Simply put, I am a Mets fanatic in the full sense of the word. I might rail against political fanaticism here at CAOT, but I give myself a pass when it comes to baseball. Intellectually I know that sports are meaningless, that baseball’s a game and pales next to the real things that really matter. So why does a horrible ending to a Mets season cut me off at the emotional knees?
Because I’m a fanatic, that’s why.
Doesn’t matter that I’m 42 years old, that people all over the world are struggling with serious problems of life and death. The head knows that these are things that should make us all sick to the soul; the heart only says “but the Mets blew it…again.”
My sister – a Yankees fan – once asked me to come up with a good metaphor to describe the feeling you get when your team’s season ends with bitter disappointment. I told her it was like having your heart broken. It’s like when you’re a kid and that girl you’re nuts about calls you out of the blue and says “see ya around.” The baseball season runs day after day for months; you live and die with those guys night after night. You can’t help but get to know the personality of the team in what can only be described as an intimate way. When your team wins it all, you never lose them, because they’ll come back every anniversary to re-live the season. When your team loses, then they go away. You never see them again.
So when the Mets season ends with a tough loss the whole world turns thin, gray and bleak. For a few weeks, anyway.
After a few weeks you realize that holding emotional water for a baseball team is pretty ridiculous, and anyway the Mets are in the running for that off-season’s big free agent. So you start reading MetsBlog again, and glancing at the sports page for trades now and then, and pretty soon it’s Christmas and the pain fades.
But it does take it a while. Those first few days are rough, and sad beyond expression. That’s what it’s like right now for this fanatical Mets fan.
What makes this year particularly gut-kicking is that the Mets loss coincides with the last game at Shea Stadium, and so it’s a double dip of heartbreak. My grandfather took me and my two cousins to Shea Stadium in 1977; last year I took my own daughter there. We did the whole thing – the train into NYC, the Number 7 subway out of Grand Central to the last stop, loaded with Mets fans juiced up for the game. When the car rounded that last bend near Willets Point and the blue hunk of Shea rose into view, I watched as her seven-year-old eyes opened in amazement, just like mine on my first trip, when I kept asking my grandfather what all that green grass was doing outside of the field, until he told me that all that green grass WAS the field, and I couldn’t believe the enormity of the place.
It all came full circle. So that’s special.
And now Shea’s gone too, taking another bitter Mets season with it. The reality is that Shea Stadium sucks – a leaky, smelly, cracked concrete dump; sitting there you feel trapped between those thick metal rails between the seats, and the bathroom’s are a mess, to put it nicely – but it was home. My grandfather’s there. My daughter’s first game will always be there. I can’t easily say good riddance to the place.
But considering that the Mets haven’t won a World Series in 22 years, maybe there’s something positive here. Maybe Shea used up its magic in 1986, the last Mets World Series win, when they pulled off the greatest, most improbable come-from-behind feat ever. Maybe the new place, with it’s reminiscence of Ebbets Field will bring its own brand of new Mets Magic. We’ll have to see.
Meantime, I’m just waiting for the next two weeks to pass by. I mean, the Mets still have great, young players, and great pitching, and if we only get a few relievers, well, just wait ‘till next year.
September 28, 2008 | Filed Under Living Now |