As a lifelong Mets fan, certain things stay with you. Battle scars, if you will, when you experience them together, at the time, it's terrible...but in the long run, it helps build character and strengthens bonds.
If you go back through the history of the Mets, there is a certain time or place that you identify with as a generation of fans. For my dad's and Uncle Gene's generation, it's the Tom Seaver trade, or the "Midnight Massacre" as it's called. The Seaver was absolved by a few things, but several years later...by the Wilpon and Doubleday team buying the team in 1980, hiring Frank Cashen who in turn made the Mets a force to be reckoned with. That and the bad ass team winning the World Series in 1986.
My generation though, we are unique in our bonds. Many of us were too young to fully appreciate the World Champion 1986 Mets and were gifted with not having to go through the truly bad times like Mr. E and Uncle Gene did. We had a World Championship but then...Kevin Mitchell was traded. World Series hero Gary Carter had knee injuries. Dwight Gooden went into rehab. Multiple times. Darryl Strawberry decided to pick fights with Keith Hernandez.
But we had another exciting run under Bobby Valentine and Mike Piazza in the late 90s. But then came the Robbie Alomar, Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz years. The Art Howe error. Still, the team was boring, not rip-your-heart-out-of-your-ass terrible.
Our hope was represented in young fireball thrower Scott Kazmir. Then that hope was ripped out of our ass. "Black Friday" would go down in history as one of the worst days in Met history. Not to mention, it ranked up there with my generation of Mets fans as our "Midnight Massacre." Finally, something to bond us with the old farts.
Everyone was playing CYA from Wilpon on down to the clubhouse manager. Jim Duquette was the ring leader of the then Big Pussy's Posse, but...something magical occurred. Fred Wilpon finally grew a sack and brought us one Omar Minaya.
Omar Minaya had the purported "full autonomy" that we fans wished the Sterling Equities Group would have given anyone.
And with the "full autonomy" came Pedro. Carlos Beltran. Ballsy trades. A new generation of Mets. The "New" Mets, as Beltran called it. Couple that with the new hopes of the Mets, Jose Reyes and David Wright, and finally, though they didn't make the postseason in 2005, we had a new hope. A reason to go to Shea Stadium and not be lulled asleep.
Excitement. Then came 2006.
And then came 2007.
But if you look back in Mets history, you will see a recurring theme. That the ties the bind us, the very things that make us Mets fans -- the pain, the suffering, the knowing of both, then joy of winning and the agony of defeat -- all get washed away eventually. There is something that will say -- well if the bad times didn't happen, I wouldn't have gotten to the good times.
Tom Seaver came back to the Mets in 1983 and retired a Met...forever. Dwight Gooden came up through the ranks shortly after Seaver's last Mets stint along with Darryl Strawberry and made the Mets a powerhouse.
Scott Kazmir was traded. But it was addition by subtraction. Omar Minaya came to the Mets.
Everyone said we couldn't get Pedro.
No one believed Carlos Beltran would sign with the Mets after his stupendous postseason in 2004.
After the collapse of 2007, something monumental needed to happen. I didn't know what. I was fully willing to go into 2008 with the team we have and hope upon hope they'd get their collective heads out of their ass.
But...oh boy. I can't hold it in any longer. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you...
Johan Santana, ace of the 2008 Mets pitching staff. And hopefully, beyond.
Because when you are a Mets fan, if nothing else you have to believe.
And after the collapse, Mr E, Uncle Gene, Metsgrrl and her TBF, Zoe, SNK, Dykstraw...all of us didn't know how to feel.
Now, our generations have that tie that bind us. Can it be washed away by Santana? Absolutely!
Now I just have to wait to see him in his Mets jersey in the press conference at Shea. And in 15 days, when P's and C's report, Santana will be there, with his goofy grin and soulful eyes, ready to throw some strikes.
I had lost hope. But I believe again.
Ya gotta believe. And somewhere, Tug McGraw is smiling.
TOMORROW: Comments from the Peanut Gallery on the Johan Santana Trade. By the way, did I mention he will be a MET this year?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?????!!!!!!