A long time ago, there was a little girl who loved the NY Mets, but even more so, loved baseball.
Something about the game just got to her. It was like a beautiful dance unfolding on the field. It took patience to get to the payoff. While others got bored, looking for that quick hit of adrenalin, I breathed deep with pleasure and let the game take me away.
I began to appreciate the nuances of a pitch, from the shock of a sinker ball dropping to the ground, to the subtlety of a good curve ball enticing the hitter to chase, from the bullying, let’s-see-whose-dick-is -bigger challenge of the fast ball. God, it was beautiful.
There is nothing like getting to the ninth inning, with two outs, and having a batter come to the plate. The surge of energy and breathtaking anticipation for each pitch to unfold. The sheer joy of a homer sailing over the field and disappearing into the crowd.
I was lucky to find a soul-mate in my love for Mets baseball. My best friend and I lived for games, and spent years studying the players, meeting them at signings, and discussing all things baseball. When the Mets won the series in 1986, we’d attended a play-off game, and drove Roger McDowell –one of the relief pitchers – to the airport after a signing. We got to actually talk to him for almost two hours about the game, what it felt like to win the series, what the team was like, and everything in between. Till this day, it ranks as one of the greatest moments in my life.
In our late twenties, we funneled all our angst and uncertainty into watching our team battle its way through the year, and attended Spring Training camp at Port St. Lucie. We attended many games, and during one, we waited for over 2 hours with our Mets umbrellas in the pouring rain, in an empty stadium, waiting for the final call. I remember when I told people I was a baseball fan, they smiled. I remember when I told people I attended spring training every year with my girlfriend, their smiles disappeared under shock. Because I didn’t just talk. I walked the walk of a super fan. I showed up as much as possible to be involved in my passion for baseball.
Fast forward to the current year. My best friend and I settled down with husbands, children, and the usual chaos of domestic bliss. The Mets, somehow, slipped away. We didn’t have time to watch the games anymore, or go to Citifield. We lost touch under the demands of toddlers, and sleepless nights, and new priorities. We got tired of consistently losing, and the frustration of never going hard after the players we needed.
Sometimes, I’d look up at my signed baseball from those years of spring training, of my Mike Piazza shelf of goodies I’d collected, and sigh. I’d remember who I was, and had been for that period of time. Then return to my life.
This year, the Mets became exciting. And my best friend and I began to watch baseball again. Slowly, the players worked their magic on us, and we’d watch the games with our iPhones at our sides, texting back and forth furiously about each run, or pitch, or inning. I began to look forward to game nights, and the lure of the World Series. I began to feel alive again in a way I’d thought was gone forever.
The Mets are in the Playoffs and battling toward the World Series. But this blog isn’t just about the Mets and how happy post season has made me. It’s about the reminder of who we are and what was once important. Yes, things change as life makes its own demands, but watching baseball games and cheering on the Mets gave me a whole new perspective.
I’ve re-discovered myself. I connected to the passion I once had, to the beauty of baseball, to the lure of the win and the hope that shimmers around me each time I tune into a game.
I like the person I am when I watch baseball. I’m not ready to give her up again, and maybe, just maybe, one day my girlfriend and I will re-visit Port St Lucie for Mets spring training. Next year, I plan to go back to Citifield. I’m not going to let that part of myself slip away again so easily.
We all have something in our life that brought us great pleasure. That reminded us of youth, and zest, and fun. I know many of us have had to give things up for the greater good, for the daily grind, but maybe just today, maybe we can find the time to re-connect with the person and passion we remember.
Maybe we can remember again who we really are.
Let’s Go Mets!