Editor’s Note: I received this Fan Shot back in March, but because of its closeness to Opening Day and all the other content we had planned, it never got published. After a loss like last night, it’s the perfect tonic for reminding us just how fun and exciting the start to this season has been, and that one loss will not change that or keep us from pushing on to another division title and an amazing postseason. – Joe D.
An MMO Fan Shot by John Cardillo
I get it, Mets fans. Over the years “Ya Gotta Believe!” has morphed into “Ya Gotta Be Kiddin’!” as injuries and other indignities have stolen season after season.
They teased us in 2000 and flirted with fame in 2015, but more often than not in the 30+ years since our last World Series victory we’ve been forced to swallow the bitter pill of defeat. They (and Adam Wainwright) threw us a knee buckling curve in 2006 when they seemed destined for another Fall Classic. And as much as we’d like to forget them, the September swoons of 2007 and 2008 haunt us to this day.
Disappointment slowly transformed into bitterness, anger and disillusionment. Vitriol was aimed at our owners and we assumed every move made by the front office would ultimately prove disastrous. Our defeatist attitude was expertly captured by Seth McFarland in his famous Family Guy skit: the first pitch thrown by a Mets pitcher to begin a new season is crushed for a home run and the announcer’s call is, “And the season’s over.”
But to this long-suffering Mets fan, who literally is as old as the organization itself, this year somehow feels…different.
Truth be told, I tend to be optimistic this time of year no matter how bleak things have seemed. While my fellow Mets fans tried to drag me down with them to the depths of their despairs, I at least waited for the games to begin before I started looking toward next year.
But this year…This year feels particularly…different.
Of course many things truly are different in 2018. There’s a new manager and coaching staff. There are many new faces, both rookies and veterans, in the locker room. And praise the Lord there are MASSIVE differences in the training and medical staffs.
However, the differences I think will have the greatest impact – the differences that have me feeling more hopeful about a season than I have in years – are those that can’t be measured by analytics. They have nothing to do with spin rates or launch angles. They don’t have their own acronyms.
No, these changes are a bit harder to quantify statistically. Like faith, they are differences you can just feel.
They are changes in attitude. Changes in approach. Changes in mentality. Changes in expectations. Changes in priorities.
There’s a quiet confidence. There’s a purposefulness and thoughtfulness to things. There is an unprecedented emphasis on personal accountability. There is a sense that everyone is pulling in the same direction. There is a core belief that team success supersedes personal goals.
You might say it’s a “Ya Gotta Believe!” revival.
Now I know the pessimists, the doubters and the cynics mock this touchy-feely perspective. If you can’t measure it, they believe, it has no value. To those Debbie Downers, I say we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.
I sincerely believe soft skills are just as important to success as raw ability; that the mental part of the game is as critical as the physical. I believe it can be the difference between winning and losing.
So kudos to the oft criticized and supposedly old school Sandy Alderson for recognizing the value of these anti-analytics and making it a priority to address them this off season. Tip of the cap to Mickey Callaway for having the courage and fortitude to swim against the tide and introduce some new concepts to the Mets. And yes, thanks to the Wilpons for spending some cash this winter while other owners sat on their hands.
Only time will tell if it all makes a difference. All I can do is appeal to the hard-hearted, down trodden fans to give it a chance. Keep the negativity to a dull mumble – at least until the All-Star Break.
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This Fan Shot was written and contributed by MMO community member and die-hard Mets fan John Cardillo. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Send your article to GetMetsmerized@aol.com or use this Contact Form. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.