Monday, October 1, 2007
THE TRAGIC FALL OF THE ME-TOO METS
"The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices make instruments to plague us."-- King Lear
Oh how 162 games focuses the mind, sharpens the view, and alters the landscape. Oh how a season separates the men from the boys, the charltans and poseurs from the real McCoys, and the true redeemers from the false prophets. Oh how the Baseball Gods punish tragic pride and deliver a poetic, almost Divine, justice.
From April to September, we Yankees fans endured it. The preening and the gloating, the malice and the Schadenfreude, the pettiness and the braggadocio. We read it in Mike Lupica's columns. We heard it resound from WFAN and their roster of Yankee-hating hosts. We witnessed it in the "Yankees suck" jeer that each night captivated the Shea rabble. We smelled it in the fetid stench of ressentiment that wafted from the Flushing sewers.
A seismic shift in New York's baseball geography had occurred, we were told. New York's baseball capital had migrated from the Ruth's House to Jackie's Rotunda where a new king was crowned. The King is dead. Long live Queens.
The Mets were young, vital, and ebullient, they said; the Yankees, tired, decadent, and old. The Mets had cultivated success; the Yankees had bought failure. The Mets boasted budding superstars; the Yankees were saddled with declining has-beens. Reyes, Wright, and Beltran heralded a radiant Spring future. Jeter, Posada, and Rivera personfied a dying October past.
Never mind that this Mets team hadn't won a single World Series. Never mind that this Mets team was comprised of players who hadn't proved themselves beyond a single season. Never mind that a baseball seasons ends not in May but September. Never mind that the once moribund Yankees have risen and the once mighty Mets have undergone a ignominious fall.
That is, the Baseball Gods tend to mete out an equitable, if deliberate, justice. Over a 162 games season the great distinguish themselves from the merely lucky while talent, heart, and the simple law of averages overcome the anomalous bounce and errant call. The .300 lifetime hitter follows his wretched slump with a hot streak. Today's adverse decision at 3rd base is balanced by tomorrow's undeserved boon at home. The pitching staff composed of middling starters and an overtaxed bullpen unravels. And the insolent, gloating fan swollen with hubris over his team's May fortunes receives an abrupt, traumatic and much-deserved comeuppance.
Take Heed Mets Fans and Behold the Wrath of the Baseball's Gods.
Let this be a lesson to you, oh arriviste-- the lesson that the New York Yankees (if not always their fans) teach: "Magnanimity in Victory" and "Dignity in Defeat."
Oh Mets fan, that petty animosity and resentment you harbor for the Yankees is best directed at the ownership and management of your own franchise. After all, the Yankees didn't compel the Mets to trade Scott Kazmir, Heath Bell, or Brian Banister or deter the Mets from re-signing Chad Bradford or Darren Oliver. No these are follies Mets' ownership and management committed all on its own.
Perhaps, then, for the future, it would best serve the Mets fan and the team he professes to adore to concern himself less with the fate of the AL East and the team in the Bronx; and to worry more about the decisions rendered and the competition faced in Queens.
For as long as the Mets fan preoccupies himself with the Yankees' fate, he consigns himself and his team to the plight of the inveterate second-class citizen.