Hey, Jace, isn't this the March conversation? The one in which I'm all “Who the bleep are these guys calling themselves Mets? I don't think I'm going to be able to get behind them as I have every April since I was 7”? And you tell me, no, of course you will…and I generally fall in line.
Now you, dear blog brother, are having these doubts in the dog days of August? That's a hoot.
A mighty familiar hoot, too. I've been feeling the same way, that I haven't been feeling the Mets. The lumbering performance has been a big reason, but personality has factored in, too. Who the bleep are these guys who have been calling themselves Mets?
You know how many individual Mets I've been into this year in that “I can't wait to see him do his thing” way? One. Reyes. He's it. He's been disappointing (in relation to Jose '06 and Hanley '07), but he's far and away my favorite. My only favorite.
Beltran's still my distant second-place favorite. Of all the “I wish he'd break out” stars on this team, he's the wishiest. A great Beltran is worth more than a great anybody. Last night he gave yet another hint that he's MVP-in-exile. I wish he'd offer more than hints. He's nothing like Reyes as a personality (so says my deeply informed perspective of watching from a distance), but I admire the way he carries himself. I just wish he'd carry himself into a dazzling hot streak.
I don't think I've had a third-favorite Met in 2007. Ollie was my wild card early. I get a huge kick out of him when he's on. When he's off, he's just wild. I do like his zest for pitching, however.
When the world was young, of course, there was Endy. I really miss him. It's been too long.
That's basically it. There are a lot of guys I like and respect and root hard for. There's nobody I hate. But there's also nobody else with whom I really identify or for whom I can claim a solid 2007 kinship.
Wright? Heresy here, but I've never completely climbed aboard the Wrightwagon with ten toes. It's bugged me ever so slightly all along how he was the anointed one after no more than a half-season, how I showed up on Opening Day 2005 and there were crisp white Wright shirts everywhere. It's probably my Reyes bias showing and my dismay that some idiot higher-up in the Mets' front office actually referred to our David as “our Jeter”. Ugh. I'm deep enough to admit that I'm shallow enough to look past that when he's blazing with the bat. Sometimes I'm that easy. I never said I was as deep as Atlantic Monthly. If Wright hits (and he has a good bit lately), I'm as big a sucker for this guy as anybody.
Delgado? Delagdo was a sterling veteran sage last year. This year he's mostly one long slump who doesn't make himself available to reporters every night.
Lo Duca? The more I think about the raging eyeballs and getting himself thrown out of that game against Oakland, the more I think he's not using that thing under his helmet and behind his mask…his head. It's cute once in a while when he morphs into Paulie Go Nuts, but he really seems to let himself get the best of himself.
Maine? A good pitcher struggling to become great. A quiet fellow. Not enough there to get me excited when he's not mowin' 'em down.
Wagner? I get a big kick out of him and he's the only Met of substance having a far better than 2007 than 2006. But he gives me the impression he'll turn on a dime if he ever has two bad outings in a row. Too touchy for my tastes, though I suppose it comes with the hard-throwing closer territory.
Gotay? Nice contribution from someone I wasn't counting on. Then he became the cause of the year — why don't they play Gotay more? Because he can't turn a double play. It's less Gotay that doesn't thrill me than the aura that's attached itself to him.
Alou? Gone too long. He's in the wholehearted admiration category for now — until he swings at a first pitch and doesn't drive it (swinging at the first pitch and driving it as he did Tuesday night in Pittsburgh…that's fine).
Green? He's doing just a little less than I expected this year, which shows my expectations were pretty low. Thus, I'm kind of in this “it's not his fault he is who he is” forgiveness mode for Green. I won't deny external factors make me a wee bit protective of Shawn, but his RBI total keeps me from getting all Orthodox about it.
Glavine? We've been through this enough. Hell, he's actually moving up the charts.
Feliciano? I liked him a lot even if he was only in there for a batter or two. Say, whatever happened to him?
Pelfrey? Gads, what a disappointment.
Castro? How into a backup catcher can you be?
DiFelice? Like I said…
Castillo? His value, besides the occasional bunt and generally sure glove, is Reyes seems to like him. But Reyes likes all his second basemen. That Reyes sure is a swell kid.
Heilman? He's forever Sherman from Peanuts, right down to way he sets his shoulder to pitch from the stretch and/or join in the Linus & Lucy dance.
Sosa? I've been known to fall for surprising middle relievers (Hausman, Mahomes), but it's only been a few outings.
Lawrence? Not picking him out of a crowd.
Mota? I don't hate him but I don't want him here.
Milledge? Once bitten, twice reserving judgment.
Gomez? Too soon to know.
Smith? I felt that way about him before I felt that way about Gomez.
Schoeneweis? The approval matrix is almost at “backlash to the backlash” at this point. But he's still Scott Schoeneweis.
Hernandez? Outta sight the nights he pitches. Out of sight, out of mind the rest of the time.
Sele? He suffers from being associated only with blowouts the Mets are almost sure to lose.
Easley? I had a fan-crush on him for about ten minutes when he was, not coincidentally, hitting home runs. I love listening to him explain his sporadically successful at-bats. The rest of the time, sadly, he's a 37-year-old journeyman.
Valentin? More or less Easley.
Anderson? Good to have him back. Good. Not great.
Newhan? Playing long-toss with Ricky Ledee, I hope.
Randolph? He deserves a mention here because a year ago I was impressed by his calm demeanor and stoic leadership, this year I think he's a stiff. How could the onetime second base great not go out and argue that horrendous call at second Tuesday night? When did this wretched “transfer” rule supplant common-sense umpiring? But back to Willie Randolph: From Hodges to Howe in one season? I hope not.
Pedro? He hasn't been a 2007 Met.
So buddy, you're not alone in loving the Mets for always yet only kind of, sort of liking the Mets who are Mets this year. Given the standings and the ability to maintain their position atop them despite the lock they've had on lackluster, maybe that makes us the ones who are unlikable.
Editor's Note: Comics maven and illustrator par excellence Jim Haines points out Sherman from Peanuts was better known as Shermy. To my own recollection of him as an Aaron-straight straight arrow with a more formal name, I say Good Grief!