By Mark B. Williams
I made a horrible mistake this summer. After years of torture, I thought I’d broken free from a lifelong, hereditary affliction. But before I realized what was happening, I found myself trapped in a familiar cycle of misplaced hope, sudden tragedy and endless pain.
I became a Mets fan again. Or, as everyone my age remembers Michael Corleone saying in The Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
It started innocently enough. Earlier this year, safely relaxing in my baseball-free home, I glanced at the sports news.
“Whaddaya know,” I said to my wife, “the Mets are in first place.”
“Well that’s nice, she replied. “I thought they were always awful.”
She had no idea. But I did.
I live in Portland, Oregon now, but I didn’t always live on the West Coast. I was raised with the Mets. In my parents’ home in New Jersey, the Mets were simply the background sound of summer. We went to see them as much as we could, but we watched all 162 games on TV each year. My mother even let the TV run during dinner, so we could hear Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson and Ralph Kiner describe the nightly horror taking place at Shea Stadium.
The Mets gave us some unforgettable moments, like magically going from doormats to champions in 1969, and sneaking through Bill Buckner’s legs on the way to winning it all in 1986. But more often we suffered through long agonizing droughts and heartbreak.
They even lost Tom Seaver. Twice.
Once in a while my father would get disgusted. “Turn it off, turn it off right now,” he’d shout. “That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m gonna become a Phillies fan.”
My parents never turned it off, but I escaped the Mets in my early 20′s by moving to Portland, which despite its rainy reputation was and is a famous baseball desert. Sure, we used to have the Triple-A Portland Beavers, but they drifted away, as did the Single-A Portland Rockies.
So, over the years I drifted away from baseball and the Mets just like those minor league teams drifted away from Portland.
But then, right before the mid-season all-star break, I noticed that the Mets were in first place. And that they had this guy named Jacob deGrom who looked like he was going to throw a perfect game every start. And who was also hitting over .400 and batting in winning runs.
I figured I’d watch a few games. Then I found my old Mets cap in the garage, although I couldn’t locate my jersey. I even talked a friend into planning a trip to San Francisco for a three-game Mets series against the Giants.
You know what happened next.
deGrom hurt his arm and suddenly was out. Now the fact that these Mets couldn’t hit a lick started to matter. Their zillion-dollar free agent Jose Lindor got hurt, too. So they traded for Javier Baez, a seemingly good move until he promptly went on the disabled list alongside Lindor.
And the Mets started losing again, dropping eventually to third place.
But now it was time for that San Francisco trip. There were a surprising number of Met fans there, people like me who’d flown in for the series. The Mets predictably dropped the first two games. On our way out to the final game, I spotted an older woman sitting in our hotel lobby dressed in full Mets regalia. Trying to drum up some excitement, I shouted to her, “Whaddaya think, are we gonna win one today?” She didn’t say a word, just looked down sadly and shook her head “no.”
But then, as they sometimes do, the Mets surprised and thrilled us again. After being down the whole game, they tied it in the top of the ninth and forced the mighty San Francisco Giants into extra innings. Suddenly our evening flight back to Portland was in jeopardy. They scored another run in the top of the 11th, but the Giants came back and tied it again. Finally, the Mets scored four runs in the top of the 12th and sent us hurrying to the airport with a glorious win.
At the security line, I ran into another Mets fan who was full of enthusiasm. “All right baby!” he shouted. “Pretty soon deGrom comes off the injured list, then we’ll get Syndergaard back, and we’ll be on our way!”
I found myself nodding in agreement. We still could have a shot. You never know.
And, if they completely collapse, as the rational part of my brain expects, there’s always next year.
Mark B. Williams is a retired attorney and recovering Mets fan. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
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Source : https://www.nj.com/opinion/2021/09/oh-man-the-mets-did-it-to-me-again-opinion.html1171