C'mon, you didn't think it was gonna be that easy did you? This is what it means to be a New York sports fan. We have been conditioned to be taken to the brink and sometimes even over the edge and back again.
The Jets and Giants do it, the Yanks did it in 96' going down 2-0 to Atlanta with Pettite pitching the game of his life in game 3, and we know what happened from there. Theeeee Yankees Win. Larry Johnson's four point play, Buckets dropping the hammer on Pitt at the Garden (the same year we blasted Duke at the Garden), and the coup' de grat of all time, 1986
Now on opening day in 1986 I was 12 yrs old. Interestingly enough i was a Jets, Knicks, Islanders and Johnnies fan, but when it came to baseball I was torn. Years later I would have my heart ripped out by the Mets when they hired Jeff Torborg and fired Davey Johnson. From then on the Mets weren't very good but in 86' we had Doc and Darrel. And in the late 70's the yanks had Goose, Rags, Willie, and my guy Dave Winfield, so I loved both teams equally at the time.
My first time at Shea was opening day 1986 and my mother and I road The Hampton Jitney bus 2 hours from home with a bunch of strangers drinking heavily at 9 am. This was the 80's when you could do that on a bus. The bus company had a special for a bus ticket and game ticket so my mom took me to the game. I don't know if she realized she had bought two tickets to see Doc Gooden pitch opening day but she did. Doc would go on to pitch 8 innings of shutout ball but the Mets couldn't score. We lost in 14 innings that day and that bus ride home felt like it took forever.
Well people, we are on the bus right now, metaphorically speaking. This season has been a roller coaster for the Johnnies and it's not about to change. When Mookie stepped up to bat with two outs in the bottom of the tenth in game 6 everyone thought the game and the World Series was over. We all know what happened and the Mets went on to win game 7, 6-3, proving it s possible to come back from the depths of despair but someone needs to be the hero.
This team is at a crossroads right now, our usual hero is not himself as others are trying assert themselves. They are in a place where they have some very talented players who have all played well in games but collectively have not played well together. Maybe we should stop thinking this team is so good, maybe they are not. Maybe the 11 losses aren't an anomaly, just the reality of the situation. You really cannot make this stuff up. After everything this team has been through from the time DJ Kennedy got hurt, to Nuri leaving, to Lav getting sick, to losing coach Dunlap to the NBA, D'Angelo getting suspended, Orlando getting railroaded by the NCAA, Jamal getting crushed by Lubick, need I go on. Now these heartbreak kids, who had won six in a row, lose Obekpa, have Sanchez miss the Nova game and lose to Xavier with D'angelo hurting his knee. This has been a Hollywood worthy production that the best writers could not have concocted. Will this final act end in jubilation with a hero emerging from the group or will it end in the sad frustration of promise unfulfilled?
I am eagerly awaiting the conclusion and hope that the story ends in Dallas with D'angelo going home to lead us in the final four. As a die hard New York sports fan I expect nothing less, Buckner taught me that.