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Meet The Mets: The Royals' World Series Opponent, A To Z

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Keith Allison
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Flickr--CC
The New York Mets come to Kauffman Stadium Tuesday night for Game 1 of the World Series against the Royals.

By now, many Royals' fans know these facts about Kansas City's World Series opponent, the New York Mets: they have tremendous starting pitching, infielder Daniel Murphy is on a historic postseason home run binge, and their season changed when they acquired Yoenis Cespedes in late July. 

But did you know the franchise was once managed by a Kansas City-native nicknamed the 'Old Professor'? Or that they once set the modern mark for regular-season futility? Or that their ticket prices to this year's World Series purport to be the most expensive in Major League Baseball history? 

If you didn't know these things, then here is your chance to get caught up. It's the Mets: A to Z.  

Apple (of the 'Home Run' variety)

Of course, the Mets play in the "Big Apple," New York. And they also have a literal big apple that rises from the outfield bleachers at Citi Field whenever the home team hits a home run. It is known as the 'Home Run Apple,' appropriately enough. 

Bernie Madoff

Mets owner Fred Wilpon invested $500 million with the notorious Ponzi scammer and then got embroiled in a legal fight that accused Mets ownership of being at least somewhat aware of Madoff's shenanigans. They settled that suit, sold a minority stake in the team to raise the lost funds and have since moved on (with the possible exception of Bobby Bonilla.)

Citi Field

The home of the Mets for the past seven seasons, Citi Field replaced Shea Stadium in 2009. This will be the first World Series played at Citi Field, which holds more than 41,000 people. This makes its capacity significantly smaller than Shea's. 

Darryl, Dwight, and David

Some of the most beloved players in the Mets' history have "D" names. Darryl Strawberry played on the Mets in the 1980s and is the franchise leader in home runs with 252. Dwight Gooden is second in franchise wins and strikeouts and won the 1985 Cy Young Award. And David Wright has played the past 12 seasons for the Mets and is currently second on the franchise list in games played. 

Expansion Team

The Mets entered the National League in 1962 as one of Major League Baseball's first expansion teams, along with the Houston Colt .45s (who would later change their name to the Astros). Mets is short for Metropolitans, a name derived from the team's official name The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club. Other names considered but not chosen: Rebels, Skyliners, Avengers, Continentals. 

Futility

That inaugural 1962 team set a regular season record for futility in modern baseball annals. The Mets that year went 40-120, the worst mark ever achieved by a baseball team in a 162-game season ( the team had two rain outs that were not made up). Jimmy Breslin wrote a book about the year entitled, 'Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?'

Gil Hodges

A member of the Mets' Hall of Fame, Hodges played on that historically bad 1962 team at the tail end of a storied career spent with the Dodgers (both Brooklyn and Los Angeles). But what puts him in Mets lore is his job managing the 1969 World Series championship team (see letter M below). 

Hall of Fame

There are 10 players who have played on or managed the Mets that are currently in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Though only two of them had their best years with that franchise. Tom Seaver (see letter T below) spent the majority of his career pitching for the Mets. And Gary Carter played for other teams but is most known for his years playing on the mid-1980s Mets that eventually won the World Series in 1986. 

Insane

That is what ticket prices for World Series games this year at Citi Field are. Games 3, 4, and 5 (if necessary) are scheduled for the Mets' home ballpark. As of Monday, the average asking price for tickets to those games was $1,667.82, which would make them the most expensive tickets in World Series history. 

Jerry Seinfeld

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Credit Alan Light / Flickr--CC
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Flickr--CC
Jerry Seinfeld may be one the Mets' funniest fans. He certainly is among the most famous.

The Mets' most famous fan may be this legendary stand-up comedian. Chris Rock and Kevin James are other funnymen who claim the orange and blue. Seinfeld has said he probably won't travel to Kansas City to watch the World Series because he doesn't want to be "rude and intrusive." 

Keith Hernandez

Speaking of Seinfeld, one of the most famous Mets of all time, first base Gold Glover Keith Hernandez once made a memorable cameo on that '90s sitcom in 'The Magic Loogie' episode. Hernandez, on the field, won seven Gold Gloves and has the Mets' third highest all-time career batting average. 

Logo

The Mets have had a remarkably consistent logo in their 53-year history. The baseball-shaped crest depicts a generic suspension bridge (not meant to be any singular bridge associated with New York City but a more abstract representation of all of them). Interestingly, if you study the skyline in the logo closely, you can spot famous landmarks from each of NYC's five boroughs. 

'Miracle Mets'

In their first seven years of existence, the Mets never finished above second-to-last in their league. That changed in 1969, when the Mets (managed by Gil Hodges) shocked the baseball world by storming to the World Series and beating the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in five games. This team is also known lovingly by longtime Mets fans as the "Amazin' Mets." 

Nolan Ryan

This MLB Hall of Famer had a 27-year career. The first four were spent with the New York Mets (including that 1969 championship season). He had only one winning season with the Mets and totaled 29 victories in New York. Later, he would become famous for punching Robin Ventura in the head

'Old Professor'

The Mets' first manager, the quirky Casey Stengel, was often known by this moniker. Stengel had a long career as a manager, and saw much more success across town with the New York Yankees in the 1950s. His pinstriped teams there won seven World Series. Stengel was born in Kansas City in 1890 and graduated from Central High. 

'Piano Man'

During the eighth inning break of each home game, Mets fans sing along to New York City native Billy Joel's classic 'Piano Man.' In the Red Sox/'Sweet Caroline' tradition, Mets fans apparently take great delight in owning this ballpark mainstay. 

Queens (Flushing, to be exact)

The Mets have always played in this borough of New York City. Flushing is the north central part of Queens in which old Shea Stadium and now Citi Field reside. Plenty of jokes have been had about bad Mets teams playing in a place with such a name but no, it has nothing to do with toilets. 

Rhyming 

In a sports oddity, many Mets fans are also fans of the NFL's Jets and the NBA's Nets. (There were the inevitable 'Debts' jokes after the Madoff scandal, too.) Unfortunately, former Royal Chris Getz has never played for the Mets. The hockey team of choice for many Mets/Jets/Nets fans is the Islanders, so ... boo. 

Shea Stadium

The former home of the Mets, named after William A. Shea, a powerful New York lawyer who was the driving force behind bringing baseball back to the outer boroughs after both the Dodgers and Giants left for California in the 1960s. Shea served as the Mets home from 1964 to 2008 and also, for a time, was home to the New York Jets football team. 

'Tom Terrific'

You can't have the Mets without Tom Seaver. He is the only Mets player to have his number retired. He won more than 300 games and also totaled three Cy Young Awards in his career. He led the 1969 "Miracle" team with 25 wins. His career ERA of 2.73 is also a modern baseball record. 

Unlucky opponents

Despite their "lovable loser" reputation, the Mets have actually been the beneficiaries of some of the most-star-crossed on-field incidents in modern baseball. There is the notorious 'Black Cat' game in the midst of the 1969 pennant race, in which a black cat literally ran in front of the Cubs' dugout, portending a historic late-season collapse. Then, there is the famous image from the 1986 World Series: the ball going between Bill Buckner's legs

Vintage colors

The Mets' blue and orange color combo is not happenstance but historically deliberate. It combines the primary colors of the two outer borough teams that preceded the Mets. The Dodgers' blue and Giants' orange are an homage to the teams that had the hearts of many a New Yorker before they absconded for sunnier climes. 

World Series drought

The Mets have waited nearly as long as the Royals for that taste of a championship. The last time the Mets won it all was 1986, a mere year after the Royals' 1985 run. Like the Royals, the Mets also benefited from a Game 6 snafu. Whereas, the Royals will always have Don Denkinger, the Mets will forever be associated with the Red Sox's Bill Buckner. 

X-Ray

It may not come as a surprise, but the Mets have one of the most cutting edge X-ray machines money can buy in their clubhouse. 

Yogi Berra

This baseball legend who recently passed away is, of course, most known for his playing days with the Yankees. But he managed the Mets from 1972 through part of the 1975 season. He led the team to the 1973 National League pennant (the 'Ya Gotta Believe' Team). 

Zoo Pumpkin Mauling

Maybe you saw this, but a Chicago-area zoo threw some Mets-themed pumpkins into a bear cage before this year's NLCS. And the resultant mauling the pumpkins suffered was a minor viral sensation (at least in the Chicago area). But to no avail: the Mets swept the Cubs to advance to the World Series. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated the 1962 Mets' record was 42-120. It was actually 40-120. 

Kyle Palmer is KCUR's Morning Edition anchor and reporter. Reach him at kyle@kcur.org.

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