One of the underrated facets of your team being in the postseason is the off day. Fans of the Nationals, the Braves and other N.L. East also-rans are long past the point of off days. Cardinals fans are plum out of them as are those who lived and, at last, died with the Rangers and the Astros.
We, by dint of the Mets staying busy, got to take advantage of an off day on Wednesday. We might not instinctively welcome the time away from the task at hand, but cooling our heels on an October off day is far better than being planted prematurely in the midst of an offseason.
When the Mets are playing playoff games, everything else is shunted to the side. When the Mets are traveling to their next playoff game, we live our lives for a few hours, cramming in all our secondary priorities, from breathing on down to sleeping — whatever gets us to the next game in one relatively sound piece.
My off day was spoken for several months in advance. In June, Stephanie and I bought tickets to see Steely Dan at the Beacon Theatre on October 14. It should have been an easy call. We love Steely Dan. Though we’ve caught Donald Fagen in other guises , we’d never seen Steely Dan. Of course this performance was an object of our desire. There were decent tickets available at a decent price, so what would stop us?
October. October made me hesitate to commit to something that wasn’t the Mets, even in June. I won’t say “I knew the Mets would be playing,” because every year I hesitate to commit to plans in October. Even if you basically know the Mets won’t be playing, you never know. Or you try not to admit to yourself that you know. This past June, the Mets were hanging tough near the top of their division. Never mind that we were conditioned to consider the idea of them still playing in October as likely a scenario as Fagen and Walter Becker going back to their old school .
The Mets might make the playoffs, therefore we can’t do anything else…no, you can’t think like that in June. You can and you do, but you can’t. It’s not healthy. Get the tickets for October 14, I told Stephanie. Let’s see what happens.
Luck happened. The Mets made the playoffs. Our show landed on an off day, the day between Game Four in New York and Game Five in Los Angeles. It would drag me away from two compelling ALDS finales, as it turned out, but you can’t have your Dan and eat it, too.
Due respect to the Jays and the Royals, this was the right decision. Steely Dan was everything I dreamed of live and then some. But I’m not here to give you a concert review, except for two highlights.
1) From the scalper outside the Beacon who proudly modeled his Mike Piazza giveaway tee from Closing Day 2013; to the unusually friendly and steadfastly supportive security personnel at the door; clear through to the postshow men’s room line, my Mets jacket elicited nothing but the most positive of reactions.
“Let me ask you one question” one of the theatre guards inquired theatrically. “Do you Believe?”
“I’ve Believed all my life,” I assured him.
Over and over, my fellow concertgoers tossed me stray Let’s Go Metses, and I responded enthusiastically in kind. You see someone in team garb when that team is fiercely competing for a championship, you figuratively (and sometimes literally) slap him on the back to signify we’re all in this together. I’ve been wearing that particular jacket as a matter of course since 1998 and generally it’s invisible to passersby — though occasionally it and its wearer are offered commentary indicating pity/derision.
Not this October.
2) The penultimate song of Steely Dan’s set was “My Old School,” which I’d been waiting for all night. Actually, I’d been waiting for it ever since I knew who the Mets would be playing in the National League Division Series, because when Fagen commenced the final verse with, “California/tumbles into the sea…” I shouted my approval and applauded wildly.
I’d love to tell you a “BEAT L.A.!” chant swept the Beacon balcony from there, but it was a primarily private moment, albeit shared implicitly with Stephanie on my left and our friend Mark on my right. They figured out what I was up to without requesting clarification. Anybody who knows a Mets fan who wears a seventeen-year-old Mets jacket everywhere — whether the Mets are in the playoffs or not — understands our kind might be granted an off day in the midst of the postseason, but we never really take days off from our Mets.
Especially in October. Especially in this October, which picks up again for us tonight at due-to-tumble Dodger Stadium before continuing over the weekend in Flushing.
What, you thought I was kidding around with the security guard? I have Believed all my life, so I’m sure as hell not going to stop now. We’ve got Jacob deGrom and one game to win. We’ve got every reason to Believe.
Oh no, negative thinking won’t do. And you know we’re going back to Citi Field.