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Baseball may not be a matter of life and death, but the New York Mets are.
That’s how you feel anyway — you rise with them and you triumph with them and about every 15 or 16 years, you get a taste of glory with them. So far, twice in our lifetimes that glory has been permanent, and the rest of the time it’s fleeting.
Right now, it’s fleeting after losing the World Series.
I always ask my friends who are Yankees fans if they also root for General Electric because to me, if you root for a team that’s winning all the time, what’s the point? With the Mets, you get a taste of both. They had that incredible August and September and that amazing postseason run.
If you look at the World Series, both the Royals and the Mets won a blowout game. The other three games we ended up losing, the Mets were ahead in the eighth or ninth innings, and in each of those three games, their fate turned because of one play: Alex Gordon’s home run in Game 1, Daniel Murphy’s error in Game 4 and Lucas Duda’s error in Game 5.
If one play in each of those games had gone differently, the Mets would have won. We were that close. But there’s no question that the better team won. The team that took advantage of those plays is the Royals.
My email box continues to ding with the most recent of hundreds of emails that come in discussing what might have been and what we could have done differently. I personally don’t indulge a lot in, ‘What could we have done differently?’ It can haunt you, but with time it passes. My attorney, who happened to be at the game on Saturday night with her husband, told me later how easy it was to find me and Ed (Redlich) after we lost because the entire stadium had emptied out and we were just sitting there in our seats, numbly staring at the field.
Baseball is very different from other sports because it mixes the good and the bad — just like life. LeBron James’ career as a basketball player doesn’t emulate anyone’s life. Tom Brady’s career doesn’t stand for anyone’s life. It’s too much triumph, too much success. A rich life is filled with ups and downs. That’s what brings wisdom — living with success and failure and learning from both.
This is a team that found its identity this year, even late in the World Series. That third game that Noah Syndergaard pitched — he’s one of our young guns, a rookie pitcher. We won that game, 9-3, and through him we are finding our team’s true identity, which is young and bold and here to stay. That’s really exciting and everybody shares that optimism. But that doesn’t mean getting back to the World Series will be easy.
Hopefully we will do it next year because now we have unfinished business. That is the way of baseball and the way of the baseball fan: There’s always next year. Come April, we will be filled with optimism and a looming sense that maybe things will go wrong, but buried underneath that will be a core belief that things will go as beautifully as they did this year.
Except we’ll win it all in 2016.
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