But oh snap! The Mets didn't even make the playoffs! Despite having been in first place of the division for most of the season, the Mets suffered a monumental collapse and blew a seven-game lead in the NL East with only 17 games left in the season.
Never in baseball history had a team held first place for so long without finishing first. The Mets were so bad at the end that they didn’t even get the consolation prize of the wild card, thus rendering my World Series tickets completely useless (again!)
It's never easy being a Mets fan. You have to really want it. Mets fans are subjected to a battery of loyalty tests that no other fans in history have to navigate (except perhaps the Cubbies.) Not only are we passionate but we're also a little bit crazy.
The reputation of Mets fans as being tormented souls is legendary. After all, at the end of the day, we're a bunch of hard-core crazy New Yorkers. In fact, we're so enthusiastic that the NYPD actually built a jail underneath Shea Stadium just in case rowdy fans ever get too out of hand (actually, that's not so bad when you consider that the Texas Rangers keep a jail and an electric chair set on "simmer.")
Going back to the Mets' epic downfall, it's hard to quantify exactly how devastating this season ended. In Bill Simmons' "Levels of Losing," he relegates the Mets' collapse to 'The Goose/Maverick Tailspin."
"Cruising happily through the regular season, a potential playoff team suddenly and inexplicably goes into a tailspin, can't bounce out of it and ends up crashing for the season. In "Top Gun," the entire scene lasted for 30 seconds and we immediately moved to a couple of scenes in which Tom Cruise tried to make himself cry on camera but couldn't quite pull it off. In sports, the Goose/Maverick Tailspin could last for two weeks, four weeks, maybe even two months, but as long as it's happening, you feel like your entire world is collapsing. It's like an ongoing stomach punch. And when it finally ends, you spend the rest of your life reliving it every time a TV network shows a montage of the worst collapses in sports history."
Sadly, he's right. Already, every headline related to this Mets team contains the phrase "historic collapse," or "epic fall." The back page of the New York Post blared: "CHOKED TO DEATH." The front page of the Daily News read: "FROM CHAMPS TO CHUMPS."
Look, my friends...I know that, in the grand scheme of things, baseball is only a stupid game played by a bunch of overpaid athletes. And if we look at society as a huge dysfunctional family, then the relationship we have with our favorite athletes probably most closely resembles one between a co-dependent spouse and the abuser. In our minds, despite all we've accomplished as adults, we're still the doe-eyed little boys looking up to the big, old jocks with their shiny varsity jackets.
And so we continue to go to the games and shell out $15 for stale hamburgers. We continue to revel in the victories and cry in the defeats. We live and die with our favorite teams. And, for seven months of every year, every fiber of our emotion becomes dictated by the onfield successes of a bunch of men in polyester tights. Insane, right?
But if you're a true baseball fan, you're a lifer. To be a baseball fan is to have your heart broken. The game is practically designed to break your heart. The depressions of a chilly October always give way to the hope and optimism of Spring. There's always next year.
"There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit." ~Al Gallagher
"Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona." ~George F. Will