The Mets Quantum Leap
Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam
Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. He
awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that
were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for
the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his
own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see
and hear. And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life,
striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that
his next leap will be the leap home.
How many times is anyone given the opportunity to correct a mistake? To be put into the exact same position they were at an earlier time and right what once went wrong? And how many seize that opportunity and redeem themselves? Tomorrow, at 1:10 PM on the last regular season game ever to be played at Shea Stadium, the New York Mets will have that chance.
It was the last day of the regular season last September 30th that the New York Mets, beginning the day tied with the Philadelphia Phillies for first place in the National League East and with a chance to avoid the most monumental collapse in the history of baseball, took the field to play the Florida Marlins. Before anyone had a chance to sit in their seats and settle in to watch the game, the raucous Shea Stadium crowd was silenced as Tom Glavine, in his last start as a member of the Mets, allowed seven runs in 1/3 of an inning. The Phillies, emboldened by the gift bestowed upon them by both Glavine and the Marlins, defeated the Nationals 6-1 to claim the NL East crown leaving the Mets to sit in stunned silence from that first inning onward, wondering how everything fell apart so completely that their season came down to this.
It was no consolation that the Phillies were swept out of the playoffs before their hangovers from the division clinching celebration had subsided; nor did it matter that the Mets went out and acquired the best pitcher in baseball specifically to avoid the fate that befell them in 2007. Until they’re able to exorcise the ghosts from that collapse—-new manager or not; new players or not—-it will always be there. Now, in the midst of another collapse, a small glimmer of light is shining for the Mets. Receiving the help they needed today in the form of a masterful, three-hit shutout by Santana on three days rest and a Cubs 7-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, tomorrow morning when they head to the ballpark, the Mets will be tied for the Wild Card lead and hold destiny in their own hands.
Facing that same Marlins team provides the Mets with a unique shot at a do-over; a chance to let the world know that they’re not going to close Shea Stadium with a second consecutive collapse. Glavine is gone; manager Willie Randolph is gone, but the ghosts still remain. The ghosts that haunt the remaining players from last year’s roster can be exorcised tomorrow. Oliver Perez, in what is likely his last regular season start as a member of the Mets, will have a chance to go out in the way Glavine wanted to; in the way that his former teammates will remember him fondly and say, “that guy came up big when we needed him,” instead of inspiring the head shakes and sideways glances that Glavine received with his indifferent reaction as he dismissed the devastation felt by the Mets and their fans and hustled back to Atlanta to rejoin the Braves as quickly as possible, a place he never truly left.
Last year at this time, the Mets were breathing a sigh of relief having been given a gift by the Washington Nationals as they beat the Phillies on that Saturday; the Mets had angered the Marlins with their excessive celebrations and a bench clearing fight marred a dominating performance from John Maine in a 13-0 Mets win. Now the shoe is on the other foot. The Marlins are the ones who have succeeded in making the Mets look sympathetic with their relentless yapping in the newspapers about how sweet it’s going to be to knock the Mets out of the playoffs again. The circumstances are identical; will the Mets rise to the occasion, or will they be struck by that lightning for a second year in a row and allow the Marlins to walk all over them and gloat about it for another year?
2008 is a mirror image of 2007, but the Mets are a year wiser; a year tougher and they’ve been presented with that Quantum Leap moment; a chance to put right what once went wrong and exterminate those ghosts that would haunt the site of the demolished Shea Stadium forever and they can close the place right, without leaving any ghosts, by seizing this rare chance at redemption.