The atmosphere here is decidedly different in 2012 than the past couple of years. The Mets have lost two straight games to the Braves at their own personal chamber of horrors, Turner Field. Add in the fact that the aggregate score of the two debacles was 23-9 against. This could be vintage late-’09 or most of 2010 or September 2007, except that nobody is going insane.
In the past, losses like these would have sent the fans, the front office and the ravenous New York media into a tizzy. A lot of scrambling and explanation and excuse-ing would have taken place. YouknowwhatI’msaying? David Wright would be answering questions in the clubhouse in a barely audible croak. Carlos Beltran would be shaking his head. Billy Wagner would be calling out one teammate or another. A rain of shame would be tiddling upon our heads as we speak. It would be an opportunity for me to trot out one of my personal favorite eternal questions: “Which is worse? Being pitied or being ridiculed?” Today, as of right this instant, I ain’t asking that question.
Maybe it’s because this team is suddenly so young. Maybe it’s because this team is mostly homegrown, and they’ve hung with each other long enough to know and be confident in one another’s abilities. Maybe it’s because they’re all just so damn likable. Maybe it’s because starting pitching is a tricky thing. Maybe it’s because the manager believes in these guys as strongly as they believe in themselves and vice-versa. Maybe it’s because the Madoff thing has been resolved and the Wilpons’ finances are more secure, to a point. Whatever it may be, I don’t feel the familiar cloud over my shoulder and I don’t dread the next game. “Go get ‘em next time,” feels like an actual rallying cry, rather than a hoary, hollow exhortation. Again, with a group so young, they haven’t had a chance to get jaded about it yet. They believe they will go get ‘em, and that brings rays of hope to everybody involved or observing. There is a strong belief that losing streaks will be limited to two games. If the enthusiasm can be harnessed and focused, this will turn out to be a fun year. If it unravels in the face of excessive losing, this will turn out to be a very long year. But for now, as Roger Angell said of a pretty successful 1969 Met team, “Perhaps they win because they are unbored.”
Here’s to remaining unbored.
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