There’s always something about guys who get up off the scrap heap, guys who get themselves right into the thick of things when they weren’t even on the periphery when the season began.
Coming off of the scrap heap gives players an appealing humility. Look at how it has softened Sheffield, how it has given him a maturity he probably could have used earlier. Look at how much fun it is to watch Santos emerge. When they interview him, he gives the impression of someone who never gave up on himself, even though he had every reason to. He believed and now things are happening as he had hoped and now we get to watch him pump his fist in the air when he wins the game in the eleventh.
Guys like this give flavor to a season. When a team is weakened by injuries, as the Mets have been, fans can lose hope and interest. They can feel that they’re not watching their team. But players like Santos and Sheffield make a team new. They renew the fan’s interest, and the team’s dynamic. You always need novelty in baseball. All of the games greatest pleasures (and pains) come from the unexpected.
We’re enjoying this season, aren’t we? The nuttiness and the disappointments are going to continue. But our starting pitching, except for Perez, is falling into the groove of “even better than expected.” Our relief pitching brings relief. The lack of home runs is almost funny at this point. We are winning ballgames. We are 18-8 in May. And although we’ve been hit hard by injuries, nothing is collapsing. Instead we have new guys to root for and new things to enjoy. As Mets fans in this century, we spend so much time worrying and complaining. I’m just going to take this moment to kvell. We’re not out of the woods yet. These are the Mets, they never get out of the woods. I’m not even going to be unduly optimistic. But I am enjoying these games.
I’ve finally finished putting up my website with samples for my forthcoming book, The Last Days of Shea: Delight and Despair in the Life of a Mets Fan. Please check out the site. It has links if you’d like to pre-order the book from the publisher or from Amazon. The book is scheduled to be published in September, but it is likely that it will be available in August. I’ll let you know as soon as I know something definite. Ignore what it says about January on the Amazon site. That has to do with the date on the catalog it will appear in. The book will be out this summer.