Prelude: I wrote this the day of Game 5, hours before our season ended. I wanted to have something to post if we lost. Of course, we did lose, but we lost in such a manner that I immediately knew this would not be enough, so I wrote something else. Now, however, the notion of moving on is in the air once again, as the first pictures of Daniel Murphy in his Nationals gear have surfaced. It’s painful to see, but as I say, 2015 is over, and we’ve got to look ahead to bigger and better things.
So here it is: The Lost Post, you could call it. Written during the World Series and still relevant today, I hope you enjoy.
As the satisfyingly not-bad season of 2005 came to a close, I began slipping into a routine.
Most days, the Mets would play a night game, and I was at that happy point in life when you’ve got limited ability to make choices, and extremely limited factors (read: homework) that can take up the time otherwise used for free choice. I would watch an inning or two of the Mets most nights, before heading off to my room for bed.
Well, ostensibly for bed, really. Secure in my room, I’d turn out the lights, cover myself with the blanket, and turn on my radio. I’d just recently gotten the radio as a gift. I still have it today. Some things just don’t go away.
With the radio on, muffling the sound in my pillow, I’d listen on the fan as Gary Cohen, Howie Rose, and Ed Coleman called the action. As that reassuring 83-79 season wound down, and everyone expected more the next year, I was hooked.
In 2006, I listened to every moment that I could. I was listening as Wagner shut the door and the Mets clinched the East. I’d been listening a few days before, when Aaron Heilman had given up a walk-off double to Ronny Paulino, and prevented the Mets from clinching. And I would listen as game seven unraveled, and the Mets came up one swing short of a pennant.
As much as I loved listening to the games, however, the evening was never complete until a long while after. Immediately at the end of every game, they would go to commercial, and when they returned, Howie would read the production credits. It wasn’t by coincidence that I had the entire WFAN Mets production staff memorized that year, led – of course – by our producer engineer in the booth, the immortal Chris Majkowski. I heard it every night. After the credits, they would go to commercial again, and when they returned, you’d hear the opening notes of Meet the Mets.
Not any old Meet the Mets, though: it was some special, funky, jazzed-up version that, to my nine year old self, was unbelievably cool. Howie would come back on, welcome us all to Mets Extra!, and then recap the game. He’d go through the out of town scoreboard, and sometimes go down to Ed Coleman for the postgame interview. Then they’d go to commercial, but not before playing the defensive call of the game, which you knew meant the highlights were coming up.
Sure enough, after the break, Howie would come back, and take us faithful listeners back through the game, playing the calls as he summarized. This was key even when I wasn’t hidden under my blanket: driving home from games, stuck in postgame traffic, I’d always push to hear the highlights on the radio, and was often, although not always, when my mom couldn’t take any more noise, obliged.
Howie would finish up the highlights, read out the next day’s opponent, game time, and starting pitchers, and bid us goodnight. I would turn off my radio and head to sleep, already pondering the upcoming match up.
I fell into that routine in 2006, and for years, it was easy to maintain. I couldn’t listen when I was away during the summer, but for the four months or so that I was home, just about every night would end with Mets Extra!. The radio’s batteries needed changing occasionally, but other than that, not much changed.
Then, early in the 2013 offseason, rumors emerged that the team was considering splitting from WFAN after the season. I was unnerved, although I didn’t think the rumors would come to anything: the Fan without the Mets? Impossible! That couldn’t happen.
It did, though: WFAN wanted the higher-in-demand Yankees, and the Mets would be shunted sideways onto WOR. There was no word on which, if any, broadcasters would be retained, or how the programming would change: all we knew was that our games would be aired on the station that also carried Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
The 2013 season slid by at the same 74-88 pace as 2012, and all seemed as usual. The Mets had 73 wins on the last day of the season, and had a chance to equal their win output from the previous season. It was also Mike Piazza Day: he was being inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, and the pregame on-field ceremony was being carried on WFAN and emceed by, who else, Howie Rose.
Howie did his bit, the game began, and the action unfolded. In the bottom of the first, Eric Young singled, stole second, stole third, and scored on a David Wright sac fly. In the top of the fourth, Niese gave up two runs – he should have given up more, but he made it out of the inning despite allowing hits to five of the six batters he faced – and the Mets were down a run. Then in the bottom of the eighth, you had your classic 2013 Mets inning. Lagares, Juan Centeno, Wilfredo Tovar, Josh Satin, Eric Young Jr., and Justin Turner. Reach-on-error, bunt single/Lagares scores-on-error, sacrifice to move runner to third with no out recorded because of defensive miscue, flyout, den Dekker scores on groundout, groundout to end the inning.
Honestly, it’s a wonder we won 74 games that year.
Frank Francisco came on in the ninth to save it. Francisco, otherwise an unmitigated disappointment, shut the Brewers down with two strikeouts, thereby bookending his two-year Mets tenure with saves of one-run leads. Ah, the things one remembers.
Howie and Ed Coleman came on for the postgame, and in honor of the final Mets game on WFAN, gave a brief tribute. I didn’t pay much attention: being a Sunday, the Jets were probably playing, and the Mets season was over.
And then, before I knew it, the 2014 season began, and one thing was painfully obvious. There was no more Mets Extra!. WOR, the Mets new home, had opted instead for a postgame show with Seth Everett, who, while certainly not a bad guy himself, was no Howie Rose.
Quite honestly, listening to the Mets just isn’t the same without Mets extra. No postgame show has matched it, either in terms of nostalgic value or pure content. Maybe WOR will come to its senses in the future and bring Mets Extra! postgame back: I doubt it, but it could happen. If it doesn’t, however, we’ve just got to accept it. Mets Extra! is gone. It’s not as much fun without it, and we’ll always wish we had it back, but it’s almost certainly not happening.
Which brings me to the future. This team has been a helluva team to watch – what more could you want, after six seasons of mediocrity, than this group of guys, who fought hard, never quit, and reminded us that baseball players are human too? I wasn’t there for ’69 or ’86, let alone ’73 or ’99 – this is the greatest team I’ve ever been a part of.
Next year, who knows who we’ll have? Uribe? No. Murphy? No. Cespedes? Probably not. Clippard probably won’t be back, but Reed will. Some guys will be back in 2016: our four horsemen of the apocalypse, AKA the four postseason starters, aren’t going anywhere for a while. Captain Wright will be here for as long as he’s able. Duda will be here, for better or worse. d’Arnaud will be back, and healthy, and Lagares can flat-out play. We’ll keep some, we’ll lose some. But the 2015 group will never be together again.
And that may not be a bad thing – hell, 2016 may be the year of 100 wins and a cruise to a title. But after doing what we did – shutting down the Nationals, beating Chase Utley and the Dodgers, sweeping the Cubs and shutting up the Back to the Future truthers – will that be as much fun?
I don’t know. Maybe it will. But letting go of this 2015 team, the best I, personally, have ever seen, isn’t going to be fun at all. And like losing Mets Extra!, when it’s gone, nothing else can quite compare.