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Bored on the Fourth of July

It’s bad enough that Major League Baseball’s schedulemakers have left the Mets idle on this most iconic of summertime dates, but you’d figure they could have at least let them play on the eve of our nation’s 243rd birthday.

What’s that? The Mets did play on July 3? Yesterday? Wednesday? Funny, I have no recollection of it. It was just last night, so I’d think I’d remember. Are you sure? Hold on a sec, I’ll check with my wife.

She says I turned on the television at 7:10 PM, as I do most weeknights from April through September, that I stared at it for approximately three hours and seventeen minutes, occasionally muttering the kind of language I don’t usually use in front of her except between 7:10 PM and three or so hours later, and, at about 10:27 PM, I seemed incrementally unhappier than I’d been before.

OK, now I remember. The Mets did play a game last night. Or they were at a game the Yankees played.

Ah, fudge.

Jeff McNeil [1] made an indelible enough impression on the Third of July, leading off the home first with a home run, but even at that early interval, the Mets were trailing, thanks to Jason Vargas [2] giving up two in the top of the inning, making him seem incrementally unhappier. Apparently Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres not only each drove in runs but had the nerve to tell Vargas they’d see Mickey Callaway tomorrow.

Little did they know nobody would see the Mets “tomorrow,” which has since become today. Nobody saw much of the Mets at Citi Field last night after McNeil’s homer. Vargas gave them five-and-a-third serviceable innings after which he didn’t threaten anybody; Steven Matz [3] and Jeurys Familia [4] surprisingly indicated they could each function as relievers; and Pete Alonso [5] did some splendid fielding, a core competency for which there is no derby, but otherwise the Mets vanished before our eyes, losing, 62,000-1…oh sorry, that was the name of the documentary SNY kept hyping, though the Mets might as well have been outscored by that much. Technically, they lost [6], 5-1, to that team we’d prefer they not play at all.

And now, today, they are literally not going to play at all. Any random Thursday out of six months without a Mets game is ordinary baseball fan deprivation. We know how to go about our lives on a standard-issue off day; we can find our own incremental unhappiness if we have to. But no Mets game on the Fourth of July?

Why, it’s un-American! Seriously, by definition it’s un-American because as long as the Mets have existed in America, there has been a Mets game, sometimes two (sometimes until until four the next morning [7]), on the Fourth of July, even if four times, including last year [8], they had to play in Canada. The only exception until now has been July 4, 1981, when there was no Mets game because all of big league baseball was on strike. There was no Mets game on any day in July that year, no big league game of any kind. I later purchased a t-shirt that said I SURVIVED THE BASEBALL STRIKE OF 1981, yet I’m still not sure how I did

I’ll survive today. Stephanie and I have our annual viewing of 1776 ahead of us, a Prince family tradition established via VHS on the afternoon of July 4, 1991 (the Mets were in Montreal that evening), and transferred to DVD — director’s cut! — on July 4, 2002, in advance of the Mets playing in Miami. We secured copies of the movie in their most contemporary formats because, pre-TCM [9], you couldn’t necessarily always count on some channel showing 1776 on the Fourth of July. Like the Mets playing on the Fourth of July, it used to be a given. That year when baseball was on strike, when I should have been tuning to Channel 9 for the Mets in Pittsburgh, WOR-TV was showing 1776. I was thankful for the substitute programming, but I’d rather have had restored the game that was rightfully ours.