Archive for October, 2006

Top 20 Mets Seasons

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Here’s my list of the top 20 Mets seasons, ranked according to how much fun they were.  I don’t include seasons I myself enjoyed for some particular oddball reason.  All of these seasons were fun for reasons that everyone can relate to (we won a lot of games, or did something unexpected, etc.).  Does this list make sense to you?  This is a way of beginning to understand where 2006 will end up in our sense of Mets history. 

1969, 1986, 1973, 1999, 2006, 1988, 1984, 2000, 1985, 1997, 1998, 2005, 1987, 1989, 1970, 1972, 1976, 1971, 1975, 1990 

Don’t Boo

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

I hate it when Mets fans boo a Met.  You can boo players on other teams.  That is not booing.  That isn’t personal.  That doesn’t hurt.  That is just part of the fun.  When you boo your own guy, you are trying to hurt him.  Don’t give me any crap about how you boo people to make them perform better.  Booing doesn’t have that kind of effect on people. 

I hated what was done to Kaz Matsui.  It’s not his fault that he was signed, that he was given a job he couldn’t handle.  I hated it when Jeremy Burnitz was booed.   Did the booing help him?  Let’s say we hadn’t booed Burnitz.  Has it occurred to you that he might have gotten out of his season-long slump a little earlier?

I even hated it when Armando Benitez was booed.  I know he was arrogant and childish and blew some big games.  But he was an amazing relief pitcher.  He closed most games down with ease, as you watched the scoreboard to see if he would hit 100 mph.  Closers should never be booed.  Looper shouldn’t have been booed.  And if Wagner is booed at the start of next season for the way he pitched in his last two appearances in the postseason, I’m going to holler. 

Closers need special care.  When anyone else on a team has a bad game, you hardly notice.  When a closer has a bad game, the team loses.  Yet closers have bad games too.  Closers have slumps.  And they have a terrific record of going bad and then becoming good again.  Their work is a mystery.  And booing fouls them up. 

My hatred of booing Mets goes way back.  I hated it when George Foster was booed.  I was disappointed in him too, but I knew the booing wouldn’t help him get better.  I hated it when Doug Sisk was booed.  He fell out of a decent groove.  If a guy gets out of his groove, booing can convince him that he never had a groove to begin with.
 
The players are normally very gracious about being booed.  They say something grown-up about New York fans having high expectations and that those high expectations are a challenge that they welcome.  Bullshit.  Their feelings are hurt.  The booing means that we want them to go away, not that we want them to get better.  When their feelings are hurt, when they feel we don’t want them, they find it hard to relax.  They press too hard, they can’t find their stride.  In the rare cases when a player does get better, they get better in spite of the fact that they’ve been booed.  Booing is mean and ungracious.  We should be kind and encouraging to all of the Mets all of the time. 

Others will disagree.  They will argue that the booing of disappointments is part of the particular intensity with which Mets fans cheer the successes of their team.  New Yorkers, they argue, can’t help being demonstrative.  They can’t keep their mouths shut for merely logical or tactical reasons. 

I still argue differently.  What I like most about New Yorkers and Mets fans is that they are sentimental and hopeful.  They want out-of-towners and less intense people to feel at home in New York.  They take great pride when a player whom everyone thought wouldn’t like the city ends up liking it.  They are proud of their city and they want its greatness and warmth and tolerance to be appreciated. 

We have the Statue of Liberty, for God’s sake.  We are the golden door.  We welcome and absorb anyone and everyone.  We don’t want to put down the people who stumble when they first come.  We don’t hate failures in this town.  We love underdogs and comeback stories.  We want even the wretched, if well-paid, refuse to know that we are behind them, that we want them to get up again. 

I never boo a Met.  And that’s not because I am an unusual New Yorker.  It’s because not booing your own guy when he’s down is part of what my idea of what it is to be a New Yorker.  I notice, when I’m at the ballpark, that the great majority of Mets fans do not boo Mets.  It’s only a small fringe that does.  Yet in a crowd of forty thousand, four thousand booers will be heard. And so everybody thinks that if you come to New York and don’t perform as advertised, you will be booed.  That is not good for us.

I know it’s not going to do any good to say this, but I think it should stop. 

Do I Want the 20 Years Back? Do I Want to Watch the Series?

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Twenty years ago, on October 27, 1986, the Mets won their last World Series.  I wonder how I would have reacted if someone had been able to tell me that twenty years later, the Mets would still not have won their next World Series title. 

Let’s say that I had somehow learned that.  Would I have been able to pay attention to the Mets, with hope and love, for the next 20 years?  Sure.  There might have been a few pennants in there, and division titles.  There were one and two.  They didn’t have the Wild Card back then.

Am I reconsidering all of the time I spent watching the Mets or listening to them?  No.  Even if the record of accomplishment is less than I would have liked or expected, I didn’t know what would happen.  I hoped for more than what we got, and that’s where the pleasure was. 

Can you actually sit and watch a baseball game all the way through if you know how it is going to end?  I can’t.  When I watch a rebroadcast game, I enjoy noticing what was different, I enjoy the glimpses of what I remember so differently.  But I can’t watch more than a few innings. 

Can you watch a game between two teams when you don’t really care who wins?  I can for a little while.  I am not uninterested in the general, larger picture of baseball.  But usually, I can only watch for a few innings.  I wish I could tell you that I was watching the World Series because of my love of baseball, that I was rooting for the plucky Tigers to bury the ugliest team I’ve ever seen on a baseball field.  I am rooting for the Tigers.  But I’m not going to tell you that I’m watching the games when I’m not. 

I love baseball.  I love what it does with time.  I love how watching baseball is like riding a wave, where the uncertain future becomes the vivid present and then takes permanent form as the past.  I look at the blog I’ve been keeping for two weeks and I see this and like it.  As I read it from the beginning, I see the future becoming the present, becoming the past.  It’s freaky and weird. 

And this happens all the time when you are a baseball fan.   It’s different from reading a novel or watching a film because no one, not even those who create what you watch know how it will turn out.  So you don’t just have the illusion of events developing through time, as you do in a film.  You are right up against the reality of time.  You are riding it. 

The fun is all in the uncertainty and the uncertainty is meaningful only because you really care about what happens.  This is why I don’t watch rebroadcasts and rarely watch the World Series.  I’m not proud of this, because I feel it is a betrayal of baseball, something I love and admire. 

But like everyone else, I come to the game with my own psychological needs.  For me it is not enough to admire.  I have to be able to hope and to care.  I care for the sheer pleasure of caring.  I hope because it is fun to hope. 

Sure I care about the Mets and hope for their success.  But to a certain degree, their success is beside the point.  It is not more fun to be the fan of a successful team than an unsuccessful one.  The point is the yearning.  Winning is the goal.  But for me it is not the point.
 

So What Now?

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Our needs are obvious.  We need younger and more durable starting pitching, we need more bench strength, and we need a decent hitter playing either in left field or at second base. 
So do we pull out all the stops and all the cash to sign Barry Zito?   Do we put together an irresistible package of prospects to get Dontrelle Willis?  Do we try to get Alfonso Soriano?

Yeah, maybe.  Whatever.

Some people are going to be angry at me for saying this. 

If we put Lastings Milledge in left and had a starting pitching staff consisting of five of the following:  El Duque, Heilman, Maine, Perez, Bannister, Pelfrey, and Humber, I wouldn’t mind.  I wouldn’t mind at all.

Huh?  What?  Is this complacency?  No.  I’m not sure that this team would win the division.  I like the uncertainty. 

Is this a lack of desire to win?  Am I a wuss?  Damn straight, I’m a wuss.  Wanna make something of it?  Gate B.  Opening Day.  Two hours before the game.  I’ll be there.

Of course I want to win.  But I really don’t want to do the Yankee thing.  That is no fun.  I like the feel of the team as it is.  I like the talent.  I would rather find the surprises in a group of prospects than sign or trade for known quantities.   Seaver and Koosman were fun.  Gooden and Darling were fun.  Wright and Reyes are fun.  Zito, Willis, Soriano, or Moises Alou wouldn’t be as much fun.  We know their stories.  We don’t know Milledge’s. 

I know what you’re thinking.  We were all happy to sign Beltran or Martinez, when the Mets were trying to establish their credibility.  Point taken.  But I don’t want to overdo the free agent thing.  I don’t want to upset the competitive balance too much.  I don’t want to be focused on how the team will perform in the postseason.  I don’t want a dynasty, and I am glad that dynasties aren’t really possible.  Anything can happen in the postseason, thank God.   Anything can even happen during the regular season.

All I want from the near future is a team that is fun to root for, and stays in contention.  That’s all I want.  I never want my hopes and desires to be replaced by expectations.  I want winning to mean something.  And I want losing to make me sad, not angry or embarrassed or frustrated. 
 

 

The Day After the Day After

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

I wish I was at the seventh game, because from what I hear from people who were there, the consoling solidarity of the crowd after it was over, on the ramps and in the train cars, was beautiful.  There was that gentleness and kindness of the big crowd that surprised the world on 9/11, but didn’t surprise New Yorkers.   Alone in my suburban living room with my weeping daughter, I missed the crowd.

I understand how upset a lot of people are right now.  And I respect everyone’s sense of loss.  I even respect people choosing to give up baseball when something like this happens.  As I wrote in “Marrying the Red Sox,” my wife, a devout Red Sox fan, never came back to baseball after the ball went through Buckner’s legs.  But this is someone who, when we were in Pompei this summer, cried when she saw the plaster casts of people killed in the eruption.  Someone who cries in sympathy for people who died 2000 years ago in a volcanic eruption should not be a baseball fan. 

Most Mets fans, including me, are recovering by thinking about the wonderful things we have seen this year.  Yes there are some who feel anger and bitterness.  That’s okay, as long as they get past that.  They have to realize that if disappointment always led to anger and bitterness, the fans of the New York Mets would be one sick and scary bunch of people by now.  They would not know how to console each other on the trains back to Manhattan or Manhasset. 

Chris Russo, of course, said he was upset with the Mets for not being more upset with their loss.  Chris would say this.  He lives in a kind of failure-free zone, so he doesn’t know how to deal with failure.  He can be wrong about anything, he can know nothing about nothing, he can be the world’s biggest jerk, but as long as people listen to him, he has not failed.  Carlos Beltran and David Wright live in a more complex world.  So do the rest of us.  You can be great and gutsy and not a jerk and still take a called third strike, when someone has thrown you a great curve ball that looks high as it’s coming in.  All of us do stuff like this all the time. 

Sure I thought Willie Randolph should have sent Chris Woodward up to bunt the runners over instead of sending up Cliff.  On the face of it, that seemed to me to be a dumb move, since Cliff couldn’t run and the last thing you wanted was a double play.  But one of the things I love about Willie is that he doesn’t manage as if he’s a card counter in Vegas, always going with the statistical probabilities.  He’s playing with human beings.  And who knows what was in his mind?  Maybe he just sensed a Bobby Thompson moment in Cliff, in what would probably have been his last turn at bat as a Met.  I don’t know.  What the hell difference does it make?  Would those of us who criticize him bitterly have praised him for being a genius if Cliff had hit a home run? 

Mets fans don’t settle for mediocrity.  Or, well, maybe we do sometimes (he says as he remembers his hopes for Steve Henderson and Mo Vaughn).  But there is nothing mediocre about this magnificent ball club.  Nothing in me believes they choked.  I feel nothing for them but love and hope for the future.  I am glad they are not kicking steps and water coolers to make Chris happy.  Bravely hopeful people who accept their failures accomplish more than people who kick and throw things.  This is the way I’d want my daughter to react if she loses something.  This is the way I want to react.  And this is the way most Mets fans react because we don’t have some Steinbrenner leading us, fat and stupid on the beach waving his arms and telling  the waves to stop and that their disobedience is unacceptable.

My life would be poorer without the Mets.  But do you want to know how much richer my life would have been if the Mets had won the seventh game of the ’73 Series, if Scioscia had not hit his home run, and if Kenny Rogers had not walked home the Braves winning run in 1999?  It wouldn’t have been richer or better at all.  Not even by one little bit.

This isn’t a war.  It’s a show.  It’s a great show and I will watch it until I die and it means a lot to me.  It was particularly wonderful to watch this year and the best is yet to come.

 

The End of Our Season

Friday, October 20th, 2006

In the future I won’t be able to listen to people say that this year was disappointing.  I remember the 2006 season already.  It was six and a half  happy months of greatness.  Our team was dominant and glorious.  In spite of the sudden disappearance of our starting pitching, we swept the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs.  We took the Cardinals to the last strike of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the NLCS.  We deserved to go further.

In the last game we played, Endy Chavez brought a ball back to the field after it had cleared the wall.  Oliver Perez came back to life.  Things felt right.  There are many ways the game could have been won by the Mets.  I don’t have to tell them to you.  Nobody screwed up.  The big loud crowd did all it could.  In the top of the ninth, Yadier Molina hit a ball too high for Endy to catch.  In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets filled the bases.  The beautiful season struggled to live until the very last second, when you saw the ball drop, you saw the umpire’s arm, you saw men jumping, and you scrambled to find the remote. 

This is baseball.  Over the long term, it pleases you.  But when the story stops, and the TV is suddenly silent, you really hear that silence.  You think of the sweet dead thing and you cry.   
 

Being at Shea for Game 6 of the NLCS

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

I went to the game last night with my sister Stefanie and her friend Jeff.  I was supposed to meet them by Gate A at 7:30.  I got there early and waited for them behind the little outdoor studio set up for Gary Cohen and Ron Darling.  It was a great scene.  Gary and Ron were immaculate in their suits and ties, sitting in these director’s chairs on a raised platform under bright lights that lit up the plane trees. Gary and Ron looked as if they were having dinner in a fancy outdoor restaurant in France or LA. 

Except that thousands of people were walking by them, dressed in all of the colors of the rainbow except red, yellow, green, indigo, or violet.  There were people in jerseys from Seaver to Green, people with orange wigs, and one guy who looked like an accountant dressed in an American flag outfit with a blue and orange face.   A big crowd gathered behind the two men in suits, making noise continuously, aware that it was their responsibility to show how psyched the crowd would be tonight.  There was a sense that the Mets were now home and we knew what to do. 

We would be, as we have been before, the tenth man on the field.  No other fans had our lung power, no other fans were so free of the restraint that keeps most people from painting themselves, singing in public, or booing a called ball.  We were the raucous soul of the mighty city you saw from the escalators as you climbed to the upper deck.  Okay, I live in Connecticut and the people I was meeting live in Montclair.  But we are part of this.  Our folks played stickball on Brooklyn streets and snuck into Ebbett’s field.  We can still scream as loud as anybody.

As I was waiting, I saw a little boy about nine years old in the crowd behind Gary and Ron.  He was on his father’s shoulders, and he was holding and pumping a sign that said “Ya Gotta Believe/ Remember ’86.”  The kid couldn’t have been born before 1997.  Yet he knew Tug’s mantra from ’73.  He knew that ’86 meant something.  Okay, maybe he didn’t.  Maybe these were just the feelings of the graying, sweating fortyish guy whose face I couldn’t see behind his son’s legs.  But the kid was pumping that sign, as if what he held in his hand was the key to the Mets’ victory tonight. 

You can never kill something like this.  You can’t bury a spirit like this under any number of years of disappointment.  Millions of people love to be Mets fans.  For a time like this, when the point is not to win another trophy to put on in a closet with a whole bunch of others.  The point is to all get together and scream real loud.  And if we win we will be so happy.  And if we don’t win we will be here next time screaming real loud again.

As the stadium filled, as gametime approached, the Diamond Vision showed Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, with her ruby red slippers, saying “There’s no place like home.”  Everybody knew this.  Everybody responded.  They should have also had the scene from Peter Pan where you clap your hands as loud as you can so that Tinkerbell doesn’t die. 

Tinkerbell didn’t die.  And the evening showed how true it was that there is no place like home.  Throughout the evening, through Jeff’s binocs, I saw how happy the Mets were in the great bath of crowd noise.  At points we may have given them a jolt, but I think it was more that we provided a big featherbed on which they could relax, after having been in a witch’s castle where snotty hankies had been waved at them by scary red gnomes with chin hair. 

It was so much fun.  We saw how loud we could be when Jose Reyes hit his leadoff home run and we could do the Jose song at top volume right away.  Most people in their whole lives will never hear what John Maine heard as he walked back to the dugout.  And when Paul Lo Doca hit his two-run single, we felt what Hemingway suggested you only feel maybe once in a lifetime.  The stadium moved.  I’m not trying to be poetic here.  I don’t mean that I was so overcome with emotion that it seemed as if the ground was shaking.  No.  The fricking thing moved.  Literally.  The concrete bounced and twanged like a guitar string.  It was scary.  It was wonderful.

The ninth inning was scary too.  Not wonderful.  We gave Billy Wagner the welcome he deserved because of the incredible season he gave us.  And we better give him that next time too.  That’s all I have to say about that.  No Wagner talk here.  There is nothing to talk about.  This man is one of the best relievers in baseball and we need him desperately.  He’s a little rattled at the moment but he has earned the uncritical love he will need in order to get back to where he should be for those cold evenings in Detroit.  Wagner, I know, didn’t pitch as well as he should have.  He gave up two runs and I began to feel a hellish foreboding when I realized that Albert Pujols could wind up in a position where he could happily pee on our wonderful season.  But the third out came.  And it was good.  And as strangers slapped hands and sang the Jose song and chanted “Lets Go Mets” and loudly and politely emptied the stadium, we all felt that we had done well and that the Mets were beautiful and that tomorrow night they would win the pennant they had earned.

I meant to write more about the game itself.  But I’ve run out of space and time.  You can read about the game itself on the wonderful blogs I link to.  But this is what this evening at the game felt like to me.
 

 

Steve Trachsel

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

What happened?  Steve Trachsel has been a Met longer than anyone else on the team.  By my count, he has given us three very good seasons (2002, 2003, 2004) and two acceptable but inconsistent ones (2001, 2006).   He has earned, through his longevity, an honored if not terribly distinguished place among the decent 4th starters in Mets history (McAndrew, Stone, Lynch, etc.).  He was about to go down in our history as one of these guys, not as a latter day Doug Sisk (who was actually a decent pitcher for the Mets for awhile and then just lost it and could not get it back). 

As we were going into this series we were looking towards him as one of our last starters left standing, as a guy who could keep us in a game long enough to let the lineup do its work.  Everybody was saying “we hope he can do it for us.”  Many of us, including me, were unimpressed by the season he just had (with the run support he had, the 20-game losers of the Mets early years would have been 20-game winners), but nobody thought of him as gutless or as a jerk.

Now, it appears, he is headed for oblivion.  The press and the fans and maybe the Mets management have court-martialed him and stripped him of his medals.  I have never seen a baseball player lose so much respect in a single inning.  A single inning after he has been with a team for 5 and a quarter seasons.  Can he possibly deserve it?  Frankly, I don’t trust Mets fans when they turn against a guy who has done a lot for them and I don’t trust the New York press either.  I still want to know what that “family matter” was.  I have never seen anything like that.  There aren’t even any leaks or rumors.  Could Steve have had a legitimate reason for thinking that he had to leave that game?  Is it right to make fun of his contusion?  Is there something wrong with him?

I am absolutely mystified.  I don’t feel I know the story.  So I don’t know whether or not to be angry.  I am horrified at the way this is playing out.  Never have the Mets needed a solid starting pitcher more.  For five seasons, we had this slow, methodical, decent guy pitching for us.  And now he falls off the end of the cliff and I don’t know if he ran off or if he was pushed or what. 

Good-bye Steve, I guess.  I saw you pitch some good games and I always liked you and defended you.  But now it seems you’re just a shade cleaning out your locker, not saying good-bye, and not giving us a chance to say good-bye.  Do you want redemption?  Or is this just the way it is going to be?

Thoughts on a Rainy Night

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Carlos Delgado has a way of looking like he is the center of the universe.  He doesn’t look as if he wants to be the center of the universe.  He doesn’t look as if he thinks he is the center of the universe.  He looks as if he IS the center of the universe.  To say that the man has presence is a ridiculous understatement. 

He has this straight, broad front of a forehead, and this massive and powerful body.  But he moves with such ease, and his gaze is so steady.  He seems so perfectly relaxed as he makes the rounds of the dugout, laughing and smiling.  It calms me down to look at him. 

He is better than yoga.  He calmed me down last night, by reaching over the plate to hit an incomprehensible home run to left.   My muscles and lungs relaxed for the first time in 24 hours.  I felt a coolness on my forehead.  

Until Delgado hit that homer, I was miserable.  Everything that was happening seemed fraught with menace.  And the Cardinals were seriously beginning to freak me out.  Is it my imagination or are they a very funny-looking team?  Several of them look like angry babies, several of them have hair that falls unpleasantly on the back of their beefy necks, and then there’s that blood-purple flap of hair on Spiezio’s chin. 

Whatever they are trying to do, by looking like this, was working.  On me, at least.  The Cardinals seemed a lot more menacing than their 83 wins entitled them to be.  And there was something about the sea of red around them, and the hankies flapping like the hair on Spiezio’s chin or Belliard’s nape, that made me afraid and a little grossed out.  Until that six-run inning.  That changed everything. 

Still, I can’t imagine these Cardinals being the Mets.  And I can’t imagine the Mets being the Cardinals.   Am I right?  Am I being fair?  Aren’t the Mets a particularly attractive and cool-looking team?  Don’t they all have some of the dash of Omar?  Or are they just familiar to me?   Are Cardinals fans freaked out by the sharp urbanity of the Mets and the menacing seediness of my beloved Shea?  Let them be. 

I don’t think the Mets should be knocked off by this Cardinal team.  If the Cardinals want to win the pennant, let them do it in one of these years when they are really good.  They have enough of them.  This is our year.  And this is the Tigers’ year.  This is the Series we all deserve, between two amazing, surprising teams, the best in their leagues.

Thoughts After Game 4 of the NLCS, Part I

Monday, October 16th, 2006

After a game like game 4, you look at yesterday’s entries and threads on the blogs and forums and you wonder what the hell was going on.  I remember what I felt.  I did not feel good.  I said “ya gotta believe,” but did I really believe?  Don’t ask. 

How could I have doubted that the Mets could do what they did tonight?  Look at the middle of the lineup.  116 RBIs, 114 RBIs, 116 RBIs.  How many times have you ever seen that?  On any team?  Of course you’ve never seen it on the Mets. 

Why did I doubt?  I doubted because Mota and Wagner had blown the lead on Friday and the Mets hadn’t scored any runs on Saturday.  Is that a good reason to think that the Mets couldn’t have scored 12 runs and given up only 5 on Sunday evening?  All season long they had won games with scores like that.  What made it possible for me to forget that?  Why did a game and a quarter have so much influence on my impression of a team I had watched for 166 games before that?

Part of it, I think, is that the game the Mets just played on October 15 was the first game they have played all season in which something significant was at stake.  None of the 162 games of the regular season mattered that much in itself.  Neither did any of the three games of the NLDS.  So even though I was very much aware of the Mets’ greatness, I may not have noticed it enough.  This makes no logical sense, but Mets fans may know what I mean.  

Maybe part of it is that the emotional intensity of postseason baseball creates a day-to-day amnesia that turns every triumph into a surprise, and every failure into a disaster.  Suddenly we think that Billy Wagner will never save a game again.  Suddenly Steve Trachsel will never pitch a good game again.  Neither of these things are true.  How do we get so immersed in the moment that we believe things like this?

Tomorrow everything’s going to feel good.  Even Mike and the Mad Dog are not going to write off this great baseball team.  We’ll feel really good until we next feel bad.  Though maybe we won’t have an occasion to feel bad again this season.  I hope not.  And I hope that I will never again get into an emotional funk because of just one bad home run, or one bad pitching appearance, or even one bad game.  I will try not to let my emotions drown my long-term memory.  I will try.  And I will not succeed.  Because baseball, to a frightening degree, is what has just happened.  For the fans, and for the players.  All I can do right now is enjoy the fact that what has just happened is absolutely wonderful.     

After Game 3 of the NLCS

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

Well here we are.  For the first time in this long season, we are behind.  Not far behind.  It’s not as if we’re up against the ropes.  But for the first time since the end of the 2005 season, some team is closer to what we’re chasing than we are. 

So I’ll start off by doing the “Ya Gotta Believe!” thing.  The Mets always thrive as underdogs, I say.  They were a game down (0-1) in 1969.  They were a game down (3-2) in 1986.  They’ll come back now as they did then.  “EVERYBODY CLAP YOUR HANDS!!!”  I want you to all go and open up the windows and scream as loud as you can, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But because I’m not a total idiot, even though I am a Mets fan, and because nothing is worse than lying to yourself when you’re in trouble, I will also cast a fearful glance backwards at my memories of the playoffs in 1988 and the World Series of 2000. 

Look, sometimes they do it and sometimes they don’t.  Maybe they’ll do it and maybe they won’t.  We sit here in the middle of one of the great memories of Mets history or we are in the middle of one of those things we will never get over.  You can’t tell which and there’s nothing you can do about it.  If you read this post on this morning or afternoon of October 15, you don’t know what’s going to happen.  If you read this post later, you will know what is going to happen and what has happened will be a part of your life forever.  This is what baseball is:  a very long story that is what it is forever, except for what it is for a very short time inside a crazy little overstuffed car that is the present moment. 

I’m glad the Mets are on the road.  I say this because when things are going a little badly, there are some Mets fans who act like assholes.  If last night had happened at home, there would have been people who would have booed Steve Trachsel after his horrendous first inning and I would have had to run through the stands, strangling them all.  We are not the Yankees, morons.  We don’t think losing is “unacceptable.”  We just think it is awful.  At least in a context like this.  When we have been so good all year.  When we’re hurt.  When we’re so much better than the Cardinals.  And when we have had so much disappointment over the past couple of decades. 

I want the Mets to straighten themselves out as they’re alone together out there in that sea of red.  And then I want them to come back to us.  We can help.  We can be louder than anybody. 

When things are really on the line, oh Mets, you want to be near us.  You want to hear us.  You want to feel the stadium trembling with our loud love.  Win, Mets.  We will smother the sounds of those of us who are stupid and impatient.  You come home and we will help you.   We will do this together.  And when you win, all we ask is that you run along the third base line with cigars in your mouths and spray us with champagne.
 
 

Game 2 of the NLCS

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

I won’t panic.  But I will find it hard to sleep.

It’s not because they lost.  I expected the Cardinals to win.  Because of Carpenter.  It’s not so bad to lose to their ace, the best pitcher in your league.  But it’s bad to have him beat, to have your offense working, to get the lead and lose it twice, and then to have defeat sneak up on you, laughing at you, making you feel weak when you had been feeling strong.

We have to keep the wolf at bay.  This just happened.  Things happen.  Wagner is a great pitcher.  Mota is a great pitcher.  Nothing is different today than it was yesterday.  We have not heard the sucking sound, the rapid loss of air.  The Series is tied.  And we have the better team.

Look at how good the Mets were even tonight.  Think of Delgado’s two home runs.  Think of the swift slap in the first that sent the ball so quickly to the scoreboard in center.  Think of how he is so strong that he could nudge an outside pitch, awkwardly and with just his arms, over a left field fence 400 feet away.  Think of what happens when he has a full swing and sends the ball so high into the black above the lights in right.  Think of Delgado, think of him laughing and smiling in the dugout.  Think of his handsome, unsweating cool that makes his teammates so calm and so happy.

Think of Reyes back in the groove.  Think of his eyes. Think of him shaking his crazy man curls and smiling like a satyr.  Think of his headfirst slides that make you want to scream.  Think of how he jumps up from them in a split second and claps his hands. 

Think of Paulie LoDuca and how often he has made you happy.

Tomorrow night Steve Trachsel, who has been a Met the longest, will put things right.  He and Glavine are the two dads who will calm us down.  Trachsel will be himself, slow and smart.  He will have his stubborn face as he sets out to prove that he is a very fine pitcher who has never deserved being thought of as a journeyman. 

The Mets are all right.  They are hitting and fielding and they are loose in the dugout.  Tonight we lost because a mediocre bullpen beat our great one.  The odds are that this won’t happen again.  I’m talking about odds.  I know that anything can happen.  This is baseball.  But the Mets have everything I am able to give them.  They may win and they may lose.  But they’re good.  So I am filled with hope. They look as if they’re having fun, even though I’m a nervous wreck.   I’m having fun too.  This series is very exciting.  I refuse to believe that they will not beat the Cardinals.