Lily Tomlin once wondered “what it would be like if we all became what we wanted to be when we grew up. I mean, imagine a world filled with nothing but firemen, cowboys, nurses and ballerinas.” In that fanciful spirit, imagine a world based entirely on the things we’ve seen in Spring Training.
The Mets hardly ever win.
The Mets hardly ever hit.
The Mets hardly ever heal.
With childlike wonder, we believe these trends — manifesting themselves in games that have never counted, don’t count now and will never count — represent the reality we are certain will always exist. We’ve been watching this particular spring’s baseball for a little more than two weeks, thus making it the only baseball we know.
It does quite the number on our highly impressionable psyches.
First we grow restless from the lack of winning, the lack of hitting and the lack of healing. Then we grow discontented, filling our minds with every conceivable form of Met anxiety. Then we grow a bumper crop of dubious assumptions (such as only Scott Hairston can replace Andres Torres and nobody can truly replace Scott Hairston, ergo we are irreversibly screwed) in the space where our long-term memory of previous springs’ chimeras ought to go. We forget that in other years when Met Marches were clunky, it didn’t much matter…and that in other years when Met Marches were smooth, it didn’t much matter, either.
Then we grow out of it, generally at a point between the last approving mention of “the berm” and the moment the Shea family presents our manager with a floral horseshoe of good tidings for what lies ahead. What lies immediately behind will be forgotten so completely that when next spring rolls around, we won’t remember any of it and we’ll go through the same mental machinations all over again.
Which, of course, is why fans need Spring Training just as much as the players.