MLB: The Worst Time in History for the Mets?

Florida Marlins v New York Mets
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

In Major League Baseball, there are September collapses and then there are impossible-to-believe crap-outs that defy the principles of nature and history alike. The 2007 New York Mets experienced a crumbling of the latter variety that continues to be remembered as the worst in MLB history.

A comfortable lead with 17 games to play improbably became a fishing trip for the Amazin’s that year. To make things worse, hated rivals to the south became the victors who claimed the spoils of the NL East title and sent the franchise from Flushing into a freefall that is only ending now. In this tour through MLB history, we recall a dark time for the Mets in what might have been the most hideous September collapse ever.

7 games ahead with 17 to play

Looking back, the Mets had a grip on the division that appeared impossible to shake at the close of play on September 12, 2007. New York was seven games ahead of the second-place Phillies, who won the next day to trim the lead to 6.5 games in the East before heading to Shea for a three-game set. Philadelphia swept those three in Queens and left town down by 3.5 games, effectively cutting the deficit in half in a single weekend.

Philly shaved down that lead to 1.5 games over its next two games, presenting the Mets franchise with a gut check with 12 games left to play. After winning three of four versus Florida, the Mets dropped the next five games, leaving them one game behind a streaking Phillies team that had gone 12-3 over the same span. Even after the disastrous run, the Mets went into play on the last day of the season tied for first.

Florida Marlins v New York Mets
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Final nails in the Mets’ coffin

On the final day of the 2007 campaign, Mets starter Tom Glavine allowed 7 ER in 0.1 IP, effectively ending the season before the first inning concluded. The Mets lineup, which was stacked with Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran in their primes, managed only one run off six Marlins pitchers. Final score: 8-1 in favor of Florida.

For their part, the Phillies jumped out to a 3-1 lead in that final game before tacking on more runs to cruise to a 6-1 victory over the Nationals, capping a 13-4 run over the last 17 games and sealing the Mets’ fate. Everyone from manager Willie Randolph to the beleaguered starting staff seemed dazed and confused by the collapse. Here’s a representative fan shot taken after that September 30 game:

Florida Marlins v New York Mets
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

There have been bigger leads that were blown overall, but no teams have allowed a seven-game advantage to evaporate with so few games remaining in the season. The 2007 Mets set an alarming precedent that may stand for a long time, and it’s yet another reminder that you can’t manage such a flameout without poor pitching.

From the chicken-and-beer Red Sox crew of 2011 to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, spectacular chokes are only possible without a stopper in the rotation. In that respect, the 2015 Mets have to like their chances in September and beyond for the next several years.

Connect with Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.