Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Searching through my memory

The Reds hired Wayne Krivsky today to be their new GM. Ok, that about covers that.

We're basically still in a holding pattern; waiting for the camps to gear up and for more things to discuss. In the meantime, I'm going to share with you guys a problem I have. It's going to be a long entry, but I hope it's interesting, as I'm sure many of you can identify (indeed, please post your own experiences). Recently I've become very interested in pinning down my very first baseball memory and how I became a Mets fan. I still haven't quite figured it out. I've shared this with a few of you, so if you're one of those who's heard this before, you'll just sit there politely and keep reading, and you'll like it!

Here's the thing. My father is not a sports fan. I'm cool with that; I tease him sometimes with things like, "Hey dad, you should watch this game, you'd enjoy it," or "Dad, why are you gay," or "Dad, you've been a terrible disappointment as a father and I don't love you." You know, just the usual father-son banter. (Hi dad, if you're reading this entry.) Anyway, my father not being a sports fan, I know that I wasn't watching games with him at an age too early for me to remember and being made into a fan of a particular team. This is in contrast to how my kids will be raised - so help me God, I will get a Mets cap into my wife's uterus, no matter what it takes. (I'd love it if we could paint the placenta blue and orange, but that might be too impractical.) Ok, back on track now - my father wasn't planting me in front of the TV to watch Mets games when I was four; at some point I came to it myself. But when? Here's the evidence I have:

I distinctly remember Mets games from the 1989 season, during which I was 7. For example, I remember attending a game against the Expos in which Mookie Wilson tripped between 3rd and home and was tagged out when he otherwise would have scored. I know that game was part of a b-day party in June, so I'm almost positive I've targeted the game as a 2-0 Mets win on June 21 (the play by play backs up that Wilson was tagged out at home in the 5th inning). Once again, thank you retrosheet. I also distinctly remember the Juan Samuel trade that took place days before this game, as well as the Mookie Wilson and Frank Viola trades later in the year. I remember these events through the filter of being a Mets fan at the time, and these are strong enough memories that I'm certain that I haven't let my later knowledge of these events fool me into thinking I actually was aware of them then. I also remember the 1989 playoffs - I remember I was watching the earthquake game at my friend Ilan Hamburg's house. His mother is cousins with Al Michaels, who was calling the game, and I kept saying "hey, you think Al Michaels is dead?" Good to know that I didn't only recently become the idiot you see today. My mother was in labor with my sister during Game 4, and I remember writing down the contractions in the middle of the game. Couldn't have waited until after the game was over, could they? Women. They just don't get it.

Ok then, it's quite obvious that by 1989, when I was 7, I was a Mets fan. But I don't have much of a memory of 1988. I've always had some fleeting, one second memory of watching Kevin McReynolds in the on deck circle at Dodger Stadium during the NLCS. Strange, right? That's all I remember of the Mets in 1988. Don't remember the ebb and flow of the season, don't remember being disappointed when they lost to the Dodgers, don't remember Gibson's home run in the World Series. Just McReynolds in the on deck circle. It's like I'm living in some weird movie like Memento or something.

I do remember one other thing quite well from 1988. That would be my first baseball game. And it was...a Yankee game. Eeeeewww. I actually do remember a little bit of the game. My father took me and my brother (who was 4 at the time and wanted to leave in the 2nd inning after our food ran out) to a Yankees-Angels game. I remember that, I remember that the Angels won big, I somehow remember Brian Downing hitting a homer, and that's about it. FYI, I've since figured out that it was August 16, and the Angels won 15-6. I remember that when my father told me we'd be going to a game, I was excited and also unaware that you could actually attend a baseball game - I thought it was just there for TV. Dumb, dumb little kid. So this would confirm that I'd already had an interest in baseball by then. But my father has said that as far as he remembers, he took us because he figured it was a good thing to do, and doesn't remember me specifically hounding him to take us to a game. As for why a Yankees game, he said he doesn't remember.

One other wrinkle to figuring this out: I remembered a while ago about my Purim costume for 1989. (Purim falls in February or March, i.e., before the baseball season.) I went as Lenny Dykstra. Cute, right? If I was going as Lenny Dykstra before the 1989 season, (on my own initiative, I can assure you) then I must already have been a Mets fan. But then why don't I remember 1988, save that one Yankee game? I won't bother wondering why I like baseball at all; my cousins are baseball fans, and my great grandfather was a big Yankee fan - so I can say there's something in my genes for baseball. But why did I choose the Mets, and when? The answer that we will not accept is "because the Mets were better at the time." That's horrifying; my life can't be based on having been a garden variety front runner. Fortunately, the Yankees went 85-76 in 1988 and had been good for much of the decade, so they weren't so much worse than the Mets that choosing the Mets would be clear front running. Whew. Not a front runner. Good. I don't have to kill myself.

So what to make of all this? As I said, I was excited to go to the Yankee game, so it's safe to conclude that I was interested in baseball by August 1988. But which team, if any? Perhaps I hadn't yet decided on a team but was turned off to the Yankees after they RUINED my first baseball game by losing in a blowout. Dirty Yankee scumbags, no regard for two little kids at their first game. I really don't know. And if I had already acquired an interest in baseball, why can I remember nothing else from the whole season besides that game? I don't have an answer. So, what kind of a bastard makes you read a whole long story with no ending? I guess the same kind of a bastard who in second grade posits that a relative of his friend has been killed in an earthquake.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank Viola and the mets getting Vince Coleman are one of my earliest memories as a met too. Once again a pitcher that was amazing comes to the mets and stinks it up. AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING METS!

9:47 AM  
Blogger The Fades said...

my earliest mets memory is driving home from a little league game with Abba and hearing the news that dykstra got traded. Abba was really angry and I thought maybe my parents were getting divorced or something bad like that. It turned out it was just that Abba loved dykstra, and also wally backman. And once i saw that, i figured...why not love the mets.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dykstra for Samuel . . . awful trade. I recall going to a game the week of the trade, and seeing the cover of the program was Dyksta and Mookie. Recall, Dykstra for Samuel straight up would have been a bad trade, but we also threw in Roger McDowell. Terrible trade.
So why are you a Mets fan? A couple hypotheses: 1) they were more popular among your friends 2) geography, Queens closer to Merrick than Bronx, 3) you're a decent human being and therefore are a Mets fan.

I recall my first game vaguely, I was maybe 5, Mets game, and I kept on saying I want to go home, and my dad said, "no, say you want the Mets to get to home" or something like that. That's all I remember from it

11:07 PM  

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