Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Posted late (Blame my neighbor's wireless)

This was written between the pen-ultimate and ultimate games of the season:

At some point it occurred to me that I have a valid passport, a little money in the bank account: hop a buss to LaGuardia, get on the first plane out of the country, away, anywhere where it would take only a minor act of will power to never learn the results of tomorrow’s game, or at least put it off until I had had time to grasp its irrelevance, to realize that my self and the game were separate, independent things, to be able to view it as a random, incidental occurrence.

It was an idea that was amazingly tempting and viscerally repulsive-- perhaps because I knew, from the instant that I had it, that there was no conceivable way that I would actually act on it. Still the realization that I had it in my power to step away, to turn my back on baseball, completely disassociate myself from whatever despair or triumph tomorrow might yield, was at once sobering and awkward.

There was something seductive in the idea of completely uprooting myself from something that I had followed so closely—abruptly amputating something that had almost become part of me; the idea of knowing nothing at all about tomorrow’s outcome seemed weirdly reminiscent of freedom.

For, after all, what really are the Mets? Are they simply the record, the box score? The twenty-five men on the roster? Perhaps. Also the coaches, the players in the minor league, the administrative offices, Omar Minaya, the Wilpons. Gary Cohen, Howe Rose, are not entirely Mets, but then again, perhaps they are more the Mets than the team itself, since it is mainly through their accounts (and not the Mets themselves) that the team reaches the world. Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling have to be considered in a slightly different light since they are former players, and helped form part of the history that had makes the franchise what it is. Are Wally Backman in his trailer, Doc Godden in prison, Roger McDowell-- now the Braves pitching coach, still Mets? The images of them in blue and orange, the memories that they still evoke, are, perhaps, more real and vibrant than whatever they might be currently doing with themselves.

And then there are the fans, the seething unwieldy mass that calls the team into existence. It is their capitol that ultimately finances the Mets, through tickets, hotdogs, and commercial time. More important, perhaps, than any financial investment, is the emotional investment, the desires and fears that they have projected onto the ball club. All of them see the team in a marginally different light, experiences the team in a slightly different way—and what could the team really be, other than the aggregate of all these feelings, the amalgamation of the impression that it leaves in the minds of its followers.

Then again, there is the feeling that all that is grotesquely too complicated; that the Mets are, in fact, merely the instant of play, in the moment that it happens. They are men standing on a field, and if we, and they, attach a certain importance to certain of their actions, if when one of them goes to a certain place we call it a ‘run,’ if when a ball is caught or falls we view it as either a success or a triumph, it is a dimension and a vocabulary that we have created ourselves, and that reflects but vaguely on the actuality of the situation: that a man in a uniform has been either aided or hindered in his efforts to run around in a circle.


1 comment:

nigel fowler said...

That you did not turn this blog into an anatomy of despair, either with this posting or with the preceding one is, I feel certain, appreciated by your entire readership. For you to have stepped away or turned your back would have been unconscionable, despite the fact that Sunday did in fact bring a measure of despair. Indeed your responding baseball world-view is not unlike the sun coming up on Monday morning, and it's arguable as to whether or not the Metropolitans, whoever they are, deserve such insight and generosity. But please keep it going regardless.