“I am such an idiot!”
I’ve said it dozens of times. And it’s not because I’m too hard on myself. Those have been accurate statements, legitimate conclusions based on reliable data.
I think of them as my “Nevermind!” moments.
You know what I’m talking about. You are at the game, speaking with absolute confidence about somebody — how he will never get a hit, or how some prospect is going to be huge — and then, BOOM, the player instantly does something quite the opposite. On Super Tuesday, I was knocking Anthony Recker right before he swatted a two-run homer. John at Metstradamus had prophesized its coming, but, well, he’s freaking Metstradamus, that’s what he does. I was thinking Recker would come up empty and said so.
It’s a great game, isn’t it?
And I mean that. Part of the greatness of baseball is that it teaches us, time and again, that we are going to be wrong a lot of the time. Some of us learn not to be too outrageously arrogant about our opinions, not too cocksure about our judgments. We must always hold in our mind the certainty that we might well be wrong. (As an aside, I think it is particularly hard for stat-focused folks to admit this possibility, since their positions are usually girded by mathematics — opinion masquerading as hard science — they love saying things like “linear weights” and “regression to the mean” — thus, the perceived arrogance of, say, the writers at BASEBALL PROSPECTUS.)
Another example, on a minor scale:
On Father’s Day, I turned on the game around the 6th inning in time to watch Kirk Nieuwenhuis walk back to the dugout in confusion after another pathetic AB. I looked up the stats and texted this to Mike, featuring my patented irony: “Kirkkkkk: 3-29 with 14 K’s! What happened? He was tearing up Vegas!”
A guy who failed last season, failed during the spring (but made the team anyway), got injured, failed in AAA, and got promoted anyway. A player who represented the Mets futility in the outfield, an emblem of the club’s reliance on internal solutions after it was obvious to all that he could not hit.
Then, BOOM, walk-off home run. And the crowd goes wild. A joyous Father’s Day at Citi Field, strangers hugging strangers, personal boundaries melting away.
Thank you, Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Now prove me wrong more often, I’d love to write that apology.
What about you, Mike? Have you ever been wrong about anything?
Of course not, just ask Terri! Oh, you mean about baseball. Well, I was convinced the Mets would turn a corner in 1965, led by young star Danny Napoloeon. In my defense, it was Danny Napoleon. And if we want to move to non-prehistoric times, I sure didn’t see R.A. Dickey winning Cy Young Awards. Or Rick Reed having the career he had. It’s human nature to keep getting excited over the kid with the big fastball, and miss on pitchers right in front of your eyes. It might be happening right now with Dillon Gee or Jeremy Hefner. No matter what guys like that do I keep waiting for them to come back to earth. Happily, some never do.
Yes, those are the guys I tend to undervalue too: righties without big fastballs. Or at least, I’m not quick to believe in them until I see them do it on the field over a period of time. Rick Reed was a perfect example, he was like a mini-Maddux.
In 2013 I would have to think a lot of Mets fans have been wrong about a lot of games, as well as players. We always want to believe, but this team cannot hit, and is pretty bad. Yet we have had many fantastic ninth inning comebacks. We slayed Craig Kimbrel, Mariano Rivera, and now Carlos Marmol!
Sesame Street flashback: “Which of these things is not like the other!”
But seriously, for a team without many wins there have been a lot of “Nevermind” games, where you are sitting at home, or at Citi Field, sure it is over, but it is not.
Yes, that was my exact feeling on Father’s Day. Baseball is a game of redemption. We continue to learn — or I should say, the game continues to teach us — that you stay until the last out. You hope against hope, that’s how it works.
One of our minor themes for this season — and a leading source of our frustration with management this Spring — can be summarized in four words: “Hey, you never know.” Every year surprise teams come out of nowhere. Favorites fall flat. Underdogs defeat superior teams in the playoffs. Miracles happen. Or has Mets management forgotten?
Because you never know.
And the truth is, we never know . . . an awful lot.
AND NOW A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR . . .
I had a new picture book come out earlier this week, A Pirate’s Guide to Recess, illustrated by Greg Ruth. It’s a sequel to A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade. So if you’ve got a pirate-loving kid, ages 3-6 or so, you could do worse. Ask for it at your local independent bookstore. Or Barnes & Noble. Or here. Thanks. And also, insanely: two more books out on July 9th.
Sorry, I’ll stop. But here’s a quick starred review for “Recess” from Publishers Weekly:
Preller and Ruth transform a school playground into a swashbuckling adventure featuring two rival captains—Red (from the previous book) and fearsome Molly. Their respective pirate crews are again rendered in pencil, creating a ghostly effect, and their surly theatrics will pull readers through this nautical fantasy. “Don’t scowl so, sweet Red!” Molly tells Red after his crew mutinies. “We’re just having a little yo ho ho.” Preller and Ruth put kids at the helm as they communicate the joy of escaping into a world of pretend.