Thursday, August 25, 2011

Historically Speaking, August Blows For The Mets

As we nervously anticipate the arrival of Hurricane Irene to the tri-state area, hoping not to be blown away by the strong wind gusts expected, we figured it would be appropriate to discuss another "gust", or rather, the month of Au-"gust".

The Mets have reached the postseason seven times in their half-century of existence, but there have been many other times when the Mets had playoff aspirations entering the month of August. Once August began, however, the Mets buckled under the pressure and were blown back from contention to detention. Let's look back at the Mets' history in the month of August to see just how many times the dog days have bitten the Mets' postseason hopes.

Ex-Met Brian Schneider knows a thing or two about things blowing around the ballpark, such as playoff hopes.

Since moving into Citi Field in 2009, the Mets have done fairly well in the first half of the season. They were in first place in 2009 going into the Memorial Day weekend. In 2010, the Mets led the wild card race as late as July. This year, the Mets were sparking talks of competing for the wild card after the All-Star Break as well.

Then August happened.

In Citi Field's inaugural season, the Mets were 10-19 in the month of August. They improved in 2010, although not much, going 12-16 as they were outscored 114-79 in the month. This year, the Mets are bringing August ineptitude to new depths, as they have only won six of 21 games in the month, with four of those wins coming against the last place San Diego Padres.

Quick math tells us that since moving into Citi Field, the Mets are 28-50 in all games played in August. Prior to August, the Mets were a combined 157-157 since 2009. Their .500 record wasn't great, but it was far better than the .359 combined winning percentage over the past three Augusts, which effectively took them out of legitimate contention.

It's not just the last three seasons in which the Mets have played like natural disasters in the month of August. When the Mets collapsed in 2007, they went 15-13 in the month of August, which was only one game better than their September mark that year (14-14). Fans who want to blame the Mets for their play over the final 17 games of the season could like at the seeds being planted in the month of August, when the Mets were swept out of Citizens Bank Park by the Phillies from August 27-30.

The 2004 Mets were only eight games out of first place at the end of July and even closer to the wild card lead, prompting then-GM Jim Duquette to make two separate trades for Victor Zambrano and Kris Benson. All they needed to give up was Scott Kazmir (who went on to win 55 games in five years for Tampa Bay), Ty Wigginton (who's posted four 20+ HR seasons and can play second base, a position the Mets could use some help with) and Jose Bautista (who led the major leagues in home runs last year and is doing the same this year).

So how did the Mets respond to those trades? They went from eight games out of first to 17 games out after their 11-17 August.

Just two years earlier, the 2002 Mets went 6-21 in the month of August, losing 12 straight games at one point, which dropped them from second place in the NL East to the basement.

The 1997 Mets weren't supposed to compete for a postseason berth after their 71-91 campaign the year before, but compete they did. Unfortunately, they saved their worst month of the season for August, going 13-16 in the month, allowing the Marlins to pass them in the standings to clinch the wild card. The Marlins went on to win the World Series that year.

Prior to 1997, the Mets had suffered through six consecutive losing seasons. But the first of those six sub-.500 campaigns did not start out that way. That is, until August came around. The 1991 Mets were in second place in the six-team NL East with a 55-45 record going into the month of August. They then went 8-21 in August, en route to their first losing season since 1983.

I could go on and on with more examples (the 1980 and 1982 Mets were surprisingly in contention at the All-Star Break before an 11-20 August brought them back to Earth in 1980 and a putrid 5-24 August produced the same result two years later), but there's a hurricane we have to prepare for.

So there will be no mentions of the 1972 Mets (who went 11-17 in August after starting the month with a 52-41 record), the 1970 Mets (who lost 18 of 31 games in August after producing winning records in each month from April to July) or the 1966 Mets (the first team NOT to lose 100 games, although you wouldn't have known it from their 11-21 record in August).

Hurricane Irene may be headed to Citi Field, but even the expected high wind gusts can't compare with all the blowing that's been going on in the month of August for the Mets over their history. A hurricane like this comes once every 50 years. Too bad the same can't be said for the Mets in August over the same time period.

1 comment:

Brian Joura said...

Good stuff!

I immediately thought of the 1982 collapse and the 1972 one was no fun, either.