lead-off hitter, our table setter, has been out for a while and is still quite a ways from returning. Our set-up man is out for 2-3 months. However, somehow, someway, we are still in the hunt. Just like 1973, no one is running away with it. In spite of numerous key injuries, poor play much of the time and heartbreaking losses, we still have the Phillies in the crosshairs.

Yogi Berra is frequently remembered more for his ‘Yogi-isms’ than his remarkable career. Of the many quotes attributed to the Hall of Fame catcher, his most famous statement is, “It Aint Over Till It’s Over.” He said that during the 1973 season–when he was manager of the Mets.

It Aint Over Till It’s Over. Shades of 73?

 

About the Author ()

A Mets fan since 1973, Rob was born in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Luckily, his parents moved to Queens at a young age so he was not scarred by pinstripes. Currently living in Las Vegas, he writes crime fiction and mysteries.

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