By Joyce Mandelkern
I have spent the last two series trying to figure out what to make of our Mets. People, I'm at a loss. My head is spinning. I have no clue what direction our team is heading in at this point in time. Our team is certainly playing at a major disadvantage due to the incredible amount of injuries to key players and even their backups. To make matters worse, some of the players who are playing are clearly not near 100%. We are playing short-handed, which is a no-no for a national league team. We are getting no offensive production from our backup first basemen, and our power numbers are virtually non-existent. The bottom line is we are constantly swimming upstream.
And yet, we fight. To their credit, these 2009 Mets have showed me something. Every time I think we've hit rock bottom and can't recover, we do. Blow after blow, injury after injury, they keep working. They don't quit. They hang in there, they pick each other up and they keep battling. They don't make excuses, they don't blame each other, and most importantly, they've got each other's backs. Could this be the tough team we've all been waiting to see the last couple of years?
The problem is this is only one piece of the winning puzzle. As we all know, there are no moral victories in sports. I am glad we can hold our own against the "good" teams, given our situation, but we still have to be able to close the deal and win those games. What is so frustrating is that we work so hard to get a lead and play well, and then we literally hand the game back to the other team to win - they don't win it, we lose it. We still make that crucial error, that one bad pitch, that one mental mistake, that one base running blunder and the wheels start to come off and we can't close the deal. While we are fighting the other team, we are also fighting ourselves. We are still our own worst enemy, except for maybe the umps, but that's a post for another day.
The Mets have become adept at turning the page and moving on. They have the ability to do this. It is the only way they can get through a 162 game season. We fans only have the very bitter taste of the last two seasons that we haven't been able to move past. Their ability to do this will serve them well in the long run. As a Mets fan I have always come to expect the worst and I am rarely disappointed. Perhaps it is time that I try to move on from the disappointment of the last two seasons take this season for what it is -a tossup. Maybe everyone gets healthy and we play great baseball and we win. Or maybe we fall so far behind in the next month that we can't get back into the race. Who knows? I guess that's why sports are the best reality show around. I do know that we can't afford any more setbacks. I also know they are going to have to keep working and fighting. And unlike other teams, they must fight both their opponents and themselves. They always have to do things the hard way, don't they? They have earned my respect for hanging tough when it would've been a lot easier to fold. If we can translate this toughness into actual wins, we might actually have something here.
As always, the Mets are exasperating and emotionally exhausting. The late great Bob Murphy was right when he would tell us to "fasten our seatbelts". The Met rollercoaster of 2009 is not ending anytime soon. Hang on, if you're tough enough.