Usually, you can dismiss hot April starts as nothing more than sweet. Whether it’s real or not, if you have the motivation, you can always count on baseball having to “play out” due to the length of the season. Sure, it’s harder to dismiss a hot start from the Dodgers, but why even try? With just about everyone else, if that team turns out to be legit, you can buy yourself some time for the trouble that their fan base will cause.
It never takes the Mets more than three games before their fanbase howls at a rate high enough to kill small animals anyway. Either the season is over or you can book the pennant now for April 3rd (or April 10th like this year). The Mets exist to make a lot of noise in a short amount of time and then take a backseat while the non-jokes play for the really important stuff. Like when I was explaining the concept of relegation in European football to my non-sports-loving girlfriend and she said, “So…no more Mets?” It’s no coincidence.
That doesn’t appear to be the case this year. Not only did the Mets have one of MLB’s hottest starts, going 19-9 — 5.5 games in the NL East — but now they’re having the kind of Win Baseball Magic which fans tend to use as a barometer for how serious the chances of triumphs in the fall are. Namely:
Look, the Phillies bullpen blowing a lead while their defense flaps in the wind isn’t usually a big deal, but seven runs in the ninth is obscene even for them. But whether or not the Phillies are prone to such a thing, you’ll be hearing about the Mets’ resurrection for a while Thursday night.
On the one hand, it’s still the Mets. It’s New York obnoxiousness combined with any number of cities’ inferiority complex, given their jealousy of the other team in town. While the Mets have provided more than enough comedy over the years, it hasn’t been enough to completely clean up their general stink in the world. Javy Baez’s thumbs-down gesture last year encapsulated their entire existence, a fan base and team that would all rather be somewhere else but can never admit that the promise of New York was barely enough.
On the other hand, a good Mets team would actually be the bane of the rest of baseball… but not in the usual Mets way. We know that every other owner in MLB — aside from the Dodgers, who have earned the right to give a shit about what other people do — hates Steve Cohen’s guts. And while Cohen will never be in the same zip code as a likable character, the disgust he inspires in MLB offices and owner boxes across the league is certainly something for every fan to hold onto. Because Cohen is pretty much the only owner who is acting the way one should and will do whatever it takes to put an instant winner on the field.
With every win, with every defining moment, with every Lindor homer or Scherzer strikeout or Marte hit, every other fanbase gets a little bit closer to asking the serious question, “Why can’t we do this?” There’s no logical answer as to why few do, and Cohen and the Mets dance on top of all those who don’t top the leaderboard every day. Watch the Mets give their fans the unbridled joy they had on Thursday and wonder how you sleep at night, Cubs and Red Sox (I know, I know, on a pile of money…).
It’s hard to adjust to this juxtaposition. The Mets are the history of baseball and their fanbase’s uncontrolled dizziness that smells like a bus seat is only meant to be sickening. But the fact that it raises the gall for those ruining the game…well, life is never easy, is it?