Sports On Earth’s Will Leitch (above, left) brags he’s visited Flushing to watch baseball some 40 times in the last 8 years, which seems like a relatively small number when you consider he’s been employed during some of that stretch to write about New York sports. As opposed to say, his beloved St. Louis Cardinals, whose midweek series at Citi Field afforded the Deadspin founder an opportunity to see just how sad, invisible or apathetic (“I have never seen Mets fans more dispirited than they were last night”) the once proud Amazins fan base has become.
All spirit is gone. I wear my Cardinals gear to these games, and I’ve been booed and heckled and mocked, almost always with (reasonable) good cheer. But nobody even bothered last night. Citi Field was a collective, three-hour shrug. My friend who went to the game with me, who knows and cares about the Mets as well and as much as anyone could possibly care to, put it well: “Why waste a nice evening dwelling on things nobody seems able to change?”
Ever since Adam Wainwright threw that impossible curveball by an apparently immobile Carlos Beltran — two men likely to be Cardinals All-Stars at Citi Field this July, which is just mean — Mets fans have been kicked in the face by their team in every conceivable fashion. 2007 brought the historic collapse. 2008 brought the most depressing final game for a home stadium imaginable. (The New York Times called it “immersed in gloom,” which is not the Mets’ current marketing slogan, but probably should be.) 2009 was an injury-filled disaster; 2010 brought Jason Bay and mass firings; 2011, 2012 and 2013 have been more traditional lousy teams, with occasional breaks to say goodbye to the team’s most popular players. You couldn’t be meaner to your fanbase if you took time out between innings to personally insult every paying customer over the loudspeaker. (“Tom, in Section 128, Row 16? Yeah, you. You’re fat and you’re stupid. Now batting, Jordany Valdespin.”)
Being a Mets fan has always contained an inherent sense of fatalism and self-loathing for liking such a painful franchise; the torture the Mets regularly provide is a feature, not a bug. But in my 13-plus years here, I’ve never seen it like this. It’s not even pain anymore: It’s just numb, blank stares. Many Mets fans in my section, after Allen Craig’s three-run homer in the fifth inning, had their eyes glaze over, as if they were finding a place in their mind to escape. They appeared to be fantasizing about a world other than this one, a place far, far away.
Given that Leitch failed to interview any of the paying customers, there’s every chance his extra-sensory perception is slightly off. Perhaps some of those in attendance were deep in thought, mulling over recent changes to syphilis statistics in major US cities. Or maybe they were saying a silent prayer, thanking the Wilpons for employing a manager who while most assuredly a
barely competent lame duck, has never shamed his franchise with this sort of behavior.
How are any of us to know for sure what they were thinking? “Murder-suicide” comes to mind instantly, but I don’t wanna say anything that would prevent Will from wearing his Willie McGee jersey to many more public gatherings.