You’ve all seen it: The fan who draws back from the bar or the TV with a look somewhere between shock and disbelief on his or her face, then gets it together and manages to mutter, “Oh man … THIS TEAM.”
If you’re true to the orange and blue, you’ve probably muttered that yourself a few thousand times in the last few years. You’ve probably also noticed the media and fans of other teams behaving like vultures, all too eager to broadcast the latest Mets-related disaster. You’ve probably gotten pissed off about this. And perhaps you’ve sworn that you’ll be less quick with the groaning and the muttering, determined to starve this particular narrative. Heck, it’s not like the Mets haven’t had company in their recent misery: The Yankees and Phillies saw playoff series end with sluggers taking called third strikes, while the Braves and Red Sox rolled into this year’s spring training not wanting to talk about stunning collapses. No other team’s financial foundation has been damaged by a white-collar criminal in quite the same way as Bernie Madoff, but the Rangers and Dodgers have been roiled by balance-sheet woes and ownership crises.
So no, we aren’t unique or alone.
But for all that, “Oh man … THIS TEAM.”
Johan Santana’s looked pretty healthy (though slow on radar guns) and Ike Davis seems to be both mobile and unaffected by Valley Fever, but everybody else seems ready for the knacker’s yard. Say temporary farewell to Scott Hairston, who’d been in Port St. Lucie about five seconds before succumbing to last year’s oblique injury. Say goodbye for now to Tim Byrdak, reduced to photobombing Facebook snaps of pissed-off people in hospital waiting rooms, as his torn meniscus will keep him out of action for four to six weeks. David Wright is in New York, getting an MRI for a rib-cage injury. Lucas Duda’s battled back problems. So has Danny Herrera. I can’t spell Kirk Neuwenhuis’s name without cheating, but “oblique” rattles off my keyboard thanks to long practice. I couldn’t pick Robert Carson out of a police lineup, but I know he’s been held back by an intercostal muscle, which I’ve never heard of and assume is one of those parts of the body that exists just to sideline baseball players. (See also: hamate bone.) And of course Reese Havens has shed a part or two somewhere along the way.
I know, it’s not yet St. Patrick’s Day. Injuries heal, the bad luck of March can be long forgotten by May, and the Mets likely won’t be as bad as all the hyenas out there seem to think. (Which isn’t the same as saying they’ll be good.) And soon we’ll have regular-season baseball back, which will be a boon and a blessing even if the DL’s more crowded than we’d like.
But guys in MRI tubes and under the knife and not on the bus … it’s an old, unwelcome refrain, and at this point I can’t blame my fellow Mets fans who look up and assume they’ll find a little black cloud sitting right overhead.
Nothing is forever, but oh man … THIS TEAM.