Good news for fans of the Mets, and the Mets themselves: 10 or 20 or 50 years from now, the world mostly will have forgotten about the Amazin’ Dud of 2017.
So I learned upon attempting a Twitter crowd-sourced ranking of most disappointing seasons in New York-area sports history, relative to preseason expectations.
It turns out fans remember promising seasons that ended badly far more than ones that started bad and stayed bad. More about that later.
First: These Mets deserve a prominent place on any such list, with all the early spring talk of a historically dominant pitching staff, the return of Yoenis Cespedes and – for added fun – the prospect of a rebuilding season for the Yankees.
Instead, it all went sour with shocking swiftness, largely because of injuries, with even Mr. Met expressing frustration in a fashion that creatively challenged his four-fingered hands. Heading into Tuesday’s games, the Mets are 46-51, 13 games behind the Nationals for first place in the NL East and 10 games back of the second wild card, with four teams ahead of them.
Not surprisingly, the Mets and Jets are over-represented among disappointing seasons, with the gold standard for modern era crushers being the 1999 Jets.
They were title contenders after coming within 30 minutes of a Super Bowl, then saw their quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, go down with a torn Achilles tendon on opening day. They started 1-6 before rallying for an 8-8 finish behind Ray Lucas.
The 1987 Mets are recalled as an injury-riddled flop after the glory of 1986, which they were. But at least they won 92 games and finished only three games out.
Consider instead the “Worst Team Money Could Buy” Mets of 1992 and their 2002 sequel. Or the awful 1965 Yankees, who got old all at once and went from 99 victories the year before to 77.
Or the 1987 Giants, who went from Super Bowl champs to 6-9 in a strike season during which they fielded a dysfunctional replacement team that went 0-3.
Or the 2016 Jets. Too soon?
But the vote here for No. 1 is the 1925 Yankees, who were seventh in the American League with a 69-85 record, the only time from 1919 to 1964 they were worse than third in a non-war year.
This was with a lineup that included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other fixtures of the late 1920s “Murderers’ Row” Yankees. Ruth played only 98 games because of health problems assumed to be related to his lifestyle.
So, there you go, Mets fans: It could be worse!
But back to the original point. When fans recall crushing seasons, start-to-finish washouts tend to fade from memory, while the late daggers persist.
Mets fans often cite the late September swan dives of 2007 and 2008, but those teams were in contention to the end. Same goes for the 1988 NLCS in which the Dodgers’ Mike Scioscia ended what should have been a Mets mini-dynasty.
Giants fans lament the Rams’ Flipper Anderson in 1989 and the collapse of the post-Plaxico Burress-shooting 2008 team. Yankees fans have the Diamondbacks’ Luis Gonzalez in 2001. Knicks fans have the 1997 playoff brawl with the Heat.
Rangers fans watched their team reach the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, then lose in five – with three of the losses coming in overtime. Jets fans never will forget the loss in Buffalo in 2015.
But those teams at least gave fans some happiness on the way to eventual ruin. Not so what has gone on in Flushing this season.
If someone had told you in March the Mets would underachieve and narrowly miss out on a postseason spot come autumn, you would have understood. Stuff happens. But this season mostly has been over since mid-May. Amazin’.
Hope springs eternal, though, even for the 1925 Yankees.
On June 2, Gehrig started at first base for Wally Pipp, and the Yankees ended a five-game losing streak with an 8-5 victory over Washington.
Gehrig did not miss a game until 1939, and after the 1925 season, the Yankees did not finish under .500 again for 40 years.