If I win...
Everybody will say, "Well, of course he won.
He's a top-ranked player."
But if I lose...
You won't lose, Josh.
What if I do?
I'm afraid I might.
—From the film Searching for Bobby Fischer
Expectations can be a funny thing. In small healthy doses, they provide goals and motivation. But when expectations begin to get out of control, they pile up until the foundation can no longer support them and the whole thing comes crashing down.
As sports fans we often play a weird kind of psychological Jenga with our team.
We move and shift our hopes and expectations from place to place. What starts at the bottom eventually ends up at the top.
But at some point it gets out of control.
We start to believe we can get away with more than maybe we are ready for and eventually the whole thing ends up on the floor in pieces.
Enter the 2009 New York Mets.
They entered 2009 as a game of Jenga already balancing dangerously on a few shaky pieces and now they are a pile of wooden blocks waiting to be reassembled. Sounds like a disaster, right?
So why do I feel so good? The simple answer: no more expectations.
All of a sudden I am free to enjoy the game again. I hope they win. I want them to win, but I no longer have the nagging voice in my head saying, “They’d BETTER win.”
As a fan am I taking my eyes off the prize? Maybe a little, but this healthy dose of reality has been liberating. I am enjoying games again and I think others are starting to feel it too.
Fans are throwing words like “battling” and “scrappy” around this team.
In baseball terms, this is how fans pay compliment to teams who they know aren’t really equipped to do any real damage. Kind of like when your female friend tells you how “adorable” or “cute” you are.
Heck we are one more injury away from being “pesky.”
This will not last, of course. Over time players will return, new ones will be imported, and new expectations will form.
So cherish these days Mets fans.
Take a step back off of that ledge and breathe in the feeling of freedom from expectations.
Enjoy watching the 20-year-old kid in right make a name for himself before the media turns on him. Enjoy watching our center fielder and third baseman try to become leaders.
Try watching the game without the gorilla sitting on your chest.
Even if it only lasts for a week or so, it has been a long time since we could feel free around here.