Usually, the Mets do a pretty good job on their own of ignoring their own history. This time MLB and ESPN did it for them.
The Mets may once again not have any meaningful games in September, but Sunday they at least had a meaningful pregame - commemorating the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Mets played in the first professional sporting event in New York after 9/11. Mike Piazza hit what is probably the most memorable homer in the fifty-year history of the franchise.
And the Mets wore caps commemorating the heroic first responders.
But MLB didn't allow them to wear those caps last night.
I've lost track of the number of times I've wondered, what is Bud Selig thinking? Or more precisely, is Bud Selig thinking? The edict came down from Selig lieutenant Joe Torre, so he must share in the blame as well. As for speculation that the Mets were unwilling to risk a fine because they didn't want to pay it, or because MLB might demand that the Mets start paying back that $25 million loan, even if there's any truth to that, the problem still begins with MLB's ridiculous decision not to allow the Mets to wear the caps.
Had the game been played at the usual Sunday time of 1 p.m., the Mets would have had their ceremony well before the Giants' opening game and the U.S. Open final. The Yankees were also playing later in the afternoon.
Then there's ESPN scheduling the game for the worst possible time - directly opposite the glamor matchup of Jets vs. Cowboys. Complete, of course, with its own ceremony, and frequent shots across the Hudson of the New York skyline. You would think they would realize how many Met fans are Jet fans and vice versa.
Ideally, the game would have been played at the Mets' usual Sunday time of 1:10 p.m, well before the Giants, Yankees, and Jets games, as well as the U.S. Open final.
ESPN recognized that it would be a good night to air a ballgame from New York. But how about at least moving it up an hour to 7 p.m.? Fans could have tuned in to the ceremonies, then switched over to the Jets.
Last Thursday, President Obama gave his jobs speech at 7 pm rather than 8 pm. The President of the United States didn't think a major speech before Congress could compete with NBC's national football broadcast, but ESPN, which knows a thing or two about the popularity of football, thought people would tune in instead to Mets-Cubs?
At least my biggest gripe yesterday involved the particulars of a commemoration. It was far different ten years ago.
When the second plane hit, I knew I'd be coming in early to work that day at the Daily News. My Eighth Ave. subway was diverted to Sixth Ave., so I got out on 33rd St. and Sixth in preparation for walking over to the News' offices near Tenth Ave. It was a few minutes after 10 a.m., and everyone on the street was staring at the smoke pouring from the Twin Towers. I stared as well, unable to believe what I was seeing, before heading toward the office.
What I didn't realize at the time was that the first tower was already gone. There was so much smoke that you couldn't tell. Or maybe I did see just one tower but couldn't process that information - I had enough trouble processing it when I made it to work.
Or more precisely, the street in front of the office, which had been evacuated.
We soon were allowed back in, where I updated the web site with the awful news until finally leaving at 11 pm. I boarded a nearly deserted subway and made my way back uptown.
Sports did eventually offer a respite during that difficult time, but for me, the turning point was not Piazza's home run. It was Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
I had grudgingly admitted that a Yankee World Series win would be good for the city. When the Yankees held the lead in the ninth with Mariano Rivera on the mound, another Yankee title appeared inevitable. It would be their fifth in sixth years.
Then, miraculously, the Diamondbacks rallied to win the game and the World Series. As a New Yorker, I was supposed to be upset, but I was the happiest I'd been in weeks. The mighty Yankees had lost! Yes, there was a new normal, but at least some things could remain the same. It was all right once again to root against the Yankees.