With Nelson Figueroa’s shutout over Houston on Sunday, the Mets sealed the lid on yet another decade without a Championship. These last 10 years were filled with extreme highs and bottomless lows. But overall, how will the first decade of the 21st century be remembered? In my opinion, this was the worst decade in our history.
Each 10 year period conjures up certain memories and images. The Mets of the 60s’ are black and white snapshots. We think of Casey Stengel, Marvelous Marv and being laughable, but lovable losers. But the decade ended with the highest of highs. The Mets compiled a pitiful .382 winning percentage but one World Championship.
The Mets of the 70s? Pitching and defense. Seaver, Koosman and Matlack. Even though the last few years was a dark period in our history, we compiled a .473 winning percentage. We won 1 NL pennant and from 70-76, we were at least always in a pennant race.
The 80s started on a low. But there was new ownership and promise of a brighter future. Although it took until the middle years for us to become competitive, the Mets of the 80’s will be remembered for Doc and Darryl, Keith and Gary. And of course, Mookie and Buckner. We captured 1 Championship and 1 NLE crown and compiled a record of 816-749 for a .521 winning percentage. Statistically and historically, it was the best of times.
How are the 1990’s remembered? Probably what came to be known as ‘the worst team(s) money could buy.’ Big names and big contracts equated to big failures. Generation K never materialized. Isringhausen, Pulsipher and Wilson never did turn into the reincarnation of Seaver, Kooz and Matlack. But by the end of the decade, there was hope and promise. Every year from 95 to 99, our win total increased and culminated in capturing the NL wildcard before losing to Atlanta in a heartbreaking 6 game series. The decade ended for the Mets with a walk-off walk. We finished the 1990’s with a .494 winning percentage.
That brings us into the 21st century. Bobby Valentine led the Mets to their first NL pennant in almost 15 years and NY had our 1st Subway Series in over 4 decades. However, within 18 months of winning the pennant we found ourselves rebuilding. The 5 game Series against the Yankees quickly became a distant memory. But once again, by the middle years, we had promise and hope. ‘The Future is Now’ we were told. The Mets seemed destined to not only be competitive but many felt that a dynasty was beginning. The torch of New York Baseball was being passed to Queens. Youngsters Wright and Reyes were to be the foundation our empire was built upon. Add to the mix the likes of Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner and surely a new day was dawning. But as we look back now, 2006 was not the start of something great. It was the end.
So why do things look so bleak? Why does the future not look promising? On paper, the period 2000-2009 looks good. It was only the 2nd decade in our history that we finished above .500 (815-803) and we did appear in the post-season twice, also matching the 80’s. But I cant help wonder how it will look in the history books. I feel that these last 10 years will be remembered for ‘Lost Opportunity.’ Clubs that never developed, that never lived up to their potential and sadly, two historic chokes.
Never has a decade ended with so much pessimism, bitterness and uncertainty. The Mets spent the 60’s as a joke, but the decade ended with a miracle and a clear indication that brighter days are coming. The 70’s ended with the Mets losing 99 games but rumors of new ownership that promised to rebuild a decimated farm system and make much needed changes to Shea gave us hope. By the time the 80’s ended, heroes from 86, such as Keith and Gary and Mookie were gone. But still, the future looked bright. Doc and Darryl were still young. Gregg Jefferies showed unlimited promise and our pitching staff was lead by Doc, along with Frank Viola and a young stud pitcher named David Cone. Although none of this mattered, we at least entered the 1990’s feeling optimistic. When the 90’s ended, we once again had hope. We captured the NL wildcard and returned to the post-season for the 1st time in over a decade.
But as this decade ends, I see no hope. In all fairness, we got hit with injuries of almost biblical proportions. Mets players spent 1480 days on the DL this season. Our 95 HR’s was the worst in the majors. But still the facts remain. Our 70 wins is the 2nd lowest of the decade and the 4th lowest win total in the last quarter century.
I’ve tried to remain optimistic and look for bright spots. I’ve tried to view the glass as being half full. Never has a decade ended with so many question marks. The health of Jose Reyes is a big concern. David Wright’s power has dropped substantially and he has appeared confused at the plate since his concussion. Our manager, our GM, our owner and even our new stadium are not popular with fans. Once again our farm system has been decimated and once again in our wake we have left a trail of big contracts that failed to produce. It’s a sad day when the only thing we fans talk positively about anymore is our broadcast team and the food at Citi Field.
Our drop off from 89 wins last season to 70 is the 2nd biggest in our history, behind only 1976 to 1977, the year we traded Tom Seaver. Hopefully, the results wont be the same. I hope we are not about to embark on another tailspin into the abyss and a prolonged period of last place finishes and long summers.