Do you ever wonder how you got here? Do you ever wonder what made you a Mets fan? Not just the first game or first memory you can conjure but the whole trail that led you not just to get into it but to stick with it and ramp up to arrive at the point where you’re at today?
I’ve been wondering. I’ve been wondering all year. The near-tragic collision between Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran has pressed the issue a little further up from my subconscious. If the equivalent of what happened to them happened to guys on another team or in another sport or two people in some other circumstance, I’d like to think I’d be as concerned for their well-being. But I know damn well that unless I actually knew the two individuals in question, it wouldn’t be the same.
Within the context of caring about the Mets and caring about particular Mets, it’s a bit of a stretch to say my reaction to the accident is different because it happened in 2005 as opposed to 2004 or 2003, but I think there’s something to that. It hasn’t been easily discernible from the Mets’ record at any given moment, but this season has been different. It’s been special in its way. It’s had a texture not all seasons do. It’s felt somehow more important, more significant than a lot of other seasons I’ve lived through. Yet that feeling feels familiar, and I think I’ve figured out why.
Fives and Ohs.
Ohs and Fives.
Something happens to me in years ending in them. Every half-decade on the half-decade, there’s a process of internal renewal where the Mets are concerned. Call it my ballological clock going off. It’s as if I wake up all over again to the possibilities — the good, the bad, the ugly — inherent in being a baseball fan and sign on for another hitch.
This is a phenomenon that recurs without self-consciousness. I’ve felt it every five years starting with the first occurrence 35 years ago. I don’t start the Ohs and Fives looking for it, but eventually it comes and finds me. I wasn’t able to quantify it as a trend until 15 years ago, but when I counted back, one hand at a time, I could see it was real. And it’s continued to be.
The years that end in an 0 or a 5 aren’t necessarily the greatest of Mets years. There are a couple of 9’s, a 3 and a very good 6 that come to mind where success is concerned. But there’s something about these Fives and Ohs — these Ohs and Fives — that have shaped me and my association with this team that we blog about, e-mail about, talk about, think about, obsess about, bitch about, moan about, cry about, shout about and dream about. It wouldn’t be the same, at least not for me, without these particular seasons.
The pulse quickens. The muse deepens. The commitment solidifies. Stuff I never noticed before appears plain as Shea on the horizon. I become, somehow, more of a Mets fan in years that end with 0 or 5. These seasons are the foundation upon which my fandom have been built.
In recognition of the simple chronological fact that this is 2005 and that years like this apparently only come along every five years, I want to explore the Fives and Ohs a little. I want to understand, to a degree greater than I do now, how I got here, what made me the fan I am today. It’s not a perfect formula. Like I said, there were other years. There were all the other years. Who you are is everything you’ve seen and everything you’ve been. But I think there’s been a little more to it in 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000 and, I’m convinced, 2005.
Hence, every Friday for the next eight Fridays, starting August 19, will be Flashback Friday on my end of Faith and Fear. I’ll still cover the ongoing drama as events dictate, but once a week I plan to step back a bit from daily doings. I want to comprehend these Fives and Ohs, these Ohs and Fives. I want, after I complete my tour of records and recollections, to return home to 2005 having constructed a road map to the present, a present which is really just the square tonnage left behind by a passel of pasts.
First stop: 1970, one week from today.