Rising from the Pit

September 28, 2015

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There’s a scene in “The Dark Knight Rises” when Batman realizes he can only rise from Bane’s pit when he takes off his safety rope. I don’t think I ever fully understood why, but a friend of mine recently explained it to me. I’m sure there are other interpretations, but this is the one I like best.

He told me that as long as Batman has the safety rope, he has the option to fail. If he leaps and falls, the rope will catch him and he can try again. Even if he genuinely devotes all his concentration and strength to a jump, he always has the promise of a second chance lurking in a deep, dark corner of his mind. Once the rope is gone, the option to fail and the comfort it brings disappear with it. That whisper in Batman’s head telling him “it’s OK” is replaced by a scream with a different message.

It bellows a certain indescribable motivation. Insecurity, the fear of death, and the cries of the suffering people of Gotham all contribute to this special impulse. It is only when everything is on the line that success is the only option. It is only when you’re given a single chance that you can search inside and summon that mythical strength most people will never capture.

It’s no secret that New Yorkers are big Batman fans. You see, we have a Dark Knight of our own. If this doesn’t sound familiar, you ought to crawl out of whatever pit you’re hiding in.

Met fans adore drawing parallels between Batman and our boys in blue and orange, but please, allow us just one more.

The rope is gone in Flushing.

This season is but a brief flash of opportunity. We cannot let the postseason celebration deafen the call for a deep run. There is no next year. This is our one jump.

We don’t know if Cespedes will return. We don’t know how Wright’s spinal stenosis will translate to the rest of his career. We don’t know when our fireball pitchers will all be healthy together again. We don’t know what kind of money the Wilpons will spend in free agency. We don’t know. We just don’t know.

“There’s always next year,” has been a phrase central to the Met fan vocabulary for many, many years, but it’s time to rewrite our language. There can be no more dismissals. All the previous put-offs, all the dreams deferred, all the last decade’s shelved hopes have led to this October.

It is a huge deal that we have returned to the playoffs after so much time, but it does not make this season a success. Not yet. We cannot go down in 4 games in the NLDS. This is the moment to make a statement.

It’s time to pull out all the stops. Lineup decisions must be made based on who’s performing right now, not who has the biggest contract, not even who’s had the best career. Relievers who come in and walk the first batter should be pulled right then and there. There can be no casual catches, no leisurely throws. In October, you don’t just run to first, you sprint.

Mistakes are amplified in the playoffs, but big hits are too. We deserve those big hits. Better yet, we need them.

I’m not just talking about the fans. Wright needs this after so many years of painful loyalty. Our pitchers need this after bearing the load of forty men for four full months. Our city needs this after football and basketball seasons that left all five boroughs in a dreary gray shadow.

The people of New York have suffered long enough. The credits will roll in November whether they’ve been saved or not. This story is not part of a trilogy, and we can’t try again with Ben Affleck.

It’s been dark far too long, but dawn is here now. We cannot weather another night.

It’s time to take the jump. Ya gotta believe we won’t get another.

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