Last Friday evening, the Mets pummeled the Reds 12-5 to bring their magic number down to one. It was a fun game to watch, save for Juan Uribe’s check-swing injury and a little bit of late-inning bullpen malarkey. And thanks to some terrific individual performances, it offered plenty of fodder for post-game highlight-reel watching. I was feeling swell as I ate dinner, drank my wine, and re-indulged in Noah Syndergaard's 11 strikeouts, Lucas Duda’s pair of three-run bombs, and Curtis Granderson’s own three-run homer.
All in all, it was shaping up to be a relaxing and care-free Friday evening at home. I steered my browser to Netflix, but then I paused for a while to tweet some goofy stuff about the Mets and a silly old baseball aphorism. I had a couple of conversations going when someone retweeted this into my timeline:
Any METS FAN want to meet at a sports bar tomorrow in Denver to possibly watch us CLINCH?!— Jim Breuer (@JimBreuer) September 26, 2015
I thought, "Holy shit, you’ve got to be kidding me" (which, given Breuer’s occupation and my propensity for face-palm puns, was not a remarkable thing for me to think). I knew I had to make this happen. Most Mets fans with social media accounts probably have been aware of Breuer’s post-game videos for months, if not all season; the prospect of featuring prominently in the one in which the Mets clinch the NL East was so improbable and beyond the pale that I couldn't pass it up—especially given that, you know, Breuer just happened to be in my neighborhood (doing standup).
I firmly believe that, wherever prudent, one ought to seize upon life's weird synchronicities when they present themselves; and so, emboldened further by the encouragement of Amazin’ Avenue’s authorship, I proceeded to respond to, and then get a response from, Jim Breuer, who reaffirmed his invitation with a simple declarative tweet:
It was radio silence from Breuer for the rest of that night, but I didn’t have to wait too long on Saturday morning before I learned that Breuer had announced his time and venue on his Facebook page:
There it was, then. It was going down at Buffalo Wild Wings in Centennial. I adorned myself in my David Wright jersey and Mets cap, carrying along my new Columbia Fireflies cap "just in case," and I steered my car down I-25, wondering what to expect. I was excited for the game, but I was also concerned that I was about to find myself excruciatingly alone with Jim Breuer and his posse—and that isn’t at all a slight on Breuer. It’s simply that he is a celebrity, and I am Anonymous Bearded Guy. I’m a pretty good conversationalist, but that seemed like a horribly awkward situation for all parties involved.
Fortunately, that socially cringe-worthy scenario was not to be, for the bar area was packed with Mets fans. I made my way there, and as I approached the threshold, who stood there to greet me but Jim Breuer himself. In a flourish that both confronted and extinguished all of the situation’s weirdness, Breuer smiled warmly and gave me one of those high-fives that you hold aloft for a minute, thus creating one huge, triumphant, and extra-knuckly fist; and as he shook our Collaboration Fist gently, he made a gentle, waving fist with his free hand and said, "Let’s Go Mets, baby. Thanks for coming, man." To which I replied, "Yeah! Let’s do this. Thanks for putting this together."
If that sounds like an essentially unremarkable, if pleasant, exchange, then I’ve done my job: It was a pleasant and unremarkable exchange. That was one of the themes of the afternoon, really, i.e., Jim Breuer just being cool and friendly and approachable. In fact, he went out of his way throughout the game to go around the room and snap pictures, talk baseball, and hang out with everyone. The room was at ease and into the game, and he was a simple, if prominent, part of it.
Despite this "on the level" stuff, there were noteworthy developments:
1. It was incredibly fun to watch the game in a restaurant/bar in Denver with a bunch of fellow Mets fans. I’ve written along similar lines before, but for a guy who doesn’t get to watch games with other Mets fans very often, watching "the" game of the season so far with a bunch of other Mets fans—many of whom were transplanted New Yorkers—was like pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.
a. There were several tables of unsuspecting college-football watchers hanging out eating chicken wings in the bar area when we began to descend in full force. Once the game was underway, we were very—shall we say—loud, which probably alienated those nice folks. To their credit, they didn’t complain, likely because they are sports fans and have a general understanding of these things. But while I usually try to refrain from laughing at other people’s misfortune, I couldn’t help but chuckle as I observed the strained "it’s fine…it’s fine, whatever" looks on several people’s faces as they hurried to finish their beers and burgers and get the hell out of there.
b. It was a lunatic’s thrill to hear the off-the-wall boom of dozens of hoary voices shouting "Let’s Go Mets!" in Buffalo Wild Wings in Centennial, Colorado.
2. Participating in Breuer’s videos felt like being in a piece of surreal and exuberant performance art. Duda’s first-inning grand slam provided the first such opportunity, and to offer the "Camptown Races"-melodied "DU-DA! DU-DA!" response to Breuer’s maniacal "yat-dat-dat-dat-da-da-da" call was pure silly fun. We repeated this process several times throughout the game as awesome things happened, such as Granderson’s homer, Wright’s triumphant, late-inning home run, and, of course, Familia’s final filthy strikeout pitch to win the game and clinch the division. (One can go to Breuer’s Facebook page to watch all these videos; I figure prominently in the background of the clincher clip in particular.
3. Because I apparently couldn’t help but engineer *just a little* awkwardness, I made an elevator pitch to Jim Breuer to join the Amazin’ Avenue podcast for the forthcoming playoff preview episode—while standing just outside the men’s room. Breuer, swell guy that he is, was very patient with me as I made my pitch, and asked me (or Jeff Paternostro) to contact him via Facebook. Still, it left me feeling awkward, because IT WAS AWKWARD.
I chose to approach him in that outside the bathroom simply because he happened to be standing there, alone. Almost any place in the restaurant would have been better; but, in my defense, there was no guarantee I would have another chance to speak with him one-on-one. I hadn't seen him alone at all before our chance encounter. So I went for it. I started the conversation by putting on my bro-iest tone of voice for some reason and saying, "Jim Breuer!" Oy.
Jim, if you’re reading this, please A) accept my apology for the sheer awkward weirdness I brought into your life there, and B) know that we really would love to have you on the podcast! Jeff, unlike me, won't make you talk to him next to the bathroom.
4. The Mets clinched the NL East.
After all the high-fiving and hugging and shouting had died down, I took stock of a very happy room. I noticed a look on many people’s faces that perfectly reflected the same strange mashup of joy, relief, and anticipation that I felt. I said a final farewell to my newfound Mets-fan buddies at the bar, and to Jim Breuer, who was grinning from ear to ear. "Thanks," I said. "You bet, buddy. Let’s Go, Mets!" he replied.
I left Buffalo Wild Wings and drove down toward Colorado Springs to meet up with my wife and a couple of her friends who were visiting from out of town. The game was over, but the realization lingered: The Mets are the 2015 National League East Champions—"so far!" I thought.
Honestly, though, regardless of what happens in the playoffs, this has already been an amazing and successful season for the Mets. We will always be able to point to this season as one of the best and most enjoyable the Mets have ever produced.
But do let’s see where things go from here, shall we? If the strange coincidence that enabled me to spend an afternoon cheering on the Mets with Jim Breuer is any indication, this ought to be an exciting postseason indeed.