There is no such thing as a Mets season without peril. There is no such thing as a good story without conflict or tension.
The 1969 Miracle Mets looked great for a while, then they lost lots of ground, fell 9 ½ games out into third place in August. The Miracle happened in late August and September. People forget this. That season wasn’t pure, continuous, and unmitigated triumph. It was a jerky, bumpy ride, and to be honest, it looked as if it was lost when the season was considerably older than the current season is now.
The 1986 Mets came as close to having a perfect season as any team can get. But all Mets fans old enough can remember game 6 of the NLCS and game 6 of the World Series. The greatest Mets season of all came real close to ending twice, in an undeserved disaster.
1988 and 2006 were also almost flawless seasons. And we know how they ended.
1999 and 2000 were great seasons too. But they were struggles. And they ended in dignified defeat.
And then there were all those good seasons that gave us so much pleasure, and the excitement of a contest, but not even a division title: 1970, 1984, 1985, 1997, 1998, 2001.
We’re not baseball fans and we’re certainly not Mets fans because we have to have happy beginnings and middles and endings. We are followers of a story that, like life, is never entirely smooth, and for the most part, in the end, for all of its wonder and beauty, is tragic.
I’m not going to get mushy at this point. And I’m certainly not losing any faith or even any confidence. I think that we are going to clobber our division and win the goddamn pennant and I think we have a very good chance of winning the 2007 World Series.
But I want to observe that our first three-game losing streak this season, and the last two games in particular, remind us that there is no such thing as victory without obstacles and bumps. These games should have been won and they were bitterly disappointing. And Philadelphia really is a good team. And you can imagine what this does for them. Thursday night’s game will be very important.
I’m not going to say vital yet. I don’t sense a shift in the winds. This is still our season. But the injuries and the sluggishness of the big bats and the flickering of the bullpen may be slowing things down a bit, bringing us closer to the earth. I don’t think Atlanta and Philadelphia have, in the end, what it would take to beat us. Our pitching is too good and our offense, and our health, will probably come all the way back.
But we may have a pennant race. We can handle that, can’t we? We’ve been there before.