Monday, August 31, 2009

1969 Mets - World Series Champions

Recently I was lamenting the current state of the Mets to my brother. He put it best: "I'm not sure what kind of curse follows the Mets at this point, but its removal requires something involving a dead chicken, a frog and a cauldron. Strangely enough, I'll bet any one of those things can be found in Corona, Queens."

Rubbing salt into the wound of this season is the 40th anniversary of the 1969 World Championship team.

Last week I was listening to an interview with Tom Seaver on WFAN. He beautifully described that intangible essence that champions possess. During spring training, 1969, as Jerry Grote would work with each pitcher, he kept approaching manager, Gil Hodges. "You know...we're going to win this year."

Here we see Grote six years later, wiser, mustachioed, perhaps wondering how Shea's magic has so dramatically evaporated into the ether.

The Mets' 1969 season seemed to be one endless game of inches and all the inches fell their way. Unlike today's team of injured blundering megastars, the 1969 team seemed a youthful bunch of overachievers and budding names who simply made no mistakes. Unlike today's team ,who seem to restrain themselves physically and emotionally, the 1969 team held each other accountable and simply refused to lose.

I wasn't even born in 1969. I can remember as a child feeling as though, like everything exciting and miraculous, it happened before my time and nothing down the road could replicate the 1969 Crown. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait too long: the bruising, boozing, brawling 1986 Champion Mets were just around the corner. The sordid personality of that team seemed fitting with the immeasurably flawed city that we love and call home.

But perhaps I hold the 1969 team in endless comparison with the 1986 team and as a result, they'll always seem even more pure, magical and miraculous.


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