A team at least 11 games under .500 and 11.5 behind the wildcard. Only four to move up another spot in wildcard. The 40th anniversary of a special moment in team history. A time when all common sense tells you otherwise.
What if a fan base had the audacity to believe in the very thing their brains, friends and family told them not to?
This is what the fans of the New York Mets have to deal with. Do they dare have faith in a team that has let them down not just one or two years, but every year since 2006.
On the anniversary of one man standing on a table with a fireman’s hat like a crazy person and shouting, “Ya Gotta Believe” in a locker room, do they dare?
When your heart is continuously broken, is your love strong enough to put itself out there and give it all you’ve got at least one more time?
There have been more difficult times than what a fan base so broken should have to endure. The collapses of 2007 and 2008. The rash of injuries suffered in 2009 that led to the promotion of almost every player from Triple-A. Even the worsening status of this team every year since the current regime took over.
Why should a fan base believe? Because believing is part of their history. Because one man stood in front of his teammates when everything looked so bleak and shouted, “Ya Gotta Believe” (even if it was to taunt then-owner). Because faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.
What is there to root for? The 2013 Mets have a pitcher that was pursued during the offseason on the DL. A pitcher who can’t seem to get any traction with this team. A catcher who is better at defense than anything else. An outfield that is always being rotated to find the perfect combination. One freak-of-nature pitcher. Two pitchers growing in their roles. A rookie one man called “the biggest bust in Mets history”.
That’s right! A rookie one man called “the biggest bust in Mets history“. Yet the fans stand up united behind their rookie. They pick him up. Why? Because they believe. They choose to believe in a kid so many have told them is awesome.
Believe because there is a freak of nature pitcher, a rookie pitcher about to make a name for himself, a solid closer that was once just a set-up guy, an outfielder who believes this team can do great things and is helping to make that a reality.
Believe because veterans like David Wright are taking kids under their wings to help them out. That’s what makes a great team. That’s what makes a team destined to do great things. More importantly, they believe in themselves than some of their own fans. That’s why I believe in them.
What if this team decided it was better than the sum of its parts? What if the players said:
We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to survive!
A team in last place in 1973 decided that they were not going to roll over and play dead. They decided they were going to be more than what they had shown themselves to be. They took charge of their destiny. They went for what seemed impossible: the playoffs.
What if this little engine that could team did the very same thing? What if this current team that seems to have been put together with spit and not too much polish decided there was enough fight in them to make a run for something that even their own fans believe is not possible? Sometimes you don’t need others to believe in you. You just need to believe in yourself and what you have.
With 79 games to go, there is still time to make magic happen. There is still time to infuse this team with some extra faith. The fans are not just cheering for a 2013 run at the playoffs. They are cheering on their future. Their key players like Wright, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Bobby Parnell among others are the core of this team for years to come. To believe in this team is to believe in your future.
So choose this day what you will do. Will you cheer on your team from now and for always? Or do you give up on them, even when they choose to continue to fight? Will you fight alongside your team? You’ve already decided to fight for your rookie. What else will you fight for?
Ask yourselves this: What would Tug McGraw do? I believe he would stand on the mound at Citi Field and shout at the top of his lungs, “Ya Gotta Believe!“.
Nobody is saying they will make the playoffs. But what if they did?