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Our Brand Is Pennant

They played cricket at Citi Field [1] on Saturday afternoon. I tuned in to ESPN3 to watch. It was only for a few minutes, but when I learned it was being aired somewhere, I had to look.

I had to look at something going on at Citi Field. It had been too long.

Nothing that isn’t the 2015 Mets is really doing it for me these days, and since the 2015 Mets aren’t doing anything anymore, I sit in a New York state of suspended animation. I’m not yet ready to turn my head to look out the window and wait for spring. The only qualifying offer that got my attention this week was learning losing the World Series qualified Modell’s to offer quite the discount on leftover merchandise related to winning the pennant.

Welcome to the t-shirt drawers, SYNDERGAARD 34 (25% off) and CESPEDES 52 (50%; we’ll always have August). Join the hoodie pile, RAISE THE PENNANT (marked down by two-thirds). And topping Cap Mountain is a newly acquired authentic fitted 7 7/8 model with the 2015 WORLD SERIES patch visible to whichever portion of humanity is standing to my left. That was discounted only a few bucks, but it will amortize itself by being worn clear into the decade after the next one if past performance is a guide and my head size stabilizes.

The spoils of defeat were bountiful. It didn’t feel like second-place gear and I didn’t mind the savings at all. Still would have preferred to have paid full price for newly issued shirts, hats and chazerai printed with the appropriate upgraded logo. Alas, only the children in Kansas City were granted that privilege.

Ah, the Royals. They won the World Series, you might have heard. Someday I won’t resent them. For now, the mere sight of their recent exploits harshes my buzz, but the buzz is outlasting the harsh as we drift from what is now last year to what is inevitably next year. The toughest day was Tuesday, which woulda/shoulda been Game Six. Some friends and I sought refuge in theatre of the mind and tweeted our reactions to the non-existent Mets 9-4 win we pretended we were watching. It was kind of fun. We did it again the next night for fictional Game Seven — Mets 5 Royals 4 [2]. It was less fun.

Losing in real life usually is.

I read one deep dive into how the Mets lost Game Five on Duda’s poor throw, another dealing with how the Mets lost Game One on Familia’s quick pitch. Really, they were about how the Royals won those games. The Royals remain the protagonists in most objective Fall Classic storytelling from here to eternity. I’ll watch the official highlight film whenever MLBN eventually airs it anyway. I’ll see the Mets in the background and be reminded they took part in a World Series not 15 or 29 or 42 or 46 years ago but practically in the last ten minutes. By then I won’t have it in my brain that the outcome can be changed or could have been changed.

It could have, but it won’t be.

My Jones is shifting from a desire to return to a Series whose results will never be undone to whatever regular-season Mets game comes along next (yeah, I know it’s against the Royals in April). Actually, I was overcome by an odd sensation on a few occasions during the postseason. I almost wanted to escape the boiling emotions of those games that meant everything and see if I could go watch a game that meant…well, no Mets game means nothing, but maybe one with a little less on the line. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if it’s May in one of the other sections. What is it with me and Mets games going on only in my head? I’d waited the same nine years as you to get back to October and my whole life to be at the World Series and it was almost too much to handle.

I wonder if that’s how the Mets felt. It would explain a lot.

Sunday I assume there will be some other sports on television, cricket or whatever. I’ll probably tune in out of habit and likely pay scant attention out of respect for baseball, because next to baseball there is no other sport worthy of our attention. Few teams were as worthy of lingering on as the 2015 Mets were.

We just came through one of the Top Five Mets Seasons of All-Time. There’s no secret formula to that ranking. Five Mets teams have won pennants. Those are the Top Five. You can calibrate and calculate all the WAR you want, but to my simple thinking we have (chronologically speaking) our two World Series winners from 1969 and 1986; our three World Series runners-up from 1973, 2000 and 2015; our three NLCS fall-shorters from 1988, 1999 and 2006; and, with very honorable mention, 1985, the best non-playoff campaign the Mets ever crafted. That’s nine. If you want a Top Ten, you have carte blanche to round it off as you see fit.

2015 automatically outranks 49 of 54 Mets seasons. I’m not sure if I’d place it ahead of 2000 and/or 1973 just yet. I’ll need context and perspective, but I have to admit I was thinking about 2015’s historical slotting vis-à-vis its pennant predecessors almost as soon as they captured the flag. What didn’t occur to me whatsoever until after these Mets won a World Series game was that if they went on to win three more, I’d have to group the 2015 Mets not with the runners-up, but with the world champions.

In other words, we’d be talking about 2015 in the same breath as 1986 and 1969.

That, too, was almost too much to handle. Perhaps it’s because I’m so used to having just those two at the undisputed top of our charts that I can’t imagine any Mets season deserves to be in the same conversation. I mean, my god, the 1969 Mets are “the 1969 Mets” and the 1986 Mets were and are epic. Had the 2015 Mets carried the same World Champion designation, they’d be immortal in our eyes. And if they rated immortality, wouldn’t they rate categorization alongside ’69 and ’86?

Yes.

But no.

And by no, I mean I can’t imagine it. Imagining the 2015 Mets beating the Royals wasn’t a stretch. Theoretically competing with the legacies of 1969 and 1986, however, seems absurdly out of 2015’s league. The 1969 Mets were a certifiable cultural moment. The 1986 Mets were large enough to dwarf life itself. The 2015 Mets might have won the same title those teams did, but I didn’t have to dive all that deep into my mind, heart and soul to realize they’d be destined to finish third in any discussion of the three.

A glorious third. A lovingly embraced third. But third. I can’t believe any Mets team will ever supplant 1986 or 1969 in the putting together of a Top Two. They are forever our Nos. 1 and 2 or 2 and 1 or 1 and 1A.

Caveat: I’d have been delighted to have realized I was mistaken. Maybe the purely hypothetical 2015 World Champion Mets would have resonated as the greatest Mets of them all. The offer to find out for sure remains valid for all future Met seasons.

While I was still in post-Series mourning, I guested on the Rising Apple Report’s autopsy of Games Four and Five and, I suppose, celebration of Game Three. Listen here [3], if you like, but be warned that through a podcasting glitch, I got cut off before I could properly finish. Sort of like the Mets.