In 2003, I spoke prophetic words to my young family at the start of the MLB season: “I’m really going to get into it this year. Really immerse myself; watch all the games, keep score. Really have fun with it.” My team, the Florida Marlins, would go on to have the most unlikely of seasons imaginable, culminating in a World Series Championship no one expected. After the Florida Marlins were annihilated a few years later–and apparently regurgitated by a cat who swallowed a parrot to morph into the multicolor eyesore that is the Miami Marlins–and all their fans disowned by Jeffrey Loria’s halfpint stepson, I have been unable to fully engage in another season. I tried a few times, and I’ve enjoyed the postseason but my heart hasn’t been in it. Lest you think I’m alone in turning away from my former team’s reincarnation as something dreamt up while looking through a kaleidoscope, allow me to illustrate the degree to which ownership alienated its dedicated fanbase.
Three of my four offspring were born into Marlins fanship. My twins attended games as infants while my first girl blew bubbles in the stands to entertain them. They were season ticket holders, they traveled to Chicago decked out in their Marlins gear to see the Fish play at Wrigley. They were at every playoff game in 2003 and all three home games for the 2003 World Series against the NY Yankees. My kids were fans. Today, as young adults, not a one follows the Miami version of the team, who display their peacock colors at Arroz con Frijoles Field. I didn’t sour them on the team; ownership did that on their own. We’ll always have the memories of that magical season we lived through together in 2003, but that team is no more, so there need be no sadness that we haven’t hitched our tamale trucks to the Little Havana Fish. It’s not our team and never was.
This season, I again declared my commitment to the season, having spent the offseason following the NY Mets on Facebook and Twitter in preparation. I have watched every game thus far and have been treated to some awe inspiring and dramatic baseball action, typically reserved for late season contenders. The most recent series against the aforementioned Marlins just ended, and while the Mets lost 3 of 4, I feel anything but despondent about it. The games were a joy to experience and I can humbly state I feel privileged to have seen them. Extra innings, walk off wins, come from behind victories in the late innings and phenomenal plays at the plate seemingly in every game. The early season has brought me joy, which I haven’t had from a MLB season in many years. I’m grateful to my anonymous pirate brethren who supply the live streams that allow me to see every game in beautiful high def. Having enjoyed these first few series so much, I have decided to spend the little discretionary cash I have to see my boyhood team when they play in Atlanta’s shiny new ballpark. I’d love to see them at their home ballpark in Flushing, but that may be a bridge too far.
I’ll close with a shock to my system from a game the other night that I haven’t quite recovered from. Gary Cohen, who calls a flawless game by the way, read a graphic on the screen commemorating the 50th anniversary of Mets great Tom Seaver’s Major League debut, which occurred 50 years ago that evening. I was getting up from my couch at the moment and stopped in my tracks. That can’t be right…. 50 years?! I watched Tom Seaver pitch as a boy. He was my favorite pitcher for my Mets, and I would watch alone on the couch wearing my Mets cap and throwing a ball into a glove for the entirety of the game. “I can’t believe they screwed that up,” I thought. “50 years would mean Seaver debuted in 1967…” Every once in awhile you get smacked in the face by old man time, and that was a jackhammer right hook to the jaw of my 53-year old face. Yes, my childhood hero pitched half a century ago and I watched him doing it from the couch in my New Jersey home. I’m that old.