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Ready for the New Present

Can your blogger file his recap within the 24-hour window? Well, with an 11 am start he can. Why was the answer even close to know? Because this was the first game of the season I had no desire whatsoever to recap — which for me is usually a sign that I’ve finally accepted that the competitive part of the season is over.

The Nats took care of that by ambushing Seth Lugo [1] in a fifth inning that refused to end. I’d moved on to lunch by that point — what a strange thing an 11 am start is — and so watched the horror unfold on Gameday, its pantomime unfolding semi-discreetly by my foot. (Hey, when you’re a Mets fan people get used to you staring unhappily at the center of the Earth.) There was a lot of IN PLAY, NO OUT and IN PLAY, RUN(S) and Daniel Murphy [2] renewing his battering of his former mates and by the time it was over it was 6-2 and I needed a white flag to wave with my red white and blue one.

Then there was the battering of various relievers in various innings and by then — about the time a baseball game would normally be coming into focus — we were in the car heading back to New York and hit a reception dead zone in western Connecticut and by the time we came out of it the game had reached its merciful conclusion [3].

Greg made an interesting point yesterday that I thought aptly captured a way he and I are different fans. Obviously we’re both keenly interested in the Mets’ past — that’s the foundation of what we do here. But then we part ways. “I find the future overrated,” Greg wrote [4] of excitement for trades retooling (or rebuilding) by swapping veterans for prospects. “I value the present in summer, no matter how quickly summer tends to fade.”

I’m wired a bit differently. Unless a milestone or a postseason berth is in sight, I’m most excited by the future. Who will be the next Met to join The Holy Books? Who’s the potential answer at whatever position is afflicting us with troubles, and is that player ready to try his hand in the big leagues?

Sometimes those questions are a byproduct of dissatisfaction, of feeling that it’s not working and so should all be torn down. But more often it’s subtler than that — I’m eager to see new protagonists join the Mets’ long story, and to watch them transform from downy rookies trying not to beam as the ball struck for that first big-league hit is excused from play to cool-eyed regulars to grizzled veterans to role players hoping for a last few bright days in autumn. As I get older, that process seems stuck on fast-forward: I buy a ticket to watch David Wright [5] make his debut against the Expos, then blink my eyes and find David Wright is the franchise hits leader, we’re all hoping for another comeback, and the Expos no longer exist.

This will be true of Amed Rosario and Dom Smith and some Double-A guy I haven’t heard of but will scout avidly once he arrives as the other half of the departure of Jay Bruce [6], or Curtis Granderson [7], or Addison Reed [8]. The story will continue, with new vessels filled with old hopes, and the future will become a new present that echoes the ever-advancing past.

Seth Lugo looks uncannily like Jason Isringhausen [9], as if he’s his professional reincarnation. In a way he is, or might turn out to be — the facial resemblance is just an easy reminder. Some kid pinging doubles with an aluminum bat on a high-school field will grow up, arrive and remind me of T.J. Rivera [10], just as Rivera reminds me of Daniel Murphy. Perhaps by then Rivera will have gone Full Murph and be killing the Mets as a Braves regular. Or maybe he’ll have gone for Alternate-Universe Murph and have just passed Jose Reyes [11] for second on the all-time franchise hits list while inspiring less-successful team efforts to convert uncertain infielders to corner outfield spots. Maybe Rivera will be losing hits because he’s arriving at first a step later than in the mid-teens — in which case I’m sure I’ll be privately auditioning a Binghamton Rumble Pony or Brooklyn Cyclone or St. Lucie Tebow as his desired replacement.

We root for laundry, it’s been said. I always thought that was clever but hollow. Most guys who don the orange and blue begin bearing my allegiance, yes. But the laundry’s the start of the relationship, not the entirety of it. Seeing what players make of that laundry, and how their contributions echo those that have come before, is what keeps me tuning in and stashing cellphones by my foot, even when the standings bring ill tidings and the calendar ceases to comfort.