Archive for May, 2008

We Were Not Going to Lose That Game

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

It’s late.  I’m tired.  My writing light is not really on.

But I have to say something.  How many nights this season have I been sitting on this couch, looking out this window into the darkness, wondering what the hell I could say about what I just saw?

Too many nights.  A third of a season in a darkness not dark enough to feel like doom, but not bright enough in which to see anything.

I stake my soul on this being the game we remember.  I’ve staked my soul before and lost it.  But I keep growing new souls and I put the latest one down on the green table.

I believe.  This is it.  Why do I feel this way?  Am I going to go nuts over a two-game winning streak after a horrendous week?  I guess I am.

Here’s why.  It reminded me.  You know what it reminded me of.  Something you’ve seen before in another lifetime.  16 strikeouts.  Bench players at the very heart of things.  Coming back, even if you’ve lost the lead for the third or fourth time.  This is the Mets way.  Players with just enough talent who simply won’t be denied.

And most important.  Most important.  Listen.  This is important.  A crowd that is completely into it.  A crowd that cheers even when the team’s behind.  A crowd that believes and loves and wants and pushes the Mets over the line.  We’ve seen this before.  We’re seeing it again. 

David Wright, on the little square screen under the mounds of videos and DVDs just said that “We were not going to lose that game.”  That’s it.  That’s right.  And now Pedro says, “It’s been hard for me to see what’s going on and to not be able to do anything.”  Yes, Pedro, we feel that way too. 

I’m going to the game tomorrow.  It’s going to be one of the most important games in a very long time.

 

Some Very Limited Positivity

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Okay.  Look at it this way.

The Mets’ mediocre record is as good or better than the records of the 2007 AL Wild Card Yankees, the 2007 AL Central Division Champion Indians, the 2007 Wild Card runners-up Tigers and Mariners, 2007 NL Pennant Winning Rockies, and the Padres, teams that last year won 94, 96, 88, 88, 90, and 89 games respectively.  I don’t know what this means precisely, but I’d be pretty surprised if any of these teams ends the season below .500. 

The Mets are fifth from the bottom in slugging percentage and are tied with the Phillies in E.R.A.  Do you expect either of these things to be true when the season ends? 

Wright, Beltran, and Reyes can pretty much be counted upon to play better in the last two thirds of the season than they have played thus far.

Church and Alou are coming back.  So is Pedro Martinez.  This may mean nothing and it may mean something.

Here’s the clincher, as far as I can see.  None of the teams in our division has established that they are better than the Mets.  None of them looks to me as if they are likely to win more than 90 games. 

It’s probably not going to be a season of brilliant baseball.  It will be a season of streaks.  It could be very exciting. 

Remember that we were 27-28 in 1999 and ended up 97-63.  I’m not saying that that is going to happen again, but I don’t think anyone has reason yet to believe that it is unlikely that we can will the 89 games it would have taken last year and will probably take this year to get into the playoffs. 
 

That’s what I have to say.  I won’t rip into them yet and I’m running out of nostalgic themes.  They are not playing well.  But no one has the right to write them off yet.  This is a very weird season that, for several good ballclubs, is taking a bizarrely long time to begin. 
 

Heigh Ho

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

 

You guys may have spent Memorial Day weekend watching some pretty crappy baseball and wondering if Willie was going to be gone now or later.  I didn’t.  I went to Disney World.  I didn’t even look at what the Mets did in the paper or on the web.  I knew that they weren’t doing well because like a good boy I called my mother and she was profoundly depressed.  But I wasn’t interested.  I was taking a break thanks to Frequent Flyer miles.  I was in the Magic Kingdom.

I’d never actually been to Disney World.  It’s an educational place.  They teach you that if you dream, your dreams will come true, or something like that.  The wonder of Disney World is that they have built this entirely charming alternate reality around such a dubious assertion. 

Maybe they should send the Mets to Disney World.  Give them front row seats at Fantasmic and show them that the Imagination is the most Powerful Force in the World and that in the end, Good will Defeat Evil.  Then take them to Space Mountain or that Aerosmith roller coaster and shake up their innards real good.  Let them listen to the loudspeakers that follow the parades and explain that anything your heart desires will come to you.

So far this season, the Mets have only been showing us one version of the meaning of the English term “Mickey Mouse.”  There is another.
 

Mikey

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

To commemorate Mike Piazza’s retirement, I’m reprinting my piece “Mike Piazza”  from my book Mets Fan.  Mikey is my favorite non-pitcher player in the whole history of the Mets.  If you were a Mets fan around the turn of the twenty-first century, he’ll always be with you. 

MIKE PIAZZA

At the end of the 2005 season, the Mets did not re-sign Mike Piazza.  You had the sense that Omar Minaya wanted him to go, as he had wanted Leiter to leave the year before.  This had been Mike Piazza’s team and it could not be any longer.  It had to be something different now.

More than any Mets player except Seaver, Piazza had created and defined an entire era of Mets history.  He lifted an exciting but wobbly team to the point where it thought that it was as good as the Braves and destined to beat the Yankees in the World Series.  The team wasn’t as good as that, but Mike was great enough to allow us the pleasure of the illusion.  He had a glamour and an explosive talent that was like nothing we’d seen since the Eighties.  I will always cherish the fact that for seven years, I got to watch the career of one of the best right-handed hitters since DiMaggio, the best hitting catcher in history.

Piazza was a gentle and modest superstar.  His skills were enormous, but he seemed to stand in the background behind them, like a parent, expecting you to look at them and not him.  Sure he knew you were also looking at him.  How could you not?  He was handsome and perfectly formed and he stood more firmly on the ground than anyone else.  But he looked as if he had no interest in being a star.  He was only interested in smacking the ball where it needed to go, and controlling the game from behind the plate with his steady force and will.   

In more than forty years of watching baseball, I don’t think I’ve seen anything as beautiful as Piazza’s short miracle of a swing.  It made no physical sense.  It was too short to send a ball that far, but like a swift, silent explosion, it did.  When Piazza came to the plate you leaned forward to see the swing.  You kept your eyes focused on the spot where his arms and the bat would be and you prepared yourself to see the split second of contact and to shift your gaze to the long path of the ball’s flight.  You got ready to stand.  On every pitch.  If it didn’t come, you didn’t mind because you knew it would come soon.  And when it came, you felt yourself seeing and remembering it at the same time, because you knew you were watching something rare and unique and that once he could no longer do it, you would never see anything exactly like it again.

I loved to watch Piazza catch.  I loved the energetic confidence of his crouch, and the surprising speed of his springing up after foul pops.  I loved how he would stand on the mound with his mask off and everyone would look straight at him, as if he were the captain, the main guy, the only one who could make things right.  His arm, as everyone knows, was not as strong as a catcher’s arm needed to be.  And as he got older, he didn’t throw out many runners.  Yet one of the things I liked most about watching Piazza play was seeing his face after he failed to throw a runner out.  He had that sad, determined grimace, a twitch of his closed mouth, with his eyes focused straight ahead.  He wasn’t surprised, but he wasn’t resigned.  When he did throw out a runner, he looked pleased, but he also looked as if he knew that next time he probably wouldn’t. 

Maybe it was vain of Mike to catch for so long.  But I was glad he got the catcher’s home run record.  He was even better than Bench and Fisk and it was good to mark that with a number.  I thought it was inspiring that Mike was so devoted to the craft of catching that he wouldn’t let it go.  He revered his work and he wanted all of the catchers in the future to know that he had been there.  Playing his position near the end, Mike was as eager and as hopeful as a rookie. But he was a thoughtful grown up who could not fool himself.  His dignified disappointment wasn’t always a happy thing to watch, but it was as much worth seeing as his home runs.
 
The fans loved him, without any reservations.  At Shea, you’d see and you will see forever the number 31 on bent backs and little backs, on broad backs and narrow backs.  No one should ever wear that number in that uniform on our field again.  He won us all over, with his bat and his heart and the beauty of his play.    

Mike gave us the great years of 1999 and 2000.  And he gave us the small spasms of hope we had in the years after that.  He was one of the greatest players ever.  And he grew older.  He’d get bunged up, and he’d be out of the lineup, and he couldn’t lift the team any longer.  I wish we had held those one-run leads in the bottom of the eighth and tenth innings of the sixth game of the 1999 Championship series against Atlanta.  I wish we had shown the Yankees something to fear in the 2000 World Series.  Just three or four games tilting the other way would have given the Piazza era a more satisfying flavor in the memory.  But it was fine as it was, and by 2005, it was time to move on.
 

 

Who Are the Mets?

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Who are the Mets?

I didn’t know a couple of days ago, when I saw them lose a genuinely bizarre, almost great, ultimately disheartening game against a last place club.

But now I know who they are. They’ve shown me this weekend. They are the kind of team that CAN beat a last place club.

So what happens if this season Santana is Santana, Maine is Maine, Perez stays in his new groove, Pelfrey pitches like he pitched on Thursday, Pedro comes back, and the Mets hit, say, as well as they hit last year? 95 wins, easy. I can dream, can’t I? But it would be hard to say that anything I’m talking about is improbable. There’s a good calculus here. Even if Pelfrey doesn’t do as well as I’d hope, or even if Pedro can’t stay healthy, it is perfectly possible that the Mets could hit better than they did last year.

If you’re logical about the Mets, you see that there are a great many reasons to hope. It’s just been hard to be logical about the Mets, because it is hard to get past trauma. We are a wounded crowd of desperately hopeful people expecting failure. It’s up to the Mets to cure us of this. They did this to us. They owe us.

Can you imagine this story? A season of redemption. A season of joy. A season in which things finally go right and the Yankees, with a pitching staff full of holes and horrors, finally can’t come back. It’s a season in which New York feels as Yankee stadium sounded tonight, with that increasingly steady roar of joy tinged with surprise.

There will be chemistry. There will be energy. There will be resilience. Or this post can stay forever in my archives to haunt me.

This is what it is to follow baseball. It’s to be reaching towards a future just beyond your grasp. It’s to beat on against the current, to believe that we can actually have, for the first time in a long time, something commensurate to our capacity for wonder.

 

Gary, Keith, and Ron: The Website

Friday, May 16th, 2008

 

As I wrote on the blog a couple of days ago, we all love Gary, Keith and Ron.  In these trying times, when you’re not hearing as much love as you’d like on the radio or in the forums, it is good to remember that there is something that every Mets fan always loves:  our absolutely stellar broadcasting team. 

The problem with a broadcasting team is that there aren’t many ways for us to show them our affection.  We can cheer or boo players and they’ll hear you, apparently.  I’ve cheered great calls and analysis by Gary, Keith, and Ron in my own living room, but they haven’t heard me. 

Well, now there is a way for us to show them how much we love them.  Gary, Keith, and Ron have established a charitable website on which they sell clever t-shirts, with all proceeds going to their favorite charities:  The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (Ron’s son has JD); The Cobble Hill Health Center, which specializes in  care for people suffering from dementia (Keith’s mom died of Alzheimer’s); and The Women’s Shelter of Greater Danbury (as Gary points out on the site, domestic violence touches everyone).  If you buy a t-shirt, you help a worthy cause, and you also get an invitation to a fundraiser Gary, Keith, and Ron will be hosting at the end of the year.  This is a great idea and these are great causes.  Gary, Keith, and Ron aren’t just wonderful broadcasters, they’re decent and caring human beings.

The garykeithandron.com site is great.  In addition to getting a t-shirt, you can post your favorite memories of Gary, Keith, and Ron, you can ask them questions, and you can learn about their likes and dislikes.  As a literature professor, I was very, very impressed by their literary tastes.  I was also interested to learn such tidbits as that Gary Cohen’s heroes growing up were Marv Albert and George McGovern, Keith likes to build plastic models and his favorite food is country French, and if Ron Darling couldn’t be a baseball player or an announcer what he’d have liked to have been is an American expatriate living in Italy or the South of France.  This is one of the things I love about these guys.  How many other baseball broadcasters can you imagine sharing a meal under an umbrella at a café terrace in Provence?  I’m sure they also like a beer and a hot dog at a ballgame, which, in my experience, is a little more expensive than most meals in Provence. 

Anyway, please check out their site and their t-shirts.  Here’s what one of them looks like.  I got an advance copy because I gave advice about Internet contacts to Lynn Cohen, Gary’s wife and a reader of my book and blog, who was centrally involved in getting this whole project together.

 I know I’m not exactly model material, but neither, perhaps, are you. 

Pictures, Words, and the Lack of Them

Friday, May 16th, 2008

I went to a baseball game today (5/15/08) at Shea stadium.  I had a wonderful time with friends and I almost saw the Mets first no-hitter (seriously Pelfrey made me very happy and hopeful).  I’m not going to spoil my serenity right now by talking about the game.  I had unusually excellent seats and so I saw all the baserunning and a catch on the left field line from very close up.  I am not any better for this.  Readers of my blog have probably noticed that although I have been writing on my Mets blog, I am not saying very much about the 2008 Mets yet.  The truth is that there’s very little I have wanted to say.  I have not been happy, but I haven’t wanted to join everyone else jumping on the team.  So I have written about stuff like loyalty and life and what we love about being Mets fans.  I am beginning to run out of the nice stuff.  I am afraid I am going to have to vent soon about what I don’t like about being a New York Mets fan right now.  The season is almost one-quarter over.  But before I say anything, I want to wait to see what happens with the annual May madness of the first Yankees series.  Who knows? A gutty performance in that series might turn things around, as a no-hitter might have today, or a Wright clutch hit, or a Delgado home run. 

In the meantime, here are some pictures you can’t get anywhere else:

Gary, Keith, and Ron broadcasting from the “upper tank”

Mets literati:  From left to right, Greg Spira, Greg Prince, Me, and Matt Silverman.  More words about the Mets have been written by the people in this photograph than have been written by the people in any other photograph I’ve ever seen.

Mets Glitterati. 

I was in perfect position, and I was all set up to photograph the Mets dugout if the game had ended with something dramatic.  I have nothing to show you.  Let the pictures above amuse you. 

Gary, Keith, and Ron

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

 

You know that sinking feeling you get when you realize that the game is on Fox or ESPN?   Today, you feel, the Mets will happen in a kind of flatland, where nothing is particularly interesting, funny, or surprising.  You have the feeling that you’re not in New York anymore.  Maybe you’re in Kansas. 

If you’re a Mets fan and you want to watch a game on television, you have to have Gary, Keith, and Ron.  You want them because they are so good.  Have you ever spoken to anyone who thought they weren’t?  Do you know how rare it is for a broadcasting team to be this popular, this admired by a fan base?  And not just any fan base.  I’m talking about us.  We’re critical.  We’re desperately loyal but impossibly whiny.  Mets fans expect something more than a couple of bland guys trading stories about whatever.  We expect something more than bias and cheerleading.  

And we get it.  Almost every day.  Gary, Keith, and Ron are part of a great tradition of Mets broadcasters (Nelson, Murphy, Kiner, Rose) who are deeply knowledgeable, who are not shills, who are funny, relaxed, ironic, and generous, and who stay with us for a very long time, becoming part of our lives.  The high quality of Mets broadcasting is as much a part of the personality of the team as the over-the-top silliness of life at Shea.  We’re kids because we respond to Mr. Met, the Apple, Cow Bell Man, and the Curly Shuffle.  But we’re grown-ups because we expect a “word picture” with life, character, and dimension.   

For example.  I was listening to Gary and Ron the other day, broadcasting a game from Los Angeles.  They started to talk about Sandy Koufax and instead of talking, as generic broadcasters would, in obvious ways about the pitching accomplishments everyone knows about, and about what a nice guy he is and how nice his wife is and how nice his kids are, Ron wanted to talk about the kind of aura Koufax has for pitchers, and how meeting him is like what it would be like for a deeply spiritual person to meet the Dalai Lama.  He then went on to pointedly praise Koufax for his important role standing up for all players, and not just for himself, by insisting on labor justice for ballplayers more than a decade before that became a movement.  Gary, in the meantime, explained what would strike modern fans as the peculiar fact that Koufax was on the World Championship 1955 Dodgers but didn’t really come into his own as a pitcher until the early sixties.  You learned about the rules that governed bonus signings, how Koufax, by signing for a bonus, had to be on the major league roster for a designated period of time. 

This is what I’m talking about.  Have you listened to other announcers?  Do you think you would have learned any of this?  Do you think these other announcers would know how to use the Dalai Lama in a sentence?  We Mets fans are a privileged group.  We know and understand more about baseball because we get to listen to this kind of commentary. 
 
One thing I love about Gary, Keith, and Ron is that they’re all knowledgeable, but they know different things because of the different perspectives from which they’ve experienced the game.  Ron, of course, can give you a seminar on pitching, just as Keith can on hitting.  But I get a great vicarious pleasure out of how Gary can answer Ron and Keith’s questions about things like when Jon Matlack joined the team, or which minor player broke up which almost Mets no-hitter.  Only a lifelong Mets fan like Gary would know these things.  You see how these former Mets need us, to teach them about the Mets.  It is in the memories of the fans that the Mets exist. 

This, fundamentally, is why Gary, Keith, and Ron are so important.  They shape the experience we are now having of the New York Mets.  What they are showing us is what will become our memories.  Can you imagine what your memories would be like if they had not been shaped by the likes of Ralph, Murph, Gary, and Howie? 

Just as the announcing is great, the dynamic of this team is very entertaining.   Representing the Mets fan, Gary is charmingly nerdy.  He has arched eyebrows and a crooked mouth and he makes little jerks of his head, at the very top of which is just a little tuft of hair.  He doesn’t actually look like George Clooney, as you might have expected from listening to his magnificent voice.  He’s the responsible one, who keeps things moving, who keeps things solid, even though he can also be moved to lyricism.  If Nelson Figueroa starts an April game, Gary will tell us that “as a fog descends, a spectre from the past takes the mound at Shea.”  Gary has a relaxed, respectful rapport with Ron Darling, who is, as he’s always been, impossibly cool, but in a refreshingly accessible way.  Darling shows you that jocks can be as wonky as fans, but even more sophisticated than newscasters.  I’ve never seen a player in the booth as good as Darling.  No one ever has.  It’s as if Christy Mathewson had gone into broadcasting.  He probably doesn’t like the awe he inspires in people, with his looks, his name, and his talents.  And this is probably why he’s so self-effacing.  It’s as if he’s saying, hey, this is just what I am.  I’m relaxed, so you relax. 

In this trio, Keith’s role is to be a little bit of the class clown, who can shrug and make fun of himself, who throws Tootsie Rolls out of the booth, who will complain about a long promo being like a novella, who will let the Mets have a day to honor his moustache, who is willing to serve as the spokesman of a company that sells the hair dye he uses.  He’s a middle-aged version of the guy you see on the Seinfeld episode.  He has this way of asking funny questions.  He doesn’t seem to pick up on everything right away.  Whoever made those wonderful cartoon ads for Gary, Keith, and Ron got this dynamic perfectly.  Keith would ask Ron Darling if pitching was all in the arm.  And Ron would play around with him in answering, with a little bit of mockery, but with a lot of respect and affection.  

The spirit of these three is perfectly evident in the way they look when you suddenly see them all together on Post-Game Live.  Are they looking great in their suits or is it goofy matching t-shirt day?   They look as if they’re going to be serious but they also look as if they think there’s something very funny about it being Post-Game Live again.  And there is, especially if they have to squeeze together for the camera in the t-shirts, with Gary between the sky blue or black or white matching guts of the athletes.  As Gary offers his overview of the game, Ron nods as if he agrees and as if he’s waiting to say something really important.  Keith nods too, but with a little smile, as if he’s trying to keep it under control.  Gary turns it over to Ron, who offers his sage perspective.  Ron gives it back to Gary, who moves things forward to the next game detail so that Keith can talk about it.  Keith offers his insight, usually talking to the little screen on which the replay prompt is playing instead of talking to the camera as he’s probably supposed to.  Keith often says really insightful things, but he rarely if ever says them with the authority Darling musters so easily.  Although he’s older, Keith almost seems like a little brother in relation to Ron.  This impression is reinforced by the fact that Darling looks and sounds a little like Wally Cleaver.  Keith, you realize, is the Beaver.  He means well, but he has a tendency to get into trouble.  And with his paternal voice and his bemused curiosity about what’s going on up there in the boys’ room, Gary Cohen is like Ward Cleaver.

That’s what they feel like to me.  They’re like a family you’ve known a long time.  Gary, Keith, and Ron feel like brothers who are a lot of fun and from whom you’ve learned so much.  You want to be with them, as much as you can, as long as you can.  What you hear most often, when Mets fans talk about this TV team, is the hope that they’ll be with us for many years, as Murph and Kiner were.  You yearn for this kind of stability, through decade after decade, just as you’d like to have it in your life and family.  These guys give us something that we don’t want to live without.  They give us a sense of being at home with the Mets.  They give us comfort, knowledge, and enthusiasm.  They give us a sense that rooting for the Mets is something that an intelligent adult would want to do.   

Gary, Keith, and Ron keep alive the smart, funky flame of Mets fandom, something that came into being in the crazy sixties and promises to continue into the next century.  I am at home in the place they’ve made for me.  I would really rather not have to watch a Mets game anywhere else.  Ever.
 

[Gary, Keith, and Ron have a great new project.  Watch for an announcement about it soon.]
 

Still Not Getting a Read

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I’m still not getting a read on this season.  No one is.  I’ve seen uneven Mets seasons before, I’ve seen bad games follow good games and vice versa, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a season in which absolutely superb and absolutely lousy games follow each other day after day after day for such a long stretch. 

By the way, if you’ve never seen me read from my own work, please check out this video of a reading I gave of pieces from Mets Fan at the Chappaqua Library in Westchester:

Mets Fan Reading 

 

Take This Week

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Nobody has a read on this season yet.  Do you want to try to see if you can get a read on a week of the season?  Consider this past week.  Last Tuesday, David Wright wins an exciting game for us in the eleventh with this wonderful, old-fashioned increasingly rare baseball thing called a clutch hit.  Then we get clobbered to the point of absurdity by one of the worst teams in baseball.  Our next game is a gem, a perfect-in-every-respect victory against what may be the best team in baseball.  The next day our relievers get jumped on and we suffer another double-digit loss.  The day after that, we pull out a close beautifully-pitched game with three runs in the ninth.  The next game is blown as Ollie Perez gives up a home run to everyone who wants one.

Remember how last year was so maddening because there would be a good stretch and then a bad stretch and then a good stretch and then a bad stretch, etc?  This year is like that too, except this year the stretches are nine innings long. 

Choose whatever tired metaphor you want:  see saw, roller coaster, Jekyll and Hyde, Abbott and Costello.  Personally I run out of metaphors when I look at the Mets.

I just look and I watch and I sit there and I don’t know.  I say that I’m just going to have fun.  And maybe I will.  I’m just not entirely sure at this point what I am supposed to be having fun about. 

An Afternoon in April

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

 

I went to one of the worst baseball games of my life yesterday.  I’m not going to get too excited.  I don’t think that game was typical of anything.  If I thought it was, I’d stop writing this blog right now and tell you all to find something else to do with your time.

It was a lot of fun when I got there.  The field level seats were filled with kids who all seemed genuinely happy to be in the stadium.   It was something called Cyberchase Day and there was a person and a purple character who looked suspiciously like the Phillie Phanatic.  They were on the field and the kids were shouting answers to questions they were asking.  When this little performance was over, the kids went way the hell upstairs without any apparent resentment.  They were what used to be called “Midget Mets.”  I was once a Midget Met, as I’m sure many of you were.  The name always made me think of the Munchkins.  I don’t think they call them Midget Mets anymore, but that’s still what they are, kids who can’t believe their luck to be at Shea stadium for an afternoon game for free.

The game was delayed by a water main break, of all things.  When it finally began, the Midget Mets greeted the Pirate batters in the top of the first with the most sustained unprompted chants of “Lets Go Mets!” I’ve heard in a long time.   I remembered my first baseball games and how hoarse I was by the end of them.  These kids gave Wright and Reyes the same unclouded love I gave to Jim Hickman and Tim Harkness.  I thought of how far this festival of children and cotton candy and foam fingers was from what I had been hearing about all week:  the crazed unhappy state of Mets fans, the frustrations of young men who, just beginning to feel stuck in stuff they hadn’t really bargained for, were booing men who made millions a year for not doing their job, not playing a game well enough to win it.

It was a perfect April afternoon:  bright, sunny, windy, and cool.  As I waited for the game to start, I had this April sense of nothing mattering much.  No mistakes could be fatal in this light.  No wrong turns were permanent.  No ruts were inescapable.  The Mets were in pretty good shape.  If they won today, they’d be 15-11 for April.  Not bad, even though they hadn’t really looked that good.  The kids contributed to the youthful feeling of the day.  They cheered and stayed hopeful, and they didn’t seem to be thinking at all about what they were demanding or about how disappointed they were going to be if they didn’t get it.  I found myself hoping that the Mets would give these kids over the next few decades something like what they had given me over the past few decades:  a sense of community, a sense of pride and hope, a sense that I was a little bit crazy for caring so much and hoping so much, a sense that I had to keep doing it because for all of the disappointments I had endured, the pleasure of the rarest sweetest reward would someday make it all worth it. 

You know all the rest.  The first boos I heard were when Castillo made his error.  The booing wasn’t as bad as I had feared, nor, to be honest were they as bad as the Mets might conceivably at a few points have deserved.  Very few people actually booed.  Very few ever do.  And for the most part it was like the guy a couple of seats over who booed because it was fun to be stupid and it made his girlfriend laugh.  When you finally saw the Pirates’ proud 13 balancing on our hapless, shameful 0, you heard more people booing, but it was exasperation, it wasn’t bitter or particularly cruel.

After a while, the only people left in the stadium were a few bemused thousands, friends talking to each other, enjoying the lazy absurdity you get at the tail end of a lost blowout.  It’s a weird state I’d seen before, festive in a backwards way.  The game is beside the point, the pain of loss is over, and the pleasure of being in the stadium is still there.  It was like some games I remember in the late ‘70s.  It was what the heck.  It was a rest from the pressure.

I don’t know what to tell you about the Mets after the first month.  I know they don’t look so hot, but they’re 14-12.  That projects to the familiar number of 88.  But surely some of our good players are going to wake up.  And really, anything can happen. 
 

Call me a loser.  Call me complacent.  Call me whatever you want.  I’m just going to watch and see what happens.  I’m cool.  I’m puzzled.  I’m okay.  You do what you want to do.  I’m going to have fun.