Friday, June 23, 2006

Glory Days

Game 72 – Mets

Mets 6, Reds 2
Record: 45-27

The Mets bounced back to salvage a series split with the Redlegs, and Our Beloved Revolutionary Hero David Wright sent two bombs yard-ward to provide the lead and the cushion, but less comfortable was a Pedro Martinez best described as “laboring” for much of the day. Seeing Pedro like this is worrisome, tempered only slightly by the offense picking him up and his own evident summoning of the will to finish off his six innings decisively.

More than once over the past season and a half, Rob has commented to me that while the Pedro Martinez of 2005/6/? will be the dominant, fun-to-watch star of the Mets at times, it simply can’t compare to watching THE Pedro put on a weekly display of utter mastery that consistently left Sox fans of the late 90’s and early 00’s in animated wonderment. Of course, it’s no fun for me to hear that. I don’t relish that we get a pale facsimile of the all-time great. It doesn’t thrill me to know the Mets have a colossal investment in a guy on the wane, or that the Mets’ ace is seemingly incapable of recapturing more than a little of the glory of the days that have passed him by. But I know Rob isn’t rubbing it in – I can tell when he says it that he’s simply waxing nostalgic over fond memories of rooting for the best pitcher he’s ever seen take the hill for the Olde Towne Team. (Typed right in the freshly reinstated Roger Clemens’ face.)

I know such a feeling of blessed opportunity. My grandparents – both the nature and nurture cause of my Met-mania – were in their early 50’s when I was born. My sister and I were treated to a childhood heartily enriched with time spent with them. Summer weeks lakeside in New York were among the greatest memories of my adolescence. Fruitless fishing escapades, nights around the piano, and an unhealthy fixation on the New York Mets – in an era of incompetence between Tug and Doc that the franchise wisely glosses over; it was everything a grandson could ask for, plus a tad more.

Meanwhile, my uncles had their kids a little later in life, so my six cousins range from 11 to 25 years younger than I am. The math and its inevitabilities are obvious; my cousins got grandparents who, while still a hoot, were septuagenarians and upward by the time the kids were old enough to recall. It wasn’t the same for them; I knew it, and my grandparents did, too. My grandmother is the first person to say so – discreetly and out of earshot of the others. “You really got us,” she’ll repeat, just as my grandfather used to do. “We love you all, but you truly got us in our prime.”

And so goes it with Pedro’s tenure as a Met. He still shows flashes of what he once was, he’s still the Mets’ #1 arm, and he is still an All-Star. It’s just that his transition from All-Timer to All-Star, despite being a gradual one, leaves us with an inkling of longing and an occasional contemplation about what folks like Rob got to enjoy not that long ago.

No comments: