Mets No Longer Lovable Losers

Well, you didn’t expect perfection, did you?

POLO GROUNDS: Where it began for the Mets.

The Mets gained the reputation as “Lovable Losers” in their infancy, which began 50 years ago today with a decisive loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Last night was also decisive, but there was nothing lovable about it as the Mets started the night with news their often-injured third baseman, David Wright, had a fractured right pinkie and is expected to be placed on the disabled list.

Then, I suppose in a page taken from the original Mets, Dillon Gee gave up a game-opening home run to Ian Desmond. We knew the Mets would eventually lose, but defeat was certain and ugly, containing butchered plays by Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, two defensive liabilities to begin with, but not with the Marvelous Marv flair.

Gee was roughed up and the offense disappeared and their first defeat of the season was in the books. There will be others, but defeat in 2012 will be different than defeat in 1962.

Back then, New York was happy to have National League baseball back in the city and embraced the rag-tag group of veteran rejects managed by circus barker Casey Stengel. Defeat was often and came in various forms and with the Stengel proclamation: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

Well, at one time, they did. At one time, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider and Richie Ashburn could really play. However, 50 years ago, they represented memories in flannels.

Today’s Mets, while undermanned, have a core of young and talented players, with more on the way up. Had the original Mets taken to start with youth before veterans, who knows how the history of the franchise would have changed?

Perhaps, we might have had the Miracle Mets before 1969. Then again, the karma would have been altered. Like much about baseball, there’s fun and beauty in speculation.

The Mets celebrate 50 years this season, and we all have our memories and special moments. Mine is different than yours, but they are all special. I don’t know how this year will wind up, but it will be special in its own right because it will contain a new set of memories.

It began with a sprint out of the gate with four exciting and well-played victories, but sputtered last night with bad pitching, spotty defense and no hitting, just like it was 50 years ago.

But, it’s not 1962 anymore. The Mets have a new stadium and aren’t playing in the rundown Polo Grounds. Those Mets weren’t expected to be good, or even compete. Today’s Mets must compete, and in New York, that means winning.


6 thoughts on “Mets No Longer Lovable Losers

  1. For years I have heard, and repeated, that the 1962 Mets were built on older players while the Houston Colt 45s (Astros) went with youth. But looking at the team standings, the average age for Houston batters and pitchers is older than the Mets! Maybe the Colts got younger talent quicker, in 1963 players like Joe Morgan, Jimmy Wynn, Rusty Staub and Jerry Grote all made appearances. The “future good young Mets” of 1963 were Ron Hunt, Cleon Jones and Ed Kranepool. Maybe the 1962 older Mets were more prominent: Richie Ashburn, Gil Hodges, Gene Woodling and Frank Thomas. That could have helped contribute to the notion that the expansion Mets were older. But the Colt 45s were better, by about 15 games a year until 1968.

    • Dan: You’re right on the notion of the older Mets. Ashburn and Hodges, not to mention Don Zimmer, does give the impression of being older. The early Houston teams were better, but by 1968, there was Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman.-JD

  2. as you may remember, the Met’s ‘womb-mate,’ the Houston Colt .45’s, who also had their inaugural season in 1962, did try your suggested ‘youth before veterans’ path, and, don’t know if it was karma or big city money, but have not been anywhere near as succussful as the Metsies, at least in terms of championships. BTW, love the blog; keep the good work up!

  3. The Mets are celebrating their 1/2 century with $2 tickets.

    It will hurt them financially, but I think will bring in the fans.

    I think it is a good move on their part.