I was especially excited to watch the Mets game last night because Zack Wheeler was pitching, and I was thinking about the high hopes that I have for both he and Matt Harvey. Specifically, I was thinking, “Well, Harvey is clearly Tom Seaver, and maybe Wheeler can be Jerry Koosman.”
I know that I am not the only Mets fan making these comparisons, but the act of doing so struck me. I think it is an example of how we as humans naturally turn to past narratives to help us make sense of the present. While I am by no means the first person to note this function of narrative (my favorite articulation of it is in the work of Stanley Hauerwas), it is worth repeating. The world is inherently chaotic, and stories help us see how bits and pieces of it make sense.
In this particular instance, I am choosing a narrative that I want to see repeated, a sort of messianic second coming, because Seaver was the best Met ever, and Koosman was either the second or third best Mets pitcher ever depending on how you feel about Dwight Gooden. Of course it is not fair to Harvey or Wheeler to make these comparisons because it is important that they be given the space to write their own narratives. However, connecting them to the past as a fan is one way to fit them into the larger New York Mets narrative. The Mets have been the most successful when they have had stellar home-grown pitchers, and it is enticing to think that with Harvey and Wheeler they are returning to this formula.