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Friday, June 18, 2010
The Mets from Throneberry to Wright

To commemorate the opening of the Mets-Yankees series -- no, not that series; this one -- I've put together the Mets history by era (and if you're interested in the underlying principles involved, here's what I did for the Yankees this spring). So, here's nearly 50 years of Mets history, quick and dirty ...

Marv Throneberry
Marv Throneberry batted .244 in his first season with the Mets.
1962-1967: The Marv Throneberry Era
"Marvelous Marv" wasn't actually a Met for long; more or less the team's regular first baseman in 1962. "Marvelous Marv" got off to a slow start in '63 and was demoted to Triple-A Buffalo (where he batted .178 the rest of the season) and never showed up again. Well, not in the majors anyway. In the 1970s, Throneberry showed up constantly on TV in a long-running ad campaign, cementing his status as the prototypical early Met. What's more, Throneberry's fame lives on in this story, as told by (the first) Frank Thomas:

And it really happened, 48 years ago yesterday.

Tom Seaver
Tom Seaver burst onto the scene and won the National League's Rookie of the Year Award in 1967.
1967-1976: The Tom Seaver Era
Granted, the Mets still lost 101 games in 1967, but their rookie right-hander won 16 games, earned a save in the All-Star Game and was the National League's Rookie of the Year. Tom Seaver was the franchise's first homegrown star, and you could hardly blame Mets fans for thinking they'd finally turned the corner; which, as things turned out, they had. In 1968 the Mets avoided 90 losses for the first time, and in 1969 they won the World Series.

1977-1982: The Lee Mazzilli Era
The Seaver-Mets relationship grew ugly in 1977, and on June 15 he was traded to Cincinnati for four (lesser) players. The Mets would lose 98 games that season under manager Joe Torre, and wouldn't top .500 again until 1984. During those lost seasons, the face of the franchise was outfielder Lee Mazzilli, a handsome Brooklyn native who enjoyed some nice seasons and hit a key home run in the 1979 All-Star Game.

1983-1990: The Darryl Strawberry Era
As good as Strawberry was (and he was very good) and as good as the Mets were (and they were, under manager Davey Johnson, very good), there was always the feeling that everyone could have been just a bit better. That Strawberry, the Rookie of the Year in 1983, should have won an MVP Award or three in his career. That the Mets, who did win the World Series in 1986, should have reached the postseason more than twice. And that maybe they would have, if only Strawberry had reached his enormous potential.

Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza's .348 batting average in 1998 was the second best of his career.
1991-1997: The Vince Coleman Era
In Coleman's six seasons with the Cardinals, he 94 runs and 92 steals per season. In his three seasons (1991-1993) with the Mets, Coleman averaged 49 runs and 33 steals. Oh, and he was making good money while doing it, too. In 1993, the Mets had the highest payroll in the majors and the worst record, 59-103. They were "The Worst Team Money Could Buy," and Vince Coleman was right in the middle of it. Coleman was gone after that season, but the Mets didn't really seem relevant again until ...

1998-2004: The Mike Piazza Era
Piazza arrived in the summer of '98, not quite soon enough to push the Mets into the playoffs for the first time since 1988. But in '99, with Piazza behind the plate for a whole season, the Mets won 97 games and fell just two wins short of the World Series. One year later, they won 94 games and did reach the World Series, and Piazza was their best player. Granted, the next four seasons wouldn't go as well, but that's an aging, weak-armed catcher for you .

2005-2010: The David Wright Era
In Wright's first full season, the Mets topped .500 for the first time in four years. In his second full season, the Mets came just one pitch away from reaching the World Series. When he struggled (by his standards) in 2009, the Mets struggled. This year he's back in form, and the Mets are again challenging for a postseason berth. Handsome and affable and brilliantly talented, Wright figures to be the face of the franchise for some years to come.