The End of an Era?

It always surprises me to realize that Tom Glavine pitched for the Mets for five years.  That is not an insignificant portion of anyone’s career.  But it seems somehow as if it was an insignificant portion of his.  Glavine (I never actually got onto a first-name basis with him) will always be remembered as a great pitcher for the Atlanta Braves during their unprecedented and virtually unchallenged period of dominance.  That’s not a Mets identity.  Will we remember what he did for the Mets?  I remember some stuff.  But I’m not really sure how to answer this question.

I don’t like having to root for a guy I’ve made a habit of rooting against.  This is why I’m glad that it doesn’t look as if we’re signing Eckstein.  Maybe they should think about stuff like that in the future.  It affects the rooting experience and as I said last week, all I really want right now is a good rooting experience.  Glavine didn’t give me one.  I tried.  I swear.  But for five years I looked at this Hall-of-Fame pitcher and I couldn’t help but feel that he was wearing the wrong uniform.

This wasn’t fair of me and it wasn’t fair of us.  We were respectful to him.  But we never loved him.  At points, like when I saw him shut out the Dodgers in the 2006 NLDS or when he won his 300th game, I felt genuine affection for him.  But it was respectful admiration I was feeling.  And a somewhat reserved gratitude.  I didn’t love the guy’s guts as I had loved Seaver’s, Koosman’s, McGraw’s, or Leiter’s. 

Tom Glavine is a smart, decent man and a truly great pitcher.  He gave us some exceptionally good seasons for a player of his age.  Thank you, Tom.  I really do appreciate it.  Boy, you could be terrific in the first half of seasons.  And you really came through most of the time in our one postseason.  I liked you.  I did.  But we both know that this was all kind of a mistake, wasn’t it?  Let’s be grownups about this.  You can go home now. 

I do think it is a shame that the Mets careers of Glavine and of Trachsel, the two guys who have pitched more innings than anyone else in the past five years, will always have this sense of a crawling, bleeding blight from one final disastrous season-ending game.  It’s not fair.  They pitched some good ones when we weren’t paying as much attention, but those two cataclysms will always loom over their entire, long Mets careers.  And there’s nothing that can be done about it.

I wish it were different, but it’s not.   The past five years have been kind of strange.  Our team, which has always derived a lot of its identity from its starting pitchers, didn’t get much of an identity from Steve Trachsel or Tom Glavine.  I’m not sure what the Mets are going to look like or feel like next year.  But I think we’re going to have a new identity.  And the passing of Glavine is going to be a major part of it.  The Mets have to become new again.  I’d love to see them become young again.  That’s the only way in which last year’s disaster can ever become anything other than an open wound.  It must become just part of a story: the scary part, when everything seems lost, just before the child is found, the king returns, the heavens open.


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