With apologies to the great poet Robert Frost, as a New York Mets fan I feel like I am in that snowy wood watching it fill up with snow. Of course, that is a metaphor for death, and this 2011 Mets’ season seems like it has every reason to sleep with the fishes. Still, I keep telling myself, “I’m a Met fan; the Mets are born from losing.” Yes, we are, but there has to be some point when we all give up, right? I’m not there yet, but it is truly a struggle these days.
Current manager Terry Collins went wild this week, ranting and raving to the team in a closed door meeting. We can imagine what was said about them being pathetic, finding every way to lose, looking worse than kids playing T-ball at the park. You get the idea. While I understand what made Collins rant, I question the logic of going that route. It seems like half the locker room must be called up from AAA Buffalo these days with all the injuries, and yelling at these kids may not be the best way to handle things.
I recall that my grandfather always called his old Brooklyn Dodgers “bums” (so did half of New York back in those days). I never saw the Brooklyn Dodgers play because they left town before I was born, but I am told that Pop used to sit in front of the TV and get upset as the Dodgers found another way to lose a game. “They’re nothing but a bunch of bums!” he would holler, shaking his fist at the TV set. Now, as a Mets fan, I more than understand his feelings.
When the Mets were new in this town, they were always losing. With their Dodgers pedigree, I always say they were born from losing. That Dodger “blue” certainly manifested and maintained at Shea Stadium what had been wrought in Ebbets Field, and Dodgers fans became Mets fans even with old Casey Stengel (former manager of their arch enemies the New York Yankees) as their new skipper. I can only imagine how Pop and my uncles must have felt seeing Stengel in a Mets uniform, but they went with what they had and endured because they were National League fans and could never root for the team with the straight NY on the baseball cap.
Terry Collins should really become a student of Mets history, particularly of old Stengel. I think all the ranting and raving in the world will only get you so far, but why Stengel became beloved by Mets fans was because he never lost his temper or his sense of humor. Today if you visit the Mets museum in Citi Field, one of the highlights is the Casey Stengel statue. The image of the stooped and broken Stengel, looking almost like the statue of Winston Churchill in London overlooking the disintegrating British Empire, is a reminder that the Mets struggles in the past were made easier by the right guy at the helm. Collins needs to take a page from Stengel’s book and fast.
As for many Mets fans, they are starting to lose patience with the 2011 Mets. Getting tickets to a Mets game (and I was only offered them the other day) is kind of like getting tickets to sail on the Titanic – after you already know it has hit an iceberg. Many people are going to decline the offer, but some of us might just slip on life jackets and take a chance. There is a good possibility (like in last night’s game) that the team will find a way to lose, but it’s hard to stay afloat with all that seawater rushing in.
I am not ready to give up on the Mets; in fact, I will never give up on the Mets. I will not – like many fans did in the mid-1990s – turn away from the team and become a Yankees fan. That mentality has nothing to do with being a fan but rather with being what Thomas Paine called a “summer soldier” or “sunshine patriot.” Fans who gravitate to teams simply because they are winning do miss the whole concept of loyalty and fraternity, but that’s another story.
So I am in no way giving up on the 2011 Mets, even if most of the time it seems they have given up on themselves. I will not shed any tears because that will not change anything; I will continue to watch the games and root for them because that’s what real fans do. Sometimes it will be painful to watch, and I may switch the channels and watch golf, tennis, or even old episodes of M*A*S*H to give myself a break, but I’ll go back and check on them soon enough.
Hang in there, true Mets fans, things will get better. Wright, Davis, and Santana are coming; yeah, I know, so is Christmas. I just hope we don’t have to wait that long until they return.
Photo Credit: Collins-Daily News; Stengel- Sports Illustrated