I counted on them. Just the thought of them got me through a horrible winter.
Every fan knows what I am saying: the unique place of baseball -- seasonally correct, holding promise of a new spring.
My team happens to be the Mets, already sinking toward the lower depths, but fans of other teams will recognize the angst: for this I dreamed all winter?
I see Curtis Granderson floundering and I see Asdrubal Cabrera falling apart – two of my favorite players, with intelligence and humor and a fine body of work, who were so fine last season. This is hard to watch.
I am allowed to root. One of the liberations of retirement is shucking professional neutrality. I obsessed about the Mets’ pitching staff, all those talented kids, and I saw the Mets beating out the under-achieving Nationals.
I needed the Mets to thrive, particularly since that sickening night in November when a candidate we New Yorkers knew as a damaged charlatan was elected, ick, but I cannot say it.
I tried to get through the winter with partisan television news -- squirmed through rude interruptions of guests, daydreamed through 20-minute rambles with two minutes of content, rolled my eyes at the harmless repetitions of the word “lies,” as if they did any good.
Everybody reacts differently. People I know are developing a cursing syndrome when McConnell and Ryan ooze into view. Tim Egan called Ryan an "Irish undertaker." I think he meant unctuous. With my Irish passport, I laughed out loud. Felt good. For 30 seconds.
I tried behavior modification. I cannot listen to my large collection of rock and folk and country and jazz on my iPod. No mood for The Band or Stevie Wonder or Iris Dement or The Dead.
Songs of lost love and rolling down the highway don’t do it right now.
In mid-winter I listened to chamber music and waited for DeGrom and Céspedes and Familia, when his mini-suspension was over.
Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun. It’s all right.
But now we are a month and a half into this season, and the Mets look done. This is not their year. I know, I know, this is not the loyalty of a true fan, but I covered a zillion games of baseball and I can tell a team that has too many flaws. What’s up with the Alleged Dark Knight?
In the same way that I assess my broken ball team, I assess my homeland. I thought the damaged goods would be returned to sender, like some bad Amazon purchase, within 18 months, and it could happen sooner.
But the Democrats look like an expansion team – too old, too callow, no core. I scan the prospects among the majority party for enlightened, idealistic action: I see stirrings of conscience in Graham and Collins. I really like John McCain from having interviewed him once; if you spot him approaching 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with a couple of cohorts, let me know.
I watched Ben Sasse – a fresh face, a note of hope, like Michael Conforto of the Mets -- during the hearings the other day and thought, this guy could actually have intelligence and courage.
But I’ve been wrong before. I thought my ball team would give me spring-to-autumn diversion.
Now I peek at them, through spread fingers, like a child, for an inning here or an inning there. (I'm even happy for Yankee fans. First time in my life.)
It’s mid-May and I have lost hope for my team.
5/17/2017 11:47:56 am
Politics aside, really, what can one say? I've been a Mets fan for over 50 years and I've discovered the secret. The Mets win once a generation or so. This cultivates new, young fans who having no inoculation continue this fixation for a lifetime. After luring the young fans in they slip into mediocrity or worse. Sadly, nothing can be done. Once a Mets fan, always a Mets fan.
5/17/2017 11:57:26 am
See, this man knows. Jay Hook on a rare victory in 62 or 63, likened it to picking a sweet cherry. Good man, Jay. When Conforto is the veteran, Mets will be back for another year. Thank you, sir, for expressing the essence of Met-dom. GV
5/17/2017 12:16:52 pm
I might be the shallowest man in the world but I consider this a "bad beat."
5/17/2017 12:23:20 pm
Here, George, is something to cheer up all Mets fans and true patriots. Let's keep the faith in our team and country.
5/17/2017 02:53:46 pm
5/17/2017 03:57:18 pm
Bruce, no lost sleep over the only team I root for in any sport.
5/17/2017 04:22:13 pm
5/18/2017 02:07:38 pm
I live in Vermont so I purchased the MLB package on Roku as i have for a few years. Canceled it last week. I'll listen on to them on xm radio now and then but I'm not enough of a masochistic to pay to watch this drek. Although, to argue against myself, some of my happiest moments were driving to Shea in the late 70s and early 80s, getting a box seat at the gate, sitting there with a few thousand other sad sacks and having a helluva good time. Ah, Bruce Boisclaire; where are you when we need you?
5/17/2017 11:12:31 pm
Cursing syndrome- check. 30 second feel goods- check. Behavior modification - check (no AM news; no mood for music). No interest in any sports team - check. Darn!
5/18/2017 01:57:27 am
Heading into this series, I sent a message to a friend on the Diamondbacks to take it easy on my injured/suspended/pathetic shell of a team. To which he responded that his club had just lost Pollock and Peralta to injuries, so that made things even. To which I responded, "Uh, no ..."
5/18/2017 06:38:39 am
Hillel: it's never even. We know that.
5/18/2017 05:15:21 pm
Regardless of all the injuries, the Mets are only 8.5 games out. The 51 Giants were 13 games out and started their move later.
5/19/2017 02:44:40 pm
George, i don't know what to say. if the team were just barely falling short, with the rotation doing half of what is expected (instead of none), I would say something like: "Gee, too bad we don't have a .350 hitter who hits lots of doubles and plays three infield positions. Sure wish we had someone like that." But Murph could not stop the current freefall. We could use a tablesetter but hitting is not the real issue.
5/20/2017 09:39:16 am
Josh: Confession: I watched/listened for DeGrom's game last night.
5/20/2017 12:10:49 pm
1941, Damn Yankees, Poor Mickey Owens, (but it may have been spitball.); 1942, won 104-50- lost pennant to Cards; 1947, Damn Yankees;1949, Damn Yankees; 1950 lost on last day to Phillies; 1951 Bobby Thompson, Poor Ralph Branca: BUT--1955, Hosanna!
5/20/2017 04:19:30 pm
Ed: When I was a yoot, we Dodger fans never said "Wait til next year" in May. That was a dirge for late Sept-early Oct. when Owens-Henrich-Dick Sisler--Thomson -Martin-Kuzava-Yogi broke our hearts. We finally got them. Bells rang all over Brooklyn. (I was playing soccer that day.)
5/20/2017 04:35:55 pm
5/20/2017 09:18:00 pm
As I read these posts it comes to mind that very, very few teams in MLB engender this kind of loyalty, analysis, and angst. All of us, where ever we are, are metaphorically joined at the hip with the endearing, frustrating, Mets. So play ball, put the Rheingold Beer jingle on the record player, and I'll light up a White Owl.
5/22/2017 05:00:53 pm
Nice, Richard. Add to your wonderful Mets flashback, a memory of the inimitable Bob Murphy scanning the great expanse of Shea on a bright May afternoon and proclaiming "What a marvelous day for baseball."
5/22/2017 05:26:38 pm
He said it when Chacon-Neal-Throneberry were leading the league in double plays -- because the other team had so many base runners (as Leonard Koppett patiently explained to this rookie.)
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.