A Good Place to Start — The Myth of the “Long Suffering” Mets Fan
A friend of mine married a Mets fan late in the 2005 season, and began following the team the next year. She was heartbroken along with the rest of us when Carlos Beltran’s knees were locked by that vicious curveball, ending what had been a successful year. After the collapse in 2007, she told me, “I’m not used to seeing the Mets lose.” I had to laugh. She will soon learn why the phrase “long suffering” often appears before the words “Mets fans.” But have we really suffered when compared to fans of other teams? Sure, we had to watch Joe Frazier manage, Armando Benitez blow saves, and Kevin McReynolds play his maddening style of ball. But if the ultimate goal is to get to and win the World Series, then the Mets surprisingly haven’t done too badly compared to the rest of the league.
The Mets are arguably the most successful expansion club in MLB history. They’ve been to 4 World Series — no other expansion team has even been to 3. The 2 Mets victories match the Marlins and Blue Jays as the only expansion clubs to win multiple times. Marlins fans will tell you they are more successful, since their 2 victories came in just 16 years of existence, compared to 47 for the Mets and 32 for the Blue Jays. That’s why I said “arguably.” But let’s do some more comparisons. How about the futility of the Senators/Rangers (48 seasons), Expos/ Nationals (40), and Mariners (32) – exactly zero World Series appearances. Then we have the one appearance and no victories by the Astros (47), Brewers (40) Rockies (16) and Rays (11). The Padres (40) appeared in two World Series with no victories. The Angels (48) and Diamondbacks (11) are one for one. And the Royals (40) won one and lost one. When you look at it this way, it’s been pretty good being a Mets fan.
How do the Mets compare with the histories of the original 16 teams? Well, looking at raw numbers is not fair, because those teams had a 60 year head start on the Mets. So we’ll use the rate of World Series appearances and victories. The Mets appear in the Series roughly once every 12 years, and win roughly one every 24 years. That sounds pretty grim, but only a handful of teams have better rates. The Yankees are just freaks, appearing in the World Series about every three years, and winning one about every four seasons. The Cardinals (6/10), Dodgers (6/18), Giants (6/21), A’s (7/12), Red Sox (10/15), and the Reds (12/21) have better rates. The Pirates (15/21) and Tigers (10/26) are pretty much even with the Mets.
They fare even better when you look at all teams since the Mets were born in 1962. Only the Yankees (13), Dodgers (8), Cardinals (8), A’s (6), Orioles (6), Red Sox (5), and Reds (5) have appeared in more World Series than the Mets’ 4 (the Phillies also have 4 appearances). And only the Yankees (7), Dodgers (4), Cards (4), A’s (4), Orioles (3), and Reds (3) have more than the Mets 2 victories (also with 2 – the Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, Phillies, Pirates, Marlins and Blue Jays).
And how about the Mets’ arch enemies – the Braves and Phillies? In spite of all of their recent regular season success, the Braves have won just 3 World Series in their history – only 1 more than the Mets, with 60 extra years on the field. And those additional 60 years of play gave the Phillies just two more World Series appearances than the Mets, with the same 2 wins.
We Mets fans like to see ourselves as the martyrs of the sport, rooting for our bad teams with as much passion as when they are playing well. While admittedly we’ve had many, many, many down years, the numbers show so have other teams. However, we’ve had more to cheer for in October than fans of most of the teams in the league. But if you must continue being a pessimist, disregard everything you just read, and just think about the years Harry Parker was our ace, Bobby Bonilla and his earplugs, and Mel Rojas and the majestic home runs he very often yielded.
Date: September 21, 2009