You’re Doing Great, Now Get off the Field
NOTE: this is a post by Corey Gorey. Please direct your comments to him.
How many days in a row will I wake up, check out the blogosphere, scan the standings, and wish this 162 game baseball season would end? Sure, it’s only July, but Bud Selig is not the boss of me. If I followed my own advice and remembered to forget about the legitimate end date to the 2011 schedule, I would be much happier right now. At many points during the past few months lying to myself would have been a viable alternative to—what do they call it? Reality? Considering how many pundits were certain the Mets would find themselves in the NL East basement from the get-go, I’m nearly satisfied with mediocre. If the season ended today we wouldn’t have won anything—no multi-pronged trophies to encase, flags to hoist, or ostentatious rings to flaunt—but I sure as hell wouldn’t feel like I was squandering any more time or emotion, either. And when it comes right down to it, isn’t the MLB all about me, the fan?
In order to preserve my sanity and the club’s dignity, here are some proposed dates for when this season should have ended:
Sunday, April 3rd; 9-2 over the Marlins in Miami (W:2 – L:1). Since I live in Brazil, I had scheduled my annual visit to my parents in Florida to coincide with the first Mets series; Sun Life Stadium was as close as I was getting to Citi Field this year. When I told an old ballpark employee we couldn’t get to our upper deck seats because the entrance was closed, he laughed and said, “Oh yeah. They’ll do that to ya!” Then he tore up our fifteen-dollar tickets in exchange for thirteenth row behind third base. Not bad. We were in pleasant company, surrounded by other shamelessly loud Mets fans. Dickey was dominant, the sun was shining, and we had a winning record. The. End.
Tuesday, April 5th; 7-1 over the Phillies in Philadelphia (W:3 – L:1). If you can remember we had this reclamation project starter named Chris Young who notched his first win and went three-for-three at the plate. The Phillies hadn’t beaten us, yet—not even once. Davis had two working ankles. Wright had two RBIs and no one said anything about his back. The good old days.
Wednesday, April 27th; 6-3 over the Nats in DC (W:11 – L:13). Still below .500, but we won six straight. Murphy tied the game with a pinch-hit homer. If the season stopped there, it would have been on a high note. “At least we gave it a good shot trying to turn it around. At least we didn’t collapse,” we would say, knowing there was nothing to collapse for, really.
Fri. May 20th; 1-0 over the Yanks in the Bronx (W:22 – L:22). This would have been a fitting night to close the book on 2011. Beat the Bombers in Yankee Stadium, get back to .500, let Collins know he did a fine job and to let the rest of the staff know he’d see them in Port St. Lucie next year, bright and early.
Wed. June 29th; 16-9 over the Tigers in Detroit (W:41 – L: 39). Two games in a row with massive run production (courtesy of Bay and Beltran’s grand slams the previous night) made the Mets look scary good. Jose was 3-for-4 and closing in on a .350 batting average. I reconciled to the idea of third place, reasoning it could have been worse (which it has since become), and decided to call it a night. After all, it was nice how the team fought back from that 5-13 start, right? I hoped the NFL would work out that lockout business so that they could stick to the early August pre-season game plan. I’d need something to watch. If those franchises could play in stadiums built for only ten or so games a year, surely an eighty game baseball schedule was more than enough.
Wed. July 6th; 5-3 over the Dodgers in LA (W:45 – L:42). Tejada doubled in two runs and Duda doubled in an RBI, too. Parnell was credited with a hold, which is always a fun stat to throw around. The Mets won four in a row and the west coast was looking easy. With Jose’s hamstring landing him on the DL, everyone else stepped up. That would have been the perfect moment for the rest of the starting lineup to pull something themselves, and go down like the Italian national soccer team trying to run out the clock.
Instead of congratulating each other after that last out, they should have just hit the dirt. Then, the only logical and proper choice would have been to skip the last game against LA and completely forget about that flight to San Francisco. The whole team would have gone home and stayed there to watch Beltran in the All-Star Game the following week. Jose would have had even more free time to work on his music career and contentedly reflect on his .354 average, thirty stolen bases and fifteen triples. Later, when the writers gathered around the front office to question Alderson, he would admit to “missing some key players,” but shrug it off and say, “What second half? You guys should have noticed the very relevant white flags out front.”