Archive for February, 2009

The Mood of the Mets Fan

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Why is no one in a bad mood?

I am an enthusiastic person. Sometimes I lose patience with people who make themselves miserable with baseball. Baseball is a happy thing and if it makes us unhappy there is something wrong with us.

Still. Aren’t there perfectly legitimate reasons for Mets fans to be unhappy right now? What could have been more excruciating than the last three weeks of each of the past two seasons? Think once again of the fearful symmetries. A seven-game lead with seventeen games to play. A three-and-a-half game lead with seventeen games to play. Falling one game short each time. Two rotten Sundays following two spectacularly redemptive Saturdays. Think of it. Dwell on it. We wouldn’t have to be jerks or fools to be unhappy.

But we’re not unhappy.

I’m not entirely sure why we’re not. But we’re not. Do you want me to say that it’s because the Mets improved their bullpen in the off-season and that they’re all involved in what we’re being told is Jerry Manuel’s new team-first philosophy? Please don’t expect me to say that it’s because over the past two days we wiped the floor with the Orioles and the Marlins and Luis Castillo has come all the way back.

These aren’t the reasons. The Mets routinely enter the new season with a major off-season improvement. Team-first philosophies are nice, but to me it looks like one of these things they make up so that there is something to report (what philosophy is it replacing?). Clobbering the Orioles and Marlins was nice but it’s all just February fairy dust.

We’re happy because we’re excited. And we’re excited, in part, because we’ve been through hell. We are used to the idea that we can lose what we thought we had. We know what this is like and we know that we can survive it. Now that we have the sense that nothing worse can happen to us than what has already happened, we are amazed to realize that something different could happen.

I am struggling to understand the logic or at least the psychology of my absolute belief that what just happened will not happen again. Is this just me? I don’t think so. I sense (sense!) a relaxed optimism in my fellow Mets fans. The past two years, I think, have helped us to grow up. Like adults, we’re hardened, but also more relaxed. Our hope is not the innocent hope that can’t stand to be thwarted. We know what can happen. We have faith in Jerry Manuel. We have faith in the maturity and discipline of our team. We believe. We are too smart to expect. And although I never thought I’d admit this, I think we also have a new sense of possibility that comes from new surroundings. I still can’t believe Shea is gone. But I am excited and curious about Citifield. You know what some people say about replacing the hardwood floors with the Tuscany tile.

Maybe I’m fooling myself. I’ve fooled myself before and so have you. That’s what this whole game is about: the pleasure of fooling ourselves. But what allows us to fool ourselves is the fact that we know that sometimes it happens. Sometimes you sense it and you’re not wrong. In his lyrical little piece at the start of the ballgame, Gary Cohen expressed it this afternoon. We’re here together again, hoping to have a memorable summer and a magical fall.


My New Book: The Last Days of Shea

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I am pleased to announce that I have signed the contract and submitted the complete manuscript of my new book, The Last Days of Shea.

The book will be published this year (I will keep you posted as to exactly when) by Taylor Trade Publishing, a division of the Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group.  Taylor Trade Publishing is a major publisher of excellent books about sports and other non-fiction topics.  Their books are found in every bookstore.  If you’re not familiar with Mets Fan, you can read reviews, samples, and a table of contents by clicking on this link.  It can be purchased online or through its publisher, McFarland and some bookstores have it and all bookstores can order it. 

The Last Days of Shea focuses on a fan’s relationship to a baseball stadium, a team, and the community of friends, family, and strangers who follow the team and come to the stadium.  It addresses what fans feel when a stadium is torn down, and when a team satisfies and disappoints.  It is a funny and philosophical consideration of the ways in which people make baseball, a baseball team, and baseball stadiums into a part of their lives.  It has stuff about the Beatles and Billy Joel, the 1964-65 World’s Fair, the passage of time, the nature of family life, and the economics and psychology of baseball.  It also has more loving detail about the experience of going to a game at Shea stadium and more excruciating detail about the 2007 and 2008 seasons of the New York Mets than you ever thought you would want to read in your whole life.  I hope you’ll like it.  If you liked Mets Fan, you’ll probably like it.   If you haven’t read Mets Fan yet, I humbly suggest that you go and get a hold of it.  It’s now in a lot of libraries and of course you can always buy it.   

Shea is now gone from our lives.  If you can’t handle it, I suggest that you stay away from the Whitestone Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway for the time being.  All I can hope is that many of you will feel, when you read The Last Days of Shea, that I have done what little I can to bring it back to you.