Do you remember reading the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens in high school? I’m pretty sure I read it when I was a freshman, but I don’t actually remember a lot of the specific details. I do recall that the main character, Pip, was rather poor and raised by his sister and her husband, but Pip had “great expectations” placed upon him because a secret individual paid for Pip’s education due to a kindness Pip had previously performed. In a totally unrelated manner, I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the great expectations that I placed upon my New York Mets this year, expectations, unfortunately, that have gone unfulfilled.
Expectations in general are a tricky subject. For instance, if I expect my wife to prepare a meal for me every evening, and for some reason, she fails to do so, I might be disappointed. If, however, she’s working long hours on a project and unable to cook for a spell, I lower my expectations, and my disappointment at the lack of a prepared meal disappears. In that case, too, I might order some food and bring it home, or I might even cook myself.
Expectations also influence our lives in many other areas. When I sit down to watch a television show, for example, my prior knowledge of the show and my expectations about the show will likely affect my enjoyment. A while back, Barbara and I began watching Schitt’s Creek because we received a recommendation, and we had heard of the show’s many awards. Thus, we expected a lot, and, quite honestly, we were disappointed. We watched three of four episodes to give it a fair chance, but we didn’t really enjoy it. Our expectations were much too high, and the show failed to deliver for us.
By contrast, we began watching a family drama called “Heartland,” and our expectations were quite low. No one had recommended it to us, and all we knew was that it involved a horse farm in Canada. In this case, we were pleasantly surprised. The show is based on a series of books by Lauren Brooke, and the episodes are engaging, entertaining, and emotional. We became hooked early on, we watched two or three episodes almost every night, and we recently finished watching every available episode, well over 200 of them.
So what about the Mets? Well, once again, my views of their last two seasons have been unfairly influenced by my expectations. In 2019, the Mets started slowly, experienced some serious injuries, and by midseason looked like a lost cause. At that point, some fans wanted to blow up the roster, sacrifice the season, and begin planning for 2020. As an eternal optimist, I wasn’t quite ready to go that route and was pleased that management tried to salvage the season. Thus, with low expectations, I was thrilled that the Mets improved considerably over the second half and made a late, but unsuccessful, run for the playoffs. “Wait till next year,” I told myself, pleased and confident that 2020 would be different.
Well, obviously, the COVID crisis changed everything as the season was postponed and, then, shortened. When I later heard that Major League Baseball decided to add three more teams in each league to the playoffs, I was supremely confident that the Mets would qualify. My expectations were crazy high, over the moon and beyond. If I were a betting man, I would have bet my house on the Mets making the playoffs.
Fortunately, I am not a betting man. Once again, the Mets have experienced some injuries, their replacements have not performed well, and they haven’t been able to consistently combine offense and defense. They have been a losing team all season long, and because of the shortened season, they don’t even have a chance to recover. My high expectations have been dashed once again.
So as the playoffs begin next week, my favorite team will sit on the sidelines once more, and I will be left with unfulfilled great expectations. What will I do with my time? I’ll surprise my wife by cooking more meals, I will search out television shows to entertain us, and I might even read that classic Dickens’ novel all over again.