In four decades of rooting for the Mets my most painful memory, without a doubt, was when Yadier Molina deposited an Aaron Heilman pitch over the wall in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. I literally could not believe what I saw. Seeing is believing—but not in this case. 2006, like 1986, was OUR year. The 162 games were a mere formality.
It took us all winter to recover but when April 07 rolled around, we were ready. Sometimes you learn and become stronger by losing. 86 was an amazin’ year, but lets not forget the fact we lost two close pennant races in 84 and 85. We’d learn, we’d grow, we’d be hungry. So obviously, 2007 would surely be our year. But it was not to be. After the Mets historical collapse, blowing a seven game lead with 17 games left, it was devastating. Choking is for OTHER teams: The Cubs in 69, the entire division in 73, Boston in the 10th inning. But still, we dusted ourselves off and looked forward to next year.
But 2008 brought more heartbreak. For the second straight year, our Mets missed the wild card by one game on the very last day of the season.
That period was undoubtedly the most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching three year span in team history. But man oh man, what I wouldn’t give to be in that situation again. I view those years as a great movie…that just had a bad ending.
The Mets fan base is an interesting bunch. Since our inception, we’ve never expected much. Look, if we wanted to win every year, we’d be Yankee fans. The difference between us and them is simple: Yankee fans feel anything less than the post-season is a failure. On the flip-side, Mets fans are generally content finishing at .500.
We don’t ask for a dynasty. We don’t hunger for 20 straight division titles or however many the Braves won. Cardinal fans have seen their team competing year-in and year-out since the 1930′s. San Francisco waited over fifty years for their first title. Yet, they have always had solid fan support.
But us? We just ask for competitive baseball. Just give us a good team. Not great. Good. Fun to watch. And maybe an actual pennant race thrown in once in awhile for good measure. That’s all we ask. Yet, we can’t even get that from the Wilpons and Alderson.
Those of us who witnessed the Seaver/Koosman days always hold it close to our heart. But think about it. In the 8 years from 69 to 76, we got just 1 championship and 2 pennants. Yet, the sweet cherished memories are recalled fondly. We talk about the 80’s as if we were the Yankees of the 1920’s. However, we only managed one World Series and one division title. The reason these years are so special for us is NOT because we won a string of championships, NOT because we dominated the league year after year. Rather, we were good. Competitive. From 69 through 76 and from 84 through 90, we knew we at least had a shot.
Those feelings of hope are now long gone. 162 games of Mets baseball is no longer fun and enjoyable, but seems more like six months of torture. In the mid 80’s, even if the Mets trailed, you could just FEEL that we’d win. It was not a matter of IF we’d win, but HOW we’d win. Over the last few years, even if the Mets are leading late, we expect the worst. We anticipate the bullpen blowing a lead or someone making an error that opens the floodgates.
Yes, we’d love to be Champions…but we’d be content with just being good and respectable. Me personally? I’d love to go through the pain and heartbreak of 06, 07, and 08 all over again. It sucked at the time. But it was nice to be oh-so-close. Ask yourself: Would you rather see the Mets lose the Wild Caed in game 162 or basically being out of it by Memorial Day.
Sandy Alderson’s first season was 2011. Since that time, our attendance and our wins have gone down while disgust and contempt has gone up. It was just 2007, not really that long ago, where the Mets were considered the powerhouse of the NL East. For once, WE were the team to beat. Yet, since Alderson has taken over, not only have we not been competitive and not only have we fans become an embittered and sour bunch, but we haven’t even played a meaningful game after the All-Star Break.
Last season we surprised some people by staying in the thick of things for the first half. But we then faltered badly. This season has been a monumental failure almost since Opening Day. I mention about the good ol’ days of 06-08. Hell, I can even refer to the good ol’ days of 2012 where, at least for a little while, we had hope. Hope– something that doesn’t exist anymore.
To Sandy, Fred and Jeff—we’re not asking for a dynasty or to dominate the league for 5 straight years. Just a decent product, a team we could support and feel excited about. That’s all. We’d be happy with that. But as we are in the midst of season number three with Alderson, not only does a championship appear nowhere on the horizon, but even respectability seems like an impossible dream.
As I said earlier, 06-08 was like a great movie that just had a bad ending. Now, with the current state of this team, we are just a bad movie. Period. If the 2013 Mets were a movie, I’d walk out of the theater after 20 minutes and ask for a refund.