If you take a cursory glance over all of my posts, most of them occur during either the postseason or during the offseason for a reason: winter and autumn bring their chills and their shorter days, allowing someone like myself way too much time for introspective and philosophical thinking. Therefore, I have decided to tell the story how as the Mets were going through luminous times in autumn, my life was in sharp contrast with everything going on around me.
I also had the good fortune to attend two of the most exciting wins of the season against the Phillies. I saw the 5-hour 22-minute, 16-inning marathon on May 23. In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn't in the stadium when Carlos Beltran won the game at 12:32 am on May 24 seeing as I had a geometry final the next day and a younger brother who needed to be mollified. I remember keeping score in my Dick's 25-game softball scorebook (just in case baseball introduced a rover position, such was provided in the book) until the 12th inning before the night became too much. I heard Howie Rose's call of the game-winning home run as we were driving along a placid stretch of Route 22, prompting shouts of joy that belied the deafening tranquility around us. I still remember Chris Woodward's pinch-hit double down the left-field line and Jose Reyes' subsequent home run that sent two particularly loathsome Phillie fans in our section to the exits, as a couple of innings prior their bravado was palpable. That was a good day as well.
The second game to which I am alluding was June 13, the first game in an eventual road sweep of the Phillies that concluded a 9-1 road trip which left the Mets 9.5 game ahead at it's conclusion. I had started my first job as a cashier at my town's Dunkin' Donuts and was undercut by how shitty people could be to a 15-year old kid. My uncle, as a sort of "Congrats on getting a job" gift took my brother and I down to Philadelphia for the Tuesday night opener. I remember the Mets teeing off on the same Ryan Madson who had shut them down for 7 innings a month prior. The game featured eight home runs, but David Wright spearing a Pat Burrell missile down the line and turning a 5-4-3 double play that merited stunned looks from the Citizens Bank Park crowd and removed any doubt of a Met victory. I got home late as anything, and had work in about 6 hours but I didn't give shit because it was good night.
You are probably thinking how I could feel like I wasn't there with such vivid recollections and fastidious attention to fond details. The truth is that while I remember most of the regular season, I could not tell you the scores or who won certain postseason games outside of Game 7 of the NLCS.
Something happened to me in the days after the Mets clinched the NL East in 2006. I had always been an anxious person, sometimes to the extent that I couldn't even attend baseball games because the crowd noise would terrify me, but it really began to manifest itself in October 2006. I was a junior in high school, and my memories of these days are foggy either due to sheer repression or maybe pure mental distress.
Friday, October 6, 2006 was not a good day even though to Mets had won the night prior to put them up 2-0 in their series against the Dodgers (I needed B-Ref for that). After trying to trudge through some classes to make it to the weekend where I could hopefully mend my mind, I sputtered after two classes. I remember telling a friend in passing, "Just tell Mr. So-and-so I'm not going to class", trying to stay cryptic, I just told him I had a stomach ache. I remember walking into the nurse's office and before she could even utter the words, "Are you all right?" I bawled my 16-year old eyes out. What ensued was a two-week period of survival, agoraphobia, and finally, a proper diagnosis for my condition. I couldn't have cared less about the Mets during this time and my only knowledge of their playoff progression was listening to radio updates while in my father's car and grasping how my friends who were Met fans were reacting during the day.
However, I finally was stable enough to watch Game 7 in my bedroom albeit I felt no attachment to this team anymore. Endy Chavez's catch brought out only a muted cheer and a half-assed smile, while Adam Wainwright's strikeout only induced a simple shrug of the shoulders and a click of the remote. That was a bad day, but not that bad for me.
Yes, the subsequent years were unkind to Met fans. Really, every year since 2006 has been magnificently cruel on some cosmic level, yet to me, 2006 was the coldest year of all. My favorite team was on the cusp of making it to the World Series, and yet their postseason run is a repressed, forgotten memory to me with vague emotions but mostly avoidance.
I have long thought about writing this piece simply because it is such an absurd fulfillment of the human condition: a sports team that I enjoy has immense success, yet I was self-immolating internally and too depressed to derive any pleasure from it. I should have fonder memories of that team, but that indelible personal hurt will always attach itself to that luminous year for the Mets. That postseason is essentially a mental wash for myself, and I nearly cried because I was looking through the box scores of the NLCS and couldn't recall a goddamn thing (Jeff Suppan hit a home run?). You could have written fake box scores for the whole series, and outside of Game 7, I would not be able to discern their veracity.
At least today was a good day, though. C'est la vie.