The MLB trade deadline has become a much more significant summer event than it used to be. The New York Mets have had seasons on both sides of buying and selling. It’s those heartbreaking selling seasons when Mets fans were tortured the worst.
Among all of the trade deadline fire sales, three stand out as the most significantly awful. What made them so dreadful?
1977 NY Mets trade deadline fire sale
The infamous Midnight Massacre took place at the 1977 MLB trade deadline. The fact that it has a nickname tells anyone who wasn’t around to live through it how infamous it must’ve been.
Contractual disputes with Tom Seaver led to the MLB legend getting traded to the Cincinnati Reds for four players. The Mets also unloaded power hitter Dave Kingman in a separate deal to the San Diego Padres. A third trade, one where the Mets actually won, acquired Joel Youngblood from the St. Louis Cardinals.
This day and trade deadline fire sale is best-remembered as the day Mets management officially turned heel against the fans because of the Seaver deal. Tom Terrific. The Franchise. He was now a member of the Reds, a rival of the Mets in the earlier part of the decade. New York had faded in the standings and with zero playoff appearances since the 1973 season when they took down the Reds in the NLCS, the 1977 ball club was working toward the invention of sports tanking.
It’s not unusual at all these days for teams to trade away players they don’t have an intention of signing. In 1977, it was unusual to see a player like Seaver who was still one of the best in the league get traded away.
The simplest way to describe why this fire sale was so bad was due to the heartbreak. Seaver defined Mets baseball.
While some front office apologists might suggest this was best for the team, the playoff drought until 1986 begs to differ. Too much time passed between the Seaver trade and winning Mets baseball to justify a rebuild.