Now that we are deeply entrenched into the playoffs, one in which the Mets are again watching from home, it is easy to fall back into the “why again do we root for this team?” mode.  A little more than 60 years in existence, we only have two world series titles to show for our blood, sweat and tears and only a small smattering of what could also be referred to as successful seasons.  Let’s shorten the time frame to start with 1986, since that was the last time the Mets had a parade and see how we have matched up against our division foes.

The Mets won the NL East in 1986 blowing away the competition all season long on route to 108 wins before just making it by the Houston Astros (who were in the NL then) and the Boston Red Sox, thanks in part to the infamous 13 pitch at bat by Mookie Wilson. In 1987 they dropped off to 92 wins and won a seat in front of the TV for the playoffs.  In 1988 they roared back with 100 wins only to be eliminated by that year’s team of destiny, the LA Dodgers. In 1989 and 1990 they won 87 and 91 games, finishing second both years and again earned a one-way ticket home.  It got pretty dark after that and it was not until 1999 that they won 97 games and a wildcard playoff victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks before losing to the Atlanta Braves in the league championship series.  In 2000 they won 94 games with playoff wins against the SF Giants and St. Lous Cardinals on route to an embarrassing five game world series loss to the NY Yankees.

In 2006 they again emerged as a competitive team again winning the NL East.  They swept the Dodgers in the playoffs before watching the infamous take of a called strike by Carlos Beltran against the Cardinals.  They had their chances the following two years, but their playoff hopes were dashed by the let’s play the spoiler Florida Marlins. Darkness again fell over the Mets until 2015, when some timely hitting and great deadline pickups brought a division win despite only 90 wins.  They beat the Dodgers and Chicago Cubs before losing to the KC Royals in the world series. It took another seven years and 101 wins to get back into the playoffs only to be eliminated in the first round by the San Diego Padres.

So the recap is that since 1986 the Mets have made the playoffs seven times, winning the world series once and losing twice.

With tongue firmly planted in my cheek, have the Braves been that much more successful since 1986?  That depends on whether your view of success is how your team played or how many world series wins they had.

In 1986, the Braves started a five-year streak where they would finish fifth once and in last place four times.  Then the light bulb clicked on and from 1991 through 2005, the Braves won the division 14 times and finished second once.  They made the playoffs every year but the strike-shortened 1994 season.  What they had to show for that 15-year run of supremacy was just one world series title.  They muddled along through 2017 with some mediocre teams and lost three more times in the playoffs.  Then the light bulb lit up again and they won the NL East every year since with playoff wins in multiple years and another world series title in 2021.  In summary, since 1986, the Braves have appeared in the playoffs an incredible 23 times, winning the title twice and losing it three times.

How about those Phillies?  From 1986 forward they have won the division five times, finished second five times and placed further down 26 times.  They also finished second this year but the story is not yet fully written as to where they will end up.  In summary, since 1986, they have been in the playoffs eight times, played in four world series, winning once and losing three times.

The Miami Marlins have never won the division but appeared in the playoffs as a wildcard selection four different times.  Since coming in to being in 1993, they have played in two world series and won them both. Perhaps they should have never changed their name from Florida to Miami as that seemed to halt their success.

The Washington Nationals used to be the Montreal Expos, whose best shot at the post season was in the strike shortened 1994 season where they were leading the NL East with a 74-40 record before the season abruptly ended.  2005 was their first season as the Nationals and since that year they have made five appearances in the playoffs, having won the division four times and finishing second once.  They won the world series in their only appearance in 2019.

It is clear that the Braves are the cream of the crop having made the playoffs only one less time than all of the other NL East teams combined (23 versus 24).  As far as world series appearances, the Braves have appeared in five, the Mets in three, the Phillies in four, the Marlins twice and the Nationals once.  When all is said and done, the Braves and Marlins are tied for two world series wins and the Mets, Phillies and Nationals have taken home the title just once.

So what does this all mean?  Unless you are the Braves, getting to the playoffs is a major hurdle.  And even if you are the Braves, fighting your way through the playoffs to get to the world series is no easy task. Baseball, unlike the rest of the mainstream sports, is one where nearly anyone on the roster can make a significant difference in any game that is played whether that be a utility infielder, a pinch hitter, a spot starter pressed into action, or a relief pitcher who on that day shuts down the other team.

None of the statistics make me feel any better about the Mets, but there is some solace in how hard it is to get to the world series and in reality, we have only won one less than the dominant Braves.  With 10-12 more wins by the 2023 trade deadline we would have been buyers and not sellers and would have likely taken a wildcard spot.  It would have been nice to see what an additional bat, some new relief pitchers and a starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Kodai Senga might have done in the playoffs.  It will be a clean slate in 2024 and on any given day the Mets can win.

10 comments on “It’s not easy to win the World Series

  • Brian Joura

    I feel like everything would be different if the Mets had won in 2015. They certainly should have won, except their hitters picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

    When the Mets started out, there were 20 teams and you’d like to win the World Series once every X amount of years as there are teams in the league, in this case 20. And they did that in their eighth season. In 1986, there were 26 teams and the Mets won twice in 25 years – way ahead of the curve.

    By 2015, there were 30 teams. It was 29 years since the last WS championship and if they had won it all in ’15 – they’d be right on target. But they didn’t and now it’s 37 years and we’re behind schedule.

    We were spoiled by 3 WS appearances in 25 years, with two wins. In the following 37 years, 2 WS appearances and no wins. That 2015 pratfall is just a killer.

    Ultimately, you are right – it’s really tough to win a World Series.

  • David Hong

    It’s not easy to even make it to the playoffs, in the Mets case.

  • Hobie

    “Winning the WS once and loosing twice”
    I was at sea in 1969; maybe that short-wave AFR broadcast was a fake. Fooled me.

    • Brian Joura

      Well, the answer was right before the part you used quotes for while not correctly quoting Steven. It said, “since 1986 the Mets have made the playoffs seven times, winning the world series once and losing twice.”

      • Nym6986


  • Metsense

    With the expansion of the teams that qualify for the playoffs, I would have it my goal to get into the playoffs each year. The playoffs is a crap shoot. Getting into the World Series would be nice and winning a World Series would be fabulous. This fine article is a history lesson that World Series victories are hard to come by. Getting into the playoffs and not achieving a World Series victory isn’t a failed season. True, blue and orange, passionate fans realize this.

  • Mike W

    Great article, thanks Steven. Moments I will never forget. The first is Beltran holding the bat on his shoulder for call strike three from Wainright in 2006. The other was in 88 and I believe game four, Dwight Gooden gave up a home run to Mike Sciosia in the 9th inning and from there it was history.

    Baseball is a funny game and the best teams don’t always win. Look at this year and last in the NL. Braves and Dodgers boGth got beat two years in a row in the division series. Now we have Arizona and Philly again in the LCS.

    How could the Braves and Bobby Cox only win one World Series with three Hall of Famers, Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz in the rotation? That’s why I say Cox was not a food manager.

  • T.J.

    I would not exactly describe the Met World Series appearances as spoiling the fans, regardless of how they are bunched. I would say that Yankee fans and Braves fans are spoiled, be it disproportionate World Series or playoff appearances.

    Losing the World Series is very painful. 2000 was awful losing to the Yankees. 2015 was awful because it was so winnable. Despite those bitter defeats, those were very successful Met seasons, ones that I am thankful for despite lacking a title. For me, and I may be in the minority, 2022 was not good, worse than 2023 because of the late collapse to the Braves followed by being embarrassed by the Padres.

    Agreed, it is very hard to win the World Series, but that must be the goal, and settling for runner up or a playoff appearance is for the Tampas of the world, not a team in the biggest market that now has the biggest checkbook.

    • Nym6986

      The Yankees made the playoffs at one point something like 14 years in a row. And of course the more you make it into the playoffs, the better your chances of getting to the World Series. Their success, left me jealous, but also allowed me to rail on their big spending owner as the reason why they could field a competitive team every year. Now we get to be the rich team and I’d like Cohen to spend big, with proper guidance, and make us competitive every year. Yes develop the farm teams for a constant supply of players. It’s all that simple. We all deserve it.

  • JerseyJack

    Sure was a shame there was no wildcards back in the late 80s . Oh well

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