Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Memory

I remember staring down at the sand, trying to adjust the sandy wiffle ball in my hand. The sun was just beginning to set at 5:00 PM and I was entrenched in a game of beach wiffle ball with a group of people my friends and I had just met at the beach. Needing a strikeout, I kicked back and threw the ball trying to get any movement I could.


The ball whizzed back at my face at around 60 MPH(my own fabricated estimate to make myself sound tough), knocked me down and swelled my right eye up for the next three days. I went home that night in a bummed out mood because of the incident, but things would soon change as Omir Fricken' Santos lifted the Mets to victory with a home run and Bobby Parnell's inner phenom began to shine. While neither man would live up to the standards they set that night ever again, the glimpse of hope it provided for the team's future was comforting. I need not remind anyone of the injury ridden team of 2009 but the game definitely served at the season's high spot.

Two years later and the welt is long gone and with it we are two years further removed from winning baseball in Flushing. This year it was baseball with a hardball at a grassy field where I threw over 100 pitches(none quite as fast as Parnell) and another Mets win, this time against the Philadelphia Phillies in a rut against Vance Worley. This game was void of an All-Star closer rampaging out of the dugout or a back-up catcher hitting a game winning blast but yet it proved to be just as exciting--and all the more depressing.

Two years ago there weren't any worries about if Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado would remain Mets, it would be if they could stay healthy. Two years ago the question wasn't if the Mets could contend, it was if they could acquire the extra piece in order to do so. Two years ago the question wasn't if the team needed to rebuild but what was missing from the puzzle to help win.

Tonight the Mets will face the Pittsburgh Pirates in a game that will likely be attended by around 20,000 people hoping the Mets will be able to defeat Roy Halladay 2.0. Tonight there were many fans hoping to see Jose Reyes play in person for perhaps the last time before he's traded to a contending team. Tonight Mets fans will discuss what the team will look like next year, how long it'll take before they can contend and why Bobby Parnell can't throw anything over the plate.

The promise of being a Mets fan is that one day the misery of continued failure will lead to a prolonged period of success. The closest the franchise has seen to this era was the late 80's--over 20 years ago. The two nice years in '99-'00 may as well be 40 years ago. The championship caliber team of 2006 has been dismantled to broadcast jobs or stay at home fathers with the exception Beltran, Reyes and Wright.

As Memorial Day comes to a close it's important to remember exactly what baseball is: A highly entertaining game that provides hours of entertainment for the players and fans alike. It provides thousands of jobs across the United States from players to concession workers and is rightfully proclaimed America's pastime. However, when one looks at how silly all of it can be in the broad scope of life it can make you chuckle. The brave men and women of this country fight each and everyday to help protect our rights and freedoms and they deserve all the respect in the world.

Tonight as the Mets will look to take a game from the Pittsburgh Pirates, remember that those who helped give the opportunity to enjoy such a great game endure a lot more than a wiffle ball to the face each day or trade talk.

Happy Memorial Day!