Eight years ago today, Faith and Fear in Flushing took flight. We’re still aloft. The Mets were taking off for the sky on February 16, 2005. These days they’re learning to crawl.
Time’s flight has been steadier than that of the Mets’ ascent, which stopped cold on a called strike three that I couldn’t have fathomed would mark the peak altitude for the Mets Jason and I began blogging 20 months earlier. I can’t believe the Mets didn’t win the pennant (and the World Series) in 2006. I also can’t believe the Mets didn’t make the playoffs in 2007 (and 2008). But if I’m honest with myself, I can’t believe the Mets soared as high as quickly as they did following our 2005 launch given how crummy they were from 2002 through 2004.
That’s a lot of not believing for a fan of a team in whom, by custom, you gotta believe. Yet 2005 to 2008, the salad days for Faith and Fear, were halcyon days for us as Mets loyalists compared to the four seasons of nosedive that followed. There were moments to treasure between 2009 and 2012 — there are always instances that transcend the depths of a given campaign, as anyone who’s read The Happiest Recap could tell you — but boy, oh boy, was the prevailing context a tough thicket to negotiate. I’ve spent the first halves of the last four seasons not quite accepting whatever good Met fortune was transpiring before my disbelieving eyes and all four second halves dutifully documenting how that tenuous progress had evaporated upon re-entry into the atmosphere.
But I can’t stress this enough: we were there to watch it burn up. We watched the Mets go to hell in 2009; make a return trip in 2010; go back to find the jacket they apparently left behind in 2011; and treat it like a timeshare in 2012. The Mets have made a late-summer home in hell these past four seasons, and Faith and Fear has been on top of every baseball day of it.
I’m strangely proud of that. It’s easy enough to check out when August and September become choke points on the calendar. Many Mets fans — bloggers and non-bloggers alike — swear they throw up their hands rather than throw up something worse as one dispiriting loss becomes a losing streak…which becomes a losing month…which becomes a losing record. But I swear faithfully (if occasionally fearfully) that I’m here: keeping tabs, watching closely, listening hard, giving it as much thought as it takes to glean something out of close to nothing so we harvest as much digestible fruit off the Met vine as possible.
Why? Because it’s what I do.
Probably the nicest thing a reader said to us in our eighth season of blogging was this, after yet another deflating September 2012 loss:
It’s amazing to me that with the incredible glut of horrific, unwatchable and indescribably boring games that you guys keep coming up with interesting posts. Seriously, you guys are having a Dickey-like experience. You keep winning despite this terrible team. Kudos!
Granted, a comment like that carries a very different emotional resonance than one that appeared on our site the morning of October 20, 2006, hours after that called strike three…
Brilliant as always. Poignant as expected. Well done. This goes for the 2006 Mets as well. Ya know, if I didn’t read about the exploits of my beloved Mets on FAFIF, it’s like it never happened. Thanks for a fantastic season, guys. (You too, Mets.)
…but I think each sentiment speaks for what we do here. High times and low, we do with this team all that we can. Maybe it involves the Mets as they valiantly fall one unhittable curveball from greater glory, maybe it involves the Mets as they trudge on and on until we wish they’d just trudge off a cliff already, but we’re with them in our own way and we don’t depart.
I was wondering yesterday on the eve of this anniversary if instead of 2005, Jason had asked me if I wanted to start a blog about the Mets in 2013. This time we wouldn’t have the promise wrought by the splurge that brought Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran to our shores and we wouldn’t be bolstered by having consumed a significant taste of the talents young Jose Reyes and David Wright had already exhibited. Instead, we’d be coming off a winter when R.A. Dickey was traded and no desperately needed outfielder in his obvious prime was acquired, whatever the means necessary to have done it. Yeah, there’d be one young pitcher we salivated over for a few starts the year before, another we’d been assured will be even better than that guy and a catcher capable of making trading the Cy Young winner seem like a bargain. But there’d also be an ownership not necessarily capable of doing anything that pushes the team from a maybe to an almost-definitely — and in real time, we’re not nearly assured of “maybe” territory yet; we’re maybe “maybe,” at best.
Having watched the unwatchable and described the indescribable as a matter of horrific course in terms of the four seasons that have withered and died on us (never mind the unhappy endings attached to ’08, ’07 and ’06), I can’t honestly say for sure that non-blogger me would be dying to jump in cold in 2013. Who would root limply through the belief-draining second halves of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and volunteer, “You know what I want to do? I want to write about this team every darn day that it plays!”
Then again, who am I kidding? The Mets lost 88 games last year on top of losing 85 the year before, pausing in between to let my favorite player leave as a free agent. Sound bad? Shoot, the Mets lost 91 games in 2004 on top of losing 95 the year before — and those were seasons played out in what were also sold as the gateway to a potentially brilliant new era (they all are)…oh, and they let my favorite player from just prior to that period walk as a free agent. Yet there we were, on February 16, 2005, ready to go, not knowing what Pedro had left from Boston or if the Carlos of Houston could possibly be the Carlos of New York or how far David and Jose had to go to live up to our burgeoning expectations, never mind the usual questions about a miserable bullpen (et al) and an ownership that hadn’t noticeably distinguished itself to date, checkbook availability or not.
Of course we’d start blogging now if we hadn’t already. I was Mets-miserable for most of 2003 and 2004, and I was on board the first day of Spring Training in 2005. The Mets were Mets-miserable all kinds of years and dispatches from St. Pete/St. Lucie beckoned regardless the following Februarys. If the technology existed in 1978, I’d have blogged those Mets from the first of their 66 wins to the last of their 96 losses and been gladly back for more in mind-shatteringly abysmal 1979.
This Metsian blog turns eight today, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been a Mets blogger all my life. I was born this way and I’m still this way. So whether we’re in for a “fantastic season” or an “incredible glut of horrific, unwatchable and indescribably boring games,” Flight FAFIF continues aloft. As a dependably friendly voice was careful to remind us from the cabin, fasten your seatbelts.