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It's Not How Long You Make It, It's How You Make It Long

NostraDennisSaturday, April 7, 2007
By NostraDennis


Mr. Met opened the classroom door slowly, trying not to call attention to himself. No such luck. The door creaked loudly, and all eyes in the room turned to him.

"Come in, come in," said the wizened old man standing near the semi-circle of chairs in the center of the room. You're here for the Winning Streak Support Group, yes?" Mr. Met nodded, and sat down in the nearest empty seat, right next to an alligator silently spinning a basketball on his stubby finger.

"Yo, dude," the alligator whispered softly. "Nice colors. Orange and blue. You must be a Gator fan, huh? After all, I did win twelve playoff games in a row the last two years. Two titles, too," he bragged, holding up his other hand to show off a pair of shiny rings.

"Um, actually, my team's colors are orange and blue, too," Mr. Met started, but he was interrupted by a toothless man across the room wearing ice skates.

"Al, he doesn't play hoops, Just look at him. He's a hockey player, right? Stitches all over his head. Welcome, man. '92-'93 Pittsburgh Penguins here. Seventeen sweet wins in a row."

"Seventeen hockey games," snorted the trim wiry coach with the jutting jaw in the Miami Dolphins collared shirt. "Why, in 1972, we won seventeen football games in a row. A whole season, including the Super Bowl. Never been done before, and it's never gonna be done again." Mr. Met searched his memory furtively. Were the Dolphins actually a good team once?

"Now, Mr. Shula," the little old man chastised, "what were we just saying before our newest member joined us? You're never as good as you are when you're winning, and...?"

The rest of the room chimed in, "You're never as bad as you are when you're losing."

Mr. Met shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He was beginning to think coming here might have been a bad idea. All he wanted was a little perspective. He knew he was off to a good start this season, but he wanted to keep things on an even keel.

The old man smiled. "Now, Mr. Brady, you wanted to say something?"

The good-looking quarterback stood and said, "Now, I've got three Super Bowl rings (the Gator shot him a dirty look at this), but I feel like a loser right now. Why coudn't we win this year, too?"

"That's why they play the games, slick," offered the huge black man with the headband in a deep baritone. Mr. Met gasped. This guy must be seven feet tall, he thought. "We won thirty three games in a row in '71-'72. Think of it. Thirty three freakin' games! But even we lost thirteen games that season. And then Jordan's Bulls come along and win even more games in a season than we did. Even the best can't be the best forever."

"That's right, Mr. Chamberlain. And I must remind you all what a bad idea it is to brag about the size of your winning streak. It's just not the way to go about your business. After all, every record are made to be broken."

Chamberlain chuckled, "I got a different record I don't think is ever gonna be broken. I believe the number was twenty thousand satisfied..."

"Enough, Mr. Chamberlain!" The old man interrupted angrily. "Didn't I just mention not to brag about your accomplishments, both on and off the field of play? Now, then," he turned to Mr. Met, "tell us a bit about yourself."

"Um, okay...I'm Mister Met, from Flushing, Queens..."

The room shouted together, "HI, MISTER MET!".

"Yeah. Hi, everybody. Anyway, I just started my new season. And I was playing the guys that beat me at the end of last season. And I won, and it felt good. Kind of like revenge, but even better. It felt good to win. It felt right. Then I won again. And again. After that, I went and beat another bitter rival, and they were undefeated, too, so now I'm in first place all by myself. I'm just trying not to get the big head."

"Too late for that," the gator snickered.

"Well, Mr. Met, I think we can help. Success can be difficult to handle. That's why we get together here every week. To talk about how best to deal with it. Now then, your winning streak is how long again?"

"Four."

The room fell silent for a moment, then began to erupt with laughter.

"Four freakin' games?!? You're serious?" said a man in a throwback baseball jersey who'd been silent until then. "Christy Mathewson, New York Giants. No offense, kid, but in 1916, we won 26 games in a row. Four wins? We used to do that without breakin' a sweat."

"I know, I know, it sounds crazy." Mr. Met hung his head. Then he turned to Mathewson. "But you know better than anyone here that a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. I mean, 4-0 is, like, the best record you can have after four games. It's twice as good as 2-2. It's four times as good as 1-3. And it's, I guess, infinitely better than 0-4. I just want to keep a little perspective here. I mean, I've started the season with this many wins twice before in my whole lifetime. Back in '85, I won five in a row to start the season, and I just missed the playoffs. I won four in a row to start off 1973, played under .500 the rest of the season, and still made it to the World Series. This is kind of a big deal for me."

"A big deal, is it? Well, young man, here's some perspective," said the old man leading the group. "My basketball team won eighty-eight games in a row. Eighty-eight! That's regular season, playoffs, the whole kit and kaboodle. Now that's a winning streak."

"Do us all a favor, kid," Chamberlain motioned to Mr. Met. "Check the sign on the door. On your way out, that is."

Embarrassed, Mr. Met got up and slunk to the doorway. "Thanks, everyone...I guess." He opened the door and glanced at the sign posted on the frosted window:

"WINNING STREAK SUPPORT GROUP - SATURDAYS 11:00 AM - MINIMUM 12 CONSECUTIVE WINS"

I'll be back, he thought. Maybe not eight games from now, but I will be back. And soon.

Comments (4)

Ha! Fun stuff. Tho you might have left out a cliche or two....(checking)...,no thay're all present. Good work!

Of course the Mets are not THAT much better than everybody else. But an extraordinary feat like winning your first four games against your hottest competition by a collective score of a million to one, gets treated strangely. Ten runs scored for every one the other side manages? It's just too vast to evaluate.

To paraphrase ol' Bill James quoting oldtime slugger Dick Stuart: when a minor leaguer hits thirty home runs, management gets excited. But when a guy hits 72 home runs in the low minors (as Stuart did; I think that was the number), then it's too big for them to grasp, so they simply dismiss it.

Stuart proved to be a powerful slugger, if no Bambino. His incredible record that season didn't mean EVERYTHING, but still it did mean SOMETHING.

If this little run by the Mets should continue for a few more games, I think the effect will be kin to DoLittle's Raid in WWII; it will noticably change the morale of the other side, let them know that (in this case, not the WWII example) they might be outclassed. Conclusions such as that change a team's strategy; and some opponents have been known to give up altogether, play for their personal numbers -- all that bad stuff that happens to bad teams.

So for me at least the outcome of these next four games will be....interesting.

a great piece!!! i love it! and i know how mr met feels! so wait - you mean we're not going to go 162 - 0?

Joyce, I'd take 95 wins and another pennant right now.

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