A New Era

Something about the chill in the air in September that gets me wistful.  I think about baseball season coming to an end which is always sad.  I think about when I was a kid and school would start, which meant that leaves would change, plant life would die, and birds go south for winter.  Growing up at the shore it meant the bennies would all go home and make it enjoyable again.

Now that I’m older it reminds me not only of that piece of information (that I’m not getting any younger that’s for sure), but as sure as death and taxes, the Mets leave me wishing for more.

What’s more: I was also reminded of better days.  I remember watching Mets games in October as a child.  I remember watching Mets in the playoffs as an adult in October.

But ultimately, I was reminded of Chipper Jones not only in my youth but in his youth.  And though I rode him mercilessly, it brings me back.  To the simpler days.  To when I watched Mets postseason games at Uncle Gene and Aunt Melissa’s house.  How when my dad told me when we were leaving San Francisco one year that Chipper Jones won the MVP award, I muttered, “Larry Fine.”

Some things will remind me that I’m getting older.  Like the fact that when I drink a milkshake my ass jiggles for a week. Like that I’m training for the marathon, and I’m not recovering from harsh workouts like I used to.  That I might need to invest in plastic surgery because gravity is taking toll.

But mostly that something weird is that I was sad to see Chipper Jones leave us at Not Shea for the last time.  Not that I’ll miss him kick our ass.  That part I won’t miss.

It means I’m no longer young.  The retirement of Chipper Jones means part of my youth is also gone.  Gone are the days of watching the Mets and Braves in the playoffs.  Yes, I know those were long gone.  But those memories I hold near and dear to my heart. The Mets will always be around, testing the very limits of futility.

I first learned about him in my 20s during the Braves hey-day in the late 1990s.  I got to know him intimately during the late season runs with those lovable black jersey wearing Mets in those years.  As sure as death and taxes, like the Mets leaving me to wish for something more, Chipper was going to stick it to us no matter what.

And yesterday we got to show some respect to the man who probably played the game the right way.  His name was never tarnished with PEDs.  His team was always in the thick of things late in the season.

As the pre-autumn chill hit the air, and the first football games were played for the 2012 season…I saw Chipper Jones take his last at-bat in Flushing.

And I was actually sad about it.

Like I said, it’s mostly for selfish reasons.  Most people know my slight obsession with Cal Ripken from the Baltimore Orioles.  When he retired, I was in my 20s still.  I drove down to Baltimore to see him play at home one last time for this retirement game.  I was sad to see him go but in a different way.  I never saw him intimately involved with killing my team personally.  I was sad for baseball that a great was leaving.

This time around is different.  It’s really the end of an era, for me as a Mets fan.

A generation has passed.  A generation of futility.  The one person to remind us of it was Larry Wayne Jones.  Now he’s no longer around to do it.

The only person reminding us of our futility is ourselves.

That’s no fun.

Let’s face it.  For years and year, Larry Jones made it a habit to kick our ass when it counted.  Now we just kick our own ass when we’re down and it doesn’t even count.  That’s no fun.  At least there was an element of collaboration there.  Now it’s simply self-defeatist.

A wise man once sang that “Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes,” and it’s time for goodbye again.  This time it means something.

It means we’re getting older.  It means another fall is going to pass, and turn into winter.  It also means that spring and summer will be around the corner once again.

It means that we’ll never see Chipper Jones play against the Mets anymore.  Some people are happy about it, but I’m sad.

It means that I have to acknowledge that I, too, am getting older.  And that’s no fun at all.

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