The New York Mets had a lot to celebrate during the first half of the 2012 season.
If you are a typical New York Met fan, you began this baseball season cloaked in blue and orange and the unflagging optimism that every Met fan must sport in order to preserve even a semblance of sanity.
What else do we have if not hope?
While we donned our jerseys and caps and made the pilgrimage to Citi Field, lost in the fantasy that perhaps this year would be different than the last, part of us knew—just had to know—that we were heading down the same road again.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
In the waning moments of this year's baseball season, 2012, it appears, is just more of the same for Met fans. Uh, correction. More of the same—only worse.
2012 began with four consecutive victories, including an exciting three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves, our longtime nemesis. The Mets were scoring runs, making plays and throwing strikes. They were playing with a zeal and vitality that nobody could have predicted.
Quite a start for a team that baseball pundits placed on life support long before the season began.
It was the best of times.
Yet as the Mets stunned us with their inspired brand of play, even the most idealistic supporters of the Amazins' were already beginning the vigil—the plaintive wait for the collapse to begin. We braced ourselves for the inevitable demise, certain that the quick start the team and its faithful followers were enjoying was just a dalliance, a most wonderful but obvious fluke.
But then David Wright caught fire and R.A Dickey proved he was close to unhittable. No-name rookies like Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ruben Tejada provided a spark that the moribund club has not seen since the days of Backman and Dykstra.
So we celebrated a little more.
But we’re Met fans, so despite the rapture, secretly we harbored this burgeoning anxiety. How could it last? It never does.
Somehow it did. And a lot longer than any of us could have imagined.
The Mets staged late-inning rallies and scored a plethora of two-out runs. This resiliency spilled over into the play of upstart newbies Jordany Valdespin and Mike Baxter. David Wright got hotter and R.A. Dickey just would not lose. Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese looked like legitimate starters and somehow the bullpen, although far from perfect, was getting it done.
And if that wasn’t reason enough to make you believe in miracles, the unthinkable happened:
Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history. Met fans were intoxicated. Even delirious. This was a team of destiny for sure, right?
Cue the party music.
Suddenly it was All-Star time, and somehow, some way, the New York Mets were relevant. They were exciting. They stood 46-40 and appeared poised to make a serious run in the wild-card race.
But alas, nothing lasts forever.
With no real warning at all, it happened. The "it" all Met fans know all too well. The All-Star break came and went, taking with it the team with which fans had fallen so madly in love. Smiles were stilted. Hopes were dashed. The drudgery had returned.
It was the worst of times.
We watched in horror as our first-half darlings proceeded to drop five straight games after the Midsummer Classic, en route to going 2-13 before finally winning consecutive games at the end of July. Our depression escalated as the dearth of runs, especially at home, led to one listless loss after another.
Do I even have to mention the name Jason Bay?
A season-ending injury to Santana followed, and despite the electricity engendered by highly touted rookie Matt Harvey, talk of a Cy Young Award for R.A. Dickey and the more than respectable offensive numbers put up by Ike Davis, there wasn’t much to cheer about anymore.
Now it’s mid-September, and Met fans are faced with accepting their team’s irrelevance as well as the daunting specter of our two best players from 2012 possibly leaving for greener pastures.
As we prepare to watch another postseason without our Mets, all we can do is invoke the words that have become more of a battle cry than a playful mantra.
“Wait ‘till next year.”
But perhaps management can help us a little. Don’t we deserve it?
Can we sign David Wright and R.A. Dickey? Can we nurture our young arms—Harvey and Wheeler—and maybe deal for a corner outfielder or two? Oh yeah—a catcher who can hit for power and bona fide closer wouldn’t hurt either.
I am hoping that complaining publicly will precipitate some change. It worked for those who clamored for a new ballpark.
Yes, we have the stadium. A state of the art baseball venue. All of the amenities at Citi Field are wonderful, although perhaps a trifle superfluous. Don't get me wrong; I like creature comforts as much as the next guy, but I am a baseball fan.
I just want to see quality baseball played at my home park throughout the summer, and maybe even a game or two in the fall. Yes—a full season of baseball in Flushing.
Sure I like Citi Field, and there is lots to love about the experience there.
But truth be told, I would trade a landscaped plaza, interactive museum, improved sight lines and a Shake Shack burger in a heartbeat for just one postseason appearance.