- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Who, What, When, Where, Why

Replacing Gee in the rotation. The readiness of Harvey. Bay’s chances of making any kind of a contribution. Potential trades for bullpen help and catching depth.

Let others ask the fleeting questions. I have matters of a transcendent nature to mull.

Who, if anyone, will emerge as my favorite Met? The post has been vacant since the night of December 4, 2011 [1], and this isn’t one of those voids for which you can blame a dilly-dallying opposition party in Congress. I haven’t nominated anybody to succeed Justice Reyes. According to my files (or my t-shirt drawer), Ike Davis was supposed to be next in line, but I spent two months trying to send him to Buffalo, so he may not be buying into my fealty. I was very sweet on Ruben Tejada when I was touting him as the second baseman of the future in 2010, and I’m still quite fond of the lad, but I need some distance from the shortstop position. My current crush is Jordany Valdespin, but that could just be infatuation. I think I may be better off going with a team-first attitude in case I have to lean heavily on a given Met to get it together already yet. Let’s say I choose someone, and that someone screws up royally and I have to take him to task by yelling not very nice things at him through the television. “But I thought I was your favorite!” he might whine…which would be awkward. This way, it’s all business.

What will Citi Field feel like if there’s an actual important game there soon? All baseball games are important, but you know what I’m getting at. Post-Nohan, there was much buzz about how now it feels like the Mets’ ballpark, which is a pretty stinging indictment of whatever it felt like before. Whatever amped-up fun has unfurled since June 1 (and I sure did enjoy REO [2]), the stadium still hasn’t had a pennant race shake its bricks to its core. I can sooner imagine the Mets remaining competitive into September than I can the Citi Field seats being filled — and I mean staying filled by thoroughly engaged Mets fans for nine or more innings — while the Mets are competing. Watching the Home Run Derby from Kansas City and realizing the event will take place at our place next year, I found myself doubting the world would see a packed house in Flushing for this high-profile contest of skill, strength and…all right, I think the Home Run Derby outlived its usefulness after Ken Griffey hit the B&O Warehouse on the fly in 1993, but I imagine it’s pretty impressive to ogle over in person. The tickets will be sold, but how much wandering will the ticket-holders be doing? And will people sit still for the actual All-Star Game? But never mind that as much as this September when maybe, just maybe, actual regular Mets games will take on a high profile of their own. Do the people who are permitted to sit in those cushy green seats behind home plate know they can use them, and that by using them it will give them a unique close-up view of action the rest of might be craning our necks to see?

When can we feel safe that the Terrible Twos won’t get the best of 2012? Perhaps it’s the residual effect of being born under a 40-20 sign in 1962, but the Mets have never enjoyed a smooth ride through any of their seasons that have ended in a 2. Consider the starts and finishes of the years in question.

We’ll give 1962 a pass for being 1962, and 1972 at least hung in there to produce an overall winning record, but the last three 2s? Yeesh. Yeesh. And Yeesh. What 2012 might have going for it is the complete lack of expectations that 1982, 1992 and 2002 carried after the offseason acquisitions of George Foster, Bobby Bonilla and Roberto Alomar, to name those years’ three respective leading lights, made the Mets surefire favorites in the National League East. All hail Sandy for acquiring nobody of note last winter! Thus far, the high point for these Mets has been 31-23, three-way statistical tie for first. Since then, they’re an exciting (if deceptively indifferent) 15-17. A surfeit of air hasn’t been let out of the tire swing. Not even a slow leak. The Mets kind of bopped around contention viability as the second half commenced in a couple of the ultimately dreadful 2-years — that is to say it wasn’t inconceivable to see them making a run if you squinted as hard as you could — but anyone watching them knew they were just waiting to fall apart completely. I don’t know that at all in 2012. That’s progress.

Where the hell is summer going? It’s July 13! We’ve played half a season! The endless All-Star break is ending! This happens every year, yet I’ve never managed to nail down a satisfactory answer. Seventy-six games remain where 162 once did. It’s not really noticeable, but the days are growing incrementally shorter. The chill in the air that we put behind us as winter turned to spring? It will have the nerve to return before we know it. Also, there’s the little matter of my aging…my and everybody else’s, but mostly mine. Can’t wait for baseball to start again tonight in Atlanta, but cripes, then we’ll be down to 75 games left. And I’ll be one day closer to — as that band I’m always quoting [3] put it — younger than I’m gonna be, older than I used to be.

Why has this All-Star break been so dadgum long anyway? As long as I’d been following their every waking move, the Mets never weren’t back on the field by the Thursday after the Tuesday of the All-Star Game before 2006. That year they made us wait ’til Friday, but it was an anomaly. Other teams were back at it on Thursday, as were we from 2007 to 2010. Last year we had to wait until Friday again, but several games were on the docket for Thursday. This year…nothing going on for anybody two full days after KC. And this will keep up, as it’s written into the Basic Agreement between the players and owners that starting in 2013 and running through 2016 it’s a four-day break for everybody. Seems to have something to do with the realignment that will send Houston to the American League, inject Interleague games into daily life and — MLB being MLB — screw up schedules far and wide. One extra day off for those who actually work ball and not just play it would appear to be reasonable compensation for everybody’s troubles. But for those of us who more or less live to simply watch ball, phooey. Give us the baseball we have coming to us immediately…but please also keep it from slipping away so head-gosh darn quickly.