Doubleheaders are usually exciting. Then again, with these Mets, “usually” doesn’t mean anything at all.
Sunday’s doubleheader was lots of fun, to be sure. It began with banner day, which was just a blast, and continued with Rafael Montero pitching six sterling innings, David Wright raising his batting average some 14 points, and Anthony Recker going 4 for 4. All in all, it was a fun day of baseball.
But that’s just it. Was it really supposed to be just a fun day of baseball? I didn’t even consider this question until the subway ride home, when two rather loud gentlemen in my train car began discussing the game, and the team in general. “2006, those were the glory days,” said one of them. “We only got one year of glory days!” complained the other. In 2006, I thought to myself, we didn’t go out to the park to see a fun afternoon of baseball, did we? Not to mention 1986, 1969, and other successful years that the Mets have had? No, if I remember correctly, we went out there because we wanted to see a win, and maybe have fun if there was time during the domination. Not that I’m complaining about fun. Fun is fun. But I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something missing.
I couldn’t shake it Oliver Perez’s long-awaited entrance into the game – for an opponent! – couldn’t muster more than a smattering of boos. I mean, come on – in 2006, even the entrance of Braden Looper into a meaningless 8th inning could get 55,000 people angry. But this was Ollie P, who is, completely objectively and as confirmed by scientists, just the worst, and we couldn’t even get in his head? Worse yet, we couldn’t even score on him? Something was missing.
Something was missing when the first game ended and the stands thinned. What were there, maybe 10,000 people in the stands for game 2? Maybe? I know it’s the Mets, but still – in 2006, you could have 55,000 people at game 1, and 50,000 wouldn’t have left for game 2 if you’d paid them. The interest – the interest is gone. Maybe not for everyone, but for those thousands of fans who left with nine innings of baseball just sitting there for the viewing pleasure, not to mention an Eric Young origin story, the interest just wasn’t there.
You know when I really felt that something missing? When game 2 got into the later innings, and the Mets just couldn’t seem to score, even when they actually scored. Cowbell man was belling, the scoreboard was thumping, for cripes sake, the Mets were AHEAD – what was the problem? Why couldn’t auditory, visual, and, for all I know, psychokinetic prompting get the crowd to say three words multiple times, interspersed with an extra syllable? What’s so hard about “Let’s Go Mets! (who!)”?
It came to me then. Sandy, and Fred, and Jeff, and all those other front office blockheads, can talk all they want – we’re going to change the culture, we’re going to rebuild a winning ball club, we’ve made strides in the right direction, we’ve got a solid club here, yadda yadda yadda. But if you want to see the real progress that’s being made, just look to the fans. In 2006, the fans, all 55,000 of them, were chanting their allegience into the concourses, down the ramps, in the parking lots, and probably all the way home. And regardless of what Sandy says, it sure looks like it’ll be a while before Chris Young and Lucas Duda draw the same interest as Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, the stars who Sandy now refuses to sign.