Much is made of the Mets having the best Opening Day record among all 30 Major League teams. That record expanded to 37-20 in what was Mickey Callaway‘s first game as the manager of the Mets. Considering the Mets have had more losing than winning seasons in their history, we know those good times do not keep rolling on throughout the season.
Looking throughout Mets history, as the excitement of Opening Day fades, so does the Mets record. In the 56 year history of the Mets, the team’s record in the second game of the season is 28-28 (.500).
The record does get a little dicier from there. In those previously famed 36 wins, the Mets have followed them with defeats in 20 of those games (.444).
When it comes to the Cardinals, the Mets are now 6-2 against them on Opening Day. The Mets are also 2-6 against them in the second game of the season.
When looking through the Mets managerial history, there have been 12 managers who made their debut with the Mets on Opening Day. Of those 12 managers only Joe Frazier debuted with the 1976 Mets by winning his first two games. That year, the Mets would finish 86-76. That would also be the last year the Mets would have a winning record until 1984.
Frazier and the Mets would start the 1977 season going 15-30, and Frazier’s managerial record would drop to 101-106. Of course, a large part of that was his losing both Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman, both of who were traded the previous season in the “Midnight Massacre.”
As an aside, Frazier, Willie Randolph, and Yogi Berra are the managers to begin their Mets managerial careers on Opening Day to have a winning record in their first season as manager. Willie’s and Yogi’s Mets both lost the second game of the season. Unlike Frazier, both Willie and Yogi would take Mets team to the postseason in their second season as the Mets manager.
Of course, past is only prelude. It is not determinative of what will happen in the future. Just because the Mets won their opener, it does not mean the Mets have just a 44% or 50% chance of winning that game. Really, with the Mets sending Jacob deGrom to the mound, you’d have to believe the Mets odds of winning are much better than that.
Having watched the Mets win on Opening Day, it seemed like this was a different Mets team. It felt like this was a team that is going to surprise us this season and really set themselves apart from Mets teams from years past. That’s part of the fun of Opening Day. Who knows how long this feeling will last? Perhaps, we will find the answer later today.
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:
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.
If you ask a New York Giants fan about the postseason, they will reminisce about Super Bowl XLII and XLVI. You will hear about the Helmet Catch and Eli hitting Manningham down the sideline for 38 yards. You know what you don’t hear about? Fassell having the Giants ill prepared for Super Bowl XXXV or Trey Junkin.
The reason is simple when you win, you remember it forever. However, when you lose, and you lose and lose, that memory festers and worsens year to year.
For years and even until this day, you will occasionally hear Howie Rose bemoan Yogi Berra‘s decision to go with Tom Seaver on short rest over George Stone in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series. One of the reasons that memory lingers is the Mets where irrelevant from 1974 until 1984.
After 1986, Mets fans were in their glory, and to this day many fans who got to live through 1986 talk about it as fondly today as they probably did when they got to work on October 28, 1986.
Behind them is a group of Mets fans who never really got to live through the 1986 World Series. As a result, they just know Madoff Scandals and hauting postseason failures:
- Davey Johnson botched that series including leaving in Dwight Gooden too long in Game Four. Doc would allow a game tying home run in the top of the ninth to Mike Scioscia.
- It was the last hurrah for Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez who struggled over the final few games of the series, and respectively faced poor and injury plagued 1989 seasons before finding new homes in 1989.
- First and foremost, the one thing that should stick out was how those Braves teams just tortured the Mets, and the Mets could never get past them.
- Both John Franco and Armando Benitez blew leads in Game 6 preventing the Mets from sending the series to a seventh game and letting the Mets be the team to do what the Red Sox did to the Yankees five years later.
- Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded to end the series.
2000 World Series
- Timo Perez should have run out that fly ball off the bat of Todd Zeile
- Roger Clemens should have been ejected for throwing a bat at Mike Piazza
- Piazza’s ball goes out if it was just a few degrees warmer
- Guillermo Mota shook off Paul Lo Duca
- Billy Wagner cannot give up a home run to So Taguchi
- Yadier Molina
- Cliff Floyd just missed his pitch, the Jose Reyes liner didn’t fall, and Carlos Beltran struck out looking on an Adam Wainwright curveball
- The subsequent two seasons followed with epic collapses with Tom Glavine not being devastated and an inept Jerry Manuel going to Scott Schoeneweis who gave up the homer that closed Shea for good.
2015 World Series
- Terry Collins making terrible decision after terrible decision.
- Yoenis Cespedes a no-show from the very first defensive play of the World Series.
- Jeurys Familia blowing three saves even if they weren’t all his fault.
- Daniel Murphy overrunning a ball.
- Lucas Duda‘s throw home.
- Matt Harvey for too long in Game 5.
2016 Wild Card Game
- Connor Gillaspie
The list for the aforementioned series really goes on and on, but those were just some of the highlights. After tonight’s game, that is what Astros and Dodgers fans will be doing. They’ll be asking if Dave Roberts was too aggressive with his pitching changes while A.J. Hinch was not aggressive enough. Why didn’t Chris Taylor try to score, or why could Josh Reddick just put the ball in play. Really, the list goes on and on.
For one fan base, they will focus on the things that went wrong. Considering the Dodgers haven’t won in 29 years and the Astros have never won, the pain of this loss is going to hurt all the more. For the fanbase that gets to win this one, they will have memories to cherish for a lifetime, and they will never again be bothered by the what ifs that could have plagued their team in this epic World Series.
It’s a tough time for the Mets. They gave their all in Game 1, but they lost. They unravelled in Game 2. They’re halfway on their way to losing the World Series. It’s times like these you seemingly only have a hope and a prayer. It’s times like theses you need your guardian angel. The Mets are full in that department.
In the heavens, Nelson Doubleday sees his Mets suffering. This is the team he rescued from irrelevancy. He once took the helm and ushered in the greatest era of Mets baseball. He knows this team needs his help.
He knows he can’t do it alone, so he grabs the one man who he knows can gather together the right mix of angels to make this happen. Frank Cashen gives a nod to Mr. Doubleday, and he finds them. He sends them down to Citi Field to help and deliver a message.
You always start with a winner. It’s better to have someone who knows how to utilize a young pitching staff. How to bring them to new heights. How to lead them to a championship. He summons Gil Hodges, who under the din of Citi Field is Hodges reaching out to boost morale.
He summons Yogi Berra. Yogi can’t understand the despair, then again he knows better than anyone it gets late early in New York. The wind swirling into Citi Field reminds us, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
For help, Yogi turns to his closer Tug McGraw. Tug is all fired up. He’s been here before with Gil and Yogi. With a loud bang in the concourse in Citi Field you can hear old Tug jumping up and down screaming, “Ya Gotta Believe.”
Cashen though knows he needs one more. Who better to turn to than the man he last turned to when he was trying to capture a World Series. Gary Carter knows what he’s there to do. You just don’t make the last out. With every crack of the bat, The Kid lets the Mets know they won’t make the last out.
With that Cashen’s work is done. He’s assembled a group of greats, a group of legends, a group of angels. They’ll be there tonight to guide the Mets to victory. They didn’t let the Mets lose without a fight before, and they won’t let it happen this time either. They’re watching over the Mets.
We all know what’s leading the Mets to victory tonight even if our human eyes will never see the hands that brought those Mets runs home.
Earlier this year, the Mets organization embarrassed themselves by not having a patch to commemorate the late Nelson Doubleday. I hope the Mets don’t repeat the mistake with Yogi Berra.
Yes, Yogi was a Yankee. He was also a Met. He was the man who took over when Gil Hodges tragically passed. As a manager, he brought the Mets their second pennant. He was good enough for the Mets to ask him to come back for the ceremony after the Last Game at Shea:
Yogi was a big part of the Mets history. When the Mets are chasing an NL pennant and a World Series, it would be fitting to have a tribute to the greatest winner in MLB history. When times get tough, it would be great to have the reminder of the Met who said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
He deserves to be honored with a patch.
Baseball mourns today with the passing of Yogi Berra. He was a Hall of Fame catcher, a three time MVP (most ever for a catcher), and he won 10 World Series as a player. The 10 rings he won was the most ever by a player making him the biggest winner the sport has ever seen. He was a winner for so much more than that.
He was a husband and a father. He was a member of our military, who was part of the D-Day invasion. He was married to his wife for 65 years before he became a widower. When his wife was ill, he moved with her from their home to an assisted living facility. Two of his sons played professional sports.
He left behind the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center. It’s a place dedicated to teaching baseball and social values to children. It strived to promote the values of “social justice, respect, sportsmanship, and educational excellence.” Fittingly, Yogi said the hours were, “[w]e’re open ’til we close.”
It’s fitting because that’s what we remember about Yogi – the Yogisms. That’s how I became introduced to Yogi Berra. It was at my Nana’s house with my Dad and uncle (who’s a huge Yankee fan) talking trivia and spouting off the Yogisms laughing away. They made you smile, and much of them carried wisdom (some not):
- “It’s déjà vu all over again!”
- “You better cut the pizza in four slices because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.” (that’ll be my lunch order today)
- “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
- “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
- “Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I’m just not hitting.”
- “I usually take a two hour nap from 1 to 4.”
- “It gets late early out there.”
- “Never answer an anonymous letter.”
- “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.”
- “Pair off in threes.”
- “You can observe a lot by watching.”
- “When you see a fork in the road, take it.”
- “I really didn’t say everything I said.”
Yogi said these while a Yankee. He’s one of the greatest Yankees ever. Scratch that. He’s one of the greatest baseball players ever. He was also an important part of the Mets history.
After the sudden, unexpected death of Gil Hodges in 1972, Yogi took over as the Mets manager. In 1973, he was the manager when the Mets made an improbable run. They were in last place on July 26th. They were 12 games under .500 on August 16th. We all remember that Tug McGraw said, “Ya gotta believe!” It was their manager, Yogi, that said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
The 1973 Mets went on a tear winning the NL East with a 83-79 record. As Yogi would say, “We were overwhelming underdogs.” Those overwhelming underdogs beat the Big Red Machine in the NLCS, and they came within one game of beating an all-time Oakland A’s team to win the World Series.
Yogi has left behind a lasting memory for baseball fans. He was a great man on and off the field. He doesn’t belong to the Mets. He doesn’t belong to the Yankees. He now belongs to the angels. “May the souls of the faith departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”
One last thing with Yogi, it’s still not over. He’s gone, but he won’t be forgotten. His life, playing career, and quotes will keep him alive in our minds and hearts. If you have an opportunity, please go to his funeral or memorial service because as Yogi would say, “Always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise they won’t go to yours.”