This isn’t completely new to me.
When a fan feels the need to go over some of the feelings and emotions that go into a World Series run, a typical requirement is that it’s the first time. That first time is usually the one that is a bit more special or holds a little more weight to the person because…it’s the first time. But during my lifetime I’ve only witnessed the Mets having that run once; during the 2000 season when they faced the Yankees.
That team wasn’t this team, and that run wasn’t this kind of special. The moments weren’t this vivid, and the stretch never seemed as sustainable to last. This team has had those moments, though. They’ve reached excellence, squeezing offensive threats of their life in limiting them to soft ground balls and weak swings at pitches in the dirt. We’ve witnessed history in a player that is channeling his best Babe Ruth, slugging 7 postseason home runs over 9 games. They have a closer that can deflate Wrigley Field one hard splitter at a time.
But the excellence and supreme efforts of the individual haven’t been all that’s made this ride feel a bit different. It was the emotional connection that we had when Wilmer Flores broke down and showed how he was truly feeling in being traded away from the only organization that he had known since he was 16. With every clap and standing ovation we stuck with him, never letting one of our own know anything other than the best. And the fan base was rewarded with the constant applause of the young shortstop. He hit one of the more memorable home runs of the season that happened to be the initial nudge to the Mets eventual toppling of the Nationals atop the National League East. It came off the heels of a traumatic loss in which closer Jeurys Familia allowed a game-winning 3-run homer in the pouring rain in the 9th. For some it was seen as an obvious death knell, even though in retrospect it seemed extremely premature.
There were rookie promotions met with grand excitement, trades that reinvigorated the offense and unexpected surprises that were always bound to bubble up as the season went on. These moments were felt, and even if some weren’t always good, they certainly kept fans on their toes. The fan, even in one of storybook fashion, still heard the noise about innings limits, inept offense, injuries, ownership dysfunction, and more. That shows that even in a season that ends in a World Series appearance, bumps will be felt and they will be felt hard. It may seem a bit of an overstatement to think those things now but before the trade deadline the feeling of playoff arrival seemed one of small likelihood. Credit to this team for making the second half a chapter that may be one of the greatest in Mets lore.
Fanhood of a team doesn’t have to be met with visible proof of the emotional scars you’ve suffered or the merchandise you’ve purchased in the past. It can be something that takes your attention for 30 hours a week or 2. Regardless, it can be a fantastic escape and a fun ride no matter how much you’ve amped it up in your head. I’ve always thought about the idea of having some type of marker to show how large of a fan you were in comparison to others, and I think I thought this way because I thought not many could be larger than I. But I read something that just changed my perspective in the slightest. It made me think of my involvement and dependency on the team as a close friend. And I absolutely think that’s how I will think of it for now on.
For someone who’s had the pleasure to move in with his girlfriend and work from home, it’s nice to have a familiar voice to listen to every night detailing the work of Matt Harvey. It’s enjoyable to see Yoenis Cespedes track a fly ball and immediately bring his arm down with the ball and flick his wrist underhanded to toss it back into the infield. It made me smile when I’d see Murphy engage in his customary banter with the umpire after a close strike call. They’ve been a constant presence in a world that can sometimes be a bit lonely. And regardless of how they end up finishing the season I wanted to thank them for making my first year working at MLB.com one that I’ll always remember because they were the friend I needed to show up, and they always did.