Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mets Yearbook 1980: Remembering when The Magic Was Back

The latest Mets Yearbook time capsule on SNY was from 1980. It began with the introduction of the new owners. Nelson Doubleday did most of the talking while Fred Wilpon in 1980 looked a lot like Jeff Wilpon today.

New GM Frank Cashen said that he thought the Mets would win a pennant but did not know how long it would take. Cashen, also the new chief operating officer, then spoke of the importance of "packaging" the team.

At the time, I thought the slogan "The Magic Is Back" was a pointless piece of advertising. But now it evokes for me a time of renewed hope after the dismal late 1970s.

Though it was not mentioned of course, the shadow of the Tom Seaver trade hung over the show. Steve Henderson hit a dramatic home run, Pat Zachry was Pitcher of the Month, and Doug Flynn's injury helped derail the Mets' season. Three years after the Midnight Massacre, the three main pieces acquired (along with Dan Norman) for The Franchise were still playing key roles for a team that would fail to win 70 games for the fourth year in a row.

Squawker Lisa, as long as you are checking out SNY, you might enjoy this show for a segment meant to embody the spirit of the struggling 1980 Mets - a montage of manager Joe Torre arguing with umpires. The days of green tea and snoozing in the dugout were well in the future.

"The Magic Is Back" may have been just a slogan, but the prospects hyped at the end of the show actually did offer hope for the future. In September, four Met prospects did well after being called up: Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, Hubie Brooks and Ed Lynch. Number one draft pick Darryl Strawberry was called the best prospect in 30 years. (Also mentioned was another top Met draft choice, future Oakland GM Billy Beane.)

The show was a little misleading when announcer Bob Murphy proclaimed that the Mets had improved 11 games in the standings over 1979. The Mets only won four more games, but the division winner won seven fewer.

In 1980, the Mets finished next-to-last, 24 games behind first-place Philadelphia.

Last year, the Mets finished next-to-last, 23 games behind first-place Philadelphia.

Once again, the Mets try to rebound behind a new slogan. Only "Prevention & Recovery" does not have quite the same ring as "The Magic Is Back."

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