Orel Hershiser

National League Postseason Mets Fans Worst Nightmare

Here’s how bad the National League postseason has shaped up to be. The Washington Nationals, the team who delivered to the Mets a devastating loss when Kurt Suzuki homered off Edwin Diaz, could quite possibly be the lesser of all evils.

The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the Mets most fiercest and longest running rivals. There are stories of Terry Pendleton, John Tudor, and others from the 1980s. The rivalry pushed forward into this century with the postseason match-ups. The last one ended with Adam Wainwright‘s curveball striking out Carlos Beltran in what could be argued was the worst loss in Mets history.

Speaking of torment, there is the Atlanta Braves. Since the dawn of the Wild Card, no team has so tormented the Mets. We saw Brian Jordan and the Braves keep the Mets out of the 1998 postseason. Chipper Jones, who was all too happy to chide Mets fans, almost repeated the act in 1999. There’s nothing to say of John Rocker‘s behavior on and off the field that year. Throw in that NLCS ending with Kenny Rogers walking Andruw Jones, you have enough torment to last a lifetime.

That torment continued into this year with the Braves dominating the Mets all year. With that team having Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., and a young and still developing core, this promises to last deep into the future.

Then there are the Dodgers. Any team who willingly takes on and purposefully promotes Chase Utley deserves hatred just for that. But the history of those two teams goes deeper. There was the 1988 NLCS with Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson unofficially ending the Mets 1980s run.

Finally, there is the Nationals. This is a rivalry which only began in 2015 when the Mets and Nationals were good for the first time since the Expos franchise was founded in 1969. Whether it is Bryce Harper‘s hubris asking where his ring was when the team signed Max Scherzer, or it was Daniel Murphy tormenting them after he was the Mets 2015 postseason hero, fans seem to have developed a particular hatred of this team.

No matter how you slice or dice it, choosing a team to root for in the NLDS and eventually the NLCS is an exercise in rooting for the lesser of all evils. Who you think is the lesser of all evils likely depends on your age and your memories of a particular loss here or there.

Instead of looking at things from the perspective of lament, you should realize that three of the teams Mets fans absolutely despise will lose, and they will likely lose in excruciating fashion. That will be quite enjoyable to watch. It should also be enjoyable to watch whichever team win the pennant lose to the Rays, Twins, or Astros in the World Series.

Chipper’s Hall of Fame Plaque Will Say Larry

It all began with Orel Hershiser. On the eve of the NLCS, he shared the information with Eddie Coleman. He was there and Steve Somers was here on our radios discussing it. In the pre-Twitter era, this was how you conveyed messages to Mets fans.

Mets fans would get that message loud and clear, and they would then deliver that message beginning with player introductions before Game 3 of the NLCS, and they delivered it every time he stood at the plate:

LAAAAAARRRRRRYYYYYY!

LAAAAAARRRRRRYYYYYY!

LAAAAAARRRRRRYYYYYY!

It was the only way Mets fans could try to torture Chipper Jones; the man who built a Hall of Fame resume by and large by his performance against the Mets.

Jones revealed in tweaking the Mets fans. He chided them one time saying, “Now all the Mets’ fans can go home and put their Yankees stuff on,” after he and the Braves had once again left the Mets for dead.

He named his first child Shea.

More than that, he hit .309/.406/.543 with 49 homers and 159 RBI against the Mets in his career.

In response, well, Mets fans had their beloved “LAAAAAARRRRRRYYYYYY!” chant. Whether or not, it worked didn’t matter. What mattered was the name got under Chipper’s skin.

Undoubtedly, Chipper got the best of the Mets in his playing days. The Braves knocked the Mets out of Wild Card position in 1998, and they won the 1999 NLCS. The Braves won the NL East from 1995 – 2005.

And now, he’s a Hall of Famer. Coincidentally, that may be where Mets fans win the war.

If you’ve ever seen a Hall of Fame plaque, it lists your given named with the nickname underneath in quotes.

It’s not Tom Seaver. It’s George Thomas Seaver.

It’s not Nolan Ryan. It’s Lynn Nolan Ryan.

It’s not Yogi Berra. It’s Lawrence Peter Berra.

It won’t be Chipper Jones. It will be Larry Wayne Jones.

That’s right. For all time, he will be Larry. It’s a warm reminder for Mets fans who loved to chide him with the name.

Hopefully, Chipper Jones gets a chuckle about that fact. Honestly, I hope it doesn’t detract from the moment from a great baseball player who was truly a worthy advisory.

Enjoy your moment Larry.

Put Bobby Valentine in the Mets Hall of Fame

It has been almost 15 years since Bobby Valentine has managed the Mets, and because of how history works, the enduring image we have of Bobby V is the time he came back into the dugout with sunglasses and a fake mustache made with eye back after he had been thrown out of a game.  Bobby V was much more than that.

After a disappointing player career that included two forgettable seasons with the Mets, Valentine became a coach.  In 1983, he was named the third base coach for the George Bamberger led Mets.  Despite Bamberger not lasting the season, and General Manager Frank Cashen cleaning house, the Mets decided to keep Valentine when Davey Johnson was hired.  From 1983 – 1985, Valentine was generally regarded as a very good third base coach, who helped in the development of a young Mets team from cellar dwellers to contenders.  He would be hired as the Texas Rangers manager, and he would miss all of the 1986 season. 

After his stint in Texas, a brief stop in Norfolk, and one in Japan, the Mets brought Bobby V back to the organization for the 1996 season.  Initially, he was named as the manager of the Tides.   However, after Dallas Green had finally run through all of the young arms on the team, Valentine was named the interim manager for the final 31 games of the season.  In the offseason, the interim tag would be removed, and he would start the 1997 season as the Mets manager.

The 1997 Mets were THE surprise team in all of baseball.  Despite a starting rotation that was comprised of Rick Reed, Dave Mlicki, Bobby Jones, Mark Clark, Brian Bohanon, and Armando Reynoso, the Mets would go from a 71 win team to an 88 win team.  Now, there were good seasons for the turnaround.  There was the acquisition of John Olerud.  There was also another strong season from Lance Johnson, and Todd Hundley proved his record setting 41 home run 1996 season was no fluke.  However, there were other factors at play, and they were directly related to the manger.

First, Edgardo Alfonzo was made the everyday third baseman instead of the utility player he was under Green.  Also, while Reed had started the season coming out of the bullpen, Bobby V moved him into the rotation.  Additionally, whereas Green’s calling card was to abuse his starters’ arms, Valentine protected his starters’ arms (his starters averaged six innings per start and less), and he used the bullpen to his advantage.  On a more subjective note, this was a team that played harder and was more sound fundamentally.  It was a team that probably played over their heads for much of the season.

One important note from this season, Mlicki threw a complete game shut-out against the Yankees in the first ever Subway Series game.  While the Mets were overmatched in terms of talent in that three game series, Bobby V had that group ready to play, and they very nearly took the three game set from the Yankees.

With the Mets having overachieved, the front office led by General Manager Steve Phillips gave his manager some reinforcements.  The team would acquire Al Leiter and Dennis Cook from the Marlins.  The Mets would also add Japanese pitcher Masato Yoshii from Japan.  However, this team was struggling due to Hundley’s elbow injury and Bernard Gilkey and Carlos Baerga having yet another disappointing season.  Bobby V and the Mets kept the team above .500 and competitive long enough to allow the front office to make the bold move to add Mike Piazza.

From there, the Mets took off, and they would actually be in the thick of the Wild Card race.  They were in it despite the Hundley LF experiment not working.  They were in it despite getting nothing offensively from left field and their middle infield.  They were in it despite the fact the Mets effectively had a three man bullpen.  The latter (I’m looking at you Mel Rojas) coupled with the Braves dominance of the Mets led to a late season collapse and the team barely missing out on the Wild Card.

The Mets re-loaded in 1999 with Rickey Henderson, Robin Ventura, Roger Cedeno, Armando Benitez, and Orel Hershiser (no, Bobby Bonilla is not getting lumped in here).  Things do not initially go as planned.  After blowing a late lead, the Yankees beat the Mets, and the Mets found themselves a game under .500.  Phillips responded by firing almost all of Bobby V’s coaching staff.

The Mets and Bobby V responded by becoming the hottest team in baseball.  From that point forward, the Mets were 70-37.  At points during the season, they even held onto first place for a few days.  The Mets were helped by Bobby V being judicious with Henderson’s playing time to help keep him fresh.  Like in year’s past, Bobby V moved on from a veteran not performing to give Cedeno a chance to play everyday, and he was rewarded.  Again, like in previous seasons, Bobby V had to handle a less than stellar starting rotation.

In what was a fun and tumultuous season, the Mets won 97 games.  The team nearly avoided disaster again by forcing a one game playoff against the Reds for the Wild Card.  Not only did the Mets take that game, but they upset the Diamondbacks in the NLDS.  The NLDS performance is all the more impressive when you consider Piazza was forced to miss the last two games due to injury.  In the NLCS, they just met a Braves team that had their number for the past three seasons.  Still, even with the Braves jumping all over the Mets and getting a 3-0 series lead, we saw the Mets fight back.

In Game 4, it was an eighth inning two run go-ahead Olerud RBI single off John Rocker.  In Game 5, it was a 15 inning game that was waiting for the other team to blink first.  While, the Mets blinked in the top of the 15th with a Keith Lockhart RBI triple, the Mets responded in the bottom of the 15th with Ventura’s Grand Slam single to send the series back to Atlanta.  The Mets would be ever so close in Game 6.  They fought back from a 5-0 and 7-3 deficit.  Unforutnately, neither John Franco nor Benitez could hold a lead to force a Game 7.  Then Kenny Rogers couldn’t navigate his way around a lead-off double and bases loaded one out situation in the 11th.

In 2000, Bobby V finally got the rotation he needed with the trade acquiring Mike Hampton and the emergence of Glendon Rusch.  However, even with the much improved rotation, it still was not an easy year for the Mets.  It rarely ever was during Bobby V’s tenure.

First, the Mets had to deal with the Henderson and Darryl Hamilton situations.  Henderson became a malcontent that wanted a new contract.  Hamilton lost his starting job due to a toe injury and had become a part time player.  The result was the complete transformation of the outfield with Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton becoming everyday players.  In the infield, the Mets lost Olerud to free agency and had to convert free agent third baseman Todd Zeile into a first baseman.  Additionally, the Mets lost Gold Glove shortstop Rey Ordonez to injury leading the team to have to rely on Melvin Mora as their shortstop for much of the season.  In what was perhaps Bobby V’s finest managing job with the Mets, the team made the postseason for the second straight year.  It was the first time in Mets history they had gone to consecutive playoff games.

In the postseason, the team showed the same toughness and grit as they had in prior years.  In the first game of the NLDS, they overcame an injury to Derek Bell and saw Timo Perez become a folk hero.  The Mets outlasted the Giants in Game 2 despite a Benitez blown save.  In Game 3, Agbayani hit a walk-off homer in the 13th, and Game 4 saw the Jones one-hitter.  With the Mets not having to face the Braves in the NLCS, they steamrolled through the Cardinals en route to their first World Series since 1986.  While the team never gave in, the balls did not bounce in their favor.  That was no more apparent than when Zeile’s fly ball hit the top of the left field wall and bounced back into play.

From there, Phillips lost his magic touch.  The team started to get old in 2001, and by 2002, everything fell apart.  After what was his first season under .500 with the Mets, Bobby V was fired after the 2002 season.  With one exception, it was the end of a forgettable and disappointing two seasons for the Mets.

One thing that cannot be lost with the 2001 season was how the Mets dealt with the aftermath of 9/11.  Every player did their part.  So did their manager.  After 9/11 happened, Bobby V was a visible face of the Mets franchise visiting firehouses and helping relief aid at Shea Stadium.  When it was time to return to playing games, he was able to get his players in a mindset to play baseball games.  That is no small feat when your captain was a local guy who lost a friend on 9/11.  Also, while it was the players who spearheaded wearing the First Responders’ caps, it was their manager who stood by their side and encouraged them to wear them despite requests to take them off from the Commissioner’s Office.

Through the roller coaster ride that was the 1,003 games of the Bobby V Era, the Mets were 536-437.  During that span, Bobby V managed the second most games in Mets history while earning the second most wins in Mets history.  His .534 winning percentage is the third best in Mets history just behind Johnson and Willie Randolph.  In all but his final season as Mets manager, the Mets either met or exceed their expected (Pythagorean) record.

Bobby V stands as just one of two managers to go to consecutive postseasons.  His 13 postseason wins are the most by any manager in Mets history.  He’s the only Mets manager to win a postseason series in consecutive postseasons.  He’s managed in more postseason series than any other Mets manager.

Overall, Bobby V is an important part of Mets history.  Out of all the managers in Mets history, it is fair to say the Bobby V consistently did more with the talent given to him by his front office.  For some, he is the best manager in Mets history.  Most will certainly agree he is at least the third best manager in Mets history.  For all of this, and how he represented the Mets organization during 9/11 and the aftermath, Bobby V should be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

 

Bobby Valentine’s Second Greatest Achievement

Recent reports indicate that President Elect Donald Trump is considering Bobby Valentine as the United States Ambassador to Japan.  If Valentine is indeed selected as the Ambassador to Japan, it would be his second biggest accomplishment.  Naturally, his biggest accomplishment was leading the 2000 Mets not only to the postseason, but to the National League Pennant.

As luck would have it, the New York Mets would begin the season in Japan.  Valentine’s Opening Day outfield was Rickey HendersonDarryl HamiltonDerek Bell.  Of that group, only Bell would play in a postseason game for the Mets, and he would be injured in Game One of the NLDS.  Henderson would prove to be a malcontent that wanted a new contract, and ultimately, he would be released in May.  Hamilton would lose his job in April after suffering a toe injury.  This led to the Mets outfield being Benny AgbayaniJay Payton-Bell for most of the season.

The one thing Agbayani could do was hit.  In 2000, he hit .289/.391/.477 with 15 homers and 60 RBI in 119 games.  However, he was a terrible fielder who did this in the field during a game that season:

 

For his part, Payton was one of the heralded players out of Georgia Tech that included Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra.  While Payton was once considered on par with them, if not better.  As a prospect, Payton’s star would diminish a bit, but he would still become a major league player.  In his 2000 rookie season, Payton relatively struggled at the plate hitting .291/.331/.447 with 17 homers and 62 RBI in 149 games.

There was more than that.  Valentine also had to help make Todd Zeile an effective first baseman after he spent most of his career as a third baseman.  Zeile was of course signed to replace John Olerud, who departed in free agency.  While Zeile had a nice season hitting .268/.356/.467 with 22 homers and 79 RBI, his production fell far short of Olerud’s .298/.427/.463, 19 homer run, 96 RBI season.  When you consider the drop off defensively from the Gold Glover Olerud to the quickly adapting Zeile, the team was noticeably worse at first base.

The team was also worse at shortstop.  While Rey Ordonez never hit for much, he was a Gold Glover at shortstop.  The Mets would miss that defense after he broke his left arm trying to get a tag down in May.  This led to the Mets trying to get by with Melvin Mora at shortstop, who struggled at the plate and in the field.  This led to the ill advised trade for Mike Bordick who would hit .260/.321/.365 in his 56 games as a Met.

In reality, this was all part of a Mets team that was considerably weaker than the 1999 version.  Pat Mahomes was nowhere near as good as he was in 1999.  In place of well established veterans like Orel Hershiser and Kenny Rogers in the rotation, the Mets had Glendon Rusch and the return of Bobby Jones.  However, it should be noted the rotation was one area the Mets were better.

Whereas the 1999 Mets were an offensive juggernaut with a strong bullpen, the 2000 Mets were built on starting pitching.  Al Leiter had an improved season making him 1A behind the ace the Mets acquired in the offseason, Mike Hampton.  With Rusch and Jones outperforming their expectations, and quite possibly what their rotation counterparts did in 1999, the rotation was one area the Mets were improved.

The rotation along with two terrific players in Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo, Valentine was able to lead the Mets to the World Series.  Valentine was able to do that despite a diminished offense, vastly diminished defense, an overall less talented roster, and some drama (which usually follows Valentine wherever he goes).  It was a team that outperformed their Pythagorean win-loss record by six games.  It was a team that outperformed expectations.

Making it to the 2000 World Series should be considered Valentine’s biggest accomplishment.  That Mets team really had no business making it to the postseason let alone the World Series.  It is why that should stand as Valentine’s biggest accomplishment even if he were to be named as President Trump’s choice to be the Ambassador to Japan.

Indians Fans Deserve a World Series More than Cubs Fans

Time and again, we have heard about the Billy Goat curse and the Chicago Cubs not having won a World Series since 1908.  As a result, many are supposed to empathize with them for their time falling short time and again.  Moreover, many sympathize with a fan base that has never seen their team win a World Series in their lifetime.  While all of this is true, it is not appreciably different than being a Cleveland Indians fan.

The Indians last won the World Series in 1948 against the Boston Braves.  Yes, the Boston, not Atlanta Braves.  That’s how long ago the Indians last World Series title was.  If you are to assume that a 10 year old had the full capacity to appreciate the World Series victory and remember the run to the World Series, that means Indians fans who could relish those Lou Boudreau teams were born in 1938.  That would make those fans 78 years old today.  Rounding up just a tad, unless you are an octogenarian, Indians fans have never seen their team win a World Series.  What they have seen is some excruciating losses.

Back in 1995, the Indians sent out what could be considered the greatest offensive team ever assembled.  That Indians team was shut down by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Steve Avery over the six game set.  A team that had scored 840 runs in 144 games (strike shortened season), an average of 5.8 runs per game, could only muster 19 runs (3.2 runs per game) in the series.  A team that was shutout just three times in the regular season would be shut out in Game Six of the World Series in an excruciating 1-0 loss.

The 1997 Indians weren’t the favorites to win the World Series.  Instead, they had to fight and claw their way back to the World Series.  They needed the rookie Jaret Wright to become a Yankee killer and Sandy Alomar, Jr.Moi to hit a pivotal home run in what was going to be the Game 4 clincher of the ALDS for the defending champion Yankees.  Instead, the Indians persevered and would win their second pennant in three years after beating the Orioles in six in the ALCS.  It should be noted Armando Benitez took the loss in that game being a harbinger of things to come for Mets fans.

That 1997 World Series was thrilling with the Marlins and Indians alternating wins setting the stage for an epic Game 7.  The Indians had to like their chances with their newfound postseason hero Wright going up against Al Leiter.  The Indians had tattooed Leiter for seven runs in 4.2 innings in Game 4.  Leiter would never win a postseason start in his career.  While it was more of a challenge than the Indians expected, they hand their closer, Jose Mesa, on the mound with a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning.  Mesa would blow the game allowing Craig Counsell to hit a sacrifice fly to score Moises Alou (again how was he not the MVP of that series) to tie the game.  The Indians couldn’t touch the Marlins bullpen in extra innings.  Finally, in the 11th, Charles Nagy gave up the game winning hit to Edgar Renteria scoring Counsell of all people as the winning run.  That is as excruciating a loss as it gets for a fan.

There have been other tales of recent woe for this Indians fan base.  In 1998, the Yankees exacted revenge against Wright and the Indians by scoring five runs in the first inning off Wright en route to a Yankees 4-2 ALCS series win.  In 1999, the Indians blew a 2-0 series lead and a 5-2 lead in Game 5 to lose the ALDS to the Red Sox.  That game was memorable for Pedro Martinez‘s epic performance out of the bullpen.  The lean years were not too far away from here.

Then there was an Indians resurgence.  In 2007, the Indians had a 3-1 game lead over the Red Sox in the ALCS with Game 5 at home.  CC Sabathia just couldn’t close the deal, and the Indians bullpen would implode leading the Red Sox to their comeback.  Like the rest of baseball, the Indians would watch helplessly as the Red Sox would win their second World Series in four years.  To make matters worse, the small market Indians would have to break up the team.  Two years later, Indians fans would watch as Sabathia took the hill for the Yankees in Game One of the World Series against Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies.

In response, many Cubs fans will scream the Bartman Game!  One of their own prevented them from winning the pennant and going to the World Series back in 2003.  Of course, that narrative is a bit nonsense because there is a real debate as to whether or not Alou could catch that ball.  Furthermore, that didn’t cause Dusty Baker to leave Mark Prior out there too long.  It didn’t cause Alex Gonzalez to allow a double play ball to go through his legs.  It didn’t cause the Cubs to blow a 3-0 lead.  It certainly didn’t cause the Cubs and Kerry Wood to blow a 5-3 lead in Game 7.  Furthermore, it did not cause Cubs fans to try to ruin Bartman’s life.

Absolutely, blowing a 3-1 series lead when your team hasn’t won a World Series in nearly a century is devastating.  It was no more devastating than the Indians blowing the 2007 ALCS.  It is definitively not more devastating than the 1997 World Series.

Sure, it hurts to lose and not be competitive.  However, as a Mets fan I know the 2015 World Series loss was infinitely more hurtful than anything I saw from 1991 – 1996 or 2001 – 2004 or even 2009 – 2014.  No, it is hte misses that stick with you the longest.  Personally, I’m more haunted by Ron Darling pitching the worst game of his life against an unbeatable Orel Hershiser, Kenny Rogers walking Andruw Jones, Luis Sojo‘s two RBI single off Leiter, Carlos Beltran looking at an Adam Wainwright curveball, Eric Hosmer‘s mad dash to home plate, and any of the other events that led to those deciding plays which ended the Mets postseasons.

The Cubs may not have won since 1908, but the Indians fan base is the more tortured fan base.  They deserve this World Series title more than anyone.

Should the Mets Bring Jimmy Rollins Onboard?

Jimmy Rollins has been a career .264/.324/.418 hitter.  In the prime of his career, he was a .286/.342/.468 hitter.  In 2007, he predicted the Phillies would win the NL East, and he backed it up by being the MVP that year.  He was a clubhouse leader on a Phillies team that went to the postseason five straight years and won the 2008 World Series.  He’s won four Gold Gloves at shortstop.  Rollins has been a very good major league player.  The problem is Rollins isn’t that player anymore.

Last year, Rollins hit .224/.285/.358 in 144 games with the Dodgers.  There’s no sugar coating it.  Rollins wasn’t good last year.  It’s why the Dodgers called up Corey Seager at the end of the year, and why Rollins and Seager split time at shortstop during the NLDS.  Despite his struggles, Rollins was able to latch on with the Chicago White Sox this year.  In 41 games, Rollins hit .221/.295/.329.  It is no wonder why for the second straight year Rollins has been pushed aside for a shortstop prospect.  This year it was Tim Anderson, and this year it came much quicker.  Rollins has been designated for assignment.  He’s now 37 years old, and he is facing the very real prospect that his career might be over.

It might be time for the Mets to throw Rollins a lifeline.

Even with how poor Rollins is playing, he’s still a better player than what they have.  With the Kelly Johnson addition, the Mets have one spot left on the bench that is going to Matt Reynolds.  Even in a two year spiral, Rollins is playing better than Reynolds.  Additionally, Rollins has been a proven leader on a World Series winning team.  As we saw last year with Juan Uribe, you cannot add enough veteran bench pieces to a team that has World Series aspirations.

Now, one thing that is obvious is Mets fans don’t like Rollins.  They don’t like anyone from those Phillies teams especially Chase Utley.  With that said, Mets fans will get over it if Rollins is a positive contributor.  The Mets fans had no issue with Orel Hershiser in 1999, and they had no issue with Orlando Hernandez a/k/a El Duque in 2006.  There were no issues with Kelly Johnson either last year or this year.  Ultimately, all Mets fans want is to win.  They will cheer whoever helps them win.  That includes Jimmy Rollins.

Overall, the Mets should look into adding Jimmy Rollins into the mix.

2016 Shouldn’t Be a Disappointing Season

Between 1984 – 1990, the Mets finished in second place or better.  Over the course of these seven seasons, the Mets averaged 95 wins.  Without question, this was the best stretch in Mets history.  It’s strange to think that any point in time your team averages 95 wins over the course of five seasons, you are disappointed.  However, as Ron Darling expained to Mike Francesa, he feels “very disappointed” that the Mets didn’t accomplish more.

While Dariling’s feelings are understandable, and many Mets fans would agree with him, there are a number of reasons that we can point to as the reason why the Mets didn’t win more.  Rick Sutcliffe went an amazing 16-1 after the Cubs acquired him helping them win the division in 1984.  The Mets had to contend with a really good Cardinals team year in and year out.  The Mets were snakebit with injuries during the 1987 season.  The Mets ran into Orel Hershiser, who had one of the greatest seasons for a pitcher ever in 1988, in the NLCS.  However, truth be told Davey Johnson managed a horrific series.  In 1989, the team was in transition, and in  1990, the Pittsburgh Pirates were just better and were embarking on their own run.  All of these reasons are valid, but the main reason everyone points to would be the drug problems, namely with Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

There’s another reason why those Mets teams only got one shot at a World Series – the postseason format.  Back in that time frame, the only teams that went to the postseason were the division winners.  In today’s game, it would be unheard of a team winning 98 games not only missing the postseason, but also missing the postseason by three games.  If you apply, the current postseason rules and divisional formats to the 1980’s, the Mets would have had won the NL East for all seven of those seasons.  Its possible that instead of talking about the 1986 World Series, we’re talking about the Mets’ dynasty.  It’s possible the Mets would’ve won multiple World Series during that stretch.  It’s also possible that like the Braves in the 90’s, the Mets would only win one World Series, and we would be left questioning what happened.

Whatever may be the case, it’s apparent that those Mets teams did not get as many chances to reach the postseason as this current Mets team will.  Last year, the Mets won the NL East with 90 wins.  From 1984 – 1990, the Mets only won the NL East in the two seasons they won 100 games.

There is no reason for this Mets team to only go to the postseason twice with their current core group of players.  Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard are under team control until 2019.  Young players like Michael Conforto already contributing,  There are big prospects like Dilson Herrera and Amed Rosario who we should see within the next few seasons at Citi Field contributing to what is already a World Series contending team.  Without being too unreasonable, I believe this Mets team is set to contend for a longer period of time than Ron Darling’s Mets’ teams.  To expect that seems unreasonable, but when you consider the young talent already on the team and in the pipeline, it’s certainly possible.

So before the Mets play their home opener today, they’re going to raise 2015 National League Champions flag.  As we saw again that postseason, there is a lot that can happen along the way that can help you advance in each series.  If not for Daniel Murphy having a game for the ages, and the Dodgers being unable to hit deGrom despite him having nothing, the Mets lose in the NLDS.  The Mets are instead raising at 2015 National League East flag.  So no, the 2016 season is not World Series or bust, nor in retrospect is the Mets only winning one World Series from 1984 – 1990 really disappointing.

With that said, I don’t blame Ron Darling for feeling the way he does.  I won’t blame the current Mets players from feeling the same way about 2015.  There is a World Series championship in the Mets clubhouse.  Whether that is in 2016 or later, we do not know yet.  Right now, I will say that as long as this Mets group wins one World Series, I won’t be disappointed because I will have been able to see something that has only happened twice in the Mets 54 year history.  No matter what happens in 2016, it promises to be a special season, and I can’t wait to watch each and every minute of it.

Lets Go Mets.

 

Time to Slay Some Demons

Of course the Dodgers are having Orel Hershiser throw out the first pitch tonight. Hershiser was the main reason for the first time I was ever scarred by sports. The presence of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley make it even worse

As a sports fan, I carry a lot of pain from these three men. As a child, I was crushed by 1988. As an adult, I was left flabbergasted by 2007 and 2008. It meant that I couldn’t take my father to a World Series game. Once again, the Dodgers, Rollins, and that coward Utley stand in the way. 

I’m not sure Mets fans can take another loss here, not psychologically. All the euphoria that ensued after the Yoenis Cespedes trade would be gone. The anger would return. The same anger we saw prior to the trade deadline. Initially, it would be directed at Utley. Then Terry Collins. From there, who knows?  

That’s why this is the biggest game the Mets have played in nine years. It’s not so much advancing to the NLCS as it is who they’re playing. Under different circumstsnces, winning the NL East might’ve been enough. Not now. The Mets have to win tonight. They have to stay those demons. 

I have to take my Dad to a World Series game. 

All Is Forgiven Lawrence

The best part of any rivalry is having a foil. In the Mets-Braves rivalry, that foil was always Chipper Jones

I remember during his 1999 MVP year, the Mets-Braves rivalry was at its height. There was John Rocker insulting everyone. It may be hard to believe, but Shea Stadium was built into a much bigger lather than Citi Fieldcwas last night. However, there was another player Mets fans hated more than Rocker. It was Chipper Jones. 

After the Braves swept the Mets in late September 1999, it looked like the Mets may miss the playoffs again. After the series, Chipper famously needled a Mets fans saying, “Now all Mets fans can go home and put their Yankee stuff on.”  He hit .267/.517/.368 in the NLDS. For his career, he hit .309/.406/.543 with 49 homers and 159 RBIs. 

Chipper would hit .313/.407/.557 with 19 homeruns and 55 RBIs. He hit so well at Shea, that he named his son Shea. He tormented the Mets and their fans for 19 long years. The Mets fans only response was the “LARRY!” chants. That one came courtesy of an Orel Hershiser call into the Fan. Other than that, Mets fans just had to endure his career.

After Chipper Jones built a Hall of Fame career off of the Mets, he’s apparently now rooting for the Mets:

I knew the Mets were getting some bandwagon fans, but this is ridiculous. However, if Larry, sorry Chipper, wants to come along for the ride, he can hop aboard.  He earned that right when he ripped Chase Utley:

So, welcome aboard Chipper. Nice to finally have you on our side.