Baseball is a game of numbers. You can tell plenty about a player by looking at his stats. How many doubles does he have? What is his on-base percentage? Has he been consistent or maybe just a bit lucky?
So if I were to throw out two numbers — zero and 21 — what significance would you attach to them? On the surface, they are simply numbers, no different than most other numbers. For me, however, they represent the pain and suffering of being a fan of the New York Mets.
To go back to the beginning would take more time than anyone, especially Mets fans, would want to spend reading. I could talk about Shea Stadium as a second home, or how excited I was each time Todd Hundley would step up to the plate, or the feeling I got attending my first playoff game in 1999.
Even though they haven't won a World Series in my lifetime, growing up a Mets fan in the 90s really wasn’t all that bad. As I got older and more invested in the team, losing began to hurt a little more. After a while, the Omar Minaya era began to feel like a bit of a blur and eventually, in 2006, I became numb to heartbreak. I simply just learned to let go.
I thought 2009 might be a good year in Queens, with a new stadium opening and the prospect of having some good press surrounding the team. I attended my first game at CitiField on April 19th of that year, where the Brewers would go on to beat the Mets by a score of 4–2. On that day, it seemed like any other loss. Looking back, it turned out to be the start of something strange and unique.
Four years later, here we are… zero and 21. Zero is the number of Mets victories I have seen while attending a game at CitiField. 21… that’s the number of losses. Let that sink in for a moment.
I have been to 21 games at CitiField since it opened in 2009 and I have seen the Mets go down in each one of them.
Going to Flushing for Mets games has been a regular part of my life for as long as I can remember (side note: the first time I ever remember attending Shea Stadium was for a doubleheader with the Pirates in 1996… and I was able to find the boxscores thanks to Baseball Reference: Game 1, Game 2), but recently a visit to the ballpark has been more like a death sentence for me.
I can’t remember what made me think to keep a log of games, but it started in 2010 after one of my first few games of the season. I thought seeing eight or nine straight losses at CitiField was a bit crazy. I never imagined that number would climb to 21. I started to keep a small spreadsheet chronicling the date of the game, the opponent who had won and the final score.
Closer to the end of 2010, I decided to make a complete spreadsheet to more accurately put the streak into an absurd perspective. I added in the names of the starting pitchers from each matchup, along with some miscellaneous stats such as my most seen starting pitcher, the combined score of all games and largest and smallest margin of runs.
Twenty-one games and four years later, all I can do is wonder when the pain and misery will end. How long will I have to wait to see the Mets celebrate a victory?
There were several occasions where I thought the streak would end. The most recent of which came in 2011 in an August matchup against Florida (not quite Miami just yet). The Marlins held a 3–1 lead going into the bottom of the 9th and closer Leo Nunez coming in to finish the game. With one on base and two out, Lucas Duda crushed a game-tying home run to deep, right-center field, to the section just to the right of the home run apple.
I was sitting in the left field, upper deck with some friends of mine, one of which is a Marlins fan. At the end of the inning, my friend leaned over and said to me, "Could the streak end tonight?" Sigh.
The very next inning, Mets reliever Jason Isringhausen allowed three straight singles to open the frame, leaving the bases loaded with no outs for Mike Stanton (not quite Giancarlo just yet). With a full count and nowhere for the baserunners to go, Stanton took Isringhausen’s fastball (might as well have been a beach ball) and hit one of the hardest home runs I have ever seen. The ball left the stadium in a matter of seconds and I wound up pacing around the left-field concourse for the rest of the inning, wondering what I had done to deserve this. The Mets would lose that game 7–3.
Nothing can ever change the feeling I get when I enter the front gates of CitiField, walk through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and take one glance at that beautiful field. Nothing… no matter how many straight losses I see.
To me, going to a baseball game will always be the best way to spend a summer evening with your friends or weekend afternoon with the family. The beer, the hot dogs, the crack of the bat, the smell of the grass. It’s all part of something more than just a game between opposing teams. Just being able to take in a baseball game in person is a special experience in itself, no matter the outcome.
But sometimes, maybe just once in a while, it would be nice to see my team win… right?