What makes a fan happy is something of an individual decision. Of course, the thing that would make almost any fan the happiest is a World Series Champion every single year of their lives. But a rational person has to understand that can’t be done. There are thirty teams, and only one of them can be World Series Champs each year. On the other hand, the entire idea of rooting for a bunch of folks because of the shirts they wear is very irrational. So the idea that someone can only be pleased if their team wins it all is believable to me.
In fact, now that I think about it further, that might be the ultimate profile of someone who decides to be a Yankee fan. The idea of anything less than winning it all makes them miserable so they pick the team with the greatest odds to actually do it. They have the most rings, so the math works. But for the rest of us, what are we looking for? It’s personal, certainly. And as the Mets have not made the playoffs since 2006 and have not had a .500 season since 2008, most Mets fans have been dreaming about what would ultimately make them happy again. Very few fans get into bad, boring baseball, as we can see from the empty stands at Citi Field. So I’ll start with you, Jimmy, and you take good care of yourself so I feel safe using the following timeline. If a genie stopped by and granted you one wish —
Say no more, Mike, I know what I’m wishing for: Linda Ronstadt!
The early years!
Not so fast, Jimmy. This is multiple choice.
If the other option is Linda Ronstadt, the later years, I’ll just stuff that genie back in the bottle and pretend it never happened.
Which would you pick for the next ten years?
1. One Mets World Championship
2. Five Mets playoff appearances
Understand, it’s one or the other, you can’t have both. Oh, and if you get the Championship that’s it, you don’t get any other playoff appearances.
I’m picking the playoffs. Does that surprise you? I realize that each year ends in heartbreak, but I think of five years of high-quality baseball, playoff races (which you win), quality teams, so many big games and good times at the ballpark. I don’t want to be the Miami Marlins. Where you get the championships and the dismal years. That is, if I have a vote in this.
No, I understand. I find it a difficult question. Every season matters to me, and there is nothing worse for me than what we have endured since Alderson showed up, years where winning wasn’t even a consideration. As a fan you always want to have hope until it is dashed. So the longer, the better. And realistically, only one team can win it all. It seems shallow to me, the idea of any season that doesn’t end in a Worlds Championship being a failure. That’s why I always find the current narrative, that the mid-2000 Mets were a big waste, hard to swallow. Pedro brought winning and fun back to Shea in 2005. 2006, until Adam Wainright broke off that curve, was one long blast. The last games of 2007 and 2008 were heartbreaking, but that was because they were so meaningful, due to the 161 games that proceeded it. It’s been years since I’ve taken a loss that hard, because the games have not mattered.
Consistent winning has always been my goal. But now, at this point in my life, if I had to choose I would take the one and done. As everyone knows, the Mets have had plenty of success since 1986. Two Division crowns, Two World Series appearances, and long stretches in each decade where the team was an annual contender. What they have not done since then is win it all. I’m not a pig, but I would like to see one more before I die. Baseball for me is a family thing. My oldest child turned 26 this month, and has never seen that ultimate banner raised. I’d love to be breathing when that happens. I have seen so many Mets fans die while we wait out Super 2 deadlines. So, if I have to vote, just get me the one.
Championships are great, but such a crapshoot these days. You know, folks have rightly killed the Wilpons on the “meaningful games in September” goal. The reason for that is because implicit in that goal was there would be no October. We’d be in it, but not to win it.
In the old days, I used to criticize them for stopping short of excellence. They never wanted to be the best. Nowadays, I don’t know what they want anymore. Problem is, I think Sandy might be worse. He’s content to roll out Ruben Tejada and pretend it’s not a big charade. You know, Terry sure talked a lot about Ruben’s hot streak. How he was playing “good.” He heard the wake-up call and was suddenly transformed, ready to go.
Here are Ruben’s numbers for May: .122/.234/.171.
That includes, I guess, the hot streak that turned Terry’s head around like Linda Blair’s in “The Exorcist.”
Look at Tejada for the entire season against RHP: .146/.247/.171.
It’s a joke. A pathetic joke. And it’s on us, the fans.
We are right to be fed up with these guys.
In early March, I wrote that we should release Ruben before the season started. Just say goodbye, wish him good luck. Some readers thought I was crazy, a radical extremist. But each day he’s around, it’s a sign that this team is not coming to grips with reality, not addressing the problem, not attempting to win.
The longer it goes, the more I think it’s hard to think about the long-term. I lived in the City, and the Rangers would make the playoffs all the time, but always came up short. Those fans got taunted all the time, Islander fans would actually chant “1940” at Rangers/Islanders games. Finally, of course, they won the Cup in 1994. That Rangers team was built to win right then and there, forget the future. My general observation at the time was almost all of the fans were on board with that approach. They had come close quite enough, thank you. I suspect Red Sox fans felt the same way by 2004, I doubt many would have picked more playoff appearances. If I asked this question of a Cubs fan, they must be willing to surrender anything for a Series title. But, a Giants fan, right now, I could see them saying, “Hey, give me all that good baseball.” They have plenty of fresh memories to carry them for a while.
Look, it’s been a long, brutal stretch. People talk like 2007 and 2008 were so awful, and they certainly ended in heartbreak and frustration. But that was nirvana compared to these dreary games, with a GM who just lies on a daily basis, the oldest manager in MLB, and owners who have all but destroyed a franchise. I’m not saying I don’t want a championship. But damn, I’d take 2008 all over again. These days, that’s good enough for the playoffs. And once you’re in, rolling the dice, hey, you never know.