OK, so I’ve never taken the No. 7 to Flushing, but I have taken the Grand Central Parkway to Shea Stadium to watch the Mets. I know that doesn’t sound as catchy, but I am still a real fan.
As I sat in front of the television in my John Franco T-shirt watching game five of the World Series one week ago, I could not help but well up with tears as Jay Payton’s throw from centerfield hit Jorge Posada and caromed into the dugout. Right then, at that instant, I knew the season was over, that my dream of a championship wasn’t to be.
I recall the Fox-network commercial urging fans to pledge your allegiance, and I was reminded why I love the Mets so much. The heart and the never-say-die attitude has been a trademark of the Mets since the beginning. When the New York Mets began play in 1962, they went 40-120. They were the laughing stock of baseball, and no one ever would have predicted that seven years later in October of 1969, the Miracle Mets would be crowned baseball’s champions. That year they shocked the Baltimore Orioles and the rest of the baseball world when they won the Series 4-1, behind the pitching of Jerry Koosman.
And how could anyone forget Bob Murphy’s famous call in 1986:
A ground ball trickling down first, it is a fair ball, gets by Buckner, rounding third is Knight and the Mets win it.
Now look at this year’s team. The Mets won the National League Pennant with an outfield made up of guys named Benny and Timo and a 27-year-old Payton. No one expected Mike Piazza to be one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time when he was picked in the 62nd round of the draft in 1988. Or how about Bobby Jones pitching the game of his life against heavy-hitting San Francisco to propel the Mets into the National League Championship Series? Jones was so ineffective earlier in the season that he was sent down to the minors.
As a diehard Mets fan, I have been through a great deal in my short lifetime, and I felt 2000 was my team’s year. After all, I deserved it after what they have put me through. There was a time when our catcher was named Mackey; and Howard Johnson was not only a hotel, but the name of our best player. Vince Coleman threw firecrackers at fans and Anthony Young lost 27 straight games. But that is what being a fan is all about. It’s about sticking with your team through the down years and the tough times. That is what makes winning so sweet.
So it was only fitting to see the way that this season ended, a mixture of victory set in with defeat. The Mets were up with two outs in the ninth, down by two runs, with a runner on base. Could the Mets pull it out again? They couldn’t as Mike Piazza flied out to deep left to end it. Our 2000 season was like a deep fly ball that flew to the warning track – so close yet not quite ready to clear the fence. That’s because there remained one obstacle still unsolvable. And that’s the New York Yankees.
I wore down the wooden floor in front of my TV from all the pacing I had done this postseason, and my rosary beads had not gotten that much use since my First Holy Communion in second grade. But I have to thank the New York Mets for bringing great baseball back to Queens. I also must tip my hat to the New York Yankees for doing something so amazing in this day of free agents and bought championships. I just wish it had not been done at the expense of my team. Nevertheless, I will still wear my blue and orange Mets cap and I will still chant B-E-N-N-Y. I will still dream at night of another championship and I will forever pledge my allegiance to the New York Mets.