It is a voice that lives in the back of my head through baseball seasons, regardless of how good, bad, or mediocre things are going for my Mets. When things are going bad, the voice is back there, quietly smug, gentle, and almost comfortingly and confidently telling me, “This is the way it will always be. Accept it.” In these times, the voice only emerges from time to time after ugly losses when this team somehow manages to disappoint me in an already lost season.
When the team is mediocre, the voice is back there more often, trying to get me to accept the reality of the team I am chained to in faith, hope, and love, telling me, “This is the best it can be. They aren’t great. They aren’t awful. They will never be great again. Enjoy this. Accept it.” The voice is more consistent in these seasons, lest I hold out too much hope.
It is when things are good, like this season, that the voice is at its worst as it talks to me constantly.
“This is the loss that starts their downturn!”
“Max is hurt. You should have known this was going to happen. You’ll never see another Championship again.”
“1986 is all that you get!”
“They gave up two runs in the first? Yep. Their season is done. Accept it.”
It is not to say I am not an optimist. I think the Mets have a chance until the last out is recorded, even if they are down to their last strike, 20 games out of the playoffs with 20 games left. I will still believe they have a chance. My fandom was forged in the fire of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. So I rarely listen to that voice in the back of my head, but it is still there. All the time.
The funny thing, though, is that I am more likely to pay that voice heed in a season like this one. Despite my fandom being birthed in the 1986 postseason, having the Mets be one of the best teams in baseball is an unnatural feeling for me. When they are winning and winning this often, the world does not feel right. Something feels off about it, and it is confusing. And that nagging voice in the back of my head is the only thing that feels normal in my baseball world. So, of course, that voice feels comforting in a world I am uneasy in.
I am an eternal optimist, which may be why this feels so off. Unfortunately, my optimism around this team has rarely been well-founded, and even rarer that the voice in the back of my head has been wrong, so they collide and create a weird baseball world for me. And, honestly, I wish that voice would just shut up and let me enjoy this.
Or maybe, I just need a good therapist, which is probably something all Mets fans need.