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Never Say Die, Always Say Hope

The Mets never say die, but sometimes they die anyway [1]. They won’t say die for the next 45 games but I suspect what remains unspoken will occur more or less half the time no matter their best intentions.

Of the choice between “more or less,” more would certainly be preferable. When a team that isn’t supposed to be very good flirts with a winning record, you hate to see that marker fall away. Play like they did for most of this homestand (save for about five innings when their reluctance to die meshed with a refusal to lose), and we’ll have a hard time remembering the Mets were several games over .500 at one point relatively late in 2011.

Hopefully it won’t come to that. Hopefully the Mets who made us hopeful will give us a statistically substantive souvenir to take into that gaping maw that opens wide when the next 45 games are over. Hopefully this team that is currently one game under .500 for the year can go three games over .500 for the remainder of the season and finish with more than 81 wins. Hopefully those of us with notoriously sticky memories [2] won’t be trying to convince the rest of you that those 2011 Mets played better than their record for the ages indicates.

The Mets never say die, but I say hopefully quite a bit.

Hopefulness is a preoccupational hazard of being a Mets fan, given all the hope you allow to fill you in your ruminatory interludes. Even when the Mets are hopeless, you are hopeful. Or you hope to be hopeful. That’s about all we had in 2009, where there wasn’t anything in front of us to make us hopeful after 117 games. That’s probably also about all we had in 2010, when our legitimate modicum of hope (we were eleven games over. 500 once; you could look it up [3]) had turned to tatters after 117 games.

This here, after 117 games of 2011, permits greater, deeper hope. Sure, we’ve dropped eight of eleven, and yeah, an offense- and defense-challenged matinee is not much of an advertisement for short-term enthusiasm as the Mets wing their way west, but you can’t deny the hopefulness the Mets have brought us. Maybe it won’t yield the most pleasing of results over the course of the remainder of 2011, but at some indeterminate date to be named…you’ll be able to hope and not feel like a dope.

Are the Mets building a surefire contender for 2012? Many roster machinations await before one can dare to formulate any kind of remotely accurate answer, so I’ll pass on predicting. Yet if playing the game admirably counts for anything, they’re going in the right direction. Granted, a close contest decided on a pickoff attempt that didn’t become a pickoff and an E-6 that should have been a third out isn’t the best symbol for Baseball Like It Oughta Be, but I am…yes…hopeful that type of stuff, as shepherded by a diligent manager and monitored by a sensible front office, will work itself out.

Despite intermittent bouts of frustration that come from rooting for  a .500-ish team, I try to remember that all I asked out of this bunch when the season was young [4] was that they keep hustling, keep charging, keep trying. They’ve been pretty good about keeping their end of the bargain. The bottom-line satisfaction’s been sporadic — and it shouldn’t utterly demoralize us if their final record lands north of 2009’s 70-92 but south of 2010’s 79-83 — but you can’t help but appreciate the overall effort. If you can’t revel in a team in contention, the next best thing if relishing a team that almost always plays like it thinks it is.

The Mets never say die. Someday they won’t die nearly as often, either. Maybe some of these Mets will still be some of those Mets when that day comes.

Of that, too, I am hopeful.