And so it goes for New York Mets fans. For a brief moment in time, once Jose Valverde’s heat cauterized the seventh-inning wounds and Juan Lagares struck back at Tyler Clippard with a clutch home run in the eighth, when the energy up in section 331 dictated the Mets’ Opening Day game would end the way it began, all the pieces were falling into place.
With Bobby Parnell on the mound to complete the comeback story, fastball flirting with the mid-90s, the Mets’ start to 2014 was all but written.
Except this was one of those days when Parnell, as well as the rest of us in the stands, would have been better served by playing a game of catch with a ball boy in the Citi Field clubhouse. And as if Parnell’s Monday line (two hits allowed, one walk, one run, one blown save) wasn’t bad enough, news came down Tuesday afternoon that he also suffered a partial tear to a ligament in his throwing elbow. In two weeks, we’ll know if he needs Tommy John surgery.
And just like that, optimistic dreams crashed into a depressing reality for the Mets and their fans. Without Parnell to anchor the bullpen, the Mets will have to rely on Valverde and recently re-signed Kyle Farnsworth to hold late leads. Welcome, my friends, to the worst-case scenario.
Baseball gods are fickle gods, and have no concern for the feelings of fans when they decide to torment a team like they seem to enjoy doing to the Mets. When you’re a fan of a snake-bitten team, you learn to adapt to hearing bad news and survive the occasional sky falling because what else are you going to do? Learn to fall deeply in love with track and field? Or tennis?
No, you stick it out and build up your character and accept that the pure joys of baseball might be more fulfilling than the outcome of the games themselves. You become proud of the community around you, comprised of those who know your pain before they’ve even met you. There’s something magical in that, isn’t there?
Okay, fine, if Parnell came out throwing 98 mph and retired the Washington Nationals on nine pitches, we’d be discussing a very different kind of magic. However, we have to deal with the reality of the moment. And in this moment, GM Sandy Alderson needs to be planning a way to aggressively change the Mets’ fortunes, or be resigned to accept a hard truth: that fortune does not favor the meek.
If there’s going to be 161 more games of this, then maybe I can find some magic in the proud American tradition of the discus throw, or long jump, or whatever. I doubt it, though, so while I remain optimistic about the Mets surprising people this year, the focus may have to switch to the amount of games that the team doesn’t lose.
See, I feel better already – that was almost a positive thought.