Picture a shattered eight year old when the 1957 baseball season ended whose favorite team, the New York Giants abandoned the right coast for the wrong coast. And what was worse they took with them the boy’s very favorite player: Willie Mays.
It wasn’t possible to root for a team who started their home night games after my bed time. My father and I made a token effort at changing allegiances to the Phillies but that just wouldn’t take (Red –> yick). The idea of rooting for the Yankees was as distasteful back then as it would be right now. That idea was a nonstarter.
So baseball pretty much happened without us until the Continental League smokescreen resulted in New York being awarded a National League expansion franchise. If you don’t know that story, check out the Wikipedia link.
The day the newspapers revealed that New York would be getting a new National League team was the day my dad and I became Mets fans although the team did not get its name for a matter of months. My recollection is that one of the tabloids ran a contest to name the team. My vote was for something other than Mets and obviously the name “Mets” carried the day. Clearly I wanted a team in the worst way and, as they say, that’s what I got.
In the early years when they were lovable losers the question wasn’t whether they would win on opening day but rather whether they would win in the first week and a half. The first few years they did not. Just to prove that their opening day loss wasn’t a fluke they would go on to lose six to nine more before chalking up a W.
The record books show that the Mets lost eight straight opening day games before registering a win. What has always astonished me has been how good they have been since then on the day the bell has rung.
With Monday’s win over the Nationals the Mets brought their opening day record to 35-19. Since this comes after a 0-8 start it means that once they got cooking they have gone 35-11 in openers. How good is that? That’s a .761 winning percentage and if a team had that for a season they are going 123-39. That would blow the doors off Washington and everyone else.
I have always wondered whether there is anything more to it than dumb luck. After all, some team has to have the best opening day record so why shouldn’t it be the Mets? However that winning percentage since the early losing streak is just freakishly high.
But when the Nats, admittedly depleted by some key injuries, send out the best of their superstar pitchers in their building while the Mets roll out (pun intended) Bartolo Colon, not their ace, and yet the Mets still win…. To me it’s almost like some karmic entity is saying “I know I made it tough for you those first eight years so you can have this one pretty much every year from now on.”