“Fun time’s over”

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Mets camp has been something of a riot for the first couple of weeks of spring training. Everyone’s loose, Cespedes is driving crazy cars, riding horses and buying hogs. It’s been silly, frankly.

Games started today, though. The Mets played an intrasquad game and now they go on to battle the enemy. To that end, manager Terry Collins had this to say to his troops:

I totally get that for Collins and his players. There is a seriousness of purpose required on the part of professional athletes. If you’re managing a team you want people to be loose, but you also want to keep a lid on zaniness which can quickly lead to a lack of focus. It’s probably the central dilemma of most managers, actually. I can’t imagine it’s easy.

At the start of a new baseball season, however, I want to remind people that fans don’t have to think that way. We’re so conditioned to speak about sports as if we’re of sports rather than merely observers. We get too mad when our teams lose and, frankly, a bit too pleased when they win. We mistake the entertainment we get from sports for some actual task we, ourselves, are undertaking. We get too serious about team loyalty and, some of us anyway, are loathe to look at the sillier and inconsequential side of sports and simply enjoy them for their own sake. Curiously, we also tend to ignore the actually serious, real-life implications of sports, but that’s another topic I suppose.

The point is that the fun may be over for Yoenis Cespedes and his convoy of ridiculousness, but it doesn’t have to be over for us. Over the course of the next eight months there will be a lot of ups and downs for everyone. A lot of bad news and good news. Many controversies and, unfortunately, tragedies in the world of baseball. But there will also be a good deal of funny nonsense. Above all else, there will be a couple thousand baseball games, the purpose of which are to entertain us.

Let’s remember not too take it all too seriously. Be nice to people in comment sections, in the bleacher seat in front of you and the barstool next to yours. When your wife or husband or significant other wants you to turn off the game to talk to them, do it. We’ll have the recap for you here in the morning. When a player on the team you root for messes up, take a moment to breathe and remember that he’s trying his best before tweeting about how much you hate him and how you wish he was never born. When a player on the team you root for hits a home run take a moment to remember his triumph is not your triumph and you didn’t just earn the right to taunt people for more than a moment. Try to be positive. Try to be zen.

It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Terry Collins may not want it do be for his guys, but Terry Collins isn’t our boss. We don’t need to listen to him.