Today was the day when, in Met terms, I joined the numerical ranks of Tug McGraw and Pedro Martinez and latter-day John Franco when he was at his most lovable. Today, after a lifetime of being no older than 44, I wear a 45 on my back.
I seem to recall a conversation between Lou Grant and Mary Richards in which Lou, bemoaning his suddenly landing in his late 40s, lamented that if he were in politics, they’d call him the kid.
I’d rather not think about what 45 the age actually signifies. I’d prefer to think of what 45 among Mets means. It means Tug and Pedro and some Franco. So overwhelming is the collective imagery of these three iconic pitchers in that number that it’s easy to forget others wore it completely without distinction.
Only when I scrunch my eyes closed tight do I see Brent Gaff or Paul Gibson or Jerry DiPoto in 45. And then I cringe.
Only with an old link to a great site (soon to be, no doubt, a great book) do I see the fleeting forgettableness of Goose Gozzo or the three pointless weeks of John Candelaria or the frittered-to-Montreal promise of Jeff Reardon, all of whom wore 45 as Mets. And then I cringe some more.
I do see Rick Baldwin, 45 directly after the Tugger, without the aid of any Mets By The Numbers ticklers, but that’s just the way I am after 45 years.
And then I cringe just a little more.
The point is when I think 45, I think three of the great pitchers and personalities in Mets history. I think of things not bad — not Gaff, not Gibson, not Gozzo; just good. So as I look back for a moment on my 45th year, which conveniently coincided with 2007, I also think only good.
Or at least not bad.
Not bad 2007 was, in a baseball way, Worst C-word in Baseball History notwithstanding.
I mean not bad for me as I was living most of it. I had a pretty darn not bad time, what with the sitting in plastic seats of orange, blue, green or red some three-dozen times and enjoying the company of so many of whom I think so highly.
It was not bad making true friends from screen names.
It was not bad forging ever closer bonds over baseball games.
It was not bad writing and reading back and forth from April to September…from the middle of February to the end of October…from the first of the year to last of the year, actually.
It was not bad being a Mets fan with you in 2007, even in the period best described as not all that spicy and far too brown.
It is not bad at all — win, lose or collapse — sharing this year’s worth of a lifetime of baseball with you.
May the next one turn out just a wee bit better for the lot of us.