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Zen and the Art of Being a Mets Fan in 2009

NostraDennisMonday, July 20, 2009
By NostraDennis

July's not even over yet, and the 2009 Mets have made it real hard for their fans to pay attention to the last two months of this disappointing season. Don't misunderstand - Mets fans have never become Mets fans because of any guarantee of success. The team across town has a lot of fans with that sense of smug entitlement. Hopefully, we have very few of that ilk in our crowd.

Long-time fans have lived through some real rough stretches of Mets history. We've seen Don Hahn and George Theodore smack into each other in left-center field. We watched Felix Millan get four hits in a game, and watched Joe Torre, batting behind him, ground into four double plays. We suffered through each one of Anthony Young's 27 consecutive losing decisions. We hung with them through more 90-loss seasons than we care to remember. But this season feels different. Never has a Mets team had so much promise in March, but disintegrated so quickly into a near-guaranteed fourth place finisher.

They've been slammed by injuries, no question. But injuries are a part of every team every season. In 1987, the reigning World Champion Mets lost most of their starting rotation at one point or another, and still managed to finish in second place and win 92 games. We considered that a massive disappointment then. This team won't come anywhere close to that victory total. What is a faithful fan to do?

Let's try something new for the next two months. Let's be Zen about the Mets. First, let's get the inevitable one-liner our of the way. What is the sound of one team sucking? There. Let's move on.

Down by three runs early on? Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. All will be well, as long as we get out of this inning. In an offensive slump? At least we can celebrate the hit or hits we have. And if we have no hits, then we witness history. It's enjoying the journey that's important, not getting to the destination. Which is what someone says when they know they'll be the third, or fourth, or fifth ones to arrive at that destination at the ends of the season.

This approach accomplishes one important thing. It gives us the freedom to enjoy each game on its own. A Johan gem can be savored, without throwing it into the context of the four question marks that surround it in the rotation each week. A three-hit game out of a Murphy, or a Cora, or a Francoeur, can be fully enjoyed, without the nervous scoreboard-watching ("But the Phillies are winning, too...damn!"). If we pin our short-term happiness on a season like this one, we'll never get out of the emotional recession it's been causing. Celebrate the bright spots, like a Royals fan at a Zack Greinke start.

Even the trading deadline can be faced serenely, since this team is decidedly not one player away from contending this season. No need to chip away any further into our middle-of-the road farm system for a Halladay or a Holliday. Got a friend who's a Phillies fan? Smile, nod, and congratulate them on their upcoming division title. They'll be surprised at your good grace. They'll thank you. Then they'll wonder what the heck you're up to. They'll remember that moment in 2010, when all will be well again in the world of the Mets. Zen willing.

About Dennis McCarthy: I was born in the Bronx in 1960, but moved to Long Island four years later. I became a Mets fan in '69, thanks to my Aunt Ellen, who still lived in the Bronx.   Read More -->

Comments (6)

Nice post Dennis. But in the vibe of 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' which is an intense look at what Quality is, it is hard to appreciate much quality in a team that plays as sloppy as our current squad.

Every 5 days, we get to see quality, but there is not much quality to enjoy on a daily basis.

easier said than done when you live in new york and have to deal day in day out with the fans from the dark side in your face about how bad your team is...and then there is the new york media that never lets you forget it...and then there is the fact that we have paid a king's ransom for our seasons tix this year (granted no one held a gun to our heads)...and then and then ...i guess i'm just not a zen kinda girl...but good thought...:)

I like and endorse your way of thinking here Nostra, perhaps one day I will be able to practice the "Zen" technique. Right now I am still in a sort of "Bizarro World" state and I am just coming to grips with the fact that "Murphy's Law" is very much alive this season...."Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong". It's not like we have never experienced the disappointment as you have mentioned, it's just that we allowed ourselves to get soooooo hyped this year, especially after the last two. Yes so far things have been a bummer, but these are still our Mets like it or not. I don't blame anyone in particular, but I know someone had to say to themselves at some turn, we need to do a little more to make the team better. It is what it is, I just wish I had known not to blow $175.00 bones on the MLB package here in Atlanta. Plus, now Braves fans are thinking they have a chance at contending, it's just getting worse as the season goes on. Anyway....Go Mets 2009!

All valid points. Yes, the quality is putrid, but some of us also remember the late 70s, with Craig Swan as the ace. Or the Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman signings. Those were very exciting at the time, and we know how they turned out.

I'm sure it's tougher to still be living there -- I haven't forgotten, though it's been many years. The only reason I turn on the media when they're losing is to see who they might get rid of or get. Check the Buffalo or Binghamton stats. Glad to see Cory Sullivan finally get a shot -- hope he gets to stick when they need a starter. Good guy.

Yes, everything has gone wrong injury-wise this year, but that doesn't get the throws off-line, or get the pitchers walking everyone in sight, or the hitters taking pitches right down the middle and swinging at sliders in the dirt. Yeah, I'd be worse, I know, but I'm not paid millions and I'm not the one who's been successful at every level to get to that point.

Enough. Let's close the book and start looking at filling some holes -- first base, catcher, center if Beltran's really finished. A couple of decent starters. Fill-in bullpen guys who throw strikes and aren't afraid to throw a fastball on two straight pitches.

We know now that Jose is not Hanley, and even Rollins isn't Rollins anymore. Time to stock up on can't miss kids, and hope they're not Kevin Elster or Craig Jefferies or Lee Mazzilli. Because they never really did make it.

Can we learn something from Fla. They seem to clean house every other year and come up with a winning team or at least a team that plays good solid ball.With 1/2 the payroll.

We do seem to be toast this year. It is very frustrating for us fans to finally get a new stadium but watch the team fall apart without any way to improve. Blame it on what you want, but the ownership is not going to invest anymore cash into this team to help salvage some dignity. If they are cash struck, then maybe they should just sell the team. It seems like losing all that cash to Madoff has killed them. Because those who are responsible for restocking our farms are failing at that,we have little trading chips or help on the way. Cory Sullivan? Come on, give us a break! That guy can't hit his way out of a wet paper bag. We called him up to replace Sheffield. This whole team is a mess.

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