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What the Mets in the NLCS means

Reflections on baseball and adulthood.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

I was three years old when the Mets last won the World Series. Greta Garbo was three years old when the Cubs last did. I don’t have to tell you that baseball is a game that remembers these things. And I’ll be telling my son that he was two years old, and my daughter that she was six months old, when the Mets made it this far, and who knows, maybe farther.

The older I’ve gotten—and I’m not old—but the older I’ve gotten, the grubbier life has gotten, in this respect: there’s so goddamn much to think about. The sheer volume of whatever-the-hell: bills, news, possessions, responsibilities, information, context for the things that at one time seemed just magical. The world used to stand still when a big movie came out. Now it’s some movie, world’s full of em, pushing ahead…

And then there’s baseball. Ol’ baseball. How easy it is, through a wide, grown-up lens, to develop a view of the game like this:

  • Millionaires in pajamas swinging sticks
  • Corporate brands called teams
  • Narratives invented from dice rolls
  • That’s a lot of games
  • What’s a trophy, really?
  • Nine in ten don’t care

If you’re young, dear reader, I promise that something you now care about will be ground up under this sort of heel.

But then, maybe, you grow up a little more still—I know I’m acting like I’m 150 years old here—but you grow up a little more still, and probably life deepens. I lost my brother. I had two kids. And against the odds, life grows simpler, in this respect: you learn how to choose where you’ll find meaning. There’s a reason parents (and just old people) are strange. They don’t have to care about the consensus things to care about. Maybe it’s clothes, or politics, or the Oscars telecast that drops wholesale by the way side, but adolescence is officially over. You don't have to keep up with everything. And it’s now almost a second childhood, where in the center of a half-understood maelstrom, life, you just decide, you know, that you love choo-choo trains.

So that’s where I’m at. And that’s why last night I met up with a good friend, spent a few hours at the coliseum, flew colors, believed in heroes, thumped my chest, leapt for joy, hugged strangers, drew minute distinctions that matter like hell, and woke up thrilled to discuss them with my deli man.

Because I know a lot of people in New York that agree about something—that the Mets vs. the Cubbies is filled with great and happy meaning. And I think that, overall, it’s sweeter that I’ve chosen to feel this way, too.