The Lonely and the Strong

Welcome to Mets fandom.

It’s tempting to say that we just saw the Mets at their absolute lowest. But I wouldn’t be so sure. There’s always another step down, a further descent into hell. Yes, the Mets season is almost certainly — ah, to hell with it, certainly — over. But seasons have ended before. We’ve seen worse, unless we haven’t, in which case we will eventually. There’s only one rule when you follow the Mets, and that is that things can always get worse. See exhibit A: Paul Sewald. But I digress.

The crucial fact that we all should have understood long before tonight is that the 2019 Mets are Mets. Like all Mets teams, they’re cursed to fall prey to something or other. They’re good, but not good enough to defy the inexplicable weight that drags us down every year. This was always going to happen. We’re the Mets. Honestly, I’m surprised I’m surprised.

Sure, they gave us hints every now and again that maybe something was really happening here. Winning fifteen out of sixteen on things like Luis Guillorme pinch-hit home runs will do that. But there were always signs that we would fall back to earth. We lost every game that we seemed absolutely certain to lose, which in Mets parlance means that good as we may have been, we weren’t good enough.

You’re not telling me you didn’t have some doubt. When Mickey pulled Lugo, I doubted. When Sewald entered, and looked like Sewald, I doubted. When Sewald was followed by Avilan, and Avilan was followed by the 2019 version of Edwin Díaz, I doubted. And when Díaz did what Díaz does, I was absolutely certain. When there’s that much doubt, there’s really no doubt at all.

The fact that our hopes and dreams were just crushed by Kurt Suzuki is a damn shame — there’s no getting around it. But none of us, I don’t think, ever expected to get around it. We’re Mets fans. This is what we do. Yes, this one hurts. But at this point, who wasn’t ready for it?

This is what being a Mets fan is like, and if you weren’t ready for this, you will be soon enough. Our manager will make bad decisions. Our biggest acquisitions will founder and fail. Playoff pushes will come up short, or they’ll succeed and then end prematurely. Brandon Nimmo will pull his hamstring then ruin his back. Jeurys Familia will lose whatever he once had.

That’s Mets fandom. No one knows why, exactly — meddling owners? Cruel Gods? Lack of investment in player development? A Nolan Ryan jersey buried under the 7 train? But regardless, it happens, and it’s not going to stop. And it’s why Mets fandom is such a noble endeavor.

We’re the ones who go through this, and the whole world knows it. We don’t call ourselves the best fans in baseball the way Cardinals’ fans do — I live by the principle that one should always do the opposite of what a Cardinals’ fan would do — but it’s starting to seem that way. The rest of the country couldn’t survive what we’ve been through. We Mets fans — those who are left of us — are the superbacteria of American baseball fandom. Everyone else laughs at us. Because they know we’re stronger.

On Friday night, I’ll be back at Citi Field. I’ll wear a Mets jersey and a Mets cap, and I’ll cheer for our boys as if nothing was ever wrong. I’ll watch this great American game and root for this wonderful damnable team and get myself a hot dog and a beer. If I’ve ever been sure of anything, I’m sure that Edwin Díaz won’t ruin the Mets for me. We Mets fans, after all, are way too strong for that.

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