« Q&A with Erik from PhilliesFlow.com | Main | Bad Information »

The Unbearable Brightness of Being a Mets Fan

Mike SteffanosThursday, March 29, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

With reality a mere three days off, there is a division among the faithful between those who feel truly sanguine about the Mets' chances entering the season and those who look at our pitching staff with a deep sense of impending doom. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm one of the "silver lining" folks, but I have a great deal of empathy for those of you who aren't buying into the optimism. After all, I've been doing this for 38 years now, and dread is a much more familiar feeling for my Mets musings. Optimism still feels like an oddly-cut suit of clothes that I am trying on and not completely comfortable with.

Comments and emails I have received on this site range from those from Mets fans who are even more optimistic than I am to those from fans on the other side of the spectrum expressing varying degrees of bewilderment. I have enjoyed some interesting exchanges with nice people who wonder when looking at the dark side fell out of vogue for Mets fans. They have serious questions about the team and have real misgivings about our chances. They look at the serene confidence of many of their fellow blue and orange brethren with the same mixture of horror and skepticism with which they view an Oliver Perez start. If you're in that category, I understand. It's the sign of drastically changing times in Mets fandom when the predominant emotion of Mets fans isn't anger and/or resignation.

I look at some of the recent developments, particularly the loss of Duaner Sanchez for most of the season, and won't profess that there's no cause for concern. I can't pretend to have a crystal ball that allows me to predict what John Maine, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey might do over a full season in what looks to be an extremely competitive National League east. I could easily see a scenario where the Phillies or Braves get off to a hot start while the Mets flounder a bit as they try to sort everything out in the bullpen. I certainly don't see the Mets as a sure thing in 2007.

With all of the uncertainty, however, I like the direction the Mets have chosen. They're willing to take a chance with young players who show great promise rather than leaning on mediocre veterans with a track record. While there is certainly real risk with this approach, there's reward, too.

Moreover, while I like the club's chances this year, I appreciate the fact that they seem to be making moves that will allow them to be competitive going forward. There have been too many lost seasons in Queens as the result of short-sighted management decisions of years gone by. In reality, I think you have a better chance of winning a championship by being competitive year after year rather than rolling the dice for one or two seasons.

After last year's anticlimactic cakewalk to an NL east title, I'm looking forward to a real race in 2007. It was nice to see the Mets win after so long, but September just felt wrong last year. The natural rhythm of a baseball season was missing. I understand that real pennant races carry the possibility of my team missing out, but I'm willing to risk that for a true pennant race. As I said, there is no sure thing this season, and that's fine by me.

Still, if your glass is half empty, I understand. I know that feeling all too well. Whether we choose to wrap ourselves in dark clouds or silver linings, I'm sure there is one thing we could all agree on: Let's Go Mets. Let's get this party started.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

Support Mike's Mets by shopping at our Amazon Store

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets

Continuous Mets Coverage:
Hot Foot

Comments (13)

April 1 holds such promise. my year is over as everything hinges on the Mets score.

But May 29th still holds questions. Burgos is making a great bid for the BP slot given to Park. Lastings is not done and Tatis' HR today says we have another emergency option at 3rd base. I think this team can turn it up and could club the redbirds to death on sunday.

On another note Ohka has won the 4th starter spot and Zambrano could be the 5th starter in Toronto. My eyes will be on Vic because I think he never could have been treated fairly in NY. On the flipside he will probably face Kazmir at some point, the Yanks who he has a knack for pitching well against.

Long time...been carefully watching the goings on in ST...no question there are wheelbarrels of questions yet unanswered...as Met fans, we suddenly have elevated expectations due to the excellence of last season...I for one, am quietly optimistic, while understanding fully the vagaries of rookies and veterans and injuries and all sorts of unknowns confronting our beloved Mets...its a veritable test of will power to not cry out in frustration when so much potential and so little tangible evidence confront itself. This is the nature of sports and particularly baseball...every year weird things occur...who would have picked the Cardinals to win the crown...huh?...who knows waht lurks as yet unveiled in this season..isnt that what makes us tune in every season....suddenly the Royals are hot...or even stranger the Devil Rays, G-d forbid, eat up their division...unlikely, but the cosmic forces of baseball are capricious and unpredictable...the unknowns are vast the knowns are miniscule...isnt this what we came for???

I remember the years when we looked great in S/T and finished last. Let the games begin no matter what S/T wins and loses said, we now start playing ball on Sunday with a clean slate. It will not be long untill we know what kind of team we realy have. I think by June we will see how much cream comes to the top and what sinks to the bottom. I am expecting the unexpected. I will have my YES sign or my GOD PLEASE HELP sign to hold up as the days go by into this season. Hills and valleys, its going to be a great new begining. LETS GO METS.

Its gonna be a good year !!! bring it on !!!

I wish I could share your optomism. Right now I could see the Mets finishing first if everything falls into place, but just as easily finishing fourth if things fall apart. You write "They're willing to take a chance with young players who show great promise rather than leaning on mediocre veterans with a track record," and thus feel positive. Yet I'm not sure that this is true. Take Glavine. He was once a great pitcher, now he shows flashes of brilliance mixed with moments of futility, but generally a guy you can trot our for 5-6 innings of average pitching. You could probably find a younger pitcher in the Mets system or through trade who could do much the same. But the Mets are commited to Glavine. Should he flop, he's still going to be starting every five days because they're not going to send him to the pen, bench him, or ship him to New Orleans. And Glavine is not alone in this. O. Hernandez, Park, Wagner, Easley, Alou, Franco, and Green are all veterans being counted on to make a big contribution to this team even though they're at the age where they're expected to see a decline in abilities and in fact several of them have already shown a decline from the height of their careers. Now obviously the management has improved greatly in this area since putting together the 2002 team of faded stars but I still think an overreliance on "mediocre veterans with a track record" is a crutch the Mets just can't seem to let go of. And that makes me worry. But, it's a new year so I'll hope for the best and mostly look forward to watching real baseball.

If division titles and World Series trophies were handed out based on paper projections in March, we would have no reason to faithfully watch games that take us from the beginning of spring to the end of the fall. Everything that makes baseball great is personified by the optimism and skepticism surrounding this 2007 Mets team.

Forgive me, a fan since I first watched Dwight Gooden dominate the National League in 1984, for feeling a calm confidence in this Mets team. I, along with all other faithfuls of the Amazins, should certainly know better.

But there is something very different about this present day club. Teams of the 80s and 90s all at some point had similar talent levels, sage like veterans and budding young players. But there was far more anxiety with those past teams than there is with this one. And I believe the driving force behind this eerie calm is the current brain-trust.

Omar, Willie and company in just 2 years have convinced many of us to buy into this formula. With much less crticizm of each individual decision, each particular signing (or non signing), we put our faith rather easily into their able hands. Quite simply, for the first time in many years, we all believe.

It may sound very cliche. But the die hards among us know exactly what I am talking about. How many of us, though we desperately wanted it, truly felt we were destined to win it all in the late 1990s? Compare that to what we feel about things now. There is a true, whole-hearted belief in this team. And I dare say, many of us haven't felt that calm, firm confidence in the orange and blue since the days of Gooden and Strawberry.

Let's Go Mets.

2 more days

Regarding Salaman's post, above: the one huge difference I see between the prospects of this Mets team as compared with those 80's teams is that today we aren't starting a new season trying to stare down Whitey Herzog. Back then the Cardinals were ALWAYS lurking just over the horizon; they didn't always win, or even compete so well once the year began; but we never started a season without expecting them to fight us to the finish line.

So far, in this single season in which the Mets have been so strong, there hasn't been another team emerge as a perineal challenge to the Mets. I am discounting the "old" Braves, who held that position for so long, since so many of the people who made that dynasty tick have moved on or simply aged, to be replaced by lesser talents; to my mind that team is mostly gone.

Who is to say how long we'll be able to maintain that feeling of being on top of the hill? Maybe the Phils will really perform like some writers think they will this year; maybe a new Braves team will somehow start another run. But for the moment, I don't see another team in the East with the talent of the Mets.

For me at least, that is the reason why I view the upcoming year with such high expectations. Sure, Willie and Omar are a big part of that, but so are the Carlos's and the Jose's, the young pitchers and David Wright. This year we've got the guns. I think.

You're a sadist!

Let's get off to a hot start and not worry about meaningful games in September. That's so overrated.

A hot start means we can ease Pedro and Sanchez back into the mix. No need to rush 'cause we're 3.5 games out of first.


Ed - I agree that Zambrano never got a fair shot in NY, but I don't think he would have if they kept him. He's better off in Toronto.
n8genius - Good to hear from you. I agree. This is what we came here for.
Al - we're counting on you to put in a good word in high places for us.
Bean is ready :^)
Othemts - Keep in mind that with Glavine you're talking about a guy who knows how to pitch in NY now, had a very good year last year, and was good in the playoffs. I don't know if keeping Glavine would have been as crucial if Pedro was healthy, but he obviously isn't.

The point to me was they didn't sign some middling starter to a 5 year contract or trade top prospects for one. Wagner is still one of the best closers. Alou is a bad OF, but can still hit. He .300 with power last year. A team needs a mix of vets and kids. You can't go completely with youth, it's not going to work.

Salman - Well put. Another point of those late 90s teams was that you knew the future was being traded away to build the club, and at some point it would crash down.
dd - Good comment. While I don't throw around the word dynasty, which is one of the most overused in sport, I like to think that if a club is really well run things will fall into place for them -- even if there are other solid teams in the division. I always thought that if everything was equal those SL teams had an advantage because Herzog demanded fundamental ball from his team and Davey didn't. That's one huge advantage for this club over that one.'

Wow, what a rambling comment this was...
Sam - I don't think I'm a sadist, although I admit to enjoying the suffering of Braves fans last season. I do think a club is better prepared for the playoffs when the whole month of September isn't exhibition games. That doesn't mean I'm rooting for the other teams, but I'm not terrified by the thought of a real pennant race this season.

I'm as confident as I was going into last season, although I was banking on the 1-2 combo of Pedro/Glavine to get things done. For 06, the big additions coming out of Spring Training were Delgado, Lo Duca, and Wagner. Delgado gave the Mets the power bat they needed (correctly, it turns out), and that it'd take alot of the pressure off of Beltran. Lo Duca was the catcher that'd shut up naysayers about Piazza's deficiencies behind the plate (and I knew he could hit for average). And Wags would- and did, for the most part- extinguish the agony of dealing with Benitez and Looper in the closer role.

This year I'm confident about the Glavine-El Duque combo to get things done, and that Maine-Perez should step up, for the most part. The bullpen isn't going to be an issue longt-term, especially when Mota, Padilla, and Williams return. Short-term adding Sele and Park (potentially) to the 'pen is something that I'm positive about. Plus, the Mets will have someone named Pedro coming back sometime in August, which could send shivers down every NL team's spine.

As for the lineup, I think Reyes will have a MVP style season. I also think that Wright will benefit big time from having Alou, Green, and Valentin at the bottom of the order. Delgado seems to alternate .300 batting seasons, so I think he'll hit closer to .300 than .250 this year.

And then there's the potential for a trade. Pitching would be nice, but barring a Carlos Zambrano, Jake Westbrook, or Johan Santana deal, I don't see anyone but mediocre pitchers available. I do, however, see some hitters being available, and I'd want the Mets to seriously think about two guys who are free agents at the end of the season: Ichiro Suzuki and Adam Dunn. Imagine either of them in rightfield for the Mets. Scary.

I'll also be happy when the wheels fall off the Phillies bandwagon, and the Braves find out that the bottom of their rotation sucks, and that losing Giles and LaRoche won't help them. Barring major injuries, blockbuster trades by divisional rivals, and really bad karma (ie; the 05 Indians) I can't see the Mets not repeating as division champs.

You should think about doing some baseball writing, Jason.

1. Salman: in the late 90's (1998-1999) the future was Paul Wilson (rehabbing), Izzy (rehabbing), Dotel, Grant Roberts, Pat Strange, Alex Escobar, AJ Burnett, Preston Wilson, Goeff Goetz, Ed Yarnell, Jesus Sanchez. In retrospect who would you have not traded? especially given the return was Al Leiter, Dennis Cook, Piazza. It was really only in 2002-3 that the disasters that were the John Tomson, Steve Reed and Zambrano trades happened.

2. The reason I am hyped is to see if Ollie and Maine and Pelfrey can make the jumps Wright and Reyes did last year. The dark horses are Gotay and Milledge. Gotay can provide rbi and defense at 2nd, Milledge NEEDS to be a capable guy who mirrors Beltran in defensive and offensive capabilities. I use mirror because he has speed both on the basepaths, and OF, and has some power.

3. With Alou and Delgado together, I'd like to see Beltran bat 2nd more. I'd love to see the double steal with Wright or Delgado up.

4. Pedro is in his 3rd year of 4. Glavine in his swansong. The Mets have spending money. It is hard for me not to see the swoop move comoing from Omar. Santana is a great target and Gomez, Devaney, Mulvaney, Ahern and others would be nice pieces for someone.

About Mike's Mets

Please support Mike's Mets:

Disclaimer: Mike's Mets is an independent, unofficial fan site, and is not affiliated in any way with the New York Mets or Major League Baseball.

Other Links

General Baseball Links
Internet Radio Shows
Video Blogs
Other Team Links
Other Sports Links
Non-Sports Links
Video Direct

Looking for great deals on MLB Baseball Tickets? Visit JustgreatTickets.com for Cubs Tickets, NY Mets Tickets and a huge selection of Red Sox Tickets, Yankees Tickets and plenty of great concert Tickets for Dave Matthews Band Tickets and Buffett Tickets

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 4.1