I love curses. Not just the ones we say as a child and get scolded for repeating even though every single one was learned from our parents. The ones I like even more are those that keep a franchise from winning a championship. The Boston Red Sox had the Curse of the Bambino. The Chicago Cubs had the Curse of the Billy Goat. The New York Mets have the Curse of Kevin Mitchell.
Okay, so maybe there isn’t some sort of hex Mitchell put on the franchise. One could even declare the Mets have a Curse of Ray Knight on their hands. After winning the 1986 World Series MVP, they parted ways with him. Who does that?
Mitchell was another Mets player who left the club after winning it all in 1986. While this doesn’t exactly justify a curse, there is one other factor.
Kevin Mitchell represents a pair of important Mets droughts
The circumstances which led the Mets to trade Mitchell to the San Diego Padres after the 1986 season were more off-the-field based than anything else. His reputation wasn’t the cleanest—but whose was from the teams of that era?
Mitchell was traded after 62 games with the Padres, moving up the California Coast to join the San Francisco Giants. His development continued and in 1989 he did something no Mets player ever did: he won the MVP.
That’s the point where I start to think maybe the Mitchell trade after the 1986 season does have some kind of a jinx on it. We don’t know for sure if he would have won the honor had he stayed with the Mets. However, he represents the long list of Mets players who got away too soon.
In 2000 a similar situation occurred when Jeff Kent, also with the Giants oddly enough, won the MVP. He was another player who spent his younger days with the Mets. Traded far too early, he would blossom late in his career and become a star.
For a little more irony relating to Kent, he came to the Mets when they dealt David Cone to the Toronto Blue Jays. As you probably recall, David Cone threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees years later. The Mets didn’t have a no-hitter at the time. They eventually got their first from Johan Santana but perfect games have continued to allude to them.
The good news is the Mets don’t have anyone else post-Mitchell who left the franchise and won the MVP. At the same time they haven’t exactly come close to having their own guy finally take home the honor.
In 1988 Darryl Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds finished second and third in the vote. McReynolds was the biggest acquisition the club landed in the Mitchell trade with the Padres. Although productive, the MVP never landed on his resume.
Only the Amazins and the two youngest teams in baseball—the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays—have yet to award one of their players with an MVP trophy. The Diamondbacks won a championship in 2001 and the Rays seem like a perennial contender every year these days.
The reason the Mets haven’t won a World Series since 1986 has little to do with Mitchell. The same goes for their lack of an MVP winner. Nonetheless, Mitchell represents two longings the franchise needs correcting.