I'm not in the habit of fondly quoting Dick Young, but when he learned that the 1980 Mets' highlight film, following a 67-95 record, was titled Getting Better All The Time, he asked if the people in charge of naming it were the same people who put out Pravda.
Yet things are getting better all the time. We just won our 72nd game . Forget for a moment that it's paired with 75 losses, 20% of those accumulated in the last three weeks. Instead, consider the W's.
2003: 66 wins
2004: 71 wins
2005: 72 wins…at least!
That's two consecutive years of increased wins and improved winning percentage even if we lose the next fifteen (which I wouldn't rule out). Do you know the last time the Mets got better all the time like that?
Hold onto your hat or some other item that can substitute as headgear.
That's right. The Mets have not posted consecutive, escalating win totals since they last won the World Series. That was the fifth straight year of improvement starting with 1982.
Since then and before now? The Mets have put up better win totals/winning percentages (useful for considering strike-shortened seasons) than they did the previous year in 1988, 1990, 1994, 1997 and 1999. They came close to doing two in a row twice. In '95, their Pct. dipped ever so slightly from .487 to .479. And in '98, they repeated their 88-74 record of '97.
But mostly they've been getting worse every year for almost 20 years. Not anymore though. Not technically. The marketing department can definitely claim practically unprecedented success here. Aside from that five-year stretch from '81 to '86, when they rose from a 64 (pro-rated for the 41-62 combined total of '81) to 65 to 68 to 90 to 98 to 108 victories, the Mets have never improved more than two years running ('63-'64; '68-'69; '75-'76).
Why are these Mets, after having lost 15 of 18, suddenly historically magnificent?
Pedro. He's the only reason. Accept no substitutes.
For eight innings, no worries. In the ninth, with two on and nobody out, not as many worries against the Braves as I would have with anybody else on the mound. When Chipper stood in as the potential third run of yet another atrocious Atlanting, I looked at who was at bat, then looked at who was on the mound. For the first time since that chippy bastard came into the league, I felt no trepidation. I honestly didn't fear Larry Wayne Jones. Screw you, putz. We've got Pedro Martinez. Don't mistake him for who you usually see straight ahead when your teammates are on base and curly NYs cower all about. This is not [name any Mets pitcher of the past decade]. You do not have an advantage against this man. In fact, you are not his equal. You may get a hit against Pedro Martinez, but you are not to expect it. Not the way you would against [name any Mets pitcher of the past decade].
Having Pedro protecting his own four-run lead over the Braves is as comforting as holding a newly adopted kitten.
Hey, whaddayaknow, we got one of those Friday night, too. The Princes are a two-cat enterprise once more. Our September callup is named Avery, brother of Hozzie , successor to the late, great Bernie the Cat . The night our Bernie died, Pedro threw eight shutout innings against the Marlins . Sixteen weeks later, the night Stephanie brought home our Avery, Pedro threw nine shutout innings against the Braves.
He ensures history.
He foils enemies.
He celebrates my cats.
And every five or so days, he makes me do this: