Saturday, June 13, 2009

Luis Castillo Helps Me Set New Standard For Misery

Yup, anyone who's ever read this or knows me figured that it was just a matter of time before I had to talk about my beloved New York Mets and their oh-so-very special way of murdering my hopes and dreams for them. Of course, you probably also figured that there's no way it would happen this early. I was waiting for at least September. But alas, here we are. A moment so simple for any other team becomes another source of heartbreak for a fanbase which (please no!) soon enters the Misery Hall of Fame (current occupants: Sabres/Bills, Chicago Cubs, Indians/Cavs/Browns). We should have owned this city throughout this decade. Yet, here we are, with one division title, one pennant, one loss to our crosstown rivals in a World Series, and the same little brother complex. Ugh.

With all of this in mind, and my immediate thoughts that Castillo's play last night would probably enter the pantheon of "worst moments of my career as a baseball fan," I had to ask myself- what are my absolute worst moments as a baseball fan? Well, self, I'm glad (not so glad) you asked. The following are my top five worst moments in the 21+ years I have been a fan of "America's Pastime". Enjoy, because I surely won't.

Maybe it's just because I was in a room full of Yankees fans. Maybe it's because I could have made the same play, as could have any other fan over the age of five, easily. Point is that it never should have happened. Really. Never. Plus, I feel like that will unfortunately be the defining moment in a Mets season that's not even halfway over. I pray I'm wrong here, but I'm sure other fans of the team will begrudgingly agree with me. It's a very bad omen for the outcome of yet another season (that's four in a row now) that started with so much hope. WHY?!?!

The only moment that did not directly involve the Mets. Honestly, I should have been rooting harder for the Red Sox to win the American League last year. For some reason though, that Rays story got me, just like so many others, and the result was calamity for me. Just a few months later, the same Philthydelphia fans would get to punch me in the mouth again when the Eagles beat my Giants in the playoffs, so maybe this is made worse by that. Regardless, watching the Phillies win the World Series before my more-deserving Mets could was an exercise in misery to the highest degree. Not sure what's worse- this decade of the Mets underperforming or the 90s, when I had to watch the Yankees and Braves win every year. It's a toss-up really.

The final straw in a season full of heartache, heartbreak and literally, one of the worst things a fan can ever experience. We Mets fans lost the "Ya Gotta Believe" mantra for good that day. A sad and somber thought. Things like this don't happen to us. We were the ones who did this to other people on a stroke of luck. Here, we sat the victims of the worst September collapse in the history of the modern game. God. What's worse is that the team gave us false hope by handing us one more shot with just a game to play. Then Tom Glavine decided that he would resurrect all the hate from his Braves days, which we had put away. He gave up seven runs in the first inning of that final game and we just knew it was over... with eight-and-a-half innings to go. A lot of people lost a lot of faith that day, myself included, and we've yet to get it back.

Jesus Christ. If 2007 was the hit that had us staggering, then 2008 was the knockout. Same situation, same results. For the second straight year we played ourselves out of first place, and for the second straight season, we had a shot to get ourselves into the playoffs on the final day. And we blew it. Against the Marlins. Again. Now, given the result of the Brewers game that afternoon, it wouldn't have mattered what we did anyway. But the point is that we did it again. The "Amazins" became the "Amazinly Bad at Maintaining Leads In Septembers," until proven otherwise. And to top it all off, Shea was closing. Beloved Shea Stadium. I don't care how bad it was, and almost every other real Mets fan will say the same thing. There wasn't a dry eye in that stadium, nor on my couch. Just a sad day all around.

Yadier Molina. Aaron Heilman. OhmyGodkillme. For the first time possibly ever, we Mets fans were riding high as can be. We were the best team in baseball. We won the NL East for the first time in 18 years. Murdered everyone all year. Pedro was lights-out. David Wright and Jose Reyes were our two fun-loving stars who would lead us to the promise land for years. We ran away with the division. The Dodgers couldn't even touch us in the Division series. The Cardinals were 83-79, a whopping 14 games below us going into the NLCS. We weren't the underdogs, we were the favorite. And no, I didn't look up a single one of the stats. The Mets cannot function as the favorites. It doesn't work. We paid the price, dearly, as did the wall outside of my room. After Endy Chavez's catch, which is still, without a doubt, the greatest catch in MLB playoff history, we BELIEVED. It was the METS we were talking about. The MIRACLE METS. The AMAZIN' METS. YA GOTTA BELIEVE. Well, we did. And then Aaron Heilman showed up on the mound. And Yadier Molina in the batter's box. And you, and I, and everyone else knows the rest. We were robbed of the World Series title that should have been ours. We couldn't even get ourselves to the series to win it though, which makes it all the worse. I don't want to talk about this anymore. At all.

When was I inspired to write something that would inevitably send me into spiraling depression and anger? Last night, while I had my head up against a wall, five seconds after staring in disbelief at a television screen. We'll leave it at that. Just know that there are other moments that gained consideration too. The 1999 bases-loaded walk. The day we traded Scott Kazmir. Piazza's shot to center at the end of Game 5 of the 2000 World Series.

The fact that last night got itself into the top 5 speaks some real volumes about it. I hate you, Luis Castillo. I've never
really liked you since you came to the Mets. You have rightfully earned your place amongst the greats in my collection of Mets whom I will always want to throttle. So say hello to Kenny Rogers, Armando Benitez, Heilman, Victor Zambrano, Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Guilermo Mota, Benny Agbayani, Braden Looper and Brian McRae for me. I'm sure I'm forgetting somebody, so please, feel free to let me know. I'm sure I'll get over this... eventually.

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