I just got an exceptionally civil e-mail from Jeff Pearlman that makes me feel like crap for having lost my temper in the post below. He says he’s a regular reader of my blog and that he actually enjoyed my bashing. That’s pretty classy, I suppose. I still didn’t like his piece in Sports Illustrated this week, and I still have the problems I said I have with his argument, metaphors, and word choice.
But the truth of the matter is that I don’t really detest The Bad Guys Won. I take that back. I enjoyed it very much when I read it, even if I found the prose overly fevered. The problem I have with the book, as I told Jeff, is that it has fixed an image of the 1986 Mets in people’s minds that may be true for all I know, but is at odds with my own loving sense of them. His image of a successful baseball team, in that book, has too much of an influence on our own idea of how the Mets should behave. As the kind of fan who likes a Carlos Delgado more than he likes a Lenny Dykstra, as the kind of fan who believes fervently that Mike Piazza should not have charged Roger Clemens on the mound, as the kind of fan who really doesn’t want to know the degree to which very good ballplayers may in fact be drunken, sexist bozos from time to time, I am going to continue to have a very seriously ambivalent attitude towards The Bad Guys Won until the end of my days.
I give Jeff Pearlman a lot of credit for writing to me. And I am not just making up with him because he said he just finished reading Mets Fan and loved it. I’m apologizing to him because I think that I charged the mound and I shouldn’t do that given how much I always criticize players for doing that kind of thing. In my defense, I’ll say that I get really sick and tired when people give up on the Mets and criticize them for a lack of grit, when people declare this season over, when people say that Mets history is a sorry story, when people don’t appreciate Mr. Met. Still, if I am Mr. kinder-and-gentler, Mr. don’t-boo-Mets, Mr. grit-is-overrated, I should keep my cool. At the core of the disagreement between me and Jeff Pearlman is a very serious question to which I don’t have the answer. Does it actually help every once in a while to charge the mound and throw the batting helmet? Does it help more to get pumped and pissed or steady and calm? How upset should a team and a fanbase be when the team loses? I’m not sure.
In any event, I tip my cap to Jeff Pearlman. He’s not an idiot. And even though I have serious problems with it, The Bad Guys Won is a good book and it is worth reading.