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Now Appearing on Baseball Tonight: Other Teams

One of the many things I love about the Web is it lets me get all the Mets news I can stand. Newspapers’ Web outposts, newspapers’ blogs, national Web sites, MLB, former beat writers’ sites, independent blogs of all stripes and persuasions, minor-league blogs … you name it. There is more Mets news than I can take in on a given day.

You already know this — after all, you’re reading a Mets blog, one Greg and I hope does its part to fill some of that bottomless appetite for Mets news. And we’ve all grown pretty used to this world.

But now and then I remember how different things used to be.

Emily and Joshua and I are spending our annual week on Long Beach Island, which for some reason I think of as “away from the things of man,” to steal a line from the alternately enchanting and horrible movie Joe vs. the Volcano [1]. LBI is nothing of the sort, of course: It’s just 75 miles from New York City, SNY is a cable channel, WFAN comes in perfectly strong, and in the pancake houses and burger joints and amusement parks you’ll find plenty of Mets caps along with Yankees and Phillies headgear. I even do some fraction of my share of recaps while I’m here. Thinking I’m far away from it all is just part of the vacation mindset.

Still, thinking that lends itself to reflection, and to remembering. Which brings me back to the way things used to be.

The Mets’ game against the Braves tonight was already meaningless; it quickly became depressing. Pat Misch was pretty obviously living on borrowed time from the beginning; it’s kind to say he’s effective when he can mix up his pitches and hit his spots and less kind to note that you could say the same thing about every pitcher to face a batter since Abner Doubleday. Misch pitched bravely and well in garbage time last year; this year he’s looked decidedly ordinary, and may soon slide over to make room for Jenrry Mejia, hopefully fully recovered from the Mets’ ill-advised, self-inflicted experiment with making him a setup man.

Beyond Misch’s troubles, a cameo by a predictably awful Ollie Perez, and my first glance at Luis Hernandez (whom I doubt I could pick out of a police lineup that also included, say, Abraham Nunez and Wilson Valdez), the game was chiefly notable for the presence of various Braves. There was Jason Heyward, smashing a home run off Misch that somehow didn’t bring down a television satellite. There was Brian McCann, doing the same thing to Perez. There was Martin Prado, who’s done enough damage to us by now that we can all pronounce his name just fine. There was Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones, being sized up by anonymous, colorless ESPN drones for their potential places in history.

The Mets quietly got done losing [2] and Baseball Tonight came on. Big show! Lots of excitement! Reds! Cardinals! Rays! Yankees! And that’s when my mind began to drift back to how things used to be.

It’s the summer of 1992, or maybe 1993 or 1994. I’m living outside Washington, D.C., and they’ve enraged me by taking WOR off the cable package. WFAN is sometimes faintly audible through hiss and static — but clear as a bell if you’re near the Potomac River, which somehow amplifies the signal. There are plain-text AP sports stories on America Online, along with some Mets chat. There’s even a really smart, well-spoken guy on the AOL boards named Greg who I’m getting to be friends with. But while nearly two decades later I see a new world coming into view, at the time this is thin gruel at best. If I want to see or hear the Mets I have to go into Georgetown and beg a sports bar with satellite TV to tune them in, or sit by the Potomac in the cramped front seat of my little Honda CRX.

And sometimes I do those things. Mostly, though, I try to catch glimpses of my team on SportsCenter, or hope for something when Headline News does its sports report every half hour. Will the Mets game be discussed before the half-hour mark on SportsCenter? Sometime between the 40-minute mark and the last commercial? Or will we get mentioned in passing as the credits roll, or not at all? Will the Mets get a highlight from CNN? Will they get mentioned in the voice-over as they show the scores? Or will there be nothing?

Oftentimes it’s nothing. Because in 1992 and 1993 and 1994 the Mets are totally irrelevant. Not to me, of course, but to everyone I have to rely on for information. These people are in a hurry and have a lot to talk about and most of it is way more important, to a general audience, than anything the New York Mets happened to do that night.

In other words, it’s a lot like what happened after the Mets lost and I goofed around on email and Facebook while half-listening to Baseball Tonight. To the outside world, for the foreseeable future, we are once again totally irrelevant.