It's OK To Lose For A Little While

The air turns to chill as the sun pays us less mind. Summer became fall, soon to be winter, and here we sit with memories of another baseball season gone by. For the Mets' fan, the memories could be bitter, but with clear mind, should not be so, for from death sprouts new life, and we are the witnesses of a new genesis for the Mets. Change is inevitable, but must be understood and nourished if it is to succeed.

Suffer me to wax poetic, as baseball brings a music to my heart. Baseball is a game, it is naught a matter of gods, yet we treat it as such. It is a game of children and a game of men we escalate to the level of hero, though we know they are but men playing the game of children. There is beauty in this game, baseball, and there is poetry. Whether it be the constant struggle for victory as a metaphor for our lives or lyrical crack of the ball off the bat that made me fall in love, I cannot recall.

But I love baseball.

And I love the Mets.

And in 2003, the Mets lost 95 games. The Mets were so bad; they didn't play the final game of the season, having only played 161 games. In a way, it is symbolic; the Mets left the season unfinished. This team is a work in progress. It is Schubert's Eighth Symphony.

The 2002 season ended on a sour note with big expectations dashed into an 86 loss season. The big free agents and trade acquisitions of 2002 struggled, and the 2003 off-season did not provide much hope. Yes, there were Cliff Floyd and Tom Glavine, but Floyd is oft-injured and Glavine was 37 at the time. The two gave hope to the Mets, if only some of the veteran players would recover their ability. From here, we entered into the 2003 season.

The Hope

The start of the 2003 season saw the New York Mets in good position.

The Braves were looking weaker every day. They had traded Kevin Millwood for a bucket of used balls. Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton, the Mike Hampton who had lost 28 games in the previous two seasons, where supposed to replace Millwood and Glavine. And while their outfield featured the Jones boys and Gary Sheffield, the rest of their lineup didn't look as impressive. The Phillies had just spent a ton of money on Jim Thome, but were no real threat, and most fans could name no more than three players on the Expos and Marlins combined. Considering the Mets had picked up two good free agents, and some of the veterans were sure to bounce back from the poor 2002 season, the Mets were looking pretty good.

The Fall

The season ended early, May 16, to be exact. That's when Mike Piazza went down and missed nearly three months with a groin injury. The veterans did not bounce back, either. OK, Jeromy Burnitz had a good season until he was traded, but Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn, Roger Cedeno, Jay Bell, and Rey Sanchez made every pitcher they faced look like Bugs Bunny on the mound (that's one heck of a screwball he has.) Thankfully, the Mets' front office knew it was time to give up and start over.

The Rebirth

Sometimes a team gets so bad; the fan doesn't get upset when they lose. That was the first half of the season. But then there was a purge of the veterans, and the best day of the season was June 10, when some 19-year old kid name Jose Reyes went 2 for 4 with a double in his first game with the Mets. Reyes was our future, but the future suddenly appeared. There were good young ballplayers all over Shea Stadium. Jason Phillips- had an .815 OPS in 403 at bats, and wears the coolest goggles this side of Chris Sabo.

Ty Wigginton - led the team in almost all offensive categories, and made the Topps all-rookie team.

Jose Reyes - the next great shortstop of baseball. ‘Nuff said.

Jae Wong Seo - was second on the team in ERA and had a great 110/46 strike out to walk ratio. He also only gave up 18 home runs in 188 innings.

These are four very good rookie regulars. On the cusp of being with these four is Danny Garcia, who probably needs another year in the minors, Aaron Heilman and Mike Bascik. This team is on the rise. A team needs to always be moving forward, and even if they fail sometimes, that's what the Mets have done. The Mets have taken a giant leap forward this season, by dumping the deadwood to let the young seedlings grow.

Are there holes in the team? Yes. Are they going to make the playoffs in 2004? It would take a miracle. 75 wins would be an accomplishment, but sometimes a team is so young and full of energy and potential; it's OK to lose for a little while.

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