This all just occurred to me over this past weekend. Let me try and trace it for you.
(in Adele voice) “When I was young…”
My dad is a big Mets fan. I picked a lot of my teams as a child in opposition to my dad, because I thought that was funny. But if you’ve had a dad, especially if you grew up in an apartment, you know your dad often controls the TV. So while I claimed to be a Yankees fan and had a notebook of Yankees-related clippings, well, I mostly watched the Mets because, well, my dad controlled the remote.
The 1986 Mets were a cool story. Won a championship. If you know anything about baseball, you probably remember 1986 for Billy Buckner, which is a great story because he was a mostly-competent professional who had one major fuck-up and that’s all he will ever be remembered for. Sad, but that’s sometimes how life works.
Well, I was five when all that was happening, since my birthday is in November. But my dad had a VHS about the 1986 Mets that I’ve probably watched 30–40 times. I knew the intro sequence by heart at one point.
In the NLCS, which is the series before the World Series, the Mets played the Astros. It was a classic series. Couple of games went pretty long. Two or three pitchers’ duel deals. Nolan Ryan was on those Astros, and so was a dude named Mike Scott. When I later played baseball, I pitched a little bit and the only thing I could throw well was a split-finger fastball, which is something I associated with Mike Scott from those videos.
I’ve written about this in other posts, but my childhood was a little bit weird. My mom went to rehab a couple of times, I was a fat and nerdy kid who didn’t have a lot of friends, and I knew a lot about sports — hence eventually working at ESPN — but I wouldn’t say I was ever actually good at sports, which is a masculinity drop. One time I remember I spent an ungodly amount of time playing some text-prompt computer game (probably 1986–1987 or so) and periodically looking at stuff about the Mets and Astros. These were my comfort zones back when.
2003 or so
My whole life was Northeast up until about March 2003. That was honestly among the first times I left, when I went on spring break with my friends in CA and AZ. We had a layover at DFW. I had never been to Texas at that point, and I was 22. I now live 20 minutes from DFW Airport, and have for five years. Weird how life breaks, right?
My first post-college stop was Houston, for Teach for America. I had been to some spring training games before, but my first non-Yankees or non-Mets game was an Astros game, that summer. Actually in summer 2003, I think I went to 3–4 Astros games. They made the World Series in 2005, as I was leaving. I went to a bunch of Astros games in that 2003–2005 period. I considered myself “a fan.”
Your first job out of college is an interesting spot, because your eyes start to open to what the world really is. Doing Teach for America was that on two levels. I had grown up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (rich), then went to Georgetown (largely rich white people). I had no idea what an inner city was like. Now I was in one every day for work. So at the same time I was figuring out life and process, I was also figuring out inequality and the reality of poverty.
Again, in another time frame, the Astros were kinda this weird thing that grounded me away from the realities of what I was seeing every day.
March 2017 was a weird-ass month. My ex-wife and I decided to divorce at the beginning of it — let’s say around the 4th. She offered to move out immediately but didn’t really have the money, so I said she should stay. She went home to Miami for about six days in the process. I left on the 30th for the weekend to let her move out. But all in all, we lived together about 20 days that month. Oh, and our fourth wedding anniversary was in there too: March 16, 2017. Like I said, weird time.
The first Saturday after we decided to split, she was out looking at apartments and furniture. She had already started packing, so there were boxes everywhere. I didn’t really want to be in my apartment because of all this, so I went for a walk. I reached out to some people and they were busy. I was incredibly sad and felt disconnected and had no idea what to do with myself overall.
I ended up at the bar by my house. Nothing I did there was logical or good. I basically sat there for about 10 hours drinking. Slow at first, faster, back to slow. Got drunk.
What was I doing as I was doing this? Oh yea, talking to a 62 year-old real estate developer and watching a Houston Astros spring training game. In fact, we Googled a couple of things about the Astros during our convo. Ha.
The Astros won it all that year, and…
… they did it by beating the Dodgers, who my friend Squid rooted for. He passed away right before that World Series.
That was a weird time. The Astros were involved, but I was rooting against them, even though they had been this weird centrifugal force at other moments in my life. They won, and I felt OK, but I also felt sad. I missed my friend and look, I have no idea how heaven works, but I wanted to think he was up there looking down on that World Series and rooting for the Dodgers. I was just trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together.
Right after I got divorced, I had this fling with a lady, then a couple of other deals that maybe I’m not 100 percent proud of. At this time, with a dead friend and a fall staring me in the face, all those were over and I wasn’t sure exactly what my client landscape was looking like. End of September/early October 2017 — as the Astros finally got their thing — were some of the most confusing times of my entire adulthood. I just kept going, because I think that’s what you do. I wrote about it a few times, notably here and here.
I started up with my now-girlfriend a few weeks later, and I started down a path of a bit more stability professionally at the same time. It was hard. It still is hard sometimes. I am a human being. I have problems. We all do, even if we sugarcoat or avoid them. But we get through, whether that’s with a little help from our friends, our job (ROFL), or a random baseball team in a city we’ve only lived in briefly.
Life’s weird, but it works.