From the New York Times, a pretty stark portrayal of a night at Citi Field during this lost, lamentable September, from the perspective of a Mets fan. It’s a good article, explaining to the rest of us what Mets fans have long felt and how they approach fandom of a team that disappoints far more than it rewards:
“It’s all about loyalty and knowing what it means to lose,” he says. “We’re not like the Yankees; the expectation to win a championship isn’t always there. If you win 26, you just get greedy” … What’s our choice? To root for the triumphalist Yankees is to describe an impossibility, like walking through Manhattan chanting: “Goldman Sachs! Goldman Sachs!” Instead, we adopt the mien of Scottish highlanders facing the English army — loss is assured, but let’s go out with panache and a touch of humor.
My team has won for a long time, but as I’ve written many times in the past, there is a lot of, well, not enjoyment to be had watching a bad team day-in, day-out, but certainly something satisfying. It helps you come to a more mature relationship with sports. Forces you to assess the entire enterprise of watching a game.
What is it we really want from this team? Can we still love sports if winning is not an option? I came down firmly on “yes” some 25 years ago, and learning to truly commune with a losing team has, I think, made me enjoy the winning much more. I think Mets fans, especially Mets fans too young to remember the mid-80s, get that more than almost anyone.
The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.
The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.
The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.
Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.