A long, long time ago … I think it was in late May (feels like centuries ago) … it didn’t feel “right” when the Mets were on top of the NL East by five games over the Braves, and looking like they were going to run away with it again.
That’s because being a Mets fan is the exact opposite of being a Yankees fan — we don’t EXPECT to be in first place, we don’t EXPECT to make the postseason every year, and we don’t EXPECT to beat every team we face. To be a Mets fan is to be the follower of the underdog, of David vs. Goliath, to hope against hope that somehow, some way, our team will pull off a miracle with their “Mets Magic”.
So instead of looking back on the last 105 games — during which the Mets have gone 52-53 — with disgust, and instead of looking at the 7-game lead disappearing in two weeks with disdain and disappointment, EMBRACE the collapse. Because by free-falling into near oblivion, the Mets have put themselves back into their proper position as underdogs.
Look at the momentum of the Philadelphia Phillies — they’re on a roll and it looks like nothing is going to stop them. Read the headlines, listen to the shock jocks on sports talk radio, read the pundits and the bloggers online, and what do you see and hear? The Mets’ season is effectively over. With their loss after loss after loss — against terrible teams, at home, no less — the Mets are now expected to fall flat on their faces this weekend and concede the NL East flag to the Phillies. Jimmy Rollins and his big mouth were right, back in March, when he proclaimed that the Phillies were the team to beat. Consider it, and almost believe it — it’s crucial to your state of mind as a Mets fan.
In other words, be thankful that everyone has written off the Mets, and that it looks like the Mets have no chance to get into the postseason now. Because then the Mets will be the underdogs — their proper place in baseball history.
In 1969, the Mets were coming off an 8th place finish and had no business ending up in 6th, much less the 6th game of the World Series. In 1973, the team lost 80 games and didn’t have a player with more than 76 RBI — yet they made it into the World Series. In 1986, when they dominated the rest of the NL during the regular season, they had to fall behind in both the NLCS and the World Series in order to rediscover their mojo as underdogs — it was the only way to win. Last year, the Mets dominated the NL again, but were underdogs in the NLDS because El Duque and Pedro were unavailable. The only reason they couldn’t get past the Cardinals was because the Cards were even MORE of an underdog.
The Mets need to be the underdog — it’s the only way they can be truly endearing. Blowing through the NL and winning the East by 10 games would have been nice, and we’d have taken it, but it wouldn’t have felt completely satisfying — not to a true Mets fan. For us, it’s not about our team being all-powerful and dominating — it’s about cheering on the lovable losers, and having them surprise us by overcoming the odds stacked heavily against them.
Their backs were already slammed to the wall, and they’re now lying against it, barely breathing, with little hope of the season surviving past this weekend. They’ve recaptured the role of underdog, and now as Mets fans it is our duty to run to Queens and provide our form of mouth to mouth resuscitation …
LET’S GO METS !
LET’S GO METS !
LET’S GO METS !
About the Author
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.