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It all started with an off-hand comment by my daughter Lillian one day after school: “Bella’s brother was wearing a Mets shirt today.”
My daughter knew I was always on the lookout for Mets paraphernalia, but she also recognized the fact that an elementary school student in Massachusetts wearing a Mets shirt was as rare as a Mets playoff appearance.
Not only are Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots shirts year-round apparel around here, but each of the local teams are also exciting to watch. The Mets shirt sighting came at a time when only true-blue (and orange) Mets fans would wear their team’s clothes instead of hopping on the Boston sports bandwagon.
As Lillian’s friendship grew, she reported back to me about the sports leanings of Bella’s family.
“There’s a Mets picture in the basement.”
“Her brother has a Curtis Granderson poster on his wall.”
“She says her dad yells at the TV. He’s a Mets fan.”
I smiled and told her, “I’ll have to meet this guy.”
We briefly met one or 2 times in the way that parents who drop off or pick up their kids at birthday parties do. At one point we had a longer conversation and talked about the Mets. Lillian found it funny. Lillian and I took to calling him my “baseball buddy Brendan,” but in real life Brendan and I didn’t see each other for a while.
We texted through the rest of the post-season: first-and-second-guessing managerial decisions, commiserating after losses, and celebrating the wins.
In September we exchanged congratulatory remarks on social media when the Mets won the National League East, clinching their first playoff appearance in 9 years. Then when the playoffs began, Brendan invited me over to watch the first game of the National League Division Series together.
He had a couple of other friends over and they kidded us that it was like we were on a first date. They weren’t wrong — I know I was trying to make a good first impression. This was important to me.
Growing up in Queens, New York, watching sports was always a communal experience for me. My family was together for the 1986 Mets’ World Series win, and I came home from Boston to watch the 2000 Mets make a World Series run, bringing my future wife with me. I’ve lived in the Boston area since then and I’ve watched good friends celebrate championships by the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins with each other. (Many times.)
Watching sports over the past 15 years became a more solitary experience — especially when my wife and I had kids and I was less able to make quick trips down to New York City or even seek out like-minded fans at a team bar.
My wife is supportive, but the Mets will never take over her heart the way the Red Sox do. (Nor, understandably, will she stay up on a work night for the end of the super-late post-season games.) I don’t make as many new friends as I used to, nor, if we’re being honest, do I have much of a desire to at this stage of my life. Unless, I guess, they root for the Mets.
The Mets won that first game against the Dodgers that I watched with Brendan, and it was fun to cheer for them with someone else who cared as much as I do. (Brendan does, in fact, yell at the TV.) We texted through the rest of the post-season: first-and-second-guessing managerial decisions, commiserating after losses, and celebrating the wins.
We only watched one more game together in the 2015 post-season. Game 4 of the World Series was as disappointing in the end as Game 1 of the NLDS was exhilarating.
The Mets lost the World Series in 5 games, but the way the team is built there’s hope that more success lies ahead.
At least that’s what Brendan and I spent the off-season talking about.
John Sucich is a writer and comedian living in Massachusetts with his wife and 3 daughters. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more at his website, www.johnsucich.com.