Strike three to Beltran and the Cardinals are heading to the World Series. How many of us can still see Carlos standing there as Wainwright raises his arms after throwing that perfect 0-2 breaking ball? Losing that year was brutal, especially after Endy’s catch seemed to swing momentum in the Mets direction. It was all for not and a great season was over, fans were left disappointed and felt shortchanged, Carlos Beltran‘s legacy as a New York Met was forever changed, but little did we know just how good we had it. 2006 may have ended on a gut-wrenching note, but at least it ended with playoff baseball being played in Queens.
In 2007 the Mets capped one of the worst collapses in baseball history, having led the National League East by 7 games with 17 to go, only to see the last-place Florida Marlins wipe away their playoff hopes on the last day of the season. New York lost six of seven games in a final home stand against teams with losing records as the surging Philadelphia Phillies won the division. Seriously, that really did happen, I just checked. It was a heart wrenching and embarrassing month of September as nothing the team did down the stretched worked. This was a new low from the year before, I mean losing in the playoffs was one thing but missing the chase for a title in the fashion that the 2007 team did was just horrible. The 88 wins the team recorded might as well have been erased for the simple fact that they could not get just one when they needed it most.
Still, when you look back on it, fans got to celebrate 88 wins during the season and 89 more in 2008, a season in which they once again finished behind the NL East champion Phillies. The team failed to make the playoffs that season and the idea of using the postseason as a measuring stick was slowly slipping away from a fan base that was getting used to disappointment.
Even the most jaded of fans can only stomach so much and from 2010-2012 the New York Mets and the Wilpons have tested their fans fortitude time and time again. Regimes have changed under the owners but the owners remain, to the dismay of many diehards. As difficult as it’s been to watch the Mets finish under .500 for three straight seasons as the organization slashes payroll and cuts dead weight in an effort to retool for an eventual ‘return to glory’, I can’t even imagine what it would have been like going through this without the camaraderie of other hardened Mets fans to help ease the pain. Vinny and I have long considered ourselves eternal optimists and started MetsZilla.com because we got tired of listening to one another complain about the people that complained about the team (not a misprint). So why not let it all out on the web and see if we could create some positive conversation? That was a goal the Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Jason Bay and the Wilpons seemed destined to destroy, but it doesn’t really matter because like most fans we have found comfort in the voices of others that share in our plight.
The New York Mets have become the punchline for what seems to be an ongoing joke around baseball, but Mets fans aren’t laughing (O.K. maybe we laughed a little, but we’re allowed to).
Fans are anxious for what’s coming next and entering the 2013 season I think most of us finally feel like that ‘return to glory’ might be closer than most think. We have found unity in the midst of disappointment over the years and we will take that with us as we eventually march through the streets of New York City during a championship parade that hopefully soon awaits.
We don’t need the infamous Underdog t-shirts Jeff Wilpon handed out to his players last Spring to tell us we are fighting an uphill battle. Buying tickets to the games isn’t about putting money in the owners pockets, nor should it be viewed as a vote of confidence in the direction the Metsecutives have taken this franchise.
For Mets fans it’s about the team on the field and the other diehards in the seats. The fan base has embraced it’s own brand of loyalty, thanks in part to all the blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, and of course some of the best fan attire in all of sports courtesy of Darren Meenan and The 7 Line (www.the7line.com), who has helped assemble an ‘army’ of hungry fans just waiting for a reason to turn a bond fortified in defeat into a celebration bred from victory. That day will come and when it does, Mets fans can turn and laugh amongst one another and AT everyone else as the realization that the road to victory is that much sweeter when it’s paved by a path of hardships that served to unify our battle cry. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go watch Braveheart again. LETS GO METS!
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