As of this moment, the worst seasonal record in the history of the major leagues still belongs to the 1962 Mets – 40 victories, 120 losses, for a nice round percentage of .250.
However, it looks as if the Oakland A’s – 11-45- .196 as of Tuesday morning -- might break that record.
A lot of people who love the Mets are rooting for Oakland to somehow avoid a new low, and leave that honor to Casey Stengel’s 1962 Amazin’ Mets.
Is that twisted? Not from my point of view. The 1962 season remains memorable – the first season for an expansion franchise created to replace the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, who had bolted to California in 1958.
The Mets were often terrible, but they were also a lot of fun, with Stengel diverting attention from all those losses. Now, 61 years later, many Mets’ fans – and also some vintage Mets players -- are saying they could easily live with that distinction.
“Keep the record!!!” texted Bill Wakefield, who had a decent year as a reliever in 1964.
“I want that to be forever,” says Howie Rose, the Queens kid living out the dream by broadcasting Mets games on the radio. He will be honored by the Mets Wednesday evening and will throw out the first pitch – as fans display their Howie Rose bobblehead dolls.
Rose goes back to 1962 when he was 8 years old and his father took him to the Polo Grounds to see the new team.
“Being a narcissistic kid, I thought it was all for me,” Rose told me over the phone on Monday.
The Mets beat the Cardinals and Gil Hodges hit what turned out to be his last home run. Rod Kanehl – the scrappy minor-leaguer who came to be a folk hero of the early Mets – hit the first grand-slam homer in Met history! Complete game by Roger Craig! Felix Mantilla 4-for-4! My man Joe Christopher playing center field!
“It was a year-long celebration,” Rose said, noting that the Mets somehow won a World Series only seven years later. Amazing.
“You had to be there,” Rose said.
Craig Anderson was there at the start – a Lehigh College graduate, obtained from the Cardinal organization, one of the many “university men” that Casey and Edna Stengel relished.
Anderson was the winning pitcher in both ends of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Braves, raising the Mets’ record to 12-19. Maybe they were not so terrible, some people said. They promptly lost 17 straight, and finished the season at .250.
Anderson was up and down with the Mets the next two years, and ended his major-league career with 19 consecutive losses – which was the record going into the 1992 season when another Met, Anthony Young, kept losing.
“When Anthony Young approached my 19 straight losses,” Anderson texted Monday, “I wrote him and said I hoped he did not break my record, to no avail. He had good stuff and bad luck. I did the best I could but lost some starts when relievers failed me. So that’s baseball…”
Anthony wound up losing 27 straight decisions with the Mets and Cubs, and died in 2017.
Craig Anderson, 84, watches the Oakland Athletics stumble, as the A’s ownership allows the franchise to dwindle, to make it easier to get out of town, to Las Vegas. (And why not, given MLB’s dangerous new flirtation with sports gambling?)
Some people would welcome another team breaking the Mets’ 1962 record. Keith Hernandez, who helped win World Series for St. Louis and the Mets, said on a TV broadcast last week that the Mets and their fans should be glad to get rid of the streak.
But Craig Anderson is not so sure.
He took heart from the old-timers’ day in Queens last summer, a lavish reunion including a few original Mets. Anderson added: “Don't forget a truly professional man, Gil Hodges, on and off the field!”
“After the recognition that my teammates and I received last August, I truly feel about playing on the first Mets team was a special moment in my career,” Anderson continued, saying his team was “a small part of baseball history and Mets fans made us feel special too.
“So let our record stand. Mets fans proved to me that former players, win or lose, are still special” -- Craig Anderson, 1962 Original Met, and Proud of It.”
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.