“You know the Times says the air’s bad down here.”
“Yeah?  Well —- the Times; I read the Post.”
–From 25th Hour

I am a fan of many things.  No one can call me anhedonic, based solely on the thrill I get from describing various recipes for grilled burgers.  I am a fan of most Spike Lee movies, and the red-rimmed bug-eyed work of Barry Pepper (you may remember him as the sniper in Saving Private Ryan), and when they got together for 25th Hour, whoo boy.

Mostly, however, I’m a fan of being fired up.  I LOVE to be fired up, which is difficult because there’s often the chance that getting fired up might mean coming down hard on a loss.  It’s hard to be a fan for this reason.  It’s great to be a fan for the opposite reason; you might just float down on a win.

I’m not looking to spec’ out a battle royale between the Times and the Post; but Barry Pepper’s comment was what rang in my head when I read an article in the Times this morning about the irregulars coming in to keep the Mets afloat, then saw the back of the Post’s edition while on the subway.  Plenty of blogosphere reports today re: the “Save Our Season” message; note that exhortation shortens to “S.O.S.,” and No don’t tell me they made the Mets logo the “O” gosh that’s so clever.

I don’t care how sophisticated your sports reporting is; if your front page that day boils Iranian election trauma down to the phrase “Turban Warfare,” and you send a clown to Albany in the midst of procedural Senate turmoil, I will laugh at you plenty, but take next to nothing you say seriously.  At this point I’m using the Daily News for movie timetables.

The difference between the Times and the Post highlights the difference in most fans: some are wild about the fact that the Mets are three games above .500 with the equivalent of the Lower East Ghananian All-Stars out there; some are panicked that we’ll never again climb onto the mountaintop and see the Promised Land.  Or is it get to the Promised Land and climb up to the mountain there?  Who knows.  They want a trade.  NOW NOW NOW.

(Lower East Ghanania doesn’t exist, and if they did, I’d doubt they’d have an All-Star team in ANYTHING.)

So with Jerry Manuel coming up on a year of gainful employment as a headliner, and Willie Randolph spending Month Whatever on the bench in Milwaukee, are we screwed or are we waiting patiently to be saved?  Are we either; are we both; are we neither?  I specifically do not think there is an answer.  I’m not trying to be flip about it.  I mean, specifically, that it is not a question that can be answered.

Because even if the Mets were fine, there’d be problems.  And in these current problems, there are Herculean bright spots.  That shouldn’t take the joy or blah out of fandom.  Fandom’s like eating; I don’t know a soul who isn’t a fan of SOMETHING.  You have to do it.  And sometimes you’ll roll down to Frankie’s 17 on Clinton Street and tear into a delicious plate of homemade gnocci and sausage, and take that down with a glorious glass of white.  And sometimes you’ll have no choice but to stop into the McDonald’s outside Ramapo, scarf a Big Mac, and regret the hell out of it when you’re still twenty miles away from the next rest stop.

I don’t mean to put a pin in everybody’s fun by deconstructing fandom, either.  Quite the opposite.  I want everyone to be fired up, all the time.  Just understand that the other guy might be just as fired up in the opposite direction, and that’s okay.  You’re on Clinton Street with coin in your pocket; they’re in Ramapo hoping there’s some Pepto tabs that haven’t been destroyed in the glove compartment.  Or vice versa.

Only time will make fools of those who thought one way or the other (this is where I bring it back to 25th Hour; OF COURSE the air was bad down there–are you KIDDING?!), and in the meantime, there’s life to live baseball to be played.

Tonight it’s Big Pelf versus this region’s version of the Birds.  Why are there so many birds in baseball, anyway?  Cardinals, Blue Jays, Orioles?  Un-im-pressed.