10 years earlier the Mets pulled off one of the greatest miracle in the history of professional sports when the went from worst to first and upset a dynasty O’s team to win the World Championship. Fast forward 10 years later and the only miracle in Flushing was that this team didn’t lose 100 games. To say the Mets hit rock bottom by 1979 would be an understatement. Lee Mazzilli, a nice hometown boy “done good” was the face of the franchise. “Maz” was a solid player on a putrid team who’s matinee idol looks accounted for the 7,000-8,000 fans that the Mets would draw each night. The highlight of the season would be Maz hitting a huge homer in the 1979 All-Star game in Seattle. Other than that this was a ship that began sinking the minute it left St. Pete in early April. The only thing longer than this season were Richie Hebner’s at bats. Met fans wanted to run this guy out of town on a rocket ship. He was brought in to solve their ever so comical third base woes. Hebner hit in the high .260’s which was better than most of his predecessors, but he had this annoying habit of stepping out of the box after almost every pitch to readjust his shirt collar. This drove Met fans off the deep end. With a team this bad they needed something to talk about. That something should have been Craig Swan (14-13, 3.29), who’s only crime against humanity was the fact that his name wasn’t George Thomas Seaver. Still Met fans should have appreciated the fact that he could actually win 14 games with a lineup that was next to last in runs scored. I remember going to Old Timer’s Day, where they celebrated the 1969 championship, as well as the great Dodger and Giants teams of the 50’s. An old man sitting next to me said, “Those guys could still beat this crappy Mets team if they played them today”. Sadly he was probably right.
Editor’s Note: I look at this motley crew and wonder why I ever spent $2.50 for an upper deck seat twice a week to go see them play. I see Eddie Glynn, who was nicknamed the Flushing Flash and laugh, because we called him “The Flushing Flush”. Poor Dock Ellis, there couldn’t have been a dosage of LSD that could have wiped his Met experience from his memory. I hardly recollect Gil Flores’ (he hit .194) tenure with the Mets other than hearing my friend’s uncle (who was also Puerto Rican) yell, “Deport him he sucks”. I smartly replied back, “Wilson, Puerto Ricans are US citizens, so you can’t deport him.” The replay back, “Then send him to Mexico”. Such were the times in Flushing during the late 70’s. Sadly this would be Ed Kranepool’s final season at Shea. New ownership bought out Mrs. Payson’s heir’s and dumped the last vestige to the Mets glory years.