Two believers at Shea Stadium, Summer of 1973.
Mets won their third straight against the Braves last night. Still not getting my hopes up for the rest of this season. You gotta believe, said Tug but that was easier to do when Tug himself was out there.
The Mets radio announcers were talking about the 1973 pennant-winning season. They recalled that the Mets were in worse shape at this same point that year. Arguably.
There were only the two divisions, no inter-league play, so the Mets had more chances against their division rivals, and it was an embarrassingly weak division. The Mets were the only team to finish above .500 and they did it barely, at .509, going 82 and 79, still the worst record in baseball history for a pennant-winning team. (They played only 161 games. There must have been a rainout they didn’t need to make up to decide the division winner.) Over in the West, the fourth place Astros won more games than every team in the East except the Mets whom they tied in wins. (They lost one more, having played all 162 games.) And besides having McGraw as their ace reliever, the pitchers he relieved included Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Jon Matlack. Seaver won 19 and lost 10, a .665 winning percentage. He led the league in strikeouts with 251 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.08!
You had to believe but what was almost unbelievable wasn’t that the Mets were able to climb out of the hole and win that division but that they won the league championship series against the 99 and 63 Cincinnati Reds---the Big Red Machine in its glory years---and then took the Oakland A’s to a seventh game in the World Series!
Probably more accurate to say the A’s took the Mets to a seventh game. The Mets were up 3 to 2 after 5.
Anyway, I’m not ready to believe this season. But it's still fun when this team gets its act together, and imagine what things would be like if Harvey was healthy, which he will be next year, and that's where my hopes lie.
How’s your team doing?
Photo via Mets Merized Online.