I’m an absurdly huge Mets fan. I’m an absurdly huge sports fan in general, but the Mets, for all their futility and storied incompetence, occupy a station far exceeding that of my other rooting interests: the Jets, Rangers, and whichever NBA slam dunks the most. When the Mets lost Game 7 of the National League Championship series last year, not one, but two friends called me the moment it ended, both checking to make sure I was staving off suicide. When, six years before that, I witnessed, in person, the Mets winning the pennant, I swore I’d never lose the hat I wore to the game. That held true until this past November, when I lost my tattered, aged cap in a movie theater in Montreal. When I realized my head was bare, I ran from my hotel in the freezing cold to see if the theater had a lost and found. It did not. Life’s a bitch.
Still, I've been pretty stoic in the face of this season's Mets ignominy: when they started losing their grip on first place a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t particularly care. When I read that they’d dropped out of first place—and out of playoff position—I cursed a couple of times and walked away from the newspaper, wholly unscathed. Today, when they lost and the Phillies won, completing an unprecedented, historic collapse and ending their season, I laughed and thought about boobs. Strange, I thought, that these unforgiving vicissitudes hardly registered on my Mets Richter scale, but stranger still that anyone seems the least bit surprised. The Mets suck; that’s what they do. The Yankees win, the Cubs lose, the Red Sox hate the Yankees, and the Braves have good pitching. Every team in baseball has a fixed identity, one that transcends eras and generations. The Mets identity is that they suck.
The Mets sucked when they lost almost every game in 1962, their inaugural season. They sucked when Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry snorted their way out of the major leagues, and they sucked when Jeff Kent and Bobby Bonilla forgot how to play baseball in the early nineties. They sucked when Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura, Edgardo Alfonzo and co. couldn’t beat the Braves in Atlanta, and they sucked when they lost the Subway Series in 5 uncompetitive games to the Yankees. They sucked last year, when Pedro Martinez’s arm fell apart and Carlos Beltran inexplicably looked at strike three to end their season in the aforementioned series against the Cardinals. In fact, the Mets even sucked in 1986, when they only won the World Series because Bill Buckner took a page out of the Mets’ sucky playbook and let a simple ground ball roll through his legs.
And you know what happened this year? The Mets sucked. Carlos Delgado decided to eat feces for 162 games. Their pitching staff resembled an AARP convention. The Phillies swept them twice, they lost to a host of last-place teams, and they blew a canyon-esque division lead. In the final, ultimate coup d'esuck, they lost 8-1 to a crappy team in the last game of the year, the one contest that could have vaulted them into the playoffs and salvaged their season.
The recurring suck will undoubtedly continue next year, and the year after that, and the next 50 after that. Which explains why I wasn’t shocked at this year’s collapse—I would have been shocked if they had won down the stretch, if they had justified their bloated payroll and shocking ticket prices by putting together two solid, if not spectacular, weeks of baseball and cruising into the playoffs.
They can fire their manager, they can make a big trade, and they could even move into the new stadium that's being built across from their current, decrepit home. Whatever they do, it will suck, and I will be watching.
Stay Sucky, Mets