One of the best westerns of all-time is ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.’ In one scene, Tuco, played by Eli Wallach, is getting the hell beat out of him by a soldier who is nearly three times his size. Beaten, injured and demoralized the bloody Tuco looks up at his assailant and speaks the words, “I like big men like you. When you fall you make more noise.” This reminds me of the 2010 Mets. We have nowhere to go but up and wont it be that much sweeter when the Phillies fall?
The one thing we fans have learned is that rooting for the Mets is never easy. It’s always an uphill battle, a struggle. But isn’t that what endears this team to us? Unlike that other NY team we always find ourselves as the underdog and that is usually when the best things happen.
After running down the favored Cubs in 1969 the Mets faced the hitting heavy Atlanta Braves in the first ever LCS. The big question was could our young arms silence the big bats of Atlanta who were lead by Hank Aaron. The answer was a resounding ‘No.’ Atlanta pummeled the Mets staff, but what no one expected was that the light hitting Mets would erupt for 27 runs to sweep the Braves. The underdogs had prevailed.
Despite upsetting Atlanta there was no way we’d defeat the Orioles and their 3 future Hall of Famers. Baltimore had 3 players with over 25 HR’s that season (an unheard amount for that day), the best fielding 3Bman in history and one of the winningest managers of all-time. But yet the Mets won 4 straight after losing the opener. The young upstart Mets had gone 7-1 in the post-season against 2 supposedly superior teams. Good things happen when expectations are low.
Even in 86 we found ourselves having to battle, to struggle. The last 2 games of the LCS took 28 innings before we were able to put away the determined Astros. It was now onto the World Series where we found ourselves in an unusual spot. We were heavily favored over the clearly inferior Red Sox. But before we knew what happened, we were down 0-2 and heading to Fenway for 3 games. Trailing in Game 6 by 2 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th, the Mets mounted the greatest comeback in World Series history. And in Game 7, we found ourselves trailing 3-0 in the middle innings. Once again, we proved that we play better when our backs are to the wall, when all hope seems lost.
On the other hand, when we are favored things don’t work out for us. In 1988, there was no way–NO WAY–we could lose to the Dodgers in the LCS, but that is exactly what happened. Catcher Mike Scioscia sealed the Mets fate with a devastating HR. In 2006, everything seemed to be going our way. It was ‘our year.’ But yet, a funny thing happened on the way to the championship we felt we deserved. It was yet again another catcher who sent us home early.
We head into 2010 with very low expectations. And I’m glad. We’ve got stars coming back from injuries. We have an uncertain situation at 1B and behind the plate. We’ve got Johan followed by 4 question marks. Our front office in utter chaos. Our owner is not well liked and we still have mixed feelings about our new stadium. We have a manager who is in the crosshairs and a General Manager who has been the subject of more discussion then Health Care. And to all of this I say, Good. I hate to use clichés but it is always darkest before dawn.
David Wright has expressed some willingness to finally take over the role of team leader. Jose Reyes seems healthy and eager to start tearing up the base paths again. A few days ago our ace was asked, ‘With Roy Halladay now on the Phillies, who do you think is the best pitcher in the division?’ Without hesitation Johan claimed, ’Santana.’
What our guys need to do this season is one simple thing: Go out and have fun. Like those of us sitting here reading this article, they too dreamed of playing in the majors. They have accomplished their dream. Now go out and enjoy it. Stranger things have happened…
Our main rivals, the Phillies, have been to the post-season 3 straight seasons and the Fall Classic 2 straight seasons. That is something we have never done. Our cross-town rivals have appeared in just as many World Series since 2000 as we have since 1962. Good.
Much like Tuco, the Mets head into a new season beaten, injured, demoralized and bloodied. To the Phillies and Yankees I say, I like big teams like you. When you fall, you make more noise.