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World Series Level Expectations

World Series Level Expectations Twitter: @ermonacelli

It’s been slightly over four months since I violently, in pure fan frustration, took off my blue Mets cap and slammed it, brim gripped tightly, dome flapping down, twice into my tray table. I was on a return flight from spending a couple days in New York. True to the superstitious and often silly ways of a baseball fanatic, I hoped my presence in the city would magically bring the Mets some winning luck.

At a bar for Game 3 and it went extremely well. We got the W. Drinks all around. Game 4… well, I was fortunate enough to be at Game 4…but we’ll get to that later. Game 5 was supposed to be the game in which our team took control of the series. It became a nine inning swan song to what it was like to be a Mets fan in 2015. A symphony of utter delight for 8.1 innings. Two more outs and we’d be back in this. Eyes wide, fingers reaching out, hands clapping together then falling aside, whole body hanging on by the seams. Typical Mets baseball. Hell, typical grade A baseball.

The Mets were a damn good team. It was fun again. It was amazing. I watched Matt Harvey bull-charge out to the mound to carry the full burden of the season, his team, our hopes, and a once again blue and orange city on his back via a 2048 x 2048 pixel screen with a spotty WiFi connection some 30,000 miles above middle America. I was not quite sure how my Mets got to this point but I was fully, emotionally wrecked about any minor mistake that would threaten to end it. Then it happened. Cap down. Wheels down. Tray tables up.

Season over.

I spent the next few days in a stupor of sorts. The Mets had been outplayed. Sloppy mistakes and some untimely hitting and pitching cost more than we expected to ever achieve that year. Shouldn’t we be happy? It was a long season. There was no way our guys were supposed to be there. Nobody thought the Mets would make the series. The future of the franchise in all manners of speaking was accelerated. It took 162 games to get into the postseason and just ten games to fully know how special our team is. Still, as a die-hard fan of the team and the sport, it felt bittersweet. Why didn’t we win? Could we get back there?

I snapped out of my slump by flipping though photos I had taken while at Game 4. Just being there was a major accomplishment. I have a great, magnanimous friend to thank for the outrageous seats I could have never afforded. I had waited all my adult life for the chance to watch a World Series game in person. Being able to watch the Mets play in it? That’s something I’ll never forget. Still that was little consolation. When fandom reaches the point at which your team becomes an “Us” and a loss becomes a “We” a tough, championship-on-the-line level of defeat is hard to shake.

I poured over my photos and videos looking for solace. It was a blur of chants, smiles, blue, and orange. I kept coming back to a sequence that had emerged:

 
I have a sequence like this captured four times on my camera roll. Playing in Game 4 of a World Series a man took time to make sure this kid in his bright orange jacket would receive a fist bump. Every time. Each at bat. It didn’t matter the score or what had transpired in the prior inning. Curtis Granderson rocketed to status of my new favorite player and role model crush. The Mets lost the game but Granderson made me realize how important being completely present is. Be there and your team might have worked hard enough to tap into their stores of good luck and grind out a win but be present and you’ll be able to transcend the assumed importance of any given game and make the deepest losses manageable, even memorable.

As the 2016 season starts it’s a curious time to be a Mets fan. For the first time I can remember I have World Series level expectations for my team. It’s not even a return trip to the Fall Classic. I hope (and believe) that can (and will!) happen but what I expect is different and much bigger than getting back there.

I’ll now forever be on the lookout for the kid in the bright orange jacket because even if the Mets don’t make it to the World Series I’ll always remember what it meant to be there thanks to a fist-bump and a smile from number 3.

Let’s Go Mets!

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