I have the data to refute this, but every Mets game I’ve ever been to seems to have ended with the Mets trailing in the ninth, getting the tying and/or winning runs on base or at least to the plate, and losing anyway. The data says that’s nonsense, that I’ve seen many more wins than losses in the now 46 seasons I’ve been going to Flushing to bear witness to professional baseball. Starting July 11, 1973, and running through May 1, 2018, I’ve been to 649 regular-season Mets home games. The Mets’ and therefore my record on those occasions is 357-292. I don’t usually add the totals from Shea Stadium (218-184) to those compiled at Citi Field (139-108), but am doing so here to underscore the point that I seem to keep experiencing the same loss no matter what ballpark the Mets put it in.
“Seem” is the key word here. Tuesday night at Citi Field versus the Braves, my first personal communing with my team since last September, seemed so familiar. It could have happened at Shea or Citi. It could have happened in either of two centuries, any of five decades. The Mets can be in first place, last place, any place. The identities of given players are immaterial in this recycled scenario that has surely played out live and smack dab in front of me over and over again.
The Mets fall behind.
The Mets stay behind.
The Mets inch to somewhat closer behind.
The Mets frustrate endlessly.
Then hope — crazy, stupid, ultimately infuriating hope — bounds onto the field, unmolested by security. Look at it prancing hither and yon. Where’s John Stearns when you need an interloper tackled ?
Aw, hope is just having fun out there. Look at hope getting on first on a ball that’s not quite caught. Look at hope parachuting a pop fly between outstretched gloves. Look at hope coming to the plate with every chance to turn a 3-1 deficit into…well, absolutely nothing, because hope can be a real pain in the ass that way. With one out, hope nonetheless winks from the on-deck circle, even politely pivots to let a ball squirt to the backstop.
Will ya look at what hope did now? Hope put runners on second and third with our most dramatic pinch-hitter at bat! Hope wouldn’t screw us over!
Hope screws us over. It’s what hope does. Not always, but enough. Seems like always. It’s not. Besides, how do you stay mad at hope when hope gives us a run in the process of making a second out? It’s no longer 3-1. It’s 3-2. There’s a runner on second. Hope is our pal, our amigo, our knight in shining Under Armour. Hope is taking one more swing on our behalf, driving a fly ball to left, kinda deep, kinda perplexing the left fielder and it’s gonna…
It’s gonna be caught. The ball is secured, hope is apprehended and the game is lost, 3-2 . We almost had a win there. We definitely had a few minutes of hopeful fun when we thought we might win. It didn’t fully supplant the frustration and futility that defined the night, but standing up and yelling with a sense of purpose toward the end made for a nice change of pace from all the slumping back and grumbling of the immediately preceding hours. For that, we can thank hope.
Which is exactly how hope gets us seemingly every time.