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The Baseball Pleasures of Now

Posted By Howard Megdal On September 27, 2012 @ 10:28 am In Citi Field,Shea Stadium,Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

There are plenty of reasons to be frustrated about the Mets, or concerned about their ability to compete. I’ve reported on them for you here, and that will continue.
But today will be for something very different. Today, I’m going to enjoy baseball with my daughter.
Long before I knew this game would be fraught with significance, I’d put this date aside in my mind. The final afternoon game of the year, thus eliminating the need to worry about bedtime creeping up on us like an elevated pitch count. A game against the Pirates, leading to heavily discounted prices. The last chance to indulge my daughter, who frequently asks about the next time we can go to a baseball game, by responding, “How about today?”
So that’s what we discussed as I drove her to preschool this morning. And in a little while, that’s exactly what the two of us are going to do.
She knows who is pitching, will happily tell anyone (especially Mommy) that we are off to see R.A. Dickey pitch. She knows the last time a Met won 20 games, Daddy was ten years old.
It meant so much to me, 20 wins. A journal entry I found from that time actually alternated between extolling Frank Viola and talked about Cindy Greenberg, a fourth-grade love interest who essentially served as the Jason Tyner to my wife’s role as Carlos Beltran (though mercifully, she is still signed long-term).
I haven’t told my daughter that we might be watching R.A. Dickey’s last start as a New York Met, just as I haven’t told her that the man whose picture hangs in her playroom, David Wright, could be playing his final home game.
Those of you who aren’t two years old are kidding yourselves if you don’t think it’s a possibility, of course. Both are elite; both want to win; both are heading toward expensive paydays after 2013. And a team with little financial wherewithal or reasonable expectations for contending in the near-term will be hard-pressed to keep either of them.
It would be foolish to assume they are both gone; it would be naive to pretend it is anything like a long shot that they both stay long-term.
But there’s plenty of time to worry about all that. And if the Mets trade Dickey and Wright tomorrow, I’ll still have had the chance to watch two of my favorite Mets play today. And my daughter can see one Met make history, a day after the other inscribed his name atop another franchise leaderboard.
It’s astonishing to remember just how recently a future without David Wright or Jose Reyes, let alone both, seemed impossible. In July 2010, my daughter attended her first game, at the tender age of four months. The Mets won, 5-4. The RBIs came from Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and three from David Wright.
I could do the math and see that Beltran might not be around for the long-term; but it felt entirely appropriate that my daughter’s twin pillars growing up, Reyes and Wright, would make such a first impression. It would make a great story when we attended the ceremony at Citi Field in, say, 2020, watching the 5 and 7, worn by lifelong Mets, join the 37, 14, 41 and 42.
But if the last few years of rooting for the Mets has taught me anything, it is that such permanance cannot be assumed. My decision to attend every 2006 playoff home game, back before I did this for a living, was rooted in the idea that such occasions don’t happen very often, so get to them while you can.
But my wife was the one crying as we left Shea Stadium in 2006, thanks to Yadier Molina. I rationally calculated many more Reyes-Wright playoff games. Certainly, more than zero. Naturally, she was wiser than I was.
So as a reporter, I’ll continue to monitor exactly how the Mets are going to muddle through the unenviable task of trying to compete with destitute owners in a sport going through a massive increase in revenue.
But as a fan, I’m going to head to Citi Field, and savor every single minute of watching R.A. Dickey and David Wright with my daughter, because taking outsized pleasure in the guaranteed present is all we have.

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