MLB: NLDS-New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers

New York Mets Opening Day 2017: On losing hope, and then gaining it back

Despair is comforting.

There’s an ease, a simplicity, a beauty in never expecting much. You can’t be disappointed if you never expected anything in the first place.

It’s hard to not expect anything. We innately want. Food. Air. To have someone to say good morning and good night to and to text when you’re sad or happy or confused. Some of us, foolishly, decided to want to support athletes. For one reason or another, we all ended up here, rooting for laundry and rooting for strangers. We want them to win, to rack up RBIs and strikeouts. But we want that for ourselves, not for them.

Athletes are getting their paychecks whether they win or lose. That doesn’t mean they don’t care. Of course they do. Of course they want to win. But they’re walking away rich no matter what. We, the fans, are the ones who became emotionally invested in this stupid game.

The baseball season is long, which is either a pro or a con depending on which side you’re on. If your team is mired in misery, the summer drags on forever. If your team is headed for glory, October arrives all too soon. I have no idea how long the Mets season will last.

The 2017 Mets are a high-variance team. I don’t know much, but I know that. I know they’ll either win 70 games with 15 starts by Adam Wilk or they’ll win 100 and we’ll tell stories to our grandkids about how we totally, absolutely, resolutely knew this team was the one. Noah Syndergaard will take home the Cy Young or he’ll blow out his arm on May 3. Yoenis Cespedes will cement his name into history books or one weird stretch on a routine fly ball will land him on the 10-, then 60-day disabled list. There won’t be a middle ground for the 2017 Mets. It’s all or nothing.

In theory, that’s an exhilarating place to be. Every game is a mystery. Every game matters. Suspense is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?

Not when you’ve taught yourself to not have hope. All those years of quiet anguish were easy. Omar Quintanilla didn’t disappoint you. He just kind of did what he was supposed to do. And that was perfectly acceptable, because you didn’t expect anything of Omar Quintanilla.

We expect success from Cespedes and Syndergaard, from Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson. We’re banking on Travis d’Arnaud’s resurgence and Zack Wheeler’s arm holding up for at least a few months. We’re relying on Terry Collins to find playing time for Michael Conforto. We’re cheering on a team in which Rafael Montero, who can’t locate a strike, somehow made the Opening Day roster. I’m told this is what optimism feels like.

The 2017 Mets could be legendary. They could also remind us to never have hope.

Photo credit: Richard Mackson – USA Today Sports

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