I can't decide whether having had a wonderful time in spite of the Mets losing a tough ballgame is a sign of a healthy outlook on life or proof that I've got my priorities all screwed up.
Well, I did have a wonderful time at METSTOCK: 3 Hours of Pizza and Baseball and I'm pretty sure that save for one severely unpleasant detail toward the end on TV, everybody else there did, too. A few things did not go as arranged — one author, one camera crew and one rousing victory cry apiece did not materialize — but mostly it was what I had hoped it would be. It was an evening to revel in our fandom in a setting that couldn't have been more perfect. My thanks to Skyhorse Publishing editor deluxe Mark Weinstein for pulling this off and for filling in ably for Stanley Cohen by reading a lovely passage from A Magic Summer. My thanks to blolleague and old friend Jon Springer for putting those Amazin' numerals together so intriguingly over the past decade at MBTN.net and presenting a literal fistful of them as he read from Mets By The Numbers. My thanks to our hosts at Two Boots Tavern, worth a visit at 384 Grand Street on the Lower East Side even if nobody's reading aloud to you. You'll come for the pizza, you'll stay to both finish your pizza and carefully eyeball every bit of baseball memorabilia that's everywhere you turn.
My ultimate thanks go to all who attended, listened to my spiel and said hi. It was an incredible mix of people I know very well, people I know pretty well, people I know a little and people I'd never met. It says something good to me that all those people would come out at the end of a long and soggy day to celebrate their love of the Mets, listen to a couple of writers talk and root, root, root for the road team. We didn't win, and that's a shame, but as is proven time and again where our affection for the Mets is concerned, you can have the great pizza; you can have the cold beer; you can have the three diagonally positioned 1967 Bill Hepler baseball cards on the wall; you can have tales of Jeff McKnight's revolving identities, of impromptu October ticker tape blanketing a city and of a 14-year-old unknowingly snubbing Lee Mazzilli in a Catskills resort elevator; you can have a room full of true believers who all attempt to lift each other up until they all go down together on a bases-loaded walk and a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth…but you can't have everything.
We couldn't have the win. In promoting this event, it was haughtily suggested the Mets would stick it to the Orioles as they did in 1969, yet on Thursday night, Huff beat haught. Of course that was unplanned and unfortunate, but that ninth inning — you had to be there. Dozens of Mets fans intermingled all doing what they probably would have been doing in the privacy of their living rooms if we weren't promoting togetherness and three Skyhorse books. With our forces combined, it was a sight to see. Such energy. Such focus. Such a shared sense of purpose.
Such a shame it had to turn from “YEAH!” to “NO!” but that's baseball for ya. Great part is we'll all be back somewhere Friday. Maybe in a place like Two Boots (though there is no place quite like Two Boots), maybe at Citi Field, maybe in our living rooms. We'll all remember how disappointing it was to watch Frankie Rodriguez legitimately blow his first save of the year but we'll conveniently forget that that's the price we pay for our inextricable involvement in this lifelong affair we call being a Mets fan. Come 7:10 Friday we'll see a Mets team that has a chance to win a game. That's what we see when we look at the Mets. That's what we see when we look at ourselves.
It doesn't look so bad on us, y'know?
The spirit of METSTOCK lives on in Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.