Will You Keep Watching the Mets?

Last night’s game was rough; a true roller coaster. If you read my recap, you know it started with this:

“Late-inning dramatics are entertaining, for sure. But if they don’t result in a win, well … what value do they have, other than entertainment?”

Loyal MetsToday reader and commenter NormE made a great point in response:

NormE says:
July 18, 2012 at 7:20 am

“what value do they have, other than entertainment?”

Isn’t entertainment the reason we spend our money/time on an elected activity?
The game was exciting. Yes, it would have been nice to win, but we were entertained—even though the entertainment was largely due to some very poor bullpen work by both teams.

Norm’s right: the most basic, fundamental reason we watch anything — whether it’s baseball, football, a reality show, a rock concert, etc. — is to be entertained. And from the perspective of a pure baseball fan — one who doesn’t have a vested interest in one team or the other — last night’s game was entertaining. For diehard Mets fans, games like this are akin to going to a movie where the hero dies at the end. All one can do is throw popcorn at the screen on the way out of the theater — and tell everyone that it’s a terrible movie, don’t bother wasting your money.

The late-inning comeback is one of the elements that makes baseball thrilling, turns casual observers into fans of the sport, and keeps people tuning in night after night. You never know for sure what the outcome will be, even in the final inning. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

In the first half of the season, the Mets’ ability to come from behind — and win — was defined as “resiliency.” When they lost, it was OK, because they showed tenacity, determination, and an inspiring “never say day” attitude. But how long will this character trait — on its own — hold your interest? At what point will you stop tuning in?

If a producer consistently made movies with not-so-feel-good endings, he/she wouldn’t have a long career in Hollywood. Similarly, a baseball team has to eventually deliver victories to its fans — no matter how much “fight” they show in the late innings.

This 2012 team is definitely more fun to watch than the teams littered with passionless drones in 2009 and 2010. But if the losing continues, will the entertainment value be enough to keep you watching? When you watch a movie, you expect to be taken through an emotional roller coaster, with the expectation that you will be rewarded with an ending that, even if it’s not necessarily happy, will at least tie everything together, and bring closure.

I realize baseball and the movies are two different forms of entertainment, and it’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges. But stay with me here for a moment and consider this: how many times can you put yourself through an emotionally draining game with late-inning dramatics, where the ending is not happy, and the closure is a final score with the Mets on the wrong side? And afterward, will you recommend to friends that they don’t waste their money on a show that consistently provides unhappy endings?

From the perspective of Mets ownership and the front office, that’s the real fear, isn’t it? That losing results in people not watching, and finding other, more fulfilling ways to entertain themselves? It’s the principle behind “meaningful September games,” right?

So, what say you? Will you keep watching the Mets, through game 162, if they keep fighting the good fight and keep you entertained, but ultimately let you down? If not, what’s your breaking point? Is it a specific number of losses? A place in the standings? A number of games behind? A particular player being lost for the season? Lack of acquisition?

Post your thoughts in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Steven July 18, 2012 at 11:29 am
    I think if we are nine games out by August 1, I will stop following the games in real time, and just follow the development of the young players like Duda, Tejada, Harvey, and Ike, as a precursor for next year. As far as the entertainment comment, if I want baseball entertainment, I might as well follow another team, that gives me entertainment and also wins, such as the Yankees. If pure entertainment were the only reason to follow baseball, then there should just be two teams that play each other every day.
  2. NormE July 18, 2012 at 11:40 am
    I think that most of the regular readers of Mets Today are more involved with the team than the average baseball fan.
    We take interest in the development of the individual players and the workings of the front office. We read each others comments and, while we sometimes disagree, we do learn from each other.
    As this year’s Mets begin to fade we will still be there, maybe not as compulsively as in the first half, but we’ll still tune in.
    And Joe Janish will keep stirring the pot to keep us on our toes.
  3. MikeT July 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm
    I’ll be back. Baseball is what I do while I’m at my computer being productive. It is a part of my life and often dictates my schedule. I doubt any of us will give up on the team. I fully expect them to start winning again, but playoffs have always been unlikely, this might just make it even less likely.
    • AndrewH July 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm
      I agree with MikeT. I will watch the Mets no matter what.
  4. chris July 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm
    I only get random games in florida since moving down from NJ, so maybe I enjoy them more, but I will keep watching. The team is likeable even if they are mediocre. As long as the Phillies dont make the playoffs I am happy.
  5. JoMama July 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm
    If we only watched the Mets when they were winning, we’d be Yankee fans. The best part about Met fans is their loyalty. Yankee fans are a dime a dozen, 3/4 of them couldn’t name you the starting rotation. Which is why, whether they’re in first or last, our family watches as many games as we can. It also helps that we’re on the Best Coast – games start at 4PM! I’d say we watch 90% of Met games, regardless of record.
  6. argonbunnies July 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm
    Caring too much about a team full of failure is bad for me. At some point I have to detach for a while.

    My breaking point is about process, with short-term outcomes secondary. If we lose because of bad luck, or because the other team is stacked with more talent, that’s not going to scare me away before playoff elimination becomes certain. But if we lose because of mistakes that are not being corrected, then I start to despair.

    Taking defensive swipes at 2-0 fastballs… taking big rips with a man on 3rd and 1 out… pitching only at one speed, or on one side of the plate… walking the leadoff man… nibbling around weak or slumping hitters… When we lose because of these things, and these things continue, then I assume the losing will continue. I’m pretty sure of how the story will end, and thereafter I will only check in on it rather than watching every minute.

    The story I want is not a cakewalk, like the Yankees have every year. I don’t want victory handed to us by a dominant roster. I want the team to earn it… with smart hitting, smart pitching, smart fielding, and smart managing. And, y’know, executing their best in the biggest spots.

    As for this year, I think we’re basically a .500 team, in a league where the 2nd wild card may not be too far over .500, and anything is possible, so it’ll be hard to count the Mets out. I’ll at least be paying attention for the whole season. As for actually watching 9 innings, that’s not about the standings, it’s 100% about how we play the game. I can only watch terrible pitch selection for so long.

    • Joe Janish July 18, 2012 at 9:52 pm
      Bunnies, well put. I’m with you on all counts, including the one below re: Dickey. For me it’s all about the process, which is why even with the Mets winning in the first half, it’s been frustrating to watch. Maybe I’m getting old and crotchety, but I swear that baseball fundies have fallen by the wayside as a MLB-wide epidemic. To me it has seemed as though the Mets often won because they made less mistakes than the other team.
  7. argonbunnies July 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm
    Oh, also, historic individual performances will keep me watching. I’ll be watching every Dickey start (unless he keeps pitching like the last 2 outings). Watching Wright’s ABs was enough reason to tune in when he was hitting .400.
  8. Crozier July 18, 2012 at 9:29 pm
    I never expected them to be as good as they were. I don’t expect they will remain as bad as they currently are. And sadly, I share Chris’s stance that as long as the Phillies don’t win anything I’ll be satisfied. Even worse, I’ll be satisfied if Reyes has a relatively lousy year. This makes me feel like a terrible person (mitigating point: I continue to root for Beltran). I’ll root for David Wright, who deserves better. And for Dickey to win, say, 18 games. And for Davis to salvage his season. In other words, I’ll follow the team for the sake of individual accomplishments, as I’ve done in far too many seasons gone by.
  9. ovanjye July 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm
    This team is becoming dreadful real fast. The funny thing is various article posted are saying that getting new relief pitching in here is to pricey. Sounds like they have already decided to let the fans down again for the sake of rebuilding, rebuilding what exactly? when was the last time we won a championship 1986, the expansion Marlins have won two since, please be honest, that is the Mets moto the future, what and when is this future thing? Explain it to me please! If you can’t then please tell the Met management to shut up and act like they are a New York market team! Damn I wish Brooklyn was bringing back a baseball team, that way they can move the Mets to Idaho, so they can keep rebuilding!!!!!
  10. Izzy July 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm
    As in 10 and 11 and 09 the Met watching will slowly decreae and the TV baseball package will be turned to whatever games have relevance. Afterall, isn’t that what Fred the worst owner in the world wants. Watch meaningful baseball in September. It wwas watching Posey in 10 and then the fold jobs in Boston and Atlanta last year. This September, short of a Met miracle (all used up in 69 and 86) looks like I’ll be watching a real manager try to navigate his kids to the playoffs. Good luck Davey Johnson.