Mets can look to 1973 for blueprint to save their season
By Justin Colombo
The Mets are in the cellar. They are the proud new owners of the worst record in the national league and they’ve wiped the smile off of Brandon Nimmo’s face.
It’s going to be a rough finish to the season for the New York Mets unless they can turn things round. Boy, do they need to. And fast.
After spending June winning just 5 of their 26 games, the Mets are in a slump. Well, maybe slump isn’t the right word. The Mets are in a downward spiral. No, not quite it.
The Mets are in a complete and utter free fall much like an asteroid hurtling through our atmosphere at the speed of light with the only hope of stopping being a crash-landed into the Earth’s surface where ti can explode and quietly burn out.
But there is a way out. The Mets have 12 games left before the All-Star break and if they can win more than half of those games they’ll be in a better position to repeat their success of 1973.
That’s right, we have to go 45 years into the past to find a Mets team that came out of a first-half hole of this magnitude.
The 1973 team wasn’t always a force to be reckoned with. The Amazin’s, now in their 11th year of operation, started off hot finishing April with a 12-8 record. Over the next two months, Yogi Berra‘s tean would go 20-31, struggling to find themselves.
The Mets would fall 11 games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals, saddling themselves with a 32-39 record going into July.
The 2018 team, just for a frame of reference, went 32-47 in the first three months of the year. They are currently double-digit games behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.
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After July, the Mets continued to struggle heading into August with a 44-57 record, 10.5 games back, and in dead last of the 6 team NL East. 13 games under .500, the teams season looked doomed heading into the final months of the season.
That’s when Tug McGraw coined the term we all hold so dear in our hearts: Ya Gotta Believe.
The Mets stayed consistent through the final months going 37-22. Meanwhile, as the focused Mets pushed onward towards the end of September, the Cardinals, Cubs, and Pirates began to fall apart. Each day the lead got smaller and smaller.
At the end of the day, the laser-focused Mets stood atop the NL East with an 82-79 record. Over the last two months of the season, the Mets posted a .627 win percentage.
From there the Metropolitans took on the powerhouse Cincinnati Reds. The Big Red Machine was fearsome, packed with future Hall of Famers like Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Johnny Bench. The Reds also had the National League MVP for 1973 in Pete Rose. This team was a force to be reckoned with.
We would go on to beat the Reds 3-2, with Tom Seaver getting the win in the final game. The 1973 World Series was set. It would be the Mets against the Oakland Athletics.
We all know the team did not come out victorious in 1973 and would have to wait another 13 years for a championship to come to Queens. However, the 1973 season and the current 2018 season share a lot of similarities.
The 1973 Mets had 3 of their top 5 pitchers in franchise history taking the mound. Jerry Koosman, John Matlack, and Seaver were the lifeblood of the 1973 Mets.
In addition, George Stone would step up and provide solid starts as their fourth. In the bullpen, McGraw was a fierce closer, racking up 25 saves, good enough for 4th in the MLB.
The Current team also has three solid starters in Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Cy Young contender Jacob deGrom. While Syndergaard is on the DL until mid-July, and Matz’ turn around hopefully starting soon, deGrom has held down the fort.
At this point, we should consider ourselves lucky that he’s not on the DL with a back injury after carrying this team all year.
If the team wants to turn things around and make something out of this seemingly lost season, they’ll need to start winning, plain and simple. I know that sounds like simple analysis, so here are the hard facts.
Let’s say from here to the All-Star break Mickey’s team can go .500, leaving them with a 6-6 record. In order to salvage the 2018 season and be competitors, the Mets need to win at a .650 clip.
Winning at that rate would put them around the 83 win mark, 13 wins more than 2017. That would mean that post-All-Star break the team needs to go somewhere around 45-22. The 1973 team went 40-22.
It’s not the easier road for the Amazin’s, but it’s where we’ve ended up after the disaster that was June 2018.
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While it’s easy to sluff this season off as a wash, I would argue that it’s more fun to hope the Mets pull it off. At the end of the day, I think 1973’s McGraw put it best: YA GOTTA BELIEVE.