I don’t know how many more times I can write a piece about how weird it is that the Mets are having an impressive season but their fans aren’t sure whether they like them or not.
For a while, I was blaming the fans. I worried that the Mets fan base was becoming like the Yankees’, with expectations that were too high. I marshaled all of these statistics to prove that this season is roughly as good as last season minus Pedro and that it only seemed to be worse because Atlanta and Philadelphia were better. All of those statistics are still true. This is still true. But if we are in August and a lot of diehard Mets fans still aren’t excited about this team, something more must be happening than a psychological illusion as easy as this to figure out.
I don’t now think that we are expecting too much so much as that we have absolutely no idea what to expect. We are befuddled. Nothing is clear. I mean, is John Maine having a great year or isn’t he? Is Oliver Perez still a surprise? Okay, Wright’s numbers are right back up where they should be, but why did it seem as if we somehow missed that when it was happening? Carlos Delgado has had an impressive couple of months now. Why does everyone still think he’s in a slump? There’s got to be a reason for this. We’re not all just jerks who aren’t giving the players enough credit.
Greg at Faith and Fear in Flushing has the latest essay of this kind, an essay that I basically agree with. Greg says it well. They’re doing okay, but something is missing. He attributes it to the fact that there’s nothing for us to psychologically grab on to. Why not? I still don’t know.
I mean, they’ve won some exciting ballgames, but maybe the problem is that the exciting ballgames they win are like the first two games they’ve just won against the Pirates (8/14, 5-4, 8/15, 10-8). They win in exciting fashion, they do a number of impressive things, but games that really should be blow-outs aren’t. They’re almost lost. What is the season’s record for men left on base and how close are we to it?
Teams that are in first place should have a lot of winning streaks. We don’t. We win our reliable four out of seven and lead the league. But we don’t have any winning streaks to give ourselves a brief and temporary illusion of omnipotence. Teams that are in first place should reliably win at home. We certainly aren’t doing that this year. First-place teams reliably beat up on bad teams. Not us.
But we’ve been in the same place all year. And Atlanta and Philadelphia stay where they’ve been. What’s it like to root for them?
This season has been one of the hardest ever to define. But it is now August 15. There are only six weeks left. You know what? Stuff is about to happen that will define it forever and mark it in our memories. What will happen in the next six weeks is going to wipe away the eighteen weeks we’ve already lived through.
You don’t know what you think about the 2007 Mets now. In nine weeks, you will. Events that will just happen will give you a sense that you’ve always known something that you haven’t really known, all along. This is one of the secrets of baseball. Did you know that Tug McGraw had a horrible season until the very last month of 1973 and no one ever speaks of, no one even remembers that? Did you know that the Mets in 1969 were in third place, sinking to fourth, almost ten games out at just this point of the season? Do you remember right now how hopeful you were feeling towards the end of August 2005 about that wonderful, wonderful break-out season?
We’re about to go into the warp. And we probably won’t remember where we actually were when we were sucked into it.