|The New York Mets went from doormats to darlings in less than a decade, in the process challenging the Yankees for city prominence by 1969. In 1962 the National League responded to the AL's 1961 expansion by placing teams in Houston and New York, returning NL baseball to Gotham City after the Giants and Dodgers defected in 1958.
Realizing they would need something special to compete with the Yankees, the Mets hired Casey Stengel to manage their new team. Though the product on the field proved fruitless, Stengel kept the media and fans happy with his stories and shtick. The first year saw the team lose 120 games, a new record for futility. In 1963 they lost 111 games, and in 1964 they dropped 109. Stengel left in 1965 but not before the team was well on it's way to losing 109 games for a total of 452 defeats in four seasons. Those teams featured the immortal Marv Throneberry along with Frank Thomas, Richie Ashburn, Roger Craig, Duke Snider, Al Jackson, Ron Hunt, Ed Kranepool, Jim Hickman, Tracy Stallard, Roy McMillan, and Warren Spahn, in a mixture of over-the-hills and not-quite-readys.
In 1966 and 1967 the team began to form a solid group of young players, built around a young pitching staff. Wes Westrum broke in Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Tug McGraw, and Jerry Koosman. By 1968 Gil Hodges took over and guided the Mets to a team record 73 wins. Still, no one was prepared for what would happen the next season. Part of the newly formed NL East, the Mets weren't expected to challenge the Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs. But by May it was obvious that the talented pitching staff could carry the team into contention. The offense, sparked by Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee, did just enough to win games. The team finished their "miracle" season with 100 victories - eight games ahead of Chicago. Prospects in the post-season did not seem to bode well, but the team swept the Braves and earned the right to meet the heavily favored Orioles, who boasted an equally impressive mound corps. After losing Game One, the Mets exploded, and led by Jones and Agee in the outfield, the Amazin' Mets beat Baltimore in five games - one of the most stunning upsets in baseball history.
Hodges and the team followed their 1969 success with three seasons of standing still, winning 83 games every year from 1970-1972. The team transitioned from Hodges to Yogi Berra's leadership in 1972. In 1973 they won 82 games, but it was enough in the weak NL East. After upsetting the favored Reds in the playoffs (which featured a fight between Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson), the Mets faced the A's in the Fall Classic.
The 1973 NL champion Mets were a slightly different team than the '69 Amazin's, but were still centered around pitching. Seaver, Koosman, McGraw, Jon Matlack, and George Stone led the staff; Harrelson, John Milner, Wayne Garrett, Rusty Staub, Felix Millan, Jerry Grote, and Jones formed a more balanced offensive attack than four years prior. Joining the team for his last hurrah was Willie Mays, providing some valuable leadership. The A's and Mets battled in tight games to a standstill after six. The seventh game was another close contest, but it went to Oakland. The Mets failed to win a second title.
The remainder of the 1970s were a disappointment. Berra was replaced by Roy McMillan, who was replaced by Joe Frazier, who was replaced by Joe Torre. The best finish was in 1976, Seaver's last with the team, when the Mets won 86 games and finished third. Dave Kingman, Lee Mazzilli, and Craig Swan were the best players to appear on the Mets horizon the rest of the decade.
In 1984 everything changed when Davey Johnson stepped in as manager. The recent losing seasons had provided top draft picks which were now paying off. Darryl Strawberry, Hubie Brooks, Wally Backman, Kevin Mitchell, Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, and Jesse Orosco came up through the Mets system. Astute transactions brought in Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, George Foster and Ray Knight.
In 1985 the New York Mets won their second World Title against the jinxed Boston Red Sox. That Mets team seemed poised for a dynasty, but they were able to win just one more division title, in 1988.
In 2000 the team again went to the World Series only to lose to the Yankees.
In 2004 the New York Mets finished 4th in the National League East Division with a 71-91 record.
In 2006 the New York Mets finished 1st in the National League East Division
with a 97-65 record and lost to the Cardinals in the playoffs.