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.