I’ve been watching the reading of names at the Ground Zero memorial. What gets me, besides the cruel endlessness of the list and the heartbreaking personal codas family members send skyward to those they lost, is the sheer randomness of it. People who happened to be in the wrongest place at the wrongest time — them and the people who doubled down on fate and rushed in to maybe save some strangers — those are the victims and the heroes. It didn’t have to be them, it shouldn’t have been them, it shouldn’t have been anybody.
And that has not a thing to do with baseball, just as baseball had not a thing to do with the horror of ten years ago. I keep reading Mike Piazza’s home run “healed” the city. It didn’t. It was a grand and wonderful element of a baseball game, and it made for a helluva sidebar and I begrudge no one whatever they choose to take from it. But watching those sons and daughters and husbands and wives and mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters still grappling with the emotions attached to losing their loved ones, I don’t know what the definition of healing is in this context.
Still, I’m glad Mike hit it and I remain glad the Mets played that game when they did. It was on the schedule, but the schedule, so inviolate that teams play through veritable monsoons so as to adhere to it, was already off its moorings. Everything was up for grabs. A few weeks of baseball games? In the days following the acts of madness and their tragic consequences, who cared? Honestly, I didn’t.
But they played and people showed up, your co-bloggers among them. And before you knew it, they played again (and we kept showing up). One week later than planned, every team finished out its schedule. The Mets played all 162 in 2001, including 81 at Shea Stadium. Not much could be expected to stay intact in September and October of 2001, but baseball did, especially the Mets.
Ten years later, the Mets keep their hands on the legacy they cultivated then. They still visit firehouses. They still do their part for the families most directly affected. Tonight they’ll give over Citi Field to remembrance of a moment bigger than themselves, yet one whose fabric they are inextricably woven into, if just for a stitch here and a stitch there.
The Mets do the right thing more than we’d suspect. This is one of those times. It makes me proud to count myself among their fans.