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The A's Put Me in Therapy

Posted By Greg Prince On June 16, 2005 @ 3:58 am In Main Page | Comments Disabled

“Greg, come in. How are you doing this week?”

“Well, doctor, I’ve been having some issues.”

“I see. I know mid-June is always stressful for you. Is it that it’s June 15 and you’re having flashbacks to the Wednesday Night Massacre? You know, Greg, that was 28 years ago and obsessing on it isn’t going to bring back Tom Seaver, Dave Kingman or even Mike Phillips.”

“No, doctor. I’m fine with June 15. Just the other day I blogged about Steve Henderson’s game-winning home run in 1980 [1], and I figure I wouldn’t have that memory if not for the Seaver trade. Not that that makes what M. Donald Grant and Dick Young did right, but I’m getting over it.”

“That’s a real breakthrough. Because you know that the trading deadline doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing for the Mets.”

“Yes, I remember you told me that and that you reminded me that the Mets got Keith Hernandez on June 15 and Donn Clendenon on June 15.”

“And you understand that trades aren’t in and of themselves good things or bad things…”

“…It depends on the trade. I understand that. In fact, I’m pretty excited about a trade rumor I read about.”

“Oh?”

“There’s talk that the Mets might be able to send Kaz Matsui to San Francisco for Edgardo Alfonzo.”

“How does that make you feel?”

“I don’t know. First off, Fonzie got hurt since the rumor surfaced, so it probably won’t happen. But if it did, I can’t escape the feeling that it will somehow backfire.”

“You don’t find that a little fatalistic? Alfonzo’s one of your all-time favorites and yet you can’t enjoy the specter of his return?”

“I know. It’s just that so few Mets who’ve gone away and come back ever do as well again. In fact, I wrote my first column for Gotham Baseball about that.”

“That’s good that you can express those feelings in another forum, but I’d prefer if you didn’t use our sessions to plug your side projects.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

“No need to apologize. It’s just a little tacky.”

“I understand.”

“How are you handling the post-non-no-hitter situation?”

“I’m OK with that, too. I didn’t really expect Pedro to get it, so I can’t say I was too disappointed.”

“Really? Seems to me you get very up for these no-hitter attempts and then it’s a long drop from fantasizing about how great it will be to the reality that it didn’t happen.”

“To be perfectly honest, it was tough. But there is something almost reassuring about the Mets’ futility in these situations.”

“To be perfectly honest with you, that sounds like rationalization.”

“Maybe, but what’re ya gonna do?”

“What about the slump? The Mets have only scored 17 runs in the last seven games, and I know you tend to have feelings of inadequacy when the Mets’ offense is so impotent.”

“It’s nothing I’m not used to. The Mets have had lots of weeks where they don’t score 17 runs, so to me this is a bonanza.”

“What about the Saturday game?”

“What about it?”

“You tend to experience a certain euphoria following events like those against the Angels the other night. Marlon Anderson and Cliff Floyd had to have brought out that emotion in you.”

“Sure. Is that bad?”

“No. We should be able to feel happy. But there is the inevitable letdown when the Mets don’t turn a win like that into a winning streak.”

“I suppose I’m feeling some of that. But it’s not paralyzing or anything like that. I can enjoy a win like that without regretting that the games after it aren’t as good.”

“Even with that umpire throwing Piazza out in the first inning?”

“I can’t stress over matters that are out of my control.”

“But you do.”

“I’m dealing with it. Can we leave it at that for now?”

“All right. What about the new stadium? How do you feel about that?”

“Great.”

“Really?”

“Well, I don’t necessarily trust the Wilpons to do it right, and I imagine the Yankees getting their ballpark will somehow screw us over, and I won’t really believe we’ll have a new Shea when they say we will.”

“The fact that you’re calling it the new Shea when the likelihood is that it will carry some corporate name indicates you might be experiencing a sense of displacement.”

“Look, I don’t doubt that if the new park is built that there will be a kind of separation anxiety, but I gotta tell ya, Doc, I’m not gonna be overwhelmingly sad when it happens.”

“You don’t think so?”

“OK, I do think so, but I also think that when the new place is ready, I’m gonna look back fondly on Shea and move on.”

“You’ve been attending games at Shea since 1973, and it’s that simple?”

“I guess you haven’t been reading my blog every day this season, but I’ve kind of had it with Shea [2]. No, I’m ready to say goodbye to it when the time comes.”

“What else is on your mind this week?”

“Well, it’s funny that you mentioned 1973.”

“Why is that?”

“The Mets were in the World Series that year.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And they played Oakland.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And they lost the World Series in Oakland.”

“And what’s the significance of that to you now?”

“Because of Interleague play, the Mets are back in Oakland to play the A’s for the first time since that World Series.”

“I see. How does that make you feel?”

“Well the games themselves are no big deal.”

“No?”

“The Mets eventually play everybody in Interleague. Oakland’s the last team they hadn’t played, so it seems reasonable that they finally do.”

“What was the first game like?”

“I couldn’t tell you.”

“Oh?”

“I fell asleep. Missed most of it. I know they lost, though.”

“How does that make you feel?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s the first Mets-A’s game since 1973, since you were ten years old, and you slept through it.”

“I was tired.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, I was.”

“Were you?”

“Yes! Is it a crime that I fell asleep rather than watch the Mets lose to the A’s. I don’t even know who’s on the A’s. Why do I have to stay up all night and watch them succumb to guys like Bert Campaneris?”

“Bert Campaneris?”

“What about him?”

“You just said you didn’t want to stay up Tuesday night and watch the Mets lose to Bert Campaneris.”

“I did?”

“Yes.”

“I meant Bobby Crosby. I don’t watch the American League that much.”

“So who’s Bert Campaneris?”

“He was the shortstop on the ’73 A’s. Probably deserved the MVP instead of Reggie. And I still don’t see what you’re getting at.”

“It just doesn’t seem like you to miss a game like that.”

“It’s just one game.”

“Yes, but you’re very meticulous about things like this. You’ve been careful to buy a ticket to at least one game against every American League opponent who’s ever played the Mets at Shea Stadium.”

“That’s just a thing with me.”

“A thing?”

“The first year they had six-packs, the Mets promoted the one I bought as the “firsts” six-pack: first game against the Devil Rays, first game against the Orioles, like that.”

“When was that?”

“In 1998.”

“So it wasn’t the first game against the Orioles, really.”

“No, I guess not. 1969 was the first game against the Orioles.”

“In the World Series.”

“Sure. So?”

“The Mets won that World Series.”

“Tell me something I don’t know, Doc.”

“You’ve told me you have very happy memories of the 1969 World Series [3].”

“What little I remember of it, yeah. It was wonderful.”

“But you haven’t told me much about the 1973 World Series.”

“What’s to tell?”

“Why don’t you tell me? If you’re old enough to remember 1969 then I assume you can tell me about 1973.”

“1973 was wonderful, too.”

“Was it?”

“Yeah. The Mets were in last in late August…”

“Uh-huh.”

“But they were only like 6-1/2 back…”

“Uh-huh.”

“And they stormed back to win the division…”

“Uh-huh.”

“Then they beat the Reds to win the pennant.”

“That’s it?”

“What else is there to say?”

“Greg, you’re avoiding what I asked you.”

“What?”

“I know about the Mets’ comeback in the regular season and how they won the playoffs.”

“Then why are you asking me about it?”

“I’m not. I need you to tell me about the 1973 World Series.”

“Why?”

“Pretend I’m one of your readers. You have no problem telling them everything that’s on your mind — at length — where the Mets are concerned.”

“Fine. It’s 1973. I’m ten years old. The Mets are in the World Series. I’m very happy.”

“Are you?”

“Why shouldn’t I be?”

“Why should you be?”

“Because the Mets are in the World Series. What more could a ten-year-old want?”

“You must’ve enjoyed watching that Series a lot.”

“Sure. I guess.”

“You guess?”

“To tell you the truth, I’m kind of hazy on the memories.”

“Oh?”

“Well, the main thing I remember about the first game is it was in Oakland and that Felix Millan made the error that allowed the eventual winning run to score for the A’s.”

“Did you know that would be the winning run when you saw it?”

“I didn’t exactly see it.”

“You didn’t?”

“No, I went with my parents to Hills in Island Park while the game was going on. We had to go grocery shopping. I remember the store manager announced the score while we were in the produce aisle.”

“Your parents took you grocery shopping?”

“Yeah.”

“During the World Series?”

“Yeah.”

“With the Mets in the World Series?”

“Yeah.”

“How did you feel about that?”

“I don’t know. It was 32 years ago.”

“But you were a big Mets fan even then.”

“Sure.”

“And you weren’t allowed to watch it?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say I wasn’t allowed.”

“But your parents didn’t think enough of your Mets fandom to let you stay home and watch it?”

“I don’t know. When I was a kid, they didn’t necessarily take stuff like that into account.”

“What else do you remember about the 1973 World Series?”

“The Mets lost that first game. They won that second game. I seem to recall watching it if that makes you feel any better.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Then the Mets and A’s came back to New York to play the middle three. Seaver pitched great, 12 strikeouts in eight innings, but lost Game Three. Then the Mets won the next two. It was really cold at Shea.”

“At that point, the Mets were up three games to two over Oakland.”

“Yeah. I remember how exciting it was to feel the Mets were just one win away. George Stone.”

“What did you just say?”

“One win away.”

“After that. You mentioned a George Stone.”

“I did?”

“You did. Who’s he?”

“Oh, George Stone. He was the Mets’ fourth starter that year. He went 12-3. He should’ve started the sixth game in Oakland.”

“He didn’t?”

“No. Yogi Berra decided to start Tom Seaver on short rest.”

“How did that work out?”

“How do you think that worked out? Tom had just struck out 12 in a night game in freezing Shea Stadium on Tuesday night. Now it wasn’t even 72 hours later across the country and Yogi was making him take the ball again. Tom had thrown his heart out down the stretch. He’d do anything you asked, but he was used to pitching on four days’ rest. It wasn’t right.”

“So Seaver didn’t win Game Six.”

“No.”

“What about Game Seven?”

“Matlack pitched. He was also going on three days’ rest.”

“I take it the result was the same.”

“More or less. We lost.”

“How did you feel watching that.”

“It’s hard to say.”

“Why is it hard to say?”

“Because I didn’t really get to watch much of it.”

“You didn’t?”

“No.”

“How come?”

“Well, that weekend, my parents took me and my sister upstate to the Raleigh, a resort in the Catskills. It was the first time we ever went to one of those places as a family. We’d stayed in hotels before, but my mother said this was different because instead of going somewhere else to eat, they served meals in the dining room to everybody staying there all at once and everybody had to dress up.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, I thought that was kind of stupid. I didn’t like dressing up then any more than I like dressing up now.”

“Uh-huh.”

“But my mother made me promise to bring my sport jacket.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And I didn’t.”

“You didn’t?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t want to. I rarely acted out as a child but this seemed, to my ten-year-old mind, an unreasonable request. We ate dinner all the time and I never had to dress up. The only time I had to put on a jacket and tie was to go to temple. It didn’t seem right to have to do it just to eat dinner.”

“How did your mother react?”

“Not well. She was pretty mad once we got upstate and I said I’d forgotten to pack it.”

“Uh-huh.”

“So she told me because I didn’t bring the jacket, I couldn’t watch the World Series.”

“You couldn’t watch the World Series?”

“No.”

“How did that make you feel?”

“How the fuck do you think I felt? This was the Mets, the only thing in the world I really cared about when I was ten years old and they’re in the fucking World Series which was a miracle in itself and I can’t watch it?”

“What did you do?”

“To be honest, I managed to sneak enough peeks to see what was going on, that Seaver didn’t have it, that Matlack didn’t have it, that Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman and yes, Bert Campaneris, were doing us in.”

“So the punishment didn’t really take?”

“Not completely, no.”

“Yet you still seem upset about it.”

“Look, I was a good kid. I’m a good adult, I think. I don’t hurt anybody. I don’t gratuitously insult anybody I know. I always say please and thank you. All I wanted to do that weekend was watch the Mets beat the A’s in Oakland and not have to wear a stupid sport jacket. Is that so bad? Does that make me a bad person?”

“Do you think it does?”

“No!”

“Well, that’s good.”

“Why is that good?”

“Because you realize you can’t be responsible for your ten-year-old self.”

“It’s a little late for that.”

“No it’s not. You’re obviously carrying around a lot of animosity for your mother from that World Series. You react to the Mets being in Oakland by tuning them out. You miss their first game there since 1973 by falling asleep. You can barely stand to look at the TV while they’re playing their second game there.”

“Oh come on. It’s just…”

“It’s just what?”

“I have no problem with watching games from Oakland. I watched the A’s when they were in the playoffs all those years. My wife and I even went to the Whatever It Was Called Then Coliseum in 2001 when we were in San Francisco. Tell me how many baseball fans bother to cross the bay to Oakland. Anybody can go to Pac Bell.”

“Were the A’s playing the Mets in 2001?”

“No. I told you this is the first series we’ve played them since 1973.”

“So seeing the Mets in the Oakland Coliseum — or whatever it’s called now — is painful for you.”

“That sounds a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

“What do you think?”

“I’d say painful is the headaches I get and the chronic indigestion I have and when my cat Bernie [4] died last month. The Mets playing baseball isn’t painful.”

“It’s not?”

“All right, I stepped into that one. Yes, it can be painful when they lose a big game to the Braves or the Yankees or something like that.”

“But not the 1973 World Series?”

“I was just happy we got that far.”

“You were?”

“Yes. The A’s were a great team.”

“They were?”

“Yes, they were! Look at all the Hall of Famers and the perennial All-Stars they had. They won the World Series the year before and the year after. They were a dynasty.”

“Uh-huh.”

“But we could’ve won.”

“Could’ve?”

“Yes, we could’ve. If damn Yogi had started George Fucking Stone in Game Six, we could’ve won. Should’ve won. Because even if he’d lost, Seaver would’ve been well-rested and he would’ve beaten the goddamn A’s and we would’ve been World Champions. Instead, in the Daily News the next morning, Bill Gallo drew a cartoon that had Yogi changing the letters in the Mets’ slogan from YA GOTTA BELIEVE to YA GOTTA BEREAVE. I had never even heard that word before. God, that sucked.”

“But I thought you said 1973 was wonderful.”

“It was.”

“But you seem upset about it.”

“I’m not upset.”

“Not upset about losing the World Series?”

“I told you.”

“Told me what?”

“That we were just lucky to be there.”

“Really? It was enough just enough to win the pennant?”

“Winning the pennant was great.”

“But was it enough?”

“I wouldn’t put it that way.”

“How would you put it?”

“All these years, I’ve looked back on 1973 fondly because of Tug and Tom and the comeback from last place and all that. But…”

“But?”

“But I think I’ve been rationalizing.”

“Tell me.”

“Tell you what?”

“What are you rationalizing?”

“When I was six, the Mets won the World Series.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And it was the greatest feeling in the world.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And they were still a good team the next few years.”

“Uh-huh.”

“They just didn’t finish first.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I knew that was part of the deal, that you couldn’t win every year.”

“Uh-huh.”

“But in 1973, we suddenly had this golden opportunity. And it didn’t happen.”

“What didn’t happen?”

“We didn’t win the World Series. We could’ve, but we didn’t. We should’ve, but we didn’t.”

“How does that make you feel?”

“It makes me feel awful!”

“Why?”

“WHY? WHY? Can you imagine how great it would have been to have won the 1973 World Series? Can you imagine how great it would have been to have grown up with two world championships instead of just one fluky one that I barely remember? Can you imagine what might have happened to this franchise if they had beaten the A’s? They were there for the fucking taking and we didn’t do it! Maybe everything changes after that! Maybe the whole organization doesn’t go into the tank! Maybe somehow Tom Seaver doesn’t get traded 28 years ago! Maybe he gets his no-hitter for us! Maybe everything about being a Mets fan in the ’70s is better. Maybe we’re not always so feeble offensively and maybe we already have a great new Camden Yards type ballpark instead of having to wade through some idiotic Olympics plan to get what will probably be a subpar stadium. Maybe every moron Angel Hernandez or Eric Cooper [5] doesn’t fuck us over with absurd calls. Maybe we don’t suck for years and years and I’m not reduced to remembering Steve Henderson hitting a stupid home run against the Giants in 1980 as my lone happy moment of being a Mets fan in high school. Goddammit!”

“Anything else?”

“Maybe I should’ve packed my stupid sport jacket.”

“Why?”

“Maybe if I had, I would’ve gotten to have watched the World Series without having to sneak around like a criminal. Maybe…”

“Maybe what?”

“Maybe we would’ve won.”

“Do you really think so?”

“I don’t know. I’m not a superstitious person, except when it comes to baseball [6]. To be honest, I’ve never connected all of this before. I just wish the Mets had won the 1973 World Series.”

“But they didn’t.”

“No, they didn’t.”

“And you can’t change that now.”

“No, I can’t.”

“Look, our time is up, but this has been good. It sounds to me as if you’ve begun to come to grips with a lot of things that had been residing deep in your subconscious.”

“Well, that’s good, I guess.”

“It is. It really is.”

“Good.”

“One other thing.”

“What?”

“It’s OK to watch the Mets play the A’s in Oakland this week.”

“Fuck that. I’d rather wear a sport jacket to dinner.”


Article printed from Faith and Fear in Flushing: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com

URL to article: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/2005/06/16/the-as-put-me-in-therapy/

URLs in this post:

[1] Steve Henderson’s game-winning home run in 1980: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2005/6/14/937187.html

[2] I’ve kind of had it with Shea: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2005/4/12/575265.html

[3] very happy memories of the 1969 World Series: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2005/3/29/488515.html

[4] Bernie: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2005/5/29/893640.html

[5] Eric Cooper: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2005/6/12/932034.html

[6] except when it comes to baseball: http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/blog/_archives/2005/2/25/376029.html

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