The Mets have always been a boom and bust franchise — they’ve either been really good for a period of time or really bad. It seems like the bad stretches were far longer than the good, but isn’t that how it always goes? Interestingly, there never is gradual improvement or decline; it is always sharp, shooting straight up or down. But let’s forget about the down times for now and concentrate on the good. After all, we might be at the beginning of the best stretch in team history. While it is too early to make that declaration (or is it?), let’s take a look at which Mets winning era was the best.
Here are the candidates:
The Mets went from never having a winning season over their first eight years to winning 100 games and the World Championship in 1969. They also went to the World Series in 1973, losing in seven games to the Swingin’ A’s. Two World Series appearances in five years in pretty impressive. However, in the three seasons in between, the Mets had identical 83-79 records. And even in the 1973 season, they only won 82 games.
Definitely the longest stretch of prosperity in Mets history, they went from 68 wins in 1983 to 90 in 1984. They would win at least 90 games in six of the seven seasons, including 108 and the World Series in the magical season of 1986. However, they only made the playoffs twice and the Fall Classic just once.
The Mets once again speeding from 0-60, from 71 wins in 1996 to 88 in 1997. They made the playoffs in two consecutive years, the first time in franchise history, and went to the World Series in 2000 and lost to the stupid Yankees.
This was the only time there was gradual improvement. The Mets won 71 games in 2004 and went to a respectable 83 in 2005 — a sign of good things to come. Those things would come the next year when they won just their fourth division title with 97 wins. It would be the only playoff appearance for this group, as they famously collapsed in 2007 and 2008.
Which brings us to the current Mets, which stunning won 90 games and the division in 2015 after failing to top 80 wins in any of the prior six seasons. They made it to the World Series, only to fall to the Royals. And they made the playoffs this season, the second back-to-back October appearances for the franchise.
The verdict? Well, it’s easy to say the mid-1980s team. After all, they set a franchise record for wins in a season and won a championship. Ultimately, though, that era is a bit of a disappointment because that team should have won more than one, and definitely should have made the postseason more than twice.
The Miracle Met era really only had one outstanding season, so no.
And the mid-2000s team. Two collapses and one playoff appearance? Absolutely not.
The late 1990s-early 2000s team is a definite possibility. They made the playoffs two years in a row, something the mid-80s team never did. Of course, they got in via Wild Card and never won their division. If the Wild Card were around in the 80s, that team would have made the playoffs every season. But we have to judge these teams in the eras in which they played. In the end, the Bobby Valentine Mets did not win a World Series.
Finally, we have this year’s model. Two playoff appearances, one ending in a World Series appearance, the other one and out. Both tremendous seasons. But indeed, it is too early to say this is the best era in franchise history.
That crown will have to go to the mid-1980s team, for now. But this current crop has the potential to top even that great era.