Shannon at Mets Police writes up his feelings about why he loves getting to go out to Mets games and enjoying baseball.
It’s a nice enough warm summer night. Santana on the mound, friends, two beers (not eight), some food, 100 or so tweets, take some pics, maybe a blog post, a “free” t-shirt, #imwith28, a folk hero in Dickey, hanging with the tribe – all good things. All make me happy
Baseball is supposed to be fun. Yes, the nature of sports mean some times are not as fun, but if you can enjoy the experience even bad losses have that silver lining. You still hung out with some friends, got some fresh air, and still got to see all the wonderful things about baseball from home runs to devastating curve balls and sparkling defensive plays. Sometimes it’s the opposing team doing it. Sometimes there is comedy in the errors.
Even if it ends badly that doesn’t erase the three hours you were having fun.
And that’s my main take away from baseball. I’m going to note that the Mets are in the playoff picture even though it’s only June. I’m going to note winning streaks and the division champion losing. Because even if the Mets fall out of it on September first, I’ve had five months of happiness and enjoyment believing and rooting and hoping that the Mets will win tonight’s game.
Wouldn’t you rather look up in September and realize it’s been a fun ride and start really getting invested in whether they can take it home than keep looking for the trapdoors around every bend in the schedule? Isn’t it more fun to be excited about a team even if it ultimately fails than to remain un-invested until the last moment? Ike Davis may carry us over those trapdoors. R.A. Dickey may steer us around them.
I respect that everyone has different criteria to really believe in a team, and that many people put up these huge walls between watching and truly believing because they’re afraid of getting hurt and being let down. Some people race to the Internet after losing streaks or poor performances to proclaim that the Mets are what was expected of them in a way that seems like they’re almost chiding themselves for getting invested emotionally.
Getting invested emotionally is half the fun! This is the culture of being a sports fan. This is what makes Jordany Valdespin‘s first career hit being a go-ahead 3-run home run against the hated Phillies so amazin’. Or Dickey’s magical mystery tour. Or Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ emergence and Rookie of the Year campaign. It’s the hopes and dreams that come along with these events. The understanding that enough helpings of improbable wins, circus catches and league-leading 2-out RBI could make the Mets pretty damn good. Deep down I think everyone knows this. It’s probably part of the reason there is a ground-swell of support for Valdespin getting more playing time despite hitting .222 and playing mostly bad defense over Daniel Murphy hitting .271 while playing mostly bad defense.
The emotional thrill of some of Valdespin’s big hits coupled with his swagger seem to have resonated with Mets fans.
“I was thinking I’m the man,” Valdespin said with a slight smile after his home run of Jonathan Papelbon.
A little bit of confidence in the face of improbable predictions of making the playoffs in 2012 goes a long way towards making the season exciting. It wasn’t just pure cockiness either, as Valdespin continued with a more humble appreciation of where he is.
“I’m just so happy,” he said, adding that his first phone call once he left Citizen’s Bank Park would be to San Pedro de Macoris, in the Dominican Republic, to his mother Maria.
“I want her to know this home run is for her. Because she’s the person who put me here to do this.”
Maybe Jordany’s mix of humble appreciation for being in the Major Leagues coupled with the cocky appreciation for the team’s big hits will be a nice story going forward. Maybe Daniel Murphy shakes off his slump with a three home run week. It’s not one against the other, as they’re on the same team. I’m rooting for both of them.
I give the mainstream media a lot of grief for creating silly Mets-hating narratives, but creating narratives can be fun. Don’t we love Dickey’s story? Still, him climbing a mountain in the offseason does not actually make him a better pitcher or mean he’s destined to win 30 games this season. That doesn’t change that it’s a fun story or that he’s a entertaining guy to root for. The Mets being a ‘gritty’ team may not actually mean anything more than statistical randomness, but it’s still fun to get into it when the Mets are scratching out 9th inning wins against good pitchers, working counts to chase starters early, or executing bunt base-hits when the defensive situation calls for it.
No one knows where this Mets team is going. Not me, not you, not sports radio hosts or national baseball writers. Sandy Alderson does not know, nor does Terry Collins or even David Wright. They believe though. No one can predict the future, and no one has all the data required to give you odds. The season so far is a huge example of that. Everyone tried to tell you what would happen with Johan Santana, and pretty much everyone was wrong.
There are so many unpredictable things in baseball. Things go right and things go wrong and some things are just awesome. So instead of sleeping in the back of the train waiting for something to jolt you awake, enjoy the scenery and imagine the beautiful places the train may be taking you to. You may not end up where you imagine, but I can guarantee you’ll see some amazin’ places along the way. Believe it.