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Anger Management

Mike SteffanosFriday, September 2, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

Phillies 3 - Mets 1

Leave it to the Mets to follow up the streak that put them back into the wild card race by losing 4 of 5. If they were actually trying to piss of their fans they couldn't be doing a better job. Funny how in what can only be described as a Renaissance season at Shea a lot of the faithful seem to be always on the verge of rage.

For what it's worth, I believe Mets management has itself to blame for a lot of this anger. The winter of 2003-2004 took what was a understandably strong irritation over truly bad management and focused it to a white-hot intensity with the Vladimir Guerrero fiasco. Then they tried to recover from that by signing Kaz Matsui, building up unreal expectations in the process. Fans lost all sense of trust that the Mets were truly about winning, and this growing anger has demanded scapegoats as sacrifices ever since: Art Howe, Kaz, Zambrano, even Beltran now.

I can identify with this, but I can't join in it anymore. Anger like this almost destroyed my love of baseball. I was so mad in the years following 1988, as the Mets took what they built and foolishly dismantled it. After all of those nightmare years in the '70s and early '80s, to watch it all happen again was too painful. The pain and frustration of losing, the incompetence displayed both on the field and in the front office, and then the strike -- it was just too much. When you lose all sense of perspective on something, when you lose the joy of it, it's time to step back. I did for a while, and I hope those of you in the same boat now that I was then can find a way to regain perspective, too.

I hope that you can learn what I learned: baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. Amazing how many years it took genius me to relearn what I knew instinctively as a child. And don't get me wrong, I share a sense of frustration when the Mets lose, especially when they play poorly. Some of their losses this year bothered me a lot. But I don't let it get to the point anymore where frustration with losing greatly outbalances the fun of a victory. Because when you reach that point as a fan, you really have to question why you would choose to put yourself through it.

I don't have the opportunity to speak to other Met fans very often, but when I do, I'm surprised that so many of them choose to define the season by the failures -- opening day, that horrible Friday night in Pittsburgh, the road trip to Oakland and Seattle, Pedro's 8th inning in LA.

As for me, I kind of like to remember the smile on Cliff Floyd's face as he rounded the bases after hitting that extraordinary home run against the Angels. That was cool.

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