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

It’s Just Baseball

Seriously. It’s not your health, your kids, your marriage, your job. It’s something you use to entertain yourself for three hours a night, and maybe think about for a couple more hours for further entertainment. Part of the fun of baseball is agonizing over it, of course, but that agony’s supposed to be a temporary condition in service of a higher purpose — the salty tears of woe making the tears of joy sweeter, or some such cheerful bullshit.

If baseball’s making you honest-to-goodness miserable, walk away from it for a bit. Go to the movies, have a date night, read a book. Build a model ship in a bottle, if you do that. You do you. Baseball will take care of itself just fine while you’re gone. Afraid you’ll miss something spectacular? Should that happen, it’ll be on SNY at least 40 times a year. You’ll get an infinity of second chances.

Is this current run of astonishing futility — losing nine of 10, with R.A. Dickey [1] and the Nats threatening to make it 13 of 14 — agony in the pursuit of something sweeter? Probably not — most of the time we’re just kidding ourselves. But if you weren’t pretty good at talking yourself into things, you probably would’ve quit being a Mets fan by now. We’ve spent most of our lives in the desert talking about the couple of oases we stumbled across and a handful of mirages that looked pretty neat.

One problem with stretches is like this — besides the chronic unwatchable sucking, of course — is that it’s a reminder of the difference between tragedy and farce. Tragedy makes your endurance feel like heroism; farce all but dares you to admit you’re a mark.

Willie Mays [2] on his knees pleading in vain with umpires? Tragedy.

Jason Phillips [3] and Jay Bell [4] and Mike Glavine [5] impersonating a baseball team? Farce.

Daniel Murphy [6] following the best two series of his baseball career with one of the worst? Tragedy.

Whatever the hell it is we’ve been watching for the last two weeks? Farce. Definitely farce.

If you’re ever unsure about the nature of your current misery, there’s this: farce is almost always a collective effort. (Or conspicuous lack thereof.)

Imagine I met you at Citi Field tomorrow morning and gave you a magic wand engraved with I FIX BASEBALL STUFF, but then I told you the wand only had one charge left. You’d probably aim it at one Metsian thing, hesitate and point it at something else, then look at me unhappily.

Would you fix the bullpen? The egregious defense? The anemic hitting? The guys who’ve gone from old but serviceable to apparently ancient and useless? The inexplicably lousy BABIP? The crappy weather? The coaching staff … because reasons? The manager because you’re tired of his voice? Ray Ramirez because he’s had it coming for years?

Good luck fixing farce.

What to fix [7] Wednesday night? Robert Gsellman [8] threw limp slider after limp slider down the middle. Mets defenders threw balls away and stumbled over them and lunged ineffectually for them. Hitters flailed helplessly with bases empty and also with them full. (Two sac flies, hooray!) Relievers bereaved. Pitching rotations were fumbled. Managers sought grumpy refuge amid the cliches of the perplexed.

Maybe at the end of the year we’ll look back and marvel that we overcame that star-crossed stretch in April to do great things. Maybe we’ll mourn the two weeks everything was shitty, and how that made the difference. Maybe we’ll recall this year as the one that went in the toilet early.

I don’t know. We’ll figure it out one 1/162 slice at a time. But however the story winds up, it’s just baseball. Don’t let it become something that isn’t good for you.