Let's Go Mets Go (Really!)
On the eve of their home opener, this diehard makes a passionate case for staying passionate about his beloved team — and the sport itself
Good morning! Today is Wednesday, April 13, and you are reading today’s section of Examiner+, a digital newsmagazine serving Westchester, Putnam, and the surrounding Hudson Valley.
A sincere apology to those who were spammed recently by multiple copies of last week’s newsletters being sent to your inbox. Our delivery platform, Substack, experienced a “glitch” which resulted in the additional mailings and has assured us the problem is fixed.
Need to subscribe — or upgrade your Examiner+ subscription to enjoy full access to all of our premium digital content? Take advantage of our special FREE TRIAL OFFER.
Take Examiner+ on a test drive today at NO CHARGE for a full month. Enjoy full membership-level access to all of our premium local content, delivered straight to your inbox six times a week.
By Brian Howard
As I watched the third Mets game of the season the other night, a fairly sleepy matchup in Washington made sleepier by the impossibly bad Apple TV+ broadcast team, I realized this very piece that you’re reading was supposed to have been written in time for Opening Day. I’m a stickler for deadlines, so I didn’t feel great about this lapse in reliability. Then again, when your team opens the season on the road, there’s always a home opener to fall back on. In this case, that would be this Friday, April 15. Call it an instant deadline extension. About the same time I pondered these thoughts, I also realized I hadn’t so much as looked at my fantasy baseball team since the draft a week earlier. Partly that’s because I need my teenage son nearby to remind me who half the players are. Such is my devotion these days to Major League Baseball in general as opposed to New York Mets baseball in particular.
What these two lapses had in common, aside from a bit of spring break-related flakiness, is the lack of intensity they reflect in the state of my baseball fandom. Don’t get me wrong, half my non-work wardrobe is of the blue-and-orange variety. I have a winking Mr. Met decal on my rear window, and a Mets guitar strap on the rehabbed Stratocaster that was my COVID passion project. Even the Apple logo on the Macbook I’m using right now appears to rise out of a top hat sticker, thus recreating the iconic Shea Stadium home run apple.
I’ve had past phases of lackadaisical fandom in the early 90s and late aughts. Like then, I’m not following things as closely as usual. I was pretty pumped about the signing of Max Scherzer and Starling Marte last fall, but I have to take my son’s word about the value that names like Canha and Escobar bring to the lineup. I’m a huge Pete Alonso fan, and I’m banking on a comeback season from Jeff McNeil, but my knowledge of the minor league pipeline doesn’t go very deep beyond names like Mauricio and Alvarez. Blame work and kids and an inability to stay awake past 10 p.m.
By all rights, though, I should be fairly pumped about the 2022 Mets. Besides having the best two pitchers on the planet starting 1 and 2 — injuries permitting — a home-grown slugger at first, a blue-haired, $300 million-haired shortstop, and a lineup filled with hard-hitting, likable guys, my team has Uncle Steve, a hedge fund-wielding, deep-pocketed owner who doesn’t shop the discount bin like his predecessors too often did. The offseason brought an influx of talent, including a stone-faced skipper who, if he lacks championships, has had a knack for building winning, even championship-caliber teams.
Still, what’s with the latest lack of enthusiasm, I wonder? After all, the ‘Magic is Back’ at Citi. This is ‘Baseball Like It Ought to Be.’ Jacob de Grom, when he’s healthy, is unhittable. Alonso is a 50-home run threat like we haven’t had in years. McNeil is a modern-day Wally Backman on the field (with a personality closer to Gary Carter’s off it). I’m not saying this is ’86, but there’s plenty to be excited about. Still, I’m comfortable sitting back and just taking it all in. I didn’t even get down when I heard de Grom needs two months off to recuperate from a diagnosis I’d never heard of. As a Mets fan, it seemed like the most predictable development possible. Besides, I figure he’ll be rested and healthy right when he’s really needed.
Rather than uninterested, I’m actually just even-keeled about baseball these days. Not much phases me. If you told me in 1997 that the DH was coming to the National League, I’d be storming the commissioner’s office with a pitchfork and a torch fashioned from a Bobby Jones Mets-in-black jersey. Now it’s like seeing a 20-cent increase at the corner gas station — bad news I can’t do much about. They’re nixing the automatic runner on second in extra innings? OK, cool. That travesty of a gimmick of a farce is back? Whatever.
To be sure, it’s to be expected that passion for the trivial will wane with age. And yes, baseball is trivial if you’re not making your living from it, no matter what you heard on Twitter. That was always the appeal, in fact. No matter how worked up you got, it didn’t really matter. You could pour your heart and soul into a team, a season, a pennant race. Then Tom Glavine could spit the bit on the final day against the Marlins, breaking your heart and leaving you to wallow in your misery for all of a few months before your football team went on an epic Super Bowl run. Or Mike Piazza’s first season in Flushing could end in a five-game losing streak only to have Robin Ventura and Rickey Henderson arrive from the AL to herald one of the most exciting seasons of my life in 1999.
WATCH THE VIDEO: Let’s Go Mets Go! official video
Experience inevitably tells you there’s not much worth getting worked up about when it comes to a boys’ game played by men. You can still overreact to close plays at the plate or lament digital strike zones or protest the shift, or the decision to ban the shift. You can also forget the game is on until the fifth inning like I did the day after I realized I was derelict in turning in these musings. So I settled in for the final few frames, only to see the home team come back against a no-name reliever and salvage the fourth game of the series and avoid the sweep. Then I got up and cleaned the garage like nothing happened.
It’s still going to be a great season. I just know it. And if it’s not, that’ll be OK, too. I’ve seen it all before.
Brian Howard works in school communications for Southern Westchester BOCES. He lives in Hopewell Junction with his wife and two children.
We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s section of Examiner+. What did you think? We love honest feedback. Tell us: email@example.com
For hyperlocal news coverage of Westchester and Putnam from our four community newspapers, visit our sister site, www.theexaminernews.com