Here's a memory for the Old Perfesser that seems all too appropriate:
Once upon a time you warned of Ron Swoboda, shortly after he was seen
hopping up and down in the Met dugout trying to get a stomped-on helmet
off his spikes, “He thinks he's being unlucky, but he's gonna be
unlucky his whole life if he don't change.”
We're 0-5. Oh and five .
I mean, for fuck's sake. The realists among us didn't think we'd win 90
games, but 81-81 seemed like a gimme, with a wild card an
if-everything-goes-right hope. Tonight, 0-6 and coming back to
Shea to a blast furnace of boos seems probable. And after that, who
knows? We could go 157-5, but that's clearly impossible. But I bet if
you tweaked OTB's offerings you'd find more than a few paranoid,
battered, terrified Met fans who wouldn't put any money on us going
1-161. This is a fan base hiding under its collective
bed. Not exactly what we had in mind with the “New Mets.”
I'm trying to be rational about this. The way I see it, a baseball team
is a beast that fires on, let's say, six cylinders. (No, I'm not gonna
name the cylinders. This is just for argument's sake, and anyway I'm
drunk.) Teams firing on five or six are unbeatable; teams firing on
four win more often than not; teams firing on three are .500 squads.
You can win by firing on two or even once in a great while on one
(think of the aforementioned Rocky Swoboda beating Steve Carlton with
two homers on a night Lefty struck everybody else out), but it's damned
difficult to do. And when multiple cylinders are busted and trailing
smoke, it's hard to do much of anything.
Which brings us to our not-so-amazing Mets. None
of our cylinders is trailing smoke — in fact, all have looked like
they're in impressive shape at various points in this young season.
Sometimes we've even brought a number of 'em online at the same time.
But we've also managed to find that exact combination of missing
cylinders to ensure a loss, and we've done so day in and day out. Bad
relief, bad defense, double plays, lame offense, bad calls, mental
lapses. Never all at once, so you turn off the radio with an annoyed
snap in the third inning and try to salvage your night, but enough of
them to ensure we lose every time out.
That's bad luck. Every baseball instinct I've honed over nearly two
decades of watching this game too often tells me it's that and nothing more. Bad
luck that's been cruelly magnified by coming at the beginning of a
season, but bad luck all the same. But despite the fact that I worship
at the altar of stats, baseball remains a game played by people, and
people are subject to any number of forces, including some that exist
nowhere except in their own heads. Which leads me reluctantly to ask,
“Hey Case — you saw a game or two in your day. Where does bad luck
stop and bad karma begin?”