Over the past few years, I've found that I both look forward to and slightly dread spring training. The bottom line is that it's incredible to see baseball again after a long, dark winter, and it’s a time for enthusiasm and hope. However, the Mets have mostly let me down over the years, and the knowledge that I'm about to render myself vulnerable to them over the course of yet another roller coaster season gives me slight pause.
I consider the depressing fact that the root cause of the Mets’ perennial mediocrity—ownership—is firmly entrenched, despite their having driven the franchise off a fiscal cliff. And I consider the grim fact that as long as the Wilpons are in charge and the Mets play baseball in the most competitive and inflammatory media market in the country, a let-down or public relations boner of one kind or another never seems too far off the horizon.
That shouldn't matter, though, because it’s spring training, and because the point of being a baseball fan is supposed to be to have fun. I’m tired of not having as much fun as possible rooting for the Mets, and I'm tired of the negativity around the team and among the fanbase. Part of the onus there is on the Mets organization for doing its best to alienate its fans with six consecutive years of sideshow news and losing baseball; but a much bigger part of it is on me and my attitude.
What I forget sometimes is that, here in the land of first-world problems, I, like most adults, am responsible for my own happiness and misery. Extreme circumstances notwithstanding, it is not other people (see: Wilpon et al., 1980-2015) or crummy outcomes that cause a person’s unhappiness; rather, it is a person’s beliefs, assumptions, and expectations of other people and events that cause their unhappiness.
In the land of first-world problems, any adult who is willing to do the work is capable of adjusting their psychological behavior to an extent. Change isn't easy, of course, and it isn't an overnight process that follows easily from a simple decision. Change requires commitment and persistence—grission, even—in the face of resistance from within and without. And since no one can say for sure whether the Mets will be much, if any, better than they have been in recent years, I had better be ready to step up.
Carlos Beltran is an appropriate figure of inspiration in this journey, I think. All that so many fans seem to care about when they consider Beltran’s tenure with the Mets is that called strike three. I mean, that did, in fact, happen, and it was, in fact, a horrible and crushing moment for Mets fans (and for Beltran, I'm sure).
The thing is, though, Carlos Beltran also happens to be one of the very best position players in New York Mets history. He gave us so many moments of incredible, exhilarating baseball in measures that far outweigh that strikeout. Thus, to focus on Beltran’s Mets career through the lens of one sad moment is, to me, synonymous with choosing bitterness and misery. I've been bitter and miserable, and I can attest to the fact that it isn't fun.
#BlameBeltran is just one example among many of miserable fandom; and really, I want no part of any of it. I’d rather focus on my reasons for loving the Mets and my enjoyment of being a Mets fan, win or lose, particularly here, now, in spring training.
I think back to the early and mid-90s when the Mets were truly hopeless and terrible. I certainly wasn't happy they sucked, and I lived and died—mostly died—with them, but I loved them just the same. That's pretty cool, no? Right, yeah, I was a twelve or thirteen year old kid at the time. But being a baseball fan is pretty much about that, isn't it? Isn't it about being a kid again just a little bit, and having fun? Because, you know, it’s a game?
So I’m going to enjoy being a Mets fan this year, outcomes and Wilpons be damned, and I'm going to try to share content here that hopefully helps others do the same. My mechanism for achieving this will be to accentuate the positive: Every few weeks or so, I will revisit and re-share awesome Mets moments that occur on and off the field.
We all need reminders to stay the course—I certainly do, anyway—even if "the course" in this case is simply the intention to enjoy oneself and love the Mets all the more. So yeah, Let's Go, Mets! And let's have some fun this year.