Saturday, June 02, 2012

It Happened

Feel like I should talk about this since for the final two innings I was literally shaking and I never got up from my chair because if I moved from where I had been sitting for the previous hour and a half I would ruin everything and feel like an asshole.

I screamed when the final out was recorded, because for the first time in Mets history a pitcher wearing a Mets uniform threw a no-hitter. All but one team - the San Diego Padres, est. 1969 - has thrown at least one. It was a black cloud that always followed the New York Mets. It was a statistical oddity that underscored that the Mets are an inferior franchise that fuck up every chance they get.

On their 8,020th attempt, the Mets threw a no-hitter.

I feel embarrassed even admitting to my visceral reaction, but I think it’d be a hell of a lot weirder if I didn’t react that way. I thought for a long time about it, and I can confidently estimate that I’ve watched at least 1,700 of the previous 8,019 Met games. So 1,700 times, something never happened. And then tonight, something that never happened happened. Sometimes when something that never ever happens happens, it’s really bad, like when a second baseman drops an easy pop up to lose a game against your geographic arch nemesis where seemingly everyone you know is watching. That sucked. That physically hurt. Same with your favorite player looking at a third strike to end a season where you were the best team in the league and you let yourself believe that it was The year. That also hurt. Tonight was great. It’s still great as I’ve been flipping for the last three hours across the cableverse between SNY, ESPN and MLB Network finding more and more opinions (they range from Johan Santana was “great” to Johan Santana was “awesome”) and camera angles and interviews (“This was great!”) and reading tweets from Mets fans typing and texting out their disbelief and joy. Hearing in the postgame press conference that manager Terry Collins told Santana he was his hero, and Collins took ten seconds to try to not get choked up to say something like, “Yeah whatever. Sports.”? So embarrassingly corny and perfect. Ridiculous and stupid and loaded with dumb machismo “sports is war” garbage and fucking great. Also, WFAN Mets broadcast producer Chris Majkowski (@metsWFAN), who is there for every single game, who has tweeted every time a Met pitcher gave up the first hit of a game “Not today boss” for something like four years got to finally tweet this

I actually read the tweet before the final pitch of the game appeared on television, confirming once and for all that “live” is a seven second delay. It didn’t completely ruin the moment because I automatically assumed it could be a terrible prank and it proved that I literally had to see it to believe it.

There has been many ink spilled trying to perfectly articulate how baseball is a metaphor for life that basically tries to say that because there are 162 games played in a calendar year that following a baseball team is like following your life where millionaires play out your daily battles between good and evil. Sometimes Luis Castillo will inexplicably drop a pop up/someone close to you dies out of nowhere. Sometimes Johan Santana throws a no-hitter against the team that ended The year/you meet your future wife at the Oscars after you accept your Best Original Screenplay award. Something like that.

Of course it’s dumb.Life is life, not life is life and also baseball. But following a baseball team like the Mets does feel a lot like being religious: You blindly have faith that one day it’s all going to pay off and you’re going to get to go to Heaven when you die and ask John Lennon why he was such an asshole because you know he’d appreciate your honesty/your team is going to win a World Series, but there’s very little evidence that it’s going to happen. During the journey to the destination you can draw strength from your Faith and do important and amazing things, and sometimes the Mets will have exciting and successful seasons and that’ll be fine and dandy, but in the end it’s all about a cloud with your name on it and for the 25 men that play for your team to win a championship.

But what the fuck am I supposed to do? Over the years as I developed adult friendships and other interests (Television! Writing! Writing about television! Writing for television! Comedy! Ladiez! Not necessarily in this order!) my relying on the Mets to inform me on what mood I should be in dissipated, but I still end up watching a part of or all of 90-100 games a year. I still play baseball on Saturdays when the weather is right, even though I’m not particularly good. I hate that I’m not good at something I love. I’m reminded of it almost every Saturday, but I keep coming back for more. Baseball will always be a part of me, for better or worse, and when the Mets finally got a no-hitter tonight after I’ve seen them somehow not manage to do it 1,700 times before I was very happy. I gladly took phone calls of congratulation as if I had thrown the thing myself, after the eighth inning I texted friends who I figured weren’t watching to alert them that something special might happen, I made sure not to tweet at all because when the game started I wasn’t tweeting anything and I wasn’t going to blow this. And when the Mets win a World Series when I’m older than 3 years old so I can actually appreciate and be aware of what the hell is going on it’s going to be amazing, because I invested all of this time through the years rooting for the team. And lord, it hasn’t been easy.

I emcee a trivia night every Tuesday in Brooklyn. I usually write half of the questions but because my writing partner is on vacation I'm responsible for all of them this week. I went from joking that I know what my very first question will be to writing "Which major league baseball franchise is the only team to never throw a no-hitter?" to thinking "When am I ever going to get an opportunity like this ever again? When will us Met fans? Let's celebrate."

1. Who pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets history?

When June began the Mets never threw a no-hitter and haven't won a World Series in my lifetime.
Now the first thing can be crossed off the bucket list.

One more to go.

No, I'm not telling you what the other questions are.