Monday, August 26, 2013

The Seven Stages of Being a Met Fan

Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series perfectly encapsulates what it means to be a Met fan.  Mets' outfielder Endy Chavez made a spectacular catch, leaping above the fence and snagging what would have been a tie-breaking 2-run homer in the 6th inning.  Pure joy.  But ... three innings later, in the top of the 9th, Yadier Molina hit a ball out of Chavez's reach for a two-run home run, putting the Cards ahead 3-1.  In the bottom of the inning, with the bases loaded, Carlos Beltran looked at strike three with his bat on his shoulders to end the game and end the Mets' season.  Pure despair.

Met fans have had little to cheer about since.  And when they have, bad news, devastating news, is sure to follow.  So, there was Johan Santana's thrilling no hitter -- the first in Met history -- which was followed by Santana's Met-career ending shoulder injury.  R.A. Dickey, a wonderfully refreshing and engaging player, had a remarkable Cy Young season for a dismal Met team last year, but was unceremoniously traded in the off season (admittedly for some great prospects, only one of whom has gotten injured so far).

But could anything be worse than what has just befallen us?  Matt Harvey, in his first (almost) full season with the team emerged this year as one of the very best pitchers in baseball and one of the most thrilling Met players ever.  He is a dynamic force on and off the field, a tremendous competitor, an absolute joy to watch.  He is having an historic season (that would have been even more incredible if the team had given him any run support).  Not since Dwight Gooden almost 30 years ago (and don't get me started on his dramatic rise and tragic fall -- you can read about it here) have the Mets showcased such an incredible homegrown talent who brought such excitement to the mound every time he pitched. 

Today, after undergoing an MRI, it was learned that Matt Harvey has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.  He was put on the disabled list and may require surgery, which could put him out of action until 2015. 

And so, once again, we must go through the familiar stages of being a Met fan:

1.  Hope.  Every year, no matter how bad the team looks, how many question marks the team invariably has, Met fans always find some glimmer of hope for the season ahead.  They bestow heroic-like powers on otherwise mediocre players, pin their hopes on new acquisitions and highly-touted prospects, and claim that if "everything goes right" they could have a pretty good squad this year.

2.  Joy.  The Mets have pulled off a miracle or two, have given us some wonderful moments, and have even fielded the occasional great team.  And, at least since Tom Seaver's rookie year on a last place team, there has usually been (although not always -- see, e.g., most of the 1990s) at least one player on the team whose performance was cherished, who gave us that sensation -- however fleeting -- of joy.  This year, every 5th or 6th day was celebrated in my house and throughout Metdom as "Harvey Day."  Even when the Mets were otherwise unwatchable it was a thrill to watch Harvey pitch. 

3.  Shock.  The ignominious 1977 Seaver trade showed that Met fans should never attach their devotion to one player.  Love a Met?  Be prepared to suddenly get your heart ripped out.  Trades and injuries of those we loved or were relying on to take the team to the next level have been all too common.  (Equally familiar, if less shocking, has been the flame out of new players who were brought in with great fanfare (see Mets or Bust).)  If something bad could happen, it will.  Matt Harvey?  We should have seen this coming.

4. Denial.  Maybe when the swelling in the elbow goes down it will show less damage than anticipated.  A few weeks off, and Harvey will be able to pitch again, and if not to finish off this season, he will be ready by Opening Day.

5.  Anger.  If Harvey's arm had been sore for months as has been reported, why weren't any MRI's done earlier just to be safe?  Why was Harvey allowed to throw so deep into games and throw so many sliders, which put more stress on the arm?  How could the Mets' manager, pitching coach and trainer been so negligent?  They should be fired!

6.  Despair.  The plan for the Mets' success was to build a team around its young arms -- Matt Harvey and a strong supporting cast.  Not only that, they were going to trade their surplus of arms for someone -- anyone -- who could hit with a little power.  Now?  There ain't no surplus.  There ain't no hitters with power.  There ain't no Matt Harvey.  I should have fallen in love with Dillon Gee.

7.  Acceptance.  Being a Met fan means enduring agony and misery while waiting for the occasional miracle.  It is what we do.  So, back to #1:  Hope.   


Anonymous said...

Not to be a pain, but how did Chavez "literally snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with a spectacular catch" if the game was tied?

Lovechilde said...

I've always thought that I needed a good editor. Thanks, Anonymous. Change made.

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