I will be happy. I already am. I have been since first place became our permanent place for 2006 in April, but this is another dimension of happiness. I’m afloat and will remain so until further notice.
I will be immersed. We’re in the playoffs. It’s all I can think about. In late October 2000, I recall a boiling debate in the news about a vote in the Senate. There were fingers pointing and recriminations abounding. I had to admit I had no idea what they were talking about. I was so caught up in the World Series and the rounds preceding it that I had tuned out everything that wasn’t my Mets habit or didn’t provide me the means to support it.
I will be profligate. In October 1988, WFAN announced it was selling K Kloths at Modell’s. They were total ripoffs of the previous autumn’s Homer Hankies, a Midwestern conceit derided by us Eastern intellectual types…you can’t clap if you’re waving a hankie. But once they had something like that for us, I grabbed as many as I could. Now and then I run across them in a box of stuff. The Mets lost that playoff but I still smile at the K Kloth. When they put other playoff stuff in front of me this week and hopefully next week and more hopefully the weeks and months after that, I will dig deep. Whether it winds up on my wall, on my person or in my closet, the smile will stay with me. That’s from 2006, when we were in the playoffs.
I will be proud. When SportsCenter does its reports from those workouts, one of them will emanate from Shea Stadium. Hey! They’re talking about the Mets! That’s Endy Chavez taking batting practice in the background! When I pick up the paper tomorrow and there’s a special section on the playoffs, I will save half of it instead of shoving all of it inside a kitty carrier as has been my practice since 2001. When I pass somebody on the street wearing a Mets cap, I will either raise my fist in solidarity or perhaps tamp down the urge to do so because I’m not really that outgoing. If I am handed a pro-Mets placard coming off the subway on Thursday (or Wednesday should I get lucky), I will carry it home with care and display it in my window for the neighbors to see.
I will be relevant. In 1999, I worked with a woman who was the soul of dyspepsia. If it wasn’t absolutely necessary, we didn’t speak. But on the elevator down at the end of the Monday after the Sunday when Robin Ventura singled over the fence, she sought me out: “Fifteen innings. That was something else.” Family members who patronize me during the season will actually ask what I’m thinking. Shopkeepers will recognize me and tell me Way To Go! or Hang In There. Anybody who calls who isn’t a telemarketer will beg pardon for the interruption. When it’s over, I will be just another man. Until then, I am That Mets Fan.
I will be insightful. “You know how I know the Mets are playing in Atlanta? Because when the Mets are up, the crowd boos, but when the Braves are up, the crowd cheers.” That was my expert determination as relayed to Mom and Dad during the first-ever National League Championship Series game on October 4, 1969. I’m bound to come up with another flash any day now.
I will be fretful. I’m in a hot debate with myself over which cap to wear Wednesday. I wore my black 2000 World Series model to five straight victories but its magic left me later in September. I really love my Bicentennial cap, but that’s almost too showy. The official blue and black & blue models have yielded no wins when I’ve been at Shea. Do I go with something anti-Dodger like my cherished black New York Giants topper? Something tangentially related like my Rheingold number? Something deep-seated like the 1981 adjustable, mesh survivor with the oversized NY? No cap at all? This is a big decision to make by Wednesday…and it’s for the game that I don’t have a ticket to.
I will be amazed. It’s something to realize your team, my team, our team is still playing when most other teams aren’t. It’s a reward for being Mets fans. It feels instantly like destiny. How could they ever think of having postseasons without us? I love how it becomes part of the fabric of conversation. Some good-natured, non-baseball ruckus ensued in Manhattan in October 1973 and Channel 2 reported that “for just a moment, the war in the Middle East, the resignation of Spiro Agnew and even the Mets had to take a back seat.” Yes, even the Mets. But just for a moment.
I will be nervous. There was an upholstered chair in my parents’ bedroom forever. I spent the latter innings of Game Three of the 1986 NLCS more or less sitting in it, scratching at its arms as the Astros closed in on a 2-1 series advantage. Shortly after Lenny Dykstra took Dave Smith deep, I noticed it was suddenly in dire need of reupholstering.
I will be devastated. And that will be if Jose Reyes doesn’t lead off Game One with a triple on the first pitch (and if he does, I’ll be disappointed that he didn’t come all the way around on the throw). Every strike against us will be the end of the world, every inning when we don’t score will augur doom. I will try to keep this tendency in check. Good luck.
I will be irrational. Anybody with a microphone who picks the Dodgers goes on my enemies list right now. I listened earlier to Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick on ESPN Radio pick the Dodgers. Patrick’s a cipher, but Olbermann — he of the “special comment” and the “worst person in the world” and nightly truth-telling on MSNBC — is one of my idols. Was, I mean. This is real with us-or-against us time. Sorry Keith. We’ll be pals again by November.
I will be careful. Did I write anything that the gods will forward to the Dodger clubhouse? Oh crap, I have to go back and scrub my copy. Um, Grady Little is a genius, J.D. Drew is whatever the opposite of annoying is and Rafael Furcal is the salt of the earth.
I will be touchy. STOP TELLING ME ABOUT THE 2004 RED SOX! WE DON’T HAVE ORTIZ OR MANNY TO SAY NOTHING OF PEDRO! WE’RE DOWN OH TO FUCKING THREE! YOU DON’T NEED TO REMIND ME! I will also be weaving worst-case scenarios as a precaution against worst cases.
I will be confident. Mets in anywhere from three to five. What’s the point of thinking otherwise?
I will be remembering. Six postseasons are burned into the memory. When time peels away everything else, I will recall what it felt like to understand my team and I were circling the top of the world in Octobers 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 1999 and 2000, to luxuriate in landing at its apex twice, to despair of coming so close the four other times but being sated on some level that we got as far as we did, me and the Mets. Until playoff appearances become second-nature for this franchise, I will remember this, our seventh October, for as long as I have the faculties to do so.
I will be ready. I already am.