The Opening Day Streak

I don’t know how the streak started. I do know that there was a stretch from about 1987 through 2006 or so where Deb and I did not miss Opening Day at Shea. There were two exceptions: 1988 when she gave birth to Robbie and we watched from the hospital and the year it was a rare Saturday home opener and it poured, canceling the game.

For me, Opening Day was like a holiday, a chance to celebrate with fellow fans, when the sky was the limit and the possibilities were endless. We lustily cheered for the favorites and warmly welcomed the newcomers as each player was introduced. Opponents were politely greeted or jeered with respect paid every now and then to the special players – Ozzie Smith comes to mind.

At DC, I would organize a group outing, securing group rates and making a staff and freelancer mixer. I’d dress in my Mets gear, making it clear what day it was for those agnostics among the staff and then around Noon vanish with the others. When the company was housed at 666 Fifth Avenue, three of us were stuck in a broken elevator for fifteen minutes which was absolutely no dun. We’d take the E train to Queens, switch to the 7 and disembark at Shea Stadium, joining the flock.

There was a fabulous atmosphere filled with promise and anticipation. Doc, Viola, Coney, Leiter and Glavine were among the starters we saw take the mound and throw that first pitch. At one game, there was a routine pop fly to the outfield and Peter David shouted for the opposing fielder to drop the ball, which he promptly did. Satisfied, my friend sat back and beamed for the rest of the game.

More often than not, the Mets teased us with a win. They have an uncanny Opening Day record of 31-20 and then all too often reality sets in. They stumble, they suck on the west coast, they get a run of injuries, they just aren’t up to the competition. Today, the team will field a lackluster mix of veterans and promising up and comers but will it be enough to actually contend in the NL East?

Sadly, the Opening Day streak ended a few years ago when getting tickets proved tougher and tougher and no longer being at DC, it mean organizing a group outing got difficult. Now, we’re in Maryland and won’t even be able to watch the game on cable (we’ll be getting SNY once we move into the house) so we’ll follow their exploits online and hope for the best.

I miss being at Opening Day and the promise each spring brings. Still, I’ll be rooting for the (old) home team. Locally, I hope the Nats beat the even sorrier-than-the-Mets Marlins but it won’t feel the same.

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