As late afternoon became early evening Sunday, I was bucking myself up for the challenge ahead, both the Mets' and mine. Theirs is the one that matters, winning enough games without losing so that they return to the playoffs and try to win a world championship. Mine is simply to show up and try not to be an impediment to their success.
Wow was it familiar. It's just about what I was doing at this time a year ago. A year ago there was some slight relief (pun not intended, though it should have been) with the Mets winning three straight in Miami. It didn't fool many of us who were fast gaining our degrees in collapsology. Trouble was surely lurking and it hopped right out from behind the bushes the second the Mets' charter landed at LaGuardia for their final seven games. Me, I rendezvoused with the team for the final five, four of which were abysmal and we know how that ended.
So here I am and here we are and, a few key differentiating details aside, it's basically the same thing all over again. Sunday was fifty-one weeks since the worst day in the history of Shea Stadium settled in our hair and rushed up our nostrils. We went through all of that anguish and all of that angst and all of our recovery efforts and all the rationalization we could muster just so we could get right back where we started from: trying to make the playoffs, trying to not miss the playoffs, trying our darndest to be there as much and as best we can.
What's that saying about doing the same thing, expecting different results and the definition of insanity? Never mind that now. It's too late. It's been too late as long as I can remember. If I could just slip the bonds of fanhood without a second thought, don't you think I would have long ago? No, this is the life I, like you, have chosen. I have chosen a life that inflicted upon me insane amounts of unhappiness fifty-one weeks ago and I've gone through every motion possible just to arrive back at potentially the exact same precipice.
Except this time I'm determined to go the final seven games of the year, not just five (having already been to the previous eight which, virally speaking, literally sickened me). And if things go as wrong as they possibly can, it will turn a sweet-sorrow parting into the most bitter ballpark funeral I can imagine.
Hence, I'd appreciate it from my friends in Mets uniforms if they could build leads and hold them this week, if they could find a way to win far more than they lose and for their counterparts in management to not make me sorry I've been looking so forward for so long to so much.
Is it really so much to ask for?
As for the ancillary issues connected to the final seven regular-season lines of The Log:
1 win in the next 4 games clinches a winning record against the Cubs. (Current: 10-7)
2 wins in the final 3 games clinch a winning record against the Marlins. (Current: 16-16)
3 wins over the Marlins would make them the second-most oft-beaten opponent in Log history. (Braves: 20)
2 losses to the Marlins (shudder) would mean a losing record against every current divisional opponent. (Braves: 20-23; Phillies: 18-21; Nationals: 6-8)
4 wins are needed for the most in one season. (2001: 23)
6 wins in the final 7 games would put the final Log record at 40 above .500. (Currently: +35; Highest previously: +38 on 6/21/02 and 7/26/02)
2 Santana starts and 1 Pelfrey start would put 10 in The Log for 2008 for each of them, tying for the most by any one starter in any one year. (Leiter in 2001)
2 more games attended will bring the 2008 total to an all-time high of 39. (2001: 38)
4 more games attended will mean I've attended a majority of the home schedule in 2008.
5 more games attended will bring The Log's regular season total to 400 lifetime.
4 games attended against the Cubs will signify the only complete four-game series ever attended.
2 wins will clinch a .500 season. The Mets need more than that for their own survival, but if I were to finish 22-22, it would be quite familiar. My record was .500 in '83, '84, '86, '91, '92, '94, '95, '96, '03 and '04.
A win Friday would snap a Friday losing streak of five consecutive games dating back to 9/14/07, the first night of The Collapse. Friday is the only day of the week without a win recorded in The Log in 2008.
If I don't focus on the minutiae, the big picture might strangle me alive.
It occurs to me that with the last two losses in Atlanta, our record fell to 86-69, which was either intentional so as to inspire great championship luck or a subliminal way to sell remaining $869 seat inventory.