Thinking about the loss of Billy Wagner, for perhaps forever, makes me almost want to write off the season. A loss of a crucial cog while already being a team still grasping for its identity— just feels like, sure, we could make the playoffs, but we can’t win the big one with our current state of affairs.
Down one of our top 3 starters.
Down our starting left-fielder, #5 hitter.
Down Aaron Heilman’s fragile psyche
Down Willie (Jerry’s been great, but we had him anyways)
Down the Artist formerly known as PEDRO
and now… Down our closer, the one rock we’ve had in a perfect storm of garbage that has been our bullpen.
We could still win the division. Maybe even get out of the NL. But we’d have no chance against the Angels or Red Sox.
So I’ve been thinking about the offseason moves.
But then I saw the Giants kick-off the season and remembered how I felt the same way when Shockey got hurt for the Giants last year.
We could win some games, make the playoffs … but no way could we win the whole thing without Shockey. He was a crucial cog. Not as good as his reputation, but still top shelf talent, and one of the most reliable players on the team. We needed him to be good to win at the highest level.
I have a theory, especially applicable in sports, which is simply: just when you think you got it, sports will surprise you.
The old cliche about why you play the games.
The Giants epitomized that last year. Giants fans — NY fans — are rarely the team that does the Cinderella story. We have too much coverage and media interest to frequently capture the underrated-and-written-off narrative.
But the Giants did it last year. Just when they were to be written off, they made their own story, and made us learn new names. Boss. Tyree. Bradshaw. Next thing you know: Champions.
And so maybe with Wagner going down, the Mets have the opportunity to surprise us. Make us learn new names. Ayala. Church. Stokes.
Maybe it’s the punch to our gut that makes us not give an Heilman’s ass anymore. No one should have us coming out of the NL over the Cubs, or the Brewers (the way Sabathia is pitching).
But those teams are just learning how to win.
And ours is a team that has been through some wars now; we have grit we didn’t have a couple years ago when we were shiny-and-new.
With no ridiculously dominant New-England-Patriot-type teams out there, maybe it’s the missing link that puts us over the top when we least expect it.