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:
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.
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.
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.