I am a Mets fan, in the full sense of the word: I am a fanatic. I like to rail against fanaticism in the real world, but I give myself a pass for baseball. It’s ridiculous, basically. It’s a game and it doesn’t matter. So why does a killer ending to a Mets season cut a fan off at the emotional knees?
Because we’re fanatics, that’s why.
I’ve been a Mets fan since I was ten years old – I’m 49 now – so this is the longest relationship I’ve had in my life. It’s been mostly a rocky marriage. I could list out all the excruciating New York Mets failures, but why waste good bandwidth. Here’s a Google search with 1,560,000 results. Have it.
Usually the Mets are bad from start to finish, and for a momentary madness here on the day after Game 5 of the World Series, I almost prefer it that way. The creeping certainty that your season’s over around May 15 might be easier to bite down on than a sudden-death, kick-to-the-gut, season-killer in November. Still, it has become an annual ritual, just as the leaves start to fall, to look at the sky and ask an irrational universe why, oh why was I born a Mets fan?
My sister – a Yankees fan – once asked me to describe the feeling you get when your team’s season ends with disappointment. This was back when her team never ended that way. And as all Mets fans know, it’s like having your heart broken. The baseball season runs day after day for months; you live and die with these guys every 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, they come back every anniversary. When your team loses, they go away. You never see them again.
I guess that’s what stings the most about this year. I fell in love with this team. So did a lot of people. Where did all those Mets fans come from, and where’ve they been hiding all this time? My father, who hasn’t watched a baseball game since Bobby Thompson, was leaving me voice mails about “that awesome Murphy!” I was proud. My team dominated the NLCS. In four games!
Now I feel a little responsible. These people didn’t know better. Back in July, when they started to catch on, I should have tried to shake some sense into them, “What are you thinking! You have no idea what you’re in for!”
Of course, this could have been so much worse. Think about 2008. A last-day collapse on the last game at Shea. My grandfather took me to Shea Stadium; thirty years later I took my own daughter there. When the car rounded that bend near Willets Point and the blue mass of Shea rose into view, I watched her seven-year-old eyes open in amazement, just like mine on my first trip in ’77, when I asked my grandfather what all that green outside the field was for, and he told me all that green WAS the field. Citi Field is awesome, and it was rockin’ like mad this year, and I’ve got no complaints. But I’ll always miss Shea.
I’ll miss the 2015 Mets too. That had such a nice ring to it. Never has a Mets season held so many twists and turns as this one. We were supposed to win it. This feels like some kind of alternative universe; in the real one, Duda’s throw was true to the plate; Terry Collins sent out Familia to lock it down, Murph hit a homerun in every game of the series. But alas, nothing’s promised. Baseball doesn’t run on a script. Anything can happen. And it usually does.
I woke up this morning and I said that’s it, I’m done. I’ve got better things to do with my life. Who needs a stupid game to make me miserable. I should get out more, read more, spend time with my kids more. Turn off the TV more. Baseball. It’s ridiculous.
But I know what’s going to happen. In a few days I’ll realize that holding emotional water for a baseball team is pretty dumb. And there are all these free agents and trades we could make. So I’ll start reading MetsMerized again, and refreshing Twitter like a crazy person during the winter meetings again, and pretty soon it’s February and I’m counting the calendar to Opening Day.
Let’s face it, 29 teams let their fans down every year. Imagine being a Cubs fan right now. Yes, our team made embarrassing errors. Yes, a few inches here or there, we’d have won most of these games, heading back to KC with a chance. There’d be a baseball game to watch for a few more nights. The 2015 Mets would last forever.
But still – we won the NLCS. We’re the champs of the LEAGUE. We’ve got the best starting pitching staff in memory. KC came back from heartbreak last year to finish the job. The Mets can do the same in ’16.
So it stings today. It hurts like hell today. It’ll pass. It always does. We’re fans. It makes no sense, but we keep coming back. And for the first time in a long, long time, I can honestly say, I can’t wait ‘till next year.
(Deep bow and tip of the hat to MetsMerized for posting this one….)