Friday, August 07, 2015

Eternal Optimist

Many times I am considered a pessimist when it comes to my favorite sports teams. But consider the Redskins, Mets and Knicks have won a title in 23, 28 and 42 years, you could argue that I am actually a realist.
And when I fired off my overly emotional and reactionary piece entitled "The Mets Will Never Win" I certainly lived up to my reputation.
But when you take a step back and analyze it, I am the most optimistic of all.
I am the one who thinks the front office has done a great job.
I am the one who thinks we should keep the guys we have.
I am the one who thinks the Mets are poised to be very very good for a very long time.
I am the one who thinks that when our good young players hit free agency (or before) the Mets will sign them to longer contracts.

The only thing that I was a little pessimistic about was the Mets chances to make the playoffs this year. But a sweep of the Nationals changes a lot. The Mets odds to make the playoffs after that heart-breaker against the Padres were 22%. Now, a 6-game winning streak has boosted them to 52%.

And once you get in the playoffs, you never know what can happen.

But you can always hope.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Song of the Week

"Say I'm Your Number One" - Princess

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Julian's First Mets Game

I love the Mets. I don't know why, I just do. So many of my good childhood memories involve watching the Mets with Papa Poop. Obviously the entire 1986 season and of course World Series Game 6, just cemented it. When God made me, he tapped me on the head and said "Mets fan."
As a father there is nothing better than spending time with your kids. If you can do that while sharing something you love, and seeing them love it too, well, that feeling is better than just about anything I could possibly describe.
It's why I decided to make my children wait until they were five years old to take them to a live sporting event. And that event would have to be a Mets game. Just me and my son. This caused much controversy and tears, and I almost went back on it several times.
But I followed through and bought tickets for the Sunday game right before his birthday. Sunday, August 2nd. At 1pm. Until about two weeks before, when ESPN decided it would like to air the contest between the top two teams in the National League East to a national audience.
That delayed the time of the game until 8pm. Yikes. A little late for a youngster. Especially one such as Julian who goes hard all day, doesn't nap, but often asks to go to bed at night so he won't be "cranky all day tomorrow."
I was doubly irritated when I called to see if I could get a refund or an exchange (they said no) and was told the post-game Mr. Met Dash (the only thing he really understood and cared about) would not take place.
But I explained to Julian that neither he nor I deals very well with disappointment and this was just a test for us, to see if we could make the best of it.
I put on my brand new Mitchell & Ness 1986 Mets Keith Hernandez batting practice jersey and we put a blue tint in Jules's faux-hawk and we were ready to roll.

Trivia question for 1986 Mets: A Year to Remember aficionados: Keith is seen at batting practice, wearing this jersey, in one part of the video, what does he say?

The entire ride there he was peppering me with questions about how long it would go and what roads we're on until finally he said "so the cross bronx, the whitestone bridge, the whitestone expressway and Citifield -- BOOM!"

And several times he told me how long he had been waiting for this, each time recalibrating how long, until he just decided it was his whole life.

After stopping for the obligatory CitiField pictures

we headed to Mets plaza where a bunch of kids games and attractions were set up.
There was a Mr. Met Bouncy House,

a pitching area (I love this action shot, looks fundamentally sound),

and an art station where Jules colored a K.

After that we headed inside with a stop in the Mets museum. He enjoyed counting the plaques and I made him stop next to my favorite one.

And he wanted to pose with Casey Stengel.

Then we decided to go to our seats, because the thing he was the second most excited about (after running the bases, and way more than the actual game) was the helmet full of popcorn.

Due to our mutual love of popcorn, I had scouted this location as it appears to be the only one like it in the entire stadium. When purchasing tickets, I specifically picked a section near the stand, located behind Sec. 125, for easy refills. Though we only refilled it once, two big helpings of popcorn and a souvenir helmet for $12 is a downright steal by CitiField prices.

On the way up and down the aisle we noticed three Mets fans who had the same idea we had: Thor hammers. Jules became obsessed with these guys and they seemed to like him equally as much.

Midway during the game Jules asked "can we go back and see my friends? I want to ask them how the game is going?"

Finally the game started, though not well, as the second batter for the Nationals hit a home run to put the Mets down 1-0. By the second inning Jules was asking when the game would be over and I was really starting to worry.

And then it happened!

First it was Granderson, with a man on, to give the Mets the lead.

Then while we were still celebrating and high-fiving, Daniel Murphy hit one. Which I have to admit we didn't even see, or know what was happening until we heard the crowd reaction.

And finally when we started to settle down (and Julian put down his Thor hammer so he could clap more easily), Cespedes singled and then Duda completed the barrage with a home run that looked -- from our seats down the left field line -- like it was going to go foul.

But it stayed fair!

What ensued was a moment I will never forget. Julian, in a sea of screaming fans was shrieking from the bottom of his lungs, eyes popping out of his head, clapping and high-fiving and jumping up and down.

At this moment, I wish I had recorded video to share with you all. Because that was pure joy.

But in that moment, I'm glad I just existed in the moment. I didn't let the moment pass me by as I held up my iPhone.

I was jumping and screaming as loudly as anyone. I swear I will remember that moment, those home runs, the people around us, Julian's face, as long as I live. In 60 years when they wheel me out for my tapioca pudding they could ask me who hit those home runs, and I know I will remember, Granderson, Murphy and Duda.

From then, the game kind of zoomed on uneventfully, which is kind of a shame because Noah Syndergaard pitched a gem. And had it not been for the fashion in which the Mets scored those runs, the biggest memory from this game might have been him striking out Bryce Harper in the 8th inning with a 99 mph fastball.

A couple of times during the game Jules got a little impatient, but I soothed him with a pink lemonade (all the popcorn made him thirsty). And then they announced that there would in fact be the Mr. Met Dash after the game, which bumped his excitement level up, but also his impatience.

When the game finally ended and I slowly packed up our stuff he said "dad, come on, run the bases, let's go!"

When I did this with Chase three years ago, it took forever, we had to leave the Stadium, walk around the block and wait half an hour. This time we went right down the stairs, out the door and right back in. Obviously the security people wanted to go home to bed, because they were rushing parents and kids, and being downright rude about it. But I did manage to get some pictures of Julian on the field

And this video

You can see he got thrown off by the people rushing the kids off the field, he forgot to touch home plate.

But I think he was pretty happy.

Sometimes I feel (and I'm sure many others do) that the world is against me and my whole life is a struggle. But times like these (when something really important exceeds my wildest expectations), I really get this feeling that something out there (I call it the Universe) loves me and wants me to be happy. That's how I felt during this game.

And this feeling was worth waiting for.