It wasn’t until the second week of the 2015 season that the New York Mets made their home debut. The team was 3-3, and 2014 Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom was looking to solidify his name and prove to the baseball world that his rookie season was no fluke. 43,947 people were in attendance, myself included, on a pleasant Monday afternoon as the Mets outlasted the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0. The temperature was 63° and the sun was shimmering on the Pepsi Porch. 29 weeks later, the temperature was 61°, the stadium lights were glowing and 44,859 people watched eagerly as the Mets took on the American League champions on baseball’s biggest stage.
When the season first started on April 6th, I was a senior in high school who was barely mustering up motivation to finish out my high school tenure because I had already been accepted to my dream school months ago. I found myself occupied with finals, friends, graduation, and my track and field team (which took me all the way into the middle of June before my season would come to a close). For the first time in a long time, my attention was fleeting away from baseball and towards bigger and better things. Was I starting to get bored with it? Was it, like all of my previous passions, destined to stall out and disappear?
I had gone to, at the most, three Mets games between April and June. My aspirations of attending 20+ home games were quickly slipping away as I passed on attending game after game, series after series. Unlike the past two years, my father and I didn’t go on a road trip. We had seen Wrigley and Turner Field, two stadiums that were either getting a renovation or completely abandoned.
The Mets decided that they really, really wanted me to stick around.
Before I even got accepted into the University of Connecticut, my dream school since childhood, I already knew what I wanted to study: Communications and journalism. What exactly I planned to do with a double major like this was unclear, but writing was always my strength and there had to be something I could find.
I began to follow the Mets in 2012, as I consciously put in the effort to learn all the quirks of baseball, a sport I had been calling my favorite for many years without much credibility to back it up. I made the decision to join Twitter in hopes of interacting with fellow fans, eager to learn about the Mets, baseball, and what a fan base was all about. I was about to start my sophomore year of high school when I created my profile, donned with a fake name because I didn’t expect to get close to anybody, let alone ever meet someone from Twitter in person. Besides, even if I did, it wouldn’t be serious to the point where I had to disclose my actual name to them.
But as the days went on, as the 2012 Mets fell apart after the All-Star Break and the next two teams did the same, things began to take shape. I talked to more people. My follower count began to rise. I found myself meeting people my age and interacting on a regular basis. I ditched my fake name and let it fade into obscurity, and I embraced my own personality. I began to figure out the kind of person I was, the kind of person I could be. If random people from the internet—most of them older than me and with no obligation to treat me nicely—found me entertaining and engaging, then this was no fluke. They helped me learn baseball’s unique nuances, from inside jokes about Kevin Burkhardt’s sideline reporting to Gary Cohen’s jinxes to Keith Hernandez’s blatant distaste for extra innings. My followers, whom I’ve grown very close to, watched me grow from an awkward and probably annoying 15 year old to an 18 year old living independently at a public university—though the quality of my jokes has probably remained the same.
None of this, of course, would have been possible without the Mets.
Year after year, I watched as the team I loved broke my heart continuously. Yet I kept making time to go to meaningless games, I kept buying shirts, jerseys, phone cases, pennants, bobble-heads, car magnets. I was my school’s resident Mets freak (to be honest, I think this still runs true at my school of 30,000). I certainly have Gary, Keith and Ron to thank, because watching their broadcasts was like injecting a flood of baseball knowledge into my veins. Their crisp delivery and high baseball IQ was something I admired and sought to reciprocate. I understood baseball. I had a passion for it. For the first time in my life, I felt as if I could be completely comfortable talking about and debating baseball with people; even if our opinions clashed, I was still confident enough in my own justification that I would never feel embarrassed. This is something that had never happened to me before.
On Thursday, April 9th, 2015, I watched from section 513 as Harvey took the mound for his first start back at Citi Field since Tommy John. I continued to cheer from my couch as the Mets won three in a row, four, five, six… all the way up to 11. I entered enemy territory on April 26th as Jon Niese and the Mets blew an early lead against the Yankees. I watched as the fire began to fan out in May, June and July. On vacation, I cursed in my car as Jeurys Familia blew the lead against the Padres as the rain came pouring down. I shook with excitement at the Gomez trade, only to come out of the movie theater to find out that my enthusiasm was all for naught. Away from SNY, I watched as a shooting star streaked across the night sky just moments before Wilmer’s magical home run on July 31st.
I went to Jesse Orosco bobblehead day not even a day after I had moved into my dorm at college. I went to a rocking Subway Series game at Citi (“I can’t even handle this game, how can I handle the postseason?!”). I jumped up and down in my boyfriend’s dorm room when the Mets clinched the East. My dad took me to game one of the NLCS. My friend took me and my boyfriend to game three of the World Series.
On Sunday, November 1st, 2015, I stood up in my friend’s apartment (whom I met on Twitter!!), hollering at his TV alongside Matt Harvey: No way! No way! No way! I sat in disbelief as a walk and a double ended his night. I shouted more than a few expletives as Duda’s errant throw all but capped Kansas City’s inevitable comeback. When the Royals; bench cleared and the celebration on our turf commenced, I was left with a sick feeling in my stomach.
I’ll shamelessly admit that I cried like a baby that night. The more I thought of this magical season, the more upset and angry I became. How could they just throw away the World Series? They had overcome so much just to get here, they can’t just give it away without a fight!
But they did. So I kept crying.
I have been to a good number of exciting games and more than my fair share of depressing ones over the last three and a half years. Every so often, I’ll look through my ticket book, where I paste all of my game tickets in addition to little notes about specific details I’d like to remember. By reading my little blurbs, I’m instantly taken back to the moments I experienced while at those games. Reflecting on those crazy games, all of them ultimately meaningless, is one of my favorite things to do in my free time. Now that I keep that special book at home, however, I just pin my tickets on the wall of my dorm. It’s basically my aesthetic.
A few days removed from the tragedy that was game five, I sit on my bed and reflect. The Mets may not have captured the ultimate prize, but this season that was all but over on July 30th was revitalized by a relentless group of ballplayers whose passion for the game is heavily reflected by its fan base. Players are no longer skeptical about coming to a club that constantly prides on its “bright future”; they’ve seen the future, and it’s happening right now.
Much like the 2015 team revamped the path of the franchise, they have restored and possibly created my own future. My dream is to take my degree and work for the Mets in the PR department. The Mets have shown me that the most important part about your job is that you’re passionate about it and, no matter how much hard work it takes, it’s something you’re going to look forward to day in and day out.
Before the Mets, I had no idea where I wanted my life to take me. I didn’t know what my talent was, and I was even less sure of what I could practically pursue beyond high school. While they don’t know it, and probably never will, a single baseball team forever changed the fortunes of a meek human being. Between the connections and lifelong friends I have made on Twitter, the passion I have discovered for the sport of baseball, and the sheer emotional attachment I feel to the Mets, I am excited to see what lies for me beyond college. And with a rotation like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, the future is looking pretty bright.