It’s gotta be my new shoes. The Mets were solidly in first place, sporting a record of 12-2 on April 15th that was as remarkable as it was unexpected. In my irrational exuberance over the start none of us Mets fans had anticipated (c’mon, none of us…) I made two highly questionable decisions that I believe may be costing us big time right about now.
First, I called up DirecTV and ordered the MLB Package, ensuring that I could watch from my California home every Mets game played this season (and any other baseball game I wanted for that matter), in what was clearly shaping up to be a 120-win, 42-loss kind of campaign (and by the way, this MLB package purchase was no easy feat, as it meant working through those highly-trained people that man DirecTV’s phones at midnight Pacific time on a Sunday night).
Second, following the well-intentioned yet badly misguided advice of a friend and fellow Mets fan, I went on the New Balance website and custom-designed and purchased my “lucky” New York Mets sneakers you see in the photo above (including, for an extra cost, expedited shipping, and yes, the “NYM” monogram you see in orange on the back of each shoe).
I knew at the time I was tempting the fates (in fact I had nearly torpedoed the Knicks season well before KP’s injury finished them off when, at the urging of the same friend, I nearly designed a similar pair of Knicks custom sneaks back in November of last year), but they just looked so darn good (the Mets, not the sneakers, although I must admit to being pretty damn pleased with my design at the time of the order). It was a classic “double-whammy” and I threw caution to the wind and proceeded anyway.
We sports fans are a superstitious lot in general, and when it comes to our favorite squads we need to tread awfully carefully. No one knows this fundamental rule of sports fandom better than me (during Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS against the Astros I refused to turn on any lights in the house as the game shifted from afternoon to evening, move from my seat, or God-forbid remove my rally cap, until the game had ended and the Mets were safely on their way to the World Series — yup all 16 innings and no bathroom break). Which is why I now lament these recent decisions of mine that were so clearly steeped in the emotion of the moment — I’m supposed to know better.
As if on cue, the Mets immediately blew a late 6-1 lead to the Nationals (anyone else still find themselves calling them the Expos by the way, or is that just me?), costing poor Jacob deGrom another win (more on him in a second), but managed to rebound and hover around .500 P.S. (post sneakers) for a week or so. Now, still only a couple of weeks later, we sit in second place having been humiliated 11-0 this afternoon by the upstart Braves (and swept at home no less), a game and a half behind Atlanta (really??) in the division race. We’ve gone a miserable 5-9 since I hit “send” and placed my order.
So I’m dealing with a couple of thoughts right about now. The first comes from the logical side of the brain (right side? I can never remember…), which throws out that tired old chestnut of “if someone told you when spring training began that we’d be in the first week of May and the Mets would be 17-12 and in second place wouldn’t you have been happy?” Yes, but…
NOT if you told me it would be in the midst of a catastrophic slide brought on solely (no pun intended) by an idiotic sneaker purchase by yours truly.
Anyway, the real thoughts I’m having are simply about how I might redirect this train wreck I’ve personally caused and somehow save the season before it’s too late. So idea number one revolves around some sort of ritualistic burning of the sneakers in my backyard. Maybe include an old Jim McAndrew baseball card in the blaze and/or my autographed 8X10 photo of George Theodore (The Stork!).
Idea #2 would be to return to the New Balance site and order customized sneaks of each of our primary rivals contending for National League supremacy, and rotate wearing a pair whenever the Mets faced off against one of them (thinking Nationals/Expos, Braves, Cubs, Cardinals, D’backs, Rockies, Dodgers, etc.). However I’m afraid the baseball gods would see through that one, plus it’s too expensive and would take more effort than I feel I can expend.
Three, I could try to place the blame at the doorstep of DirecTV and cancel my subscription to that hexed MLB package. Hahahahaha… I’m sure we can all agree that there is no way they will let me cancel (certainly not with any hopes of recouping my annual fee that was no doubt debited from my account within seconds of me completing my order). Not to mention the apoplexy I’m certain to feel while frantically screaming “REPRESENTATIVE” and “DON’T YOU DARE PUT ME ON HOLD AGAIN” over and over again into my iPhone…I am sweating and feeling shortness of breath just imagining the degree of difficulty involved here.
Sorry my fellow Mets fans, but I suppose we are simply stuck. I will fall on the sword and take full responsibility going forward every time we see a recurrence of some variation of Jake deGrom hyperextending his elbow (while batting, for chrissakes), or for every headline about Matt Harvey making an ass out of himself (before miraculously finding himself in 2019 while wearing a Yankees uniform and winning 15 games — we know that one is coming, don’t we?), or when we all collectively scratch our heads and wonder how someone with the filthy stuff that Steven Matz possesses in his left arm can possibly stink it up so badly every fifth day — yup, I’m to blame. The burden is a heavy one, I won’t lie.
I really can only come up with one other viable solution, and even that is a long shot. I will make one final attempt at “reversing the curse of the orange and blue shoes” using my own secret powers in a quest for good over evil. Many of you close to me are well aware that my frequent predictions often have the unintended effect of causing the exact opposite result of what I anticipate happening to actually happen. Armed with the acknowledgement of that painful reality, let’s see if the following sure-fire prognostications can move the needle for us in a positive way:
*Yoenis Cespedes never gets his average above .250 this year and ends the year with a Granderson-like HR/RBI line of 19/41 (but gets his handicap back to single-digits, which is a good thing since he will have the entire month of October to spend on the links)
*deGrom’s elbow turns out okay, but he breaks a toe covering first on a slow roller to Jay Bruce (playing out of position at first base and making a poor toss behind Jake causing him to lose his balance before breaking the big digit stumbling over the bag) on Memorial Day weekend. He returns but is never the same, ending the year with an ERA over 5
*Amed Rosario never hits, but does lead the league in errors, as well as gaining notoriety for having the lamest beard in the National League
*Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton join D’Arnaud and Plawecki on the DL as the Mets set a new MLB record with 5 catchers DL’d at one time (who is the fifth you say? Why none other than J.T. Realmuto, who gets shelved only one game after we acquire him for Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith in a trade initially applauded by the masses)
*Brandon Nimmo becomes the Marlins lone representative at the All Star Game after hitting .380 with a .475 OBP following his trade for Realmuto, quickly joining the ranks of Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, Jeff Reardon and countless others in the pantheon of “great ones that got traded away”
*Dominic Smith balloons back up to 300 pounds as he dives deep into the wonderful culinary delicacies and nightlife of South Beach, while watching his batting average remain below the Mendoza Line for the Marlins despite amassing over 400 AB’s following the trade for Realmuto (sorry but had to include a cheap shot at Smith, since it’s so easy)
*Jeurys Familia is suspended by the team for punching out Dave Eiland after Eiland questions the big closer’s manhood for refusing to throw inside following his 11th blown save of the year in mid-June. New closer? Yup, Matt Harvey
*Jose Reyes ends the year as our starting centerfielder following a collision between Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto that lands both players on the DL, while bringing back memories of other great collisions in Mets history, like Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran and Don Hahn and George Theodore (The Stork!)
*Todd Frazier sets a new club mark with his 200th strikeout in late-August, and flips off the fans on his way back to the dugout amidst a chorus of boos streaming from thousands of fans all doing the salt and pepper motion, which months before had morphed into a form of ridicule employed by the Mets faithful to show their disgust for Frazier and his .190 average and 11 dingers
Okay, I think that’s enough. Now let’s hope that all that negative karma combines with my penchant for picking the wrong side of the trade and counteracts the shoe curse before the 2018 season totally gets away from us. Additionally, I will begin thinking about positive predictions I can make about the crosstown Yanks to see if I can transfer all of our recent bad luck over to the Bronx. Stay tuned and fingers crossed.
*Oh and one more for good measure — Mr. Met proclaims to the world we are #1 once again in 2018!
Just couldn’t resist that one. But then again, hey, if someone told you back in February that we’d by 17-12 and challenging for the division lead on May 3rd…