This here’s a jungle, ain’t no lie,
Look at the people, terror in their eyes.
Bad business comin’, can’t be denied,
They’re running with the dogs, afraid to die.
Beat the drum and hold the phone. The sun came out today. But the Mets refused to see their shadow.
Six more weeks of sucking? We’ll see.
The weather was better than what those of us who have schlepped to Shea in cold winds and under threatening skies had gotten used to this season. The weather was glorious, actually. The weather was everywhere. It was CW 11 Weather Education Day with Mr. G and Linda Church. I don’t know what that is, precisely, but it gets thousands of kids out of school and it happens every year at this exact juncture since 2007. I will never, ever forget the first CW 11 Weather Education Day with Mr. G and Linda Church. It was the day Carlos Delgado came up in the ninth and capped off a miraculous winning rally whose memory gives me chills while it envelops me in warmth.
It was so fucking long ago.
The just-completed seven-game homestand against the sincerely second-division Reds and Nats should disabuse us of the notion that Mets are a good team. They are not good. They’re not necessarily bad. I’d call them ungood.
Now you could have gotten warm and bothered about it on the first legitimate shirtsleeves afternoon of 2008. Or you could have removed your Starter satin jacket and your Cooperstown Collection hoodie and soaked up the sun and hoped for the best. Your hopes would come up a little shy in the baseball victory department but there was the sun and other reasons to be glad you were outside at a game, not inside at your computer.
I was at today’s game through the courtesy of Matt Silverman, whom you may remember from such excellent projects as Meet the Mets, Mets Essential and 100 Things Every Mets Fan Should Know & Do Before They Die. Matt scored field boxes for himself, me, his MTM co-editor Greg Spira and the incomparable author of Mets Fan Dana Brand. We were a quartet whose collective Met experience dates back, respectively, to 1962 (Dana), 1969 (me), 1973 (Greg) and 1975 (Matt). If you can’t have fun with all that Metsiana in the air — and the great weather — then you’re just a dolt.
But the bright sky and the loud kids and the heavy Metsian I.Q. and Gary, Keith and Ron peeking down from far over our shoulders and Mike Pelfrey bidding for immortality…it doesn’t disguise how ungood your 2008 Mets are. They’re just nothing special.
Maybe the tact to take is not to go nuts about it. Maybe the thing to do is accept their ungoodness and expect nothing more. I’m forty seasons into being a Mets fan. There were plenty of seasons when I thought maybe something good would happen, but anticipated little. Those were the teams I grew up on. ’69 was my entree but the real education came in ’70, ’71, ’72 when the Mets were also pretty ungood. Those Mets played a variation of the kind of game I saw today. Those Mets got effective, often awesome pitching and it would be undercut regularly by inept offense. They didn’t run themselves out of rallies because they rarely started rallies. But it was what it was and they were what they were.
We’re probably too sophisticated to laissez-faire away a .500ish team today. The .500ish team makes too much money to win barely more than they lose in our estimation. But the damn truth is that’s exactly what they do and their salaries aren’t going to change that. A new manager might. Sometimes a new manager does. Sometimes another team in the same division makes your own maneuvers moot. Should the Phillies or Braves or Marlins get legitimately hot for three weeks, and the Mets remain ungood, that may be it for the competitive portion of ’08.
And ya know what? Oh well. Seriously, oh well. I want the Mets to win as much as any Mets fan. I want the Mets back in the playoffs as much as any Mets fan. I want the Mets to win a third world championship as much as any Mets fan. Yet I sat back in the wake of my sunsplashed afternoon and pondered the 39 seasons that led me to the field level today. The successes have been sporadic. I come back anyway. After 13-1 drubbings, I come back not two weeks later first chance I get. After a 10-4 humiliation on an Arctic blast of a Monday night, I walk around on Tuesday thinking without an ounce of sarcasm, “Oh good, I get to go the game Thursday.”
Why should I let the Mets being ungood get in the way of my good time? Why can’t I just enjoy the final season of what I truly believe is the most beautiful place on earth if all you do is look at the field and the seats and the fences? Why can’t fun be fun in a world in which there is so little at large to feel cheery about?
I’m disgusted that the Mets lost 1-0.
I’m disgusted that Pelfrey’s finest outing was wasted.
I’m disgusted we’re still lacking that initial no-hitter
I’m disgusted that Reyes attempted to go first to third on a bunt.
I’m disgusted Reyes has devolved from shortstop gone wild to a showy Dick Schofield.
I’m disgusted Beltran was doubled off third.
I’m disgusted that Delgado is in a two-year slump and couldn’t pause it long enough to rekindle the magic of the inaugural CW 11 Weather Education Day with Mr. G and Linda Church.
I’m disgusted that Willie Harris isn’t turned back at the players entrance by security.
I’m disgusted that a last-place team just won three of four from our alleged contender.
I’m disgusted that in games started by Odalis Perez, Tim Redding and Jason Bergmann, the Mets scored all of seven runs.
I’m disgusted that Billy Wagner publicly sniped at several of his teammates afterwards.
I’m disgusted that several of his teammates absolutely earned Wagner’s wrath by apparently hiding from the press.
I’m disgusted that Willie Randolph manages like an NFL coach staring at one of those go-for-two/don’t-go-for-two cards.
I’m disgusted at the four years handed Luis Castillo and the deterioration of Aaron Heilman and everything else that disgusts us all.
I’m not made of cotton candy, for crissake. But I can’t stay disgusted for the last year of Shea Stadium, for my fortieth year of being a Mets fan. I like being a Mets fan too much.
The Mets are ungood. Maybe they’ll be better this weekend. That would be great.
Actually, that would be awesome.