I really don’t know what to say. It’s gutting, it’s an embarrassment. After the electrifying performance of John Maine on Saturday–and a benches-clearing brawl to boot–yesterday began with hope, with fire and determination. With the thought that it shouldn’t have come down to this game, but it has, and we are going to pull it off.
To have it all end like it did yesterday…well. In a perverse way, it seems just too fitting.
Worst late-season collapse in baseball history? To be honest, it was almost predictable. All season long there was that nagging sensation in the deepest parts of my gut and heart and head where I knew that this team just didn’t have it. It. Whatever that is. Last year’s team had it in spades. You can point all the way back to that depressing June to see exactly what was going wrong. Starters not lasting long enough. The bullpen giving up runs by the boatload. The offense looking feeble and overmatched. Misplays on defense and lack of hustle. It was as if the team was warning all of us of a potential free fall. The only reason it didn’t happen in June was the equally inept play of our rivals.
That didn’t last. And even that early September tear couldn’t alleviate fears that there was something deeply wrong with this team. They were talented, yes. And all that talent made them complacent. And all that complacency booted them straight out of first place, and straight into an earlier-than-expected vacation.
I’m feeling pretty goddamned complacent myself. I love this team unconditionally–as with many sports fans, it’s a blind love; a familiar and intimate one that breeds a healthy level of discontent and worry, but above all else there is always your undying support and loyalty. Even with a 7-0 deficit after the first inning, I had hope. After Castro’s near grand slam, I had hope. Hope and support. Because you have to. You’re in it for life, like a marriage, through whatever maddening/frustrating/complete fucking bullshit your partner pulls. Because you love them. I still do.
But I’m pretty goddamned complacent.
Maybe I made my peace with it after their second collapse, this last one that ended the season. Maybe I made my peace with it after the sweep in Philly, in spite of the subsequent play, which was clearly the best they had shown all year. Maybe I made my peace with it in June, when they showed signs of complete disaster.
I forget if it was Gary, Keith or Ron, but one of them commented on how this team is a new experience for Mets fans. Because we are accustomed to almost laughable mediocrity or to gritty comeback miracle teams. We’re fine with those teams (the latter one much more, of course) because we’ve been there before. We are not used to a team loaded with talent that blows a season that was supposed to be theirs. And ours.
So now we have a new thing to own: we have this historic collapse. You don’t have to be happy about it; I sure as hell am not. But I’m gonna own it just the same, have this as another thread in my Mets fandom. Not because I’m happy. But because I love them. I have no choice in the matter, not anymore. They have broken my heart completely after doing it in minor ways many times over the course of the season. But I’m here, because they’re mine. For better or worse. And I will be there next year. And the next. Till death yadayada.
To end this maudlin, treacly, overwrought elegy: the “perfect” end to this abomination of a season would be a Yankees-Phillies World Series. Just fucking kill me if that happens, sweet mother of God.