Being a Mets fan has its inherent dangers. Like watching a game, for instance. That unto itself is risky, especially when you get past the sixth inning. You always seem to be watching this team with both hands in front of your face, occasionally peaking through your fingers to see what gut-wrenching episode is about to unfold.
Of course, there is a thrill to this roller coaster ride of a team, otherwise I would not have put up with such drama for more than 40 years. And don’t just ask me. Ask any Mets fan, especially those old enough to hold out hope for another ’69 or ’86. All those nightmarish seasons in between and since? Just the build-up to another parade though the Canyon of Heroes. Hopefully. Maybe. Please?
Whatever misfortune has befallen my team from Flushing in its almost 50-year history, nothing has tested the mettle of Mets fans like the past four years. It began with Carlos Beltran making like a statue against Adam Wainwright to end the 2006 NLCS. Then there was the historic collapse of 2007. The not-so-historic collapse of 2008 ( a most fitting end to Shea Stadium). And the almost comical (but in reality, quite bizarre) rash of injuries that took down the 2009 campaign. Murphy’s Law anyone (And I don’t mean Bob Murphy)? It’s enough to wipe the smile off of Mr. Met’s big, round face.
And now 2010. A bad start, followed by a few white-hot stretches in May and June that put the Mets in contention. Then the inevitable (I hate to use that word, but as I sit here with my hands in front of my face. . .) collapse. An anemic offense. Shoddy relief pitching. Ineffectual managing. Injuries to star players. And of course, brawls in the players family lounge.
Okay, this is where things get too damn weird for me. I thought I’d seen it all. Especially over the past three-plus seasons. The Duaner Sanchez cab ride. The Great Choke Job of 2007. The early morning whacking of Willie Randolph. Crazy Tony Bernazard. Omar Minaya’s off-the-charts je accuse of Adam Rubin. The curious diagnosis of Jose Reyes. The Ollie Perez standoff.
But nothing can top what has transpired over the past week with Francisco Rodriguez. It’s bad enough that K-Rod sets our stomachs churning every time he takes to the mound. Save or blown save, he always has us biting our fingernails, reaching for the Malox, kicking the cat, or cursing mankind if things get really bad. Who would have thought that anyone could make us forget John Franco, Armando Benitez and Billy Wagner? But that was not enough. After last Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the Rockies, a typically deflating Mets late-inning meltdown, K-Rod got into a scuffle with his father-in-law or father of his girlfriend, or father of his common-law wife — I’m still not sure which designation is correct, but who really cares?
Anyway, he spends the night in the Citi Field lockup thereby earning the distinction, I believe, of being the first player in baseball history — maybe in all of sports — to spend a night in jail in his own ballpark. What a high honor that must be! But there’s more. While pounding his poor father-in-law’s face, K-Rod injures his thumb and is out for the season. Lovely.
I can only hope there is a silver lining here, although Mets fans aren’t big on silver linings — mainly because they exist only in our tortured imaginations. Perhaps, as it being reported all over the news today, and likely for many days and weeks to come, this is an opportunity for the Mets to show K-Rod the door. Find a way to void his contract. And why not? He is physically unable to perform his duties as the result of a criminal act that he committed in the presence of the wives and children of his teammates. That would get most of us fired here in the real world. And most of us don’t earn $12 million for working six months out of the year.
The Players Association, which amazingly cried foul when the Mets tried to suspend K-Rod for more than two games — two games! — will fight this to the bloody end, and likely will prevail as they are very, very good at protecting their members from loss of income and urine tests. In baseball, it seems you literally have to commit murder to have your contract voided.
I hope that somehow, some way, the Mets find a way to jettison K-Rod from Queens. It would go a long way toward rebuilding the trust of us long-suffering fans and hopefully exorcise some of the demons that have inhabited the swirling winds off Flushing Bay for so many years.
Assuredly, I’ll be watching the developments of this latest grim chapter in Mets misery with great interest. With both hands in front of my face, of course.