Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Mystery of the Not So Amazin' Mets

I’m going to talk about collapse, but not the one that you think. Because if I started talking about that one, I may never stop, and that would not be good.

Why do we root for sports teams who break our hearts? Are we masochists? (Or is it sadists? I never get that one straight.) Or are we eternally optimistic? “This will be our big year!"

Well, as a long-suffering New York Met fan, our big year—our moment of glory, if you will—preceded my marriage to my husband by three years, was when I still had bangs, wore shoulder pads and mini-skirts to work, was eight years before my first child was born, and about thirty pounds ago. It was 1986. We were at a wedding in Massachusetts for two people who we saw maybe twice before they got married and never after. We were there when Buckner let the ball roll through his legs at first base and wondered if we would get out of Amherst alive. (It’s not all Emily Dickinson and poetry, at least not when the Sox are involved.) But we went back to the safety of our hotel room celebrated like it was 1999, as quietly as we could so that we didn’t get killed. Little did we know that that was our big break; although we went to the World Series in 2000 and faced the Yankees in a rare thing known as the “Subway Series” our hearts would be broken again. (I’m looking at you Armando Benitez.) Our hearts would be broken time and time again, starting with last year’s historic collapse (seven games ahead, seventeen to play) and followed up by this year’s kind of whimpering close-out of Shea Stadium, not exactly hallowed baseball halls, but a landmark for Met fans nonetheless.

My husband and I sat on the couch on Sunday, me suffering from a sinus infection (ever had one of those? Me either. They stink.), him suffering from Met fan syndrome, commonly called “chokus perpetualis.” We watched as they had chance after chance to tie the score, pull ahead on the scoreboard, put the whole thing to bed. Oh, but the Milwaukee Brewers had to lose, too, to make our post-season dreams a reality, so we watched the score in that game with baited breath knowing that one win and one lose would mean success or curtains, two losses or two wins would mean one more tie-breaking game.

It was not to be. But this time, instead of abject disappointment, all we felt was numb. Because you know what Mets? We’re onto you! We know you’re going to let us down. Like the guy who says he’s going to call and never does, like the box of color that promises cinnamon highlights and leaves you with spaghetti-sauce colored streaks from root to temple, like the water from the fountain of youth that tastes suspiciously like it came from our tap. We will not be had.

We turned the television off and went about our business: me, buying more tissues so that we wouldn’t run out (sinus infections require a lot of tissues—just letting you know), Jim getting another refreshment. I made dinner. But before we put the whole thing to rest, I asked him when opening day was next year for the new, beautiful, not smelly like Shea, Citi Field.

“April 13,” he said. “You watching?”

Of course I am. I’m a Met fan. I was annoyed that he even asked.


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