By Mike Steffanos
Sorry I haven't written much this week. I picked up a third big project for work, and I just don't have much free time. I did watch the games, and frankly was grateful to have a lot of work to bury myself back into when they were over.
One thing I don't have to beat myself up for is getting cocky when the Mets built the seven game lead. I started to realize this team was missing passion and fire back in May when they still had a very good record. I've long since stopped buying in to a week of good play as evidence that they've turned it around.
Having said that, I'm a little surprised that some Mets fans are now really down on the team's chances. An acquaintance of mine even officially declared it "football season" after yesterday's loss -- washing his hands of the club for 2007. I don't blame him or anyone else from being disgusted. On the other hand, in this up and down year I'm sure there is some "up" still to come. Hope it's this weekend, because we all need a break from lousy play.
My Mom is a bigger Mets fan than me, and takes the bad times even harder than I do. We had our somber post-mortem on the Phillies series over the phone last night, and after a while she was talking about how great it would be if this week's 4 game debacle finally woke the team up. My Mom is the quintessential Mets fan -- a little shell-shocked from years of disappointment, but also a disciple of Tug and his "Ya Gotta Believe" mantra. It made me think of a similar conversation we had last October when the Cardinals went up 3-2 and the Mets were pitching Maine and Perez in the hopes of saving their season. What I wrote then still seems applicable to now:
This is a franchise that is down much more than it is up, yet if there is one common denominator among Mets fans, it is their unswerving belief that their team can somehow find the magic to bounce back from the brink of disaster. As a whole, we're generally a fairly pessimistic group, but not when our back is to the wall. Mets fans are certainly not perfect, and we feel no need to anoint ourselves as the "best fans in the world," but what I love about Mets fans is our ability to hope.
Almost all of you reading these words are far more than just casual fans. We climb aboard the exhausting marathon of a baseball season from the beginning of April and faithfully stay until the last out has been recorded. Our reward in most years is disappointment, but we haven't quit on the team yet and we won't now. It's as simple as that.
Last year's team was easier to like than 2007's somewhat dispassionate underachievers. It bothered me for a long time this year how easily they seemed to accept defeat to their division rivals, because I was afraid this would happen and it would all catch up to them. Yet, now that it has, I'm not that angry anymore. They are what they are, and I'm a lifelong fan. I'm still rooting for them to find the magic and put it all together this year. My Mom deserves it.