The Mets: A Beautiful Panic Attack
Wednesday night. Bottom of the 9th. Mets losing 4-3. Two outs. Two runners on for Cespedes. He smokes it…all of Mets fandom get out of their seats in joyful anticipation.
Enciarte to the warning track, he leaps, he…makes the catch! All of Mets fandom curses, screams, cries and collectively sighs. Game over. Who does this punk think he is? Endy? And the way Braves were celebrating, you’d think they won the World Series, rather than being a last place team that’s 30 games under .500.
Mets get swept by their once arch nemesis in a critical time where every game counts. We lose in typical heart-breaking, WTF just happened fashion. Suddenly, I hear Boy George singing in my head Do you really want to hurt me, do you really want to make me cry?
If I had to pick one moment from this season that defines what it’s like to be a Mets fan, it would be last night’s soul-crushing loss.
When Cespedes hits that line drive home run, every Mets fan believes. We forget every horrendous moment of the series: cold offense, Syndergaard off his game, blown saves, Cespedes not hustling in his penultimate at-bat and — typical Terry Collins move — putting Familia in too early. But then the ball is caught. Welcome to life as a Mets fan.
Back to reality as we re-live: Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run in the 1999 NLCS (season over); Luis Castillo’s dropped ball in 2009 against the Yankees (blown win); Marlins celebrating and stealing dirt (last ever game at Shea, 2008); Tom Glavine single-handedly putting the nail in the coffin of the 2007 season (was he paid to sabotage the Mets?); Beltran’s 1-minute 12-second at-bat to end the 2006 season (effectively killing any momentum from Endy’s catch).
Now we can add Enciarte to the long list of players Mets fans still curse and lament: Chipper, Rocker, Rollins, Utley, Wainwright, Murphy etc. But that’s all in the past, right? Because the Mets are the playoff contenders and the Braves are playing the spoiler <insert Twilight music here>. Next up, the Phillies. Time to sweep them or at least win 2 of 3. Let’s not give ammunition to our other once-upon-a-time arch nemesis, as well as, the Giants and Cardinals.
In the not too distant past, on Monday to be exact, I was feeling pretty good about this team. Despite the mounting Pandora’s Box of injuries (with deGrom being the latest casualty), the Mets were on a hot streak, having just swept the Twins. Flashback to Saturday night’s game: Granderson hits a home run to tie it and a home run to win it!
The Mets won in typical come-from-behind, amazing fashion. It’s the flip side of all the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking moments of being a Mets fan. They may lose badly, but they also win beautifully.
You see, we true blue and orange diehards also know that OTHER team; it’s a different type of territory we understand: the joyful, hugging one another, jumping up and down, Shea’s shaking kind of storybook moments we’ve grown to know and love: 1969 Miracle Mets, Tug McGraw’s 1973 “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets, 1986 Game 6, Dave Mlicki’s 6-0 shut out at the Yankee stadium in 1997, Todd Pratt’s game winning home run in the 1999 NLDS, Robin Ventura’s grand slam single in the 1999 NLCS, the 10-run 8th inning, Mike Piazza’s home run in the first baseball game after 9/11, Johan Santana’s no hitter, 2015 NL Champions…just to name a few.
So, is too soon to panic? Is it just my fatalistic Mets fan tendencies kicking in? I can’t help but wonder – did they go on a hot steak only to break my heart in the end? Or will they be the Mets of 2015 that shocked the baseball world? Should I get my hopes up? Should I keep my expectations low? Or maybe I should revert to my comfort zone and watch the rest of the regular season through half covered eyes?
As the Mets play their last 10 games, which team will show up? Are we talking the 1999/2000/2006/2015 Mets, or the 2007 collapse Mets? Even if we make it to the playoffs will we it have a different outcome than last year? Could 2016 be our year? During the offseason, some “experts” said it would be. Truth? Or is it the equivalent of mentioning “no hitter” during a no hitter?