barack-obama-1.jpgI find myself wondering whether it is worse to be a Mets fan or a Democrat at the present moment.

It sure is hell being both.

When the Atlanta Braves’ Henry Blanco struck out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth a few minutes ago, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win in Atlanta, the Mets dropped into second place, having been shutout (!) 1-0 by Odalis Perez (!) of the Washington Nationals (!). The Mets are only half-a-game out f first and they’re even with the Phillies in the loss column, and they lead the wild card race by half-a-game over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Right now, though, that’s cold comfort because just a few days ago they were 3 1/2 games ahead with 17 games to play. Last year of course, they were 7 games ahead of the Phillies with 17 left to play. This year, once again, they are being done in by sub-.500 clubs. They dropped 2 of 3 to the Braves (both late inning blown saves by the bullpen), were blown out last night by Washington and couldn’t muster a run in support of Mike Pelfrey’s fine pitching effort tonight. Meanwhile, the Phillies are coming on Sarah Palin and the Republicans, winning five in a error including a four-game sweep over the Brewers. Yes, the Brewers are choking even more than the Mets right now — C. C. Sabathia just lost his first game as a Brewer and to the division-leading Cubs at that — but again that’s cold comfort.

Being a supporter of Barack Obama right now feels just like being a Mets fan. In a year when the Republican president has approval ratings that are an all-time low; when America is fighting an unpopular elective war in Iraq and losing ground in the struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan; when the economy has been rocked by unprecedented crises one after another; and when Obama has mounted the most successful presidential fundraising program ever; when the McCain campaign has chosen an obviously unqualified candidate for vice president; and when the McCain is caught every day in a blatant distortion or out-and-out lie (my favorite: McCain helped invent the Blackberry!) — HOW CAN IT BE that the national polls are dead even?

I don’t know whether the Mets will make the playoffs, but I’m relatively certain that they won’t go far if they do. Two years ago, they almost won the ALCS with an outstanding bullpen and a cobbled-together starting staff. David Brooks, with whom I rarely agree (though I must agree with his column today about the need for experience in a vice-presidential candidate), wrote a piece on October 8, 2006 called “Tell Me, O Muse, of the Amazin’ Mets,” in which he wrote:

For the gods decree, and history confirms, that those without starting pitching do not win championships.

He was right. This year the Mets are trying to do it the other way around: excellent starters, no bullpen. Jerry Manual has certainly revived the Mets’ pride and confidence, and he deserves to be hired as the permanent manager, but I doubt that he is magician enough to pull playoff success out of this hat. It’d take a miracle.

Then again, the Mets and miracles do have a historical association.

I’m hoping that it won’t take a miracle for Obama to win, just a bit of clear thinking. The way the McCain has conducted itself in the past month is a clear indication of the kind of presidency that he would be likely to have. And it’d be worse than Bush’s. To talk about “change” and then present a set of economic ideas that are warmed-over Reagan-Bush-Bush, well, you know what they say about putting lipstick on a pig …

A friend of mine has told me that he has made a deal with God and traded the Yankees’ success this year for Obama’s. I’d make a similar deal myself, but I think that after the way my last deal with the deity went, I don’t have much credit left in that marketplace.