I have friends who rhapsodize about their new relationships with unabashed stars in their eyes. “How’s it going?” you ask a few weeks later, only to be told, “Oh—he was a sociopath!” Then you listen as your friend eviscerates this former paragon with the same enthusiasm she once brought to his glorification. I always marvel, half horrified, half admiring, at the full commitment to poor judgment, the anger unmitigated by any self-reproach or, indeed, self-consciousness. To be so free! To think not “it’s amazing that we came this far” but merely “they have let us down.”
I’ve never really understood the rage that comes after a tough sports loss. Frustration, sure. Disappointment, of course. Even some heartbreak. But if sports are like war—and we’re constantly told they are—it’s an odd thing to turn on our proxies with such venom. It’s as though they go off to fight in World War II and return in the Vietnam era, heroism transformed into cynicism. AMAZIN’ DISGRACE! shrieked the New York Post. “Of course it will be hard to feel anything but anger and fury and devastation for now, and for a good long while,” wrote that paper’s Mike Vaccaro.
But what had we expected? The Mets are notorious for creative, inventive, gut-wrenching losses that reinforce an essential fatalism. Bad calls, bad plays, extra innings. Any win, for a Mets fan, feels like a reprieve from the inevitable. Joy is mixed with incredulity. You live in the moment, and that moment is never purely blissful—because you’re outsourcing your fate. Maybe it’s easier if you’re religious.
Can’t we remember the good times? Can we not feel a reluctant pleasure that Volquez has won a series for his father? At the very least, can we maintain our pride? To revisit my dating metaphor: you have to remember that, as a matter of statistical probability, there just aren’t that many sociopaths in the world.
Or, we can just watch “Casey at the Bat” and remember that this particular variety of heartbreak is a feeling as old as the game.
Sadie Stein is contributing editor of The Paris Review, and the Daily’s correspondent.