By Gregory Nichols, lifelong Mets fan and creator of the “Disgruntled Mets Fan” page on Facebook
My earliest memory of the Mets is my family celebrating the World Series win in 1986. I don’t remember anything about the game. I just remember my family celebrating, dancing and my older brother printing out “World Champions” on his DOT matrix printer. Ironically, at an early age, I only imagined the Mets as perennial contenders destined to be in the postseason and World Series every year. Quickly I learned how wrong I was.
As an adolescent and tween, I lived through the many years of disappointment and embarrassment such as Coleman, Bonilla, Anthony Young, and many more names I’ve tried to forget.
I grew up and discovered other enjoyable things outside of baseball, but I still loved the game above all. In 1999, I finally got to taste the postseason as a fan for real. It was “Amazin” to coin a phrase. Alfonzo becoming “Señor Octubre”, Todd Pratt being the hero and so many more great things from that postseason including my first time going to a playoff game. Of course it was game 5 of the NLCS. Of course it was raining, and of course the Braves took the lead in the 15th inning and were on the verge of eliminating us. You all know the rest, but what some don’t know is that when Keith Lockhart hit the ball that Showan Dunston misplayed in center, the WHOLE stadium groaned in unison. That same stadium knew that once Dunston led off the bottom of the inning with a 12 pitch at-bat single, we were gonna win. “BACK TO GEORGIA”.
We all know how that ended and then the level of disappointment we experienced in 2000 losing to the Yankees. No matter what anyone tells you, that hurt the most. It hurt so much that the whole 2000 postseason is soured for me. I can’t even look back at it without getting physically sick.
Fast forward through a couple of more disappointing years and a couple of Managers and General Managers and we finally got back to the ‘promised land.’ This was our time. In 2006, we constructed a team that was built to win. We built our dynasty. We were gonna dominate like Yanks of the late 90’s. We had the magic. Every Met fan on earth “knew” we were gonna win it all when Endy Chavez went over that wall to bring that ball back.
History had a different idea though. Frozen Beltran. The biggest collapse in history. Another collapse (that one a little more foreseeable.) Followed by mediocrity, disappointment AND a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme!
Fast forward again to this year. This Year!!! We burst out the gate. We put the league on notice. Then we lost our captain, our catcher and a slew of bullpen guys. We were floating around .500 due to superb pitching and an anemic offense.
The last week in July was a roller coaster in of itself. A microcosm of our entire season. Conforto up, Uribe, Johnson, and Clippard in. Bye bye Mejia, you dope. Thanks for the memories Flo (Wilmer Flores) and Wheels (Zack Wheeler) but we got a piece we NEED in Gomez. But wait, Flores showed us his humanity. He loves being a Met. Gomez with a bum hip. NO DEAL. Wheels texts Sandy Alderson and says he wants to be here too. The debacle against the Padres on July 30th and then….CESPEDES and a Game winner from Flo of course. Sweep the Nats and once we overtook first, I knew deep down we were gonna run away with this no matter how much I wanted to think we were gonna collapse.
Now its playoff time and we have to face the best two starters in the league in a best of 5? How can we win? Daniel Murphy that’s how!!! Bring on the Cubs. They’re the best offensive team in the world! How are we gonna stop this juggernaut? Harvey, deGrom, Thor, Matz, Colon and Familia, that’s how. Absolute domination from inning one of Game 1, which I was there to witness live. That win brought my personal playoff record to 4-0!
Is this real life? I’ve asked myself that question a dozen times this year. But this is how it is for the Mets. As fans, we are SO used to short lived success. Next year we’ll probably have 81 wins. So as I sit here and write this, we trail the Vaunted Royals 2-1 in our series. We played the latter part of game 1 and all of game 2 like the Mets of old. Destined to be swept until Thor threw it high and tight and told the Royals, and all the world that we belong. I can’t be certain what the rest of the series brings, but I have a feeling. Like that same feeling when Dunston worked out a solid single in the bottom of the 15th in ’99.
The Yankees may have “Mystique and Aura”, but the Mets have Magic. That’s why the apple pops out of the hat. Because when we succeed it’s like magic. It’s beyond explanation and reason. It’s not supposed to be this way and not only is it exciting, it’s Amazin’!!!!!
Gregory Nichols is lifelong Mets fan and creator of the “Disgruntled Mets Fan” page on Facebook.