I’ve been dying to see the Mets play the Tigers in Flushing since a little before 8:00 PM on Saturday, October 14, 2006. Magglio Ordoñez had just hit a three-run homer to clinch a four-game sweep of the American League Championship Series in Detroit. We were minutes from commencing Game Three of the NLCS in St. Louis, Steve Trachsel vs. some pitcher who didn’t let down his team the way Steve Trachsel let down the Mets  at the one moment in his six endless years as a Met when he was really needed. The Mets would soon be behind 2-1 in their showdown for all the National League marbles and the next four games precluded all thoughts of Detroit. Those nights would instead be devoted to the Mets scuffling to tie the Cardinals, which they did twice, and pass them, which they never did.
After seven games, the 2006 Tigers became somebody else’s opponent in the World Series. Somebody else’s victim, to be accurate. It wasn’t too much of a stretch, after the Cardinals had edged out the Mets for the pennant and went on to roll through that Fall Classic, to imagine the Mets would have done essentially the same thing . If Trachsel or Beltran or whomever you like to blame on a given day had come through a little more/at all, tonight would be not just a reasonably attractive Interleague matchup. It would be a most pleasant reminder of how we participated in and presumably won the 2006 World Series .
But it’s not that. It’s just a reasonably attractive Interleague matchup, about as attractive as one of these idiotic manufactured contests can be. I’ve been dying to see the Mets play the Tigers in Flushing for nearly four years, yes, but not in June 2010. I’ve been dying to see the Mets play the Tigers in October 2006. That ship having long ago sailed doesn’t change that stubborn desire.
I have nothing against the Tigers until 7:10 PM and will have nothing against them once they pack their striped baggage and leave town. I had nothing against the Orioles or Indians last week, either. For three days, however, I had my game face on and wished them concentrated doses of ill. Come Friday, I’ll hope we can make life miserable for the Twins in triplicate. By Monday, they can go back to being one big happy family. I don’t care about the Twins or the Indians or the Orioles or the Tigers save for the rare Octobers when they are our actual or prospective opponents. It’s odd that I am compelled to feign caring about them this month.
I’ll be out at Citi Field tonight caring deeply that the Tigers endure a bad series of baseball games. I’ll do the same tomorrow night. I like going to see the Mets, no matter who they’re playing. The opponent is rarely the attraction, but there’s usually a reassuring zero-sum gain to the scheduling. If the Mets are playing a National League team, it’s good if we win and it’s good if that other squad loses. The win and the loss make sense together. It could conceivably equal the difference between the Mets capturing a playoff spot and sitting home watching others compete (conceivably). A Met win will always be fine. A Tiger loss means not a darn thing to me. Fourteen seasons of Interleague play, counting what we’ve already seen and what lies ahead, and it still doesn’t add up.
Interleague play in October 2006…that would have made all the sense in the World. I’d take it in October 2010, too. The Tigers are having a pretty good year. Maybe we can use the next three nights for scouting purposes.
You never know. I thought I knew in October 2006. I didn’t.
Thanks to all those who participated in our Make a Donation/Get a Book promotion earlier this month. Your great response helped push Sharon Chapman’s New York City Marathon run for the Tug McGraw Foundation significantly closer to its fundraising goal. All books have been signed and sent out, and I hope you enjoy yours if you were kind and generous enough to take part.
Learn more about Sharon’s efforts with Team McGraw here . Contribute to the cause if you can here . And if you’re interested in reading the paperback edition of Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, well gosh, by all means check it out here  or here .