Welcome to another happy recap here on DOINow.com where the reports come in way late, but the motto is #LWT : Let Wilmer Try.
Not even two full weeks into the season and we’re doing backflips that the Mets are all alone atop the standings of the NL East.
And I don’t even feel bad about it.
I’m 33 years old now. Too young to remember ’86, but I’ve watched that “A Year To Remember” VHS so many times that I can probably recite most of the season off the top of my head. I do remember Scioscia taking Gooden deep in ’88, but still too young to fully understand what I was seeing.
If I had to pinpoint a season where I really started understanding the game, it would be 1990. The Mets came in 2nd that year, falling short to the loaded Pittsburgh Pirates who featured both the NL MVP (Barry Bonds) and Cy Young winner (Doug Drabek).
I was 8 years-old and addicted to anything baseball. Box scores, books, stats and, especially, those “This Week In Baseball” MLB VHS tapes that would chronicle all time defensive plays or serve as video yearbooks for specific seasons. Man, I loved those.
I don’t mean to get sidetracked, but just trying to give you a little insight as to what made me tick back then. There was no such thing as enough baseball for me. And, at that point, I had already grown accustomed to the Mets being a consistent contender.
Unfortunately, the 1990 season represented the end of what was probably the longest run of success in the team’s history. We had already seen the departures of Kid and Keith the year before, but now Darryl Strawberry decided to leave as a free agent. That one hurt.
Frank Viola started to decline, Gregg Jefferies (unquestionably my favorite player as a kid) never hit like Ted Williams and Doc…well, Doc got into more trouble and the team began spiraling downhill until the late 90s when Mike Piazza was added to some good, but not great talent and made an OK team a good team.
I understand this is long-winded, but to not make a longer story longer, the point is that my interest and love in baseball and the Mets never waned during those years. As a kid, you believed that when Pete Schourek threw a one-hitter against the Expos that he was destined to be the next Warren Spahn. And that Kevin Baez was more than just a guy filling out a roster in September.
But through all of that and even more, the Mets have given you very few moments to feel good. Despite now being in their mid 50s, the team has had an excruciating lack of history, great players and great moments. Some of you may choose to disagree with that, but when looking objectively through the years, your see very small pockets of success sandwiched by some absolutely horrible decades.
Which is why I get excited on April 16th when the Mets win a nice, character game against a division rival in the Marlins coming back from an early deficit to bail out their starter and emerge victorious.
I can’t help but feel good for a struggling young, player like Wilmer Flores, suddenly Public Enemy #1, crush a three-run dinger to get the club back on track.
By the same token, watching Daniel Murphy make an absolutely terrible throw to the plate when you have Ichiro dead to rights makes you rub your temples and go back into “same, old Mets” mode.
Plays like the one Murph made tonightusually sucked the wind out of the team and the fans and we knew it was over. But this time, the Mets strung together some hits. And they moved base runners over and across with productive outs. And suddenly they won a game that you had almost written off as a loss.
Sure, the Yankee fans on your Facebook page will make fun of you and the ones at work will snicker. But you’ve been through some really lean times. It’s nice to feel good about a win even in April. And it’s nice to be proud of being a fan of a first-place team. Even in April.
We may appreciate the good a little too much, but when the good is good, it’s the best. Right now, the Mets are on a five-game winning streak, are showing some confidence and refuse to let one play or one inning pull the game from their hands.
So go ahead. Poke your fun and make your jokes. Remind me that Matt Harvey’s never pitched an important game. I don’t care. Remind me that it’s April 16th. Still don’t care. Tell me that the Nationals are going to get healthy soon and be up 10 games on September 30th. Once again, don’t care.
Baseball is a long season. But sometimes you have to stop and appreciate the small, specific moments before they become lost in the crevasse of never-ending highlight reels.
Today, I’m sitting on the floor in my unfurnished apartment, scouring through a maze of numbers in a box score just like an 8 year-old I used to know would with a smile because unlike that kid, I didn’t have to wait until morning to find out what happened. I saw my team pull out a win.
I’ll worry about later when we get there. Right now, the Mets are in first place. No matter how long it lasts or how spectacularly it crumples later, I have today. And that gives me what I crave. What seems to be so elusive as a fan of this team: a feel-good moment.