It's probably pretty dumb to be writing a letter thanking you for this 2015 season before the playoffs have even started -- because, knowing you, you could bomb and lose the first three games of the NLDS and that'll be it -- but it's been a long road to this point. A very long road. So I'm going to take advantage of the positivity right now and just go for it.
I've been a fan of yours for the vast majority of my life and, for the vast majority of that time, I've regretted it. There were playoff berths in 1999, 2000 and 2006 (and a trip to the World Series in 2000!)... but that's it. I was so young in '99 and '00 that all I remember is Roger Clemens throwing a splintered bat at Mike Piazza (I still hate him for that).
It's like my brother and I already knew what the future held for our respective teams.
And any good memories from 2006 were completely wiped away by the agony of 2007 and 2008. Remember that, guys?
As a kid, I was fairly content to root for a bad team. I wasn't all that invested. But in 2007 and 2008, I was old enough to be invested and, quite frankly, horrified. I was embarrassed to call myself a Mets fan. That embarrassment endured for years. I have an extensive collection of shirseys from the players of my childhood, but stopped collecting them as my discontent grew. Digging into that pile of t-shirts is like opening a weird time capsule.
A small sample.
When people asked me which baseball team I root for, I answered with, "the Mets, unfortunately." When I moved away from New York to go to college, games were no longer easily accessible and I happily grew more detached. The only thing that kept me invested, honestly, was RA Dickey. But I despised the way the organization treated him, even when he won the Cy Young Award in 2012, and very nearly called it quits when he was traded after that season. (I cried. And I'll always harbor a touch of bitterness about that trade. Sorry.)
I tried to abandon ship. I really did. I hated everything about the Mets franchise and wanted out. I was tired of suffering with no payout, and I went so far as to say "I'm done being a Mets fan." That didn't last, though, and I still found myself getting angry at boneheaded organizational moves, disappointed at losing seasons and attached to the all too likable players taking the field every night. And, yeah, I was bummed when most of them got traded too.
But then 2015 happened. Jacob deGrom was the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year and Juan Lagares was a 2014 Gold Glove winner, and spring training left me with some unprecedented optimism. And that 11-game winning streak at the beginning of the season! Wow! The Mets were the best team in baseball! But this was a .500 team by the All Star break, and things weren't looking much better all through July. Everyone was injured, David Wright with a back condition that many athletes never come back from, and I was fully expecting the Mets to pull a Mets. I'd thrown in the towel and expected absolutely nothing from this season.
But suddenly, the team that was notorious for never making moves... actually made some moves! The roster needed some big bats, so some big bats were acquired. Guys recovered from their injuries and returned to the lineup. Promising prospects were brought up. And the most mind-blowing thing? Everyone was doing what was expected of them. Hitters were hitting. Pitchers were throwing gems. And I had absolutely no idea how to handle the idea that games were suddenly meaningful because the playoffs were an actual possibility. I downloaded the ESPN app just so I could get game updates sent directly to my phone and found myself checking it obsessively. I low-key started keeping an eye on the magic number when it was in the 40s, and started an actual countdown when it reached 10.
It was so great going into work yesterday and getting to cross off 3, 2 and 1. SO GREAT.
It doesn't hurt that the 2015 team is obnoxiously likable, y'know. I mean, just the pitching staff would've been enough to have me hook, line and sinker. The Dark Knight? Thor? deGnome? Bartolo? Check please. I love all of them. But there does not seem to be a bad human being on this team. How did you do that?! How did you do any of this?! How did that bungled Wilmer Flores situation leave us with a folk hero? Where did the rally parakeet come from (and, pray tell, how did it match Yoenis Cespedes's sleeve)? How has this team swept the Nationals TWICE this season, the second time with three late-inning come-from-behind wins? How have Mets fans turned every ballpark around the country into a home ballpark? (Seriously, where did all these fans come from? Was everyone just hibernating because they were as embarrassed as I was?)
I got to be one of those "away" Mets fans when they came to Denver to play the Rockies!
So, even if this season does amount to nothing, I just want to say thanks. Thanks for giving us diehards this beautiful, shining season that feels like lightning in a bottle. It has been more fun than I can even put into words. Who knew that stressing over games with playoff implications was so enjoyable?! Thanks for giving me a team full of wonderful men, and wonderful baseball players, who could win and do it with complete class. Thanks for giving me a team I can be proud of.
Now I don't root for "the Mets, unfortunately." I root for the Mets.
The east is ours. Ya gotta believe. Amazin' again 2015.
Let's keep it rolling.