I didn’t watch one pitch of yesterday’s Mets-Phillies game. With opening Sunday of the NFL in full swing and the New York Football Giants on Ch. 5 and Tom Brady and the Pats on Ch. 2, there was no reason to move the dial any further. Oh I didn’t blow off baseball altogether, by 4PM I was ready for the Giants-Padres game and the match up of Tim Lincecum and Matt Latos, in fact my baseball viewing from today on will include watching the Giants, Padres, Rockies, Rays, and the on the downward spiraling Highlanders.

It hit me around 7PM last night when I didn’t even know that the  Mets lost to the Phillies 3-0, that the NY Mets franchise has collectively climbed in the Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s Way Back machine and have arrived at 1979.

What year 1979 was. I was 21 years old with more hair than I knew what to do with (give me a moment please………………………..sniff! sniff!……………..ok back to the post) hanging out at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. Going to the Palladium to see The Clash and Graham Parker and the Rumor (The Palladium was a great venue, first time I ever saw Bruce Springsteen ad the E Street Band was there in 1976, YES I SAID 1976!) I spent my winters and spring watching the NY Rangers from Section 432 in my Blue Seat all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost to Les Habitants but at least the Blueshirts beat the Icelanders as that was the year that no good scumbag Denis Potvin took out Ulf Nilson and the POTVIN SUCKS Chant was born.

More to the point of this post though, 1979 was the year the NY Mets drew 788,905 live bodies to Shea Stadium, less than 10,000 a game (9,621 to be precise) and I can not remember if I were a part of that 788,905-details are very hazy-but I’m sure I was because it was Richie Hebner’s one and only season as a Met and I remember him giving Mets fans the finger. I also remember it was Ed Kranepool’s last year. I remember Bob Murphy telling the tale of Ed Glynn a relief pitcher who also hawked hot dogs at Shea as a youth. The one bright spot of ’79 was that miserable, no good, saboteur of the franchise; M. Donald Grant was no longer around, dumped by Lorinda de Roulet after the 1978 season. But the team still sucked.

Right after the season, de Roulet thankfully sold the team as she had no clue on how to run it, she sold it to the dynamic duo of Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon and the rest as they say is history.

Myself and many Mets fans lived through 1979 and not only was it not fun but it was painful. Painful because of what could have been. What if Tom Seaver was never traded ? What if Joan Payson wasn’t sick and then dying during the advent of free agency with that asshole Grant advising her ? Remember Mrs. Payson had no problem spending money on her team, in fact when the Mets were born in 1962 she told Horace Stoneham that she wanted to buy the contract of Willie Mays and money was no object. What would have happened if Whitey Herzog would have been named manager after the death of Hodges instead of the overmatched Yogi Berra?

As much as I would to re-live 1979 all over again I wouldn’t want to relive the Mets season of that year as the Mets were so bad no one cared. At least we still care, we still have passion for this team, though it’s mostly negative, it’s still passion. Let’s hope the right moves are made for a new GM and manager and that deadwood and players who don’t like it here are sent off, no matter the cost monetarily. It’s time to restore some pride in this organization but I’m not optimistic the people in charge are intelligent enough to pull it off. All Jeffey Skill Sets needs to do is start collect batting practice baseballs, clean them and use them again and he’d be Linda de Roulet all over again.

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  1. What’s funny is that I think I remember that Mets team so well, but I could easily be mixing it up with the 1978 or 1980 Mets. There were a lot of similarities.

    Sometimes when I think back to those times I realize how foolish/stupid I was. I actually thought Steve Henderson was going to be a star. Same for Mazzilli. I even believed (well, hoped) Dan Norman would be a successful switch hitter. {Remember that? I think that the Mets believed switch hitting was natural for black guys.} I loved John Stearns. Was that the year he set a record for steals by a catcher? Might have been ’78.

    1979 was the first full year of Met games I was able to watch because cable TV arrived in our neighborhood the previous summer.

    We lived way upstate, but we went to the Old Timer’s game at Shea. Even that wasn’t a sell-out, but it was pretty full. I think Tom Hausman pitched. Vida Blue pitched for SF. McCovey was still playing then.

    I may still have that yearbook at my parents’ house, but it’s also possible my mother threw it away.

    But, as you say, while I’d love to be 15 again, I don’t want the Mets to make me nostalgic by stinking that badly. I listened to all of yesterday’s game, but it hardly mattered to me when the Mets lost. To the Phillies. Uggh.

    By the way, I still remember trying to listen to Game 6 of that Rangers-Islanders series. We didn’t have the Ranger home games yet – got those next season – so I had to make do with radio. Only, there was no local affiliate in Albany so I listened to ??? (WNEW AM, I think) through an awful lot of interference. I remember having to sit out in my father’s car to listen to that game, and nearly crying as Marv counted down the seconds with the crowd chanting JD.

  2. After reading this, makes me glad I moved to KCMO in 1979 and don’t remember this season at all.

  3. Eagle those teams from the late 70’s kind of meld into one all were awful. Living in Brooklyn which was no wired for cable until the mid 80’s my firends and I would head into the city for Rangers-Isles and set up shop at the Blarney Stone on 33 st. I still remember the saves JD was making that post season, one of the great displays of goaltending ever.

  4. I thought Henderson was going to be a star, and so was Mazilli. I thought Dan Norman would hit 40 homers and that Juan Berenguer would strike out 300 in a season. Craig Swan was already a superstar and he would win 20 if he ever got enough run support. I figured that we were due for another 1969, that everyone’s expectations were waiting to be turned upside down. I enjoyed 1979, and there was even a loony, manic charm to those crowds of 10,000 all sitting in the Loge with General Admission tickets. To go back to a time when there was this degree of fan disillusion, Steve, I think that Mr. Peabody and Sherman need go back no further than 1993. Some might even say 2004. In 1979, I don’t think we had quite the same expectations.

  5. Hair today, gone tomorrow.

  6. My first Clash experience was not until the Bonds Casino shows in 1981 so consider me jealous.

    But turning 14 late in the 1979 baseball season I had little chance of getting to a show prior to Bonds.

    I did however have plenty of time to watch those late 70’s Mets teams you and others note above. I can’t ever really get back the way I watched those teams. I simply had no expectations whatsoever.

    Swan, Flynn, Stearns, Hendu, Falcone, ‘blood, Maz, Glynn, Allen, those were my “Boys of Summer.” Those guys never disappointed me even if they habitually lost almost 100 games. But I was a kid.

    Now this team just makes me shake my head side-to-side and sigh. In the 70’s I loved to run to the TV or radio to catch each game. Now it’s like smoking – I know it’s bad for me but I can’t quit. But hey at least eventually they will kill me!

  7. What a Nightmare. The Jets score as well as the Mets do. This could be a long season for me.

  8. Dana and GD Hebner nailed it as usual. Back then we knew the team wasn’t good but he always thought that something special was right around the corner. Dana I ‘m with you I thought Henderson was going to be an absolute star, the on eplayer that would take the edge off the Seaver deal. The last couple of years the Mets have done to me what no other Mets team have ever done, they made me angry.

  9. I remember the Mets being on a Saturday game of the week in 1979 and NBC switched to a
    track and field event. Bryant Gumbel solemnly assuring us that this Olympic pre event was more important than the 9th inning of a 6-4 game. Was I glad Jimmy Carter pulled us out of the 1980 summer olympics as punishment! Then there was the time when Dave Kingman hit 3 home runs for the Cubs and Howard Cosell proclaimed it a great feat and little Fran Tarkenton reminding us that Kingman used to play for the Mets. Hey Fran, which Super Bowl did you stink the most in?

    John Davidson played great until the Stanley Cup finals, then he looked like swiss cheese the way Ed Giacomin always did in the post season. And after losing in 1979, the Islanders reeled off 4 straight Stanley Cups and a record 19 straight post season series wins.

    Yeah, it is disappointing Henderson came up the same time as Andre Dawson, just lost to him in ROY but Hawk had a better career. Henderson was two years older although him hitting an extra inning walk off home run early in his career was a great moment.

  10. John Pacella, 1980. The hat always came off. Jerry Morales in CF. Mazz and Hendu. It seemed like they were onto something, but they just went on to stink. As noted above, we had hope then, something to like. This team does nothing except make us mad.

  11. The difference between 1980 & 1979 was that during late July ’79 the Mets went on a crazy run. They won night after night with 9th inning heroics. AT least that’s how I remember it.

    I thought that was THE year, until the Phillies came to Shea for a big series in early August. I think it was 5 games, but might have been 4. Either way, they swept the Mets and that was that. By month’s end the Mets were back to where they’d been the two years previous.

    That’s how I remember it anyway. I’m sure I could check my facts, but the memory of that run is way better than the facts ever could be.

  12. Yes, we had hope back then, but we KNEW much less. Today thanks to the internet and cable TV we simply know too much to be excited about the future of this club. Now we know the whole league in a way we hardly knew the Mets then.

    Back then I think we knew the players more as people than we do today, but less as how they compared as talents. Anybody agree with that?

  13. Eagle, comment 11 is right on, but you described 1980. They lost 3 of 4 to Philadelphia in that series, and never recovered. The first night was a twi-nighter, and the Mets won game one. They were ahead in the ninth of game two and lost. That was the end.

  14. Rich,

    You’re right. Typo. I thought I’d written ’80.

  15. Eagle, you are 100 % right. The only info we had were from newspapers and The Sporting News. I guess it’s the old saying about sauages applies to Mets mangement if you saw it being made you’d never eat one again.

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