Frank Thomas Helped the Mets Snap Their Road Losing Streak Back in 1963
The 2019 New York Mets are on quite a roll, and for that matter so are the 1963 Mets. The current Big Apple representatives of the National League are almost a half dozen games up in the N. L. East, and just took a series from the Central's first place Chicago Cubs.
As for the 1963 Mets, they too are enjoying a good run, albeit at the expense of another club's struggles. That second year expansion team from 58 years ago have suffered as one of the worst in the history of baseball, finishing 51-111 and a whopping 48 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
They actually had a better record than their debut season a year earlier, when the 1962 team lost 120. Nevertheless, the '63 team did manage to carve its own dubious record, losing 22 straight road games. That drought of futility has been topped since then, but the lowly '63 Mets have finally been able to shake off that unenviable distinction.
The Mets started their ride to infamy with a June 16 doubleheader in Cincinnati, getting shutout by Jim Maloney in the opener and losing to left hander Jim O'Toole in the nightcap. They did not win a road game again until July 30, when a home run by Frank Thomas helped New York to a victory in Dodger Stadium.
By winning that game the Mets avoided owning the record by themselves, since the 1945 Pirates has also suffered 22 consecutive road losses. Six years after that Chavez Ravine victory, New York almost got off the hook when the Oakland A's lost twenty straight as the visiting team.
Now the Diamondbacks have rescued the '63 Mets, as Arizona dropped a 10-3 game against the Giants. It marks the 23rd straight road loss for the D'backs but, because of the odd season baseball experienced last year, it does not seem as ugly as the streak New York had six decades ago.
Road losses in 2021 have come in bunches never seen before in the Big Leagues, somewhat obscuring Arizona's run of futility. The Texas Rangers have seen two separate road losing streaks of seven games, and the Colorado Rockies have won only five games away from home this whole season for an unsightly .157 winning percentage.
And it is not just the West Division teams setting records of futility away from home, for the Pirates of the N.L. Central just reached double figures in road wins yesterday. Lest one think it was only last place clubs like Pittsburgh struggling on the road, check out the N. L. East.
The first place Mets are 15-19 outside of CitiField, and the second place Phillies have just 12 road victories. Matching that total are the Washington Nationals, while the Braves and Marlins have notched just 13 each.
To ascertain the main reason baseball is witnessing such horrible road records, we simply have to look back to last year's shortened season. Because of the pandemic each team played only sixty games, all of them within the same geogpahic zone.
Very few miles were logged by teams last year, since there was a shortened season as well as shortened trips. Schedules have now returned to pre-pandemic status, translating to longer road trips at much greater distances.
Travel fatigue has obviously set in for the majority of teams, as reflected by the terrible road records. Since we have barely reached a third of the season, those winning percentages away from home are bound to get even uglier come August and September.
Many baseball officials had been worried about the endurance of the players being affected after the return to a regular schedule, but they basically ignored the detrimental impact of the increased travel. Probably this problem should have been foreseen, so the schedule for 2021 should have been amended to prevent travel fatigue.
Perhaps the number of games should have been 140, with a few more days of rest built into it. The schedule could also have limited teams to geography, each team playing 25 against division opponents and eight against the counterpart in the opposite league to bring the total number of games to 140.