My wife and I have been to Opening Day each season since we met. Not this year.
I'm coming to you live from the Labor and Delivery wing of NYU Medical Center. My wife is progressing nicely, thank you, and I expect to have a daughter who may or may not be called Mookie. I'm thinking I will lose that one.
But it seems entirely appropriate to me that she is entering the world now, just as the baseball season itself comes into view.
And make no mistake about it: The first person she will see is the enormous Mr. Met on my shirt. This was by design.
But I've been doing a lot of thinking about exactly what it means for her to be born into a Mets family -- and she has that strain on both sides.
I was a 1980 baby, so I was born at the ideal time in Mets history. While the Mets were busy losing under Frank Howard, I was getting potty-trained. Realistically, the main focus of my first game -- a Mets-Phillies tilt at Veterans Stadium -- was a hot dog that kept me busy for the better part of seven innings.
By the age of 5, I could begin to appreciate the game of baseball itself. Books like the full-color, picture-laden Darryl! were my introduction to the sanitized life story of Mr. Strawberry.
And when age 6 came along, I was hooked. I remember rushing off the school bus -- on whose radio the National League Championship was playing -- and hurrying inside to watch the final 12 innings or so of Game 6 against the Astros. The World Series had meaning to me -- not with historical context, of course, but enough to jump up and down and celebrate when the Mets took Game 7 as my mother chastised my father for letting me stay up.
Hard to blame him, after he sent me to bed for Game 6.
So for my daughter born in 2010, what exactly does the future have in store for her? Hard as it is to believe, Jose Reyes and David Wright will still be in their early-to-mid 30s if she comes of age as a fan when I did.
In other words, they'll be roughly the same age as Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez, or well within range for her to appreciate them, and to make the retiring of Nos. 5 and 7. I can see it now, can see holding her hand as we watch the numbers go up -- meaningful for both of us.
Of course, I missed Tom Seaver, and chances are she will miss Carlos Beltran. My stories of the catch up Tal's Hill in Houston and of all the routine chances that were only routine due to Beltran's excellence -- and the stolen-base success -- will be ephemeral for her, the way it seems to be, mysteriously, for lots of current Mets fans.
That's the big fear, of course. The 1969 Mets were a storied lot for me, but they were just that. They existed as figures in baseball history, the expansion corollary to the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, a team that shocked instead of a team that broke through.
The 1986 Mets were always the team that I felt. I felt that ball go through Buckner's legs in a way I never felt that ball drop into Cleon Jones' glove as he dropped to one knee. Davey Johnson was the Manager, not the final out.
And so I wonder just what my little girl will feel. Will she experience a championship with Wright and Reyes? If even some of the current group stay healthy and develop, perhaps she will wear a Fernando Martinez or Ike Davis jersey home from the hospital -- those two, along with Jenrry Mejia, will be entering their primes when she first notices the action on the field.
(As of this writing, she's not picked a favorite yet -- or even come out -- and will be dressed in generic Mets pinstripes when she leaves the hospital).
But I can't help but have that hope for her, that she has a defining event in her early life as I had the 1986 World Series, Game 6. Perhaps I would be an optimist anyway, but it has given me a lifelong belief in the ability of people and teams to come back from difficult odds.
Some say that didn't serve me well during the 2007 collapse, or the bullpen follies of 2008 and the Pharaoh-inspired plague of 2009. I think it made the eventual triumph that much sweeter.
Still, I am glad to have absorbed those body blows for her. I want to protect her from everything, naturally. But in particular, I'm glad she won't have to see Tom Glavine give up seven runs in the first in person.
Really, it doesn't matter. She'll be here just in time for the first 162 games of her life. And as Mets fans, there's no way to know exactly when I'll have a moment with her like the one I had with my father on the day Lenny Dykstra's home run beat the Astros, or 14 years later, when we marveled over Bobby Jones' performance coming home on the 7 train.
I want her life to be all 1986, an utterly unrealistic goal. But I had 1986, so I actually believe, for now, that such things are possible.