by Gus Ramsey
"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. " - Mark Twain
There are many pearls of wisdom my father shared with me over the years that I first dismissed but later learned to be true.
1)Leaving an inch for ventilation with your car windows does make the car a little cooler on sunny days.
2)Whatever line you get in at the bank drive-thru window will be the longest, no matter how many cars are in it.
3) The Mets are least threatening when they have the bases loaded and nobody out.
Another of his favorite things to say over the years was "The Mets always lose the first game in California when they start a road-trip out there." For a time this seemed like some curmudgeonly concept of his that he had adopted upon moving to California in the late 80's. But a few years ago, after hearing it so many times, I decided to have my friend at the Elias Sports Bureau look it up and see if it was true. He traced it back to 1990. Guess what? It was not only true, it was REALLY true.
Obviously "never" is an exaggerated absolute, but the numbers are a bit staggering. So with the Mets beginning a west-coast trip in L.A. tonight, I took some time to go back through it myself, only I went waaay back to the beginning, 1962. I looked through every Met season using Retrosheet.org, and through some bleary eyes, here's what I came up with.
It started innocently enough. The Mets were new to the league so you would expect them to take their lumps against good Dodgers and Giants teams, but they got their revenge when the Padres came into the league, sweeping them and finishing 8-8 for the decade. Although the 0-4 in 1967 (the year I was born) may have been some kind of cosmic sign to my dad from the baseball gods.
1969 - W @ SD (5-3), W @ SD (3-0)
1968 - L @ SF, W @ LA,
1967 - L @ LA, L @ SF, L @ SF, L @ SF
1966 - W @ SF, W @ SF, L @ LA,
1965 - W @ LA,
1964 - W @ SF, W @ LA,
1963 - L @ SF,
1962 - L @ LA,
Overall record: 8-8
Vs. Padres: 2-0 (outscored SD 8-3)
Vs. Giants: 3-5
Vs. Dodgers 3-3
Still pretty balanced in the 70's. After extending their win-streak against the Padres in these games to 5, the tables started to turn in the later half of the decade, foreshadowing a big turn of events.
1979 - L @ SF, L @ SD (1-3)
1978 - L @ SD (2-3), W @ SD (6-3)
1977 - W @ SD (9-2), L @ SD (2-3)
1976 - W @ LA, L @ LA
1975 - L @ SF,
1974 - L @ SD (2-10), W @ LA
1973 - W @ LA (19), W @ LA
1972- W @ SD (2-1), W @ SD (3-2),
1971 - W @ SD (5-1),
1970 - L @ LA (15), L @ LA
Overall record: 9-9
Vs. Padres: 5-4 (outscored SD 32-28)
Vs. Giants: 0-2
Vs. Dodgers: 4-3 (including two marathons, a 19-inning game in '73 and a 15-inning affair in '70)
Still fairly even, but an important note: My father moved to California in the summer of 1988, meaning his first full baseball season in California was 1989. The tide was about to turn and a theory was in the incubator.
1989 - L @ SD (2-3), L @ SD (3-5),
1988 - W @ SF,
1987 - W @ SF, W @ SF
1986 - W @ LA
1985 - W @ SF, L @ SF
1984 - W @ LA, L @ LA
1983 - L @ SD (0-4),
1982 - W @ LA,
1981 - L @ SD (0-3),
1980 - L @ SD(2-3), L @ SF
Overall record: 7-8
Vs. Padres: 0-5 (outscored by SD 18-7)
Vs. Giants 4-2
Vs. Dodgers 3-1
Here we go. It's just downright ugly.
1999 - L @ SF W @ LA
1998 - L @ SD (1-2), L @ SF
1997- L @ SD (5-12), L @ LA,
1996 - L @ SD (2-5), L @ SD (10-15)
1995 - L @ LA, W @ LA
1994 - L @ SD (3-6), W @ SD (3-1)
1993 - L @ SF, L @ SF
1992 - W @ LA, L @ LA
1991 - L @ SF, L @ SF
1990 - L @ SF, L @ SF
Overall record: 4-16
Vs. Padres: 1-5 (outscored by Padres 40-23)
Vs. Giants: 0-8
Vs. Dodgers 3-3
It's not much better.
2010 - L @ SF (2-0)
2009 - W @ SF, L @ SD (3-8)
2008 - L @ SF, W @ ANA
2007 - L @ SD (1-5)
2006 - W @ SD (7-2) , W @ LA
2005 - L @ OAK, L @ SD (3-8)
2003 - L @ SD (2-3)
2002- L @ LA (13) , L @ SF
2001 - L @SD (0-6),
2000 - L @ SD (0-1), W @ LA (loss to the Padres their 1st in a season they went to the World Series. 6-1 all-time in those years.)
Overall record: 5-11
Vs. Padres: 1-6 (outscored by SD 31-9)
interleague be any different?!)
Vs. Angels: 1-0 (and yet they fired Willie Randolph right after this win.)
Vs. Giants: 1-3
Vs. Dodgers: 2-1
All-time record: 33-52
Vs. Padres: 9-20 but just 2-13 since '89 being outscored 74-37.
Vs. Giants: 8-20 but just 1-11 since moving to the shadows of San Francisco.
Vs. Dodgers: 15-11
Vs. AL West: 1-1
So before my dad moved to California, the Mets were a respectable 24-23. Since, 9-29!
I have two caveats on all of this. One, tonight the Mets are in Los Angeles and do have a winning record against the Dodgers in these first-game scenarios. Two, the last time I made this information "public", I shared it with a friend who has been known to wager on most things. That was the '09 game in S.F. The Mets were coming off an extra inning game in N.Y. the day before, a lock if ever there was one, so of course the Mets won. Needless-to-say, my friend told me what I could do with my theory. So consider this information food for thought and do with it what you will. All I know is my dad is a lot smarter now than he was when I was 14.