By Mike Steffanos
As we stand here on the brink of another campaign, I have to admit that I am struggling to find something to write about. I just think all of the roster moves have been discussed to death and the pros and cons of David Wright batting second in the batting order have been adequately covered. The real answer to that, along with all of the questions about the pitching, will begin to be answered as the club plays games that count starting tomorrow.
Where I live in Connecticut, I am surrounded by Yankees and Red Sox fans. I am also encircled by the attitude of most Yankees fans that the regular season is merely a prelude to the playoffs, and anything less than a championship is total failure. I have one good friend who is a Yankees fan who refuses to buy into this anymore because it sucks all of the joy out of a baseball season.
I could identify with this, because I allowed myself to take on this frame of mind in 1986. The local media told me that the Mets HAD to win that year, and I bought into it completely. In fairness, after 2 consecutive close second place finishes, it was important that the club take the next step. The problem is that when you buy into the "title or failure" philosophy, winning is just doing what you were supposed to do, while losing is agony.
It's not that I never enjoyed baseball that year, it's just that after living through the seven excruciatingly awful seasons from 1977-1983 and the two disappointing years of 1984 and 1985, that championship season should have been the most fun and enjoyable season in my career as a fan. While there were indeed some good times and great memories, I felt a little cheated when it was all over. In both the NLCS and World Series, the team had teetered on the edge of disaster. In the end, there was just a little too much of relief and too little of the joy that should have been there for me. I promised that I would not allow that to happen to myself again. Surely, this great team would produce another title and I would permit myself to enjoy that one properly.
As you all know, that next title still hasn't come, but I haven't forgotten the lesson of 1986. The local Yankees-centric media will assuredly seek to push those attitudes on us that most Yankees fans have embraced. I won't make the mistake of buying into it, and my hope for all of you is that you won't, either. Baseball is a marathon. Don't let them focus your eyes so hard on the finish line that you miss all the fun you can have along the way.
Items of Interest
A great story today by Dave Buscema in the Times Herald-Record on Rick Peterson, and how being the Mets pitching coach is more than just a job to him.
Also, I read a couple of days ago where NBA commissioner David Stern backed up Bud Selig on the Extra Innings deal with DirecTV. Maybe it's just me, but it seemed the equivalent of Ted Bundy giving a character reference for Jeffrey Dahmer.