“Operator, please connect me with 1982,” Randy Travis yodeled on a country hit in 1986. “I need to make apologies for what I didn’t do.” I think it’s fair to say Randy Travis wasn’t a Mets fan, for in 1986, nobody wanted to make a call to the season that crumbled so definitively four years earlier.
But maybe Randy was just channeling the spirit of seasons gone by or believed the Mets — en route to 108 wins and then some — might agree to make amends for wasting our time and sapping our goodwill in 1982 with a forlorn manager, a depleted slugger and a hopelessly downward trajectory. The 1982 Mets looked like comers for two months, cresting at 27-21 (second place, 3½ behind the Cardinals), and then fell with velocity that would have made Pete Falcone envious, all way to 65-97 (sixth place, 27 games behind the Cardinals).
Let’s hope that when SNY debuts Mets Yearbook: 1982 Thursday night at 7:30, we learn the propagandists of 28 years ago were positively Travisesque in conjuring instant nostalgia for what I recall as one of the five most depressing Met seasons through which I’ve ever persevered. 1982 was the year I finally understood that the rebuilding program on which I pinned my hopes from 1977 through 1981 was at best unsuccessful and at worst a fraud. George Bamberger didn’t help. George Foster didn’t help. George Washington couldn’t have helped.
I cannot tell a lie: By George, we sucked.
Operator, I might have implored the cosmic baseball switchboard had I reached out to it in 1982, can you at least connect me with 1984? I’ve been trying to dial a winning season forever, and I just keep getting put on hold.
Image courtesy of “Mario Mendoza…HOF lock” at Baseball-Fever.