watching the future

August 4, 2008

With the horrendous 1-5 road trip the Mets just finished, a trip to the DL by John Maine and a possible one to follow for Billy Wagner (following a spectacularly bad performance on Saturday), there’s not much to be excited by in Metville these days, or so you would think judging by the doomsday reports spewing forth by media and fandom alike.

It’s been a terrible week, to be sure, a week that would’ve been tolerable and possibly quite good if only there wasn’t the requisite every-coupla-weeks implosion by the bullpen as well as the firing-on-one-cylinder (and that’s being generous) Mets offense. This team has been a rollercoaster all season, and the highs of the ten-game winning streak (hell, all of July, really) has now ebbed to a current four-game losing streak, including a three in a row to the Astros, a team that is not particularly all that impressive. Back during the doldrums of Willie’s last days, I yearned for some new blood, saying I’d rather see some scrubs and youngsters brought up to play with some hunger and fight than a group of talented multimillionaires play lazily and uninspired. If my team has to lose, I’d rather the former.

It’s the beginning of August, and the Mets are three games behind a Philly team whose lily looks less gilded than it did a year ago (as well as half a game behind the terrifyingly mystifyingly tough Florida Marlins). The Mets have made up ground thanks to some also-rans like Fernando Tatis, the re-emergence of Carlos Delgado, and young guns like Mike Pelfrey living up to their potential. It may seem like an inopportune time, but the increased play of some new blood–Nick Evans, Argenis Reyes, and this weekend’s call ups of Daniel Murphy and Eddie Kunz (studly, the both of them)–provided some excitement for this fan during the weekend, especially considering the way the overall games went. Small pleasures, I know, but Murphy’s Endy impersonation and Kunz working through jitters for a scoreless inning were appreciated not just as additions to this current roster but as an appetizer for what’s to come. I’m not worried about this team simply because of where they stand with two months left, doing much of it with frequent flier miles to the DL, and because, well, if 2008 isn’t meant to be then it isn’t meant to be (and with the way things have gone this season, I wouldn’t be surprised either way). But to see what we may have in store for the future right now (and possibly the near future, as Omar has hinted possible call-ups for Jonathon Niese and Fernando Martinez as well) is a pretty little silver lining, a nice carrot to keep us going, and some other lame metaphor in contrast to an otherwise lousy week of baseball.

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is there such a thing as a fun loss?

June 16, 2008

‘Cos I witnessed one yesterday. Hey, if the Mets can have a disappointing win (see: last Wednesday), why not a fun loss?

My friend Sean (who ranks high in my hypothetical list of Boys Who Would Make My Romantic Life Easy If Only They Were Gay) came to visit from Canada and we headed to Shea to watch the Mets battle the Rangers. He jokingly said that he’d root for the Rangers only because his mother is from Texas.

It was my first game at Shea this season where the starting pitcher wasn’t Mike Pelfrey. It was John Maine this time, and I excitedly donned my brand new John Maine t-shirt, hoping that I’d witness a good performance and a satisfying win.

Oh haha, it’s the 2008 Mets.

In all fairness, John Maine looked pretty solid all day. Certainly a lot more solid than the bullpen: Feliciano, Smith, and Schoeneweis really blew this shit. Though Heilman pitched a scoreless inning (not without some agita, of course!) and from the upper deck box I yelled “OH MY GOD A RELIEVER DIDN’T ALLOW A RUN? AND IT WAS HEILMAN?!?!?!” which got a nice laugh. In fact, the entire upper deck was quite fun yesterday, especially as the Mets were failing to hit yet again; some fools kept attempting to start the wave, and would boo when it died.

And then something magical happened: the Mets started to hit. And score runs. Sean and I fashioned our rally caps before the bottom of the eighth started, and were stunned to see it work. Would’ve been better if Send ‘Em Sandy hadn’t decided that Brian Schneider could beat out a shallow pop fly to end the inning. Would’ve been better if Delgado hadn’t grounded into a double play to start the ninth. But considering I’ve come to terms with the utter mediocrity of this team, I stood up and cheered with the dwindling crowd that stuck it out, cheering this team in a manner I’d forgotten was possible. Because it seemed inspired. Possibly due to the power of lowered expectations, but still. Somehow, for those final two innings, baseball felt fun again. And any little thing that this team can do to allow me to cheer like that, I’ll accept. There’s so much negativity surrounding this team, this organization, this fanbase, these Mets blogs. And with all valid reason, of course. But amid all the Fire Willie/Fire Peterson/Fire HoJo/Cut Delgado/You Fucked Up The Church Situation/This Team Sucks brouhaha, yesterday I felt that I could sacrifice all expectation for this team in order to cheer on the little things, like stringing together some hits, some late rallies, and pitchers getting out of their own mess (Heilman only). And I feel like that’ll be enough, that being a baseball fan is enough, and anything more–whether it be winning the NL East, winning the Wild Card, winning the World Series, or finishing the year above .500)–will be pretty much gravy.

Also, I don’t know how many times I screamed “TROT!!!!!!!” and/or came up with some terrible TROT!!!!!! puns yesterday, but I’m sure it’s some number higher than Luis Castillo’s RBI total.