They’re Just Not Champions

I’ve only had about five minutes to adjust to the Mets’ postseason defeat, but so far I’m feeling pretty sanguine. I’ve got a new way of looking at things when it comes to my futile, fervent hopes that this team or that team will become World Champions, reap millions of dollars in endorsements, receive truly hideous diamond man-rings and be feted at ticker-tape parades in the Financial District. Actually, several new ways. First, of all, what the fuck do I care whether a bunch of Republican steroid-injected probable date-rapists experience a few euphoric moments of homoerotic joy ultimately culminating in a parade down a so-called “Canyon of Heroes” that is, in truth, a Canyon of Murderous Capitalist Pigs? But since I do sometimes to my great chagrin get swept up in the fortunes of these steroid-injected probable date-rapists, I have to find a way to deal with the emotional highs and lows of the thrills of their victories and the agonies of their defeats. And so I take the tautological position that if you are a champion, you will play like a champion. The failure of the Mets to play like champions tonight simply means that they are not champions. I realize that this is somewhat circular reasoning, but it takes the painful stress out of the second strike with two outs in an elimination game.

For the duration of Carlos Beltran’s final at-bat, Sarah and I placed our wineglasses firmly on their coasters and were sitting in little knots of anxiety on the couch. “If he deserves to be a champion,” I muttered, “then he’ll do what a champion does and end this game with a walk-off home run, or at least eke out a walk, or bat in a run, or something. And if he can’t do that, then neither he–nor this 2006 New York Mets team–is a true champion.”

Champions, I have decided, don’t strike out looking. Champions at least swing for the fences, whether they connect or not.

I must confess, I feel like the Mets’ loss tonight is kind of my fault, for two reasons. First, I am enough of a megalomaniac to believe that it is in fact my personal belief in a team that enables them to win, and quite frankly, I just didn’t believe in this 2006 team. I mean, I believed, because the slogan is “You Gotta Believe” and I am surprisingly susceptible to catchy slogans, but I am not sure I believed at the very deepest level of my very soul.

The problem could be that it is becoming increasingly evident to me that I am not so much a Met fan as a 1986 Met fan. I believe in the 1986 Mets. That was a championship team. On the last strike of the last out in their elimination game, I believed with all my heart that they would not lose, because I willed them not to lose. And they did not lose. It was then that I discovered that I have the power to change the course of history with my own mind. I use this power judiciously and carefully, and I am not sure I was moved to call upon it tonight. Also, in 1986 I was in Queens, while right now, I am in Brooklyn. I am willing to concede that it is possible that while I do have the power to change the course of history with my mind, I can only change the course of history in the same borough.

The second reason I am responsible for the Mets’ loss tonight is a little more grave. I fear that beyond failing to fully believe in the Mets, I may have actually cursed them. Earlier this year, inspired by my fond memories of the sweet success of the Red Sox 2004 World Series victory, I entertained the fantasy that the Mets would endure a similar drought, an eighty-plus year drought leading from 1986 to sometime late in the 21st century. Why would a Met fan fantasize about such a thing? Only for perverse and selfish reasons. I was thinking that if the Mets were to endure such a drought and then win in the later part of the 21st century, and if I were to live a long, healthy life, I could be one of those random old people interviewed on the local news about my memories of the now long-past original World Series victory, in this case the 1986 World Series, a.k.a, the pinnacle of my undistinguished career as a sports fan. Footage of me reminscing would be interspersed with the final out of the ’86 World Series. Perhaps a childhood photograph of me in my blue plastic Mets batting helmet would fade into Jesse Orosco falling to his knees at Shea, and then fade again into the perfect coda to my life and the next chapter in Mets’ history, the long-awaited late-21st century Mets World Series win. Now I am afraid my idle and pointless fantasy is about to become an example of the old and rather disquieting adage “Be careful what you wish for…” I didn’t mean it! I want to share the glory of a Mets’ World Series victory with my dad, and Sarah, and the city of New York, while we’re still young enough to know what’s going on!

If I have in fact cursed the Mets, it’s a good thing I use a pseudonym on this web site, and the majority of my friends either hate sports or aren’t Met fans. To the few who are, I apologize for the inconvenience of the eighty-plus year drought (if there is to be one) but I remind you that I did win the ’86 World Series for us with my mind, and that has to count for something.

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