Sunday, October 25, 2015

Two Random Observations About One Of My Favorite Baseball Teams

I'm talking, in this case, about the 2015 New York Mets.

Being happy, as I am, about the Mets' success (thus far and maybe farther) this year is kind of a strange thing, when you think about it.  It doesn't make my life better in any material way and, as an accomplishment, it's not really my accomplishment.  But it does add something, in an oddly spiritual way.  You feel better about having rooted for the team during a lot of really bad seasons, including three (2006, 2007, and 2008) where they were thisclose to the postseason and found ways to let it slip away from them.  You share in the joy that your fellow fans of the team share.  And somehow, there's just a little extra spring in your step as you approach the less enjoyable areas of your life.

I know that, when the Mets came from behind multiple times during the 1986 World Series to win it all, it was the first of a series of positive events in my life happening at a time when my life was not in a great place.  All I can tell you is that, even now, it made a difference in how I looked at things. Perhaps what I'm trying to say is best summed up in this post from one of my two favorite Mets-related blogs, Faith and Fear in Flushing.  It's well worth a read, even if you're not a Mets fan, because I think it applies to all baseball fans everywhere.  The other Mets blog I like, Matthew Cerrone's MetsBlog, is the premium place to go on the Web for Mets-related news.  Matt built his blog from scratch starting in 2004, and deserves to take a victory lap of his own.

All of that said, because winning the pennant isn't really my accomplishment, I'm much happier for the players than I am for myself.  The current Mets roster includes several players who played for the team when its on-the-field results were a disaster, including Jonathan Niese, Lucas Duda, and Daniel Murphy, the latter having decided for this postseason to go from being a pumpkin at second base to a golden carriage at the plate.  I'm especially happy for all of these players, but I'm happiest of all for third baseman David Wright.

Wright grew up in Virginia, where the Mets' AAA affiliate was based at the time, and adopted the Mets as his favorite team.  He was drafted by the Mets, came up through the farm system and onto the major-league roster in 2004.  He has stayed with the team through thick and thin, mostly thin, and signed a long-term contract when it could have been easier for him to become a free agent and sign with a winner.  He battled back this year from a spinal condition that may year end his career and will in any case give him a lifetime of pain.  Through all of this, he has been a tremendous ambassador of good will for the Mets and baseball everywhere he has gone.  As far as I'm concerned, if there's any justice in this world, this man walks away from his career with a World Series ring.

And, beside the players, I'm happiest of all for my fellow fans, especially the ones who were born after 1986.  You've heard about 1969 and 1986, but never really gotten to experience what it was like to be there.  Reading about it and listening to others talk about it is not the same thing; living it is truly something else.  Some of you got a little taste of it in 2000.  Let's hope we all get a bigger taste of it this time.  I'm pulling for the fans as much as I'm pulling for the team.

All of that is Random Observation No. 1.  And No. 2?

How ironic is it that greatness in New York baseball over the past twenty-five years has required the intervention of the Commissioner's office.  First, Fay Vincent suspends George Steinbrenner from day-to-day involvement with the Yankees, thereby giving the Yankee front office the chance to act like a real front office and build from within, and thereby producing the great Yankee teams of the 1990s.  Then, when Fred and Jeff Wilpon's financial dealings with Bernie Madoff landed the Mets in the financial cellar, Bud Selig loans them Sandy Alderson from MLB's office to rebuild the Mets on the cheap.  Sandy, by the way, also deserves a victory lap; he made Moneyball work in the Big Apple in a big way.

In a way, this mirrors the larger dynamic in this country.  In the battle between money and brains, the latter always has to bail out the former, but we go on pretending the former is better.  (Come on, you didn't think I'd get out of this post without some political content, did you?)

Anyway, Let's Go Mets!  And, as for my other favorite baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles, wait until ... until ... well, maybe until Peter Angelos sells the team.

No comments: