This is the first September since 2004 in which no significant Mets games are being played. But, like other Mets seasons in which we’ve had no chance of making it to the playoffs, the September of 2004 offered some baseball pleasures. We had some interesting new guys on the team named Wright, Reyes, Valent, Seo, and Keppinger. There was stuff to pay attention to, stuff to hope for.
There haven’t been any pleasures this September and, like many other Mets fans, I’ve experienced something unfamiliar. I am watching the Mets win and lose (mostly lose) without any emotion. This has never happened to me before. I feel like a person who has lost his sense of smell or taste. I feel a numbness.
The Mets fall behind and I expect them to stay there. I have no expectation or hope that they will catch up and so I am not really upset when they don’t. The Mets get ahead and I wait for them to fall behind. I wish they would stay ahead but I am certainly not surprised when they don’t and I am not terribly sad when they don’t.
I do look eagerly for signs that Pelfrey won’t do a job on himself, or or that Angel Pagan will develop some baseball sense, or that Daniel Murphy will show us that he is worth our time and trouble. But I also have the sense that whatever happens in the next couple of weeks isn’t likely to tell us much about our prospects for next year. It’s not like previous bad years, when we were getting first exciting looks at September call-ups. Nothing ever happens that gives me an excuse to experience the very mild pleasure of September-wait-till-next-year dreaming.
There are no pleasures. There is only limbo. A grey hazy blank present in which one cannot see a horizon. The Marlins sweep us, challenging for the division title, after smashing our dreams like a piece of china for two consecutive seasons. It happens. We can’t and don’t stop it. This is our hour of lead.
And then, yesterday, after the usual drill of blowing the lead, settling into the quartz contentment of far behind, we come back and win it in Philly. We beat the Phillies in their own home park, to everyone’s astonishment, even ours. It doesn’t feel spectacular, because we were so numb we weren’t even hoping for it. But it happened, as David Wright suddenly knew exactly where the baseball was and where it had to be struck. I knew in a flash, when the ball left the pitcher’s hand, that he was going to hit the second one. But I could never prove it. It wasn’t a hope. I wasn’t hoping. But I knew it. I suddenly remembered what it was like to win a game with a home run, driven with assurance by David Wright into the left field stands. I felt emotion. But I am still trying to figure out what my emotion was.
Check out my just-published book: The Last Days of Shea: Delight and Despair in the Life of a Mets Fan and please come meet me at the last Amazin’ Tuesday, 7 pm on September 15 at Two Books Tavern, 384 Grand St. on the Lower East Side, hosted by Greg Prince and Jon Springer, with guest readers Jeff Pearlman and John Coppinger. And if any of you are night owls, I’ll be on the Joey Reynolds Show on the morning (1 am to 5 am, not sure when) of September 16. I’m also the featured guest on New York Baseball Digest on September 17 from 6 to 7.