Look, I’m not here to tell you the 4-9 start is encouraging. To say 13 games isn’t a very long time seems odd if you watched yesterday’s doubleheader, which seemed to take an eternity. And there are very real reasons why the 4-9 start matters, though most of them are off the field. After all, if the perception is that the Mets are hopelessly out of the playoff race, it won’t matter much at the turnstiles if one can statistically prove that they aren’t.
But consider the following: as long as this season has felt so far, there are more games remaining in April- just in April!- than have already been played. Take the season to-date, add a game… and that only gets you to the morning of May 1.
The season goes until September 28. At least.
Look, the first 13 games produce more definitive feelings in Mets fans for a pair of reasons. For one thing, it is a first impression, and there are no conflicting stretches to help ameliorate how seeing a 4-9 team feels. For another, things haven’t gone well for this franchise in recent years, if I may make a fairly uncontroversial statement. So it just reinforces the belief that assuming the worst is logical with the Mets. It isn’t, for a variety of reasons, but that is for another time.
In the meantime, as Friday’s game looks increasinly likely to get rained out, enjoy these 13-game stretches from the team’s past, and consider how much they impacted your overall feeling of the team by the end of the season.
Remember how terrible the 2006 Mets were? Those September 15-27, 2006 Mets, that is. Why, that bunch couldn’t manage to stay even with the current team, finishing a lousy 3-10. They got swept by the Pirates, lost a pair to the Marlins, three of four to the lowly Nationals, then closed out the stretch with a pair of losses to Atlanta. Steve Trachsel, the ace of the 9/15-27/06 Mets staff, threw 6 1/3 shutout innings to lead that sorry team to a victory on September 18. The beaten-down fans cheered as if the Mets had just won the division!
For consistently poor play, though, it is hard to top the 1986 Mets. The August 8-17, 1986 Mets managed a 4-7 record, thanks to a terrible pitching staff and hitters that simply didn’t come through in the clutch. If it wasn’t Bobby Ojeda getting knocked around by a juggernaut Phillies lineup on August 13 (both Ron Roenicke and Steve Jeltz touched Ojeda for extra-base hits), it was the team scoring one run in three separate games, getting shut down by Kevin Gross on August 12. Then, a month later, the 1986 Mets went 5-8, this time from September 8 through September 21. Those hapless 9/8-21/86 Mets scored a single run in seven innings against Marvin Freeman on September 21, even though Freeman gave them five walks. (They lacked the mental toughness to come from behind.) A rare bright spot was a 5-0 win on September 18 against the Cubs, with the Mets scoring an early knockout against a young no-name pitcher, Greg Maddux. But make no mistake: the 1986 Mets were just awful.
And clearly, the New York Daily News doesn’t know the meaning of rock bottom. After seven straight years of finishing ninth or tenth from 1962-1968, the 1969 Mets started out 5-8, just a game better than the current bunch. Who knows what happened next? I assume the fans all gave up and the team folded.
Now, you want a team that had it all? Hitting, pitching, mental toughness? You’d have to go with the 1993 Mets. To be more specific, the September 20-October 3, 1993 Mets. That team surged to a 9-3 record to end the season, behind three wins by a true ace this current team lacks: Dave Telgheder. That team came through when it counted, winning a pair of extra-inning games, including a 17-inning, 1-0 victory over the Cardinals on September 29. Relievers Jeff Innis, Mauro Gozzo, and winning pitcher Kenny Greer- now that’s a bullpen! Jeff Kent’s double scored Eddie Murray, which is why when fans recall the best days of rooting for the New York Mets, Kent and Murray are often cited as the right side of the infield they adored most.