By Mike Steffanos
It seems lately that half of what I read or hear about the Mets from the mainstream media contains references to last season's collapse. When Jose Reyes has a bad six game start to September, the Post's Bart Hubbach "subtly" works it in to his notes column:
Is Jose Reyes headed for another September swoon?
The past week certainly had the makings of a repeat of his final-month flameout last season, when the shortstop's .205 average was a primary reason for the New York Mets' historic collapse.
While Reyes' rough start is certainly news -- I mentioned it myself yesterday -- note that in the space of two short paragraphs Hubbach managed to work in swoon, flameout and collapse.
Admittedly Jose was a non-factor in the Phillies series, but I'm not quite sure a really rough weekend merits the over the top treatment that Hubbach gives it. Then again, this was the same writer that tried to convince Mets fans that Jerry Manuel thought we were all ca-ca based on his "fertilizer" analogy, so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
On the other hand, Hubbach has followed a well-worn path that has been utilized by many in the local media. The name of the game is getting your stuff read by as many folks as possible, and appealing to the fears of Mets fan is obviously the gift that goes on giving. I suspect this well is nowhere near dry.
While it might make for a more sensational and hence more widely read story, and while it would be stupid to pretend last year didn't happen, I question the value of taking these constant trips down dreadful memory lane and the endless need to compare everything this year to what happened last year.
I think the Mets have a pretty good thing going this season. Given what they have to overcome, though, that may not be enough to make the playoffs -- or go very far if they do. And that's the tender spot where they keep sticking us.
To those of us who are die-hard fans of our team, the end of the season feels like a death. Compound that with the circumstances surrounding last season's failure, and that death takes on all of the gruesome characteristics of something out of a slasher film -- even to the point where the victims in those films seem to be somewhat complicit in their own demise. The 2007 Mets never heard the scary music growing louder in the background as they indifferently sleepwalked through much of the season.
We fear a repeat of how we felt when it ended last September. Why don't want to experience that death again. There are those out there who seek to exploit that fear over and over and over and over and over...
In a sense, though, giving into this fear forces us to die this death many times. A smart guy who lived a long time ago had something to say on that subject:
Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
Julius Cæsar. ACT II Scene 2.
My rejection of all the negativity that surrounds this team at times has nothing to do with wearing rose colored glasses and refusing to note all the obstacles blocking the way. It has everything to do with a desire to enjoy the ride as far as it will take me. If the Mets come up short I will deal with it when it's over. In the meantime, I won't give in to those whose self-appointed task is to play off my fears and endlessly rain on my parade.