The man you see to your right was a father, brother, actor, teacher and veteran. He, though through the Yankees, fanned the flame of what he saw as a budding passion for the game of baseball and other than what felt like it came naturally, is the sole reason I am as into the sport and the Orange and Blue as I am.
That passion, however, though always there, has not manifested itself thoroughly and in the ways I have practiced over the last few years. I got out here with a great ballpark and didn't go to one single non-Mets game and the 2018 Mets lost both of the games I did go to, evening out my overall Coors Field Mets record to 2-2 from going 2-0 in 2012. Although, come to think of it, after my dad's death, my family and I did go to a Cardinals/Rockies game but that basically sums up the depression I felt and didn't even realize it: I go to games by myself on a whim all the time. Yes, the fact the Rockies aren't my team partially played into that, but the fact I never just walked up and enjoyed a random game of baseball before Lyft-driving passengers back to Littleton, or Arvada, or anywhere in the greater Denver Area is astounding and asinine to me.
The 2018 New York Mets, when you think about it, mirrored my dad's cancer-fighting process: So much hope at the beginning...eventually, though, disastrous. I tuned in, I soaked up, I always pay attention even when I can't listen or watch. But there still is that disconnect from who I've been and what I am as a fan. This past year I've never felt more detached, the 2007 season notwithstanding. That year, I was lost is weed, wine and vinyl, and then all of a sudden my friend from Philly in September was like, "Are you not paying attention to what is going on?" This past year, however, was an entirely different beast that will be the defining moment of wherever this life goes. I did not respond to the inevitable well, the moment that all of us will eventually deal with before dealing with our own mortality. When, no matter what we have going on in our lives or how well or terrible we have it together, we have to take care of our parents just at the time when we can't even take care of ourselves. Or, as I say in dailies of our budding movie about Max, "Adulting hits you hard. And all of a sudden, before you even figure it out, you gotta be concerned and take care of your parents. And you have to be completely selfless, just when all you want to be is selfish."
When I finally made it to Citi Field in September, it was a weird feeling going through the motions again. Taking the train...walking down the corridor of the station before exiting into that Metsian Plaza. It was familiar, but strange. I hadn't been jacked at all, I didn't have that, "I'm going to my first home Mets game of 2018" feeling. The entire thing felt foreign. And then, I was reminded of along the way, there was something about this night actually...
Jacob deGrom was pitching. And it was obviously the last time in a crazy historical season that he would do so.
Ok, I like that. I'm starting to feel it a bit.
But on that first approach, it wasn't completely there.
I sat down in the upper deck. That magic feeling's not completely brewing but some of the brooding sadness and depression are starting to subside. The baseball field is certainly a nice sight but I'm not..."pumped" yet, if you will. That excitement, that feeling, that loud baseball New York fan feeling.
And then there was that ERA anxiety. Well...I guess I at least had that. That feeling when a player on your team is doing something so Amazin' that you need him to keep putting up zeros so that Amazin' number can keep dropping.
Single up the middle. Oh, boy.
He stole second. Braves are tough, they won the division after all.
Inciarte. out. Freeman? out. Markakis out.
Alright, alright, alright. I'm not loud yet, but appreciate the wigglin' out.
Then, if there was ever any doubt of where my 2018 Mets were, Jacob deGrom proceeded to suck me back into that ol' Mets feeling, mowing down like it was the first game of the year basically every single batter he faced thereafter in a 2-hitter Seth Lugo shouldn't have finished but did with flying colors. Groundout, strikeout, lineout. Jacob deGrom is going to win the Cy Young AND he'll be a winning pitcher at 10-9. It's so funny the little things we root for but a winning record was a factor as well.
And there it was. The reason we all came. No matter the darkness, there is always light in this game we play. Jacob deGrom can reaffirm my passion and conviction for this band of misfits, for this beautiful sport my dad helped bring to me in heavy dosages, and for life itself. It's been real tough and continues to be so, but at least we have Jacob deGrom. Or baseball itself. Or the New York Mets. No matter how much they aggravate us, as does life and death, you can count on them to put a smile on your face even if you're doing it while shaking your head.
It really was a good play indeed.
REST. E. Z. MAX.
LET'S. GO. METS.
(My dad was certainly a performer through and through. One of the last roles he performed was in a stage production of Man of La Mancha out here in Colorado. While this was not the role he played, he most likely burst out singing this song randomly while just living his life, so an appropriate way to end this.)