Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Reality in the Rear-View

Game 13 - Mets

Phillies 5, Mets 4
Record: 6-7

While I appreciate the praise my colleague has issued in lieu of philosophical musings of his suddenly surging Sox, I need pressure to write like I need (another) hole in my argument. As it turns out, I don't think we're looking at any "comedic gold" today, just some gilded stuff today from your favorite comedic gelding.

According to the team, Kris Benson got a little action on the side yesterday, which should please his teammates.

Now on to the serious stuff. The Mets are back in sole possession of last place in the National League East once again. Feels like home, doesn't it?

They're on the verge of another streak, and it's just wearing me out. All of this streaking is giving the fans whiplash, as I used to say in college. Now, it's well documented, especially on this site (in the form we title "Blather. Rinse. Repeat."), that to put too much energy into the innumerable highs and lows of a season will quickly and surely drive you mad. I've spouted a thousand times about the necessity of maintaining an even-keeled approach to the Mets' season, one in which the jagged peaks and valleys look like my polygraph when I talk about my minor in English, and yet the damnable Mets won't permit it. Losing five in a row to start a season is wretched, and their doing so cast a pall that had even the lobotomized Buddhists on Valium in the Township freaking out a little. (You'd be surprised.) Then they stormed right back with six impressive wins, earned the label "the hottest team in baseball" from the national media, and presented the image of a squad that, while unable to boast a surplus of pure talent, is more promising and thoroughly solid than we'd figured. They seemed to be meshing as a unit well beyond the number of games they'd logged together. They were finding new and creative ways to win, whereas the Mets of yesteryear were the innovative losers. A strangely positive vibe infiltrated even the most fatalistic of fans. In short, the Mets made it pretty damn hard not to get fired up.


At this point, the Mets Township Balloon of Enthusiasm (okay, this post is starting to read like Pink Floyd lyrics) is slightly deflated, down from the full-blown vigor of last week. Two more losses could induce a shriveling effect that rivals airings of The Crying Game at Polar Bear Club functions. The return to earth for me is more sobering for me than most (figuratively, natch), but it was a pretty quick trip for my mates in the Mets blogosphere. It's apparent that they have a more suitable mentality for this journey. Kaley at Flushing Local seems to have it, writing of "stark realism" and how 81-81 is still the most likely destination for this team. (How I got strong-armed into wagering on 85 wins remains a mystery.) Meanwhile, Joe at the Pancake House makes some very good points about some very bad trends that bode ill for the boys in royal blue and blaze orange. Tempered optimism or pessimism is the order of the day in baseball fandom, but for someone never known for mood swings, I'm somehow bipolar in my rooting for this team. Such a rookie demeanor -- everyone knows that the baseball season is a long and bumpy road. In fact, it's a lot like the dart game Bumpy Road, where the running gag is mock overenthusiasm over early success or failings. It's a bumpy, bumpy road . . .

A grizzled veteran Mets fan like myself has seen this all a thousand times by now. Is it that the Mets' shoddy play leads me to drink, which leads me to forget? (Blacking out means never having to say you're sorry.) I don't think so. Rationally, I am right there stride for stride with the rest of the level-headed die-hards. A man's got to know his team's limitations, Harry Callahan (a big Giants fan) once said, and I definitely do. It's just . . . it's just that . . .

It's just that the last few years of dashed hopes, ruined plans, and redundant letdowns were so ugly that by now I'm overeager for something better. It's just that dammit, the Mets should be better than this, and yet so obviously they're not. It's just that pulling for your favorite club shouldn't always be about maintaining perspective, mollifying reactions, and keeping a steady eye on the big picture. Sometimes it's okay to ignore those pesky facts, get pissed off about another itinerary limited to stays in fourth and fifth place, and try to will the team to victory with a "Come on, you bastards! Get your heads out of your asses and start playing like you mean it!"

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