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Images to Last a Lifetime

I just got my mental images developed from the World Series. Wanna see ’em? They’re right here in this envelope.

This is one of me all excited to realize I’m going to a World Series game for the first time in my life. No, I wasn’t there any of the other times the Mets were in it.

This is another of me all excited about it. There are a bunch like that. You don’t have to look at all of ’em.

This is the LIRR full of Mets fans, pulling into Jamaica. If you look closely, you can almost hear the conductor announcing we have to change at Woodside if we’re going to the World Series game.

That’s me smiling at another Mets fan when the conductor says that.

That’s me at Woodside buying a new Metrocard even though I have plenty of value on my current one. It must’ve bent in my wallet or something because it didn’t work. Can you believe I’d encounter a fly in the ointment when I’m on my way to the game I’ve been waiting all my life to go to, not to mention the most important game the Mets have played in 15 years? I’m nervous enough as it is. Practically every game this postseason my stomach’s in knots three hours before first pitch.

That’s me coming down the stairs of the Mets-Willets Point station. Yes, I’m finally calling it by its official name.

That’s me gawking at all the activity on Mets Plaza. There’s merchandising tents and news vans and a set for SNY and one for Channel 11. I’ve never seen anything like it before a Mets game.

That’s me snapping up a program right away. A Mets World Series program, for goodness sake.

That’s me grabbing one of those WOR placards. First one I’ve picked up all postseason. It says #BELIEVE, as you can plainly see.

That’s me on my way to visit my brick as I do before every Mets game. I’m passing behind a reporter from Channel 5 doing a standup and I take off my new Mets cap with the World Series patch on the side and wave it behind him. I’ve always wanted to do that.

That’s me stopping by my brick. Usually it’s enough that I make eye contact with it, but here I’m tapping it three times with my foot. I don’t know why three. I should’ve done four, for how many games we need to win.

Here I go up to two Royals fans and wish them “luck…just not too much of it.” They smiled. I’m trying to be gracious for some reason.

This is where I stop by the Shea home plate marker. Three other guys are standing around it. Turns out I know one of them, Brian from Bayside. I’m friends with the kind of people who visit the Shea marker before the first World Series game at Citi Field. I like that.

Here are some shots from the Chapmans’ tailgate, which has become a postseason institution almost. The Chapmans are the reason I’m at my first World Series game, just as they were the reason I was at Citi Field’s first NLDS and NLCS games. They’re incredibly good people, even without the tailgating.

Here’s Kevin Chapman getting his face painted orange and blue. It’s a good look tonight, I think.

Here’s some Kansas City ribs Kevin grilled for the occasion. I eat them up like I hope Noah Syndergaard [1] will gobble up Royals hitters.

Here’s Charlie and Tracey and Skid and of course Sharon. Our conversation is essentially, “Can you believe we’re at the World Series? Can you believe the Mets are in the World Series?”

Here’s me thinking that I hope the Mets aren’t as awestruck by this World Series business as we are. The way they played in Kansas City, I’m not so sure.

Here’s Sharon and me stopping at one of the concession trailers set up on the third base side. It’s a short line but we’re stuck behind somebody who’s practically climbing over the counter and trying on every shirt and hat. I just want to buy a pennant and a pin.

Here’s me grimacing as we wait.

Here’s me buying the pennant and the pin.

Here’s me having my World Series ticket scanned…a real World Series ticket!

Here’s me accepting my orange towel that says Let’s Go Mets.

Here’s me scrawling my father’s name on one of those SU2C cards. I wondered how that worked and now I know. They have people handing you a magic marker and letting you write on a clipboard. I’m not sure what standing up later and holding a sign that says “Charles Prince” on it will do for my dad, but I’m sure there’s a purpose to it.

This is the hot dog vendor who’s hawking his wares, promising no line.

This is me buying a hot dog from the vendor. I just had a couple of Kevin’s ribs but the opportunity to secure food with no line at sold out Citi Field appeals to me ever since I found my blood sugar dropping before Game Four of the NLDS.

Here I am out in Section 131 shortly before all the festivities start. World Series festivities. WOW!

Here’s this girl who apologized in advance for how she was going to have to get up to use the ladies room “every ten minutes,” presumably because she’s toting around 25.4 ounces of Bud Light. Actually, she wound up going no more than three times and was super nice about it.

Here are Kevin and Ross showing up after breaking down the tailgate.

Here’s Kevin hanging a sign paying homage to Thor. We can’t see it from where we’re sitting, but perhaps it showed up on TV.

Here’s Sharon back from picking up a few more World Series items. These shopping opportunities arise, on average, every fourteen years. Of course you have to stock up.

Here are the stupid Royals being introduced. They’re stupid, I’ve decided.

Here are the Mets being introduced. They’re awesome. You already knew that.

Here’s the biggest gosh darned flag I ever saw being unfurled for the national anthem. I always wonder why the flag on the pole — the one over the subtly raised 2015 NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS flag — is good enough for the regular season but not good enough for something like this.

Yup, that’s Billy Joel, singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” and doing a damn fine job of it. Straight ahead, no unnecessary flourishes. He sang it in 1986 and 2000. This is his best rendition yet.

Look — Mike Piazza [2]! First pitch! No sleeves! Isn’t he cold? I sure was.

All right, here’s some game action. First pitch from Noah Syndergaard…

And there’s Alcides Escobar [3] flat on his ass. From left field it’s hard to see where the ball was headed, but clearly Thor had had enough of this Jamoche swinging at everybody’s first pitches, maybe even Mike Piazza’s.

There’s all of us ridiculously pumped up that Alcides Escobar is flat on his ass.

There’s the Royals scoring a run anyway in the top of the first. Yeah, I’m pretty glum here in the background.

And THIS is the CAPTAIN going yard and giving the Mets a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first! David Wright [4] really has a little flair for the dramatic, doesn’t he? After slumping horribly, he chooses Citi Field’s first World Series game for his first World Series home run. Say, he hit the first Met home run at Citi Field as well, didn’t he?

Oy, here are a couple of Royal runs in the second. Yeech.

Here’s Michael Conforto [5] throwing to third to not quite get Alex Gordon [6].

Here’s the replay review umpires standing around after Terry challenges.

Here’s Sharon asking what’s the holdup with reaching a conclusion since this is the only baseball game going on, so what else are they reviewing back at command central?

Here’s me comprehending that we’re at the only baseball game left in the only series of baseball games left and it’s the end of October and Citi Field is open and the Mets are here and we’re here. That accounts for that little upturn at the corner of my mouth.

Here are the umpires reversing the call on Conforto’s throw. Honestly I thought Gordon was safe, but don’t listen to me.

Here’s a passed ball after the reversed call, so the stupid Royals have the lead anyway.

Here’s the section where they put all the stupid Royals’ family and friends or whoever they are. They’re like two sections over from us cheering with impunity. If this were Shea, they’d have to root under a protective canopy.

Here’s me looking very, very concerned, almost convinced the stupid Royals are unstoppable. Seriously, I was beginning to think a sweep was inevitable.

This is me deciding something drastic needed to be done.

This is me getting up from my wonderful World Series seat and trying to change the Mets’ luck by taking one inning and treating this most important game in 15 years like it was something normal.

This is me going for a walk in the third inning. Crazy, right? But I had to do something.

This is me getting on a short line at Blue Smoke. I couldn’t have been hungry after Kevin’s ribs and the hot dog, but this was part of my strategy: in some other season I wouldn’t have thought twice about wandering off to get something to eat in the middle of the game. Everything’s been too intense in the postseason for that sort of behavior. No, I told myself, gotta do what I would normally do, then maybe the Mets would loosen up, too.

This is me actually believing that.

This is Curtis Granderson [7] homering with a runner on while I’m making my way through my brisket sandwich. The Mets are ahead while I’m up. I have to watch the turning point of the game on a video screen, but it’s a small sacrifice to get the Mets going.

This is me actually continuing to believe that.

This is me noticing how relatively few people are in these areas that are usually so busy during the course of a well-attended game. I’d always wondered whether once Citi Field had a big game if people would treat it as such. I learned they do…even if for one inning I tried to treat it as nothing special.

This is me still believing I had something to do with the Mets being ahead, 4-3, after three.

This is Syndergaard retiring the Royals in order in the fourth once I’m back at my wonderful World Series seat.

These are the four young guys who’ve sat in front of us in 131 every game I’ve watched with the Chapmans this postseason. They’re mostly adorable the way they high-five everybody for everything. They’re also mildly clever in their taunts of the suddenly less enthusiastic Royals rooters section. They probably go too far at some point, but I vicariously enjoy their never letting up.

This is me standing because those guys are standing and the people in front of them are standing…I have to say I would have preferred a touch more sitting, given the blister that’s lately flourished on one of my toes, but it’s the World Series, so I understand.

There’s Conforto bringing Lucas Duda [8] home with another run in the fourth. It’s just an infield single, but it’s something. We all agree Conforto is gonna be terrific, but it must be tough to have ascended through the ranks as quickly as he has and then not flail a bit. It hasn’t been the most productive of postseasons for the kid, but I love seeing him out there.

This is a shot of the scoreboard. The Mets are winning, 5-3, same score that the final game of the 1969 World Series was won by.

This is me noticing all the between-innings folderol to which we are usually subject goes locally unsponsored during the World Series — and the different folderol that is nationally sponsored. The corporate influence is hard to miss, as baseball tries a little too hard to be the NFL.

This is my sense that a World Series game is still a baseball game, despite the overlong between-innings breaks. I’d been to enough postseason games to know it would feel different. Really, a World Series game experience is basically the one you get at a postseason game, but more so. Everybody should have the chance to make those determinations first-hand.

This is Thor totally in the groove. The Royals — the team we were told ad nauseum that couldn’t be stopped from “attacking” and “ambushing” Mets pitchers — are being reassuringly human here. About frigging time, I might add. I’m pretty sure they lost a few games over the course of the previous seven months.

Ooh, these are my favorite shots of the night. They’re from the home sixth where we break it open. Let’s see…Lagares pinch-hitting for Conforto and singling…Flores getting hit…me thinking the Mets should use that clip of Pearl Bailey reacting to the Shoe Polish Play from the ’69 World Series film (“Whoa, he hit him!”) every time there’s an HBP…Juan Uribe [9] coming up.

This is Juan Uribe singling in Lagares and me going about as nuts as I did all night. I’d missed Juan Uribe. We had no righthanded bench without him. Without him, that at-bat would have been Michael Cuddyer [10]’s. I’ve been trying very hard to be very supportive of every Met this postseason, but Cuddyer is not who I wanted up in that spot.

Anyway, here’s Granderson getting on, Franklin Morales [11] coming out, Kelvin Herrera [12], one of their supposedly infallible relievers coming in, and, oh, David again! See, he’s singling home Flores and Uribe. Four RBIs for the Captain!

There’s Murphy — who’s on the cover of the Sports Illustrated I’m carrying in my schlep bag, which makes me both very proud and very worried — walking to load the bases and Cespedes lifting a fly ball to score Curtis. We’re up 9-3 now and I’m pretty sure we’re not gonna get swept.

There’s me checking Twitter and discovering Morales’s World Series ERA is 108.00, or what Sharon and I call a Garrett Olson [13].

There’s Addison Reed [14] retiring the side in order in the seventh.

There’s a 20-minute seventh-inning stretch, or so it seems.

There’s Tyler Clippard [15] retiring the side in order in the eighth.

There’s Billy Joel on the video board watching us sing along to “Piano Man,” which may have finally broken through as a robust singalong with the World Series as backdrop and its author in attendance.

There’s Jeurys Familia [16] coming in to protect a six-run lead. Not a save situation, to say the least, but when you’re trying to get back into the World Series, I guess you can’t be too careful.

There’s Wilmer making a nifty play in the field to get the first out of the ninth. He’s becoming so defensively adept that I decide to call him Wilmer Flordoñez.

There’s Familia striking out Gordon, hopefully proving that home run in Game One was a fluke.

There’s Kendrys Morales [17] grounding out to Wright to end the game, a 9-3 win for the Mets [18], who now trail the World Series two-one.

There’s all the ebullient commotion that accompanies a World Series win. I hug or high-five everyone I see before stepping lively to make my train home.

There I am stopping off in the men’s room, which I’m showing you only because there’s a guy there who keeps shouting, “WELCOME TO THE NATIONAL LEAGUE!”

There’s me and the National League guy high-fiving after we depart the men’s room. The World Series reveals kindred spirits you wouldn’t suspect.

There’s me singing “Meet The Mets” out loud as I make my way to the Rotunda exit. Nobody else in the concourse is singing. I don’t care.

There’s me taking part in a group LET’S GO METS chant every step down the Rotunda stairs. That’s never happened before.

There’s me learning the spooky 1986 pattern is still in effect: Lose Game One by one run; lose Game Two by six runs; now win Game Three by six runs. Hmmm…

There’s me on my train reading that the Royals are whining about Syndergaard coming in high and tight to Escobar and that Syndergaard basically doesn’t care that they’re whining.

There’s me declaring Noah Syndergaard has just become my favorite Met.

There’s me getting home, still brimming with excitement about having gone to my first World Series game.

Last shot: me excited that on Saturday night I’ll be going to my second World Series game…and that the Mets will be very much there, too.