Head Men's Basketball Coach – Pratt Cannoneers
Part of the reason that sports means so much to so many people is the way that it brings about emotions that we didn’t know we had inside of us. That is, for everyone except Yankees fans. Those pinstriped supporters of the Bronx Bombers don’t need emotion, for feelings are replaced with irrational arguments of “But we have 26 championships bro!!”
Yes, they do. And the Mets have two, neither of which came in my lifetime. I’d argue there’s something special about those championships though, the lonely pair. I know so much about both of them.
1969 was the Miracle Mets, winning the World Series over the course of five games, for what still stands as one of the greatest upsets in Major League Baseball history. It was the first winning season in the team’s history! There’s Cleon Jones, immortalized in catching the final out of the season off the bat of Orioles’ second baseman (and later Mets manager) Davey Johnson.
Then 1986 was the Amazin’ Mets. Doc and Straw. HoJo and Mex and the Kid. Jesse Orosco dropping to his knees and Ray Knight’s raised arms. Mookie’s dribbler and Buckner’s legs. It was the stuff of legends and the plot of probably my favorite book (The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman).
I love the fact that when the great Mets moments are raised in conversation it’s about specific things. There’s not a throwback to 1927 or legends about Babe Ruth calling their shots. No, there’s video and radio calls of Mookie reaching first on Buckner’s error and Ray Knight scoring without a throw to win it. The Yankees may be legendary, but the Mets are truly of the storybook.
My chapter of the storybook is highlighted by the 2006 season. I was 10 years old when the Mets made the 2000 World Series (a prompt beating at the hands of the bad guys across town), so I would say that 2006, at 16-years-old is the first true run that I fully appreciated. My family was very into it. We had a partial season ticket plan and had been to a number of games that season. I was all-in on the Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca acquisitions. Heck, I even had a Kazuo Matsui tee-shirt jersey.
I sat and watched the game when the Mets clinched the NL East that season by myself in the guest room. There I was on that red couch watching David Wright, Jose Reyes and the rest of the team spraying champagne on the fans, doing victory laps and just exhibiting a general joy that was unseen by men that age. And I felt like a part of it. I was thrilled, I was shocked, I was proud and I was brought to tears, not for the first time, nor the last time.
That season was unforgettable. I will never forget being in Shea Stadium for a NLDS game against the Dodgers. I’ll never forget watching Endy Chavez rob Scott Rolen of a home run in the single most amazing play I can remember and I’ll never forget Carlos Beltran standing frozen over an Adam Wainwright curveball that ended the magical year.
Not to take anything away from this year’s squad, but aren’t the memories so different? I’ll remember Bartolo Colon being Bartolo Colon – sort of hitting, flipping the ball behind his back and being lovably rotund. I’ll remember the Matt Harvey innings debate (hopefully not because it led to an early end of his greatness). I’ll remember everyone wanting to fire Terry Collins before all of a sudden loving him.
This postseason is going to be fun. I’m in on these Mets. I want something special to happen. It’s only the eighth playoff appearance the Mets will make in their existence and a chance at the team’s third World Series and first of my lifetime. This team got hot at the right time and stayed hot.
I hope I can call them World Series Champions. I just know I will not call them the favorite Mets team of my lifetime.