Cassilo: It was the worst of times (for the Mets)

David Cassilo

I never wanted to write this column. I never wanted to be at Shea Stadium on Sunday. I never wanted to have my season over before October. The sequence of events that needed to take place for me to experience these things were about as unlikely as any you could ever create. You can’t point a finger at one guy, blame one game or second guess one decision. No matter how I look at it, the final outcome will always be the same. The New York Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 games to play, and nothing will ever change that.

In about mid-June, I sensed something with this team. I was expecting last year all over again, but it wasn’t coming. The magical come-from-behind victories, the huge performances by role players and the way the team captured the city were all absent. I saw a group of 25 guys who played baseball for a living, rather than living to play baseball. The smile from Jose Reyes’ face had faded; there were no Endy Chavez miracle plays and no family-like atmosphere upon walking into Shea Stadium. I really wanted to like the ’07 Mets, but, unlike last year, I never felt that strong attachment to them. Their playful behavior had turned into smug arrogance. They were no longer the kids from Queens, but more resembled the serious suits that shuffled in and out of Wall Street each day. There was always a game here and there when I’d say to myself, this is it – this is the turning point. One week later, they’d be back to mediocrity.

Rather than just breaking my heart quickly, the Mets dragged it out over six months. It was like being in a totally dysfunctional marriage, where you wanted to make things work, but you knew deep down that the relationship would never survive. So I watched and cheered and kept faith, all the way into September. Slowly, I could see the Phillies creeping up behind us, but never did I actually believe they would catch us. They were the Phillies, and they always come close but fall short. I never gave up, even as dozens of warning signs flashed before my eyes; I always believed this would never happen to us.

The idea of failure that I had suppressed in my mind began to slowly creep out during the final two weeks. With each heart-wrenching game, the Mets showed me that there were more ways to lose than I ever imagined. As I watched the Mets day in and day out, I felt like I was going through Dante’s nine levels of hell. However, as long as we held first place, I felt as though there was nothing to worry about. Eventually, though, the impossible became possible, and, with just a weekend to go, I went to look at the NL East standings and could no longer see my team on the top line.

The final two games were a microcosm of the whole season. The Mets lifted me up that Saturday afternoon as they creamed the Marlins behind a near no-hit performance from John Maine. They made me once again say this is the turning point and now there is no stopping us. Then on Sunday, within 30 minutes of the first pitch, they had beaten me senseless and left me and every other Met fan abandoned in a dark alley. It was actually over.

When you’re at a game and your team goes down seven runs in the first inning, you’re left with eight innings to think. As the Mets basically gave up after the third inning, that’s exactly what I did. I found myself wondering why I was not more upset. Why wasn’t I in tears like after the 2006 NLCS? Why was I still able to think rationally? The reason was simple to me. In 2006, I had my heart broken. The reason my heart was broken was that every heart on that Mets team was broken as well. I cared about the players and felt bad for them. We were in this together, and we lost it together. This season was different; we had all been along for the ride once already when it broke down, so the fans viewed the season with a bit of skepticism. Unlike 2006, we all had doubt now. If the perfect season failed, why will this one succeed? Then the personalities we loved from last year seemed more distant than ever. The close connection of 2006 began to feel like a distant memory. Yes, there were moments that reminded us of our crazy ride to the NLCS, but they were few and far between. Once the season ended, and they blew everything they worked so hard for, I realized it was different than last year. I didn’t feel bad for the players; they had brought this upon themselves, and I wasn’t going to waste my time pitying them again.

The ’07 season for the New York Mets was one I’d like to forget but unfortunately never will be able to. Their historic collapse will live on forever. However, there is one positive I can find through all this pain. You can’t enjoy the best moments if you haven’t experienced the worst. Mets fans have experienced losing in the worst ways the last two seasons, and because of that, when we do win the World Series title we’ve waited the last 22 seasons and counting for, the champagne will taste that much sweeter.


David Cassilo is a sophomore from Chatham, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]