Friday, July 4, 2014

Just How Bad Are The Mets At Turner Field?

This has been a familiar scene at Turner Field over the years, especially when the Mets are in town.

The Mets are back at Citi Field on Friday after a 1-6 road trip in Pittsburgh and Atlanta.  But at least they won a game in Pittsburgh.  The team was swept at Turner Field, something that's become far too common since the Braves moved into their new digs in 1997.

Just how much of a house of horrors has Turner Field has been to the Mets in the 18 seasons it's been open?  The numbers are alarming.

The Mets won their first series at the House That Ted Built, taking three of four from the Braves in July 1997.  They were then swept in each of their next three series at the Ted before winning the first game they played in Atlanta in 1999.  How did they celebrate that rare win at Turner Field?  By dropping 12 of their next 13 games there, including losing all three games played in Atlanta during the 1999 National League Championship Series.

From 1991 to 1996, the Mets finished with a losing record each year.  Meanwhile, the Braves won their division in each of those campaigns (not including the strike-shortened 1994 season).  But despite Atlanta's dominance in the overall standings those years, the Mets held their own when they visited the Braves during the team's final six seasons at Fulton County Stadium.  They played 11 series at the park known as the Launching Pad from 1991 to 1996 and were never swept in any of those series.  Of course, when the Mets became a surprise contender in 1997, they were getting swept regularly in Atlanta, probably wishing the Braves had never moved out of their old park.

Speaking of sweeps, since their inaugural series victory at Turner Field, the Mets have been swept in Atlanta a whopping 14 times.  (New York has only recorded three series sweeps at Turner Field, not recording their first until 2006.)  And how have the Mets performed in the 49 regular season series they've played in the Braves' new park since it opened in 1997?  They've only won a dozen of those series, losing 34 series and splitting the other three.  That means the Mets are more likely to be swept in a series at Turner Field than they are of just winning a series there.

Overall, including the postseason, the Mets have a 52-101 record at Turner Field, for a .340 winning percentage.  To put that into perspective, let's go back in time - way back - to a time when the Mets played their home games at the Polo Grounds.

In 1962 and 1963, when the Mets called Manhattan home, the team put up the worst two-year stretch of any team in the modern history of baseball, going 91-231 in their first two seasons.  New York won 56 games at the Polo Grounds during their two-year residence there, losing 105 times.  That's a winning percentage of .348 at home when the team was playing the worst baseball of any team in the history of the sport.  It doesn't take a math major to figure out that the '62 and '63 Mets - two of the all-time worst teams in baseball - had a better chance to win at the Polo Grounds than the Mets of the last two decades had at Turner Field.

And in case you forgot (which is possible considering the Mets' misfortune in the standings since they moved to Citi Field), since the Braves moved to Turner Field in 1997, the Mets have actually had winning teams in nine of the Ted's first 17 seasons, including three postseason appearances and a berth in the 2000 World Series.  But despite being successful in approximately half of the seasons since Turner Field opened for business, the Mets have played like their expansion counterparts whenever they've stepped onto the field in Atlanta since '97.

The Braves will be leaving Turner Field after completing their 20th season there in 2016.  Atlanta will be moving into a new ballpark in Cobb County once the team's lease runs out at their current park.  The Mets only wish their lease had run out sooner.  It would have saved them a lot of heartache over the past two decades.

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