Sunday, August 30, 2020

Another Lost Season, but a New Day Is Coming

I'm not dumb enough to try to predict what happens today or tomorrow, but I will offer a prediction of sorts. As they have done since the weird, truncated 2020 baseball season began just over a month ago, at some point soon the Mets will put together a promising stretch of games. Just about the point you're thinking that maybe they can actually make a push for the expanded playoff field, they will run off another stretch of almost unwatchable bad baseball. Lather, rinse, repeat.
So, the team got back to within one game of .500 with an exhilarating doubleheader win on Friday. After allowing myself a few minutes to savor what had just happened, I thought to myself, they won't even wait until this weekend is over to let all of the air back out of this balloon. I don't feel any sense of smugness over being proven right, I was actually hoping against hope that they would prove me wrong. Trust me, whenever I make a pessimistic prediction about the Mets and it's proven wrong, I'm the happiest person in the room. But this year I just keep being proven to be right, and I freaking hate it.

No doubt at some point soon they will do something really great again. The part of me that has spent five decades stubbornly holding on to any flickering ember of hope from this club will once again think, maybe now. My rational mind will know that the other shoe is poised and ready to drop, but that won't stop that little spark of hope. At some point pretty soon mathematical certainty will rear its ugly head as it has done so many times in so many previous forlorn, impotent Mets seasons, and that hope will get packed away until next spring.

Something is different this time, however, and I don't feel quite the same emptiness I felt when the Mets previously managed to lose a game that should have been won in such a depressing manner. With the word that billionaire Steve Cohen is in final negotiations to purchase the Mets, it finally feels as if the sun is poised to come up and end the long, dark night of Wilpon ownership. It won't fix what's wrong with the Mets this season, but it does have the effect of offsetting some of the gloom that has surrounded the club for the last decade plus.

I tried to write something on this topic yesterday, but I just couldn't get it out for some reason. If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I am rarely at a loss for words, but I was yesterday. Instead, I took my dogs for a long walk and thought a lot about what it has meant to be a Mets fan for many years under the Wilpons.

It's not as if the bad times started in December 2008 when Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme came crashing down. Things have been pretty bad since the 80s turned into the 90s and what had been somewhat of a dynasty crumbled into dust. From 1991-1996, the Mets went 403-501, including a 103-loss team in 1993. Even the terrible Mets clubs of the late 70s and early 80s managed to avoid losing more than 100 games. After a bit of a renaissance in the Bobby Valentine years, the Mets quickly went through another bad stretch in the early years of this century. 2006 was a great year that ended badly, 2007 and 2008 just ended badly, and then we went right from late-season collapses into Madoff.

And it's not just that the team was bad. The whole organization became a joke. When they had money they found foolish ways to waste it, now they have little money and the story kept being about the hole that the Wilpons dug for themselves. As previously written about here, it was only the Wilpons' friendship with Bud Selig that secured infusions of cash that allowed Fred and Jeff to maintain their tenuous hold on this club, doing its fans no favors as they consistently ran mid-market payrolls while insisting that there was nothing to see here, everything was just fine.

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong up until the moment the press conference announcing Cohen as the new owner begins. But even with the lingering worry that the Wilpons will find a way to screw this up, I feel a lightness that I haven't felt for many years. I'm sure that I'll write about things in more detail in the coming days, but for now, I'm just grateful that there is an end in sight to all of the Wilpon's nonsense.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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