Mightier Than The Pen

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Philosophers Dispute Whether NY Mets Could Be Any Worse

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Cambridge, MA (AP) – Leading thinkers have taken up the issue of the New York Mets – specifically, whether the team’s disappointing performance in the second half of the season constitutes the kind of rock-bottom situation that by definition makes getting worse impossible.

At a conference on the subject hosted by Harvard University this week, advocates for the can’t-get-worse position argued that the cumulative frustration and wasted efforts outweigh any bright spots in the season’s play, such as pitcher R.A. Dickey’s Cy-Young-Award-worthy year. In fact, they contend, such bright spots make the situation that much worse, underlining the otherwise dismal win-loss statistics.

Opponents countered with comparisons to other teams that have done significantly worse, at least in terms of winning percentage, such as the Mets themselves – in their debut season of 1962, when they struggled to win forty games.

That piece of evidence failed to sway advocates of the can’t-get-worse school, who, in a detailed rebuttal, dismissed “mere win-loss records,” explaining that other circumstances must be taken into account. While it is true, they concede, that teams in their first several years do not play as well as their opponents, no one expects them to play very well, and the consequent disappointment barely registers, minimizing the relevance of the Mets’ first season. As further evidence they adduce the Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays, among others, whose less-than-stellar initial seasons were greeted not with the bitterness and anger that so characterizes the life of the Mets fan, but with hope and excitement over the latent potential of a developing franchise, with which Mets fans long ago ceased to be familiar.

Today’s Mets Fan, they argue, roots for a franchise that has appeared in four World Series and won two of them – the first one a mere seven years after the team’s inception. Consequently, the aggregate frustration and disappointment, building since 1986, their last championship, combined with the emotional fallout from the owners’ involvement with Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi Scheme, make this season the worst possible.

Perversely, even the Chicago Cubs, long a punchline of jokes about futility, enjoy a less pathetic status than the Mets, the argument continues. Although the Cubs last won a World Series in 1907, their fans long ago came to terms with the team’s accursed state, so more than a century of failure hardly moves them anymore. The Cubs flirted briefly with success in the late nineties, but inevitably collapsed in the playoffs and have yet to be heard from since.

A similar argument is made regarding the Cleveland Indians, whose last championship was in 1954, and who lost to the Atlanta Braves in the 1995 World Series. Moreover, that team represents Cleveland, from which no one ever expects anything beyond mediocrity and bad weather.

The conference ended without a satisfying conclusion either way, an apt metaphor for the team under discussion.

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Written by Thag

August 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm

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