From Carlos Marmol To Johan Santana: Mets and Cubs Fans at a Loss
Struggling through numerous titles for this article—including High Hopes and Big Busts: Analyzing The Frustration of Rooting for the Cubs and Mets, Who Flopped First? The Mets or Mets?, and many more—I came to the realization that the inspiration for the article was one in which the hopelessness that seemed to come with being a fan of the Cubs, one which I could imagine was once reserved for the Red Sox fan, had made its way to Queens.
The fans themselves had become predisposed to that particular feeling and were morphed into believing the same thing about their team: that they were a high priced and failed enterprise.
Perhaps the Cubs fan has earned more of that right to complain, but for fans who sat idly as World Series trophies began piling up around the team in the Bronx, the Mets fan feels entitled to a bit of that bad karma.
The Cubs fan is cursed by the Billy Goat while the Mets fan is cursed watching a cross-town rival's continual success in October, and the Cubs fall of '69 and Mets success played in that is reneged by the collapse of '07, while Chicago's June swoons were all felt in that final weekend at Shea.
Obviously, they are not the same thing on the surface but what the feelings underneath that the events stirred is something fans of both teams can agree on and coming into 2009 both clubs had something to prove.
The Cubs had come on strong in the last two seasons only to flounder in the first round, not even collecting a victory during either series. The Mets on the other hand, couldn't close out in September despite big dreams of October.
Both sported high payrolls, $149.3 million to top the National League for the Mets and $134.8 million for the Cubs was third in the majors. That during a time when teams were actually reducing payroll during the current economic climate.
Both teams seemed to have fix their weakest link. The Mets adding key pieces in Fransisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz wile the Cubs addition of left handed power bat Milton Bradley seemed to be their fix.
But signs of trouble began to surface in the spring. The Mets' Johan Santana began missing starts due to elbow tightness in his pitching elbow, and Oliver Perez, the Mets' newly minted $36 million dollar man, reported to camp out of shape after the World Baseball Classic. The Cubs hoped Carlos Marmol could fill the closer's void left by Kerry Wood, but, in effect, he would struggle, and the role would go to erratic Kevin Gregg before coming back to him.
Both teams would start slow and eventual show some promise as the Mets would gain first place for 13 days in May before the injury parade began turning the hitters and fielders into a mess. While the Cubs would share first place for six days during a July hot streak before falling back after Carlos Zambrano would miss most of August with back spasms, an injury which he would later admit might've been avoided had he not been too "lazy" to do his recomended abdominal exercises.
Omar Minaya would have his own career lowlight in July during a press conference to announce the firing of long time Assistant GM Tony Bernazard in which he publicly questions the intentions of Daily News reporter Adam Rubin, who broke the story. Minaya goes as far as to imply that Rubin may have broke the news to secure a position with the Mets in player development.
So the season would wind up being a bitter disapointments as all of the Mets stars including the big 4 (Beltran, Delgado, Wright, and Reyes) and three fifts of the starting rotation (Santana, Maine, and Perez) would spend significant amount of time on the DL. Chicago would also be bitten by the injury bug (Zambrano, Soriano, Ramirez and three other starters) and a terrible sophmore slump from Geovony Soto.
The reasons are always many, however, when teams that start with such high aspirations fall in such awful fashion. But it's always been a strange ride whether rooting for The Northsiders or those Lovable Losers, one in which we roll our eyes during those moments of futility whether it's been 23 years or 101, but we are willing to wait until next year.
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