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Today’s Rising Apple fan post comes from Larry DeBoer, submitting his second article to the site. He is an agricultural economics professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. He grew up on Long Island and has been a Mets fan since 1965. His favorite Mets moment is Mookie Wilson’s groundball, but Willie Mays’s homer in his team debut is a close second.
On the Mets-Marlins broadcast last Sunday, I heard Ron Darling say that young pitchers sometimes have trouble in the 5th inning because they start thinking ahead. “If I can get three more outs, I’ll be in line for a win.” They lose concentration on the batter they are facing, and give up hits and runs.
Of course, this is a version of the oft-stated “one game at a time” philosophy of so many players and coaches in all sports. You must concentrate your efforts on this batter, this play, this game, and not be distracted by tomorrow.
May I suggest that this is good advice for fans too, especially fans of teams that are not expected to do very well. Take the 2013 Mets, for instance.
If the Mets repeat last year’s record, 74-88, we’ll be unhappy. Another mediocre year, another fourth place finish, out of contention for the playoffs again. If the Mets somehow reverse that record, and go 88-74, finishing in second or third, in contention for a Wild Card, we’ll be happy with the unexpected progress.
The difference between 74-88 and 88-74 is 14 extra wins from April 1 to September 29, a total of 182 days. In other words, just about one extra win every two weeks.
If you didn’t add up the wins and losses, or keep track of the National League East, could you even tell the difference between 74-88 and 88-74? Would you notice one win every two weeks?
We’re not talking about the difference between the 1986 Mets, 108-54, and the 1962 Mets, 40-120. That’s a 68 game difference (66 in the loss column), which is about five wins every two weeks. Yes, you’d notice that.
Of course, I will keep track of the Mets record, and I may glance at the standings once in a while. If they’re competitive, I’ll do more than that. If they’re mediocre, I won’t. And you know what? I’ll have a good time watching them all season, either way.
So, Mets fans: One game at a time. If they’re mediocre, or if they’re pretty good, you won’t notice the difference.