Two entities celebrating fiftieth anniversaries this year grab my interest. The first, obviously, is the New York Mets. The second is the Beach Boys. We’ve heard a lot about both lately and reflections on their respective pasts, both glories and warts. There have been retrospectives on the radio, revisits on the field. Face it: for two institutions so grounded in perpetual youth, turning fifty is a big deal.
Happily, so far in 2012, the Mets are generating their own brand of fun, fun, fun. Though your intrepid columnist had recently despaired of this season’s progress, the Mets’ brand of guts and derring-do brought a constant smile – a perma-grin, if you will – to his face this sunny Memorial Day weekend. It helped that I got to witness the fun up-close this past Friday night, as Dillon Gee channeled his inner Seaver and Mike Baxter gave us a preview of the new Spider-Man movie. The fact that the Mets were able to manhandle the Padres – ok, in all fairness, it was the Padres – by five runs with little contribution from David Wright speaks to the approach of the team at the plate and a willingness to pick the next guy up in a tough situation. They wouldn’t have been scoring all these two-out runs this year without that. This largely no-name lineup possesses a combination of patience and nerve that would make most safecrackers jealous. This has to be coupled with stalwart pitching for it to work, and this weekend, they got that in spades. The Johan Santana/R.A. Dickey combo has been turning heads all season, for different reasons. We were all considering ourselves fortunate that Johan was here at all this early and to have him be as effective as he’s been – the pinnacle thus far being the four-hit, complete-game shutout he twirled on Saturday – is almost the definition of “gravy.” Johan has proved magnificent, yet again. As for Dickey, his story gets more burnished with every start. He is indeed, pitching himself onto the all-star team. The last knuckleballer of note, Tim Wakefield, never put two consecutive starts with double-digit strikeouts together. Dickey did it on Sunday. I’ve had more than one Yankee fan friend tell me the Mets are a much more enjoyable watch than the bad boys from the Bronx are. Friday night was a lively – if still small – crowd that included a Stanford, CT Little League team sitting in front of us in right field. These mini-Mets were into the game as much as 10-year-olds can be, even braving my old-grump pooh-poohing of their attempts to start a Wave. The group of Hangleys assembled – there were eight of us – had a thoroughly Amazin’ time, all of us agreeing that wins are a lot more fun to be present for.
Even the heretofore tone-deaf front office is on board, with popular anniversary themed giveaways and the return of Banner Day, which was apparently a hit in all quarters.
Maybe ya really do gotta believe.