On-Base Perception

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Mets scuffling like it's 1979

After falling to the Nationals 5-1 at Citi Field last night, the Mets advanced to yet another level of ignominy. It was the 11th straight home game that the Mets were held to three runs or less, matching a single-season* franchise record established by the woeful team of 1979.

The Mets go for the franchise record Tuesday night -- 33 years to the day that the '79 squad began its infamous streak. The comparison isn't flattering.

By September of '79, playing out the string was just another part of the Mets experience. It didn't make for easy motivation. Or for much fun. (see Hebner, Richard Joseph).

However, this late-season stretch was exceptionally bad.

The '79 Mets drew just 788,905 to Shea Stadium, dead last in the National League. So, few noticed when the Mets went 11 straight home games without crossing the three-run barrier. The 11th game was a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 22,1979, witnessed by 8,492 gluttons for punishment, who wouldn't settle for just one dose of offensive incompetence. (It was the back end of a doubleheader).

During the streak, during which the Mets went 0-11 under manager Joe Torre, they hit a putrid .209/.260/.248.

So, how do the 2012 Mets stack up?

Unlike their punchless counterparts, these Mets have avoided going winless during their stretch (2-9), which constitutes minor victory. But also unlike the '77 team, these Mets have an active streak on their hands.

Over these last 11 games, the Mets have been every bit as horrendous at the plate, hitting .199/.283/.282.

No matter how many times manager Terry Collins shuffles his lineup, the hits keep on (not) coming. After Sunday's loss to the Braves, an exasperated Collins admitted that he'd exhausted his options.

His latest idea: pushing batting practice closer to game time, just as it is on the road. The result: more of the same.

For now, the big league record appears to be safe. That belongs to the 1948 Reds, whose 17-game streak of incompetence at Crosley Field stretched all the way into the early days of 1949.

Nevertheless, the Mets are in danger of joining an exclusive club. Only 17 teams have scored three runs or less in 12 straight home games. If the Mets get held to three or less again tonight, they'll become the 18th.

* Just like the '48 Reds, one season wasn't enough to contain the punchless '66 Mets, whose struggles at Shea stretched into '67.

Tags: New York Mets , Joe Torre , Terry Collins , Richie Hebner

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