Oh somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville-mighty Casey has struck out.
Ernest Thayer "Casey at the Bat" (1888)
Six score years later, there's still no joy in Mudville, at least for the fans of the New York Mets. The Mets have gone down in the history books, but not for reasons they would have liked or expected. After a season of stunning success, leading their division nearly every week, and fully expecting to play in the World Series, the team had a spectacular collapse last month-and lost everything.
In three words, the team caved.
It all happened so quickly, almost as if time stood still. Needless to say, fans are in a stupor, an almost indescribably state of sadness and bewilderment. Placing their trust in the team, not having any reason to doubt that the course begun last April was right and true, it was all suddenly reversed, for reasons no one can articulate.
Where do we go from here?
The Mets had a turbulent past, and often have played the role of underdog. No wonder the fans' motto is, "You Gotta Believe." It's not always popular to be a Mets fan, especially with the New York Yankees juggernaut next door, but fans are intensely loyal. Kinda like being Catholic- it's not always easy, but you know the truths are eternal and the ultimate goal is just. So you stick with it, striving for holiness every single day through challenges and temptations.
But sport is no substitute for religion, so let's stop the comparisons and get back to the Mets. What's a fan to do when the course changes abruptly and unexpectedly, and you feel wronged, let down, even betrayed?
Take the long view. Being part of a fan base involves a commitment to the team and its long-term well-being. It does not mean blind obedience, nor not being able to ask questions when things don't make sense. You have a right to seek the truth, so long as it is in the right spirit, and the motives are not ulterior.
Here a lesson from the Catholic playbook is handy: be watchful, be respectful, and be knowledgeable, but by all means keep the faith and stay with the team; don't undermine it. For as Yogi Berra, a member of that other New York team once observed, "If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else."