Every fan base has those games that rip you apart emotionally. Some fan bases have many more to choose from than others. In my years as a New York Mets fan, there are many games and moments that have ripped me apart. I have rounded this down to the Ugly Eleven All-Time Met losses in my lifetime. As a 45-year-old fan, I am going to limit the pain to games starting in the ’80s going up until now. This list is sure to bring back many bad memories for every Mets fan.
Please look back at the first two installments of the 12 part series.
New York Mets Ugly Eleven Losses # 11: Mets lose season finale in 2008 marking the second straight season-ending collapse.
UGLY ELEVEN 1998 COLLAPSE # 10
September 22nd & 23rd vs the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium
The New York Mets had three collapses to make this list. This one happened almost 10 years before the great collapse in 2007. At the time this was very painful. It was the second full season of the Bobby Valentine era. An era that does not get the credit it deserves. Bobby Ball produced five consecutive seasons of over .500 baseball. It was one season short of Davey Johnson’s Mets record of six straight seasons of over .500 baseball.
Valentine rescued the Mets from six straight losing seasons that saw four different managers right after the Davey Johnson era. After a successful 1997 season with a record of 88-74 Met fans were looking for the next step. After team home run leader Todd Hundley got hurt the Mets had a huge hole in their lineup. Where would the Mets find another catcher who can hit with the power of Todd Hundley?
Well, the Mets did not find a player who can hit like Hundley. They found a better one. The Mets stunningly traded for the greatest offensive catcher of all-time—Mike Piazza. Now it was on for the Mets. Their cross-town rival New York Yankees were about to have one of the greatest seasons in the history of the sport but Piazza’s greatness took some of that spotlight.
Valentine had the Mets on the verge of winning the lone wild card spot. Yes back in 1998 there was only one wild card team and the Mets held a narrow lead going into the last week of the season. The Chicago Cubs were one game behind the Mets and the San Francisco Giants were four games behind. The Mets had two off days during the last week of the season which could allow them to bring back a top starter if needed.
The Mets had a two-game series with the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium before ending the season with three games on the road against the hated Atlanta Braves. The Mets had destiny in their own hands. Especially when the lowly Expos at 62-94 came to town. Met fans were anxious to celebrate and surely the boys from Queens would sweep the Expos in the two-game series.
In the opener, the Mets jumped on starting pitcher Mike Thurman scoring three runs in the first inning. Piazza had a two-run double followed by an RBI double by Brian McRae. The Mets could have broken this game open right there in the first inning. With two outs and McRae on second Carlos Baerga hit a single through the hole between shortstop and third base. Expos left fielder Derrick May threw McRae out at home to end the inning.
The Expos scored three runs in the third inning. May hit a solo home run and Wilton Guerrero tripled in Orlando Cabrera and was driven in by a groundout by Terry Jones. In the sixth inning, the Expos knocked out Mets starter Armando Reynoso. Cabrera hit a two-run single off Dennis Cook driving in Michael Barrett and Guerrero giving the Expos a 5-3 lead.
After a big first inning, the Mets managed only one hit for the rest of the game. The Mets did make noise in the bottom of the seventh but Butch Huskey popped out to first base with the tying runs on base as the Expos defeated the Mets 5-3.
Back to Back Losses
The next day Carl Pavano hurled six shutout innings. Bob Henley hit a solo home run in the top of the second inning and Pavano added an RBI double as the Expos jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Ryan McGuire added an RBI single in the ninth to extend the Expos lead to 3-0. The Mets managed only three hits all game as the Expos completed the two-game sweep with a 3-0 victory.
The Expos actually had the Mets number all season with an 8-4 record. The Mets record stood at 88-71 as they headed to Atlanta. You can really pick either game vs the Expos but to me, it was the 5-3 loss on Tuesday, September 22nd.
Wild Card Still in Play
The Cubs split a two-game road series against the Milwaukee Brewers giving them an 88-71 record and a tie with the Mets. Meanwhile, the Giants swept a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates improving their record to 87-72 one full game behind the Mets and Cubs. You can guess what happened on the last weekend of the season. The Cubs split the first two games on the road against the Houston Astros while the Giants won the first two on the road against the Colorado Rockies.
The Mets lost the first two games in Atlanta leaving them one game behind the Cubs and Giants in the wild card race. Bobby V’s boys now needed to win the last game of the season and have both the Cubs and Giants lose to force a three-team playoff. The Mets would lose their last game of the season quietly ending their season and a mini-collapse. To make things worse both the Cubs and Giants would also lose. The Giants would defeat the Cubs in a one-game playoff.
The Mets would end the season losing their last five games. The Braves who have become a major thorn in the side of the Mets ended their season and it would not be the only time this happens in the Bobby Ball era. The Mets finished the season with a 3-9 record against the Braves but make no mistake it was the two home losses to the lowly Expos that really did the Mets in. In September the Expos wound having a 4-1 record vs the Mets.
At the time it was crushing to Mets fans to collapse in the final week. After the Mike Piazza trade, the Mets finally had that superstar player to put them on the map. Piazza was a player who could steal the headlines from the Yankees who were having a historic regular-season winning 114 games. Looking back at this season you can take a different perspective.
Yes, it was terribly disappointing to not make the playoffs. Especially when you factor in two home losses to an Expos team that won 65 games on the season. But it was the beginning of a really good stretch for the Mets. The next two seasons would result in back to back playoff appearances for the Mets including a World Series berth. This would be the first time in New York Mets history they would accomplish this.
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