Thursday, November 5, 2015

We Must Keep Dreaming

I have often told people of a dream I had once a few years ago that was at once both practical and fantastical. Visually it was something of a blur with little defined or specified aside from patches of green, brown, white, blue and orange. What I remember most clearly from this dream, however, was not what I saw in my unconsciousness, but what I heard, and it was one, simple, declarative statement.

"The New York Mets have won the World Series."

It shouldn't be a surprise that I might dream about hearing this. If you read this blog, if you know me personally -- hell -- if you've seen me walking on the street, you know I've been a Mets fan roughly two and a half decades. You know I've cared about this team so long that it felt less like a choice than a happenstance akin to my having brown eyes or being Jewish. You know that I've shamelessly peppered my nephews with Mets merchandise in hopes they, too, will feel the same way one day.  That I might dream of the Mets winning the World Series may be a bit sad for a 30-year-old man, but it is hardly a shock.

What was noteworthy about this dream, was not that it was about the Mets winning the World Series, but rather, that my it was the only time I can recall dreaming, pausing my dream and then rewinding my dream so I could see it twice. Even my subconscious knows seeing this team that is often so inept and dysfunctional win a world championship is such a ridiculous concept, it had to see it twice to verify what, in fact, it was seeing.

I'm not sure if that says more about the Mets or my neuroses -- or perhaps how misaligned my priorities are -- but it certainly says that in my very core, I don't really believe I'll ever see this happen.

I have now had a few days to cope with the fact that the Mets lost the 2015 World Series to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday night. So many things about this series were frustrating, confusing or bizarrely connected to other parts of my life. For one, I found there to be unmistakable parallel patterns to the only other World Series I have been able to see them play, a loss to the Yankees in 2000 that also included a five-game defeat, a win in Game 3, nearly nothing but close games each night and a momentum-shifting extra-inning loss in Game 1 that came courtesy of a blown save.

That this came against the Royals, a team with no tangible connection to the Mets, but one that plays in one of the few places outside New York where I have a real, tangible social network was equal parts difficult and emotionally confusing. That Luke Hochevar, who was the subject of one of the first stories I produced during my short run at eight years ago when he signed his initial contract, was the winning pitcher of Game 5 despite having a generally disappointing career was a bizarre twist to which I felt a strange personal connection. That this was the very first time I saw my team play in the World Series in person after attending Game 3 this past Friday, made it seem like more real, connected experience than it otherwise would have been. That my brother, often jokingly, but occasionally legitimately, has claimed for years to be a Royals fan to the point that I once bought him a personalized Royals t-shirt as a gift.

And then there was the Marathon. When I speak of the Marathon I refer not to the epic first and final games of the series. I refer to the New York Marathon, which I ran Sunday morning for the first and likely only time. Don't get me wrong. I'm not self-serving enough to think that there is really any major connection with my running the marathon and the Mets. We are unrelated, unconnected entities. But as it was arguably the greatest achievement, at least physically, of my life, and that I ran with a Mets rally towel from Game 1 of the NLCS, which I waved at any cheering on-lookers wearing Mets gear, of which there were thousands, that I saw dozens of Mets-related signs (one: "If Bartolo Colon can pitch in the World Series, you can run a marathon"), that friends and family held up signs for me that were specifically written in Mets' blue and orange, that the race official loading us onto the Staten Island Ferry at 8 a.m. declared his hopes that the Mets would beat up the Royals that night, that I met up with visiting friend, fellow marathon-runner and Kansas City-native Catherine who was wearing her Royals cap for all 26.2 miles, that the Mets lost the World Series the same day I made this life-changing achievement...

Well, you get the idea.

It will be impossible for me to not associate that most-satisfying of life goals with the Mets playing in the 2015 World Series. All of these connections will stick with me in my conscious and subconscious, and while I know, in reality, there are no connections at all, part of the reason we involve ourselves in sports teams is so we can feel as though we are a part of them -- or at least a part of something. There is no way that this series will ever not feel personal for me. However, despite all of those personal connections, as artificial as they may be, when I take the rational few the 2015 World Series really boils down to this:

The New York Mets lost a World Series in five games in which they held a lead in the eighth inning or later in three of their four losses. And that drives me insane. The Mets were legitimately three or four plays away from winning a championship, and while the starting rotation should mean they will be in the mix again next year, the randomness of MLB's postseason crapshoot makes a return trip to the fall classic far from a guarantee. When you get close, you have to take advantage of those opportunities. If you don't, you might wait 15 years to get the chance again.

I am hopeful that will not be the case, obviously, but I will continue merely to dream about seeing the Mets win the World Series until there is no longer a need to dream. I can't really say when that will happen, of course. It's as unpredictable as catching the 7 train at 3 a.m.

And so I dream. I still have not seen the Mets win the World Series outside of my DVDs of the 1986 Series, which seem as recent to me as Gone With the Wind. I did not get to buy any new championship merchandise. I will not be going to any parade. I will not, as I hoped, get to DVR the final out so I can sit with my toddler nephew and rewind it for him to see even if he doesn't understand it.

The only place I can rewind the last out of the Mets' next World Series title, still, is in my dreams. Ya Gotta Believe, after all. But the one upshot of this whole experience is that now I may not have to rewind my dreams to make what I'm seeing believable. The idea of the Mets, these Mets, winning the World Series in the near future no longer seems so remote, even if it isn't a certainty. I feel far more confident than I did nine, seven or one year ago that at some point in my life I will get to see the Mets win it all. I will get to record that moment for posterity. I will no longer have to dream it, and I will no longer have to rewind it to make it seem feasible.

When that does happen, though, I hope my eyes are ready to see it over and over again. Because, I while there are no certainties in life beyond death and taxes, I'm pretty sure this is about as certain as it gets:

I will wear the shit out of the rewind button on that remote control.

Last week: 9-4-0
Season: 56-60-2

CINCINNATI (-11) over Cleveland
BUFFALO (-3) over Miami
St. Louis (+2.5) over MINNESOTA
NEW ENGLAND (-14) over Washington
NEW ORLEANS (-8) over Tennessee
NY JETS (off) over Jacksonville
Oakland (+4) over PITTSBURGH
Green Bay (-2.5) over CAROLINA
Atlanta (-7) over SAN FRANCISCO
NY Giants (-2.5) over TAMPA BAY
Denver (-5) over INDIANAPOLIS
DALLAS (+2.5) over Philadelphia
SAN DIEGO (-4) over Chicago

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