True story: Back in the eighties my Dad underwent bypass surgery. The doctor talked to him about the recovery process, telling him to minimize any stress in his life for a few months. He told the doctor he loved two things: playing golf and watching the Mets. Though he was an edge-of-the-seat fan and would get really worked up during the game.
The doctor, also a rabid Mets fan, gave him this prescription: "When Doug Sisk comes in the game, turn the TV off."
For those of you not around during that time period, Sisk was a relief pitcher (earning the unfavorable nickname "Doug Risk") who caused a great deal of agita to Mets fans, doing things like loading the bases and then getting out of the jam he created. So here's how it went:
Sisk came in the game, Dad turned the TV off.
Sisk left the game, I called Dad to tell him it was okay to turn the game back on.
Apparently this "sports passion syndrome" is a dominant gene in my family when it comes to watching sports. Flash forward to 2012, when a health scare left me wearing a heart monitor for two weeks. If my heart rate hit 140, it would automatically call the paramedics.
For ten days it never went off. Until the final minute of a Giants-Cowboys game. I had to pause the DVR and call the hospital, embarrassed to explain why my heart was racing. The paramedic laughed, telling me, "You'd be amazed how often this happens."
(For those of you who are workout nuts, try getting your heart rate up to 140 while sitting on the couch. I got your cardio right here.)
But in the case of the Mets the past few years, I've been like Khan in Star Trek, in a sort of suspended animation on a sofa. My gradual descent to a slow heartbeat began slowly, but the warning signs from MetsMD.com were there. Picking up a magazine during a game. Playing with the cat. Doing a Sudoku puzzle. Working on my latest novel. Falling asleep. And the most serious symptom: my wife asking me, "Why do you do this to yourself?"
If there was a Mendoza line drinking game early this summer requiring me to down a shot every time a Met came up hitting less than .200, I would never drive again.
And when the lineup featured John Mayberry Jr. as the cleanup hitter, I'm pretty sure I flatlined for a moment. But apparently the white light I saw was the end of the tunnel known as the trading deadline.
I began watching games live again, instead of whipping through them with the DVR. I didn't dare miss a Yoenis Cespedes at-bat. I didn’t get up to 140 beats per minute since the NL East was never in doubt, but with the playoffs coming, I know I will be able to hit my Mets target heart rate.
And I've just noticed that a part of the couch looks brand new. The edge of the seat. I’m pretty sure it will match the rest of the sofa by the end of October.