The Mets did not lose last night; more a function of not having played than anything else. If I am not the first person to tell that joke today, I’m sorry. I swear I came up with it last night.
 
A day off can be considered a small victory, in that it brings them one day closer to at least getting someone back, be it Billy Wagner or Angel Pagan or the Section 528 mascot. Seriously, Big Man, where are you?
 
And while we hurtle as Mets fans toward the doom that will doubtless be Wednesday, we can enjoy victories of precedent at the halfway point of the season. 
 
The 2007 Phillies were seven games out as late as September, and went on a tear as the Mets imploded.  The 2006 Cardinals didn’t break 90 wins, but won the World Series.
 
There. Precedent. Recent, no less. With no idea how strong Carlos Delgado will be when he returns and no possible way to predict whether Hanley Ramirez will eat some bad shrimp that will keep him out of the Marlins’ line-up for a pivotal series, we just don’t know.
 
I don’t begrudge anyone their whining (see yesterday’s post about the imminent return of Ollie 2.0: The Reawakening [that’s not the post’s title]), but I can brook no inconsistency. Don’t like Ollie? Unless and until he starts firing lightning bolts along with his fastball, keep that emotion right where it is. Think Omar Minaya should trade for a bat? Don’t tell me he should save everyone in the farm system and currently on the field with the other side of your mouth.
 
And unless circumstances change in such a manner as to make you a buffoon for stating otherwise–such as Josh Thole discovering his inner Albert Pujols, and proving it consistently on a major-league level–you should be pretty damned sure about making statements-in-stone, such as, “This team will go nowhere unless Omar gets us a bat.”
 
If Josh Thole does light up like a Griswold Christmas tree, you may amend your statement slightly. “This team was going nowhere. Omar needed to get us a bat. Thank the Lord he didn’t have to trade for one.”
 
But let’s get to the 98-pound gorilla in the room: if you’re giving up and are still watching the games, you may feel free to enjoy any individual victory. But be careful about rescinding your desertion. Be very careful. No one likes bandwagoners. You are not automatically saved by your years of fandom prior. You’re getting a long hard look, buddy, and you’re going to have to prostrate yourself at each amazin’ opportunity.

Anyone seeking contradiction between this and my feelings re: Oliver Perez’s start tomorrow, take note: I’m not advocating stick-to-itiveness on the belief that the Mets will go undefeated in the second half; rather, I’m advocating stick-to-itiveness on the basis of this needing to be FUN on the whole to be worthwhile, not an exercise in self-flaggelation.  If Ollie started each game, I’d have a significant problem.  If Ollie wins on Wednesday, he’s still a scrub.  If Ollie wins game Seven of the World Series by pitching a no-hitter, that will be the equivalent of lightning bolts with the fastballs.  See earlier mention; I’d have some happy soul-searching to do.

(I doubt I’d change my mind.)
 
Gary Sheffield takes a pinch-hit opportunity to whack a two-run homer that puts the Mets back into first? “Wow. I had given up on this team. I’m excited they’re doing so well. I hope they make it, so I can feel bad for giving up when I did for the rest of my life.”
 
Johan Santana, Billy Wagner, J.J. Putz, and Frankie Rodriguez combine for a 2-hit shutout to clinch a playoff berth? “Oh, happy day! For all of you! Me, I have to wallow in my own pity, for having decided this season was lost. I cannot possibly enjoy this moment as much as you are, right now.”
 
The boys make it to the Big Time? “I can’t believe it! The year I stop believing is the year they go? And… What’s that? …The Red Sox’ve re-signed Bill Buckner? He’s playing first base and batting clean-up? Son of a bitch!”
 
If the Mets do what appears at this point to be the damned improbable, and you gave up on the season but still watched, how could you enjoy any future seasons? Am I the only one messed up to believe, hypothetically, that I’d have to be in a perennial bad mood in order to coax some joy out of my hobby at the end and victory for the town?
 
(Anyone who’s shut the game off when the Mets were behind 5-0 in the third and tuned back in when they were up 8-5, then turned it off again when it was 8-8 in the bottom of the 9th with runners on for the opposing team KNOWS what I’m talking about, and are barred from passing judgment on my neuroses.)
 
Furthermore, and forgive me for saying so, but:
 
This is at least a time-consuming endeavor, this being a baseball fan. Takes three hours on average to watch a game, and I figure the average steady fan gets sixty to seventy games in during a season. It can be expensive if you go out to a ball park and take a game in; you don’t have to buy the Bass Ale or the $5 hot dog, but who among us is strong enough to resist those temptations?
 
So if you have given up all hope of your team playing good baseball, and if playing good baseball is at least crucial to enjoyment of the game, then why are you watching?  Don’t watch!

Baseball is great and wonderful and painful and heart-stopping, but if baseball never existed, there would still be great literature and the sun would still set late in the summer.  There’d still be romance and crisp, delicious lemonade.

These things, in fact, exist now, even with baseball in full swing.

So what are you doing?  If you have no hope because they’re playing poorly, why are you in your house watching on TV?  Why are you at the games?  Are you such a masochist?  Do you live in Newark?  Stop watching!  You’re wasting your precious time on Earth clinging to the most specious of reasoning while playing voodoo games with your head. 

Go outside.  Take in a free show put on by hard-working raw talents.  Make something yourself.  Make something OF yourself.  Meditate.  Exercise.  Play some baseball yourself.  But don’t sacrifice yourself on an altar that doesn’t exist.  You’re only making it weird for us who still believe.

I say that without knowing absolutely everyone’s personal viewing habits.  I know that from the moment I wake up until I go to bed, ninety percent of my time isn’t mine.  It’d be unthinkable for me to give up the remaining ten percent to something I USED to believe in.

Let’s go Mets.  Ollie, make me eat my words.

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