I dunno about you, but I recently finished re-watching parts of the absolutely thrilling NL CS championship series between the Astros and Mets and the World Series between the Red Sox and Mets in 1986. 

Classic, stunning.

But why didn’t the Mets also, with the truly great team that they had at that time, also win in 1985 and 1987?

The answer is simple: 


In 1985, John Tudor got off to a very slow start and was just 1-7 on Memorial day weekend.  He was pitching OK, but in bad luck.

As the Mets traded blows with the excellent St. Louis Cardinals for the rest of that season, though, they just couldn’t overcome the great John Tudor.

You see, Tudor in June, July, August, and September went and astonishing 20 and 1. 

Starting in June, Tudor won 14 of his next 15 starts. 

From June on, he faced the Mets 4 times and in 35 innings, allowed 2 runs.

Ten shutouts.


Because of him, the Mets‘ 98 wins in 1985 were thrilling...but not enough.

In 1987 John Tudor to a large degree replicated what he did in 1985, sticking yet another dagger in Mets’ hearts.

He started out the season a shaky 2-1 in April, then had his leg broken in a dugout collision with Mets catcher Barry Lyons.

At that moment, I figured the Mets had locked up a repeat. Barry Lyons was my Mets MVP.

But not so fast.  Tudor was only out for 3 1/2 months.

Tudor returned on August 1, and the Cards went 12-2 in his outings the rest of the way, including winning his last eight starts.  

He didn’t even pitch great...they just won. And won. And won.  
And they won his 2 starts against the Mets in that stretch, too.

The Mets lost out that season to the Redbirds by just three games.

So after Memorial day in 1985 and 1987, John Tudor combined went 30 and 3. 

Let that sink in.

More than anything else, anything that people could bring up that the Mets weren’t doing right, behind the scenes issues, Orosco and Myers combining to go 6-15, anything: 

John Tudor and his 30-3 win-loss post-Memorial Day record was the primary reason they didn’t make it in 1985 and 1987.

Of course, in 1984, Tudor was just 12-11, but there was another extraordinary pitcher problem.  As Dwight Gooden exploded on the scene, the Mets had to contend with the Cubs getting Rick Sutcliffe, and having Sutcliffe go 16-1 from mid-June on as a Cub.

And of course in 1988, LAD's Orel Hershiser had a stretch of pitching like perhaps no one in baseball history, which ultimately cost them the 1988 World Series.

Yep...the other worldly performances of those pitchers were what kept the Mets from perhaps winning five straight NL championships and perhaps five straight World Series.

But the most amazing of all the nemeses was John Tudor who, besides that 30-3 stretch of games, was just 87 and 70 in his career.

Amazingly, the Mets came within a hairs breath of not winning any World Series at all in that 1984 to 1988 incredibly dominant stretch.


P.S. John Tudor is now being inducted into the Cardinals' Hall of Fame - I wonder why??


Mack Ade said...

I always liked Tudor.

In fact, I always liked the way St. Louis approached this game in the 80s and 90s.

Especially those 95+ relievers.

Reese Kaplan said...

How I relished those games against the Cardinals back then. It was an awesome challenge.

Tom Brennan said...

Mack, very true. If you had amnesia and woke up one day and all the 1985 Cardinals had Mets uniforms on, you would have found yourself rooting for a terrific team. And that Cards pen in 1985 was extraordinary, as the Mets found out the hard way.

Tom Brennan said...

Reese, the 1985 Cards games and 1986 Astros and Red Sox playoff games were probably the best the Mets games ever. Hi caliber and evenly matched teams.

Hobie said...

85 or 87? Terry Pendleton takes the air out of Mets' season.

Tom Brennan said...

Hobie, I think it was 1987, but it was Tudor just never losing, like ever, after Memorial Day those 2 years that made the Cards seem invincible, even as good as they were anyway. 30-3 is like Golden State Warrior pace of a few years ago. In fairness, Gooden had a similar stretch from late 1984 thru early 1986, but I can't think of anyone else who ever did. McLain came close.

TP said...

Even now decades later the name Tudor makes me cringe.

Tom Brennan said...

TP, I hear you...Tudor-induced cringing was a malady I suffer from too

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