Msnowe's Blog

Mets, Mayhem, Magical Thinking.

Posted in magical thinking, mets by m.snowe on September 29, 2008

M.Snowe admits she has no long-standing ties to Mets baseball. But the tickets are cheap, the games are exciting, and the location is prime and accessible. As any good baseball fan knows, a game is a game, and seats are seats, and if it isn’t your favorite team, it’s still something to get behind. But that’s the thing with this Mets team–they suck you in when you were just looking for an entertaining afternoon with no strings attached. But then you’re tethered to their foul pole, rapt into the play. Without knowing the players that well, without knowing the history, you can still be enchanted insanely quickly by their lukewarm pitching and haphazard methodology. Before you know it–you’re hooked. You have no idea how, but this oft-losing team has caught your attention. They aren’t exactly a beautiful team. They aren’t gentlemen of the field. They usually signal a win and then fall spectacularly flat, promises broken. You can’t figure them out–you feel they don’t understand you, and how could they–you’re just one fan in a crowd of way too many for comfort. It’s as if they have another mistress, a coy Circe entangling them from afar, late at night after they leave the Flushing locker room, regardless of their protestations. But despite yourself, there the Mets are, and you cling to the idea that they could win and truly be your team, not just for one night, but for the big show. But why? M.Snowe has a few shrewd ideas…maybe.

Mets fans, like many other various groups and individuals, engage in what is usually referred to as “magical thinking.” (Perhaps one of the best literary examples of magical thinking is the memoir by Joan Didion–a good and tragic read, though high on dramatics). Magical Thinking is the irrational belief that one can bring about a circumstance or event by merely thinking about or wishing for it. Outside of early childhood and schizophrenics, this kind of thinking is supposedly abnormal, or at the very least ill-advised. And yet, it has such a pretty, non-threatening name. The allure of it is undeniable. Mets fans hope and hope that their team will enter the playoffs, and yet it seems like the past couple of years, the team has feinted brilliance in August and September, only to dash the fans’ hopes against the walls of Shea like the bulldozers in the coming months when it’s demolished. The Mets had the appearance of winning it all–they acted like a team on the rise, and perhaps the fans were deluded into thinking that their ardent wishes would be enough to carry the team through–alas.

Some people (and some Mets fans included), might find this magical thinking disturbing–psychotic even. Why believe in a team so deeply, only to see your hopes stomped upon? How could you think that all those seeming “signs” of a winning record were anything but random or maybe slightly coincidental happenings in a chaotic world of sport? But then the question becomes, are the fans perhaps smarter to cling to something that ultimately does not directly effect depression levels, or at least subsides with the hope of a new season? Sometimes we all engage in magical thinking–and it can often be much more detrimental than the outcome of a baseball game. There will always be next year for the Mets. Will there always be next year for the other things we wish for irrationally? Will the other things be completely separate from our own actions? Will our individual choices effect the Mets‘ record? No. Will our choices effect our personal hopes and dreams that slide hazardously into magical realms? Probably. And even if the signs are read correctly, what if you find yourself still hoping for a wish that you know cannot come true?

Yes, you can wear your lucky t-shirt to the game and think it helped the cause–but there’s no quantifying that, there’s no direct link to your cotton and the players’ mitts. But what about a misread sign or signal in your own life, and how you choose to interpret it? And we’re not talking about a sign that a hitting coach gives to the player at bat. What about the subtle quirks, the indefinite gestures? Is it the magical thinking sneaking up on us again, or is it real? If only the exquisite pain of daily deciphering was more simple; if only it was more like a ballgame.


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