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It’s OK to take advantage of the Mets’ strong start to the season

The new skipper had apparently galvanized a team of veterans. The starting pitch was borderline ridiculous: every day someone was throwing a five hit. Even the offense, so often a question mark, had been constant, beating clutch shots throughout the early weeks of the baseball season.

Yeah. The 2022 Mets have been quite a spectacle so far.

But we’re not talking about the 2022 Mets. We’re going in the 1950s machine, all the way back to 1972. On Saturday, May 20, Jon Matlack threw a five-hit gem for the Phillies at Veterans Stadium in Game 1 of the Phillies. ‘a doubleheader, the Mets won the game 3-1, and improved to 23-7 after the first 30 games of the Yogi Berra era.

For good measure, Jerry Koosman won the nightcap and Tom Seaver finished the sweep by beating Steve Carlton the next day. They were 25-7, meaning the 1972 team set franchise records for the highest winning mark after 30, 31, and 32 games. They were six full games behind the Pirates and apparently on their way to a 1969 recall.

They finished 83-73, 13½ games behind.

“I thought we had a team that could go all the way,” Yogi said after the season finale, a 3-1 win over the Expos on Oct. 4. “But then we went from charmed to snakebite.”

In many ways, this was the first year the Mets really felt the pangs of a promising season that fell apart. The first seven years, of course, were endless losers. Then came the majesty of 1969, and the afterglow shone bright enough that even back-to-back 83-79 seasons in 1970 and 1971 were tolerable.

New York Mets designated hitter Pete Alonso #20 celebrates his solo home run
Pete Alonso and the Mets are rolling to start this season – and fans can enjoy the ride.
robert sabo

But ’72? It was a season that started with baseball’s first-ever work stoppage that shortened the season by six to eight games for different teams. Gil Hodges had died on Easter Sunday. Early in spring training, Hodges was hitting ground balls to Jim Fregosi who ended up breaking his thumb. Fregosi was not only bothered by this. His year was a stark contrast to the man he was traded for — Nolan Ryan went 19-16 with a 2.28 ERA and 329 strikeouts for the fifth-place Angels.

And the injuries started piling up, none more damaging than Rusty Staub being hit on the wrist by future teammate George Stone on June 3. career at .313/.399/.491.

Yes. Early-season Mets fan angst was born there. So it’s understandable that most Mets fans have been trying to keep the balance when this year’s club has broken out of the gates so quickly (the Mets, 20-10 going into Tuesday’s game at Washington with a lead of six games in the NL East, twice as big as anyone else in baseball already).

Now, sometimes quick starts can be warning signs. The 1986 and 1988 teams were both 22-8 after 30 games, the 2006 Mets 21-9, the 2015 team 19-11. Everything saw better days in October.

Sometimes they can be fool’s gold. The 1972 team speaks loud and clear about it. But no Mets team has proven that more eloquently than the 2018 Mets who started 11-1 but had already begun to come back down to earth after 30 games (17-13).

And sometimes good teams are laggards. Your defending champion Atlanta Braves will serve as a reminder throughout the season as each day they hold the title of world champions. And it’s best to remember that, as incredible – or amazing – as the 1969 Mets were at the end of the season, they started out freezing cold – 3-7 after 10 games, 9-11 after 20 , 14-16 after 30.

So yes: Mets fans will continue to enjoy early-season prosperity for as long as it lasts, and maybe it really will for a while. It’s happened here before.

“Take care of your business every day,” Francisco Lindor said in Philadelphia last week. “Keep building on what we are doing. So everything will be fine.

New York Post

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