During this roller coaster ride known as the 2008 New York Mets regular season, the lows have been devastating and the highs not nearly high enough. Some times I have felt let down, other times I felt hope and optimism. But there have also been times when I've felt betrayed. I am a Mets fan who lives and dies with my team. I know there are many like me who scream at the TV, who question Willie's moves, and who curse Omar for bringing in older, injury prone former All- Stars. We are also the fans who derive the most enjoyment from a win. I know when an extra inning game is won in dramatic fashion, it is not only a sense of enjoyment I get from my team winning - it's like a complete release of pressure, like I know that I can go home and sleep well now that the team has won.
I have been thinking about how much this team affects my life, how individuals that rely on each other to get a common goal accomplished affects me, and yet not one of them know my name, or that I even exist. Then, I think about how some of them must feel. What goes through Billy Wagner's head when he gives up the tying run in the 9th? What does Joe Smith think about knowing he gave away half of the lead the inning before? How does Damion Easley feel about not covering the bag on a possible force out? What does David Wright feel when he gets robbed of a game winning hit? What do the players feel? Any athlete, in any major league team sport will tell you that they feel a responsibilty to their coaches, teammates and fans. When a player makes, or does not make a play that changes the outcome of a game, what do they think when they see the faces of their teammates? How does it feel when your fans turn on you?
I have been involved in recreational sports league with my friends, and I know to a much lesser extent how terrible it feels when you let down the people who are counting on you. At that level we get over it in a relatively short amount of time. I know that grounding into a double play to end the game won't be on the front page of the paper the next morning. I know that when the game ends there won't be any reporters waiting to ask me what went through my head during the pitch sequence. I won't be bashed on the radio and TV for the next two days. When the game ends, I throw my bat and get pissed. My friends tell me that we'll get them next game, and we head off to drink beer.
I know people will say that I don't get paid millions of dollars to play. Well, they would be right, I actually pay someone else to play a game. But just because the players get paid millions, it doesn't mean that they're not human. These men are not machines. They feel the pain of losing, they feel the responsibilty to the other players and they hurt when they let their team down. People have been saying that the Mets don't care, that they're just going through the motions and collecting a check. I disagree. I think that they are just mentally broken down. I think that the pressure of performing on the heels of last year's collapse has completely worn them out.
Willie will say that the players don't feel that last year has carried over, but this is just a Manager protecting his players. You can see the batters pressing at the plate, you can see the pitchers overthrowing, and you can see the fielders trying to be too fine on every play. It is almost like they feel that each game is Game 7 of the World Series. The pressure is starting to mount, and the season is not that young anymore. This is the time when the fanbase needs to get behind this team and help them get that good feeling back. I don't know what it will take for the team to capture that good feeling and take off, but I know that they're capable of it. They need to believe that it's possible. That starts tonight.