I’m a fan of the New York Mets, which means most of my life has been spent participating in a sort of communal psychosis. It’s what happens when your team’s present and past is told through the abstracting lens that comes with the “lovable losers” tag. The problem with the tag is not just that it’s BS, which it is, but also that it keeps us from appreciating a team for what it is. The New York Mets are not lovable losers. The New York Mets are perfect.
There is no other word to describe the sight of a 40-year-old Bartolo Colon improbably blowing 90-ish mile-per-hour fastballs past befuddled super-athletes and then jiggling his mighty belly in celebration. The same goes for Kyle “You Have Got To Be Kidding Me” Farnsworth and Jose “Seriously?!” Valverde impersonating a dominant back end of the bullpen that will always be one pitch away from a regression into the abyss. If players that are “good” is more your jam, centerfielder Juan Lagares is good for a dumb ridiculous catch every game or so and might maybe hopefully be developing into a legit hitter. The commonality here is that, while imperfect, none of these guys are losers. Watch starting pitcher Jenrry Mejia’s straight pissed reaction to this Justin Upton home run and tell me if the Mets still strike you as lovable losers.
Sure, the Mets are going to lose more games than any Mets fan would like, because that’s what happens when a team’s ownership gets caught up in the great American Ponzi scheme and all the bills come due at once. Matters aren’t aided much by theoretical franchise first baseman Ike Davis having a swing that resembles a collection of mismatched Ikea furniture pieces. For the sake of my own mental health, the following also bad things will not be discussed: franchise pitcher Matt Harvey undergoing Tommy John surgery, low average/big power rightfielder Curtis Granderson playing in a stadium that murders low average/big power hitters and, worst of all, Josh Satin’s ongoing refusal to go by SATAN. Come on, man, give the people what they want, jeez. Anyway, I’m sure they’re all trying very hard and would get hella mad if you called any of them losers.
If the team described above does not seem like a fun team worth watching on its own merits, then I would like very much for you to shut up when you talk to me. Besides, Mets fans seem to have forgotten that this team lines up perfectly with the franchise’s real history. To understand that history, go ask a Chicago Cubs fan if two World Series championships over 50 years or so seems like a decent enough deal. You’d have offers of first-born children before finishing the proposition.
The Mets, despite the loser label, have been to the World Series four times since their establishment in 1962 and won it all twice — this objectively rates out as pretty damn good. The timing of those trips and wins hasn’t worked out for every fan, but the Mets still manage to somehow put together a great team every 15-20 years or so. This trend dates back to their improbable World Series win over the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in 1969 and can be plotted in sync with the fabulously memorable 1986 World Series team and the 2000 team that lost to Yankees because there is no God. This trend of coincidental timing of course holds no real predictive power, but despair is a petri dish for optimism and I can believe whatever I want, nerd.
The power source for that belief is a lot of assumption, but that’s the root of rooting for any team. Example: If Harvey can come back his usual dominant self, the Mets will have the makings of a dominant rotation between him, Zack Wheeler, Jonathan Niese and top-flight prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. While the team’s position player prospects aren’t half that promising, maybe the Wilpons will finally cash out and sell the team to someone who has actual money that can be used to pay non-Curtis Granderson free agents. Or maybe first baseman Dominic Smith will turn out to be the truth just as catcher Travis d’Arnaud figures out how to hit major league pitching. It could all work out, is my point.
Either way, it doesn’t matter. I like my sorta crappy team full of dudes trying real hard and, if that’s what your team is like right now, better to enjoy it now rather than imagine brighter horizons in the future. Whatever that imagined future may be, it won’t be as cool as having a big fat guy on the mound right now. Give me the big fat guy every damn time.