For years, “LOLMets” has been a popular term on the internet used to describe the comically inept moments that have, at times, characterized the Mets’ franchise. Now that the Mets seem to have turned a corner, those moments have, thankfully, been fewer and farther between. In this relatively slow offseason, we thought it would be fun to look back at the five most LOLMets seasons of all time. Lets us know in the comments what order you would put them in, or if there are any that you would add to the list!
1962: Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?
The 1962 Mets were, quite simply, one of the worst teams in baseball history. Their 40-120 record yielded a record number of losses and a .250 winning percentage that ranks as the third-lowest in the modern era (1900-present). Only four teams have had a larger negative run differential than the -331 produced by the ’62 Mets.
The team was a complete mess in every aspect of the game. Its offense was the worst in baseball, hitting a putrid .240/.318/.361 and producing a league-worst 80 wRC+, which is in the bottom 5% of all teams in the modern era. Of those 2,460 teams, the ’62 Mets’ pitching staff ranks 60th from the bottom in adjusted ERA (5.04 ERA, 123 ERA-) and 43rd from the bottom in adjusted FIP (4.59 FIP, 114 FIP-); those were, of course, the worst totals in baseball that year. As bad as their offense and pitching were, however, the Mets’ most glaring deficiency was their defense. The team committed a stunning 210 errors, an average of more than one per game, the most of any team that year, and the fourth most of any team in the modern era. The team’s -82 TZ ranks 34th from the bottom out of the 2,460 modern era TZ totals.
The ’62 Mets’ futility resulted in a number of impressive losing streaks. After starting the season 0-9, the team lost a remarkable 17 games in a row in late May and early June, 11 games in a row in July, and 13 games in a row in August. The Mets’ performance that year was so bad that it led their manager, Casey Stengel, to famously ask, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”
1977: The Midnight Massacre
The 1977 season started off badly for the Mets, and their 15-30 record led to manager Joe Frazier’s firing in late May. Meanwhile, the Mets were suffering off-the-field issues. An increasingly acrimonious relationship between board chairman M. Donald Grant and his star player, Tom Seaver, culminated in a newspaper article suggesting that Seaver and his wife were jealous of former teammate Nolan Ryan’s contract. A furious Seaver demanded a trade, and the Mets obliged. At the June 15 trade deadline, the Mets traded Seaver to the Reds for Steve Henderson, Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, and Dan Norman in what came to be known as the Midnight Massacre.
The trade was a disaster for the Mets. By trading its franchise player, the team not only alienated its fans, but failed to get the quality return it was looking for. While Henderson was a productive player and Zachry ate innings for the Mets, the four-man package was simply not enough compensation for the superstar that Seaver was.
The Mets finished the year 64-98, good for last place in the six-team NL East. After finishing over .500 in seven of the previous eight seasons, the Mets began a run that saw them win fewer than 70 games for seven consecutive years. The 1977 season featured lots of bad baseball, the worst trade in franchise history, and a number of public relations nightmares. It was, in other words, quintessentially LOLMets.
1992: The Worst Team Money Could Buy
After finishing below .500 for the first time in eight years, the Mets revamped their roster in the 1991-1992 offseason. They did so by signing high-profile free agents Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray, and Willie Randolph, and trading for two-time Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen. Unfortunately, the makeover was a complete bust, as a combination of poor performance and clubhouse controversy made that team one of the least popular in franchise history. Finishing the season 72-90, the ’92 Mets were actually worse than they were the year before, and were immortalized by Bob Klapisch and John Harper as “the worst team money could buy.”
You could argue that the 1993 team was just as LOLMets as its more infamous 1992 counterpart. In ’93, several players—including Bonilla, Saberhagen, and Vince Coleman—were embroiled in ugly off-the-field controversies involving firecrackers, bleach, and reporters being threatened. Moreover, the team won just 59 games that year and fired its manager midseason. We decided to go with the ’92 team for this list, however, because that team set the tone for the chaos that followed, its poor performance on the field was far more shocking relative to expectations, and it has become iconic thanks in large part to Klapisch’s and Harper’s book.
2002: The Worst Team Money Could Buy, Part Two
Ten years later, history repeated itself almost to a T. After winning the pennant in 2000, the Mets had a disappointing year in 2001, leading them to make a number of high-profile acquisitions in the 2001-2002 offseason. These acquisitions included Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roger Cedeno, as well as starting pitchers Pedro Astacio, Shawn Estes, and Jeff D’Amico. Vaughn (.259/.349/.456, 26 home runs, 72 RBIs, 115 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR) was the best of the bunch offensively, although nowhere close to the player he was in his prime. Alomar (.266/.331/.376, 91 wRC+, 1.4 fWAR), Burnitz (.215/.311/.365, 83 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR), and Cedeno (.260/.318/.346, 80 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR) had dreadful seasons, while Astacio (12-11, 4.79 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 1.0 fWAR), Estes (4-9, 4.55 ERA, 4.36 FIP, 1.2 fWAR), and D’Amico (6-10, 4.94 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 1.5 fWAR) weren’t much better.
Despite the preseason hype surrounding the ’02 Mets, the team finished last place in its division with a 75-86 record. As was the case with several teams on this list, the turmoil was not confined to the field of play. Three players—Grant Roberts, Tony Tarasco, and Mark Corey—were involved in marijuana-related incidents off the field, Mike Piazza held an impromptu press conference affirming his heterosexuality in response to media rumors to the contrary, and the team experienced several confrontations in the clubhouse and the dugout.
As an aside, in March of that year, the Mets acquired minor league outfielder Jason Bay, who they later flipped at the trade deadline. Bay would, of course, later return to the team—but that’s an LOLMets story for another day.
2007: The Collapse
It’s hard to believe that this was a decade ago because it still hurts those of us who lived through it. Coming off of a tremendous 2006 season that saw the Mets win 97 games but lose a heartbreaking NLCS in seven games, the team got off to a fast start in 2007. The Mets led their division for virtually the entire year and had a seven-game cushion with just 17 games left to go. New York then suffered a stunning collapse—one of the worst in baseball history—by losing 12 of those 17 games, as the second-place Phillies won 13 of theirs. With both teams tied for first place going into the last game of the season, the Phillies beat the Nationals by a score of 6-1. The Mets, meanwhile, lost to the Marlins, 8-1, after Tom Glavine allowed seven runs in the first inning and was pulled from the game before recording his second out.
Somewhat incredibly, the Mets managed to do it all again the following year. Granted, the collapse wasn’t as big, as the team led its division by “only” 3.5 games with 17 games left in the season, and lost 10 of those 17. With a Wild Card berth on the line, the Mets once again lost the final game of the regular season—and once again to the Marlins. To add insult to injury, it was the last game ever played at Shea Stadium. As a result, a postgame ceremony that was supposed to be joyous and nostalgic became comically morbid. In a way, it was fitting: The Mets closed out Shea in the LOLMets fashion that only they could.