Did Jimmy Piersall anger the Baseball Gods in 1963 by running the bases backward after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies? Did he unknowingly curse the New York Mets with his 100th career home run?
While it’s unsure if Piersall’s decision 57 years ago completely cursed the New York Mets, it’s safe to say, in the history of the team – it hasn’t been easy for our beloved Metropolitans. In fact, it seems like every year brings a new piece to the cursed puzzle.
Whether it is the starting pitcher injuring himself in an unusual way to the Mets coming so close to the World Series and title but losing it all in a fluke moment. Of course, the game of baseball is fickle and each team has a stroke of bad luck – but the Mets, well sometimes it feels like the team is continuously sitting under a raincloud without an umbrella.
So let’s take a look at a few moments in Mets history that often make fans ask the age-old question: Are the Mets cursed or do they have a history of bad luck?
Matt Harvey gets injured by er… holding his bodily fluids. Talk about Amazin’.
Like every human on earth, Matt Harvey needed to take care of business during Spring Training. Unlike every human on earth – he held it, which caused the pitcher to be diagnosed with a bladder infection. But in true Mets fashion, the bladder infection wasn’t enough. Harvey went on to have a blood clot in his urine which threatened to derail his 2016 Opening Day start.
When asked, Harvey told The Wall Street Journal: “The main issue is I hold my urine in for too long instead of peeing regularly.” Interesting.
So, I will be the first to admit, this seems to be more of a Matt Harvey-type problem rather than the Mets. Despite this, it still feels like this would only happen to the Mets and their Opening Day starter.
Luis Castillo drops a popup against the New York Yankees. Against the Yankees, of course.
Castillo had one job and what was that one job, you ask? To catch a baseball. Now, as someone who has missed many routine popups in her time, I understand that it isn’t as easy as it looks on television or even in person. In a game between cross-town rivals, the Mets led 8-7 going into the bottom of the ninth, and well, that’s when our story begins.
With closer Francisco Rodriguez on the mound, the Mets needed three outs to close the game. In what should have been an easy inning, it quickly turned unbearable for Mets fans to watch. Derek Jeter singled and later stole second with two outs. One more out and the Mets would have had the win against the Yanks. Instead, Mark Teixeira was intentionally walked to get to the slumping Alex Rodriguez. On paper and until Castillo dropped the ball, it seemed like the plan had worked. Naturally, Castillo attempted to redeem his error by throwing to second base in a futile attempt to get A-Rod – not realizing Teixeira had already rounded third to score the winning run.
Cursed or bad luck? You tell me.
Kenny Rogers, you know, walks in the winning run to lose the 1999 National League pennant. No big deal, right?
Honestly, even looking back now – I’m still left speechless over this moment in Mets history. Intentionally walking Chipper Jones and Brian Jordan in order to face Andruw Jones ultimately led to Rogers’ legacy within the 1999 National League Championship.
Tied going into the bottom of the 11th inning, the Mets led 9-8 with the World Series in view. Three outs and the Mets would have made it into the 1999 World Series. Looking back, if things had turned out differently, my childhood as a Mets fan might have been a little more lively.
Of course, the Mets went on to redeem themselves during the next season with a 94-68 record, a Wild Card berth, and an appearance in the 2000 World Series against the Yankees.
The moment when Carlos Beltran didn’t swing to lose the 2006 National League pennant. What is up with the Mets and losing pennants?
Ah yes, how could one forget this moment? The New York Mets and Beltran have both felt the repercussions of this fateful night. Fooled by Adam Wainwright’s curveball – which has been known as one of the most effective curves in Major League Baseball, Beltran didn’t swing.
Adding to the sting, the game went on to be the last playoff game at Shea Stadium. Over time, Beltran acknowledged nothing would have changed if he went ahead and swung at Wainwright’s seemingly unhittable curve when speaking with the New York Times in 2012.
Beltran stated: “If I would have hit the ball in the air, it could have been a fly ball and an out, or a ground ball could have been an out. I just couldn’t swing the bat.”
Noah Syndergaard picks up a preschool disease. Okay, but how and why?
Back in 2018, it was announced that Noah Syndergaard had been placed on the injured list for contracting hand, foot, and mouth disease after returning from a finger injury. Yes, it really happened and personally, I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news.
The organization believed Syndergaard contracted the disease while working at a children’s baseball camp during the 2018 All-Star Break. Typically, the disease is found in children under the age of five and not in Major League Baseball players.
Considering J.A. Happ also contracted the disease in the same time frame as Syndergaard, it’s likely this is more of a bad luck moment rather than being cursed.
Circling back to Piersall and his backward baserunning…
Piersall’s antics were known throughout baseball during his 17-year career. From throwing an orange at the scoreboard while playing for Cleveland to throwing a bat at Yankees pitcher Jim Coates. His antics went on to continue when he became a New York Met.
On June 23, 1963, Piersall hit his 100th career home run against the Philadelphia Phillies and ran the bases backward. Rather than running the proper way, Piersall turned around and ran to first with his back facing each base. Manager Casey Stengel was not amused by this and cut Piersall two days later from the team. Due to this, it could be said that Piersall angered the Baseball Gods and left the Mets cursed on that day.
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So maybe the Mets aren’t cursed, maybe it’s bad luck after all. Either way, it’s fun to look back on these memories and remember how our beloved Mets continue to surprise us every season.