“If I had to sum up in one word what this campaign is all about, that word would be ‘faith’.”
—Jimmy Carter, who came out of nowhere to win, 1976
So the ones who pitch and the ones who catch what they pitch have reported to where they pitch and catch when it’s too cold to catch and pitch where we’re used to seeing them ply their respective crafts. Has your life changed measurably as a result of this much-anticipated occasion? Has the chill wind stopped producing a nonstop wind chill outside your window? Anybody got an advance copy of the National League East standings?
Hmmm…the Mets are still 0-0. Tied for first. Tied for last. Tied for “the mix” it’s been said they will be in, Wild Card-wise. Until further notice, the magic number remains 2015. Unless it’s 2016. If we’re planning on living a spell, next year will be here right after this one. And the year after that? I’d like to believe that by 2017, the three most popular newborn boy names in the borough of Queens will be Matt, Harvey and Matt-Harvey — and the sixth-most popular girl name will be d’Arnaud. I’m playing the long game here. The fierce urgency of whenever will do, provided “whenever” isn’t forever canned, kicked and deemed elusive as it rattles down the road.
I don’t want to set the world on fire. I just want the Mets to finish above .500. More than baby steps are necessary, less than enormous strides are acceptable. Take ’em if you can, of course. Oh gosh, yes, improve all you want. Don’t let my limited expectations deter you. And don’t mistake my limited expectations for limited enthusiasm.
Limited enthusiasm was just being glad winter would eventually be over c. 2011 and the years before and after. To paraphrase Bruce McCulloch from one of my thousand or so favorite Kids In The Hall sketches, mix, mix, stir, stir; we signed Chris Young, it’s all a blur .
But no more! I haven’t looked forward to a coming Met season with more than nominal eagerness since 2007 — maybe 2008, but then only because the acquisition of Johan Santana provided a deluxe Band-Aid brand bandage to cover the gaping wound in my soul from the previous September. No, 2007 at this juncture was the last time I didn’t have to talk myself into a froth. 2007 at this juncture was also the last time the previous Met season hadn’t either fully imploded or lacked traction from the get-go.
It’s been a while, in other words. But I’m still here. You’re still here. We’re all still here. We are rightly cynical, but we never shake off our innocence. If we did, would we stick with this mishegas for a lifetime as if mandated by the authorities to do so? We are cynnocent, you might say.
You know who’s on the Mets. Barring some March surprise, most of this roster has been etched in brick since before Thanksgiving. Maybe a poor performance in games that don’t count will unhinge some supporting cast member’s presumed security. Maybe an additional left arm will look enticing around the seventh inning. Maybe Dillon Gee will strike the rest of the industry as a viable low-calorie Max Scherzer substitute. Mostly you know who your Mets are. You know in your heart they’re ready to quit defaulting to dismal. You know in your brain that immediate greatness is probably a pipe dream. Somewhere in between, you know there’s something there, something beyond spring for spring’s sake.
That much is good to know. We’ll find out the rest soon enough.