- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love First Place

What were we even worried about? We can beat the worst team in the National League three in a row. And since everybody but us is pretty much the worst team in the National League, I think we can still project a 142-20 record [1]. Well, on nights like this, it feels like it will be 142-20, and Stephen Colbert would tell you to overlook mathematics because how it feels is what really counts.

It was a night to fret needlessly and drink beer in the upper deck. I did both with my friend Jon, a Mets fan who can be summed up in four words: He's one of us. I would know that even if I'd never met him because the damning evidence is right here [2].

Anyway, Jon and I hadn't taken in a game together at Shea in nearly two years. Then [3] it was an evening of Art Howe Must Go and Take Joe McEwing With Him. So much has changed.

Or has it?

Practically the first words out of Jon's mouth, maybe eight seconds after hello, were “I don't like Willie Randolph.” Not much later, I wondered when Carlos Delgado was going to start getting booed; I wouldn't boo him but I would understand if others are fed up by the way he continues to eat shift. We watched Cliff Floyd gather another ache and/or pain and Jon opined that Cliff overreacts. We agreed that we love him but I didn't disagree that he's a touch dramatic in his presentation. Neither one of us is a professional athlete, but we sure know how they feel, huh?

Elsewhere, Chris Woodward irked us, Aaron Heilman annoyed us, Eli Marrero got under our skin and Billy Wagner and his trumped-up, justly failed All-Star bid put us on perilous edge.

This is how two P1 Mets fans treat a team that never trailed and was in the midst of extending its divisional lead to a season-high 12-1/2 games. Our criticisms, sprinkled in among less pointed, more relaxed conversation, weren't bristling. It was just our Mets fan instinct kicking in. There's still enough 2004 and other such years stuck to our souls to betray dissatisfaction and expectation of imminent disaster. We assumed Joe Randa would do us dirt at any moment. We were ducking for cover from Ronny Paulino and Nate McLouth. We concluded that Armando Benitez and Billy Wagner were practically synonymous, except Armando didn't blow as many saves before September.

At the end, we were giddy and high-fived and that sort of thing, perfectly happy to have completely misread the team we obsess on 25 hours a day (which I assume is how long Jon's nights are since the May 12 birth of his son Ivan). I was even more perfectly happy around the fifth inning when Jon bought me a Bud Light in a blue aluminum bottle emblazoned with — and elevated by — a Mets logo. I don't really drink beer but I wanted the container for my BevMet collection.

“I'll just have a sip,” I thought. “I'll just have another.” As I tend to do with beverages, I just kept drinking until I was gulping. I've spent 17 years making my living in and around potable liquids, so I'm highly beverage-conscious. I no longer remember if I'm thirsty or just on a two-decade taste test. Whatever, I found myself downing the icy cold Bud Light in pretty short order.

To look at me you wouldn't know it, but I'm kind of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. So for about two innings, I was floating a tiny bit above the upper deck. Not crazy buzzed or anything, just a little less anchored than my public reserve normally dictates. I don't really drink beer, but I can sure see why others do.

The beer bliss has worn off but even Pedro's hip trip to the DL can't kill my baseball buzz. We root for a very, very good team. Rest assured, however, that people like Jon and I (and my co-blogger, natch) will by habit or impulse continue to put a damper on our own good times as the second half unfolds.

Guys like us, we have incredibly long memories but remarkably short attention spans.