Welcome back to A Super-casual History of the Mets. This series is a very top level history of the Mets, from memory, to pass along to Generation Z and whatever follows. For a more detailed history of the Mets I refer you to Faith and Fear In Flushing.
Today I will educate you on THE LEAN YEARS. These are the years that make us old guys strong. When Millennials whine that the Wilpons only spent $150 million we show you these rosters. The Mets could trade JDG and Alonso tonight and I wouldn’t even bother to tweet about it.
Let’s start in 1977.
THE METS TRADED TOM SEAVER. The best player they ever had and ever will and they traded him. We will never ever ever ever get over this. Ever. June 15th. Learn the date. Memorize it. Just say June 15th to a Mets fan and they will know what you mean. The Mets also traded their slugger Dave Kingman that day. Tom cries at his locker.
Now you have some slim pickings. The team has to market….the manager.
In 1978 you get excited about the young Centerfielder Lee Mazzilli. He’s good looking and The Italian Stallion in a time of cool Italian Stallion guys like Rocky Balboa and The Guy From Saturday Night Fever. Mazz hits .273 with 16 HRs in a time before steroids. He’s your guy.
Also Craig Swan leads the league in ERA. There is nothing else to talk about. You watch Reds games when NBC shows them.
In 1979 the Mets win 63 games. If you want to impress a Mets fan just say Richie Hebner and shake your head. Hebner was the latest solution to the never ending 3B problem and hated being here. One year and done
In 1980 you can get excited about New Owners! the Doubledays and WIlpons come in and they are going to make things better! 67 Wins and I have no stories to share about this one.
In 1981 there is a strike! The strike causes a split season. You are so desperate that you are excited the Mets are playing FOUR HUNDRED baseball in August and maybe perhaps could make the playoffs. They don’t.
1982? It’s the same guys except they are older. There’s nothing to talk about here. The Mets break your heart by trading Lee Mazzilli for some kid named Ron Darling.
Then in 1983 THIS HAPPENS!
OMG Tom Seaver came back. He’s on the Mets. Everything is all right with the world! You don’t even care that he wins 9 games. He’s back!
On June 15th the Mets acquire Keith Hernandez. He doesn’t want to be here but Mets fans quickly notice he’s a lot better at baseball than anyone we have seen here maybe ever (non-pitcher). He’s able to play first base at a level you’ve never seen. It’s kinda like Steph Curry changing everything by taking a million threes. Suddenly DEFENSE is cool. But the Mets still suck.
To Fake It At The Bar: June 15th, Mazzilli, 1983. Maybe say something like “I really liked John Stearns.” (He was a decent catcher and he’s not the most obvious player to have liked so you will seem cool.)
More Monday, I don’t want to waste this series on a low-traffic holiday weekend.