Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's Been Tuffy for the Mets to Win at Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field photo courtesy of the Chicago Cubs.  Lack of wins there courtesy of the New York Mets.

The Mets lost another game at Wrigley Field today.  That may not seem newsworthy considering how awful the Mets' offense has been recently, even against a team that has posted 30 losing seasons in the last 42 years.  But despite Chicago's penchant for piling up losses, it's been the Mets who haven't been able to emerge victorious whenever the two teams have hooked up on the North Side of the Windy City.

Things weren't always that way for the Mets in Chicago.  They used to win there quite regularly.  But things got tougher on the road once Tuffy Rhodes got things going in one memorable game against Dwight Gooden and the Mets at Wrigley Field.

The Mets opened the 1994 season in Chicago against the Cubs, handing the ball to Dwight Gooden for his eighth Opening Day assignment.  In his first ten seasons with the Mets (1984-93), Doc had allowed two homers to the same batter in a single game just once.  That came in 1986 when Montreal's Tim Wallach took Gooden deep twice in a 7-4 Expos victory on June 18.  Wallach never got a chance to hit a third homer off Doctor K that day, as Gooden was removed from the game immediately after Wallach's second blast.

Wallach hit 260 home runs in his 17-year major league career, making him a legitimate power threat and not an unusual candidate to take a pitcher of Gooden's caliber out of the park twice in one game.  But on Opening Day in 1994, Doc was victimized three times by a player who had five career home runs coming into the game and hit just five additional home runs after his game to remember.

Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes hit three of his 13 lifetime home runs against Gooden in the 1994 season opener.  However, unlike the aforementioned Wallach game in 1986, Gooden and the Mets actually overcame the trio of Rhodesian taters, taking a 12-8 decision over the Cubs.  The Mets went on to sweep the Cubs in the season-opening series, giving them 11 series sweeps at Wrigley Field in a 21-year period (1974-94).  So how many times have the Mets swept a series from the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the 21 years since the Tuffy Rhodes series?

Would you believe the answer is zero?

Incredibly, the Mets have played 25 series at Wrigley Field since 1994 and have won just six of them, taking two of three games in all six series.  Over the same time period, the Cubs have won 15 of those series (the two teams have split four series).  And it's even worse since 2003, as the Mets have lost 28 of their last 39 games in Chicago and have been swept five times.

It's one thing to be dominated at Turner Field by the Braves - a team that has been a playoff contender for most of the last quarter century.  But the Cubs have finished in last place or next-to-last in 12 of the last 21 seasons.  Not only that, but over the past 70 years, the Cubs have the worst home record of any non-expansion team in baseball.  And the Mets still can't beat them in Chicago.

Prior to the series that made Tuffy Rhodes a household name for about 15 minutes, the Mets didn't have much of a problem defeating the Cubs at Wrigley Field.  But everything has fallen apart for New York on the north side of Chicago since that opening series in 1994.

The Cubs have the Curse of the Billy Goat.  The Mets appear to have the Curse of Tuffy Rhodes.  The once-friendly confines of Wrigley Field have been most unfriendly to the Mets in the 21 years since Rhodes introduced himself to Doc Gooden.

Ever since Doc Gooden allowed three home runs to Tuffy Rhodes, the Mets have wanted to run home from Chicago.

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