What were you doing ten years ago today? I'll tell you what you were doing ten years ago today.
You were meeting me for the first time. And me you.
Happy anniversary, co-blogger. Our first game together was June 17, 1995, exactly a decade past. Time really books the Concorde, don't it?
The occasion, you will no doubt recall, was the heralded Major League debut of one Bill Pulsipher, the lefty who was going to lead this team into the 21st century. Him and Isringhausen and Wilson, of course. They would come later. Pulse was here first. We had to see him. We had to see him now.
It was appropriate in that Bill Pulsipher was like some coat of arms to the loose confederation of Mets fans who were making themselves known to me via America Online in 1994-95. I'll never forget the two sensations I felt when I discovered there was an electronic medium in which one could write one's feelings about baseball and have other people read them and write back almost instantly.
1) Wow, there are other Mets fans in the world.
2) Wow, all these other Mets fans are investing a lot of faith in minor leaguers most of them have ever seen before, especially Bill Pulsipher.
But a prospect's a prospect, especially to a team that was mired in fourth place and on a five-year losing streak. So Pulse it was that hot, sunny day. My, it was sunny. It was so sunny that I came home with my worst ballpark sunburn ever. From that day forward, I always packed the sunscreen.
We met cute, as they say in the movies. I said look for the guy in the New York Giants cap. You said you'd have on a Capital City Bombers lid. Later, we each admitted, we weren't sure what the other guy's headgear would look like, but we figured it out. It wasn't like there was a stampede of Pulseheads between us so we couldn't find one another. Paid attendance: 20,000 and change. Hence, I apologize as I did ten years ago today for finding us such relatively lousy seats in the left field mezzanine. I was the older, more New York-based of us. I was supposed to know how to buy two tickets. Oh well. At least we got some sun.
So did Brett Butler. Pulse was who we came to see but it was Brett Butler who I remember standing out for all the wrong reasons. There are no errors in the box score, but I recall Butler having a hard time with a fly ball in the sun. And a hard time up with runners on. This was the day the crowd en masse turned on Brett Butler, the man who came to New York with the stated goal of teaching Carl Everett and Ricky Otero how to play center (he actually said that), but by June 17 was working the phones to get himself traded back to Los Angeles.
Years later, incidentally, a letter crossed my desk from a celebrity speakers bureau. It offered me and my organization a chance to have baseball great Brett Butler share his inspirational story with us. Only $20,000. (I passed.)
Pulse gave up five in the first but unlike today's coddling managers, Dallas Green left him out there in the heat to find himself, and in Pulselike fashion, he almost did. Gave up only two more runs over the next six. Bill Pulsipher was allowed to pitch seven innings in his Major League debut after giving up five runs to the Astros in the first inning. That was crazy or brave or both and perhaps a cause of his arm miseries to come. (The night before, the Mets lost a 16-inning affair in which Bobby Jones pitched ten, so Green presumably had a short bullpen, let alone a shorter fuse for those who preached pitch counts.)
Well, the Mets didn't win that day. It was Houston, 7-3 — my seventh consecutive loss as a Shea-going fan, so in that sense, nothing unusual. But I do consider June 17, 1995 a milestone in my life as a fan. It was the first time I went to a Mets game with somebody I met through what seemed like such revolutionary channels, but by no means the last. Because we hit it off, I continued to e-chat up other Mets fans, many of whom became and remain good friends, none of whom have revealed themselves to be knife-wielding stalkers or craven swindlers yet.
More to the point, I've enjoyed our relationship no end in virtual reality as well as real reality these last ten years. I will tell you now in front of, oh, dozens of readers that there's not another soul whose ramblings, ruminations and recriminations regarding the New York Mets I look forward to as much as yours. I couldn't have a better blogoshpere roommate or company for all the Pulsiphers, Pratts, Paytons, Piazzas and Pedros who have come along since.
This Internet thing you were raving to me about in 1995 as I scoffed that it would never last — it may turn out to be something after all.