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This Feels Different

Are you supposed to know when you’ve been born again? Because I’m pretty sure I have been, fanwise.

Somewhere between Thursday night, when I expected everything to go wrong but it didn’t [1], and Friday night, when it never occurred to me anything would go wrong and it didn’t [2], I underwent some kind of transformation.

Perhaps Bartolo Colon [3] dunked me three times in a vat of Rheingold and performed a baseball baptism on me when I wasn’t paying attention. It’s totally plausible that he did. He does everything else.

Call it a spiritual rebirth, a renewal of faith, a state of enlightenment. Call it 8-3, six in a row, another day dawning with the Mets in first place. I’m calling it different from whatever directly preceded the way I’m feeling now. I’m calling it different from anything I’ve ever felt before in a lifetime’s devotion to the cause of the New York Mets.

Seriously. I’ve experienced better records, longer winning streaks, extended stays at the top of the division. But I’ve never quite experienced this sense of joyous calm about it. I’m excited and enthusiastic, yes, yet I’m not anxious about it. It simply feels right.

The Mets are winning game after game. I love it. I love them. I love us. I feel no ire as I usually do. In recent years I couldn’t even enjoy the intermittent bouts with victory because they felt almost pointless. I knew we’d go back to losing sooner rather than later and that the losing would never truly end.

I know no such thing right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen during the rest of 2015. I’m not worried about it. I do know nothing about the Mets bothers me at this moment.

For example, on Friday afternoon, I learned they assigned Danny Muno No. 16. Most days I believe No. 16 should receive reverential treatment; if they’re not going to retire it for Dwight Gooden [4], then hold it in reserve for a player of veteran distinction or particular promise. I still believe that. I don’t believe a random rookie utility infielder should be handed Dr. K’s number. But I can’t get riled up about it.

The Mets don’t rile me up in the present. All the peripheral issues that generally gnaw at me are on hiatus. The ballpark? It’s a gem. The manager? He’s a genius. The owners? I forget their names.

The team is good. How good? In the long run, I have no idea. In the near term, they are a pleasure to watch. I see them fall behind in the top of the first when Colon gives up a home run to Giancarlo Stanton [5] and I’m unperturbed. Sure Stanton’s killed us with regularity. Sure he’ll have several more opportunities to continuing killing us tonight.

But so what? I’ve been born again. You’ll have to do better than Giancarlo Stanton and his lethal bat if you want to take me down.

The Mets were being no-hit through four? Also so what? Is David Phelps [6] really going to throw a no-hitter tonight? There were Friday nights when I would have strongly considered the possibility. It never crossed my mind on this one.

Sure enough, the Mets started hitting in the fifth and they tied the score at one. Colon not only hadn’t give up anything else to Stanton or any Marlin, but he drove in that tying run with a well-struck sacrifice fly. I told you he does it all.

He and Gold Glover Juan Lagares [7], that is. Lagares accepted his 2014 award before the game and earned his 2015 award during the game via three catches that were progressively Juan, Juaner and Juanest. You know the old saying: Two-thirds of the earth is covered by Bartolo Colon — and Juan Lagares is a sensational center fielder.

The fifth was fun. The sixth was more fun. Two more Met runs crossed the plate. Colon pitched seven. Jerry Blevins [8] replaced him and was perfect in the eighth. Then Daniel Murphy [9], one of the few Mets who hadn’t contributed much to the winning ways of 2015, got on board and drove in a fourth run. Then Jeurys Familia [10] did the rest.

I enjoyed the 4-1 win fully and embraced the result without hesitation. I didn’t worry that it’s no more than a prelude to a regression toward the mean and I didn’t attempt to link it to any obvious April precedent. I couldn’t, because this is like nothing I’ve felt before. Forty-seven seasons into my Mets fandom, I’m learning I can feel them in unprecedented ways.

That, to me, is more amazing than an 8-3 start.

You can draw parallels and comparisons with previous seasons and their encouraging beginnings. You can project out from the best of the past anything you want. Yet I’m not tempted to. I’ve spent most of my existence keeping close tabs on this franchise and I’m telling you: this feels different.

I feel equally untethered to the unrelenting sour times of the recent past and the occasionally glorious times of the distant past, and I don’t mind. I take comfort in knowing it’s all back there and that it all informs what we expect and how we react. Trust me, I know where to find it should I need it. This 2015 journey, though, is its own thing: kinda young, kinda now…kinda free, kinda wow.

That last part is from an old perfume commercial [11], but this spiritual or emotional or whatever it is rebirth that stems from the Mets winning the way they are is pretty sweet, so what the hell…y’know?