It's been a rough winter for everyone that is a Mets fan- and heaven knows I have been extremely hard on the franchise with my columns ( and rightfully so). But I am getting tired , worn out and aggravated by wondering what is going on with the mindset of this organization, so I figured I would try to find something positive to talk about. And this past Thursday night at 7:30 I found my answer! SNY aired an all new edition of their excellent " Mets Yearbook " series which focused on the '76 ball club. The '76 season holds a lot of meaning to us older Mets fans because it was the last winning season that this franchise would have until 1984. The team finished with a record of 86-76 that season which was good for third place. But the real story is that the Mets started out extremely slow coming out of the gate that year, and the didn't start gelling until mid July. But from watching the program you saw hope, You would not have knew that this was a team that would one season later would usher in possibly the darkest era of this teams history. Some of the highlights from the program was seeing Tom Seaver in the midst of his prime being so dominant. And when you look at the rest of the starting pitching staff, Jerry Koosman, John Matlack, Craig Swan, and Mickey Loilich ( who thankfully got short shrift in the program
), along with a bullpen which included the likes of Bob Apodaca and closer Skip Lockwood, you wonder how this team didn't finish in first place. Seeing footage of some of my favorite player from that era such as John Milner Jerry Grote, Ed Kranepool ( he was ever the politician
) Felix Millian, Roy Staiger gave me flashbacks of watching the games when I was four with my dad when they were aired on channel 9. But the thing that truly gave me goosebumps was seeing a Lee Mazzilli being instructed by baseball legend Willie Mays. It is funny, I thought that Lee would have been a hall of fame player , but I guess that is the pie in the sky attitude that you have when you are young and biased. It was also good to see a pre player/ manager Joe Torre ripping up the league with a .306 batting average. I was also surprised to see that there were no interviews with Joe Frasier, I wonder if they felt that he wasn't charismaticenough . I was also great to see Shea Stadium the way I originally saw it, with the Rheingold beer signs and no outfield bleachers, and I always loved the alluminum confetti that was hanging from the exterior of the exit ramps. But all good things would come to an end , and with the passing of owner Joan Payson in '75, and the ascension of M. Donald Grant, The Mets were toast . but know one knew it in 1976. The nightmare was about to start. A nightmare that lasted for most of a decade. " Can you feel the Spirit?"
And with that... HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!
Happy Birthday wishes go out to one of the best players we ever traded away - starter/ reliever Nolan Ryan (1947) . It was good to see him at the '69 reunion. I just wish he was part of our organization instead of the Texas Rangers.
One time Mets reliever ( and later on pitching coach
) Bob Apodaca is 60 (1950).One of the unsung players from the '86 team, Rafael Santana is 52 today (1958).Sadly on this date in '02 original Met, and catcher from the '62 team, Harry Chiti passed away (2002) .San Diego Padres signed catcher,and Mets legend, Mike Piazza as a free agent on January 31, 2006. It was a sad day, but Mikes skills, both hitting and fielding had eroded drastically. I remember watching his return to Shea that year and rooted for him every time he came to bat. And don't forget, while you are watching one of the lamest games there is ( Pro Bowl) - Just remember that there are just 64 days until the Mets open the 2010 season against the Florida Marlins at Citi Field.