It’s the little things that seemingly show up from the shadows that serve as reminders. My digital music provider offered the latest, signaling that May 19 was the 25th anniversary of the release of “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” by DMX. I can recall multiple highlights from that album, especially the release of the first single ‘Get At Me, Dog’ and its B-side. That last sentence is where I’ve likely lost younger readers because it’s unlikely musicians are releasing singles with B-sides anymore. Unless you’re a DJ or a collection of vintage vinyl, the B-side is a thing of the past.
A five-game win streak makes naysayers about the Mets and their 2023 season a brief thing of the past. The forthcoming four straight weeks of Mondays off means the end of a brutal 26 games in 27 days to start the season. That included a 10-game West Coast road trip, multiple doubleheaders and enough injuries that three different rookies have started so far for a pitching staff that entered the year as the oldest since Cy Young and Satchel Paige joined forces to defeat the Central Powers in The Great War.
OK, a lot of that last bit is malarkey and I’m not that old, but sometimes it feels like the 20th century was a different time that's far far away. That I’m the diminishing minority of fans who fell in love with a team featuring high-priced talent and young superstars that helped everyone shine even brighter. I was hanging from a street sign watching two of the current SNY announcers participate in a ticker-tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan. When was your ticker tape parade?
Did you fall in love in 2015? Where were you when the Mets swept the Chicago Cubs for the franchise’s sixth National League championship? Did you follow the team to Chicago, work your way into Wrigley Field and celebrate with manager Terry Collins from the stands behind the dugout after the 8-3 win?
Did you drink away the night on the North Side of the Second City, possibly with Daniel Murphy celebrating his NLCS MVP for hitting four home runs and batting .529? Or did you wake up to the results on SportsCenter and celebrate with friends at school, promising to stay awake for the upcoming World Series? If so, do you remember the pain of Mets' bats going cold, losing thanks to a shaky bullpen and the Kansas City Royals celebrating on Citi Field in November?
Is it the speed of digital and the demand for ‘now’ that’s so easily allows us to forget the past? Because the past is where true Mets fans live, only because rarely was the present worth talking about. I’ve blocked out the numerous years where the season was over before July 4 and tickets to a day game in August were cheap. Cheap enough for an adolescent to catch a bus, cross the George Washington Bridge and find the 7 Line subway to Queens. That same adolescent was once dropped off for an afternoon event at Shea, then killed time wandering around the stadium parking lot, waiting with tickets for a 7:10 p.m. start.
Nowadays, that child would be digitally pictured and socially posted somewhere. There would be a video of the "Sad and Lonely Mets fan", destined to become a meme or gif to be shared amongst many with little to no idea about the source material. If lucky, they turn out like Dieunester Collin, an internet star thanks to a side eye who won a state championship at East Orange High School in 2021. But more than likely, it will be another clip seen and scanned past during the never-ending quest for new content at our fingertips.
Back in the 20th century, our fingertips rifled through newspapers and magazine articles about the Mets. Talking to your friends was as close to Twitter as we got because long telephone calls couldn’t happen with only one line in the house. And this fictional conversation would only go back-and-forth until three-way calling was invented. When WFAN was invented and sports-talk radio became a thing, that’s as close as we got to the maelstrom that is content today, even as I eagerly contribute to it.
But it was a simpler time back then. I didn’t disapprove of bringing the Francisco Lindor adorned ‘Baby Mets’ to the big leagues. I disapprove of hastily-made transactions that sacrifice defense for a power bat with little big league experience. I preferred Eduardo Escobar over Brett Baty to start the season because the elder of the duo played defense. But when his bat never left the highway, it was easy to agree with the change. A change that is quickly becoming permanent with Baty being a left-hander batting .258 behind.
If you were around for 2015, you should remember that the Kansas City Royals didn’t have a true ‘power hitter’. Ever since that World Series loss, it’s felt like management has moved towards imitating the team they lost to. The case in point is atop the Mets lineup in Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil. It was literally last year that this style returned offensive success. I fondly recall the 2022 season because I’ve seen plenty of seasons and it was comforting knowing the team was going to field the ball and put it in play. I got used to it then and I hoped for it now, but I also know the history of this franchise.
Know that the Mets have gone to the postseason in consecutive years twice (1999-2000 and 2015-2016.) Know that after hanging from that street sign back in 1986, I had to wait until nearly two calendar years until the Mets returned to the postseason. Know that Mike Scioscia and Orel Hershiser will always have a special place of hatred in my heart. Especially since I would then wait another decade for their next return.
So is this my true disconnect with the current Mets fan - my personal and emotional knowledge of the franchise’s history? Is that why I’m more than willing to give things a chance if it means the joy of last year and not talking about…
Look, at some point we’re going to have to stop focusing on adding another ‘power bat’ to the bottom third of the batting order and talk about Pete Alonso. This isn’t a Disney animated award-winning song and that’s the truth.
Upcoming Series: New York Mets at Chicago Cubs
Tuesday, May 23 - 7:40 pm
Tylor Megill (5-2, 3.88 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (4-1, 2.86 ERA)
Wednesday, May 24 - 7:40 pm
Kodai Senga (4-2, 3.77) vs. Marcus Stroman (3-4, 3.05)
Thursday, May 25 - 7:40 pm
Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 8.68) vs. Jameson Taillon (0-3, 8.10)