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It Is Where You Start

Posted By Greg Prince On April 8, 2006 @ 5:39 am In Main Page | Comments Disabled

By jumping ugly (or Uggla) on the Florida Marlins early, late and often Friday night [1], the Mets secured their third win in their first four games.

You probably have no idea how rare that is. But thanks to Retrosheet, you're about to.

It's pretty rare.

2006 is the first season since 1998 that has started with at least a 3-1 record. If you had to think about that for a second, it figures. The eight-year drought is the longest since the first time the Mets broke out of the gate in .750 fashion.

That was 1971, only the second year in which the Mets won their first game. Successful launches weren't really a trademark around here, hence it took the Mets until their tenth season to score a 3-1. They beat that feat in 1973 (4-0), then didn't match it again 'til back-to-backing it in 1977-78. Next up: 1981 (twice; split season), followed by '82, '84, '85 (a gaudy 5-0, best ever), '87, '91, '94, '98 and now now.

Thirteen calendar years in 45 seasons. That's a little more than a quarter of the schedules commenced in high style…and 32 of them no better than .500, if that. Sounds like somebody owes us a few.

Does a good four-game start portend good things? Well, let's see…

1971: 83-79, T-3rd

1973: 82-79, 1st

1977: 64-98, 6th

1978: 66-96, 6th

1981(1): 17-34, 5th

1981(2): 24-28, 4th

1982: 65-97, 6th

1984: 90-72, 2nd

1985: 98-64, 2nd

1987: 92-70, 2nd

1991: 77-84, 5th

1994: 55-58, 3rd

1998: 88-74, 2nd

2006: 122-40, 1st*

*prorated

Our CBS News estimates based on exit polls aside, a 3-1 or better start hasn't guaranteed a title of any kind. In fact, five of our six postseason berths were secured after beginning 2-2. Only the '73 Mets took advantage of their opening burst to get to October. Amazingly, that was the club's highwater-mark for the year. They only climbed four games over .500 once more (12-8) and that includes their final W-L, which encompassed an unchampionlike 78-79 over the remaining 157. Amazingly amazing, indeed.

So four games do not a season make. But four games like those we've had to date make it good to be alive, don't they?

Aside from being Mets fans and dwelling on the shortcomings of Jorge Julio (because the fifth man in the bullpen should be your biggest worry), everything is beautiful. My shortstop's batting .368 and doing every damn thing right. My third baseman's a .500 hitter and never says anything wrong. The BallHawk in right is up to a teeth-chattering .563. Savior Nady will someday be in need of salvation (didn't Mientkiewicz soar early last year?), but by then, Floyd will have it together and Beltran will perfect his cap-tipping and Anderson Hernandez will add a second hit to his 2006 portfolio (collect 'em all).

T-E-A-M, folks. After four games, it's our four-letter word of choice.


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[1] early, late and often Friday night: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=260407121

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