Joe Torre, Playoff Droughts and Being Uncomfortable on Photo Day

1981 Fleer - Joe Torre

1981 Fleer – Joe Torre

With Game 5 of the World Series going tonight at Citi “I Wish They Still Called It Shea Stadium” Field, I thought I’d talk about the Mets a little. And in this case, someone that a lot of people forget was a Met for a while.

Joe Torre, who looks wildly uncomfortable here on 1981 Fleer cardboard, transitioned directly from being a player with the Mets (1975-77) to being a manager, and actually spent 18 days as a player-manager before retiring as a player. I think Joe’s discomfort on photo day that year comes from the fact that he knew he’d end up being a legendary Yankee manager someday, and the Mets uniform felt unnatural. I don’t even like the Yankees and I know that’s probably a cold hard fact.

Torre actually played the sixth most games in baseball history without ever making it to the playoffs, and then managed another 1,901 with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals before finally being part of a playoff team with the Yankees in 1996, when they won their first World Series in 18 years. That’s over 4,100 Major League Baseball games before getting to the playoffs even once. That’s the equivalent of over 25 seasons. 

If that doesn’t give you hope, you’re probably a Cubs fan.

Lanny McDonald, Bad Helmets, and Colorado

1981-82 Topps - Lanny McDonald

1981-82 Topps – Lanny McDonald

Lanny McDonald played 142 games in one full season and parts of two others for the Colorado Rockies, scoring 66 goals and 75 assists for 141 points.  However, for most people, it’s an easy part of his career to forget, stuck between some tumultuous years in Toronto with Harold Ballard and Punch Imlach, and eight seasons and a Stanley Cup back home in Alberta with the Calgary Flames.

Two things that were consistent for him throughout his career were his trademark moustache, which you’ve heard all about.  It’s an incredible legend.  He also wore a pretty ugly helmet, which, interestingly enough, he wore every game of his NHL career except the first.  There, now you’ve learned something.