For the fan in enemy territory

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New York Mets: It's Not a Marathon, It's a Season of Sprints

The baseball season is finally in full swing. After eleven games, the New York Mets are 7-4. Before they lost to the Atlanta Braves for the first time this season tonight, they had started 7-3. Four of the eight times this team has started with that record, they have made the playoffs.

While the 2012 rendition of the Metropolitans are not projected to be nearly close to contenders, still, it's an encouraging sign. The team seems to be playing well and the future is bright. That's not evident if you were to listen to fans, though. When the team wins, they are "awesome" and "unstoppable".

When they lose, the teas "sucks" and are "losers". There has to be a happy medium between being "unstoppable" and being "losers". The truth is that it's a very long season. While many people compare the 162 game schedule in a baseball season to a marathon, it's more like a series of sprints.

In a marathon, a runner gets bursts of energy throughout the competition and pulls ahead of those around him or her. Then, just as quickly, they pull back into the pack when they lose steam. In a similar way, when a team gets on a roll, they do so for a stretch of several games. They can ride that hot play through ten games or so.

A marathon, then, can be viewed as a series of sprints or smaller stretches. Therefore, it can be argued that the season can also be broken into a series of sprints or about sixteen ten-game stretches. That could be packaged into four forty game stretches hat total 160 games overall. It would be easier to call them quarters (though it may confuse people since we're talking about baseball and not football or basketball).

The overall point is that it's a very, very long season. By the previous measure, we're only 1/4 into the first quarter of it. They have 15/16 of the season left. If fans spend the season riding the extremely fanatic roller coaster, they'll be exhausted by July.

If they hang on every game like it's the biggest game of the year, they will be sadly disappointed more often than not. If the team wins, wonderful. It doesn't mean they are the best team in the league. It doesn't mean they are en route to the World Series. It just means they won one game out of 162.

If they lose, it doesn't mean they are the worst team ever assembled in the history of the sport. It just means that they let one slip away. The sun will still rise in the next morning. Life goes on. Fans have to realize this. They need to stop overreacting to every win or loss.

The term "fans" comes from the word "fanatics". It's no coincidence that some take this to heart. In the end, cheering for your team, and this Mets team in particular, is all about perspective. They are 7-4 with another 151 games to go. Let's try to pace ourselves folks. We have a long way to go.