The Mets 50-year celebration of the 1969 team, together with the resurgence of this year’s team invites comparisons that are not valid. Here’s why…
A month ago, Mets fans and the entire franchise swooped in to welcome the surviving members of the “Miracle Mets.” It was a weekend that served a refreshing purpose – if only as a means to escape from the disappointing season the 2019 Mets were experiencing.
Today, as the Mets engage themselves as a relevant participant in the National League fight for two Wild Card spots, having reeled off a seven-game and a six-game win streak in a matter of two weeks, the cry is there for a reprise of the Miracle Mets in 2019.
While it makes for ongoing back page fodder in New York newspapers, you can be confident the 25 players in the Mets clubhouse don’t get it. And beyond that, they don’t care. Nor should they care.
There’s No Miracle With This Group Of Mets
This Mets team is not participating in a miracle. Instead, they are fulfilling the promise of a season that started badly and then got worse. There’s no miracle here.
This Mets team was good, to begin with, led by a starting staff equal to only a few. Only recently is the rotation and the team finding itself – with the talent many knew was there finally emerging, along with a united clubhouse led by the almost exiled Mickey Callaway.
The 1969 Mets were picked by no one to compete in the pennant race that year. The posted odds of the Mets winning the World Series that year were 100 to 1. Still a stretch but nowhere near that mark, the 2019 Mets were listed as a 30 to 1 shot to capture the title in 2019.
This statement from Amos Otis as much characterizes the 1969 Mets as anything else:
The entire 1969 season was a surprise. Not so for this version of the team. This Mets team is not at all surprised when Jacob deGrom goes seven-plus giving up three runs or less. Or when Pete Alonso steps to the plate sending another ball into the night as he continues his assault on the home record for rookies.
Nor is anyone surprised that Jeff McNeil is every bit the hitter he showed last season as he continues his quest for a National League Batting Title, the first-ever since Jose Reyes laid down to capture his in 2007.
This is not to take anything away from the 1969 team. A group which emerged only seven seasons after their inception in 1962 to capture a title. And to be sure, I was one of those idiots you see jumping off the dugout to capture some sod to take home…
Jerry Grote (.252, 6 HR, 40 RBI), Ken Boswell (.279, 3 HT, 32 RBI), Bud Harrelson (.248 with no home runs), Ed Charles (.207 three home runs, 18 RBI), Rod Gaspar – these Met’s regulars were all pedestrian ballplayers. Only Cleon Jones rose to the level of stardom, batting .340 with 12 HR and a team-leading 75 RBI.
On the pitching side, Hall of Famer Tom Seaver is in a class all by himself, in the same way, deGrom is today. Nolan Ryan was not yet Nolan Ryan in 1969, and Jerry Koosman complimented the Met’s staff in almost (but not entirely) the same way Noah Syndergaard does today.
Stop The Noise – Give These Mets Their Due
My plea is to stop the noise about the 1969 Mets. Let this team make its mark in Mets history and lore. Let there be a time when Pete Alonso and the entire team is welcomed to Citi Field a half-century from now – if that is their due when all is said and done this year.
If the Mets continue their winning ways, and I believe they will, it will not be a miracle. Instead, it will be an instance where 25 men get together after a half-season of poor play and disappointment – to say enough is enough – and we’re not going to take it anymore.
That’s what the 2019 Mets are all about, and it crystallizes their mark over the second half. That (1969) was then, and this is now. And we should revel only in the strides this team is making as they compete in a crowded pennant race.
Because, after all, these memories will be worth something someday too…