Being a Mets fan lends itself to a certain pessimism — Tug McGraw’s “YA GOTTA BELIEVE!” always struck me as more of a desperate entreaty than a statement of confidence. But this stretch? This is as bad as it gets to be a baseball fan. If Phil Cuzzi doesn’t vapor-lock last week, we’re 0-8 since the break. 0-8, Jesus. Betcha never thought 1-7 would be lucky.
When your team’s winning, you become happily distracted. Being a fan sits lightly on your shoulders: Hey, lookit that, we won! Got scary there for a moment, but it all turned out great! Wheee! Winning is fun! When you’re losing here and there, either getting better slowly or steadily or puttering around at .500, losses hurt but don’t strike you to the quick: You won one yesterday or the day before that and you’ll win one tomorrow or the day after that, so there’s no reason to get too worked up.
But every now and then, your team’s not just losing but flat-lining. And then every game hurts. Every opposing run hurts. Every half-inning where nothing happens hurts. Every out hurts. Every called strike hurts. Everything that happens shoves you down deeper into the muck and mire of hopelessness. The team is incapable of winning, of getting a run, of getting a hit, of working a good count. They will never, ever win again.
This is one of those times. And there is no end in sight.
But “no end in sight” is what defines these times. It isn’t actually true that the Mets will never win again, of course. It never is. The Mets will win again, will even get on a roll again, and our step will grow light and lively.
But when that happens, we’ll look ahead without any illusions about 2010. I’m not saying the year is a failure, by any means. The Mets have been reassured about David Wright and Jose Reyes returning to form, seen Angel Pagan emerge as a player to build around, been shown enough by Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese and R. A. Dickey and Ike Davis to feel optimistic about their futures, and have raw but promising young talent to further develop in Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada and Jenrry Mejia. That makes 2011 look a lot brighter than I could have imagined in March, and that’s a victory.
But 2011 won’t help the rest of 2010. And this team can’t hit with any consistency and can’t win on the road. The division’s gone, the wild card’s slipping away, .500 is a rapidly approaching floor that’s about to be a ceiling. It’s not a disaster, but it sure is a shame.