It goes without saying that the New York Mets have not had anywhere near the success achieved by their cross-town rival, the New York Yankees. Since their first year in the league (1962), the Mets have had only 26 winning seasons and 33 losing seasons. And they’ve reached the post-season in only nine of their fifty-nine seasons. This article takes a look at the New York Mets World Series appearances.
The Mets have had six seasons in which they lost more than 100 games compared to only three seasons in which they won 100 or more games, the last coming back in 1988. The team has made it to the World Series five times, winning twice, the last coming in 1986 (perhaps their best team ever).
“As a lifelong Yankees fan, you might assume that I take delight in watching the Mets lose year after year. But that’s not true.”
I’ve never had any dislike towards “the other” New York team. And no one rooted for them more than I did in the 1986 World Series when they defeated our arch-rival Boston Red Sox. Besides that, my wife and her family are Mets fans, and I feel some measure of sympathy for them.
So rather than bash them and mention all the wrong decisions the organization has made over the years (like trading Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver), I’m going to focus on their World Series appearances. We’ll start with the 1969 team.
New York Mets: 1969 World Series
After seven dismal seasons in a row, there wasn’t much reason to think 1969 would be different for the Mets. Although the team did show improvement in 1968 with a quality pitching staff that included Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, and Tug McGraw, they still finished with a losing record.
And hope faded quickly at the start of 1969. By May 27th, the Mets were 18–23, but then, the team reeled off eleven wins in a row.
However, as good as the team was playing, the first-place Chicago Cubs were playing even better. By August 14th, New York sat ten games behind Chicago. Still, most Mets fans felt satisfied that the team would likely finish in second place and have their first winning season in their eight-year history. There would be next year, and 1970 looked promising.
But then a miracle happened. The Mets won 24 of their next 32 games, while the Cubs lost 17 of 25. New York finished in first place with a 100–62 record and would face the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.
The Mets continued their winning ways with a three-game sweep of the Braves and were now on their way to the World Series, facing the powerful Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore had breezed through the regular season with a 109–53 record and made short work of the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS. The Orioles had three future Hall of Fame players on their roster — third baseman Brooks Robinson, outfielder Frank Robinson, and pitcher Jim Palmer. Prognosticators had Baltimore as the heavy favorite, but they underestimated the Mets, who had gone 27–8 in their last 35 games.
With great pitching, timely hitting, and some fantastic defensive play, the Mets pulled off an upset, beating the O’s four games to one. They became known as the “Miracle Mets.”
New York Mets: 1973 World Series
The next three seasons proved to be disappointing as New York failed to reach the playoffs, finishing third in their division all three years. Then, 1973 got off to a tragic start when Manager Gil Hodges died of a massive heart attack on Easter Sunday, just two days before his 48th birthday. Coach Yogi Berra took over as the new manager.
The Mets had added some young, proven stars to the team, including Jon Matlack, Rusty Staub, John Milner, and Felix Millan, but–in a season filled with injuries–the Mets found themselves twelve games below .500 by mid-August, with only 44 games left to play.
“Then, just like they had done in 1969, the team got hot when it counted most, winning 30 of those 44 games. They finished the season with a sub-par 82–79 record. But with no other team in their division posting a winning record, it was good enough for first place.”
Their opponent in the five-game NLCS would be the Cincinnati Reds, who had finished the season with 99 wins and 63 losses. That record, combined with the fact that they were the defending National League champions, made Cincinnati the heavy favorite. The Reds had so many talented players, including catcher Johnny Bench, infielder Joe Morgan, and outfielders George Foster and Pete Rose.
New York produced only three hits in the first game and lost 2–1, but, once again, the Mets shocked the baseball world by winning three of the following four games. Now it was on to the World Series to face the defending champion Oakland Athletics.
The Mets were the heavy underdog, and with good reason. The team’s .509 winning percentage was the lowest of any pennant-winner in modern history. Oakland had proven just how good they were by winning 94 games in the regular season and then defeating an outstanding Baltimore Orioles team in a five-game series. They had also won the World Series in 1972. The Athletics had a great pitching staff with starters Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Vida Blue, and reliever Rollie Fingers. They also had perhaps the best power hitter in the game, Reggie Jackson.
But the “Amazin” Mets were not about to roll over for anyone. They gave the A’s all they could handle and led the seven-game series 3–2 after five games. In Games Four and Five, the Mets pitching staff held the A’s to just one run in 18 innings. “Ya Gotta Believe” was the rallying call for the underdog Mets.
But in one of the very best World Series ever played, Oakland prevailed, winning four games to three, with two games going into extra innings. It was a disappointing end for New York, but they could take solace in proving what kind of heart they had. They had brought the defending champions to the brink of defeat, something no one could have predicted.
The future looked bright, but a series of bad trades and terrible front office decisions led the Mets down a losing path for the next ten years. They posted just two winning seasons and made zero playoff appearances.
New York Mets: 1986 World Series
Things finally turned around in 1984 when the team won 90 games and placed second in their division. In 1985, the team posted its second-best record in franchise history with 98 wins. Unfortunately, they still finished in second place as the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals won 101 games.
The teams’ roster had many star players, such as Gary Carter (acquired from the Montreal Expos) and Keith Hernandez (obtained from the Cardinals). In the outfield was 1984 rookie of the year Darryl Strawberry. The team also had a top-notch pitching staff, spearheaded by 1985 Cy Young award winner Dwight Gooden.
Led by manager Davey Johnson, the Mets easily won their division with an outstanding 108–54 record (still the team’s best-ever record). But winning the pennant and the World Series would not come easily for the Mets.
First came a hard-fought series with the Houston Astros, led by 1986 Cy Young award winner Mike Scott. In the two games that Scott pitched, the Mets scored just one run. But, in the end, New York won the series 4–2.
Next up, the Boston Red Sox, a team led by the America League batting champion Wade Boggs and the American League Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. The two teams fought tooth and nail in one of the most exciting World Series ever. The Mets finally prevailed, 4–3.
New York Mets: 2000 World Series
Although the team had a good season in 1987, they could not repeat what they had accomplished in 1986, compiling a 92–70 record, three games behind the Cardinals.
The Mets finished the 1988 season with 100 wins and would face the LA Dodgers in the NLCS. Many people felt this team might be better than their 1986 team and had predicted another World Series victory.
But it was not to be. The Dodgers pulled off an upset, winning the series 4–3.
1989 and 1990 were good seasons for New York, but only good enough for second place. 1991–1996 were forgettable seasons of losing. Then, under the leadership of new manager Bobby Valentine, the Mets finished in second place in 1997 and 1998. The team finished the 1999 season with an impressive 97–66 record but lost the NLCS to the Cardinals four games to three.
Mets fans had high hopes for the 2000 season, and the team did not disappoint them. Led by future Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza and pitchers John Franco and Al Leiter, the Mets defeated the SF Giants and then the Cardinals in the playoffs to win their fourth National League pennant.
In a World Series that baseball fans will remember through the ages, the Mets faced the New York Yankees in the first Subway Series since the Yankees played the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. The Yankees were the heavy favorite even though the Mets had a better record, posting 101 wins (including playoffs). The Yankees finished with 94 wins (including playoffs), but that record was somewhat misleading. The Yankees had all but clinched their division three weeks before the season’s end and had pretty much put it into cruise control–losing 15 of their final 18 games.
The Yankees had won three of the last four World Series and had a roster of star players. They had starting pitchers Andy Petite, Roger Clemens, and reliever Mariano Rivera. They had shortstop Derek Jeter and first baseman, Tino Martinez. The Yankees won the series 4–1, but it wasn’t a cakewalk. In the five games combined, the Yankees only outscored the Mets by three runs, and they needed twelve innings to defeat the Mets in the first game. The Mets had proven they had a lot of heart and had given the defending champions all they could handle.
New York Mets: 2015 World Series
After that, the Mets could place no higher than third place for the next five years. In 2006 they won 97 games and fell just one game short of reaching the World Series, losing to the Cardinals in game seven of the NLCS. 2007 & 2008 were good seasons for the Mets but not quite good enough to reach post-season play.
The team went back to its losing ways for the next six seasons, but they made up for it by winning their fifth National League pennant in 2015. Led by manager Terry Collins, pitcher Jacob deGrom, and infielders David Wright and Daniel Murphy, New York easily defeated the LA Dodgers and Chicago Cubs in post-season play. Their opponent in the World Series would be the KC Royals. The Royals proved to be too much for the Mets to handle, and they lost the series four games to one.
Since then, the team has not had much success, But loyal fans are eternally hopeful that ‘next year’ will be the year they win their long-awaited third World Series trophy.
Host and Author - Mark Morthier
Mark Morthier is the host of Yesterday’s Sports, a podcast dedicated to reliving memorable sports moments from his childhood days and beyond. He grew up in New Jersey just across from New York City, so many of his episodes revolve around the great sport’s teams of the 70s for the New York area. He is also an author of No Nonsense, Old School Weight Training.
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