Sunday, April 11, 2010

Being a Mets fan means testing your faith

I took my son to 5 o'clock Mass on Saturday, less than an hour after watching Willie Harris kill the Mets with a ridiculous catch for what seemed like the 63rd time. I like the Saturday evening Mass because it means not having to get up early on Sunday, and this particular one was timely, as the language I used in the immediate aftermath of the Harris catch was decidedly un-Christian.

The gospel in this first weekend after Easter concerned the disciple Thomas, who wasn't around when the resurrected Jesus first appeared before the other disciples. When Thomas returned, the disciples told him what had just happened, and of course Thomas did not believe them (hence the term, Doubting Thomas). After all, Thomas had seen Jesus crucified and buried in a tomb. He must have thought his friends were either still in terrible mourning and therefore not thinking straight, trying to pull a fast one on him, or high on frankincense.

He told them he would believe it when he could stick his fingers in Jesus' wounds.

A week later, Jesus returned again to the disciples, and this time Thomas was there. Jesus invited the chastened Thomas to touch his wounds, and then said, "Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet still believe."

Now I know I should have been focused on what the priest was saying and not thinking about baseball, and I don't mean to compare Mets fandom to religion or the return of Jose Reyes to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (although this was Jose's first game back), but having just seen the Mets lose yet another heartbreaker, I took the message of the gospel and immediately applied it to my feelings as a Mets fan.

We have not seen much this season, just six out of 162 games, but as fans we want to believe that our team has what it takes to compete. And while there are plenty of Doubting Thomases out there, in the stands and in the media, it is our nature as fans -- or at least, it is in my nature -- to believe in the players and coaches, the manager and the organization.

I don't see how you can be a fan and not believe, at this point in the season. Maybe when the evidence becomes so overwhelming and the numbers don't lie -- like last season, when every player with any talent when down with an injury -- do you concede that it just isn't our year. But one week into April is a little early to panic, and yet there will be plenty of fans willing to jump off the bandwagon while the engine is still cold.

Being a fan means having your faith tested, like when the ace of your staff walks two batters and gives up a first-inning grand slam while your hitters are befuddled by a guy throwing in the 70s (who also happens to be a former teammate). It's times like these when you want to throw your new cream-and pinstripe Jason Bay jersey into the fireplace.

But you're a fan, and you believe. It's a long, long season. And while the Mets started 2-4 at home, we have seen some positive signs. Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas have pounded the ball, Mike Pelfrey looked very good in his first start, Jon Niese appears ready to step up, and the maligned bullpen, with new blood, has been pretty solid. And, of course, Reyes is back.

Do the questions surrounding the starting pitching remain? Absolutely. And the Mets now embark on a tough road trip through Colorado and St. Louis before returning for a 10-game homestand. We'll learn a lot more about this team in those next 16 games, and then we'll get to the point that Jerry Manuel has been referring to when asked if the Mets need a fast start. "Talk to me after 20 games," he's said. Well, after that homestand, it will have been 22 games, not quite a seventh of the season, but a fair enough barometer.

Until then, we gotta believe.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a doubting Thomas......How can u not be after that 11-3 thrashing....We have no heart here.....David Wright is no Ray Knight....Hell he's no Todd Zeile....Jason Bay looks scared...Jeff Francoueur is the hustle on a hustleless team....kind of the Jeremy Burnitz....but our pitching is atrocious...after Santana and maybe Pelfrey, Maine Perez and whoever else are unreliable...The bullpen is a bright spot but even I was a good wiffle ball pitcher with a 6 run lead or trailing by 8.....Season over we finish 4th in the east this year.....But as long as Keith and RJ are in the broadcast booth i will keep watching. It is a train wreck though.....time to waive tatis he has no defense and his bat is slow....bring up the young guys and lets see some grit.....That Colorado team is a team I can admire hardnosed hungry players something we havent seen here since the Bobby V days.