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 four installments of the 12 part series.
Fantastic Four New York Mets Ugly Eleven Losses: Four brutal losses from the 2019 season.
# 11 New York Mets Ugly Eleven Losses: Mets lose the season finale in 2008 marking the second straight season-ending collapse.
UGLY ELEVEN # 8: Darryl Strawberry Breaks His Thumb in 1985
May 11th 1985 vs the Philadelphia Phillies
The 1985 New York Mets were primed for a big season. They had without a doubt the best one-two punch in the majors with rising stars Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Keith Hernandez was the team leader. The young Mets players were starting to come into their own.
On top of that in a huge blockbuster trade, the Mets landed top catcher Gary Carter. All of the acquisitions the Mets General Manager Frank Cashen made were working out. In addition, the Mets farm system was cranking out key players every year. The Mets were loaded and ready to take over the sport.
The New York Mets exploded out of the gate with an 18-8 record and were see-sawing with the St. Louis Cardinals for the top spot in the National League East. These two teams would be bitter rivals over the next four seasons. The rivalry continued despite MLB years later realigning the divisions and moving the Red Birds to the newly created NL Central.
This game on May 11th vs the Philadelphia Phillies was a 4-0 win for the Mets. Sid Fernandez pitched six scoreless innings and Roger McDowell followed him with three of his own. Hernandez drove in two runs and the Phillies had only one hit as the Mets cruised to a victory. It was the third straight shutout for the Mets and it put them in first place by one game over the Cardinals.
How can a Mets win be one of the worst losses in the history of the franchise? It was the loss of a player in this game which severely affected the outcome of this season.
In the top of the third inning, Juan Samuel came up to bat. Samuel hit a sinking drive to right field. Darryl Strawberry made a spectacular diving catch but landed awkwardly on his right hand. Strawberry was immediately removed from the game and was taken to Roosevelt Hospital. The X-rays showed that Strawberry suffered torn ligaments and would have surgery sidelining him for six weeks.
The Mets used a platoon of Danny Heep and John Christensen and called up prospect Terry Blocker. But in reality, the Mets were never going to be able to duplicate the offensive output that the Strawberry provides. At the time of his injury, Strawberry was batting only .215 with six HR and 12 RBI. So it’s not as he was playing well. But this is Darryl Strawberry. Just his presence in the lineup makes the rest of the team better.
The Straw That Stirs the Drink
The Mets were 18-8 and had a one-game lead at the time of the Strawberry injury. With the Straw on the shelf, the Mets went 20-23 and their record for the season was now 38-31. While their record was still good the Mets fell two and a half games behind the Cardinals.
On June 28th Strawberry returned to the lineup in the middle of a six-game Mets losing streak. The streak included a three-game sweep in St. Louis which dropped the Mets to a season-high five games back. The Mets and Strawberry would then get red hot.
In the next 17 games, the Mets would win 15 times including a nine-game winning streak. Strawberry would go on to hit .315 with four HR and 17 RBI with 16 runs scored. The Mets would trim the Cardinals lead to one-half game.
Mets Fall Short
Despite the Mets actually regaining first place as late as September 13th they would fall short and end the season three games out of first place despite winning 98 games. The classic October three-game series in St. Louis with the Mets three games back showed how important Strawberry is to their lineup. Strawberry’s mammoth HR in the 11th inning in a scoreless game is still talked about.
For the season the Mets were 37 games over .500 with Strawberry on the active roster but were three games under when he went on the injured list. In 1985 the wild card rule was not in effect. Had it been the Mets would easily have made the playoffs.
1985 or 1987
This is a game and a moment that is never talked about. Met fans usually talk about the 1987 season when Gooden missed the first two months. That year the Mets once again finished three games behind the Cardinals. The loss of their Cy Young pitcher was seen as the biggest reason the Mets did not win the division. This was on the heels of the 1986 championship season.
The 1985 New York Mets were always viewed as a team that was missing a couple of minor parts to be the truly complete team. But from my point of view if Strawberry didn’t miss 43 games the Mets would have won the division. Surely Strawberry is worth at least four games in the standings over those 43 games. There is a reason Strawberry was called “The straw that stirs the drink.”
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